I recently had the pleasure to vacay in Paradise Island, Bahamas for the first time and it was the perfect getaway. For us coming from the States, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to the main island but makes you feel farther away from home than you really are. From the turquoise waters to the white sand beaches to the endless amount of things to do, it actually feels like paradise. I came back to the States blissfully happy and recharged, even though we were only there for about four days! I’ve laid it all out with where we stayed, what we did, and some tips for those of you ready to pack your bags and go!
Where to Stay
When deciding on our accommodations, Adam and I obviously first looked into the Atlantis resort because that’s your first thought when you think of the Bahamas. It definitely offers everything – great accommodations, casino, water park and pristine beaches, shops, restaurants – but for a pretty hefty price tag. The least expensive rooms run for over $400 USD a night to put it into perspective. Knowing we were coming off our honeymoon to New Zealand (itinerary here), we wanted to be cautious in how we were spending our money. There about another eight hotels on the island, some of which include Riu, Comfort Suites, Sunrise Beach Club & Marina, among others. I found a promising alternative with the Warwick Paradise Island Hotel.
It’s an all-inclusive hotel so we were able to snag a reservation that included flight, accommodation, food and beverages (alc too!) for about $1,200 per person for 5 days, 4 nights with Cheap Caribbean. Bonus? It’s adults only! The hotel is a short 25-30 minute ride from the airport so you can book a shuttle service through Cheap Caribbean or you can opt to do what we did and take a taxi for a $40 flat fee one way. I believe this ended up being a tad bit cheaper than the shuttle.
One thing to note is that the hotel sits on the harbor side of the island. Because of this, the ‘beach’ is small and overlooks ships and Nassau in the distance. We didn’t mind that, considering the hotel has a daily shuttle to a private part of Cabbage Beach (a short 2 minute drive away), complete with lunch, bottled water, and of course, booze! The hotel also has a perfect size pool with a bar and eatery close-by. If you’re not a beach person, you’ll be quite content just hanging at the Warwick all weekend.
The rooms are spacious and we were able to snag a room with a view of the harbor. Unfortunately, only a handful of the rooms have private balconies and you guessed it, they’re more expensive. We figured we wouldn’t be in our room much anyway so we opted for a room without a balcony. We had no issues with our room but did notice some wear and tear in the bathroom. I’m pretty easy to please, so this didn’t really bother me. Just a note though, you’ll really only be able to fit one person at a time in the bathroom. It would have been nice with the rooms being so large that they had made the bathroom a bit bigger. I digress. Overall, we were very happy at the Warwick and would give it a B+ grade.
Where to Eat
I’ve only been to one other all-inclusive resort (which was in the Dominican Republic), and unfortunately didn’t have the greatest luck with our food options. Adam ended up getting sick there, so we went in a little wary of how the food would be on Paradise Island. Let me just say, I was so pleasantly surprised.
Obviously being at an all-inclusive resort, we ate there about 95% of the time, but there were so many options! They had the typical buffet restaurant you see at most all-inclusives, an Italian restaurant, an Asian-cuisine restaurant, and a beautiful more upscale restaurant right on the water in an enclosed gazebo. They also have an open-aired bar and grill right by the pool, which was great for lunch (think burgers, pizza, salad). We were fortunate enough to dine at all five places and never had a bad meal. I did notice that the food came out more along the lines of room temperature and not piping hot as you typically see in American restaurants. But again, this wasn’t that big of a deal.
We did end up going to Atlantis for one of the days to try out the waterpark and their exclusive beach, so we ended up grabbing lunch there. We stopped at one of the many eateries on the resort and had some pretty delicious burgers and fries. Overall, food was about an A- on Paradise Island and that’s coming from a Chicago foodie!
Something we didn’t end up doing but heard great things about was taxing over to Nassau’s fish fry strip. There’s a bunch of authentic Bahamian stands near the Junkanoo Beach and you can purchase a meal for very cheap.
What to Do
The Warwick itself has plenty to offer from the pool, to the tropical drinks to the nighttime entertainment. While we were there, they had even had a Junkanoo come through the lobby of the hotel. It’s basically an energetic parade of Bahamians dressed head to toe in costume dancing to drums, trumpets and whistles. The entertainment at the hotel could be seen as underwhelming (think karaoke and some late night dancing), but it was fine for us. We didn’t mind calling an early night – it just meant more time in the sun the next day! If you’re big partiers, you’re better off taking the night shuttle over to Atlantis and trying out their casino and nightlife.
As I already mentioned, Atlantis has a vast water park filled with a raging river, slides galore, various pools and exclusive access to Cove Beach. It’s a short five minute walk from the Warwick. You can purchase a day pass for around $160/person, which is rather steep so we recommend planning to go from open to close. We spent the late morning hours going down the slides before the real crowds showed up so we didn’t have to worry about lines. One of the coolest (but scariest) things was going down the water slide that goes through a tank full of sharks! I couldn’t really open my eyes going down the slide because of all the water, but at least I can say I did it, right? We then headed to Cove Beach for the early afternoon hours, which was absolutely divine. The water was calm and great for swimming. We then headed back to some of the slides in the late afternoon as people were starting to head inside for dinner, which again, meant little to no lines!
Pro tip: make sure you get a fully inflated tube for the raging river and tube slides. Unfortunately, the second time around I grabbed a less than inflated tube and ended up getting pretty hurt in the raging river (think going overboard and smacking my head on the bottom of the river). Definitely be careful!
There’s also a bunch of cute shops (like Marina Village) between the Warwick Hotel and Atlantis. If you’re looking for additional shopping, you can taxi into Nassau and explore the Straw Market. While there, you can walk around downtown and check out some of the historic sites like the Queen’s Staircase, Pompey Square, and Fort Charlotte.
We personally spent a lot of our time at the beach because we were truly looking for a relaxing vacation. Cabbage Beach was absolutely beautiful but tends to get very rough waves so it sometimes closes. We were able to go there one of the days but it ended up being closed two of the days we were on Paradise Island.
Things to Note
Before you head to the Bahamas, there are a few things you should know. While Paradise Island seems very commercialized and Americanized, Nassau does not. Adam and I ended up walking over the bridge to check out Nassau and felt a bit unsafe, especially once it started to get dark outside on our way home. Many of the buildings were run down around the area we were walking. I did appreciate seeing what I saw though because it helped put things into perspective how many of the Bahamians live. Paradise Island, on the other hand, is extremely walkable. There’s no need to rent a car, especially with the shuttle/taxi options from the airport. Paradise Island felt very safe to walk too.
It’s also worth noting the water supply on Paradise Island. Coming from Chicago, I can be very snotty when it comes to tap water because we are spoiled here with Lake Michigan water. In the Bahamas, their water supply is known to be very sulfur-like. It’s fine to drink, but Adam and I avoided it at all costs and instead preferred to get water bottles. I read reviews the water is the same at Atlantis so it will not be avoided.
Overall though, all of us left the Bahamas feeling very relaxed and content. For those on a lower-end budget, I would 100% recommend the Warwick for your stay, especially if you don’t feel the need to be oceanside.
Feel free to leave questions in the comments below!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.