Archive for ‘Travel Reviews’

March 24, 2015

Bahamian Beauty on Paradise Island & Nassau [Travel Review] @AtlantisResort

The Bahamas in the Caribbean, southeast of Florida and Northwest of Cuba, are made up of roughly 700 islands of which some are inhabited and some aren’t, with celebrities such as Jay-Z and Beyonce, Johnny Depp and more buying up their own private islands. Jay-Z and Beyonce also have a house as well on Paradise Island, the island that I was lucky to stay on.

The Islands of the Bahamas became a British Colony in 1783 and are still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, recognising Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. Previously in the 900-1500’s AD it was inhabited by the Lucayan’s (Arawak Indians) where there were around 40,000 of them where they lived peacefully, were completely wiped out within 25 years upon Christopher Columbus’ arrival.

Flying into Nassau which although is one of the most smallest commercial islands, is the most inhabited and the capital city and commercial hub of The Bahamas. It is only 21 miles long and 6 miles wide and has a population of 215,000; I could see other island surrounding it and the bridge connecting Nassau to Paradise Island.

As I arrived to the airport and talked to the taxi driver who was the friendliest person I’d met and gave a tour as we were driving through Nassau onto Paradise Island, pointing out places to visit, but also warning me off the locals bars adding “I don’t want a bad reputation for Bahamas as you might get robbed or asked to buy drinks for locals”. I nodded in agreement although I knew I would be visiting local bars!

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As soon as I saw the Atlantis Hotel from Nassau Island driving onto the bridge over to Paradise I knew this was going to be something special. Consisting of 5 towers; The Royal Towers, Coral, Beach, Cove and The Reef where I would be staying, the hotel was like a mini Disneyland but for adults too! Kitted out with a spa, golf, casino, fitness center, water park, dolphin cay, marine habitat, theatre, comedy club, aura nightclub, bars and lounges and fine dining such as Nobu, Café Martinique, Mesa Grill and more you literally don’t have to leave the resort.

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That wasn’t my intention though, but for the first day I explored the resort walking around the 20 swimming areas and 11 pools taking in the stunning backdrop of the various towers against the crystal sea and white sand. Everything here is built with such fine details it’s hard not to be amazed. We walked quickly to the Mayan Temple Shark Lagoon where luckily for us it was feeding time and we got to watch the Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks jump to the surface to get their food.

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Starving from the flight we then headed to the Pisces snack bar situated behind the water park right next to the sea for a traditional meal of Conch salad (sea urchins) mixed with cucumber, onions, tomato and a refreshing and delicious lemon and chili dressing, along with beer battered fish and chips which were so fresh I couldn’t stop eating it! Walking around some more we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner where we decided to walk outside the resort and find somewhere to eat. We walked out down by the harbor finding quite a small bar that played live music and had ribs, burgers, conch, pattys and more and served a wide range of drinks. We decided to share conch balls as starters which came as a huge portion along with some drinks. We then headed back into the resort to sample one of the great restaurants in the resort. Choosing Virgils Real BBQ, a Southern American style restaurant, we didn’t realise the portions came as family portions so we had to order sandwiches or starters. I went for the BBQ chicken wings with a blue cheese dips and I’m not going to lie were the best and biggest chicken wings I’ve ever had, sweet but spicy. I shared them too as they had given me 12 as a starter along with ordering mac n cheese. After a few drinks and checking out the casino it was time to hit the sack!

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After a great nights sleep I woke up early and headed down to check out the aquarium starting at the Royal Towers called The Dig, walking inside and around it was utterly beautiful. Designed as underwater ruins and filled with intoxicating colours and marine life such as piranhas, rays, lobsters, jellyfish, eels, huge groupers, tropical fish and much more we took an hour to walk around and capture it’s beauty. We also walked around various other beautiful and calming lagoons such as the Hibiscus; home to green sea and hawksbill turtles. The Reef lagoon with Nurse Sharks, the Cenote with alligator gar that are now endangered and the Predator Lagoon with sharks, barracuadas, rays, sawfish and more.

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I was told by another person staying at the resort about a truck that does homemade food outside the resort across the road by the shops, so off I went to discover some homemade Bahamian cooking for lunch! After a bit of walking around and asking, I found a few trucks and headed to the one that was open ‘Fat Jack Kitchen’ labeled ‘Bahamian/Jamaican Dishes’! We ordered jerk chicken, jerk pork with rice & peas, mac & cheese and salad and conch salad. If you’re staying on Paradise Island or in the Atlantis this is one gem you cannot miss for lunchtime, but get there before 12pm!

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For dinner we went to Fish Fry where locals and few tourists gather together on a strip of restaurants for some finer Bahamian dining. This was recommended by the locals to go and eat outside the resort on the island of Nassau, especially a restaurant called Twin Brother’. The menu was insane mixing dishes such as steak and lobster and chicken and fried prawns all which came with a choice of two sides such as rice & peas, mac & cheese etc… We chose the fried chicken with fried prawns, steak with lobster and plantain and mac & cheese and I had the lobster with chips, rice & peas and coleslaw. The food was absolutely amazing and the lobster was so fresh and everything was cooked to perfection! The Gombay Smash cocktails are a firm favourite here as well as the Bahamas in general too. We then headed next door to a local bar where we were treated well by all the locals and one in particular called G Money who sung us Sam Smith because we were from London, and dropped us home too blaring out hip hop and offering us weed.

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The 3rd day in we headed into Nassua to check out the straw market and the shops. I must say the straw market is nice, but you get hassled by every single person to buy something after a second, so can be quite irritating. The shops themselves have some lovely gifts and walking in town and along the harbor itself is nice. We then headed back to check out the water park in Atlantis where I hit the Leap Of Faith slide – a 60 foot vertical drop from the top of the world famous Mayan Temple and through the shark filled lagoon through a clear tunnel. The Serpent Slide was next, situated next door, and from the Mayan Temple as well but you travel fast first on a tube, then slowly when you hit the tunnel through the lagoon so you can capture the sharks close up, and feel like your swimming with them. I also tried The Abyss which was rather scary as well as the relaxing Lazy River Rise and The Current Rapids which take you around the resort in a tube and is lovely for some peace and tranquility.

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The last evening was spent in the casino where I played for the first time and managed to win some money (not much but hey) playing blackjack, poker and roulette. We then headed to downtown Nassau to check out some more bars where we went to the Green Parrot Bar first a lively bar with a mixture of tourists and locals, but had a great atmosphere and was a lot of fun as well as cheap and extremely, alcoholic cocktails. We went to another bar but as it was Tuesday they weren’t very busy so we decided to call it a night.

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The last day was spent on the beach before our flight that evening! I highly recommend The Atlantis in the Bahamas for families, couples or friends. There is a lot to do in the resort itself and so many great restaurants, but there are also great restaurants and activities to do outside the resort. The hotel(s) are absolutely stunning with everything designed down to such fine detail, it really is breathtaking along with the beautiful beaches and friendly, helpful people.

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