Half Moon Cay is Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas that is owned by Holland America Line, a subsidiary company of Carnival Corporation. Much like Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay or Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay, Half Moon Cay is only for Carnival Cruise Line and is a popular destination for Carnival Cruise ships passengers due to its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and fun activities. It is officially and historically known as Little San Salvador Island, is one of more than 700 islands, and is a frequent stop on Bahamas cruises. On a recent 2023 Carnival cruise, I visited the island, which is one of the best private island I’ve ever visited, known for its stunning natural beauty, with miles of pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, lush greenery, and gathered all the tips and tricks. Check out all the details about Carnival Cruise Half Moon Cay tips and tricks in 2023.
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Carnival Cruise Half Moon Cay Tips & Tricks 2023
The first thing to know about Half Moon Cay Bahamas, is that due to its shallow beaches, cruise ships are unable to dock and have to use tender boats to transport cruise passengers to the small island. For cruise travelers who have booked Half Moon Cay shore excursions, they will take boat trips with their group at the designated times specified on your itinerary. For those without an excursion booked who just want to grab their snorkel gear and enjoy the marina life and the miles of beach, including the powdery white sand, guests must obtain a water shuttle boarding pass for their group. The water shuttle passes were given out starting at 6:30 a.m. the day of, and anyone who does not receive a shuttle pass may leave on the boat for Half Moon Cay exclusive starting at noon.
TIP: If you are wanting to head to the island early, you must get in line for a pass before 6:30 a.m. My group arrived at exactly 6:30am to receive our passes, and the lines wrapped around the ship. We then received number 50 out of 60 and were not able to take the boat to the island until 10:45am. Since time on the island is limited, this did not leave much time to check out the beaches, have lunch, and swim.
Once on the island, there were plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy, including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, walking the nature trails, and paddleboarding. For those who want to relax and soak up the sun, there are plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas available to rent.
The island has a Welcome Center to get all your information, a church for weddings, an ice cream parlour, bar, food pavilion, and restrooms. Guests can shop for souvenirs, local crafts, and beachwear at the Straw Market, visit the watersports center, go horse riding on the beach or book a treatment at the Half Moon Salon. Children, teens, and even adventuruous adult guests can enjoy the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park with slides, water sports, a variety of water toys, and Captain Morgan’s pirate ship where the adults can visit the famous Captain Morgan’s bar.
Cruisers can book private beach side cabanas for the perfect beach day, a private beach villa, stingray encounters at Stingray Cove and water-based adventures ahead of time. It’s the perfect beach day with all the delicious food, cocktails and fun you would expect onboard, but transferred to this beautiful island. So sit back and read on to enjoy a virtual visit to Half Moon Cay!
One of the most popular attractions on the island is the horseback riding excursion. Visitors can take a guided tour of the island on horseback, exploring the beautiful beaches and lush forests. Carnival also offers a variety of other excursions on the island, including a stingray encounter, a glass-bottom boat rides, and a guided nature preserve hike. Visitors can also rent bikes and explore the island on their own.
Like most major cruise lines that own private islands, there is also complimentary barbecue lunch at Half Moon Cay Bahamas. The tropical island buffet is usually open from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. It includes burgers, hot dogs, fish tacos, chicken, and more. There is also a salad station including garden salad, fresh fruit, ceviche, and potato salad, as well as desserts and an ice cream cart.
GOOD TO KNOW: Half Moon Cay has four bars, however, your ship drink package will NOT work on the island. so, you will need to pay a la carte for drinks using your ship card or purchase an island drink package for an additional cost. This includes soft drinks.
Overall, Half Moon Cay is a beautiful and fun destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the island’s natural beauty, or enjoy some fun activities, Half Moon Cay is a fantastic place to visit while on a Carnival Cruise Line.