One of my travel goals was to knock off all of the Americas before my 40th birthday. This may seem manageable until you take into account how many Caribbean countries exist. There are scores of tiny island countries, but thanks to a nine-island jaunt in September I was almost done. I had just three more Caribbean countries to go and I’d be completely done with North and South America (Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela booked for July 2016).
The Bahamas was one of the three missing island countries and many friends were surprised I hadn’t been to a country so close to the US and easy to get to: about a forty-minute flight from Miami.
I quickly learned that The Bahamas has so many islands much more amazing than Nassau—which was really the “Honolulu” for The Bahamas—but as usual, I didn’t have many days to spare and needed a convenient way in and out quickly, so it was San Diego to Atlanta to Nassau, via Delta.
I took the red-eye from San Diego at 10PM, so by the time I arrived in Nassau midday on Saturday, I was pretty beat. Nassau had a great looking airport with a steel drum band to welcome guests and one of the friendliest immigration officers I’d ever encountered (usually they are very stone-faced with the personality of a rock). I jumped in a cab and cruised over to the lunchtime spot I was recommended: a two story wooden house with a veranda called The Cricket Club—suitably situated next to a real Cricket field.
I met my friend Bradley Gibson for lunch. Bradley is the Program Director for Nassau’s More 94FM—one of my affiliates for my Sunday Night Slow Jams radio show. It was great to finally meet face to face with Bradley and enjoy his company and knowledge of The Bahamas. He reminded me that I should visit some of the other more tranquil islands on another trip.
The food was fantastic. I ordered the cracked conch, which came with cole slaw and rice and beans and a lemonade to drink. We spent the next hour and a half talking about the country, its history, politics and people; along with Bradley’s personal history and the story of his radio station and the radio industry in Nassau.
When the food started settling I knew it was time for a nap—I’d been up since the day before. Bradley took me over to my hotel and it was sleepy time. It killed me to use any part of what was left of this precious day for napping, but I was getting delirious.
I didn’t think twice about booking anywhere else but Atlantis—those TV commercials with the water slide that comes out of the ruins and through an aquarium of sharks just looked too cool to miss! And although it wasn’t cheap (I rarely splurge on lodging, I just need a clean place to rest my head), it was definitely worth it, and I would have regretted staying anywhere else.
Set on Paradise Island–a small island strip straddling Nassau–Atlantis looms over everything else in sight like a giant, salmon-colored sea-castle. There are the two “Royal Towers” connected by a bridge in the middle, and a few surrounding towers and buildings as well. The property includes a water park (Aquaventure), aquariums and pools filled with various sea-life, tons of swimming pools, a beach, lagoon, and “Marina” village, tons of shops and restaurants, a giant casino and night clubs. Seriously, it’s a lot to take in.
After my much needed power nap, it was off to peruse the grounds and see what was in store for me tomorrow. I was losing daylight fast.
After getting over the initial shock of the heavy crowds (I wasn’t expecting that many people)–I really let myself enjoy Atlantis. I started exploring and after visiting the beach, the aquarium and Murray’s Deli for dinner, I fell asleep in sea of crumbs from the banana flavored rum cake that I devoured. Yes, I ate a whole cake. If loving rum cake is wrong I don’t wanna be right.
The next day it was up and at ’em to try out this water park that had been calling me for years. It did not disappoint. It was pretty windy and the water was chilly, but that didn’t deter me. I absolutely loved The Serpent, which ends as you splash down into an underwater, clear tunnel and float through the middle of a shark aquarium with big guys swimming on both sides of you and overheard. Absolutely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
I’ve been down a hundred “lazy rivers” in my day, but The Current at Aquaventure takes the cake. It’s a mile long and unlike normal lazy rivers where you float (boring), The Current adds in awesome rapids and waves almost the entire time–it really tosses you around. Best part: no line. Just grab a tube and jump in. The water was nice and warm too. The Current is not to be confused with the park’s other river, the actual “lazy” river.
After the park it was out the beach, however the water was so unusually rough that day that no swimming was allowed; so I decided to work off some calories and turned right for a mile walk down the beach. I’m so glad I did this, because I discovered a really cool little cove at the end of the beach where I took a dip. Maybe “cove” isn’t the right word, but basically you have a line of rocks leading out to a “point,” that sheltered an area from the waves–here the water was a lot calmer and easier to enjoy. Normally you wouldn’t have issue swimming anywhere on the beach, but if you ever encounter water too rough to enter, take a mile walk down the beach, to your right, until you reach the rocky point–you can’t miss it. It’s a bit of a walk, but a really nice place to swim when the rest of the beach is too choppy. I saw some beautiful fish that swam all around me, as well as a pretty big ray who cruised right by me a couple times. Super cool! Kinda scary!
Heading back to my room was a challenge–I got lost in the property! There are so many pools, caves, aquariums and lagoons–even though my tower was in sight it was a little tough finding my way back. But this turned out to be a good thing when I stumbled across a bunch of sea-life lagoons. All of sudden I look down and I’m staring at the most adorable baby sharks. Yes, I said adorable! I’d never seen baby sharks before–they were amazing! Another lagoon featured rays, and another nurse sharks. I was in awe, being this close to such amazing creatures; definitely a cool surprise.
I could probably stay a week at Atlantis, there’s just so much to do and I probably only saw and did 2% of what’s offered there. I highly recommend. You can go here for a complete list of “things to do” at Atlantis. I only wish it had been just a little warmer, but that’s my fault for going in February.
I wanted to see downtown Nassau, so I took a ten minute walk to catch the ferry. It took me a little asking around, but I finally found it. The ferry “docks” are located right under the main bridge from Paradise Island to Nassau. Just ask around if you can’t find it, every local can point you in the right direction. I took the $4 boat ride over to the mainland and took a stroll down Bay Street, but it was Sunday night and everything was shut down. I took a taxi back to the hotel to hunt for my dinner.
I had some pretty good sushi at Nobu, one of the many restaurants at Atlantis; but more crowds–I was lucky I got a table. Another restaurant, Poseidon’s Table, had a line a hundred feet long. At times Atlantis really reminded me a lot of a giant cruise ship: the restaurants, shops, casino, grand foyers. It was like a big cruise ship that doesn’t move.
I had one more day and night at Atlantis, but something was bothering me. As I mentioned earlier, I had just three more Caribbean countries left, and Jamaica was one of them…and I was soooooo close. I really wanted to jet over to Jamaica, even if just for lunch, and cross it off the list. I tried and tried, but the flights just weren’t working out. Finally, just when I was about to give up, I found a flight to Kingston with a nice layover in Turks and Caicos…this was turning into a three-country weekend, awesome!
I was up the next morning at 5AM for breakfast in the room and then off to the airport to continue my adventure!
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