Photo of a Bahamian lighthouse on Paradise Island. This was taken on the Disney Fantasy as we moved out port into the Caribbean Sea (2014).
Paradise Island is an island in the Bahamas formerly known as Hog Island. The island, with an area of 685 acres (277 ha) (1.1 sq mi/2.8 km2), is located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, which is itself located on the northern edge of the island of New Providence. It is best known for the sprawling resort Atlantis with its extensive water park rides, pools, beach, restaurants, walk-in aquarium and casinos.
Paradise Island is connected to the island of New Providence by two bridges that cross Nassau Harbour. The first was built in 1966 by Resorts International, and the second in the late 1990s.
Before World War II the island, then known as Hog Island, was the private estate of the Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren.
A small airstrip existed on the island before 1999 to serve the resort. Prior to 1989 the airport was a seaplane base with a ramp for aircraft to leave the water. In 1989 a 3,000-foot (910 m) runway was added to the airport. Both Paradise Island Airlines and Chalk’s International Airlines were the main tenants of the airport.
Turboprops (de Havilland Canada Dash 7) and seaplanes (Grumman G-73 Mallard) were used at the airstrip, but closed in 1999. The airport and runway have since been removed leaving no trace of the airport.
Huntington Hartford, the A&P supermarket heir, arrived on Hog Island in 1959. Hartford bought Hog Island from Axel Wenner-Gren and changed the name to Paradise Island. He hired the Palm Beach architect John Volk and built the Ocean Club, Cafe Martinique, Hurricane Hole, the Golf Course, among other island landmarks. He also acquired and installed the Cloisters, a 14th-century French Augustinian monastery originally purchased in Montréjeau and dismantled by William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. He hired Gary Player to be the golf pro and Pancho Gonzales to be the tennis pro. His opening of Paradise Island in 1962 was covered in Newsweek and Time magazines. He hired the staff from Eden Roc at Hotel Du Cap to work off season at the Ocean Club. He had the fireworks for the opening party flown in from the South of France. He had a flag and Paradise Beach was featured on a Bahamian three-dollar notes in 1966 (introduced as a close equivalent to the Bahamian Pound, which was replaced at the rate of $1 = £7, so $3 = £21).
Huntington Hartford met James M. Crosby (1927–1986) through Huntington’s bodyguard Sy Alter. Sy Alter met Jim Crosby at the Colony Club in Palm Beach. Huntington Hartford got the gambling license for Paradise Island and included Jim Crosby as an extra investor. Jim Crosby and Jack Davis then formed a company, Resorts International, to continue developing Paradise Island. Recognizing the business potential of the Bahamas, they were the first to establish major resort development, and often offered above-average salaries to Bahamanian employees. The two continued to develop Paradise Island. They built the bridge to Nassau and the first large-scale resorts. He subsequently created and funded a successful statewide campaign to pass a referendum legalizing gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Resorts built the first casino, and with no competition for the first year, made over $300 million profit. Resorts stock went from between $1–3 to over $200, and was the only stock to ever make the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
Paradise Island was purchased in the 1980s for $79 million, then sold to Merv Griffin for $400 million. It was last sold for $125 million to the current owner, Sol Kerzner. The current estimated value of the island is about US$2 billion.