There are typically two types of Caribbean travelers—those looking for the islands that offer fun in the sun with a host of American-like products, and those who are seeking something a little more unchartered and exotic. The Bahamas, of all the places I have been to in the region, is the best example of a destination that offers travelers both.
Discovering Paradise Island
My recent trip to Paradise Island is a prime example of night-and-day experiences in one location. While there, I stayed at the One&Only Ocean Club and Resort, one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. It was quiet, secluded and intimate. There, you can find all the elements of high-class living, from fine wines to delectable cuisine and lush beaches.
However, if the ultimate in luxury isn't quiet the experience you are looking for, and you'd rather opt for the more tourist-oriented vacation—complete with wild attractions and full-out, carefree fun—the Atlantis resort complex is just a 10-minute walk away.
While there, you can see some of the coolest fish—in one of the largest aquariums you've ever laid your eyes on—at the Royal Tower.
Those looking for quality family fun won't go wrong with a trip to the Atlantis' Aquaventure. This is a terrific water park that is great for families or couples looking to feel like kids again. I'm not embarrassed to admit, I was laughing uncontrollably as I splashed through waves on my tube while riding the Lazy River.
When the kids go to bed and you want a little late-night wagering, a casino is also located at the Royal Towers. Although be aware; if you're a blackjack fan, on most nights the casino only offers $25 minimum tables. There are a couple of $15 tables, but good luck getting a spot at one—the waiting crowd is usually pretty large.
Crowds aside, the cocktail service is great. I suggest giving a $5 tip right off the bat. Your servers will be sure to come back every five to 10 minutes if you do.
Also worth noting, about a month ago I was in Great Exuma, where I stayed at the Grand Isle Resort and Spa.
In general, Great Exuma was so much different than Paradise Island. I was particularly fond of snorkeling here—the coral reefs are located just a short distance from the rooms. In fact, I only swam about 20 feet or so into the ocean before I was swimming over a reef, allowing for a bird's-eye view of an array of exotic fish.
For an extra fee, Grand Isle offers boat rides throughout Exuma. I had the opportunity to take a speedboat ride to Chat 'n Chill, a small, casual bar and grill on Stocking Island, about 30 minutes away from the resort. It was low-key and, as the name indicates, a very chill place.
Case in point: Lawn chairs were set up in the shallow part of the ocean for guests to sit and lounge with a cold beverage and get their feet wet.
Just a Reminder
The thing to keep in mind is that during all of these different experiences, I was still in the Bahamas. You might be in the same destination, but the experience you get from one property to the next can make you feel like you are in a different country altogether.
The Bahamas has a property for everyone, and it is a true example of diversity in the Caribbean. Besides their distinguishing characteristics, all spots I mentioned have expansive beaches, opulent blue waters and, above all else, opportunities for relaxation.
- 1. The Atlantis: www.atlantis.com|~www.atlantis.com/
- 2. Chat 'n Chill: www.chatnchill.com|~www.chatnchill.com/
- 3. One&Only Ocean Club and Resort: www.oneandonlyresorts.com|~www.oneandonlyresorts.com/