Paradise Island

OK, the name can end up sort of ironic, because the island can be as much as a hassle as it can be “paradise” but let us go with this for awhile. If you cruise to Nassau you will feel the need to speed to Paradise Island, if not for the ads then because you want to get away from the touts and cheats of Nassau and see the touts and cheats somewhere else. Paradise Island also is the home of Atlantis, the only hotel that charges admission to see parts of itself. Sound like fun?

Getting to Paradise

There are two ways to get to Paradise, water taxi and regular car taxi.

Water Taxi

Water taxis cost $6 per person round trip in mid-2005. Kids count as persons, so full price. You buy tickets and board about 5-10 minutes walk from the ship (ask). If you are lucky, you wait about 15 minutes for them to fill up the boat and off your family goes; if you are us, you wait close to 30 minutes on a slowly rocking boat to depart. The ride across the water is short, maybe 15 minutes, and will be interesting to most kids. Once the boat starts moving there is no rocking around that might cause sea sickness.

The bad news is that you dock on Paradise Island at the ferry dock, which is totally convenient to nothing. You and your family have a hot, sweaty 15 minute trudge to Atlantis, or a bit further to the nearest public beach access. Do not try to sneak through hotels to the beach unless you are stealthier than our family—guards are stationed everywhere for your convenience to tell you rudely to go outside and wander around looking for a path to the sea like some ancient mariner. It was not fun. The actual access point is up the street from the RUI Hotel, which itself is up the street from Atlantis. There is a small sign.

After doing whatever you did on Paradise, you get to repeat the adventure above to return to the ship. OK, we like to be a positive karma website so I will add that there are a lot of colorful fish hanging around the ferry dock who respond almost violently to bread scraps thrown into the water.

Car Taxi

Car taxis are probably a better alternative for most families, though not without their own good times. You can pick one up right outside the cruise ship terminal but be prepared to negotiate a price based on where you are going, how many people you are, the weather, the state of business and whether the driver dislikes you for some reason (he probably will). You are responsible for paying the $1 per car toll to cross the bridge; the toll is most certainly per car, not per person as your driver will likely insist. Print out this page and save a few bucks. The advantage here is that the driver will, with some negotiation of course, take you directly to the beach which allows you to avoid the hot, unpleasant walk. The downside of the taxi is the potential cost and the certain hassle of negotiating with the hot, unpleasant driver. While the taxis line up like scavenger dung beetles to receive guests disgorged from the cruise ships, they may not be as plentiful for the ride home from Paradise, in which case the water taxi looms in your future.

Life in Paradise

Assuming you get there in one piece, the publically accessible beach on Paradise Island is pretty nice. The beach and water are very clean, with a light surf and a decent shallow drop off pretty safe for all but really small kids. There are no showers or toilets, but vendors aggressively work the beach vending chairs, umbrellas, snacks and lots of alchoholic drinks. Bring your own towels and sunscreen.

Vending Dudes

The vending dudes are also agressively selling jet ski, parasail and banana boat rides. Our family did not partake, but from overheard conversations prices seemed to vary alot, so bargain and bargain. Prices will vary depending on the weather, the state of business and whether the vender dislikes you for some reason (he probably will). Safety is for each to judge on his/her own, though of course trusting your life to a drunken speed boat driver you just tried to bargain out of a few bucks seems like a great idea to me.

Braiding

There are also hair braiders on the beach, which may attract your young ones as they did ours. Need I mention that prices will vary depending on the weather, the state of business and whether the braider dislikes you for some reason (she probably will). It is better to start with a price and see what you can get than the opposite; consider starting with “What can I get for $10?” instead of “How much will you charge for six beaded strands?” Most venders will also, after agreeing on a price, claim to have no change when you offer a bigger bill, and try to sell you something else. Try to have smaller money available, or be prepared to walk around seeking change yourself. Yeah, it is all fun.

Atlantis

We did not visit the aquarium at Atlantis, an attraction highlighted by many. We did talk to lots of folks who did, and the consensus seemed to be that it was pretty good as smaller aquariums go, though expensive for what it offered. Some folks got in free after listening to a 45 minute condo time share sales talk if that is how you like to spend vacation time.

Food

As for food, all of the hotels have restaurants that sell hotel food to the public at hotel prices. There is a small strip mall sort of across from Atlantis that has some smaller restaurants that had slightly lower prices for sandwiches and the like.

All in all, not a bargain destination friends. See you back aboard the ship.

User Feedback

Please don’t despair from the negative tone of this article, I have never been treated in the manner described here. Take your kids to Cabbage Beach on PI, no vendors that I have ever seen, just sand and water and from the rocks they can watch the waves.

Bring a collapisble cooler on your trip, take a taxi over to PI, ask the driver to stop at the sub shop or News Cafe and order sandwiches for the beach.( We bought him lunch too. )Or perhaps this is somethng you can arrange on the ship before you leave.There are 3 ATM’s on PI.
Grab some cold drinks ( there is a liquor store in the plaza by the Bank of Nova Scotia )and ask him to proceed to the far end of Cabbage Beach. If you want him to pick you up that also can be arranged. Walk down the path to the most gorgeous beach, the rocks at the far end are always a good place to snorkel and the million dollar houses are a bonus! Part of the beach was on a slant so we made ‘chairs’ out of sand.You could take the water taxi back, so as to avoid the traffic;you would have to ask your driver to drop you there by the bottom of the bridge. When you come up from the beach there is always taxis around although you might have to walk down the road a bit or you might even be able to get one at the beach resort place at the start of the path.have a great vacation.

maura hagarty bannon

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