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Paradise Island

Nassau, Bahamas
Three hundred yards across the Paradise Island Bridge from Nassau's harbour, PARADISE ISLAND consists of 686 acres of hard-pack coral and wind-blown limestone oolite sand, and until the mid-1960s was Nassau's boat-building centre and supported a population of wild hogs and domesticated pigs. This former " Hog Island " also acted as a get-away for rich tourists, home to places like the posh Ocean Club , a 59-room Georgian charmer with a central courtyard garden and tennis courts.

In 1967, when the Paradise Island Bridge linked the island with Nassau, a small airport was built at the island's eastern end, and Resorts International created a huge hotel complex catering to package tourists. With a recent second bridge now assisting the increased traffic flow, Paradise Island has become a hugely popular destination, with a spate of resorts, hotels, casinos and beaches submitting it to accusations of being overbuilt. Still, the island has some quiet backwaters, namely a marvellous north coast where pink sands meet the soft turquoise of the Atlantic Ocean.


Nassau Paradise Island

Almost all visitors to Paradise Island arrive through Nassau International Airport, though in 1989 the Paradise Island Airport was opened: a small-jet port serving commuter airlines, which will soon be expanding to accommodate larger planes as well.

Only four miles long and half a mile wide, Paradise Island tapers to a point on its western end where there is a small lighthouse . The best beaches are on the north side facing the Atlantic Ocean, while the south side mainly features marinas, docks and wharves. From the Paradise Island Bridge, drivers encounter a huge roundabout, the northern axis of which leads to the Atlantis hotel and its casino. North of the hotel is Cabbage Beach , two miles of fabulous pink sand, and further east, separated by a small anvil-shaped headland, is Snorkeler's Cove Beach , a striking and often deserted stretch where one can snorkel in peace.

Paradise Island - View from Atlantis - Paradise Island, Bahamas


Two main east-west roads cross the island: the first, Paradise Island Drive , heads east from the roundabout, passing the Ocean Club and other resorts and restaurants, and leads to the island's eastern end, home to private residences, a few exclusive hotels, the airport and a golf course. The only sights in the vicinity are Versailles Gardens and The Cloister , built to resemble medieval ruins by the developers of the Ocean Club . The other street, Paradise Beach Drive , running west from the roundabout, heads out to Club Med and provides access to Pirate's Cove Beach , a secluded, windswept stretch, and Paradise Beach , two miles of sand that live up to the name.


 

Nassau - Nassau lighthouse and Atlantis
Since many people simply walk to their destinations, getting around Paradise Island is quite easy. The Casino Express , a shuttle bus making the rounds of the major hotels for a US$1 fare, is based at the Atlantis hotel. For longer trips or when it is hot, taxis circulate on the main roads and carry passengers across the Paradise Island Bridge for shopping in Nassau. Water taxis, ferries and boats leave from Hurricane Hole to shuttle tourists into Nassau.





 

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