When it comes to evocatively named destinations, it doesn’t get much more dreamy than Paradise Island, the 3-square mile Bahamian islet two miles offshore from Nassau. Originally called Hog Island (we know, far less enticing), it now boasts some of the Bahamas’ best resorts, all clustered along its northern coast. We touched down here recently to check out Riu Palace Paradise Island, an all-inclusive resort that emerged this fall from a renovation. And here’s what we loved about the adults-only retreat.
1. The beachfront location
If you’re staying on Paradise Island, you have to stay on Cabbage Beach. The 2-mile-long strand is a ribbon of sort, ivory sand, lapped by water that ranges in color from delicate aquamarine to vibrant turquoise to deepest cobalt. Riu Palace Paradise Island’s location, at the midway point of the beach, makes getting your recommended daily requirement of “vitamin sea” a cinch. And if you fancy a look-see (or some casino time) at Paradise Island’s best-known resort, Atlantis, it’s only a three-minute walk down the shore. Bonus: All 397 rooms in the 14-story high-rise have either partial or full beach views.
2. The value
In general, if you want to stay on an island’s best beach, you’ll have to pay a premium — but this resort is an exception to the rule. Because while guests at neighboring Atlantis and Four Seasons Ocean Club are shelling out beaucoup bucks, Riu’s guests are paying way less for the very same view. Rates average $120 per person per night (varies by season), and include all the food, drinks and entertainment your beach-loving heart could desire.
3. The Soca Pool
In our book, there are only two things better than a pool. A pool with a swim-up bar, and an oceanfront pool with a swim-up bar. Soca, one of two pools at the resort, checks both boxes and throws in five aqua loungers and a high-top table to boot. Chances are if you lose sight of your traveling companions for more than a minute, they’re here, either sipping daiquiris or snapping selfies at the infinity edge — one of the resort’s most Instagrammed spots.
4. The resort is now adults-only
Riu Palace Paradise Island originally debuted in 2005 as a family-friendly resort. But when it reopened post-renovation in October 2017, it was as a playground for the 18-and-older crowd, and we couldn’t be happier. Not because we don’t like little ones, but because sometimes the only way to really relax is without them. You can have an unhurried and romantic Mediterranean-fusion dinner a deux in Krystal without interruption, and no children will splash you at the swim-up pool bar. (Be sure to order a Bahama Mama.) But when you start missing your little ones, there’s always FaceTime.
5. The recent renovations
If you’ve visited Riu Palace Paradise Island before (and even if you haven’t), you’ll appreciate the changes that have been made to the 12-year-old resort. Rooms have been refreshed with tile floors replacing carpeting; new bathrooms with double-headed walk-in showers; and bedside USB ports. Public areas are light-filled and colorful, done in Riu’s distinctive and quirky style that combines oversized light fixtures, modern furniture and photo prints. There are now a total of five restaurants, including a poolside jerk hut. And where a building once blocked the view, the new Soca swim-up pool bar presides over magnificent Cabbage Beach.
6. Capuchino and Chutney
No, we’re not suggesting you combine condiments and coffee. But we are suggesting you visit these two restaurants. Tucked into a corner of the lobby, Capuchino is an all-day venue where baristas serve up coffee drinks, sandwiches and pastries (don’t miss the red velvet cake) until 11 p.m.
At the Indian restaurant Chutney (one of only two in Riu’s Caribbean chain), guests feast on a smorgasbord of subcontinental cuisine from all across India (think chicken tikka, lamb samosas and fish in coconut curry). The space is inviting, decorated with “om” symbols and oversized photo prints. While all five Riu restaurants are good, these two deserve culinary kudos.
7. Wheelchair accessibility
For travelers who use wheelchairs, the resort has modified four rooms with wider doorways, lower countertops and roll-in showers with grab bars. But this is the first Caribbean resort we’ve encountered that also has a tiled ramp (with a railing) in the pool, which allows chair users to roll themselves directly from the deck into the deep end. And since pool level is about 15 feet above the sea, there’s also a ramp that goes directly down to the sand, so chair users can enjoy beach time, too.