This was our fourth trip to the Bahamas, so instead of a trip description, consider this “Jennifer & Andy’s guide”.

We opted to stay at the Comfort Suites on Paradise Island, which is across the street from Atlantis, a third of the price, and you have full use of all Atlantis facilities.

You simply can’t beat the Atlantis. If you haven’t been there, the place is huge – the size of three hotels put together. We stayed in an ocean view room on the concierge floor back in 1999 – it was a splurge for the wedding. We were hardly ever in our room though. This time we stayed at the Comfort Suites, as did many of the guests at our wedding. It was awesome – nice big clean room and we were closer to Atlantis than the Beach Tower rooms.

The first thing to do is get a wristband so you can move freely around Atlantis. You can get wristbands at any of the towel stands. Atlantis is deserted in the morning – a favorite activity of ours is wandering the grounds before everyone wakes up – you have the whole place to yourself and there are some phenomenal photo opportunities. The Library opens for free internet access at 10am – go a few minutes early as there is a crowd right at 10. You can pick up a copy of “Fish ‘n Chips” there – this newsletter lists the daily activities. It’s good to know when they’re feeding the piranhas, and it’s also good to know where the organized activities are so you can avoid those spots 🙂

To get away from it all, spend the day at Cove Beach. Drag your chairs to the far end (away from the hotel) of the beach – close enough to still raise the flags on your beach chair to signal the cocktail waitress, but far enough away that all you hear is the water. It’s an easy walk across the sandy peninsula – great shelling on the other side and a calm bay for swimming. In the afternoon, walk down to the Cloisters and the gardens at the Ocean Club.

For dinner, head into Nassau to the Poop Deck – best conch fritters we’ve had and very good seafood. Hard to get a reservation unless you’re a big party, but if you go at 6:30 you won’t have a problem. Ask for a table right on the water – very pretty view of the yacht harbor and Atlantis. We usually cab over and walk home. Our favorite restaurant on the island is Compass Point – go in the afternoon, watch the sunset, and stay for dinner. It’s a ways from Paradise Island – both literally and figuratively. The hotel only had 15 or so rooms and looks very Bahamian – brightly colored bungalows on a beach lined with tiki torches. The open air restaurant serves, among other things, delicious lobster.

If you crave more adventure than lounging on the beach, head to Blue Lagoon Island for the dolphin encounter. It’s pricey, but worth it – you get to do many different types of interactions with the dolphins, and the dolphins seem to enjoy it as much as the humans. Admittedly this seemed a bit corny but it was so cool – like being a Sea World dolphin trainer. There were 8 of us in the water with 3 dolphins – undoubtedly the most thrilling part was “the thrilling foot push” – even bought the video 🙂

If you are a diver, head to Stuart Cove’s (it’s on the other side of the island, but that’s where the diving is so it makes sense). The shark dives are done in the afternoon – and they’re done everyday so it’s an easy adventure to sit in to your schedule. They send a photographer and videographer on every dive – and they also rent cameras (including the Nikonos V) if you want to shoot your own. If you really crave adventure, and have money to burn, hire a seaplane for the day and snorkel remote and uninhabited islands (we haven’t done this, but have put it on the agenda for our next visit).

For shopping, head into Nassau and check out Bay Street. A cab will cost about $10 or you can take the ferry which is $3/person. The ferry departs Paradise Island from the foot of the bridge and drops you off right by the straw market. Hint: the ferry boats say they leave every half hour, but they leave when the boat is full. It’s best to be the last one on (because you will have the least amount of wait time and you will be the first one off when you arrive. In Nassau, the horse-drawn carriages are a good way to get your bearings and see the historic sites (and pretty cheap at $10/person). You can hire them right by the cruise ship dock. We’re not the duty free types – our favorite shops are Balmain (for local prints), Island Tings (for souvenir type stuff), and Marlborough Antiques (fun too look – pricey to buy).

On the day of your departure, make use of the transit lounge at Atlantis or the hospitality suite at the Comfort Suites. You can check your luggage there all day, then return a few hours before your flight to take a shower and change your clothes.