I don't write a lot about distance travel but considering when we were in the airport, we saw so many folks in UK or UofL gear plus my kids saw two families from their school............I figure there are readers that are interested in going to the Bahamas. Let me just say, it was by far our favorite family vacation. And, we have done Disney, we have been to beaches, we have gone places. Atlantis is where it is AT!
We traveled over fall break and it was a perfect timing. The place was not too crowded which meant for no lines for slides or pools and no waits at restaurants. No scrambling to find a good spot by the pool. The temps were in the 80s the entire time so it was warm enough to swim but we were never sweltering. We flew from Louisville to Atlanta to the Bahamas and the flights were just fine. And, we had a prearranged car service pick us up. I encourage this because although you think that sounds expensive, it's quite a little trip from the airport to the resort so a cab ride won't be much less expensive. Plus, our driver told us about what we were seeing, history, served us fruity beverages and gave each child some Bahamian money as a souvenir. It's Cheryl - she was great.
Taking a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas is not an inexpensive trip but if you are like me, you will enjoy yourself more if you know there are ways to make sure the expenses don't get out of control. I am all about saving for a vacation and making amazing memories together but my brain just doesn't function in the "spend spend spend" mode. There are definitely ways that you can save some money on your memorable trip to Paradise Island.
- Let's talk about towers - I found that it really didn't matter where you stay on the property. Each area had it's own charm. When booking, find an option that you feel comfortable with for your budget. The property is very walk-able, we enjoyed exploring anyway. And, there are shuttles that cover the entire place and they run quite regularly. If it rains, there are many ways to move between buildings without going outside.
- Visit the feedings - Everyday, there is an events calendar and you can pick up the daily paper that tells you times and locations. Very often, they have animal interactions. The trainers and keepers will come out and educated people about the animals and interact with them. In some of the feedings, you can interact like feed the stingrays or turtles. In other feedings, you are there to watch. Regardless, these are free and excellent. Our favorite one was when the staff member told us all about the animals in The Dig tank because it was the longest and there were so many animals to learn about.
- Free refills on fountain drinks until 5pm - Sometimes, you look at food and beverage prices and it's shock. But, not when you consider the option of free refills. All throughout the resort, they have lunch and snack spots. Get your drinks early and you can refill them for free ALL DAY. That's a pretty darn good deal.
- Best snack shack is by the Splashers kids' pool - Splashers Snacks had the best prices and options for families, for that quick lunch by the pool. The big soft pretzels for under $5 and the paninis were priced well and came with chips.
- Go to the grocery store, liquor store or pack snacks - We stayed in the Harborside area so we had a kitchen - going to the grocery/liquor store was a necessity. If you are in one of the towers, what you would want to get depends on the type of room you have. The shuttle to the grocery store was very efficient. It was just $7 and left in the morning so it didn't really interrupt our day and I bought what we needed for a week. The grocery store was not far, the ride was short, the store was very nice and there was a liquor store right next to it. The groceries are expensive but I purchased what I knew we would eat for breakfast, snacks and drinks and nothing extra - it's still less money than eating out for every meal. Also, it's worth checking an extra bag on the plane and bringing snacks or just pack your carry-on to capacity!
- Dunkin Donuts - There is one just adjacent to the property right across the street from the Marina Village area. The prices are comparable to what you would find in the states.
- Visit every pool - There are so many pools so when the kids wants to do something that is for a fee, distract them with another pool! Each pool has something different - slides, beach entry, lazy river, rapids etc. My kids didn't ask about any of the paid activities because we switched up the pool between morning and afternoon and from day to day.
- Bring snorkeling equipment and/or goggles - Paradise Lagoon has a beach area, go to the ocean side and you can snorkel for free and there are plenty of wildlife to see. The water is clear and the fish just swim all around you. You can stay in the roped area or enter into the lagoon to snorkel. We packed these items and brought them from home so we didn't have to spend a lot on-site for them.
- Make lots of visits to the aquarium - Use the marine life identification cards available at each end of The Dig, the kids really liked them. The great thing about The Dig and the other tunnels through various aquariums (explore, The Dig is not the only one) is that every time you go, something different is happening because the fish keep moving! Sometimes there are people snorkeling in the tanks, sometimes there's a scuba diver cleaning the tank........it's interesting to watch everything even if you've already gone through. Endless free entertainment.
- Book special activities in advance - Say you want to do a dolphin interaction, for example, before you go, you will save $20+ if you book online before you get there. Once you are there, they know you are there and the price is the price, you can't get the online price! And, check the website before you go because I have seen promotions for the photo packages as well.
- Beaches - FREE, of course. And, they span the length of the property. When we were there, it was quite windy so there were days when the beach was closed. But, if they are open, spend some time there because the water is just a gorgeous shade of blue and the beach is so convenient. No reason not to get some sand between your toes.
- Arts and Crafts - Again, keep that schedule of events handy. Not every day, but if you are there for a week they will have arts and crafts several times during your stay. The schedule states time and location and they set up a special table for the activity. It is completely free and my kids came home with all of their handmade Atlantis trinkets instead of begging to buy and buy and buy. They made stuffed animals, key chains and a snow globe.
- Bingo and games - Here I am, broken record. The schedule will highlight bingo and games. These are REALLY fun. The staff does a great job of engaging people and making everyone laugh. Bingo was our favorite and we won a bunch of souvenirs so again - no need to go buy a nice Atlantis beach bag because I won one at Bingo! And, many people win things so everyone goes home happy.
If you go to Atlantis, you will have such a wonderful time! Hope this information helps ease your mind that yes.......it costs quite a bit to take a trip there but.........you can work your frugal angle and feel good about saving some money too!