Matt and I are working our way through the Caribbean this year, and this fall’s trip was entirely focused on the Bahamas. I am grateful we were able to visit in November – I know whenever there’s a natural disaster, a lot of tourists back out or the touring companies change their itineraries, which is really sad because that’s the time when the countries need the industry the most.
And yes, I hear how privileged that sounds. I know that tourists, and cruise ships in particular, do a lot of damage to their ports. Despite my choice method of transportation, I do try not to be one of the people who damages the community. That said, the Atlantis complex on Paradise Island is 100% tourism and I do what to acknowledge that we did not contribute to the true Bahamas culture in the way we should have, and I want to own that.
After hearing about the resort for years and years, it was difficult to turn down an excursion to the Atlantis Hotel and their Aquaventure waterpark.
The day we were in port saw us as the last ship of five arriving to dock that day, so it was busy. I would like to try and visit the Bahamas not on a cruise ship, because the disembarkation process reminded me of herding cattle. Honestly one of the worst starts to an excursion I’ve ever had? But that’s where the craziness ended.
The Atlantis Hotel is beautiful, and I will get to that soon. For now, I want to start at the waterpark itself, because we started our day at Aquaventure.
Some advice – if you find yourself en route to the Bahamas and you want to visit Aquaventure, I suggest going a different route than an excursion through your cruise ship. I always buy through the cruise – it’s the #1 thing experienced cruisers tell you not to do. We do it because the cruise ship will leave you behind if you’re not back in time and I get stupidly nervous. Aquaventure is only a few miles from port, and you can get a better deal on tickets through other venues. Prices vary throughout the year, depending on the business of the season. Needless to say, Thanksgiving is fairly peak and tickets were going to be pricey no matter what. But everyone I know says you’ve gotta go to Aquaventure in the Bahamas.
And I’ve gotta say, it’s an impressive waterpark. And it’s huge.
Matt and I parked ourselves near the Mayan temple. We got there pretty late in the day because the Anthem of the Seas didn’t dock until about 11am. We only spent about three hours at the waterpark, and we split it between the waterpark itself, the Dig, and exploring the hotel.
After a bit of wandering, we were able to find ‘The Current’, which is Aquaventure’s lazy river, with rapids and all. ‘The Current’ runs around the entire waterpark, spawning with a mile of twists and turns and rapids. There are even entries to and from the Power Tower, which is one of the major waterslide buildings. Unfortunately all those were closed the day we were there – only about half the waterslides were running that day – but it’s a cool concept nonetheless.
The only waterslide we were able to go on was ‘The Serpent’. This was an absolute must-do for us as my husband loves sharks and this waterslide went right through the shark tank.
Pretty cool, right?
The architecture of the waterpark is awesome and I enjoyed walking around the park and seeing the different slides and pools and rivers that were available. It was a little difficult to navigate at times, but still a fun adventure! It also made me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one a little lost – a father and son asked if I knew where the entrance to the lazy river was (and I didn’t, haha, was trying to find it myself).
After the ‘The Current’ and ‘The Serpent’, we sat down by the pool for a while. We were lucky enough to find two chairs next to each other in the shade. That said, it was hot that day. Like, not that hot, but I’m a New Englander coming from wintery weather so it was hot to me! We went to find some snacks, particularly cold snacks.
Early in our wanderings, we’d seen some folks walking around with snow cones. Guys, I am not a snow cone person, but I really wanted a snow cone that day.
It was so worth it. It was a $6 snow cone (too expensive, ack), but it was refreshing and delicious and perfect and also? I have never had a pineapple flavored snow cone before? It wasn’t even ridiculously sweet, and the shavings were thick so the snow cone didn’t melt that quickly. I don’t usually get excited about something scalelike this, but honestly that snow cone was one of my favorite food items from the whole trip.
Honestly, it’s the simplest, littlest things that are the most amazing.
Once we finished our snow cones, we packed up and went around to check out the other things Atlantis had to offer.
We wandered around the outer edges for a while and until we discovered the Dig.
The Dig is an aquarium built into Atlantis, which follows the storyline of an archaeological site of the lost city itself. The aesthetics are really cool, very museum-esque. The tanks are also very cool. Honestly? One of the most interesting aquariums I’ve been to in regards to underwater creatures. There were no animals that could not comfortably survive in the warm climates – penguins or seals or sea lions – and there were no dolphins that I saw? Definitely no whales, obviously. But the animals that were there appeared well cared for, and the tanks were clean.
Full disclosure? Fish kinda freak me out. I’m not crazy about underwater creatures. I can deal with them from afar, but thinking about them makes me not want to swim in the ocean. I dunno, I’m just weird like that I guess? They can have their habitat if I can have mine.
That fish in the above picture? It’s a Goliath Grouper and MAN that is the biggest fish I have ever seen?! There were three of them in the tanks, all about the same size. These guys have been known to attack divers and even some smaller sharks, so generally it’s best to stay out of their way. I don’t eat fish, but Wikipedia says they taste good. The species nearly disappeared in the 1970s, so there is harvest ban on them in many areas. Very cool to see, but to be honest, this fish creeped me out a little. 🙂
The Dig and general aquarium is made up of all sorts of specific tanks, but it looks like a continuous aquarium. While underground, we were able to see stingrays and some nurse sharks, as well as many fish I can’t identify… but the very cool stuff (in my opinion) we saw when we were wanting back aboveground over the tanks.
It was just around feeding time, and we were able to see sea turtles, more stingrays, and sawfish. My husband absolutely loves sharks, as I mentioned about, so the sawfish in particular were super cool. They keep several different kinds of sharks there, but unfortunately we only saw sawfish and nurse sharks.
I feel like we missed a lot of the exhibits as I am now looking through the Atlantis website. It’s a cool resort, and if you want to experience everything to its fullest, you need to spend about a day and a half at the resort. The aquarium could take a half-day by itself to really enjoy, and the waterpark is easily a full day experience. And that’s without entering the hotel.
The Atlantis resort was designed by Sol Kerzner in the early 1990s, built off the foundations of the already popular Resorts International. Kerzner invested $800mil. into redesigning the sprawling resort to what tourists can enjoy today. And it’s absolutely beautiful.
Even though we weren’t staying there, Matt and I were able to explore a little of the Atlantis hotel on our day pass… enough that it’s somewhere I would definitely consider staying – it’s so opulent. I deeply appreciate artistic architecture. From the clamshell ceiling to the fish scale pillars to the sand dollars in the trim… this shot alone gives you guys a taste of the beauty of the interior of the hotel. It has a feel of Greek Mythology and the ocean. See the shell design along the rails and bannisters? I’m absolutely blown away by the beauty of it.
The beauty and the bright colors. You guys may not know this from the monochromatic theme of my blog, but I love splashes of bright color. This resort pulled at my heartstrings in detail, color scheme, and its general ruins feel.
There’s so much to do inside the hotel as well. There’s a movie theatre, a casino, ritzy shopping opportunities, restaurants… you could easily stay at Atlantis without needing to leave the resort at all. It reminded of a high-end cruise ship, without all the seasickness. Absolutely beautiful.
We definitely weren’t able to see as much as we would have liked at Atlantis – we caught the last shuttle back to our ship, but it was at 4:30pm so we didn’t have a lot of time. It’s a resort I would love to visit again, but I’d also like to see more of the Bahamas and maybe a little less of the traditional tourist stuff next time?
If you’re thinking about visiting Atlantis or Aquaventure, I definitely recommend a day pass! Just make sure you shop around for the best deal.
Have you been to Atlantis, either in the Bahamas or in Dubai? If not, is it somewhere you would like to visit? Tell me about which aspect of the resort you would like best in the comments!