When given the chance to travel anywhere (which is always, admit it–we’re a pretty privileged bunch), you’ll most likely find a Caribbean resort scraping the sandy bottom of my travel wish list. It’s not that I dislike the Caribbean—I mean, it’s not as far down as rural Arkansas–I’m just not a beach vacation kinda taker and I’m FO SHO not the kind of traveler (or human) that prefers (or is physically able) to “relax”. In fact, I had to look that word up because it’s not even in my vocabulary, hey-o!
However, last month I was invited on a family trip to The Bahamas and jumped at the chance to take the kind of trip I’d never plan for myself. This would be my first time to the country but because of scheduling issues would be just a quick 2 days in The Bahamas. Fifty-four hours, to be exact—the perfect amount of time for the traveler who can’t chill.
2 DAYS IN THE BAHAMAS
The die-hard resort-goers in your life (you probably work with like five of them) will tell you 2 days in The Bahamas is not long enough, and/or that you’re crazy (well obviously, because if you wanted to watch a pale middle-aged man suck in his gut and ignore his family, you wouldn’t have to travel much farther than your local Hooters). So I’ll start you off with my best tip: 2 days in The Bahamas is better than no days in The Bahamas. Is 2 days in The Bahamas worth it if you live in, say, San Francisco? Probably not. But anywhere east of the Mississippi? Yes. Yes it is.
Direct (and relatively short) flights to The Bahamas depart from Charlotte, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, NYC, Tampa, Baltimore, Chicago, Newark, and where I flew from, Boston. Not only that, but The Bahamas is closer than you probably realize being just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. I mean, it’s basically Miami, just replace Pitbull with Sheila from your office. See if your local airport offers direct flights to The Bahamas here.
DO BOOK DIRECT FLIGHTS WHEN POSSIBLE
With just an allotted 2 days in The Bahamas, time is of the essence! I’m not sure what that means, literally, but it’s a cliché that totally works here. Obviously you want to spend as much of those 2 days in The Bahamas as not in an airport on a grimy layover as possible. Feeling grimy on a beach somewhere? Now that’s what ya want.
To succeed in your 2 days in The Bahamas you’ve got to cut down the time spent on all the nonsense (commuting, eating, plucking your eyebrows?) to maximize time spent judging people by the pool with a three-foot tall tequila drink in your hand. A delayed flight, a long layover, or a lost bag could really put a damper on your getting brain freeze from your daiquiri.
DON’T VISIT DURING PEAK SEASON
Peak season for The Bahamas is January – April, AKA Spring Break betches! And since this blog’s audience is a good 60% ages 25-44, I’m going to assume you’re better than that.
Traveling to The Bahamas, or anywhere between the state of Georgia and the Equator for that matter, during spring break season will punish you with:
- High prices
- Low availability
- Serious crowds
- Seriously drunk crowds
- Seriously intolerable crowds of drunk ass people
- And probably its fair share of nip slips
During the high season, the chances that the good rooms and the good tours will be completely booked are pretty likely. The beaches, pools, and bars will be crowded. The good charter boats will all be chartered, and that toight 18-year-old body you no longer have will be in constant eyesight. Taunting you and the donut that’s halfway into your mouth. We know… it’s your cheat day… but still. Who. Wants. That. I have one concern when it comes to hanging out with recent high school graduates and that’s… yeah I just don’t wanna do it.
And since, like me, you were most likely born in the 1900s, I can only assume this sounds like an utter garbage vacation, no? However, at the end of April when the low season unofficially beings, prices/crowds/nip slips all drop considerably. It’s during this period when your dolla dolla billz and your time can be better spent to get the most out of your 2 days in The Bahamas.
DO HAVE YOUR AIRPORT SHUTTLE PRE-BOOKED
Listen, the beach is anxiously awaiting your pale self so get that passport stamped and git. Having your airport ⇢ hotel shuttle pre-booked is an easy way to save tons of time at the airport and on the road.
I used Sandra’s Taxi Service and they were waiting right there on the curb just outside the airport doors. It’s like they knew how bad my life was about to need a wine slushy. Actually, since they’d already picked up almost all of the other 23 people in our group (12 of them being children), they honestly did. Glug, glug, glug! Besides being ready and waiting, our driver also got us to Paradise Island via all the traffic-avoiding shortcuts and was a hilarious and informative introduction to the island at that.
The first thing we were asked, after adjusting to the fact that our driver was sitting on the right side of the van, was, “Resort or grocery store?” If money is your concern, take advantage of this available pit stop to pick up booze, sunscreen, Funyuns (okay, maybe part of you is still in college), and whatever else you may need to survive the weekend… at grocery store prices. (To illustrate: I paid $22 for a standard size bottle of Australian Gold sunscreen at Atlantis. First world problems, I know, but dammit all to hell!) If time is your main concern, as it was mine, get yo ass straight to the resort—they have everything you need there. Bonus points for changing into your bikini on the way.
DON’T SHOW UP WITHOUT KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT THE BAHAMAS
Did you know there are 700 islands in The Bahamas? Or that The Bahamas is part of the British Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth as its head of state? Or that The Bahamas is where Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the New World in 1492? Or that the word ‘the’ is an official part of the country’s name and therefore always capitalized? Me neither!
I did exactly zero research for my 2 days in The Bahamas beyond checking the weather forecast. I had no idea The Bahamas is the third richest country in North America just after the U.S. and Canada, or that Bahamians drive on the left side of the road—a fact that would’ve prevented the sheer horror I felt upon getting into a van with a five-year-old sitting in what I thought was the driver’s seat. “Hold on to your butts!”
While researching the heck out of my last post on The Bahamas, I learned so much interesting information on real-life pirates and buried treasure, Columbus, the American Civil War, marine life, Sean Connery, and even a little about ghosts. This, of course, is all stuff I wish I’d known before I landed in Nassau. The Bahamas is so much more than resorts, Caribbean cruise stops, and socks with sandals. Do yourself a favor and read at least a little bit about it before you go. Start here with this Bahamas guidebook.
DO STAY IN NASSAU AT A MEGA-RESORT
Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay (read that like Joe Pesci from Lethal Weapon or it doesn’t work). Mega resorts are not my thing, true. However, in terms of convenience and necessity for time-budget travel, resorts rule all. When you need to get the most out of a short amount of travel time, having everything you could possibly need for 2 days in The Bahamas right there in one place is invaluable. You won’t have to drive to a beach, to restaurants, or to a convenience store. It’s just a short walk before you’re at a pool, a bar, a waterpark, a spa, a gym, another bar, a casino, a theater, an aquarium, and yet another bar because there are 12 children on this trip, none of which are mine, remember? And let me tell you–if you’ve never stayed at a Caribbean resort before, you’ve never known the joy of ripping off a scratchy plastic wristband you’ve worn for three straight days. It’s GLORIOUS.
But let me back up. Though there are 700 islands in The Bahamas, it’s the island of New Providence that you’ll want to stay on with only 2 days in The Bahamas. On the island of New Providence is Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas and home to the country’s main airport that you’ll be flying into. Connected to New Providence via a bridge named after Sir Sidney Poitier, Bahamian actor and first black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, is Paradise Island where Atlantis and many other resorts are located. Heading (to the frozen daiquiri machine) here immediately upon landing will be so much more rewarding and efficient than hopping yet another plane (most likely a death-defying puddle jumper and who needs like kind of terror in their lives?) then a boat, then a golf cart to get to your destination. That’s like 12 daiquiris you just missed out on. One for each child under the age of 13 I’m spending the weekend with.
In my case, I stayed at Atlantis, the biggest and most intense oceanside resort this side of Uranus (right? It’s gotta be). However, there are more manageable and more affordable options on Paradise Island where you can still get convenience and Kahlua. Keep reading to the Where to Stay in The Bahamas section for more on… well, where to stay in The Bahamas.
BUT DON’T EXPECT AN AUTHENTIC BAHAMIAN EXPERIENCE
I want to really drill in the point that this post isn’t saying: “If you want to experience The Bahamas, do this and stay here,” because that’s definitely not the case. The purpose of this article is merely: “If you only have 2 days to spend in The Bahamas, doing this and staying here is the best way to get the most out of your time.” But also to make you think I consume alcohol way faster than I actually do. I’ve got the chugging capability of a newly birthed kitten.
That being said, staying at a Caribbean mega resort is great in terms of convenience and time management, but simply awful in terms of an authentic cultural experience—unless large groups of American vacation-goers is indeed the culture you’re after. (In that case, welcome to Ground Zero!)
If you really want to experience the vibrant Bahamian culture and eat your weight in what I was told is “the best fried chicken in the world”, you may need to spend more than 2 days in The Bahamas. “Real life” is not found on Paradise Island—it’s the only thing you can’t find at Atlantis—which I believe is probably their intention. Instead, you can “leave the resort” and enter Marina Village, a mock “village” with shops and restaurants, palm trees and planted flowers (I think those are real?) that feels more like a movie set or Disney World’s Main Street USA than a Caribbean island. Do they try really hard to create an idealized space for a family vacation? Yes. But instead of coming off idyllic, it just comes off as creepy. Like, Truman Show creepy. “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.”
After your these-can’t-be-real-prices Italian dinner, you’ll head back to Atlantis via the streets of the Village (is this where M. Night Shyamalan got the idea for his The Village?) only to be caught off guard by a “traditional Bahamian Junkanoo parade” and everyone loses their minds. Real life Junkanoo parades, with their bright costumes, loud music, and sweet sweet dance moves, take place on Boxing Day and New Years Day. The Marina Village “Junkanoo Parade” takes place twice weekly and is a show, y’all. These are paid (hopefully) actors providing a service to the resort of Atlantis. You did not just stumble upon an authentic Bahamian Thursday night ritual. Whether or not you realize it, you paid for this.
My point being: there are adorable, quaint villages on the islands of The Bahamas and there are colorful, loud, booty-shaking Junkanoo parades, but they’re not to be found on Paradise Island. To bring home my points, please see Marina Village’s highest rated Tripadvisor review (which was intended as a positive one):
DO EXPLORE MORE
I’m not saying you have to visit all 700 islands of The Bahamas (oh please, don’t make me!) but you should definitely spend one of your 2 days in The Bahamas not on Paradise Island. Nassau and the island of New Providence make a great home base for your trip as they’re centrally located, can claim the country’s main airport, and make it easy to get around. It’s also easy to leave.
For my day exploring more of The Bahamas, our group chartered a couple of boats (we were many, but there was beer aboard) through Island Time Charters for a day out in Spanish Wells, a small fishing village on St. George’s Cay (the oldest fishing village in The Bahamas I was told). This experience was everything I wanted it to be: a day out on the high seas, exploring a sleepy, tourist-free Caribbean village via golf cart on the left side of a road made of shells, finding an absolutely empty and dreamlike beach, and having the most incredible, foodgasm-inducing seaside lunch at a local restaurant.
Staying at a mega resort is great for convenience and utter laziness, but that doesn’t mean you have to tie yourself to a child-filled waterpark or sad daytime blackjack. Tours and charters in The Bahamas abound so don’t be afraid to get out there and explore. Head to the Shipyard in Spanish Wells and order the sticky conch bites; go on a snorkeling excursion on another island; swim with pigs in the Exumas; head to Lyford Cay and tell Sean Connery I loved him in The Last Crusade; or just boat over to Money Cay and see what happens—it sounds promising, no? Regardless of where you go and how you get there, just do it. And if you find a decently priced sick ass pirate-treasure-hunting expedition, sign me up immediately.
Here are some Viator tours in The Bahamas to get you started:
- Rose Island Day Trip | 5.5 hours on a remote Bahamian island sounds great to me!
- Pearl Island Beach Day with Lunch and Snorkeling | Spend a day on a gorgeous private island — just look at these pictures! 😎
- Blue Lagoon Island All-Inclusive Beach Day
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO SUPER-TOURIST
You’re finally in a place where your love of fruity, umbrella-ed drinks served poolside in yard-long vessels is judged by no one. You’re at a mega resort and, even though that may not be your jam, that’s where you are so just embrace it. You wanna see what it feels like to wear socks with sandals? What it feels like to drink a tequila sunrise during an actual sunrise? DO. IT.
You wanna swim with a T-shirt on because you’re Irish and absolutely terrified of the sun? Wear the T-shirt! You wanna carry all your personal belongings on your fanny because you need two hands to carry your bucket of rum? Put that rear to good use, sister! You wanna wear puka shells, a goop of sunscreen on your nose, a hat woven from palm fronds by a guy on the dock, a mu’umu’u? DOOOO ITTTTTTT. Your 2 days in The Bahamas is all about personal enjoyment and deviating from your standard travel style. Besides, mu’umu’us are just wicked comfortable and you’re a liar if you disagree.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE BAHAMAS
Even though I made a pretty good case in my last post for staying on Beyoncé Island or Sean Connery Cay, let’s face it, we all need money for basic life needs like tacos and student loans so that’s just not a practical solution. For however long (or short) your time is in The Bahamas, the island of New Providence is a great home base being the country’s main island and having a major airport with direct flights to/from many U.S. cities. From Nassau you can visit many of the other islands of The Bahamas within just a couple hours’ boat ride or less.
Atlantis | The most insane mega-resort I’ve ever seen. I’m not a big “resort” person but if it’s a one-stop-shop you’re looking for, this is it. This place has everything: soda, purple stuff, Sunny D, a VIP room for football jellyfish–it’s that thing when NFL players have the helmet but with the skinny dreads hanging out. (Okay, I may have recruited the help of our tourism consultant Stefon for that last bit.)
There’s a waterpark, pools, a casino, hella restaurants, its own beach, and everything in between. You want to see sawsharks and manta rays getting fed from your balcony? They have that. You’re dying to see a pool full of tiny baby sea turtles (OF COURSE YOU ARE), they have that too. The most important part however: they have poolside wine+vodka slushies. Read reviews on Tripadvisor | Book your room here cuz you know you want a wine slushy, girl.
What I just mentioned and where I personally stayed was in the Atlantis Royal Towers, the massive pink building you see in all the commercials right before someone’s screaming dad drops straight down a water slide. However, Atlantis does offer other, budget-ier options like: The Beach at Atlantis and The Coral at Atlantis.
Comfort Suites Paradise Island | Comfort Suites or not, this place is dreamy. This hotel is right down the beach from Atlantis and guests here are granted full access to the Atlantis pools, lazy river, restaurants, etc. It’s one of the top-rated hotels in Nassau and breakfast is included! *cabbage patch emoji* ⇠ The dance, not the doll–that wouldn’t make any sense.
There are actually a ton of lodging options on New Providence and Paradise Islands for all budgets so have a look around. Read reviews here on Tripadvisor -or- if you’re in the purchasing mood, find a great room to book here.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE BAHAMAS
Well, with only 2 days in The Bahamas, not that much. And since the goal here is to maximize tequila time and eliminate wasteful airport lingering, be sure to only pack a carryon.
I hope this isn’t something you have to read off the internet to know already, but I don’t like to assume so… bring things that keep you clean and smelling nice. And clothing. You won’t need much of it. Bottoms, tops, flip-flops, underthings. Bikinis, short-shorts for men, you’ve done this before. However, keep in mind you’ll also need:
- Something with sleeves | It gets chilly in the restaurants and on the speedy boat ride to whichever island you choose.
- A coverup | Atlantis is semi-fancy; there are fountains ya know? They even have signs saying you can’t enter the buildings without covering up whatcha momma gave ya. So, let’s cover ourselves up; you can’t just sit in a restaurant booth here on your bare wet ass. This isn’t Florida.
- A floppy beach hat for Instagram | because this is just where we’re at right now. (or this one; shit, the bigger the better)
- Sunglasses | Protect those peepers! (Plus, with polarized sunglasses you can totally see through the water like magic.)
- Adventure-appropriate shoes | Keens are my go-to shoe for everything adventurous and wet. They’re perfect for wearing on boats/islands/in kayaks/and while searching for buried treasure with your parrot pal. For more on Keens and my relentless obsession with them, check out this post.
- And a cute new suit or two
And since you’re not just going to be lounging around poolside (you can do that anywhere!), you’ll need various appropriate adventure-related gear items such as:
- Snorkel gear | because I’m a snob and bring my own (If I wanted to put my mouth all over where a bunch of strangers have put their mouths, I’d just start smoking cigarette butts I found on the ground.)
- Spit antifog gel | for my snorkel mask which I use every time I’m in the water
- A dry bag | for keeping all your valuable stuff clean and dry on the beach, by the pool, and especially in the boat (THIS ONE IS SO NECESSARY.)
- A GoPro | for taking amazing photos and videos in and of water that is too gorgeous to put into words
- GoPro floating hand grip | for sturdier underwater shooting plus it floats and has an adjustable strap
- GoPro chest strap + head strap | for miscellaneous adventures when you actually need your hands for survival
- A GoPro dome | for getting those half above, half underwater photos (see below)
- The extremely necessary Polar Pro GoPro red snorkel filter for shallow water. | (Mine is for the GoPro Hero 4, but they now have them for newer models.) The red filter balances out the blues and greens you get when filming in the ocean to give you colors closer to what you actually see.
- A waterproof pouch for your smartphone | in case you don’t have a GoPro
And don’t forget the highly important and necessary items:
- The Bahamas guidebook | airplane reading material to make you smarter
- Travel-size sunscreen | Checking bags–bad. Paying $22 for for the shit they sell for $6 at Walmart–wicked, wicked bad.
- Travel insurance | should something happen involving boats, alcohol, a barracuda, a jellyfish, or eating too much conch. And with only 2 days in The Bahamas, it’s cheaper than a calamari appetizer in Marina Village. Get a quick and painless quote here.
- and potentially the most important item you’ll take with you: Bonine for motion sickness | Motion sickness is not a problem from which I currently suffer (thank you, Jesus!), but my sister-in-law tells a much different tale. On this recent 2 days in The Bahamas she tried Bonine for the first time for our 2-hour-each-way boat ride to Spanish Wells and back and didn’t violently puke her guts up! I mean, it was all peachy. She’s a Bonine believer.
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