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BAHAMAS ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND

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We're at Atlantis Paradise Island, floating down a meandering turquoise river, holding hands so our multicolored plastic tubes move together. Palm trees line our route, their fronds rustling in the breeze.

Lazy River Ride
Lazy River Ride
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Drifting under a bridge, we emerge beneath a series of arched fountains. Dripping wet, we abandon our tubes to soak under a waterfall nestled into a grotto.

Lazy River Ride, between Beach Tower and Coral Towers, is only one of many things to do at the Paradise Island resort, named after the legendary lost city.

How to get there

Atlantis Paradise Island is only a 10-minute drive from the bustling duty-free stores and cruise ship terminal in Nassau, The Bahamas. Nassau is only a half-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale. Other flights from Florida to Nassau depart from Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Water links the hotels to the conference center, Mandara Spa, Atlantis Casino, restaurants and shops. Beautiful beaches and swimming pools for kids and adults supplement the Atlantis water park, Aquaventure. Covering 141 acres, it has a Power Tower with four water slides. From the 200-foot-long body slide, Abyss, you plunge into a lagoon filled with alligator gar fish.

Lagoon Bar
Lagoon Bar
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Atlantis water slides

A six-story Mayan temple has five waterslides. One nearly vertical slide propels you through an acrylic tunnel in a lagoon filled with sharks.

Waves push inner tube riders through underground tunnels, along rapids and down water slides in The Current, a mile-long river ride. A climbing wall entices kids to climb 12 different surfaces.

Swimming with dolphins

Atlantis Paradise Island is home to over 50,000 marine animals, from more than 200 species. At Dolphin Cay and the Dolphin Education Center, you can wade into the 11-acre lagoon to interact with bottlenose dolphins or snorkel, swim and dive with them in deeper water, using a water scooter.

Each resort hotel has different wildlife exhibits. Near Atlantis Beach Tower, the Hibiscus Turtle Lagoon shelters endangered green sea turtles. Blue and yellow parrotfish and other tropical reef fish play hide and seek in the coral of Seagrapes Lagoon. You can feed stingrays in the Stingray Lagoon. There are also feeding times for eels, fish, turtles and sharks.

A giant Pacific octopus, great hammerhead sharks and barracudas drew us to the Predator Lagoon, near Atlantis Coral Towers. A 100-foot underwater tunnel offered close-up views. We gazed at tuna, manta rays, bonefish and zebra sharks in the Ruins Lagoon, near Atlantis Royal Towers. Clownfish, moray eels, seahorses and venomous moon jellyfish are easy to see in The Dig, a maze of underwater corridors.

Swimming sea turtle
Swimming sea turtle
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The Cove Atlantis

Near Aquaventure is The Cove Atlantis, with 600 oceanview suites, flat screen HD TVs and poolside cabanas with butler service. Also on Paradise Beach is The Reef Atlantis. The 22-storey tower offers fully equipped kitchens and private access to Cascades Pool and Beach Club.

The resort's Conference Center has indoor and outdoor space for 4,000 people, two ballrooms and 26 boardrooms.

Places to eat

With nearly two dozen restaurants and almost as many bars and lounges, it's difficult to decide where to eat at Atlantis Paradise Island. Casual restaurants include the Lagoon Bar & Grill, near Atlantis Casino and Coral Towers.

In the Cave Grill near the Beach Tower, we enjoyed lunch while watching fish through aquarium windows in the grotto wall.

Buffet restaurants include Mosaic, next to The Cove Atlantis, Seagrapes, at Coral Towers, and Marketplace, at Royal Towers. Fast food restaurants include Marina Pizzeria, near Atlantis Casino, and Murray's Deli in Marina Village.

Beach Tower and palms
Beach Tower and palms
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Restaurants at Atlantis Paradise Island also offer gourmet meals. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's Japanese restaurant, Nobu, is in Atlantis Casino, next to the Marina. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Café Martinique also overlooks Marina Village.

Todd English's restaurant is called Olives. The menu includes Mediterranean dishes, raw seafood, thin-crust pizza, hand-made pastas and rotisserie meats.

Atlantis restaurants can be expensive if you order à la carte, but dining plans reduce meal costs.

Things to do

Each day brings new pleasures: a stroll along the beaches, a jaunt across the swinging rope suspension bridge to a free-form pool for a swim and a trip around a lagoon on a water tricycle, built for two.

Without leaving the Atlantis resort, you can enjoy massages, aroma stone therapy and manicures at Mandara Spa, 18 holes of golf at the Ocean Club Golf Course and tennis at the Sports Center and Fitness Facility. Shopping is conveniently close at The Cove's Escape boutique, Marina Village Shops and Crystal Court Shops.

Kids' adventures

Atlantis Kids Club offers children free movies in Atlantis Theater, books, board games and Internet access at the library, cooking lessons in a kids' kitchen and crafts at the Pottery Studio. Club Rush entertains pre-teens and teens with music and dancing.

Kids older than eight can snorkel with the manta rays in a special interactive program in Ruins Lagoon. A sea lion interactive program is available to all ages, but a parent needs to accompany kids under ten.

Teen programs

Children older than 10 can participate in the Atlantis Trainer for a Day program at Dolphin Cay, while anyone over 13 can join the Aquarist for a Day hands-on program.

Teenagers between 13 and 17 years old enjoy Crush, a dance club with video walls. Teens can edit photos and transmit them to Facebook pages with tabletop publishing software, play floor-to-ceiling video games and search the Internet with iPads. The teen nightclub bar and café serve no-alcohol drinks and snacks.

Atlantis Casino

After dark, lights illuminate the pools, waterfalls and palms, while romantic music plays softly from speakers hidden in the tropical flowers.

Atlantis Casino, the largest casino in the Caribbean, has nearly 800 slot machines and more than 70 gaming tables. Located in the casino is Aura, a two-story nightclub, with a sunken dance floor and two bars.

Paradise Island vacations

Tour desks at Atlantis Paradise Island Resort offer more Bahamas sightseeing and entertainment: deep-sea fishing, sunset cruises, Nassau tours and helicopter flights over Nassau/Paradise Island.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas: www.atlantisbahamas.com