Nassau’s Bay Street offers many souvenir options. // © 2017 Nassau Paradise Island
Feature image (above): Families can snorkel near Rose Island. // © 2017 Nassau Paradise Island
Being a teenager is tough: It’s equal parts “Why won’t they treat me like a grown-up?” and “Can I have $20 to go to the movies?” Planning travel for a teenager can be even tougher. At an age when they are struggling to strike a balance between bonding with their family and becoming independent, a well-timed Caribbean trip may be the best thing that could happen to a family’s relationship.
The key to a vacation that will keep teens active and engaged, but still allow for activities that parents can enjoy too, requires some careful planning. Parents with young children have long clung to the Bahamas’ laid-back Paradise Island as a family travel haven. Add in a quick trip over to Nassau — the Bahamas’ bustling capital city on New Providence island — and you’ve got a combination that delivers for teens as well: safe and friendly, easy to get around and brimming with active options for everyone.
The island duo is perfect for kids who are way past wading pools and water wings. Plus, a host of flight options make it a perfect spot for a “can’t miss too much high school” getaway.
These five itinerary must-dos give teen travelers what they need.
The Need: Constant nourishment
The Solution: A food tour
A vacation that doesn’t keep a teen well-fed is doomed to fail. Book clients on the Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour from Tru Bahamian Food Tours. Group sizes are small, and tour guides are young, fun and interesting. The guides will lead families to at least six food stops over three hours and deliver island folklore and history as they go. Even picky eaters will like the mix of dishes, which range from local Bahamian cuisine such as conch fritters and soursop gelato to recognizable favorites with a Bahamian twist, like Greek salad or baked macaroni and cheese. If teens are still hungry when it’s over, families can double back to favorites with the discount codes provided to tour guests.
The Need: Instagram-worthy experiences
The Solution: Offshore exploits
A full-day Nassau excursion with operator Sandy Toes takes small groups over to nearby Rose Island for a Robinson Crusoe-like adventure. The group rides together for a scenic harbor tour, but then guests are free to disperse — before and after the full buffet lunch — to explore the island independently. The guided snorkeling tour portion includes opportunities to snap underwater photos, hold sea creatures and explore the reef. From rentable kayaks and inner tubes to free beachfront loungers and beach volleyball, teens can build a fun, full afternoon. Then they can share their pictures using the free Wi-Fi access on the shaded deck overlooking the beach.
The Need: An adrenaline rush
The Solution: Heart-pounding fun
Teens can’t say it’s boring if it scares them silly. The Leap of Faith waterslide at Atlantis, Paradise Island resort offers an almost completely vertical, 60-foot drop into a clear tunnel through a shark-filled lagoon. If that’s not enough, the more than 17 other waterslides available should keep them happy.
Families don’t have to stay at Atlantis to benefit. Comfort Suites Paradise Island includes waterpark access, the ability for guests to charge to their rooms from Atlantis restaurants and other select activities in its room rates. Best of all, the property is close enough for teens to walk over on their own if parents would rather skip a day.
The Need: Souvenirs for friends
The Solution: Affordable treats
No need for fancy math skills when teens are figuring out what their allowance can afford them; the American dollar is on par with the Bahamian dollar, and prices are duty-free. Families staying on Paradise Island can make a budget, hop on the $4 ferry over to Nassau, then set the kids free with a meeting time for the return trip. Teens will find plenty of options that are unique and local, from the T-shirts, postcards and keychains sold on Bay Street to creative hats, bags and trinkets at the local market.
The Need: New friends
The Solution: People-to-people programs
For teenagers, anyone is more interesting than their parents. How do you work “meeting other kids their age” into the planning? Agents can arrange a people-to-people experience through the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Fill out a form explaining the ages and interests of the family you’re booking, and the tourism board will match clients with a local family who can give them an insider’s look at the island. Clients are bound to head home with new friends, positive memories and, best of all, happy teens.