How many times a week does your kid see commercials for Atlantis, Bahamas and beg to go? Are they dying to swim with the dolphins and go on water slides that wind through a tropical paradise? Do they long to snorkel in the ocean with thousands of fish kissing their toes? Would they love to explore underwater caverns where they can observe gliding manta rays, massive grouper and dangerous sharks in their natural habitat? Do YOU want to do all of these things as well? Of course you do, and why wouldn’t you? Believe the hype, Atlantis is just as amazing as it looks on TV. It is also just as expensive.
My family has a timeshare in Atlantis that we visit yearly. My children have been going since infancy and are obsessed with it, nine years later. They start counting down to the next trip the day after we get home. Over the years, We’ve learned how to work the system so we aren’t broke by the time we get home and still get the most out of our vacation. It will always be a bit pricey, but with these tips, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay it off! The following tips will show you how to do Atlantis for cheap, or at least cheaper!
You can find the cheapest flights to Nassau, Bahamas during the month of November. The average temperature is a balmy 82 degrees Fahrenheit during that month, and you narrowly avoid the rainy season, which is July through October. This is also a great time of year to go because it’s not quite as crowded.
December through February is also a good time to visit. The flights will be slightly more expensive and the temperature averages around 78 degrees, but it gets you away from the miserable weather at home for a few days and there is less chance of a rainy day or two. The crowds are more copious, but Atlantis is huge and there are hidden pockets and pools that you can easily escape to for some peace.
To find great deals on flights to Nassau, Bahamas, click here.
It’s no surprise that all the hotels on the Atlantis property are obscenely expensive. They offer deals and meal plans and all-inclusive packages, but when you break it down, it’s still beyond the average family’s budget. Fear not, there are ways around this.
Atlantis Harborside: One way to cut costs is to rent a timeshare at Harborside Resorts. It is connected to Atlantis and has access to all that it has to offer at no extra charge. If you get a few friends or family members to join you, it cuts the cost even more. A two bedroom sleeps 6 people, so the price can be split between two or three families. Each condo has its own kitchen, living room, and balcony with a view. Having a kitchen is the key to saving money on food. You can pack nonperishables in a checked suitcase, like snacks, coffee and cereal. When you catch your cab on the way to Atlantis from the airport, ask your driver to stop at the grocery store. Once there, you can buy milk, fruit, vegetables, bread, and anything else you may want to eat over the next few days. In the Bahamas, there is no income tax, capital gains tax or estate tax. There is, however, a 7.5% value-added tax on imports, so don’t be surprised by the amount on your grocery bill. Even with that, it will still be cheaper than going out to eat 3 meals a day.
Harborside itself has its own pool, baby pool, hot tub, restaurant and snack stand, so if you need a day away from the bustle of Atlantis, this is the perfect spot to relax. It is a beautiful, 10 minute walk to Aquaventure, but if you are starting to wear down from carrying kids, gear, and toys, you can take the free shuttle straight to Atlantis at no extra charge.
Comfort Suites Paradise Island: This hotel is just a short walk to Atlantis and all it has to offer. It is the only hotel on Paradise Island that gives free access to the Atlantis facilities. For someone staying off property, the cost for a one-day pass to Atlantis Aquaventure, will run you between $93 and $166. The Comfort Suites provides complimentary breakfast every morning. Each room is spacious, with a living room equipped with a pullout sofa so you won’t feel like you are on top of your family. There is a mini fridge and coffee maker for leftovers and snacks. Enjoy relaxing by the pool or having a drink at the swim-up bar. The Comfort Suites Paradise Island is convenient, clean, comfortable and budget friendly.
There are so many places to eat in Atlantis, but they can be costly. You don’t have to eat peanut butter and jelly ever night, you just have to know how to work the system. Here are some of the best restaurants in Atlantis and advice on how to make them work for you.
Carmine’s: Carmine’s is high end, family style Italian. When I say family style, I mean one order of salad will feed 4-6 people, with leftovers. It took us a few tries before we got this place figured out with just enough food for dinner and one night of leftovers. With a family of 6, we order one salad, maybe one appetizer (if we are really hungry) and two entrees. That’s it. Trust me, it will be enough food. if you are staying at Harborside, you can bring the extras home and heat them up for dinner later that week! The cuisine is outstanding, so it won’t be a sacrifice having leftovers on vacation. Reservations are a must, because everyone loves Carmine’s!
Virgil’s: Virgil’s boasts some of the best barbecue and also serves family style portions. Here, you can get an order of cornbread, some hush puppies, 1/2 rack of pork spare ribs, some crispy fried chicken, and grilled vegetables and it will be enough food to feed a small army. Bring the leftovers home for a nice, quiet dinner on your terrace overlooking the bay. Be sure to make reservations, it’s a popular spot!
The Village Burger Shack: This place is fun and great for a casual lunch or dinner with the kids. They have delicious shakes, burgers and salads. The staff is friendly and upbeat and the ambiance takes you back to a cool oldie’s diner.
Margaritaville: Cheeseburgers in Paradise? Yes, please! This is a must for anyone with kids, or anyone at all. We sometimes go here twice a trip. There are games and even a pool with a swim up bar, the music is great and who doesn’t love a Jimmy Buffett themed restaurant? The menu is extensive with a nice mix of traditional bar food and local, Bahamian seafood favorites. The portions are plentiful and the drinks are strong. This restaurant is just off Atlantis property at the base of the bridge. It is a short, easy walk to get there and the open air ambiance right on the water is perfect for a fun evening out.
Anthony’s: Anthony’s is also just outside the Atlantis boarder, adjacent to Margaritaville. They serve large portions of fresh seafood and other local Bahamian fare including fresh grouper, cracked conch and peas and rice. The ambiance is casual and colorful and everything is tasty. Anthony’s is even open for breakfast, serving all the traditional favorites.
The Point Restaurant: Harborside has its own open air restaurant, The Point, which has a beautiful view of the harbor. The service is a bit slow but you are on Bahamian time now, so relax, have a drink and enjoy the breeze ruffling your hair and the view of the ships as they come in from the open sea. If you are coming from Aquaventure, The Point is a short walk through the market place, around the harbor past the yachts to the end of the path. Be sure to keep an eye on the water, you can see an abundance of tropical fish, sting rays and other mysterious sea creatures living among the boats.
Food is still going to be more expensive than you are used to. There is not avoiding it, but at least you can cut costs a little!
Swim Clear of the Dolphins and Other Items & Activities that Cost Extra
The dolphins: The dolphins are awesome and your kids are dying to swim with them and kiss them and cuddle them, but they aren’t necessary. If they are young, say, below 8, they probably won’t remember much anyway and it is a huge expense. Atlantis is packed with so many activities that are included in the cost that you will never have to pay extra. There are more than just water slides and lazy rivers. Make sure to do The Dig, which is even cooler at night. Pick up a feeding schedule at the front desk so you can help with the turtles, stingrays, and sharks. Bring your own snorkel and mask from home and go snorkeling in the lagoon. Spend a day on one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. Don’t forget to take a walk over the rope bridge to check out the sharks swimming below. Join one of the many poolside parties or games going on throughout the day. You will be so busy you will forget the dolphins even exist. So, save up your pennies for the next trip. They aren’t going anywhere.
Water: Don’t buy bottled water, or, buy one and refill it at one of the many water filling stations. Every little bit counts.
Sunscreen: Bring as much as you can from home. You don’t want to have to buy more at the local sundries shop. Trust me.
Snorkeling: The kids will love snorkeling in the Atlantis Lagoon. It is completely protected and safe, and has an abundance of tropical fish within easy access. Don’t rent a snorkel, pack a cheap one in your suitcase. You won’t regret it.
Summing It Up
Atlantis is completely magical and wonderful, but it will never be economical. There are a lot of ways you can cut costs so you don’t go into debt. Start by taking the advice in this article. You won’t regret it.