The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is an entire tropical world unto itself. This Bahamian resort boasts casinos, underwater shark walks, and frolicking dolphins. As one of the most famous hotels in the Bahamas, the Atlantis also boasts multiple hotel towers and specific resort sections to accommodate a wide variety of guests' every wish. But, you don’t need to be a guest at the resort to visit this mega-resort. In fact, millions of visitors to Nassau take a quick taxi or water-shuttle ride to experience the resort's casinos and restaurants. From information on the top attractions to details about how to get there (and which day pass to reserve), read on for your ultimate guide to day-tripping to Atlantis Paradise Island.
Attractions and Things to Do at Atlantis Paradise Island
There are 85 gaming tables, 21 restaurants, and 19 bars and lounges at Atlantis Paradise Island. However, while throwing down some cash on the craps tables or roulette wheel may satisfy some visitors, others—especially families—are drawn to 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-through exploration of the Lost City of Atlantis. Day tickets for all of these activities can be purchased at Discover Atlantis Sales Centers located throughout the property.
Given the hordes of visitors to the Atlantis daily, it's not surprising that the resort limits access to some of these attractions—notably the Aquaventure pool and water park area—to preserve a premier experience for hotel guests. However, that does not mean that day-trippers can't visit the Atlantis attractions, including Aquaventure; you'll 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 the state-of-the-art, 14-acre habitat.
- Discover Atlantis Tour: This tour is 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, 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.
- Atlantis Beach Day: The Atlantis Beach Day program provides all-day access to the Atlantis resort's exclusive white sandy beaches, with lounge chairs and towels provided. It also includes access to marine habitats and lunch at an outside venue.
- Atlantis Aquaventure Package: Day-trippers can purchase an Atlantis Aquaventure 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, and a mile-long river ride with high-intensity rapids and wave surges. The passes are only available to guests staying at partners of the Atlantis Resort. They can be purchased (on a restricted basis) at the Atlantis Adventures Desk at the clock tower in front of The Coral.
How to Get There
Paradise Island (formerly Hog Island) is a 685-acre island off the northern coast of Nassau, the capital of the island of New Providence. There is no public transport to take you to Paradise Island—the local bus system, the "jitney," will only take you as far as the ferry terminal, so your best bet is either to take a ferry or a taxi.
To access Paradise Island by water, hop aboard a 15-minute ferry ride from Nassau to Paradise Island. The ferry departs from Nassau Cruise Port from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs $3 for a one-way ticket. On your boat ride to Paradise Island, a guide will also give you a brief history lesson of the island and its many attractions. Once you've arrived on Paradise Island, it's a 10-minute walk from the ferry dock to Marina Village in Atlantis.
If you decide to rent a car, note that there is limited free parking available on Paradise Island (and limited spots are found near the public beach). The best alternative is to valet your vehicle at the cost of $16.75 per day. Whether you're driving or opting for a taxi, be prepared to pay the northbound one-way $1 bridge toll. In taxis, this will be on top of your metered fare—and the average cost for a one-way trip from Lynden Pindling International Airport to Paradise Island is about $35. Another alternative is to be dropped off along the coast of New Providence to walk across the bridge (an activity that is toll-free). Once you've arrived on the island, there's no need to rent a car, as visitors can easily walk the grounds and explore everything the hotel has to offer on foot.
Day passes are mandatory for all non-hotel guests at the Atlantis to experience Dolphin Cay, the waterpark, the marine habitat, and the beaches. The passes can be purchased (on a restricted basis) at the Atlantis Adventures desk, situated at the clock tower at The Coral. These passes have been known to sell out, so it's imperative to book online in advance. World Travel Holdings also sells day passes to Aquaventure, Atlantis Dolphin Cay, and the iconic British Colonial Hilton. These passes are marketed primarily to cruise visitors but can be an excellent add-on for anyone visiting Nassau.
- The Aquaventure pass includes admission to Aquaventure and The Dig, lounge chairs, and towels.
- Dolphin Cay experiences include a shallow-water interaction with dolphins.
- The British Colonial Hilton pass includes all-day access to the resort's pristine private beach and pool, snorkeling and kayaking, lounge chairs and towels, and a food and beverage credit.
Tips for Visitors
- There's more to Paradise Island than just the Atlantis, so be sure to explore the rest of the island. We suggest hiking to the Nassau lighthouse for gorgeous seaside views along the coast. Of all the waterpark attractions, the underwater shark walk is not to be missed—imagine a turquoise tunnel full of predators. (It's as scary and thrilling as it sounds).
- There is no visitor information center in Paradise Island, so make sure to consult downtown the tourist information available for visitors in downtown Nassau.
- If you're planning on staying for dinnertime, make a reservation in advance, as restaurants can become busy, especially in the colder months. Additionally, the resort will limit attractions during the peak busy season to preserve hotel guests' experience—a hindrance that won't be an issue for you if you're visiting during the off-season. If you're visiting in the off-season (summer and fall), expect fewer crowds—for the waterslides and the bars and restaurants, alike.
- If you're taking the ferry to Paradise Island, remember to bring cash. Although exact change isn't necessary, it's helpful as you will be expected to tip your tour guides, who provide colorful commentary and historical insight into the past and present-day iterations of Nassau and Paradise Island.