Atlantis, synonymous with mystery and wonder, still manages to wow visitors even for the day. The Bahamian resort, with its magnificent Dig Aquarium and Aquaventure Water Park, is a good fit for all families, including those with special needs.
The Atlantis resort is located in the Bahamian Paradise Island, less than 20 miles away from the Nassau’s airport and port. The ocean- themed property, part of the Marriott chain, features six towers with over 1,500 rooms, and suites spread over 141 acres of lush and well-manicured grounds.
Like many other hotels in the Caribbean, this one also welcomes guests for the day to use their water park and beach areas for a surcharge fee of $160 per person.
Since families comprise the majority of tourists at this resort, we felt right at home when we visited for the day as part of a cruise shore excursion to Nassau.
The public areas of this hotel had ornate wood and marble decorations in neutral colors of white, tan and gold that gave the spaces an upscale feel.Lush tropical greenery, waterfalls, and ponds further enhanced the outside grounds. We found it intriguing that the hotel even had a shallow pool filled with manta rays as part of the decorations, so kids visiting could appreciate having these majestic animals to observe carefully.
The resort features a gigantic aquarium called “The Dig” which is open to the public free of charge. The site is decorated to look like a workspace from another era, at least near the entrance. As one progresses further, the place seems to take on more of an underground, hidden temple vibe. However, the tanks are brightly lit up, making the space itself relatively easy to navigate.
Visitors who are traveling with kids might want to grab one of the free pamphlets from the stack near the entrance so that they’re able to identify all the different animals and fish. Our children found the lobster tank, with their petit climbing ladders, particularly fascinating to watch.
The Atlantis Resort also features several water slides in their Aquaventure Waterpark. The enclosed waterslide is called “The Leap of Faith” and the two open slides directly across from it have been simultaneously dubbed “The Challenger,” perhaps because of their potential to be used for races. Another of the slides is enclosed in glass and goes directly through the shark tank so that users can watch these marine animals during their ride. The waterslides seem to be a particularly popular attraction for the younger hotel guests. However, some brave adults were ready to take the plunge waiting their turn for the rides when we visited.
During the summer months, the lines for these fast-paced rides can be particularly long, and it often takes more time to climb the stairs than to use the slide. Even so, there is a beautiful view from the top of the waterslide tower.
Swimming and snorkeling are additionally possible on the white sandy beaches that line the shore near the hotel complex. There are several pools that visitors can use including a shallow one for the younger kids. There are plenty of umbrellas and chairs available for guests to use. As parents, we were thrilled to see lifeguards keeping watch over swimmers at all times.
There are likewise several beach bars nearby. However, you will definitely want to bring a credit card along if you are planning a day trip here because a lot of the bars will not accept cash or other forms of payment.
For lunch, Atlantis has multiple venues to choose from; fast food joints and others that offer light fares like sandwiches and salads in a sit-down locale. We stopped at the Shark Bite, near the shark tank, which was a good place to have either a drink or lunch while the well-cared for feral kitties wander around your feet nibbling on leftover table scraps.
Tips for Families with Autism
- The staff we encountered during our brief visit was quite friendly and was excellent when it came to helping and accommodating our son with autism.They allowed him to stand at the front of the group so that he wasn’t overwhelmed by the crowd and were patient when he lost his way wandering the grounds and got frustrated looking for the way back.
- Travelers should keep in mind that this resort is huge, and there is a lot of walking that is required to get from one point to another.
- Make sure you set a family meeting point for everyone to know about if your group gets separated.
- The slides, in particular, need a lengthy climb, and they can be claustrophobic for autistic individuals, particularly in the summer when the narrow stairways will certainly be crowded.
- Standing in the bright, hot sun while waiting for the slide could also cause problems in light-sensitive individuals.We came in November, which was good because there weren’t any lines to use the slides and the weather was still warm enough.
- Travelers should also note that some of the beach bars have a problem with bees and feral cats do wander around so allergic folks should be careful in such spaces.