Nick and I had been talking on-and-off about planning a quickie vacation to celebrate our 5th anniversary for quite awhile. However, time seemed to escape us and suddenly our anniversary weekend was just a few days away. With my mom scheduled to be in town in a few days, I started googling direct flights to Caribbean islands and stumbled upon news that jetBlue started flying from DCA to Nassau in mid-June. Having previously stayed at the Atlantis resort, we knew our way around Paradise Island and debated going back there. However, we decided to save a few bucks and passed at booking Atlantis again (don't get me wrong - love Atlantis for family vacations, but we were looking to try something different). Instead, we selected the Riu Palace directly next door to Atlantis. We couldn't wait for all-inclusive!
On Friday morning, we hopped on a flight and just a few hours later, we were in the Bahamas...
|Woohoo for not flying with a toddler!|
Upon our arrival at the resort, we were told that we had been upgraded to a suite. SWEET! Maybe booking a vacation a few days before you arrive is good luck because we ended up with the best room in the hotel (in our opinion). We had the biggest balcony at the resort and fell in love with the view...
|Not a shabby view to have from your hotel room!|
Another great discovery - our very own personal bar in our room! Hello, all-inclusive!
|Bottles of liquor and a fridge full of mixers and beer = happy Nick mixing up his first rum and coke of the trip!|
We each grabbed a drink and headed down to check out the beautiful beach right in front of the resort. Absolutely the best part of direct flights from DC to Nassau is the ability to be on the beach by mid-afternoon!
|Toes in the sand and a chair in the water = happy Jenn!|
After a few hours on the beach checking out all the tropical fish swimming around, as well as downing a few cocktails, we decided to check out sunset from our balcony and get ready for our first dinner at the resort. However, Nick had a surprise for us and booked us a great couples massage before dinner. Oh relaxation!
We were highly impressed with the food all weekend long at the Riu. Compared to the much more expensive buffet at the neighboring Atlantis, we felt like we had more options, better service, and more variety at every meal.
However, the convenience of Atlantis being steps away from our resort did provide bonus entertainment. We knew that we could walk next door to enjoy the amazing grounds of Atlantis, as well as their casino and shops nightly.
|The Royal Towers at Atlantis|
On Saturday, we were up bright and early to enjoy some scuba diving! We hadn't been in the water since a Caribbean cruise in 2010, so we were psyched to squeeze in a few quick dives in the waters off Nassau. We've definitely missed diving - getting certified before our honeymoon was a great bonding experience and we both fell in love with the sport. Unfortunately, pregnancy and parenting seems to have impacted our diving schedule.
We booked our dives with a local dive company, Bahama Divers. They picked us up at our resort and outfitted us with supplies. Soon enough, we jumped aboard the dive boat, set up our gear and headed out to a dive site called the Lost Blue Hole. As soon as we dove in, we were greeted by stingrays, turtles and the biggest school of reef sharks that I'd ever seen - about 50-100 sharks just swimming around the hole. It was AMAZE! We had never dove a "hole" before and seeing that many sharks was completely crazy. I loved every single second of it. After a few minutes hovering around 100-110 feet deep, we started our ascent to check out a nearby reef and met a super friendly turtle, a lionfish (stay far away, buddy!), and a nurse shark.
|50 year old turtle, lionfish, nurse shark and massive school of reef sharks (in the distance)|
After a quick surface break (which always includes chugging some water and inhaling a snack), we moved to another dive site - Barracuda Reef. Nick and I were able to explore this shallow reef on our own to check out the beautiful coral and fish.
|My favorite dive buddy surfacing from the Lost Blue Hole dive|
|Exploring Barracuda Reef|
One of my favorite parts about diving is getting to see wherever we happen to be in the world via boat. The boat ride back to the marina is always relaxing and a great way to check out the coast. Dive guides are typically locals, so they always have great tips, information, and fun facts to share about your destination. Dives are done and you can just kick back and enjoy the sunshine and the breeze!
|Jumping back into the water for a quick swim!|
We made it back to the resort in time for a late lunch and some R&R by the pool. After a few hours floating in the pool and sipping on a variety of tropical drinks, we had a front row view of a gigantic thunderstorm brewing off shore and slowly moving our way. By the time the storm impacted the beach, we were headed back up to the room to prep for dinner. The hotel had a surprise waiting for us...
After a quick, but ridiculously loud, thunderstorm, we were ready to crack the champagne and toast to our honeymoon. Add some orange juice from the fridge and instant mimosa!
Did I mention how much we loved our balcony?!?! We could have lived out there... and we kinda did! We watched the sunset every night and enjoyed heading down for a late dinner before walking over to Atlantis.
|Who got some sun on his face?!?! This guy!|
We spent all day Sunday just relaxing on the beach. My little fish refused to come out of the water, so he spent the day searching for fish and shells while I happily read in my chair! We were one of the first chairs to hit the sand that morning and one of the last to leave that afternoon. Time flies with warm water and ice cold mango daiquiris!
|My fish loving every second in the beautiful water!|
|Luckily there wasn't much of a current or I was afraid he might drift to Cuba!|
After another amazing sunset from our balcony, we enjoyed our final night in the Bahamas by again playing and exploring over at Atlantis. We made our official "casino donation" and checked out the shark tanks and other aquarium exhibits while doing some souvenir shopping. During dinner, we even got an impromptu fireworks display right in front of the hotel. According to our waiter, they were most likely in celebration of someone hitting it big at the casino at Atlantis (and no, it doesn't happen often!).
Unfortunately, it was back to reality on Monday. But not before we squeezed in a few hours by the pool enjoying the final moments of our child-free vacation!
|Goodbye Bahamas! Until we meet again...|
|It's too bad that she doesn't have any stuffed animals, right??|
Overall, a fabulous way to kick off summer and to celebrate our anniversary! Happy 5 years to us.