Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Arriving in Paradise

The Dig at Atlantis BahamasEven before our small airplane landed, we got a preview of what Paradise looked like. Turquoise waters, azure skies and the whitest sandy beaches. From the sky, the islands seemed like miles of long beaches seperated by only slivers of land. By the time we landed at Nassau on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, we were already pretty excited.

Bahamas from the skyLocated just off the southern tip of Florida, the Bahamas was once a bustling haven for pirates. It is now a popular beach destination for the rich - mostly Americans, especially those who live on the East Coast. Tropical weather, picture-perfect beaches, excellent resorts... everything you need for that perfect vacation.

Paradise Island, Bahamas
Getting a visa to the Bahamas turned out to be more complex than I had expected. While Bahamas is a soverign country, my visa was issued by the UK Counsulate. In the visa office at Pune and Mumbai, no one had ever processed a Bahamas visa application before, so it took some time while they figured out how the process worked. However, the whole process did not take more than a week.

Atlantis BahamasImmigration was a breeze (however, don't let this fool you; you need AT LEAST three hours to complete the immigration/customs process on your way out, especially if you are flying out via USA on your way back). As the bus took us to our resort, the Atlantis, we could see more of the oceans, beaches and glimpses of the downtown area filled with touristy shops and restaurants. People here are predominantly black with whites being the largest minority population; I didn't run into too many Asians here. In spite of a storm scare, the weather was perfect - bright and sunny, with a cool wind blowing in from the sea.

Atlantis Bahamas
Atlantis BahamasAtlantis is an impressively large resort - like something out of Las Vegas. Owned by the South African hotel magnate who also created Sun City, this magnificent resort boasts of the world's largest open-air aquariums with sharks, manta rays and many other marine creatures. The resort also has some amazing water rides, lagoons and pools that will keep adults and kids engaged all day long. The property is surrounded by three pristine beaches, which can get somewhat crowded during the afternoon. And if you can bring yourself out of water, there is the casino, nightclub, cinema, and the upscale shopping and celebrity chef-run restaurants - all within the resort itself.

The Dig at Atlantis Bahamas
Atlantis BahamasThemed after the lost city of Atlantis, the whimsical architecture of the buildings, exhibits and the water rides are very imaginative with a Disney-like attention to detail. None more so than The Dig, located within the Royal Towers where we were lodged. Apparently, this marine habitat(along with the Predator Tunnel) is home to over 200 species of marine life totalling more than 50,000 creatures large and small.

Atlantis BahamasOn most days, we woke up early to stroll on the empty beaches to watch the sun rise and hunting for sea-shells, with only sea gulls for company. Breakfast at The Marketplace was sumptuous - and expensive! The buffet here was elaborate and tastefully laid out. Fresh waffles, pancakes, breads, made-to-order eggs, a variety of breakfast meats, six types of fruit juices, and almost everything you can think of!

Marketplace at Atlantis Bahamas
Marketplace at Atlantis Bahamas
Atlantis BahamasWe spent most of the days in the pools and lagoon, venturing out only for the excellent strawberry Daiquiries or Bahama Mamas. The rides in the 140 acre Aquaventure includes something for everyone. A few of these slides drop you straight into a pool of sharks and other predators (well, actually there is a glass tube that keep you seperated from them, but the effect is pretty good). The poolside shacks serve pretty good cheeseburgers and hot-dogs.

Mayan Temple water slides Atlantis Bahamas
Atlantis BahamasOn one evening we walked over to the Marina Village watching the fancy boats that were docked there. The Dolphin Cay, another popular attraction, didn't impress me too much; I found it too commercialized to be fun.

When I had researched this destination, I read a lot of negative comments on message-boards regarding service quality and food prices. Let me point out that the service at all times here was excellent. The staff were friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. However, food prices are indeed high; though, the quality of food is pretty good.

All in all, you can easily spend a week here with the family without needing to venture out of the resort. And the kids will not want to leave!

Related Posts: Pirates of the Caribbean, Cracked Conch and Bahama Mamas.


Vijayendra Darode said...

Hmmm...amazing place this. As usual you are doing just as great. Keep writing.


I was wondering where you are nowadays. It's truly Paradise on earth. Your daughter must ahve really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't believe you actually went there. It's amazing rite? Even the breakfast looks delicious. Probably the yummiest hotel buffet i've ever seen.

May I know how much is a nite's stay there?

Anonymous said...

@vijayendra: Thanks!

@harekrishnaji: Oh yes, she did.

@kyh: About $500

Anonymous said...

Oh, clear waters... looks like paradise indeed.

I'm going traveling for a few months too so byebye winter!

Anonymous said...

That food, and the water, both look very tempting! See you soon Shantanu

Unknown said...

one of the dream destinations on everyone's list. sometimes I wonder if all your travelling is for real :). is that atlantis related to the new one in dubai?

Anil P said...

To sit on the sand and watch turquoise waters is to sit on time.

Anonymous said...

Amazing destination and great snaps. Specially this one

Anonymous said...

@zhu: Have fun! You have been travelling quite a bit too.

@priyank: See you too...

@Vishal: Very real :)

@Anil: Absolutely. I can't do much of that when my daughter is with me!

@Sbagad: Thank you.

indicaspecies said...

Wow! The waters look fabulously inviting. The first photograph is adorable!

Anonymous said...

@indicaspecies: That was indeed the extraordinary thing. Like the Maldives, the Bahamas have really blue-green waters due to the coral reefs below.

Lakshmi said...

This defintely looks like Utopia..and we need more Utopias now..good to
know that you guys are far away and safe

Anonymous said...

@Lakshmi: I have to say this one is a great resort. BTW, they just opened a sister resort in Dubai, but that one has been beset with bad PR.

Vamsee Modugula said...

Nice post. I love the Caribbean, but the only way to beat the humidity is to be in the water all day and I have no problem with that. Snorkeling is my most favorite sport and Caribbean is awesome for that. Did you get to do any snorkeling/diving?

You said that you read bad reviews of the place. One thing I have noticed with reviews is that most people are motivated to write hotel reviews when they have bad experiences, so statistically they are skewed in that direction. This is not so much the case with food. People love to rave about good food.

Anonymous said...

@Vamsee: You make some interesting points. I guess you are right about skewed reviews and foodies liking to rave about good food. :)

Unfortunately, no snorkelling or diving for me; my five-year old made sure we only did kiddie stuff...

Deepti said...

wow .. the breakfast spreadd looks too good to be true... Bahahmas is one dream location ... :)