Myth and real-life wow moments combine for Ed Leahy.

The lost civilisation of Atlantis is a fictional kingdom that has been discussed and debated since the days of Plato back in 360BC.

Many hypotheses locate the island somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, while some have even suggested that the green and pleasant plains of Ireland are home to the mythical land.

But who was to know that an Irishman abroad would, in fact, discover Atlantis just a couple of hundred miles off the east coast of Florida, surrounded by the warm, welcoming waters of the Bahamas?

The short journey from Nassau to Paradise Island will create one of those 'wow' moments as the gigantic and surreal Atlantis towers beckon you into a magical playground paradise.

Atlantis is located on the lush, tropical Paradise Island and is bordered by a pristine, two-mile white beach. Since 1994, the owners have recreated the mythical city of Atlantis, including the world's largest open-air marine environment, a spectacular Mayan Temple waterslide, six swimming areas and a $15m marina.

Based on the myth that inspired them, the 1,200-room Royal Towers were designed to appear as if they had risen from the sea, while Atlantis also houses a 14-acre dolphin habitat amidst the resort's 140 acres.

The Leap of Faith will just borrow seven seconds from your stay at Atlantis, yet they might prove the most memorable moments of your visit. You are sent hurtling down a 60-foot chute with an almost-vertical drop from the top of the Mayan Temple, propelling you at speed through a see-through tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon.

A more relaxing way to explore the water park is to hop aboard one of the inflatable rings and take the mile-long Lazy River.

The relaxing ride is one of the most enjoyable hours that you can imagine as you gently meander about the warm waters before joining the Current, which incorporates rolling waves and extreme rapids.

Detours can also be taken from the Current and into the menacing Power Tower. There you will enjoy more spine-tingling moments as you are ominously dragged backwards up a conveyor belt to the top of the tower before being spat out into a darkened tunnel, dropped into a winding slide and then finally splashing back down into the Current.

There is a range of other water-based activities to sample, among them shark walks, stingray encounters, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Dolphin Cay will account for a very entertaining afternoon - don your wetsuit to interact with the playful and charismatic dolphins or sea lions in the shallow waters, or venture on the deep-water swim with the dolphins.

And while Atlantis will keep you busy with its endless activities, it still remains obvious that you are in the idyllic Caribbean. A short stroll to the resort's perimeter will take you back onto the spectacular beaches of the Bahamas, surrounded by calm, warm, turquoise waters.

Guests at The Cove can also avail of private beach cabanas and an adults-only swimming pool with an outdoor gaming pavilion and luxurious sunbathing area, which turns into a VIP-style bar in the evenings.

Nightlife at Atlantis
Your entire day will be spent out and around the resort, while the evening time brings a whole other dimension to Atlantis. The resort takes on a Las Vegas-esque feel with in-house casinos, and Michael Bublé or Bruno Mars might just be entertaining the masses.

Eating out at Atlantis is every bit as exciting as the magnificent water park, with 21 restaurants and 19 bars to choose from, all located within this remarkable resort.

A wide range of fine and casual dining options is available with celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill one of the highlights, while Irish guests will be acquainted with Eddie Rockets' older brother Johnnie Rockets for the quintessential diner experience.

The bars keep the nightlife going, while Aura nightclub is linked to some of the famous clubs of Las Vegas including PURE, Tangerine and Coyote Ugly.

Staying at Atlantis
While the extravagance that surrounds the Atlantis resort might put people off even enquiring about a holiday on Paradise Island, the resort caters for most budgets and several offers are available to make the family holiday more affordable.

I stayed in the deluxe accommodation at The Royal Towers, which is the most central at the resort, while The Beach and Coral Towers offer more moderate accommodation. The Cove is the resort's first-class luxury accommodation - guests here will enjoy certain privileges and access to more amenities.

While the suites at the Cove will cost you a pretty penny, the Ocean Club, located outside the resort on the adjacent Cabbage Beach, takes luxury to another level.

I was taken on a tour of the Ocean Club by the hotel's PR manager Eric Hall who tried to explain that while The Cove was considered "First-Class", the Ocean Club would be "Private Jet".

The Ocean Club is set away from the madness of the waterpark and is truly an oasis of calm in a tropical paradise. It boasts a real old-school colonial feel, while the stunning walled gardens are also a European-influenced luxury, recreated in this Caribbean wonderland.

For more information about Atlantis, visit www.Atlantis.com.

Ed Leahy

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