Andddd, I’m back. Bit of a blogging lapse, life happens. So to continue with my series on The Bahamas, Part 2 is about Paradise Island and what the island has to offer. The island itself is tiny (just over 1 square mile) and is comprised of private residences and resorts. In fact there is very little to do off the resorts but here’s a quick guide.
The Beach – obviously a big attraction when you’re in the Caribbean. One of the best beaches in the entire country is Cabbage Beach. The beach runs along the eastern coast of the island and is shared by the public and the resorts which line it. There is currently one public access point beside the Riu resort. If you’re not staying at Atlantis you can actually walk through parts of the resort to get to the beach but security may ask to see room keys if you get off course, no big deal, they just direct you back to where you should be.
Be warned that as soon as you walk up the path to the beach you will be bombarded by people trying to sell you things. First it’s beach chair rentals (Tom had one charming fellow ask him why he was letting his girlfriend lay on the sand like a dog when we declined. All we could do was laugh.), then jet ski rentals, then sarongs/jewellery, then banana boat rides, the list goes on. The most entertaining of all are the guys who come up to you trying to sell you a bottomless boozy coconut. His pitch centered around “My only responsibility is to get you wasted!”, we still quote that from time to time. In fairness it’s well worth the $20 if you forgot to bring your own refreshments. I have a sneaking suspicion they don’t bother checking ID’s either.
Want some quiet relaxation? I thought so. Walk down the beach, away from all of the hotels and cruise ship guests. It takes about 15-20 minutes but you will find stretches of beach in front of private residences that you can lay out on. There is no security and only the odd passerby walking up and down the beach. Feel free to bring your own refreshments (just please take your garbage with you).
The sand here is unlike anything I’ve felt before. It’s coral, and quite coarse, the closest comparison I can make it that it feels like graham cracker crumbs. Very exfoliating and incredibly beautiful. Here, watch this video I found on YouTube, taken from down the beach, you’ll see Atlantis off in the distance. The water is crystal clear, no seaweed or other yuck washing up on shore which is nice if you get grossed out by that like I do.
There are no lifeguards so keep a close eye on children as the undertow can be really strong. It will push you up against shore with a lot of force and then suck you back out before you can catch your footing (I can attest to this, I was picking sand out of places for days).
Once the sun begins to go down it cools off quite quickly and the throngs of beach bums make their way back to their hotels and cruise ships (the beach is littered with empty coconuts at the end of the day). You’ll be met with a group of people offering to take you back to the cruise ships via taxi. A word of advice, ensure the taxi cab has a blue and yellow licence plate, otherwise it’s not a real taxi but a citizen looking to make some extra bucks.
If you are looking to bring your own drinks to the beach make a stop at the Paradise Shopping Village, at the Bristol liquor store. If you’re a Canadian your eyes will bulge at the prices, everything sold in The Bahamas is duty free and has no sales tax (it’s like they’re giving it away). Bristol also sells Bacardi Rum Cake cheaper than anywhere else we saw.
What’s Rum Cake you ask? Only the most delicious, boozy cake you’ve ever had. I’m a purist so I like Golden Original flavour the best but Tom was partial to Pina Colada. Either way, don’t eat it on an empty stomach unless you want to feel a bit light headed afterwards. On second thought, eat it for breakfast, you’re on vacation after all!
I also want to show you a spot on the island unlike anything else. The Cloisters (part of the Versailles Gardens) is an incredibly romantic serene garden facing Nassau. It’s worth the walk and if you’re lucky like we were, you’ll have the entire place to yourselves. Try to ignore the multi-million dollar condo complexes on either side as you picture yourself back in 18th century France.
Paradise Island is also home to the mega-rich and famous. You’ll never see them of course, they have private estates in a gated community along the south eastern part of the island that you can only see by air or by water. Oprah and Tiger Woods are among the bigger names that have residences here. There was one house that really stood out to us, and as luck would have it, it’s for sale! You can also see Mick Jagger’s and Nicholas Cage’s homes on the opposite end of the island as you take the ferry from Paradise Island to Nassau.
Though it may be small, Paradise Island has a lot to offer and is a lot of fun. Don’t be afraid to get away from the resorts, soak up the rays at Cabbage Beach and eat some rum cake!