Bahamas: Nassau/ Paradise Island, Family Vacation Ideas – Beach Time, Dolphin Encounters, and a Pirate Adventure. Azure water and marvelous white sand beaches combined with lively music, tropical cuisine, and friendly people to create the perfect tropical playground for kids of all ages. From water slides and a lazy river to dolphin encounters, snorkeling and a horse-drawn carriage ride – family fun comes easy.
We have assembled a family vacation activity list to make imagining the fun easier. You can do everything or do nothing at all. Either way the sunshine, soft sea breezes, gorgeous beaches, great sea food, enchanting music will make the trip worthwhile. Just remember the sunscreen and it will be alright.
Escape for a day to Rose Island. Within the vicinity of Nassau are hundreds tiny islands ideal for day trips. Nearby but remote enough to provide the feeling of being lost in the Gulf Stream – no cell phone reception, TV antennas, or high tower tropical resorts to blot the tranquility. Sand crabs scurry along the beach, pelicans glide over the waves, and palm trees cast dramatic shadows on the sand. It’s an easy escape from the busy centers of Nassau and Paradise Island to Rose Island. Robinson Crusoe Shipwreck Cruises operates a triple deck catamaran to the island where guests are encouraged to just chill out - relax on the white sand beach, snorkel along the shore over coral reefs, explore tide pools, join a game of volleyball, go kayaking, or hike inland along palm shaded pathways. The day excursion includes a tropical lunch buffet with unlimited wine & lemonade/fruit punch.
Travel at the speed of Bond. Not exactly in the style of James Bond but fun nonetheless, Powerboat Adventures sweeps passengers off to the Exuma cays for a day of wild encounters with nature and plenty of memories to share with kids. Traveling across the water at 40 plus MPH makes the transition time quick, easy and slightly thrilling. Secluded Allan's Cay is the first stop. Passengers get a firsthand look at the endangered Bahamian Dragon during a scheduled feeding session. Next stop a private island paradise, Ship Channel Cay, where passengers disembark to enjoy the beach, the tide pools and get a chance to meet indigenous wild boars. Refreshments are provided at a tiny island cottage and there is plenty of time to explore the island. Bonus points: Get your water camera ready because the high point for many is the coming of the stingrays. During the feeding everyone is invited to participate, really! Save your film because the stingray session also attracts Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks and lemon sharks for their own feeding session managed by an island guide. It’s bit of wild kingdom in the shallows.
Count the fishes, name the shells. Appropriately named, Atlantis (on Paradise Island) is the home of amazing aquariums and lagoons. For guests of the resort, the water features come with the vacation but if you’re staying elsewhere on Nassau/Paradise Island, you can arrange to tour the resort to see its more than 500,000 marine creatures. Fish feedings take place everyday but Monday and sea life observation is effortless. A series of underwater tunnels allow eye to eye contact with sharks, stingrays, moon jellies and piranhas. Bonus points: For water lovers, Atlantis is also the location of the 141-acre waterscape, Aquaventure one of the world’s largest water-themed attractions in the world. The state-of-the-art complex includes water slides, a mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids, wave surges, and special effects.
Swim with the dolphins. Part of the Atlantic Resort’s water world is an extraordinary 14-acre dolphin habitat - Dolphin Cay Atlantis. The manmade water habitat, one of the largest of its kind in the world, has set a new benchmark for dolphin encounters. From sharing time during docile shallow water play to high energy deep water antics, it is all about learning and having fun with dolphins. The extensive complex offers six interactive programs, including several dolphin encounter options, plus Sea Lions - Behind the Scenes, Trainer for a Day, and Sea Keeper. Need to know. Because group sizes are limited, advance reservations are strongly recommended. Bonus points: Dolphin Cay has a series of electronic interactive learning stations where visitors may read about our dolphins rescued from Hurricane Katrina, or learn more about dolphins in the wild and what needs to be done to protect them. Admission is free and open to all visitors of Atlantis. Meet the dolphins of Blue Lagoon Island. A 20-minute scenic boat ride begins the dolphin adventure set amidst a tropical island setting with the makings of a movie set. In fact some of the aquatic residents of Blue Lagoon have film time to their credit. Once on the island the participants receive an entertaining yet practical orientation about dolphin and sea lion encounters. The facility offers several dolphin encounters including a high-energy deep water swim concluding with a awesome foot –push, and a shallow water hands-on encounter that is both educational, and fun. Blue Lagoon Island is also the home of several gregarious sea lions that meet, greet, and nuzzle visitors who are standing on submerged platforms at the edge of the lagoon. Bonus points: So that participants can enjoy the experience without the distraction of cameras, a professional photo & video staff captures the action of each encounter.
Feed the birds, meet a snake. This is definitely a fun stop for families. Petit in size but grand in experience Ardastra Gardens & Zoo is the only zoo in the Bahamas. Within the five-acre tropical nature reserve you will find awesome gardens and plenty of colorful residents including geckoes, Eclectus parrots exotic pheasants, Red-breasted geese, and Bahamian boa constrictors. Trainers stroll the tropical walkways introducing visitors to raptors and parrots and encouraging interaction. Check out the wild cats on your own (no introduction needed). Look for the Great Horned Owl named Shadow, and the cute Vietnamese pot-bellied pig called Lulubelle. Bonus points: For an awesome photo opportunity don’t miss the flamingoes. Three times each day it is possible to watch native flamingos "marching" on command - forward march, pick it up, about face. Afterwards, make tracks to the Lorry parrot exhibit and participate in the bird feeding by hand.
Ahoy mates, step aboard! Who doesn’t love a feisty pirate adventure? While not exactly a scenario set for Johnny Depp, Pirates of Nassau (located downtown) has created a mini adventure on a re-created pirate ship known as Revenge. The pirate ship museum experience is both fun and interesting. The Golden Age of Piracy spanned three decades from 1690 to 1720 and during those years Nassau was at a safe haven for the rogues of the sea. Learn facts and fiction about life on the sea and what really happened to real-life pirates, many of whom sailed to and from the Bahamas. Hear about notorious pirates Calico Jack, Black Beard, Black Bart, Mary Read, Anne Bonny, and arch-pirate Charles Vane.
Make it happen. It’s an easy escape for families who want to relax and soak in the Caribbean without the long plane trip. Nassau is about 40 minutes by air from Miami and there are daily direct flights, not only to Miami but to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and other cities in the U.S. There are frequent direct flights to and from London, U.K. and Toronto, Canada. Need to know: New U.S. government regulations require all adults and children (even newborns) to have a valid passport for all international travel by air to The Islands of the Bahamas. If you have a question, a Bahamas passport team member may be reached toll-free at 1-800-523-7682 – really there are no recordings during active call center hours 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST weekdays, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST Saturdays and 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM EST Sundays. Nassau/Paradise Island - Get the whole picture at www.NassauParadiseIsland.com
Robinson Crusoe Shipwreck Cruises - (242)322-2606
Powerboat Adventures - (242) 363-1466
Atlantis Resort and Spa, Casino Drive, Paradise Island (242)363-3000
Dolphin Cay Atlantis, Toll-free 1-800-Atlantis
Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island - (242)363-1003
Pirates of Nassau, located at King and George St., (242) 356-3759
Ardastra Gardens & Zoo, Chippingham Road, south of W Bay St. Nassau, Bahamas. (242) 323-5806
Content created by FTF and images provided by Atlantis Dolphin Cay, Robinson Crusoe Cruises, and Nassau/Paradise Island Tourism. Copyright 2009.