atlantis with a toddler

we spent last week on paradise island in the bahamas. it was, in a word, glorious.

atlantis. go there. if you have kid(s) of any age, go. we bounced around many different destination ideas before planning this trip. traveling and vacationing with a toddler is tricky no matter where you go and we decided on atlantis because it felt like one of the more (if not, the most) little-kid friendly options.

we had a pretty easy direct flight (about 4 hrs) out of boston early saturday morning. mike’s parents joined us which made the trip that much more fun.

we stayed in the beach tower. the most economical (read: cheapest possible) place to stay on atlantis property.

 i read many, many beach tower reviews before the trip and they were very mixed. lots saying the place was a dump and many saying it was just fine and the best bang for your buck. i tend to agree more with the latter, however, mike & i agreed that next time we will definitely stay somewhere different. especially if we still have littles. this opinion is more for geographical reasons than anything, although we did have a few issues with our room (busted towel rod, tv malfunctions, a broken curtain pull thingy). these little annoyances were really not a big a deal to us. my biggest complaint is that the beach tower building sits right on the beach, but there is no direct/easy way to get there. its really weird. you have to leave the back of the building and walk through a cave (a good 5 min stroll) to get around to the beach entries. the location is basically convenient to nothing aside from the sea turtle pond (which is actually quite awesome).

this was the first resort i have vacationed at that was not all-inclusive. one of the points all the reviews agreed on was that everything is super-expensive. food, water, services, excursions. this made me nervous since the price tag of the trip (even in the cheapo beach tower) was already enough to make me gulp. you can buy a meal plan for $80/day. it includes breakfast and dinner and NO alcohol. what? i don’t think we ever spent that on food in one day and if we did, its because a good 40% of it was on drinks… as in booze such as the most amazingly rumtastic pina colada i’ve ever had.

so i planned my brains out for this trip to be sure we made the most of it. to save money, i packed as much travel friendly food as i could.. bread, lara bars, toddler pouches, oatmeal, cereal & trail mix. i ordered some groceries from foodstore2go which worked out great (fruit, organic whole milk & a bunch of beer & wine). we gave dane breakfast in the room every morning (banana, ezekial cinnamon raisin bread or rice cake w/ peanut butter and other misc. fruit was the standard mix). then aside from a couple sandwich/chicken nugget-type lunches we shared, the only meal we really ate out for was dinner. it was a nice little routine to pick a place and go out to dinner, all 5 of us. we ordered something for dane most of the time even tho he would have been fine eating the bread and random bites off our plates (which is basically what he did and saved his dinner for lunch the next day).

there is so much to do and see on the massive campus that is atlantis. the smartest thing i did was bring our radio flyer wagon. yes, i check a big red wagon on our jet blue flight. dane is not a happy camper in strollers and the wagon allowed us to cruise around with him under his little umbrella and tow our bags at the same time. we got SO many comments from everyone we walked by. i guarantee dozens of people bring them on their next trip after seeing us (atlantis would make a killing with a “rent-a-wagon” stand. i should pitch this on shark tank). dane went everywhere in this wagon. it was a god send. we did sooo much walking.

our daily routine was this:
wake up around 7 to dane standing in his crib saying “mommy, daddy, i pay in wadder!?” take him into bed with us and hope it will buy us another 15 mins. it doesn’t. make coffee on little single serve kuerig-esque coffee maker (i packed coffee just in case.. coffee is extremely important to me.. but they give you two regular and two decaf starbucks pouches each day, which was nice). feed dane. dress and pack and hit the road for the pool or beach. by far the worst part of the week was putting sunblock on dane. he freaked out every time. it was brutal. we came back and put dane down for a nap after lunch, then mike & i ran off and explored for a few hours. after dane was up, we got dressed and went out to dinner together. a few nights we had fancy dinners and a few nights we did johnny rockets, pizza, etc. we were pretty much all in bed by 9 every night. completely wiped. (watching the olympics!)

there were so many pools to sample. our favorite was fairly close to our hotel. it had a zero entry shallow end that dane could run right into.

the atlantis beach was very nice. beautiful, bright turquoise water.

dane wanted nothing to do with the ocean water.. he was intimidated by the surf, but played for hours in the sand.

the cove is another little beach which was further from us, but protected by some rocks (it was a cove.. aptly named) so a little calmer and dane-friendlier. this was my favorite spot, but we only got one day there since it was pretty far away and dane ended up loving the pools so much.

the marina was by far our favorite (and pretty much only) evening destination. we ate at restaurants here almost every night.

the huge yachts were dane’s favorite. “big boats mamma!”

there were fun little bands and activities in the streets most nights. it was a really lively area. one night (that i didn’t bring the camera out) there were all these drums and shakers for kids to play with. dane was so funny playing all the instruments and dancing. so so fun.

easily the #1 highlight of the whole week for dane was a random little car in the ben & jerry’s. he requested this car every night. which resulted in us eating ice cream. every. night.

the water slides and splash park pools were pretty awesome. because dane & his nonnie like to nap together, mike & i were able to run off and do fun things sans baby every afternoon. we did almost all of the water slides and used the fitness center a couple days.

dane was a little too small to really enjoy the kids’ pools, but we climbed around the aquaventure contraption together one day and he went down the little slides and said “again!” every time. cutest.

bonus entertainment was the wild cats that ran around the property. dane got a kick out of chasing them.

what i found most impressive about atlantis was the amazing sea creatures and endless tanks of exotic fish, sharks, sting rays, huge sea turtles, jelly fish, everything. dane is going to think the boston aquarium is a snoozefest after everything he saw at atlantis.

last but not least. swimming with the dolphins. really expensive. really fun.

i mean, i think i’d pay the $135 just to see dane wear this adorable wet suit ($135 per person INCLUDING dane. ugh).

meeting the dolphins and seeing all of their tricks was seriously priceless. i didn’t know how it would go with dane. he could very well have been completely petrified of the dolphins, but he was totally cool. he even puckered up and gave one a kiss with me.

i know he won’t remember all of this, but we went all-in and paid for the full cd of pictures from the day. life is short.. this was worth it.

this isn’t the type of vacation you take to read a book by the pool. we were non-stop go go go most of the week. it was an adventure and it was so. much. fun. the best part was just spending every waking hour with dane. i can’t get enough of this little guy. i seriously just want to eat him with a spoon.

we flew back a week later, right into a blizzard in boston. brutal.

we will definitely go back to atlantis some day!