Have you ever thought about getting off the British Airways flight at the Bahamas? Two families (one resident in Cayman, one visiting from England) did exactly that – and discovered two very different islands.
1. Atlantisby Rebecca Hayward
A couple of years ago, planning a holiday in late November, we thought we would take advantage of the BA flight to Nassau. We weren’t looking for the beach so decided to brave the resort as a complete contrast to quiet Cayman. It is big, bold and in your face but turned out to be a perfect long weekend away.We flew on the Friday evening flight which worked really well at the end of the working week. The transfer from the airport is short. The evening we arrived they were putting up beautiful Christmas decorations so we had a very festive welcome. We stayed at the at the recommendation of a friend – it is the middle range accommodation ( high end luxury) but close to the children’s pool and (the most amazing aquarium experience).
At the hotel’s own aqarium
There’s loads to do. The place is water slide heaven (for all ages and bravery levels!), there’s a lagoon with equipment rentals (eg paddle boards), dolphin interaction, casino, golf, food galore (including a Nobu), shopping etc. There are also children’s clubs and activities although we didn’t explore these. You can sign up for meal plans but we preferred to be flexible and have the freedom to explore the endless restaurant choices. We spent the evenings wandering over to the Marina to admire the super yachts.Always check out deals through the Atlantis website before booking. We received vouchers for experiences worth about $600 including free dolphin experience, cocktails at Nobu, round of golf etc.
One regret – not exploring outside the resort. If we had planned a bit better in advance it would have been possible to arrange day trips and the hotel can help with this.
2. Small Hope Bay, Andros Islandby Henrietta Hayward
We had a family Christmas planned in Grand Cayman but wanted a bit of quiet family time before meeting up with the clan; just the four of us, our boys aged 4 and 2.5yrs. We looked at the bigger resorts in Nassau but it just didn’t feel like the kind of place where we could really kick back and relax. Much internet searching later and we came across on Andros island.
Small Hope Bay
It’s a truly laid back dive resort which worked perfectly for us. Apart from the dangers of being by the sea with small children, we felt they were totally safe here and our 4 year old could wander around without us restricting him. He could go and chat with other guests or help the guys working there and they also offer snorkelling lessons for those too young to dive.
My husband and I were able to do our PADI refreshers and do some amazing diving, even able to take the boys on the boat with us sometimes. We were unlucky that the weather was unusually windy which made going out on the boats far less enjoyable and even sitting on the beach became a bit of a resilience test at times but it wouldn’t put us off going back. It sits on a beautiful bay with a hot tub, kayaks and a well-equipped games room.
The all-inclusive package means that everyone eats together in a communal dining room in the evenings, starting with cocktails and amazing conch fritters, which gave us some adult interaction that we felt was invaluable on a holiday with two small boys. The kids ate earlier and had babysitters in another room until they want to go to bed. We then took ours back to our cabin (2 bed, 1 shower room so no need to share with the kids) and just checked on them intermittently as the place was so secluded we felt there was no risk. Sometimes the babysitters would go and sit with them if we asked. It meant we had a really relaxing holiday where we could enjoy the day with the kids and then have an evening off.
This place isn’t all new and shiny with loads of activities, choice and options. It’s basic and occasionally a bit rough round the edges but incredibly friendly, relaxed and off the beaten track with great service. We felt it worked for the kids and worked for us.
Negatives? Well there’s no pool and the sea was just too chilly. I’m not sure if that was the orientation or because of this unusual wind. You also have to get a very small plane over from Nassau to Andros. This obviously takes some time when you’ve just stepped off a long flight from the UK and wouldn’t be ideal for those with any fear of flying.
However, if you want to spend some quality time with the kids, building sandcastles and lying in a hammock under a palm tree reading a book, in between a cold beer or a dive to see turtles, this is the place for you.