Swim With Pigs On Your Bahamas Paradise Vacation

Learn a whole new take on history in Nassau, where Christopher Columbus initially laid claim to the “New World.” Native Lucayan people, the island’s original inhabitants, passed on their casual, peace-loving spirit to the generations of immigrants who would follow: English and Spanish explorers, rogue American colonists, and West Africans whose slave ships had been intercepted and the passengers set free on the way to America.

Other historical stories perpetuated on the island have less grounding in reality. The ancient city-state of Atlantis, one of Plato’s favorite philosophical subjects, comes to mind. Founded by the gods and inhabited by progressive, collectivist humans, it was the mythical utopian society to put ancient Athens to shame. Legend has it that moral corruption and greed eventually caused the demise of the kingdom, and that it lies buried in the sea. Bahamian tourism would have you believe that it’s been found, right on Paradise Island.

Getting There

Take the family passports for a quick stamp and you’re good to go. Entry and exit between the United States and the Bahamas is friendly and simple. Check the State Department’s travel website for updates on restrictions and travel warnings during hurricane season.

Lynden Pindling Airport on the west side of Nassau is the gateway to the Bahamas and supports most major airlines as well as budget carriers JetBlue and Air Berlin, and national airlines BahamasAir and SkyBahamas. Flying takes an hour from Miami and three hours from New York City. Food and entertainment are slim pickings at the airport, so pack some snacks before you travel.

Budget and Avis have rental car locations at the airport, but you could also take a 10-minute taxi ride to downtown Nassau to find a car. Remember the island’s English colonial past, and drive on the left side of the road.

Deep Sea Exploration

Travel to a little island sliver off the north coast of Nassau, called Paradise Island, and you’ll find the resurrected world of Atlantis splayed out before you. Yes, it’s a resort covering a third of the island. But more than that, this place is a whole self-contained world of past and present, adventure and relaxation, all rolled up into one family package.

The labyrinth of over a dozen pools, water slides, marine habitats, and underwater “Ruins of Atlantis” is enough to stimulate even the most moody teenager’s imagination and fulfill every parent’s desire to teach the kids some Platonic values. Venture to the edge of campus for a true taste of the salty Caribbean Sea and some snorkeling in the clear blue.

Venture into downtown Nassau on a City Seeker scavenger hunt. Kids will solve puzzles, learn about the island, and win prizes as they race against time – and other teams – to collect clues and points. When you’re a little less rushed, get personal with Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and the rest of the real-life pirates who would put Jack Sparrow to the shame at the Pirates of Nassau Museum.

Ride the island on bikes, or kayak the coast if the kids are still running high on energy at the end of the day. Take a sunset charter off the island and consult the deep blue sea for ways to calm that extra energy.

For something extra strange, check out Exuma, south of Nassau, to see pigs swim. There are roughly twenty pigs living on Pig Beach located on Big Major Cay, an island totally uninhabited by humans. You can charter a boat or take a group tour to get there. No one knows for sure how the pigs got there but they definitely make adorable beach bums.

Finding That One Thing. . .

Pop into the Straw Market, Nassau’s emporium of handmade trinkets and island souvenirs. Carved masks, chunky jewelry, floppy sun hats, and intricate mats are all to be haggled over and thoughtfully considered as you accept the challenge of finding “that one thing” by which your kids will remember the island. Bonus points if the item comes with a good story – real or invented.

Prove to the kids just what crusty old crabs you are by disappearing to a Graycliff cigar and rum tasting, where you’ll learn how to roll a cigar, identify the finest tobacco leaves and enjoy the signature beverage of the Caribbean – and of Hemingway, too.

Sleeping in Paradise

Stay steps away from Atlantis, enjoy complimentary access to all of the resort’s pools, waterparks, and eateries when your family stays at the much more wallet-friendly Comfort Suites on Paradise Island. Junior suites include beds and a separate sofa/living area. The hotel serves a complimentary buffet breakfast, and has its own pool area, too.

Fully-equipped suites with kitchen, three freshwater pools and acres of tropical gardens make the Best Western Bay View Suites on Paradise Island an appealing family choice. Babysitting services and cribs are available on request, laundry facilities are on the premises, and the beach is just steps away.

Who are you kidding? Atlantis is where you’ll spend many of your days, so why not spend your nights there, too? A water world galore, natural beaches and lagoons, a movie theater, Wi-Fi, and kids clubs for all ages – tiny tots, older kids, and teens – provide an escape for Moms and Pops. The “saver” option here is the Beach Tower, where rooms come with two beds and a balcony. One and two bedroom suites available in the Reef Atlantis are loaded for the ultimate splurge.

Going to Nassau? Will you stay at the Atlantis, or look for something off the beaten path?

Cover image: Travel + Leisure.

Tags : travel   caribbean   bahamas   nassau   

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