With 36 Bahamian stamps on my passport and the kids with a self funded skymile trip, the Bahamas has been our tried and true, all time favorite family vacation, LIKE EVER, year after year and sometimes several times a year!
Why? It's a fast two hour flight from the ATL so you can easily leave home in the morning and be sipping a tropical yum yum one of the most beautiful beaches in the world before your stomach growls for lunch.
Our favorite place to stay is The Cove at Atlantis. It's the perfect mix of family time and couple time and especially ideal for kids 3-12 who will be begging to go back to the Atlantis Kids Club. With an open air lobby and less crowds, you will feel like you are staying at an exclusive, intimate resort rather than Atlantis. Only Cove guests can use the pools including Cain. The beaches are far less crowded than the ones by the water slides and towers. The Cove has roomy suites that can hold a family of 5 (with one child 4 or under) and if you have bigger kiddies, two rooms easily adjoin. You can get two queen beds and a sleeper sofa which is a lifesaver when you have the "I'm not sleeping with sister" fight.
There's gambling, golf, water slides, a beautiful beach and amazing restaurants! What's not to like!
From our experiences - these are my top tips!
STOCK UP. Before you check-in, stop at Fresh Market in Nassau just before the Paradise Island bridge and stock up on breakfast items, snacks, drinks and water, water is key here - it's more than expensive than beer at Atlantis. Food is VERY expensive at Atlantis and we find our kids are just as happy with cereal and fruit in the room they can grab as soon as they wake up. Right across the parking lot there is also a liquor store. Imports from Cuba are legal in the Bahamas and the Cuban rum is very delicious! You can also bring in two bottles of wine per adult so if you are picky - bring your own!
FRIDGE. Request a fridge for your room.
KIDS CLUB. Kid Club will be your kids favorite thing ever! There is an afternoon session and an evening session. The afternoon will give you a few hours of adult time at Cain, the adult only pool at The Cove. With a DJ, casino, fun island drinks and the new Bahamian restaurant Sip Sip you won't want to miss a super fun time and take a break from the kids. At Kids Club there is also an evening session that goes later than my kids have ever stayed up. When we picked them up at 10:30pm, a party was in full swing and they begged to stay longer! So don't be afraid to leave them with the best babysitters on the island, enjoy yourself, the kids will have a blast!
48 INCHES IS A VERY STRICT RULE. To avoid disappointment, make sure you measure your kids barefoot to make sure they meet the 48 inch height requirement for the big slides. Close will not cut it here - we've seen tons of kids who were ALMOST there get turned away. Even my daughter who measured 48 inches at her check-up one year did not make the height requirement - so make sure they are comfortably over the minimum to avoid a meltdown.
THE TREE. On Cove Beach, don't forget to snap a selfie with the most famous palm tree in the Bahamas.
PINKIE. You can follow The Insta Famous Feline, Pinkie, and if you're lucky you'll catch a sighting. Be careful about picking her up because she's a feisty one. If you give a scrap of food she will turn her little nose up at you since many guests buy her her very own plate of tuna!
CASINO HOST. If you plan to gamble at all, get a casino host before you go. You will get a players card and if you meet the requirements you will start getting offers from Atlantis with free rooms, limo rides to and from the airport and food credits, we have received up to $1000. But do realize, even on the "free stuff" you are still paying taxes including the VAT tax which is now 12% so free isn't exactly free but it's better than paying full price.
CABANA OH LA LA. A cabana at Cain is the one of the best ways to spend the day. With your own private butler, TV, bathroom and breezy little house on the beach, you can enjoy the best of both worlds, Cain on one side and the beach on the other. You are allowed to have children in some of the cabanas but they have to stay inside or on the beach side. If you have a Casino Host make sure you check on a discount.
PHOTO SHOOT. Book a sunset family photo shoot through Atlantis. It's actually reasonable, you have a picture perfect backdrop, the photographers are amazing and you'll have your pictures on a USB port the next day!
DOLPHINS, SEA LIONS OH MY. Swimming with the dolphins and playing with the sealions is on everyone's bucket list. We have done it, enjoyed it and it's been amazing. It is super expensive and then it gets more expensive when you have to buy the pictures. And you will buy the pictures otherwise you can't show you did it, right!
RESTAURANTS. One of our favorite things about vacations is trying new foods, here is a list of our favorite restaurants.
DUNE. Dune is in the Four Seasons (formerly called The One and Only). You can take one of the shuttle buses from Atlantis over there and if the car is available, The Four Seasons may offer to take you back to Atlantis for free! If you are a Bond fan, they shot the famous scene from Casino Royal in front of the hotel. Request a table outside for an amazing sunset show right on the beach. Our favorite thing on the menu is the appetizer sampler which they have brought back. It's so much food, hubby and I have split it as our dinner!
LUCIANOS OF CHICAGO. Right across the bridge, this restaurant is an old house with a huge outdoor seating area and has amazing views of Paradise Island and Atlantis. The menu is mostly Italian but they do have an amazing surf and turf and Bahamian Fish Soup. There is no kids menu but they can pretty much whip up anything your child wants including a variety of pasta dishes and pizza.
CAFE MARTINQUE. This is one of our favorite restaurants on the island. The ambiance is Old School Caribbean and the menu is amazing. One of our favs is the lamb chops.
THE POOP DECK. Right across the bridge in Nassau The Poop Deck is a casual spot for seafood, think big fried shrimp baskets and grouper fingers. There is also a huge display of fish when you walk in and you can pick one out and have it cooked to your liking. It's also a prime spot for celebrity sighting. We saw Nickolas Cage and his fam boat up by dingy from their nearly private island.
MARINA PIZZA. For a casual family night, you cannot go wrong here. The pizza is cooked fresh and it is delicious!
THE GRAYCLIFF. If you are looking for a special occasion splurge, look no further. Located in downtown Nassau, I won't tell you too much because the experience is a surprise. One of the only 5 star restaurants in the Caribbean the food has ranged from OK to AHHHMAZING but the whole experience will leave you with memories for a lifetime. DO take the tour of the wine cellar and the hotel - DO NOT order the champagne drink they offer you when you arrive. It's not free, you'll be shocked at the price and it's not tasty - just order your own cocktail!