9 Reasons Why You Should Visit Half Moon Cay
Published October 13, 2023
Anyone booking a Bahamas Cruise should consider including an excursion to Half Moon Cay.
For those unaware, it’s a small but beautiful place formally known as Little San Salvador Island. Quite interestingly, the island is privately-owned.
It was bought by Holland America Line in 1996 and has since changed ownership more than once. Today, Carnival Corporation & PLC utilizes it as a port of call for their cruises.
Since becoming privately owned, Half Moon Cay has undergone many developments to make it a better place for tourists.
Be that as it may, it still maintains its rustic charm. Often, visitors to the island can’t help but get mesmerized by its natural beauty.
If you’re still skeptical, we’ve compiled 9 reasons you should visit Half Moon Cay. We are 100% sure you will have no regrets after doing so.
Getting Familiar With Half Moon Cay
Half Moon Cay is the best beach day destination, with two miles of stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear, calm waters. The island is amazingly natural and green, with abundant indigenous plant life.
Approximately 95% of Half Moon Cay is undeveloped, providing pristine air and an unparalleled connection to nature.
Because the sea surrounding the island is too shallow for large cruise ships, you have to begin your tour by taking a boat from your cruise ship to the Island’s pier. Upon arriving, you’ll immediately be greeted with Half Moon Cay’s welcoming picturesque vibes.
The Welcome Square is paved, and you can take photos or have them taken for you there. Aside from that, you will find a straw market and a few businesses and pubs.
To maintain the island’s natural and largely undeveloped feel, there are few apparent walkways or signage.
Several roads lead through sand volleyball courts, the beach, and the buffet area, where you may enjoy many dishes. While this is perplexing, it gives the impression that you’re exploring the island alone rather than being herded around in a group like a sheep.
Due to the sandy and unpaved nature of the walkways, strollers and wheelchairs do not operate well here. Therefore, we don’t recommend Half Moon Cay to those with disabilities.
Once you’re on the beach, it truly does feel like heaven.
Many lounge chairs there are accessible for free. They appear to fill up rapidly, but do not be dismayed; many simply drop their belongings upon arrival. As such, you won’t need to worry about your stuff.
If you stroll down for a few minutes, you’ll notice more chairs. The further you walk away, an aura of tranquility shall hit you. You will feel at one with nature in a tropical paradise.
You can find some chairs and shaded spots under trees but do not count on them. Remember to bring plenty of sunscreen with you. Trust me, even some of the stuff will go a long way!
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Half Moon Cay?
To visit Half Moon Cay from Florida, expect to pay around $200 per person. With that said, no extra fees are required to step foot on the island.
However, the island’s many amenities will cost you. How much you’ll spend will depend on what you will do.
We recommend having a few hundred dollars budget when visiting Half Moon Cay, as this is the perfect amount to enjoy most of what it has to offer.
Nonetheless, you can still visit the island with a minimal budget if you’re short on funds.
With that out of the way, don’t hesitate to visit Half Moon Cay if you plan on spending modestly during your vacation. After all, a trip there doesn’t necessitate spending a lot of cash.
Why Should You Visit Half Moon Cay?
1. Ease Of Access
As previously stated, Half Moon Cay will be exclusively occupied by people from your cruise ship. No permanent residents call it home since it’s a private island serving as a port-of-call destination for Holland America Line and Carnival Cruises.
2. Beautiful Beaches And Water Park
Half Moon Cay boasts a stunning two-mile-long beach area. It’s ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and resting. The beach is entirely encircled by sugar-soft white sand.
Select any lounge chair since they are all free of charge. Alternatively, you can rent one of the dozen cabanas for the best beach experience. However, this will admittedly cost you.
People looking for a truly unique beach vacation may like to book a horseback riding session, which takes place on the beach and along pathways.
You will even get the chance to swim with your horse. While pants and closed-toe shoes are necessary for horseback riding, you can bring additional clothing.
3. Enjoy Authentic Tropical Meals
When it’s time for lunch, go to Tropics Restaurant – an open-air pavilion where you can have a delicious off-the-ship meal.
In a covered setting, enjoy a barbecue buffet with tacos, fish, chicken breast, hot dogs, burgers, and all the fixings you could ever want. Following that, refresh yourself with tropical fruit juices or a delicious cocktail. Moreover, you can also feast on a delectable dessert of your choosing.
If you desire a sit-down restaurant experience, the Half Moon Cay Lobster Shack offers just that on the beachfront. You can sample Caribbean conch and seafood chowder for an affordable price while also enjoying the superb views that the tropical paradise of Half Moon Cay has.
4. Picturesque Sceneries
It is lovely to step off the boat and enjoy Half Moon Cay’s scenery. Despite the island’s size, it’s loaded with natural wonders that are Instagram-worthy. Aside from that, nearly all of Half Moon Cay’s various attractions and delectable restaurants offer picturesque scenery.
5. Excellent Snorkeling Experience
Snorkeling in Half Moon Cay is fantastic.
On the island, you can rent snorkeling equipment or bring your own. While you are not required to wear a floatation device while snorkeling, you can rent one if desired. Some can maneuver more easily without one, but your choice should ultimately be based on your swimming skills.
Half Moon Cay’s shallow water is ideal for beginning snorkelers. Also, you’re likely to encounter a variety of exciting sea life.
Individuals seeking a more advanced snorkeling experience will need to travel around 100 feet into the water to reach the reeds surrounding the island.
Remember that this area lacks lifeguards, so swim at your own risk. In addition, you can test yourself on the Sea-Doo adventure course or a guided kayak trip to Bone Fish Lagoon.
6. Cultural Experiences
Half Moon Cay is an excellent birdwatching hotspot as the island is a protected Wild Bird Preserve and International Sanctuary. Also, the island’s signage and the trekking sections are straightforward, making them suitable for those not in peak conditions.
Another way to have a great cultural experience in Half Moon Cay is to converse with any of the locals working there. Get your hair braided or have a relaxing massage while doing so. In the process, make a new friend and immerse yourself in Bahama’s underrated culture.
Last, you can try the best dishes that Bahamanian cuisine offers.
Try to be as adventurous as possible, as the restaurants of Half Moon Cay all have something great to offer. Don’t stick to the typical fare you eat, as that would be a waste, especially if you want the best possible cultural experience.
7. Awesome Kid-Friendly Areas
While most children would be content simply playing on the ocean and sand, two tiny sections are designated for children. Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park and a typical playground themed as pirate ships are available.
The regular playground is an excellent alternative if your kid fears getting wet or the weather is too chilly. However, there are no freshwater pools or large action slides for kids.
8. All-Seasons Paradise
It’s difficult to go wrong with the weather in the Bahamas. Half Moon Cay enjoys year-round sunshine and pleasant temps. There may be a few brief rain showers throughout the summer, but sail here in the winter, and you’ll be making sand snowmen and slathering on sunscreen.
9. Gym On the Beach
Let’s admit it; no other gym on the planet looks like this.
Half Moon Cay’s postcard-worthy views will motivate you to jog on the sand (a terrific workout for your glutes and thighs) and stretch on a yoga mat.
We also encourage you to sign up for an exciting excursion like kayaking, bicycling, snorkeling, horseback riding, and windsurfing to get your blood pumping.
What Are The Best Things To Do In Half Moon Cay?
Half Moon Cay isn’t a premier tourist destination for no reason. Aside from having indescribable natural sights, the island also hosts many activities you can partake in.
With that said, the best things to do in Half Moon Cay include the following activities:
Dive into the clear water of Carnival Private Island, Half Moon Cay’s beautiful beach. Enjoy swimming, floating, or simply relaxing in the soothing waves while enjoying the stunning surroundings.
Explore the untouched coastline of Half Moon Cay by paddling in a kayak. Discover hidden coves, glide through calm waters, and admire the island’s natural beauty from a unique perspective.
3. Dining Out
Treat your taste buds to one of the dining options on Half Moon Cay. Enjoy delicious meals with panoramic views of the beach. From fresh seafood to local specialties, there are culinary delights to satisfy everyone.
4. Scuba Diving
Immerse yourself in the underwater wonderland surrounding Half Moon Cay. Encounter vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, and other marine life as you explore the ocean’s depths. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, this activity offers an unforgettable experience.
Experience an adrenaline rush as you speed across the clear waters of Half Moon Cay on a jet ski. Feel the thrill of freedom as you navigate the waves and enjoy the exhilarating ride.
Dive into Half Moon Cay’s crystal-clear waters with snorkel gear. Explore the thriving marine life and vibrant coral reefs beneath the surface. Get close to tropical fish, sea turtles, and other fascinating creatures.
7. Horseback Riding
Enjoy a memorable horseback ride along the shores of Half Moon Cay. Ride through the sea and along the pristine beaches, accompanied by the rhythmic sound of hooves blending with the crashing waves.
8. Nature Walking
Enjoy Half Moon Cay’s natural beauty by taking a leisurely nature walk. Explore the island’s diverse flora and fauna, breathe in the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of nature as you stroll along scenic trails.
Feel the exhilaration of windsurfing as you harness the wind’s power and glide across Half Moon Cay’s sparkling waters. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, this activity offers a thrilling way to enjoy the island’s natural elements.
Explore Half Moon Cay at your own pace by renting a bicycle. Take in the panoramic views. Pedal along hidden paths and discover the lush vegetation and stunning vistas.
Soar high above Half Moon Cay and enjoy breathtaking views while parasailing. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you’re suspended in the air. It will allow you to appreciate the island’s beauty from a birds-eye perspective.
Relax and soak up the warm sunshine on Half Moon Cay’s Carnival Private Island. Unwind, read a book, or enjoy the peaceful surroundings as you bask in the tropical sun.
Half Moon Cay is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Grab your binoculars and observe various bird species that call the island home. This activity offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and spot beautiful feathered creatures.
Remember that aside from what’s mentioned above, you can do many other things in Half Moon Cay.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the cruise lines that bought and developed the island made sure to make it a fantastic destination.
How Do I Get To Half Moon Cay, Bahamas?
Unbeknownst to many, the Bahamas is a large archipelago comprising over 700 tropical islands. Half Moon Cay is located halfway between Eleuthera and Cat Island and is approximately 100 miles from Nassau – the capital and largest settlement in The Bahamas.
Since Half Moon Cay is privately owned by Carnival Corporation & PLC, you cannot simply pay a visit by chartering a boat. You must book a cruise with Carnival or Holland America to reach the island paradise.
To get to Half Moon Cay, there are a few options available:
1. Cruise Ships
The most common way to visit Half Moon Cay is by booking a cruise with Carnival Cruise Line or Holland America Line. These cruise lines own the island. Their ships will typically stop at Half Moon Cay as part of their itinerary.
If you want a Bahamas cruise from Florida to Half Moon Cay, Holland America cruises, leave from the Cruise Port of Fort Lauderdale.
There is no deep-water dock for cruise ships at Half Moon Cay, so passengers are usually ferried from the ship to the island. The cruise line provides transportation between the ship and the island. This ensures a hassle-free transfer.
3. Private Charter
If you prefer a more personalized experience, you may choose a private boat or yacht to take you to Half Moon Cay. This option allows for greater flexibility and customization regarding schedules and activities.
Please note that there are no hotels on the island, and it is not accessible by regular commercial flights.
The Bottom Line
Any trip to the Bahamas would be incomplete without a visit to Half Moon Cay. Sadly, not everyone visiting the archipelagic country gets to head there. Why? Because it’s owned and operated privately by Carnival Corporation & PLC. Therefore, the only way for most to set foot on the island is by booking a cruise.
With everything Half Moon Cay offers, it is worth adding to your bucket list. You’ll have zero regrets following your visit, regardless if you go alone or with family and friends.
(Related: 13 Must-Visit Florida Atlantic Coast Beaches)
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With expertise in multiple fields, Rei Bayucca offers readers captivating and insightful articles. Through her writing, she aims to engage and enlighten readers with thought-provoking content. Experience and dedication ensure that her work is well-crafted and impactful.