The Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is the only resort in the Caribbean that is a destination unto itself (Check rates and user reviews on TripAdvisor), and millions of visitors to Nassau (many of them day-trippers from cruise ships) take a quick taxi or water-shuttle ride to experience the resort's casinos and restaurants.
However, while throwing down some cash on the craps tables or roulette wheel may satisfy some visitors, others -- especially families -- are drawn across the Paradise Island bridge by the Atlantis' aquatic allure, specifically the resort's spectacular "lost world" themed water park, dolphin encounter program, beaches, and the underground mysteries of The Dig, a walk-though exploration of the Lost City of Atlantis.
Given the hordes of visitors to the Atlantis on a daily basis, it's not surprising that the resort limits access to some of these attractions -- notably the Aquaventure pool and water park area -- in order to preserve the experience for hotel guests. However, that does not mean that day-trippers can't visit the Atlantis attractions, including Aquaventure; you'll just have to pay a bit for the privilege (and expect a significant markup on these prices if you buy through a cruise line):
- Dolphin Cay at Atlantis: Day visitors can swim and play with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at this state-of-the-art, 14-acre habitat. Prices vary by season and can be purchased at Dolphin Cay/Atlantis Adventures Sales Counters.
- Discover Atlantis Tour: This tour is the best-known to day-trippers, in part because it is sold as an excursion on cruise ships. Expert "Navigators" guide visitors through the ancient city streets of Atlantis during a visit to "The Dig," a faux-but-believable archaeological exploration of an 11,000-year-old lost continent. The attraction is full of interesting artifacts and hieroglyphics, along with great water effects and glimpses of exotic sea life, including piranha, moon jellyfish, venomous lionfish, and a resident manta ray. A Discover Atlantis Tour wristband allows visitors to explore The Dig and its exhibits as well as the Ruins, Predator and Water’s Edge Lagoons -- but not the waterpark. Wristbands can be purchased at the Temple of the Moon in the Atlantis casino or at any Discover Atlantis Sales Centers located throughout the property. Cost is about $46 for adults, $35 for children ages 4-12.
- Atlantis Beach Day: The Atlantis Beach Day program that provides all-day access to the exclusive white sandy beaches of the Atlantis resort, with lounge chairs and towels provided. Also includes access to the marine habitats and lunch at an outside venue. Price is $69 for adults, $40 children 4-12. Beach Day tickets may be purchased at any Discover Atlantis Sales Centers located throughout the property.
- Atlantis Aquaventure Package: For $145 adults or $99 for children, day-trippers can purchase an Atlantis Aqaventure package that provides all day access to pools, beaches and Aquaventure, a 141-acre waterscape containing over 20 million gallons of water with water slides, a mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges, and more. Aquaventure wristbands can be purchased at any Discover Atlantis Sales Centers located throughout the property. Children under age 3 are free.
All offerings are subject to availability and have seasonal limitations. Tickets can be purchased at the Atlantis resort front desk. More information is available from the Nassau Paradise Island Tourist Board.
Bahamas Day Passes
World Travel Holdings also sells day passes to Aquaventure, Atlantis Dolphin Cay, and the iconic British Colonial Hilton, all available at http://www.bahamasdaypass.com/. These passes are marketed primarily to cruise visitors but can be a good add-on for anyone visiting Nassau.
- The Aquaventure pass ($129 low season/$161 high season) includes admission to Aquaventure and The Dig, lounge chairs, and towels.
- Dolphin Cay experiences include a shallow-water interaction with dolphins ($194) and a deep-water interaction for $264 per person.
- The $60 British Colonial Hilton pass ($30 for children) includes all-day access to the resort's pristine private beach and pool; snorkeling and kayaking; lounge chairs and towels; and a $40 food and beverage credit.