The first thing that most visitors to Nassau see when approaching the Bahamas island of New Providence is a huge coral-pink resort complex dominating the skyline. With it’s beautiful arched central towers and crystal-clear beaches, the Atlantis Paradise Island resort is arguably the biggest tourist draw in the Bahamas. Visitors can spend the day there during a cruise ship shore excursion (as I did with my family on a Disney cruise in July 2018), or fly to Nassau and book an entire vacation package for as long as they like. The best part about Atlantis Paradise Island is that most of the resort is wheelchair accessible, and offers great opportunities for wheelchair users to enjoy it’s many luxurious Caribbean features. Here is my guide to how wheelchair users can make the most of their visit to Atlantis Paradise Island.
Getting to Atlantis Paradise Island
Like many resorts, The Atlantis offers a variety of shuttle services to the main island, including an accessible van. However, it costs $288 roundtrip for the accessible van shuttle from the airport. It does include transport for up to eight adults, but that may be a deal-breaker for many. There are only three wheelchair accessible vans between Nassau and Paradise Island, and rarely are all of them operational at the same time. Additionally, the demand for accessible vans can be huge when cruise ships arrive. If you need a wheelchair accessible van in Nassau, be sure to book it weeks or months in advance.
Cruise ship passengers may get a better deal if they book an accessible Atlantis shore excursion through their cruise line that includes round-trip transportation. For example, Royal Caribbean states the following for an accessible Aquarium shore excursion: “Guests who require accessible transportation with ramp or lift are recommended to book tour in advance of the cruise in order to secure equipment. Accessible transportation may be at an additional cost. Guest interested in this tour must contact in advance of the cruise the Shore Excursion Access Department at [email protected] to review full details on this tour and accessible transportation availability.”
Getting Around the Resort
To say that Atlantis Paradise Island is huge would be a gross understatement. The numbers on Atlantis are staggering — more than 2,300 hotel rooms, 20 million gallons of water devoted to pools, watersides, rivers, and other aquatic attractions in a 140-acre watermark, 21 restaurants, 19 bars, and a casino with 90 table games and more than 850 slot machines. The entire resort covers one square mile, and while there is a complimentary shuttle to transport guests around the complex, it’s not wheelchair accessible. Paradise Island is also hilly, so there are some decent inclines/declines around the property. All routes are paved with curb drops, but make sure your battery is charged every day, and that you give yourself plenty of time to get from place to place.
The Hotel Complex
Atlantis Paradise Island is a huge resort with six different buildings to accommodate guests. The Cove is elegantly situated between Cove and Paradise Beaches creating the feeling of being cast away on a private, white-sand sanctuary. The Royal is iconic and most reflective of the myth of Atlantis, featuring grand architecture, artwork and design. The newly renovated Coral is dedicated to multigenerational family fun. Their most accessibly priced accommodations, The Beach offers casual,
come-as-you-are beachfront and garden facing rooms. The Reef offers luxury, residential-style studios and suites offering vacationers all the comforts of home, with the service and experience of a magnificent resort. Harborside Resort features spacious residential-style villas, offering guests kitchens or kitchenettes, creating a casual, home-away-from-home feeling.
Almost completely wheelchair accessible, Atlantis offers wheelchair friendly accommodations on a limited basis. The resort currently has 30 accessible rooms (12 are located in the Royal Towers, with others in the Coral, Reef, and Cove) with safety bars, lowered sinks and many offer roll-in showers. If you are interested in booking an accessible room, please contact Atlantis at 242-363-3000 so they can verify availability and secure the room in advance.
Atlantis is not an all-inclusive Resort; it is a full service Resort. As an overnight guest, you have full access to all Atlantis water park features at no additional cost. Included are 11 swimming areas, 11 water slides, two Lazy River Rides, the Paradise Lagoon, The Dig, the Predator’s Lagoon, all of the marine life habitats, and the ocean beach area. Beach towels are provided daily at no charge once within the water park. All other Atlantis services such as the Mandara Spa, the Comedy Club and our Business Center, are optional for a nominal fee.
Meal plans are available, vary, and offer guests options depending upon where they would like to dine and where they are staying within the resort. You can review the meal plan section at Dining Plans for more information. All restaurants have seating for anyone with mobility impairments.
Marina Village Dining: Discover dining options from gourmet fare to on-the-go favorites. Walk or use a wheel chair on the outdoor pathways from Coral Towers. Each restaurant can meet specific dietary needs. Call for details.
The Towers Dining: Experience everything from gourmet to buffet dining in and around each tower hotel. Access through the various hotel lobbies or by elevators at the Coral and Royal Towers. Each restaurant can meet specific dietary needs. Call for details.
Adventure and Poolside Dining: Enjoy the casual, outdoor atmosphere along with salads, sandwiches and other selections. Use an elevator or the outdoor pathways. All Atlantis guests are welcome.
Casino: The grandest casino in the Caribbean features 100 gaming tables and 750 of the latest slot machines. Access through the Royal Towers lobby or from Coral Towers via the Crystal Court Shops by stairs or elevator. Most table games and slot machines are easily accessed from a wheelchair. For specific access to your favorite gaming, please consult the Casino Manager.
Lounges: All guests are welcome at our popular lounges and nightspots throughout the resort, including Sea Glass, Dragons, Nobu, Coral Lounge, Voyager’s Lounge and Atlantis Theatre. Most of our bars and lounges have easy access via walking or wheelchair. For specifics, please contact each location. The Atlantis Theater has special seating for guests in wheelchairs.
Marina Village Shopping: Explore the colorful outdoor shops offering beachwear, fine art, and more. Walk or use a wheel chair on the outdoor pathways from Coral Towers. All Atlantis guests are welcome.
The Towers Shopping: These exquisite shops feature top names in haute couture, jewellery and accessories. Access through the various hotel lobbies or by elevators at the Coral and Royal Towers. All Atlantis guests are welcome.
The Dig: Visitors can experience the lost city of Atlantis as they view mythical artefacts and over 20,000 marine animals in this incredible 2.7 million-gallon exhibit. Access from the Royal Towers by using an exterior, ground-level ramp or an elevator outside the Great Hall of Waters, though double doors near Chopard. By walking or using a wheel chair, move through the softly-lit underground corridors over a textured, flat grade floor, while observing marine animals through clear acrylic panels.
Mayan Temple Shark Lagoon: Caribbean Reef Sharks and Nurse Sharks can be seen from an exciting water slide through a clear underwater tunnel, or from the panoramic windows of the surrounding deck. Access by exterior, ground-level ramps at the Mayan Temple. The south ramp leads to a top view and the north ramp leads to acrylic panels for an underwater view. Walk or use a wheelchair over a flat grade floor while observing marine animals through clear acrylic panels.
Predator Lagoon: Guests can see barracudas, sawfish, and various types of sharks by walking through a clear underwater viewing tunnel, or through panoramic window. Access by using an exterior, ground level ramp near the Coral Towers. Participants can walk or use a wheelchair over a flat grade floor while observing marine animals through clear acrylic panels. The path ends in stairs so immobile guests will have to reverse their steps to exit.
Cove Beach is a natural beach that offers sunbathing and swimming. To access Cove Beach, use The Cove outdoor pathways, which are flat grade and go directly to beach. The depth of the swimming area varies depending on the tide cycle. Paradise Beach is reserved for guests of The Cove and Reef Towers and offers sunbathing and swimming. Access from the Cove and Reef Towers via outdoor pathways that are level with the beach. The depth of the swimming area varies depending on the tide cycle. Beach wheelchairs are available for transfer into the water.
The Pools and Water Park
Wheelchairs are allowed on the pool decks, but not in the water. Beach wheelchairs are available for transfer into the water. The Baths Colonnade and Mayan Temple free-form pools feature rock structures, hieroglyphics and 750,000 gallons of water each. To access these pools, use the Royal Towers outdoor pathways. These zero-entry pools have a maximum depth of 5 feet. Large hieroglyphics and rock structures adorn the Cascades pool that is surrounded by 2.5 acres of sundecks. To access the Cascades pool, use The Cove outdoor pathways. This zero-entry pool gradually deepens to 5 feet. The Lazy River pool connects to the Lazy River Ride and features waterfalls and an ocean view. To access this pool, use the Beach Tower outdoor pathways. This zero-entry pool gradually deepens to 4 ft 4 in.
Shore Excursions and Guest Programs
Dolphin Cay Interactions
If notified in advance, every effort will be made to accommodate all persons with disabilities. Complimentary beach wheelchairs are available for transfer in and out of the water.
Shallow Water Interaction (For all ages.): Join a playful dolphin in waist-high water for a memorable hug and kiss! Free for kids 3 and under; if accompanied by a paying adult. Proof of age required.
Deep Water Swim: Swim alongside a playful dolphin, then feel the rush of a “foot push”across the water. Plus feed, hug, kiss, and dance with your new friend.
Access this area from the exterior of the resort by using a ground-level ramp near The Cove. A water wheel chair is provided, but does not remain in the water for the entire interaction. Guests entering the water who have special needs must inform the Dolphin Cay staff in advance of their booking.
Observation and Beach Access
Friends and family of participants can get complimentary access to an observation platform or the beach area to watch the playful dolphins and their interaction. Guests may upgrade to a Beach Pass, which includes unlimited, all-day access to the Dolphin Cay private beach. Access this area from the exterior of the resort by using a ground-level ramp near The Cove. Guests use a ramp by walking or using a wheelchair or electric vehicle (over a flat-grade floor), while observing marine animals from a platform. For those with Beach Access, animals are observed from a sandy beach area.
Cruise ship passengers can visit Atlantis independently and purchase various types of day passes to different parts of the resort. Day passes can be redeemed and are available for purchase at the Atlantis Adventures Tour center, located outside The Coral, overlooking the Atlantis Marina. Space is limited, and passes are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Same day reservations are not available online. To make a same day reservation please call 1-800 Atlantis.