Planning a vacation that is family-friendly will take doing some homework. Luckily, these days travel destinations will not only do it for you but will also roll out the red carpet as you and your love ones arrive. Depending on where you go, it is quite possible that you can still have a vacation away from the kids with them still being nearby. For the third part of my tales from The Bahamas, I am going to share ideas for some family fun that is sure to have something for everyone do.
If you know anything about The Bahamas, then you know one popular destination to visit while there, The Atlantis on Paradise Island. But before we go there because there is so much to share, let’s head over to Blue Lagoon Island for a little fun with the dolphins and Kalika the sea lion.
A short and relaxing ferry ride from Paradise Island will drop you off at Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island. A family-owned business, it has truly built itself up over the years as fun destination where families can come out and spend the day swimming with dolphins, feeding the sea lions and relaxing on the beach. During my short visit there, I was off to dolphin school for a brief orientation about the island and my upcoming dolphin encounter. From there, it was off to change into a wetsuit and join the rest of my party.
Wendy,our trainer during the encounter, introduced us to Salvador who is eight years old and known on the island as the “pretty boy” and a great entertainer to be so young. It is truly amazing to see the intelligence of dolphins and their interactions with trainers. When it came to the group, Salvador greeted us on command with kisses on the cheeks, hugs and a little dance. It is definitely worth doing.
Walking around Blue Lagoon, you can catch other dolphins in action whether it is swimming with other guests or just playing around with one another. Take a walk around until you step into the Sea Lion Encounter area where you can interact with Kalika, a star in her own right who has appeared in the movie “Andre” as well as in a Reynolds Wrap commercial.
End the day eating lunch and relaxing in a hammock as the kids play in the water until it is time to catch the ferry back.
If shopping is your thing and you and the family are looking to collect some souvenirs, plan a day to stroll down Bay Street, the main connector to much of the action. The Nassau Straw Market is fairly new and offers lots of great gifts for loved ones back home. Bring your negotiating skills because it is a little competitive from vendor to vendor so you can always get a good deal.
After you shop, take a walking tour to visit points of interest such as Parliament Square, the public library and museum and the United States Embassy. Grab a bite to eat at many of the restaurants such as Anthony’s Grill or Marina Pizzeria.
Other attractions to plan for the family play day include a visit to Ardastra Garden and Zoo Conservatory where you see lay your eyes on jaguars and rare Caribbean flamingos. Of course, the Junkanoo Museum is where it is at for a little carnival action where you and the family can have fun trying on customs and learning the history of the event. The Pirates of Nassau Museum is in the heart of downtown. Stop by to see fun theatrical exhibits that bring the history of pirates in the Caribbean alive.
If you are like my family and love the water, make plans to go diving and snorkeling or better yet, go fishing to beat one of the 50 world records held in The Bahamas.
Part of your homework before your departure is finding the best place to stay. Accommodations when traveling with a family can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of great properties to stay at that will still put you close to most if not all of the action. Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino was perfect during my stay. I had the beach, a casino if I wanted to play around and great restaurants. To top it off, I had the Daiquiri Shack right across the street. Now, this is not a family activity, but if you as a parent have a moment to get away, I highly advise stopping by. Other reasonably priced hotels include the British Colonial Nassau and Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino. For more options, visit the Bahamas official site here.
Yes, there are plenty of accommodation options but if you place on a bet that the Atlantis is among the most popular choices, chances are you’ll win. This $1.5 billion ocean-themed destination resort opened in 2008 and has 1539 rooms and is home to more than 65,000 marine animals and the popular attraction, The Lost Chambers which is a maze of underwater corridors and passageways providing a journey through ancient Atlantis. If you decide to stay here for your family vacation, you’ll have to fight the urge to get off the island because the resorts make it really hard with so much to do to occupy every moment of your day. One good perk that may many not know is by booking your stay at the Comfort Suites right across the street (which may be cheaper) will still allow you to enjoy the amenities that include the swimming pools, private beach, Lazy River Ride, water slides, health spa, tennis, and Kids Camp and have full signing privileges at Atlantis’ restaurants and lounges.
A tour through The Atlantis just blew my mind. I can totally see why one would never feel the need to leave to do other activities after arriving. It is truly a destination within the destination of The Bahamas. Adult activities include hanging out by the pool, heading to the water park with the kids, working out, relaxing at the spa or going swimming with the dolphins.
Kids of all ages will never be bored between the water activities and a variety of special clubs designed just for them. Parents can feel good as they leave their little ones inside the Atlantis Kids Adventures where they can have fun cooking, playing video and other age appropriate games.
Give your teenager a little more freedom to let them visit Crush, an $11 million teen-only club that opened in January 2011. A walk through Crush really makes you feel like you are in the club and it is definitely a topic of discussion among parents. For a $25 entry fee, teens between the ages 13-17 have access to an internet lounge, gaming stadium and dance club that is complete with performance stage and VIP lounge. Parents may raise an eyebrow at the mocktail bar that gives the allusion of the real thing all the way down to the glasses drinks are served in.
Finally, as the kids enjoy their activity of choice, parents hoping to score it big can head down the casino that stays open 24/7.
These are just some of the highlights for families planning to vacation in The Bahamas. As a paradise for fun, sun and relaxation, there is no way anyone, young or old, will be bored or return not wanting to return to do it all over again.
For more adventure in The Bahamas, check out these articles in Cuisine Noir:
“The Bahamas: Islands of Rich Cultural Havens,” click here.
“The Bahamas: A Notable Caribbean Culinary Star,” click here.
“Harbour Island: One of The Bahamas Great Escapes,” click here.
Photo credit: V. Sheree Publishing