It has been a while since I have blogged about our adventures. Life got a little busy with our latest addition of our sweet #3, our little Vann man, and it is hard to believe he is almost 2! Our last big family vacation was to St. John when I was expecting Vann in Dec. 2018, so COVID was not stopping us this Spring break. With the big boys turning 10 & 8 this week, we really wanted to make this a special trip just with them so we called in the reinforcements (aka grandparents) out of their retirement in sunny Florida. 😎
I won’t lie, the pre-trip testing and paperwork required was stressful, and I am so glad we booked with a travel agent, Allison Tolbert with Departure Lounge, who was AMAZING and helped guide me through it all! Oh, and to add to said stress we forgot we had to have passports for the big boys, which we rush ordered and received just in time. 🤪
We had to get COVID tested no more than 5 days before leaving, but really you had to get tested EXACTLY 5 days before leaving because you then have to wait for your test results (can take up to 24 hours) in order to THEN apply for your Bahamas health travel visa, which took another 48 hours to receive. 😬😳
We were flying out on a Saturday, so we got tested Tuesday (had to be the PCR test…CANNOT be the antigen rapid test!) and had the results back that same night 😅. I wasted no time and got to work on applying for our health travel visas Tuesday night, filling out one for each of us ($60 a pop) to be sure we had those in ‘plenty of time’. We were still waiting on those to be approved by Thursday afternoon, and by Thursday night I received the emails…two of us were approved, and two were denied. As you can imagine, I was LOSING IT and did not sleep a second Thursday night running through all the scenarios of what would happen next. Would just two of us go, would two of us have to get a new COVID test since they are only good for 5 days, and then rebook later flights, etc. I was a giant ball of stress. 😫😫😫
At 8am the next morning, I added an international calling plan to my phone so I could call the Bahamas health visa line and try to get it straight. Four hours and a million new grey hairs later, I finally got through and thankfully we all got approved literally just in time to leave the next morning. Allison told me to have multiple printed copies of everything, which proved to be very helpful at the airports. It felt sooo good to finally land in the Bahamas after all the planning and stress. #worthit 🙌🏼
Allison also took care of our transportation to and from the airport, which made vacation start the second we landed. Arriving at the Atlantis felt a little like Disney, and our room on the 11th floor of the Royal did not disappoint! The map of the resort has an Atlantis ‘Bucket List’, which was super helpful since the resort is a little overwhelming at first. Due to COVID, the different water park areas were open every other day, which actually also made the resort less overwhelming…and the ride lines were not long for the most part. 💦
We sat by the pool the first half of our first day, but we are not big resort people so we retreated to the Cove Beach (our favorite!) after that and stayed there the rest of our stay. It was just a minute walk up to the water park rides and food and way less crowded < and more beautiful > than the pool area in our opinions. I mean who comes to the Caribbean to sit by a crowded pool?! 🤯
The Mayan Temple and Power Tower rides were lots of fun, and both boys conquered some fears trying rides out of their comfort zones. ☺️ We spent our days in and out of water park rides, sea glass hunting, snorkeling, walking the beach, and of course eating.
So y’all know I am a lover of food, but I have to say the food choices on the resort were really our only beef, no pun intended 🍔 . There were 10,001 burger options, a pizza place, and then more expensive steak and pasta options that I would not really consider super kid friendly. 🙃 We all did love McKenzie’s Fresh Conch, which made a great appetizer in Marina Village, and Crew brought us fresh coconut on the beach that he cracked open himself, ha! 🥥
Where the heck was the Bahamian food??!! Like real Bahamian peas and rice and seafood?? That was all Adam and I dreamed of, and after asking around it sounded like a few seafood restaurants on the resort just had not re-opened yet. The boys on the other hand loved the steady flow of burgers, grill cheese, chicken tenders and fries. Adam even starting eating veggie burgers just to mix it up, and I think we both agreed we found the best veggie burger ever at the Burger Shack in Marina Village now that we are burger connoisseurs. 😂
The best call of the trip was finding a local grocery store and stocking up on some breakfast and lunch supplies for the kids and more importantly the local Ricardo Rum to concoct the perfect and most delicious afternoon beach cocktails.🍹😋
We did take a taxi ($20 each way off the resort, so have some cash handy) to the Poop Deck one night to get our local seafood fix of calamari, conch fritters, mahi mahi, shrimp and of course peas and rice, which was delicious!! We wanted to venture out another night to the Fish Fry, which was about a 15 minute cab ride away, but we ended up staying too late at the beach and water parks every night to squeeze that in. Next time!!
Of course there were things you could spend another small fortune on like swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cay or taking day trip excursions, but we were content and busy with all that was included on the resort. We did do the complimentary meet and greet with the rescued dolphins at Dolphin Cay one morning. Apparently you are supposed to sign up ahead of time so it was completely booked by the time I called to inquire, but this momma doesn’t take no for an answer so after a 20 minute sprint to Dolphin Cay at 8 AM, I used my Southern Charm to get the boys squeezed into a morning spot. 😉
We loved walking through The Dig aquarium before and after dinner, and tried to hit everything else on the resort bucket list from Poseidon’s throne to the rope bridge to all the different pools and aquariums throughout the resort. It really has so many fun little gems everywhere you turn. 💎
All in all, we usually love adverturing and exploring when we travel, but the Atlantis was the perfect relaxing resort getaway that offered endless built in entertainment for the whole family. We did have to fill out a daily Bahamas health survey by email, and take another COVID test after 5 days, which was not bad at all. The COVID test was offered right on the resort in the Royal and was the rapid antigen test, which was free with our health travel visas and even the kids agreed way less uncomfortable than our US test…and we had the results that same day. The staff was extremely friendly and hospitable, and I highly recommend it while it is still at half capacity and while no cruise ships are coming in…which we were told is supposed to start back up this Summer!
Happy traveling! ✌🏼