A small Bahamian reef/island on the ride home
Since we’re animal lovers in this house, we’ve been wanting to go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for a long time, as it’s packed full of critters. This year we finally made the long all day trek out east. Spring break vacations are almost always crowded, but this place was not rowdy at all – unlike some spring break spots that we’ve accidentally stumbled into. The Bahamian people are really friendly and they go out of their way to demonstrate that; no discernible ‘tude, like the kind I’ve experienced elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Great food too.
As luck would have it, right outside of our villa-style room was a large pool full of Green Sea Turtles. Atlantis claims to have a successful breeding program and with 3 other pools full of turtles from little ones to adults, that appears to be the case. They also claim to be releasing small ones back into the wild. Very cool.
Adult turtle pool outside our room
Just one of many curious adults
I decided to leave my camera at home because a lot of these resort trips tend to only offer up your typical touristy shots and phone cameras usually work just fine for that. But, this time there were a few moments where I wished I had brought my Canon. The weather was all over the place, we even had a thunder storm while we were doing the Sea Lion encounter. That weather generated some massive waves and that’s when I wanted to have my camera to capture some of that action. You can’t see it in these pictures, but the surf was so strong that the lifeguards didn’t want people to even wade in the water on this beach.
We didn’t get any shots of the many Sawfish at Atlantis, but they’re in several ponds and tanks. It’s an endangered species so I was kinda shocked to even see 4 or 5 in one pond, then I finally came upon a sign that explained that they’re the only aquarium in the world that has managed to breed these amazing fish, which explained why they probably have more than a dozen on display that I could count, including a couple of whoppers.
The Atlantis TV commercials show Mantra Rays, which exist in only a few aquariums around the world, so I really wanted to see one here, but sadly no Mantas. I was told that the one they had on display for awhile had to be released back into the wild as it had become too large. But, a good consolation prize was seeing two Black Hammerhead sharks that were on display. They were in a pool where it was tough to get any good shots even if I had brought a serious camera. I’m guessing the bigger one might have been about 7-8 feet.
Black Hammerhead Shark
Getting a good look at them was tough, but we finally found a spot where we could stand on the edge of their lagoon. To get them to come over into that shallow water, I was rambling out loud about possibly picking at a scrape I got from the waterpark and then putting some blood in the water, so then Kaitlyn tugged on a hangnail and stuck her thumb in the water with a drop of blood on it — and sure enough within minutes a hammerhead cruised by us about 10 feet away; giving us our closest possible view. At which point I said “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
The big money makers for Atlantis are the interactions that cost extra with dolphins, sea lions and even sting rays. Cassie, the CA sea lion was incredibly smart, fun and chill. She’s about 22 yrs old and does tricks that no others can do, like playing dead really well in the trainers arms. I wish I had a picture of the whiskery kiss I got from her instead of this posed photo.
Sea Lion Encounter with Cassie
Here we are snorkeling with the rays. There were also a couple of small Blacktip Reef Sharks in this pond, as well as a type of shark that looks like a small Hammerhead called a Bonnetthead; very cool looking sharks and we didn’t even know they were there until we were swimming with them.
Swimming with rays and sharks
Possibly the most entertaining part of this experience was watching a mom get in this pond with her family at the beginning when we fed the rays. The rays swarm all over you for the food you carry in a bucket that you can offer to them by hand while wearing a glove. They’re constantly bumping into your legs; one guy claimed that several almost swam up into his shorts (I think you have to pay extra for that in Vegas) … but anyway, I thought this one mom was going to lose her mind as the rays were swarming around her. I thought I might need to talk her down off the ledge and so I told her to imagine that they were puppies, or kittens, and she responded that she hates those too. So she REALLY took one for the team by enduring that experience with her boys, and after all that trauma she was the one who took these photos for us. Nice recovery.
Just like puppies and kittens
Atlantis is so massive that just walking around the property gets you a lot of exercise. One of the main attractions, that you don’t pay extra for, is the water-slide park. We spent a lot of time in there and have some scrapes to prove it.
The “Lazy” River, which has some spots that are anything but lazy.
The Hammerhead pond is right behind us
Just turned 12 and already 5-8
The girls — paddling around on a water trike
The “deep water” dolphin encounter
This place is YUUUGE!
A real sea sponge as big as her head