atlantis paradise island flights from los angeles
The beach at The Reef, Atlantis.

Atlantis Paradise Island Is Back — And It’s Still the Ultimate Family Resort

By: Alexander Britell - August 7, 2021

“Good job, Bahamas.”

We’re at Dolphin Cay, the marine habitat at Atlantis Paradise Island, and my four-year-old daughter is convinced that a young dolphin named Nehama is, in fact, named Bahamas. 

Nehama is part of a group of dolphins and other marine mammals that live at Dolphin Cay, which began as a refuge for dolphins and sea lions whose Mississippi home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. 

Today, it’s the leading marina animal rehabilitation facility in the Caribbean, and it’s a rather unique experience for guests at Atlantis, offering up-close, but responsible, interaction with new finned friends. 

We had come to Atlantis a few days earlier, my wife and I, our four-year-old and our one-year-old, called to the Paradise Island resort by the siren song of the ultimate family vacation. 

And while I’d stayed here for years on all different kinds of trips, I hadn’t actually done a family vacation here, and was intrigued about just what it would be like. 

It was as three-night trip, which you can do easily when your flight from Miami takes a little over 30 minutes. 

So would Atlantis deliver? 

We were staying at The Reef, part of the Atlantis portfolio, a terrific residential-style resort where the rooms have kitchens and, most importantly, space — both of which come in handy when you’re traveling with little ones. 

The Reef is part of its own oasis at Atlantis, along with the adjacent Cove; even at what is a massive resort, it’s serene — the kind of place that’s wonderful to come back to after a long day of Bahamian adventure. 

The room at The Reef

The room are excellent, the service is great and there are even the little touches — like a Bahamian-focused outdoor playlist anchored by The Beginning of the End’s “Funky Nassau.”

It’s also home to a family-friendly pool at the edge of the beach, the kind that’s shallow and sheltered enough where you can actually just let your four-year old play — without the anxiety of a traditional, deeper pool.  

atlantis paradise island resor
The Reef.

That’s without mentioning the beach itself, which is, well, a classic Bahamian beach — impossibly clear water, blindingly white sand and gentle waves — the one you could spend the entire day on if you weren’t already planning a host of other stuff to do. 

Because at Atlantis, you get into a routine. 

For us, that meant a breakfast supplied by the very convenient Starbucks in the lobby; a dip in the pool for an hour or two, and then a pilgrimage to the water park. 

And it’s the latter that is the epicenter of this property. 

Aquaventure, as it’s called, has always been the party piece of Atlantis, one of the world’s largest waterparks, a 141-acre campus of waterslides, splash pools and lazy rivers. 


And, happily, that includes Splashers, a kind of mini water park tailored for younger children, with short waterslides, splashing water and a kind of pirate ship theme. 

In about five minutes, Splashers had quickly become the greatest thing that had ever happened to my four-year-old — and to me, too. 

There was even a pair of slides where I was able to slide down side-by-side with her. 

It seemed so simple, a three-second waterslide — but after about 25 times, it was pure bliss — hearing that endlessly welcome, smiling refrain every parent knows: “again.”

And even our one-year-old got in on the fun, thrilled by a pantomime slide alongside us, from the comfort of my wife’s arms. 

After about 50 times, I was wondering if we might ever leave.

That was until we took our first run on the lazy river, easily accessed from our cabana on the water’s edge. 

And there it was, like clockwork: “again, again.”

When we eventually were able to tear ourselves away from the park, we had our nightly routine: dinner, at the family-friendly hour of 5:30 PM. 

One night, it was Carmine’s. The next, Nobu. The final night, a pizza on the marina. 

bahamas atlantis resort

They were all excellent, particularly Nobu, with its unmatched sourcing and sublime sushi; even the pizza was great. And even at Nobu, we weren’t the only ones with kids — making a high-level, cocktail-heavy sushi bar feel perfectly welcoming. 

And every dinner would be followed by a nightly walk. 

One night our stroll took us to the lovely, Bahamas-focused Art Walk at the Marina Village. Another took us through the maritime wonders of The Dig, Atlantis’ magnificent subterranean aquarium. 

Even after the first day, Atlantis had provided a litany of things that our four-year-old wanted “again.”

The waterpark. Dolphin Cay. The pool. The beach. The aquarium. Every one provided guaranteed smiles, a ready-made formula for the perfect day. 

And while things certainly change as your kids get older, when you have two little ones you can’t just sit on the beach all day and read a novel. 

And what you definitely don’t want is to have to struggle to create an itinerary every day. What you don’t want on your vacation is to have to be the Activities Director. 

You want a plan, and you want something easily replicable. 

And that’s exactly what we found at Atlantis. You hear other families with kids say it, you hear what you think are cliches, but then you go for yourself with your kids and you get it. 

There is something for everyone here, the food, the scenery, the entertainment, the amenities. And most importantly, the energy — there’s a buzz here, there’s always something to see, something to do, a reason to move. And when you’re traveling with little kids, that’s exactly what you want. 

In other words, good job, Atlantis. 

For more, visit Atlantis.

— CJ

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