Nassau Paradise Island: The Caribbean oasis that offers fun for all ages
Want to escape the chill and spend some proper quality time with your loved ones? The Bahamas’ sun-drenched islands are the perfect place for an action-packed family getaway – and Nassau Paradise Island is the most family-friendly of them all
Powdery white sand beaches and vivid blue, paddling-friendly waters: it’s no wonder The Bahamas was singled out as "the most beautiful place from space". Add to that a real panoply of child-friendly things to do, and you’ve the perfect family holiday destination.
Of the 700 islands that make up The Bahamas, only 30 are inhabited – each of which offer a pristine slice of sun-soaked, sand-fringed paradise. Nassau, on New Providence Island, is the colourful capital and neighbouring Paradise Island is accessible via the Nassau Harbour bridges. The combined destination of Nassau Paradise Island boasts everything you could need for a family holiday: those warm turquoise waters, sunny stretches of sand, family-friendly resorts and lots (and lots!) of fun things to do. To give you a (suitably tropical) flavour of what your family trip could include, we've pulled out some of our favourite places to stay in Nassau Paradise Island and our favourite places to visit and explore…
Here's our pick of the best family-friendly places to stay – and things to do – in Nassau Paradise Island
VISIT… The Waterparks
Great for: Thrills, spills and slides
Why we love it: Nassau Paradise Island is home to no less than 3 thrilling waterparks. Newly opened in Nassau itself is Baha Bay, a 15-acre oceanfront waterpark with an incredible 24 water slides, a 500,000 gallon wave pool, a FlowCurl™ surf simulator and a lazy river for those who prefer to take their water activities a little more easy. For younger children, there are splash zones and mini water slides. Fins Up (in the Margaritaville Beach Resort, see below) is another new waterpark that's great for families; you can try out the SurfStream® Surf Simulator there or relax in one of the oceanfront pools.
Over on Paradise Island, you’ll find Aquaventure at Atlantis Paradise Island. Like the mythical city the resort was modelled on, Aquaventure has achieved something close to legendary status thanks to its thrilling high-speed water slides. Spread over 141 acres, attractions at this mega park include 11 swimming pools, the 120-ft Power Tower and the Leap of Faith, a near-vertical drop that propels visitors through a see-through underwater tunnel surrounded by sharks. After that adrenalin rush, you can wind things down several notches by grabbing an inflatable and floating along the lazy river. Younger kids can easily spend a day playing in 'Splashers', a dedicated area for little ones with the 3 shallow kiddie pools and an amazing water play fort.
Useful stuff to know: Aquaventure is free for all Atlantis Paradise Island guests to use; day passes are required for guests not staying at the resort. Day passes provide access to Aquaventure, Dolphin Cay, the marine habitat and beaches and can be purchased online.
STAY AT… Margaritaville Beach Resort in Downtown Nassau
Great for: Beachfront living, Bahamian style
Why we love it: The Margaritaville Beach Resort only opened its doors in the summer of 2021 but it’s already making waves – and not just because of the SurfStream Surf Simulator® that you'll find at the hotel’s Fins Up waterpark.
For families, Margaritaville Beach Resort is a great option for many reasons: with 300 ocean and lagoon-facing rooms, it's sizeable without being overwhelming, and the resort guarantees connecting rooms for larger families. There are even 2-bedroom suites that sleep 8 guests. The beachfront location means that the warm Caribbean waters are only a short walk away when you want a break from the pool – and the resort even has complimentary paddle boards for guests to borrow.
For kids, there are 2 standout highlights: the Fins Up waterpark and the Parakeets Kids Club. Children big and small will love slip-sliding their way down the waterslides at Fins Up before playing pool and beach games at the Parakeets Kids club. Oh, and did we mention the ice cream shop? Make that 3 standout highlights for kids!
Useful stuff to know: The Margaritaville Beach Resort is located in downtown Nassau within easy walking distance of the historic centre. The One Particular Harbour Tower has suites with full kitchens or kitchenettes, but the resort also boasts 12 restaurants. It also has the St. Somewhere Spa, a climbing wall, a high-tech entertainment complex with virtual reality sports, karaoke, bowling, billiards and a private movie theatre.
VISIT… The Pirates of Nassau Museum
Great for: Swashbuckling adventure
Why we love it: Today The Bahamas are a magnet for sun seekers, but once upon a time, these islands were home to swashbuckling pirates. From 1650 to the late 1720s, loot-loving buccaneers and fearsome freebooters ruled over the Caribbean seas and Nassau was their HQ. Located in the heart of Olde Towne Nassau, the Pirates of Nassau Museum explores the islands' pirating history and is a fun afternoon for the whole family. Trust us, the interactive exhibits will engage even the most museum-wary toddler or teen!
Step on board Revenge, one of the most famous pirate ships from the 18th century, which has been meticulously recreated inside the museum. You’ll discover large sets and life-size statues as you learn about the islands’ history and hear the story of infamous pirates Blackbeard and Calico Jack, as well as Anne Bonny and Mary Read, 2 of the most notorious female pirates to terrorise the high seas. The on-site shop sells kid-friendly treasure for pirate-loving children.
Useful stuff to know: Open Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 5.30pm and Sundays 9am to 2pm; wheelchair and family-friendly; it also has a restaurant on site for post-pirating snacks.
STAY AT… Comfort Suites Paradise Island
Great for: The Bahamas on a budget
Why we love it: Families looking for a great-value-for-money accommodation option should look no further than Comfort Suites Paradise Island. This excellent family hotel offers some of the most wallet-friendly rooms in The Bahamas. Better still, the low price tag comes with some impressive amenities. In addition to an outdoor pool (and swim-up bar for mum and dad), guests at the Comfort Suites resort have complimentary full access to Aquaventure, which is right next door in Atlantis Paradise Island. Anyone staying at Comfort Suites can spend their days enjoying all that Atlantis Paradise Island has to offer – from the private beach and daredevil waterslides to the resort's Kids’ Camp (for a daily charge), the casino and more – before retiring to their spacious suites at the end of the day.
Not only do you get all the benefits of the Atlantis Paradise Island for a fraction of the price, but the hotel also has everything that families need. Rooms come with a mini-refrigerator and a microwave, a free breakfast is served daily at the hotel's restaurant and there's a complimentary shuttle service to transport you to and from Atlantis Paradise Island.
Useful stuff to know: There are 228 junior suites that sleep up to 4 people. It has free WiFi and wheelchair-accessible rooms, plus Bamboo Bar, Splash, the swim-up bar, and Crusoe's restaurant.
VISIT… Graycliff Chocolatier
Great for: A sweet treat
Why we love it: If you're looking for an activity that's guaranteed to please the whole family, a visit to Graycliff Chocolatier is it. Located within the historic Graycliff Hotel, this chocolate-making factory offers daily family-friendly classes where wannabe Willy Wonkas can learn the chocolate-making process from bean to bar under the guidance of a Master Chocolatier.
Graycliff itself is one of the most famous buildings on the island. History says that the mansion was originally built in 1740 by John Howard Graysmith, an infamous pirate who sailed the Caribbean seas. In 1844, it became an inn, before reverting back to a private residence in the 1940s. The beautiful building was reborn 30 years later as a boutique hotel, and today it’s a hot spot for celebrities and A-listers, as well as anyone with a sweet tooth.
Useful stuff to know: Open daily from 9am to 5pm except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The chocolate-making classes, which include a factory tour, take place daily at 3pm, while a chocolates and spirits pairing class is available for adults, Monday to Friday at 11.15am. There is a chocolate shop on site and Graycliff is home to the 3rd-largest private wine collection in the world!
STAY AT… The Royal at Atlantis
Great for: Non-stop all-age family fun
Why we love it: The family-friendly Atlantis Resort is made up of 6 different hotels. By far and away the most recognisable of these hotels is The Royal: its twin coral-pink towers – connected by a bridge near the top – are one of the most well-known landmarks in The Bahamas and can be seen from miles around.
This is a fantastically fun place for families to stay, with Atlantean-themed murals, décor and sculptures throughout the hotel. The East Tower at The Royal is home to the Great Hall (with 8 spectacular murals set into a rotunda telling the story of the legendary city of Atlantis from creation to destruction), a casino and Ruins Lagoon. In the West Tower, you'll find the spa and the excellent kids' club, Atlantis Kids Adventures, which offers activities and adventures from swim lessons and mermaid and shark camps to sports challenges and carnival games.
The Atlantis' Sea Squirts programme also allows children the opportunity to interact with – and learn more about – marine life, and gives them the chance to hand feed baby stingrays. Older children are also catered for: tweens and teens have an enormous 14,000-square-ft space to hang out in, with pool and foosball tables, gaming systems and even a teen-friendly bar and nightclub.
And don't forget that the Atlantis Paradise Island is home to Aquaventure, a mega-waterpark featuring more than 20 million gallons of water, high-speed water slides, a mile-long lazy river, a water-play fort, and lots more.
Useful stuff to know: The Royal boasts 1,083 rooms and 118 suites on 24 floors. It also has: 21 restaurants; Aura nightclub; Joker's Wild Comes Club; CRUSH nightclub for teens; a casino; the Atlantis theatre; Mandara Spa; a tennis centre; a fitness centre; Gamers Reef arcade; Ruins Lagoon; and The Dig, an archaeological representation of the Lost City of Atlantis.
VISIT… Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre
Great for: Marching flamingoes
Why we love it: The Bahamas boasts some spectacular underwater sea creatures but it's also home to equally colourful animals on dry land. Head to the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre and get up close and personal with some of them, including the pretty-in-pink Caribbean flamingo, the national bird of The Bahamas.
These lush tropical gardens were originally created by Jamaican horticulturalist Hedley Edwards in the 1950s and, over the years, the gardens have grown to include a tropical garden, a conservation centre, a boutique zoo and a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility.
Today, the gardens are a riot of colour, peppered with tropical blooms including orchids, bougainvillaea and hibiscus blossoms. Among these bright flowers are dozens of animals, including macaws, Bahamian boa constrictors and Bahamian hutias (a type of rodent). There are daily events and shows for young and old – don’t miss the 'marching' flamingos!
Useful stuff to know: Online reservations and prepayment are required for visitors; the gardens are open 9am to 5pm daily (last admission 4pm) but are closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day; flamingo showtimes daily at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 3pm.
STAY AT… Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Great for: Action-packed holiday fun
Why we love it: For an all singing, all dancing, all luxury resort, look no further than the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. This hotel is one of 3 high-end properties that make up the Baha Mar super resort and is brilliant for families.
The glamorous hotel sits on Cable Beach with a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf course next door. There are tennis courts, 6 swimming pools, a wildlife sanctuary, and an art centre (home to the biggest collection of contemporary art in the Caribbean), a luxury shopping centre and even dancing fountains. Almost every non-motorised water sport imaginable is offered, including kayaking, paddle-boarding, and even giant inflatable water floats. There's also a huge casino and an equally big (30,000 square-ft) spa run by ESPA.
But what really makes the Grand Hyatt a shoo-in for families are its amenities for kids. Highlights include the Blue Hole, with a 10ft cliff-jump (and a shorter one for little kids) and the Baha Mar Explorers Club. Catering to children aged 3 - 12 years old, this kids' club packs in plenty of fun and educational activities, including learning about Bahamian culture and conservation. The club does come at an additional price. What is included in your stay at Baha Mar, however, is entry to the new Baha Bay waterpark that's home to 24 slides, a 500,000-gallon wave pool and a 1,400-foot 'action river'. Fun for the entire family!
Useful stuff to know: There are 1,800 rooms including 230 suites with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms; The Reserve is a hotel within the hotel that offers butler service, a private lounge and premium suites. You’ll also discover more than 40 dining options, including food trucks, sweet shops and family-friendly eateries – plus, cooking challenges and farm-to-table education sessions are available at The Kitchen. You can enjoy Mini Blue, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and Baha Mar Casino, the largest in the Caribbean, too.
So, are you ready to wave goodbye to the chilly British temperatures and the grind of everyday life and start planning the ultimate family getaway? Go on, the fun-filled Nassau Paradise Island is waiting…
About our author Katja Gaskell
Katja is a travel writer, mum of 3 and the founder of globetrotting, a family travel blog dedicated to discovering the world with kids. Katja has written guidebooks for Lonely Planet, tried and tested boutique hotels for Mr & Mrs Smith and her work has appeared in publications including Wanderlust Magazine, The Telegraph, The Independent, Fodor’s Travel, Absolutely Mama and The Simple Things.
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