Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RIU Palace Paradise Island

We planned this trip a few months ago at the same time we booked the trip to Maine – Maine for me, Bahamas for Ron. But then we ended up on a cruise instead of going to Maine so here we were a month later, back in the Bahamas!

This time we spent a long weekend at the RIU Palace Paradise Island, an all-inclusive resort on Cabbage Beach. It was a 3-star resort in a 5-star location. I’ll just say the hotel had “issues” – sometimes there was hot water, sometimes not, the power went out several times, finding a working ice machine was an adventure, and our room always felt damp. But at least the bed was comfortable (unlike the one at RIU Palace Las Americas). And the beach – WOW!! - a 3-mile stretch of white sand and beautiful, turquoise water.  As Ron kept saying, “It’s stupid pretty.”

Cabbage Beach


view of pool

view of beach

Ron on balcony

We didn’t do much on Friday since we didn’t get to the hotel until almost 4 o’clock. We just relaxed and got into vacation mode. Ron bought a cigar from the gift shop and we watched the sunset from the beach. One of the perks of staying at the RIU was that it is next door to Atlantis, so after dinner we walked over to check out the casino. We found a $10 Black Jack table but didn’t do very well. I stopped playing before losing my gambling allowance, but Ron lost all of his going “all in”. It reminded me of a dealer on one of our cruises who told us that she had NEVER seen a woman go all in when losing. It’s definitely a man thing. :-)  It was neat seeing everyone dressed up for the evening. Atlantis at night was a bit like Vegas – lots of sparkle, high heels, and short skirts.

Atlantis throne

Atlantis Temple of the Moon sculpture

Atlantis Chihuly sculpture

In the morning, Ron and I took a long walk to the end of Cabbage Beach. The beach at the RIU was crowded with sunbathers and vendors selling souvenirs, cigars, beach massages and Jet Ski rides. But just a bit farther down, it was almost secluded. At the end of beach, there was a small cove with crystal clear water and a gorgeous view of Paradise Island. Stupid pretty!
By the time we got back to the hotel, I was huffing and puffing. Whew! I guess it's time to start exercising again! We hopped in the water to cool off. We had been to the RIU twice before on day passes but this was the first time we actually got in the ocean. The first trip, I’d had a bad cold and didn’t feel like doing anything but lying by the pool with a book. On our last trip back in January, the water was too cold and the waves too rough. We saw several people get “washing machined” in the surf that day. But this time, it was warm and calm. We floated around and watched fish swimming around our legs in the clear water.

Susan on beach
Paradise Island

clear water

parasailing at Cabbage Beach

Cabbage Beach

After lunch, Ron just wanted to take a nap. He had been so stressed out about his dad and work that he hadn’t been getting much sleep. So we just hung out by the pool for a while and then went back to the room, where Ron slept for about 2 hours. When he woke up late in the afternoon, we wandered over to Atlantis’s Marina Village to goggle at the huge boats and browse the shops.

Atlantis Marina Village

Marina Village shop

For dinner that night we ate at Tengoku, RIU’s Japanese restaurant. RIU has a strange dining system. All the restaurants except for the buffet require reservations, but they only take reservations from 8 till 9 in the morning. A lot of people complain about having to get up early on vacation to stand in line for a dinner spot. Tengoku was the only restaurant available for Saturday night. Ron wasn’t too enthused, but I liked it. It was definitely better than Krystal, the fusion restaurant where we ate the next night. I’m not sure what fusion is supposed to be, but at Krystal it meant mystery food. :-)  The tapas plate had a some kind of rolled up thing sitting on a giant spoon, a cup of orange liquid and a tiny ball of..cheese? My fish entrée came with “basil foam”. Weird! If we go back to the RIU Palace Paradise Island, I think we’ll just stick with the buffet. It was actually pretty good, especially at breakfast.

Tengoku Japanese restaurant



Krystal fusion restaurant
On Sunday, we woke up early and watched the parade of cruise ships pulling into Nassau Harbor. Before the trip, I’d checked the Cruise TT website to see how many ships would be in port while we were there. According to Cruise TT, there were 6 ships that day, including the massive Oasis of the Seas – 19,000 cruisers! Since Cabbage Beach was going to be packed, it seemed like the perfect day to get away from the hotel and visit one of the out islands. I had narrowed it down to two tours, a 5-hour catamaran trip to Rose Island or an 8-hour high speed boat ride to the Exumas with Island World Adventures. The Island World tour was more expensive but it looked amazing. And as Ron said, “We can do the Rose Island tour on a cruise but we’d have to be staying in the Bahamas to see the Exumas. When is the next time that will happen?”

The Exumas are a chain of islands about 40 miles southeast of Nassau. I’d read that the boat ride could be rough but it wasn’t that day. We left the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal at 9 o’clock for the hour long ride. For a long time, I didn’t see any other islands but then the water turned an even more beautiful shade of blue and tiny cays started to appear around us. Our first stop was at Leaf Cay to feed the iguanas. The iguanas saw us coming and soon there were dozens of them on the beach. Captain Steve and First Mate Leslie set out a bag of grapes and instructed us to put the grapes on the end of a stick. The big iguanas tended to be the first to grab the grapes. Well, they were big for a reason. :-)  Ron tossed a few grapes to the smaller, shyer iguanas.

boat wake

Leaf Cay iguanas

Susan feeding iguana


Ron feeding iguanas

After Leaf Cay, we headed to Island World’s private island, Saddleback Cay, where we had a little time to have a drink and a snack, pick up our snorkeling gear and explore. The island had a beautiful crescent-shaped beach and lots of rustic, wooden walkways and shelters. Someone asked Captain Steve why there were flip flops nailed to the shelter roofs and he said, “Those are the ‘Lost Soles’”.  :-)

Ron on boat

Saddleback Cay

Saddleback Cay

Saddleback Cay

fishing buoy


After everyone had gotten a snack and a potty break, we all climbed back in the boat and rode to the nearby snorkeling site. The snorkeling was surprisingly good with lots of colorful coral and fish. On the way back to Saddleback Cay, we stopped at a sandbar to walk around and look for shells. The sandbar is what many people on Trip Advisor say was their favorite part of the tour. Unfortunately for us, there was an extra high tide because of the full moon, so the sandbar was underwater. But we made do, taking pictures of each other in the shallow water. What a beautiful spot.

Ron at sandbar

Susan and Ron at sandbar

Captain Steve
Captain Steve
Exumas sandbar

Back at Saddleback Cay, we had about 2 hours to enjoy a barbecue lunch (cooked by Steve’s wife Cindy) and relax on the beach. Steve and Leslie told us to save all our lunch scraps and take them down to the dock to feed the sharks. There were several lemon and nurse sharks hanging around, as well as grouper, yellow tail snapper and horse-eye jacks. The horse-eye jacks were incredibly fast, grabbing the food as soon as it hit the water. I could almost hear the sharks saying, “Hey, leave some for us!” I suspect that Island World feeds the sharks by the dock so that they stay on that side of the island instead of venturing over to the other side where the beach is. :-)

sharks at Saddleback Cay

On the ride back to Paradise Island, I dozed off while Ron stood up front with the Captain and talked about boats and diving and fishing. It was an amazing day, although I couldn’t pick out one thing that I liked best about it. Being on a boat is always good. And there were iguanas and sharks and snorkeling, the fun crew, the rustic little island, the spectacularly beautiful water of the Exumas, seeing Ron so happy. Our shuttle van to the hotel stopped at the One & Only Ocean Club to drop off one of the families from our tour, so we got a peek at the grand lobby where Daniel Craig famously impersonated a valet driver in Casino Royale. Funny, it looked a lot bigger in the movie. The magic of Hollywood.

We didn’t find out until we got home the next day that Bud had passed away on Sunday morning. Judi called the RIU but for reasons we will never know, they did not give us the message. I am still trying to decide if I should be angry at the hotel or if I should just be grateful for the gift of one perfect, carefree weekend.

sunrise at Cabbage Beach


In Memory of Wilbur “Bud” Crow
1927 – 2013

1 comment:

  1. The water is soooooo blue and crystal clear. Can it be both? Rest in peace Bud.