Review of family-friendly luxury resort at Atlantis Bahamas – overview of accommodations, facilities, dining and activities.
We have vacationed at The Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas with our children on three separate occasions when the girls ranged in age from 3 to 10. The Atlantis Resort is a full service resort (as opposed to all-inclusive) located on Paradise Island (which was developed almost exclusively to accommodate visitors to the islands) and is connected by bridge to Nassau on New Providence Island. Atlantis may be very popular with jet-setters and gamblers but it is absolutely heaven on earth for kids.
This article was originally written in 2011, updated in 2014 and again in September 2018.)
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The larger-than-life Atlantis Resort was developed by Kerzner International as a vacation destination and was built around the theme of the legendary lost city of Atlantis. The resort has expanded a great deal over the last two decades adding additional towers, an extensive water playground, more restaurants and the marina village shopping area. The resort is now so expansive that many guests never leave the grounds over the course of their stay.
If you are traveling with kids it will be difficult to lure them away from the water park to explore Nassau or the rest of the island to any extent. My husband and I stayed at this resort shortly after it had been purchased by Kerzner, but prior to any renovations, and we saw a fair bit of Nassau on that visit but on our trips with the kids we have hardly left the resort at all.
Accommodations at Atlantis
The resort offers a number of different types of accommodations which vary in price and amenities. All together the resort now has more than 3,000 guestrooms and suites. On our family vacations as Atlantis, we have stayed twice in a room in the Royal Tower which we found very convenient for accessing pools, the water park and the beach and, most recently in an Oceanview Studio at The Reef which we loved for the luxurious residential vibe.
The available accommodations at the resort include:
The Beach – The original building of the resort located with easy access to the beach and the lazy river. This tower is casual and family-friendly and offers the most affordable accommodation at Atlantis.
The Coral – This centrally-located tower has been recently renovated and the newly designed rooms are described as having a serene beach vibe. The Coral is near the shopping and dining of Marina Village.
The Royal – This iconic tower has more upscale accommodations and is conveniently located near The Dig and Ruins Lagoon as well as the Aquaventure Park.
The Cove – One of the newer towers, The Cove is an ultra-luxury property located on the beach that offers chic and contemporary suites with a number of exclusive features including a private adults-only pool.
The Reef – This is also a newer tower which features luxurious condo-style residences located directly on the beach with magnificent ocean views. The residences run from studios to three bedroom suites and include either kitchenettes or full kitchens. Guests at The Reef share a private family friendly pool with The Cove.
Harborside Resort – Spacious and comfortable condominiums located across the marina from Atlantis which are ideal for large groups and have access to all of the amenities of the resort.
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The Beaches at Atlantis
The resort boasts of 5 miles of white sand beaches and crystal-blue water so it’s imperative that you tear the kids away from the water park every now and then to enjoy a stroll on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas. There are several beaches available to guests of Atlantis – Atlantis Beach, Cove Beach, Paradise Beach and Lagoon Beach. We enjoyed playing on Atlantis Beach on our first two visits to the resort but on our most recent visit staying at The Reef we stuck to Cove Beach and Paradise Beach because they were just steps from the resort.
The turquoise Caribbean waters are beautiful and clear and Atlantis Beach is a perfect place to play in the powdery white sand, splash in the waves, build sandcastles and dig for shells. If it’s windy the waves can be a bit powerful for small kids though and they’ll have to be watched even more carefully. Some kids are thrilled by waves knocking them off their feet and others – not so much. This beach is closest to The Beach, The Coral and The Royal.
The tranquil Cove and Paradise beaches which are near The Cove and The Reef are the most convenient for guests staying in those two towers. There’s also a bit of a breakwater at these beaches so I found that the waters were a bit calmer than on the Atlantis Beach.
Kids also love to play at the beach at Paradise Lagoon Beach which is a protected environment where families can rent paddle boats, snorkeling gear or other water sports equipment.
Pools and Waterpark
One of the primary reasons that families flock to The Atlantis Resort is the pools and the water park. There are no fewer than 11 distinctive pools scattered throughout the tropical setting of the resort including three pools specifically for kids. The ones that we used the most often on our first two visits were the River Pool which deepens gradually before connecting to the Lazy River Ride, the Mayan Temple pool, and the Ripples kids pool and Splashers (a Mayan themed pool and water playground). On our most recent visit when we were staying at The Reef we enjoyed the Cascades pool which is exclusive to guests of The Cove and The Reef as well as The Baths Colonnade Pool which is adjacent to Cove Beach. No matter what age your children are there is a pool that they will be delighted with.
The Aquaventure water park is the largest water park in the Caribbean and is designed for guests to use for several days without getting bored. The park boasts 141 acres of water rides and pools which provide a thrilling adventure for the whole family. There’s the Leap of Faith with a 60ft vertical drop; the Challenger slide where guests can race each other in a slide to the bottom; a tube ride through a tunnel in a shark filled lagoon; and a number of slides in the Power Tower that end in white water rapids. Since our visits have all been during spring break, we have run into friends from home visiting at the same time and the girls have had a fabulous time enjoying the rides with schoolmates.
Atlantis Tip: Be sure to pack swimsuits and sunscreen in your carry-on bag. Atlantis offers guests complimentary use of In-Transit Hospitality Lounges, which allows guests with early arrivals (prior to 4pm check-in) or late departures (after 11am check-out time) to shower, change and store small personal items while they continue to enjoy the resort’s amenities. Facilities include lockers, showers, restrooms, changing facilities and bathing suit dryers. Luggage and large items may be stored with the bellmen.
There are height limits on the water slides but there is still plenty to do with tykes that are too short to ride with the big kids. When our younger daughter was too small for most of the slides, she had a wonderful time splashing in the fountains and enjoying the mini water slides at Ripples which is near The Royal. She also loved Splashers which is a Mayan-themed kids pool and water playground. Poseidon is another fun pool and water playground for younger kids located outside The Beach. There are lifeguards positioned throughout the water park and life jackets are available for the use of guests as well.
The Marine Habitat and The Dig
If your family needs a break from the water slides then the resort’s Marine Habitat will provide an interesting diversion. The resort’s collection of marine habitats and aquarium exhibits is one of the largest in the world. The Habitat encompasses 14 lagoons, eight million gallons of ocean water and more than 50,000 aquatic animals representing over 250 marine species.
Our favourites were the Stingray Lagoon particularly at feeding times when some guests get the opportunity to touch and feed the stingrays, the Reef Lagoon with its nurse sharks, the Estuary Lagoon which serves as a nursery for the newborn aquatic animals at the resort, and the Predator Lagoon where guests come face to face with sharks and other sea creatures while walking through a 100 foot long clear tunnel submerged in the lagoon.
The Dig is one of the most interesting of the exhibits and has the added advantage of being indoors and providing a break from the sun. The Dig is a fascinating walk-through marine exhibit that is set up to represent the tunnels in the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis. At least once every day that we were at the resort we had to walk through The Dig (generally in the evening after dinner). It seems that no one ever gets tired of walking through this unique exhibit.
The most memorable experience that we have had at the resort was our swim with the dolphins in Dolphin Cay. Dolphin Cay is a 14 acre rescue-rehabilitation centre which is one of the largest in the Caribbean. The facility had only recently opened at the time of our visit when we took part in this experience. On a previous visit to Atlantis, before Emma was born, we had taken Katie to Blue Lagoon for the dolphin encounter there but this was so much better.
Rather than standing on a platform with a large group of people, our family donned wetsuits and walked into the shallow ocean water with a marine biologist who explained dolphin behaviour to us and had us interacting with one Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin. Emma (who was only 3 at the time) was a little nervous about the dolphin at first but warmed up to the playful creature. She wore a life jacket but my husband held her the entire time because she couldn’t touch bottom and was a bit nervous.
There is also a deep water swim with the dolphins available if everyone in the family is a strong swimmer. This experience was expensive but, in my opinion, worth every penny. There was also a photographer in the water with us who took some amazing shots that were available to purchase after the swim. We purchased the disc with all of the photos on it and it provides some amazing visual memories of the experience.
Other activities available at Dolphin Cay include: Playtime with Sea Lions, Stingray Experience, Serenity Snorkel, Ultimate Trainer for a Day and more. Visitors can also book paddleboard and kayaking experiences and interact with the dolphins in the cay. On our last visit we had booked the Playtime with the Sea Lions experience, however, my daughter became very ill and wasn’t able to participate. Two of her friends were able to take our place and had a delightful time meeting the resident sea lions.
Atlantis Tip: You can make Dolphin Cay Reservations online and view how many spots remain in each time slot. Reservations can’t be cancelled but can be rescheduled if there is another time available.
Atlantis is a vacation destination with a plethora of activities available for its guests – although many of these are an additional expense. The Casino at Atlantis is very popular, however, we aren’t particularly interested in gambling so the most exposure that we have had to it when visiting with our family is a quick walk-through to access other parts of the resort.
Recent Hollywood blockbuster movies play at the Atlantis Theatre and are complimentary for guests of the resort. Popcorn and other snacks can be purchased at the concession stand.
There are often live concert events featuring a variety of tops artists at Atlantis – tickets for these performances are an additional cost. Check event listings on the Atlantis Bahamas website to see if there is a special event taking place during your stay.
The award-winning Mandara Spa offers a number of luxurious services for both men and women bringing together ancient Balinese healing touches, traditional European therapies and natural elements indigenous to The Bahamas, however, I can’t attest to any of this as my kids keep me far too busy to indulge in any ‘me time’ on vacation.
There is also a fitness centre, tennis courts and golf available, however these are all activities that require guests to dry off and leave the water park area so our family has not experienced any of them.
Guests can paint their own pottery or create art with glass fusing at the Earth and Fire Pottery Studio.
Atlantis has a fee-based kids club called Atlantis Kids Adventures which is for kids between the ages of 3 and 12. All kids must be toilet-trained and diaper/pull-up free. Kids choose themed adventures such as cooking lessons, performing, or playing detective and sign up for three hour sessions in the morning or afternoon. Evening adventures are also available. We have never made use of the kids club and would only have considered it for a one-time special activity. The cost is far too prohibitive for regular use of the facilities for most families.
Gamer’s Reef has all the newest and coolest video and arcade games.
The Atlantis Speedway is an indoor family friendly remote controlled car facility.
Atlantis Pals is the resort’s version of Build-a-Bear. Kids can create their very own customized stuffed animal from scratch – a brand new friend to remind them of your incredible Caribbean vacation.
Club Rush is the resort’s supervised tween area where kids between the ages of 9-13 can hang out in the evening enjoying video games, music and group activities – no parents allowed. My daughter and her friends had a great time hanging out at Club Rush but I doubt that she would have gone if she had been on her own. Crush is the ultimate teen nightclub available for older teens aged 13-17. There is a cover fee for both Club Rush and Crush.
Atlantis Tip: Photo identification is required for kids to enter either Club Rush or Crush. A passport is required for tweens and either a passport or driver’s license for teens. Remember to bring it with you because it can be a long walk back to the room to get it if you forget (I speak from experience – Club Rush at The Beach is about as far from The Reef as it’s possible to get at Atlantis!).
Dining at Atlantis
There are many options for dining at Atlantis Bahamas running the gamut from quick snacks to casual eateries to fine dining establishments. Atlantis features a total of 21 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges which range from quick bites at casual establishments like Murray’s Deli or Carmine’s to fine dining at restaurants like Nobu or Café Martinique. There are also several Starbucks outlets which is very important to me for my daily fix and a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop in the Marina Village shopping area for the kids to get their treats.
Atlantis has dining plans available for those who prefer to have the cost of their meals pre-set. We have never used the dining plan because we are light eaters and the plans tend not to be cost-effective for us. Dining at Atlantis is an expensive proposition, however, the cost can be managed by sticking to the more casual eateries and, for guests in condominium style accommodations, by eating in some of the time. As well, we found that the portions in most restaurants were so large that two people could easily share one meal.
Atlantis Tip: Dining Reservations can be made online once a stay is booked. It’s a good idea to make meal reservations as far ahead as possible because prime dining times disappear quickly. We learned the hard way that if you arrive without reservations that it’s hard to get one around a 5 or 6pm dinner time and travelling with young kids it’s a little harder to be flexible on dinner time. Anyone who is sensitive to smoke would be advised to avoid the restaurants located around the floor of the casino.
Shopping at Atlantis
There are plenty of opportunities to shop duty-free at the resort both at the many luxurious boutiques in the towers as well as in the Marina Village area. This is another activity that involves actually leaving the water park so it’s best done in the evening. As a bonus, while wandering around Marina Village you can also pick out the yacht you would buy when you win the lottery!
The one negative aspect of a vacation at The Atlantis is that it is very difficult to convince anyone to leave the resort to experience any of the other attractions on the islands. My husband and I had stayed at Atlantis shortly after it had been purchased by Kerzner and prior to the commencement of renovations. We went in to Nassau on that visit and walked around the downtown area a bit to view some of the historic buildings, went for a very interesting surrey ride and shopped at the Straw Market. We went on an undersea helmet walk with Hartley’s which was one of the coolest things that I have ever done – particularly as I am a nervous swimmer and would never try snorkeling or any other sort of underwater activity. We also visited Ardastra Gardens to see the marching flamingos which I’m sure my kids would love if I could just convince them to leave the water park for part of a day.
A trip to The Atlantis Resort is an action-packed vacation that the kids will love. They may not get much cultural exposure and they may not get a taste of what The Bahamas is really like but they will have a fabulous time and sometimes that is just the kind of getaway that a busy family needs.
- Atlantis Resort has a hurricane guarantee. In the event that a hurricane watch or warning is issued by the United States’ National Hurricane Center within fourteen (14) days prior to your date of arrival for either your travel origin city or for New Providence, The Bahamas, guests with confirmed reservations can cancel your reservation up to the moment of scheduled departure. You then have the option to rebook your vacation without penalties for a stay to be completed within one (1) year of the original arrival date, subject to terms and conditions. Check website for details.
- ATMs are located in the Casino and may be used with credit cards. There is a service charge.
- Atlantis does not allow pets of any sort with the exception of registered service animals.
- Amenities in most rooms include a coffee maker, iron and ironing board, hair dryer and in-room safe for the storage of valuables.
- The resort has a voltage capacity of 110V for U.S. and Canadian electric razors, hair dryers and other standard electrical equipment used in guest rooms. All European appliances require an adapter, which can be obtained from Housekeeping.
- WiFi is included within your daily resort fee for stays at The Beach, The Coral, The Royal, The Cove and The Reef. There are internet fees at Harborside Resort.
- Complete valet laundry and dry cleaning service are available.
- Atlantis Mediclinic, located in The Beach, is open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight every day. There is an outdoor Nurse’s station, located near The Royal. There is a doctor on call 24 hours a day.
- The Atlantis babysitting service is an in room service only, meaning that the babysitter comes to your room and baby sits, but is not allowed to take the child/children out of room unless they are accompanied by the parent/parents. All babysitters are CPR certified and have child care qualification as well as background and security checked by Atlantis Security Department.
- Complimentary Bus Shuttle Service operates between The Reef, The Cove, The Royal, Harborside Resort, The Coral, The Beach, Ocean Club and the Ocean Club Golf Course every 30 minutes.
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The official tourism website for The Islands of the Bahamas is a great resource for activities in Nassau and on the other islands.
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