Where to Stay, Things to Do, and Places to Eat on Paradise Island
I felt like I needed some beach time in the winter, so I booked a trip through my vacation club, World Ventures, the largest private club in the world. The club provides pre-packaged trips as well as a booking engine for flight, hotels, VRBO, cruises, and rental cars. It also includes an online shopping mall with virtually every retailer as well as discounts at local restaurants and events.
I didn’t want to have to think about anything for this relaxing vacation, so I picked a four-night trip to the Bahamas. I flew from Denver while my friend Max came from Dallas. Miraculously, both of our flights were on time and our bags came off the carousels next to each other in baggage claim, so we were off to paradise quickly!
British Colonial Hilton Nassau
The Dreamtrip included airport transportation to the Warwick Paradise Island, but with only limited flight options on Sunday, we came in a day early and stayed at the British Colonial Hilton Nassau just next to all the shops and not far from the cruise ship port, which was filled by Norwegian, Disney, and all the other major chains. The amenities at the Hilton included a nice pool and beach which we took advantage of as soon as possible.
It was already late afternoon with a very cool breeze, so we didn’t stay too long by the waterside, but enjoyed the sunset before returning to the room to change for dinner. We strolled the streets of Nassau that were nicer than I expected though rather vacant as most of the ships left port before dark. We picked from five or six restaurants that faced the waterway and enjoyed some seafood before turning in rather early since we were up at the crack of dawn.
The next day, we spent the morning at the Hilton before we transferred to the Warwick in the afternoon. As I rarely allow myself lounge time at home, laziness was my top priority as I stretched out on the beach chair and indulged in the new Dan Brown book, Origin, that I patiently waited for a whole week to open. In fact, I think beach vacations appeal to me, as they give me an excuse to veg out and enjoy a book!
Max, on the other hand, enjoys walking along the beach, so she paced up and down the short beach through the soft sand. She joined me briefly as we watched a heavy set couple attempt to paddle board. I tried very hard not to laugh as I give them credit for trying something new, but watching each them rolling onto the board from one side and promptly sliding off the other side with a plop into the ocean was giggle worthy. The spectacle was enough to tear me away from my book briefly. In their defense it was breezy, so perhaps harder to balance than the few times I boarded, though I don’t even think they got to their knees.
It didn’t take Max long to get up again, this time she tried the paddle board. She managed to stay on it and at least paddle around on her knees before she switched to the kayak. The buoyed area in the waterway was small, so once she circled a few times, she rejoined me in the lounge chairs though not before she made me feel like a slug!! I just had no desire to get wet with salt water before changing hotels for the week.
Warwick Paradise Island
We arrived early to the Warwick and the hotel accommodated us which was nice given they were sold out the previous night. We were also given the top floor with a view of the water…no complaints there!! Our package was an all-inclusive so it didn’t take us long to sidle up to the counter at the poolside restaurant for some food before making ourselves at home on the pool deck. The free form pool with a waterfall, island, and a few small bridges provided both shady and sunny spots. We sought out shade the first day until we realized a strong, cool breeze materialized daily which encouraged full sun locations!
Both of us felt like exploring a little, so we walked along the boardwalk and small beach which was also home cornhole tournaments and volley ball. The grounds were small but nice. Along with the poolside restaurant was a poolside bar. The bartenders poured liberally…three quarters alcohol and one quarter mixer!
After watching the sunset, we dressed for dinner and headed to Ting’s. The hotel had four additional restaurants of which two required reservations to be made between 8am and 1pm the same day. We didn’t arrive early enough to make a reservation, so we had a choice between the Verandah and Ting’s. Verandah served a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Figuring we’d have every breakfast at the Verandah, we ventured to Ting’s. The Asian food was good, though it depended on each dish ordered. The fried spring roll appetizer and the fried banana dessert were the best! We finished dinner in time to participate in movie night…they were showing Wonder Woman. With all the hype, I was expecting it to be amazing. Too much hype…I would have liked it had I kept my expectations low!
The Blue Lagoon
The next day, we enjoyed an outing to the Blue Lagoon Island. Shuttles took us to the ferry dock, just a minute away. Had we known where it was, I suppose we could have walked there in five minutes. We boarded a large boat, seemed to skip any safety announcements (at least we could see the life vests hanging overhead), and took in the sights as music blared! Large houses including Oprah’s, Eddie Murphy’s and Michael Jordan’s; as well as, “the one and only” Ocean Club lined the northern side of the waterway while the southern side was home to a more industrial setting.
Upon exiting the waterway, the boat revved its engines as it sped off to the small island called the Blue Lagoon. Our day pass was for beach activities only, though had we wanted to upgrade we could have gone to a dolphin show and such. I’m not a large supporter of animals in captivity, so I along with most of the group stuck to the beachside. We were provided a reserved area in the shade and were also given the liberty to lounge any place else we liked on the protected white sand beach.
It took me a while to get over my lounging and reading (the Dan Brown book was getting intense), but eventually I made it to the water obstacle course situated in five to seven feet of pure aqua water. From afar, the floating white mountain peppered with handles didn’t appear that big, but from close up, it was a few stories high. It also didn’t appear too hard to climb, but I quickly found out it wouldn’t be simple. I pulled the upper half of my body out of the water to start and quickly recognized I was going to have to use all my might to get my feet into the handles.
I wasn’t ready for that much exertion yet, so I opted for a warm-up, the two-story floating slide. I climbed the side to realize once I was three-quarters of the way up, there was no way to the top unless I climbed the back…UGH! The life guard on duty who was paddling around in a kayak provided me a few tips to reach the top. One tip was despite the ripped off handles just below the top ridge, there was one handle on the right that I couldn’t see but was barely in my reach. He promised it was there and I stretched to grasp it with my finger-tips.
I slid down the rubbery surface to splash into the water when he told me it was more fun to go head first…oh well! He told me I could climb the big white mountain. He apparently had more faith in me than I had in myself. I was a little scared as the only bail out was to let go and fall backward into the water which was not option to me. With his encouragement, I tried a second time. He said the hardest part was the beginning. Once I got myself fully out of the water, it was much easier, though the handles pinched my toes against the side of the mountain.
Soon I reached the summit and realized it was a far drop to the shallow water. I shouted down to the life guard, “Do I have to jump off?”
“Yes,” he responded. “It’s just like the slide, only steeper.”
No kidding I thought to myself. I expressed my concern, “But it’s shallow.”
“Just jump,” he said, “I promise you won’t hit the bottom even with your legs straight. Your life jacket will pull you up.”
Ah, my life jacket. I had forgotten about it and was currently thankful I had asked for a smaller size after trying on the first one. With that, I jumped. SO FUN!
Of course, now I wasn’t satisfied that I hadn’t slid down the slide face first, so I had to climb it one more time. I was already tired, and wondered why I was silly enough to do it again, but face first was more fun! I have a new-found respect for the competitors in those TV shows that jump from obstacle to obstacle. It’s not as easy as it looks! I’m glad I got to try it!!
After playing around on the obstacle course, we walked to the north side of the island, just a hop, skip and jump away to check out the snorkeling. Unfortunately, the wind proved to be too strong as a red flag warning was up and swimming was dangerous. After exploring the rest of the island which was probably only a few football fields in length, I satisfied my curiosity and went back to reading!! I don’t know if it is my fascination with Spain or what, but Dan Brown’s new book, Origin, ranks right up there with his first book, Angels and Demons which I thought was better than the Da Vinci Code.
We spent the whole day at the island before returning at 4pm to enjoy happy hour at the poolside bar and then dining at Edgewater Grill, a steak and seafood restaurant by the water. The open-air atmosphere was nice and not too cold. After helping ourselves to the salad bar, we were served our seafood dinners. Max went with fried conch while I chose grilled shrimp. The dessert choices didn’t appeal to us, so we went back to Ting’s for fried bananas…delicious!
We increased our exercise just slightly on Tuesday as we took the morning nature walk which was offered by the hotel staff a few times a week. While there were some ducks and turtles at our first stop, I’m not sure “nature” should have preceded “walk”. It was more like a tour around the surrounding area which we wanted to see, and it was nice to have someone remind us to look the opposite way for traffic.
Our second stop was at the Four Seasons garden and cloisters. Our young guide pronounced he was going to get married at the cloisters. I can see why. A manicured lawn led to a gazebo at the water’s edge. The gardens included a variety of sculptures as well as a Koi pond. A pleasant place! From here we continued to Cabbage Beach to where we planned to ride bikes the following day. The beautiful beach has to be one of the best in the Bahamas. The white sand stretched for miles as small waves crashed on the shores. We were thankful for our guide as the likelihood of us finding it on our own would have been slim as the entrance was tucked behind some construction near the Paradise Island Beach Club.
Now we could go whenever we wanted as we knew the four simple turns to make from our hotel. Our leisurely stroll took about 45 minutes, and at the end a shuttle was waiting to pick us up! God forbid we walk back the same way…nice service!! I’m not sure I can claim I did anything else but eat, read, and lounge by the pool the rest of the day. Fortunately Max and I finished our books about the same time, so we swapped. Max took advantage of the pedicure that was also included in the Dreamtrip package. Not a bad deal: four nights at a beautiful hotel with a variety of activities and restaurants, a boat excursion to the Blue Lagoon Island, all inclusive food and drinks, and a mani or pedi all for $779pp.
Max had a knack for remembering to make our restaurant reservations. This time we ate at Abiocco after our Dreamtrip reception. The waiter at Abiocco was excellent…funny, polite, and cheerful. I enjoyed a tasty chicken piccata. Max ordered a savory Mahi Mahi dish. The hotel hired a DJ and some folks participated in late night karaoke. I, for some reason, could keep my eyes open past 9:30, so I was sound asleep during the entertainment.
The following morning, our nature walk guide led us on a bike tour. It was very short as generally the bike ride includes the area we covered yesterday, so after cutting that section out, we just visited the Marina Village at Atlantis to see the shops and yachts. We had read the Atlantis was only 0.4 miles away from us, but it seemed farther until we biked there…SUPER close. We weren’t sure what we were allowed to see and not see at the hotel as certain areas were restricted to guests, but we could admire the lobby and its giant aquarium complete with a manta ray and shark as well as wander through the casino and the shops. It reminded me of a Vegas Hotel.
After our short tour, we continued riding our bikes. We thought it would be fun to ride past Cabbage Beach to the end of the island which took about five minutes. We found with the Atlantis occupying the west end of the island and the Ocean Club occupying the east end of the island, there was only about one mile left to explore. Needless to say, our bike ride was short. We came back to the hotel, gathered our things and rode back to Cabbage Beach to spend our day there.
The Warwick Hotel staff at the beach was fantastic. They had chairs and umbrellas set up for us, a luxury regular beach goers were not afforded. They also brought a cooler of drinks and sandwiches to the beach, so we could enjoy our lunch on the idyllic stretch of sand. The nice part about a white sand beach and clear turquoise water is its picturesque nature. On the other hand, the water is so clear and free of reefs that there are not many fish to see while snorkeling!
Having said that, I walked to eastern end and swam to a rock outcropping. The porous limestone was loaded with creatures in particular several trilobites which I haven’t seen too often. In addition, I spotted a few crab, some tiny shrimp, Christmas tree worms, a mantis shrimp which was a rare find, and a baby octopus! I’ve never seen an octopus that small. He was tucked in a hole in the rock and looked so peaceful. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many critters, though I can’t say the same for the fish. A trip to the Atlantis Aquarium features more marine life than the beach!
The day at the beach was lovely, though I finally managed to burn myself with all the reflective sand and snorkeling in the clear water. We went back to Edgewater Grill for the evening. Again, we had another spectacular waiter. This time we broke down and tried the meat dishes. Max’s lamb looked superb and my short ribs were good. It’s strange to think the meat dishes were better than the seafood dishes on an island. Once more, we returned to Ting’s for our favorite dessert. I suppose that is nice part about the all-inclusive. We could just bounce around or stop in at the buffet whenever we wanted, and the breakfast buffet at Verandah was great with a large spread!
Five days came too soon. I ended my stay with my free pedicure, though I recommend getting one prior to burning your feet in the sun! It was a relaxing stay, and I was pleasantly surprised out how easy it was to get in and out of the Bahamas. The airport was nice and quite large, the people were friendly, and the weather was perfect! Though I’m not sure I ever adjusted to “island time service” like all places in the Caribbean, overall I’d go back to the Bahamas and visit another part of the island chain. ETB