We’ve received a lot of questions about traveling to the Bahamas with young children. With health concerns (Zika, bird flu, mysterious death), world issues (politics, war) and extreme weather (tornadoes and hurricanes), families are looking for a safe, sunny destination. That brings me to the Bahamas…
We’ve been to the Bahamas many times and on each occasion we’ve ended up staying at the Atlantis Resort (but always in a different building). We’ve tried everything from longer-term stays at The Reef to fairly standard trips to the Royal Towers (shown in photo above).
Here are our answers to the most popular (recent) questions with relation to traveling with small children (under 5 years of age):
(1) Q: Are the Royal Towers good for kids?
A: The Royal Towers (the big ones you see in all of the ads that are attached by the high bridge/suite and shown above) are beautiful and convenient in terms of resort location. They’re central to the activities and offer fabulous amenities. The underground aquarium path is around these buildings and they’re essentially central to the water park, Dolphin Cay and more.
But, on the outside of the towers, they’re not as stroller-friendly as you’d think they’d be. We found it almost awkward to maneuver our stroller from the aquarium to other areas around these main buildings. We ended up carrying it up a lot of stairs (which many families commented on via our Instagram Stories).
You’ll want to create a list of what you’re looking for from your actual hotel room. Do you prefer larger size? Newer rooms? Resort convenience? What matters to your family? The most economical area (The Beach Atlantis) is an older area and a bit off to the side of the resort. But rooms are quite large (and dated) and it’s quite a bit quieter. For our toddlers, this ended up being ideal. We had ample room for an extra cot, quiet pool areas (away from the loud slides and pool bars) and a smaller aquarium walkway. The Reef was great too because our room there offered a kitchenette, fridge etc so we could prepare meals in our room.
2) Q: Is it really as family-friendly as it seems in commercials?
A: Most of the pools, shops and attractions don’t open until 10:00am. So if your young children are up early, you’ll want to be prepared for a few hours of quiet time.
Our children got a bit frustrated because everything they saw that they wanted to do was closed for a few hours. It’s also a bit difficult to get early breakfast if your kids wake up around 6:00 am (as ours did). So prepare for it: we bought bread, peanut butter, cereal, milk and brought it up to our room so we could feed our kids bright and early.
Activities are great for kids though and everything you see in the commercials (swimming with dolphins, beaches, water slides, river-tubing, sting rays etc) is there on the resort. It’s all easily accessible.
3) Q: Be honest, how expensive is it in the Bahamas?
A: It’s an island. If you’ve traveled to one already then you know that costs are much higher than mainland activities. Food, alcohol and excursions cost more…especially food. You’ll really need to budget for a trip to the Bahamas if price is of concern. Usually we save money by preparing some meals in our own room, but the groceries in the Bahamas as so pricey that it didn’t help much to be honest.
We spent quite a lot…each day…on everything. And we didn’t plan to spend a lot. It’s basically inevitable.
4) Q: Is Dolphin Cay animal abuse?
This is a tough one. We try to stay away from questions related to zoos, animal confinement, circuses etc. It’s totally up to each individual family.
So far, we’ve chosen to only interact with animals in their natural habitat. While we appreciate the incredible memories that people create when swimming with captive dolphins at a resort or riding on an elephant in Thailand, we try to stay away from it all…without judgement to the rest of our travel community,
Are the dolphins at the Atlantis resort held in captivity? Yes. Does the resort say that it’s all in the matter of science and discovery? Yes. Do families flock to it and love every minute of the experience? Yes.
Do your research before you go and make a decision that you feel good about.
5) Is the meal plan worth it?
A: The resort offers two meal plans or you can pay-as-you-dine. Some people see the prices ($85 per person per day) and they think they’d never need that much money in food. Remember, it’s the Bahamas. You might be surprised to find that it’s actually a good value.
Our recommendation is to look at the restaurants that are part of the dining plan and assess the menus. Then ask yourself, will you want to eat in the town? In the Marina Village? At local, small food trucks? If you don’t want to be confined to resort dining, don’t opt into the meal plan. But, if you want to keep things simple and have a flat rate type bill at the end of your trip, opt in.
6) Q: Are the beaches safe there?
People seem worried about sharks and waves when pondering vacations to the Bahamas. We’ve never heard of any serious issues with either concern. That said, the current in front of the main area of Atlantis Resort is very strong. There’s often a caution flag flying high above the beach. Closer to the Cove and the Reef, it’s a bit more calm. The internal beach area (man-made) in front of the Royal Towers has no current whatsoever. But it’s a totally different “beach” experience and I think we saw string-rays and sharks in those waters, but don’t quote us on that.
There are resort life jackets for kids. Use them.
You have access to incredible pools for small children. Use them. Be safe and be alert. Use life jackets along the beach (even if the kids are just wading into the water or building sandcastles). The current in that area is surprising.
On that note, we’ve been told that the beach at the Baha Mar is far superior for little kids. Apparently, it’s blocked off from the powerful wave so kids don’t get knocked around as much.
Overall, we really enjoy bringing our kids to the Bahamas. The people, the culture and the sunshine make for a perfect family vacation. As long as you budget properly and choose the right room type/resort, you really can’t go wrong. It’s a slice of paradise. We’ve posted about it in other posts so browse around and let us know if we’ve missed answering your questions.