The 12 Days of Cruising: 4 Amazing Private Islands

Santa baby, I really wanna yacht, And really that’s not a lot…”

Even though I’ve been exceptionally good this year, I don’t think Santa is bringing me a yacht or private island to go with it. Since I don’t really want 4 Calling Birds, my true love game me 4 amazing private islands to visit on my next cruise. Here’s where you might catch me (and maybe Santa too) next year.

1. Half Moon Cay

Owned by Carnival Cruise Line, this is not only the first private island I ever visited, it’s the very 1st place I ever visited on any cruise ship. It was literally like a post card and I loved my visit to this Bahamian island. In fact, it’s still one of my favorite cruise stops to this day.

The water is warm and crystal clear while the soft sand is powder white. The drinks are cold and the food seems endless. You can relax or explore and there’s really something for everyone to do here. From snorkeling to horseback riding to swimming with sting rays to sitting in the sun or private cabanas to playing in the pirate water park, this private island holds the “cay” to your perfect beach day.

2. Princess Cays

Eleuthera sounds like it might be a place in The Lord of the Rings, but it’s actually the name of the private island Princess Cruises visits in the Bahamas. Unspoiled, natural beaches highlight this private destination; the island itself is 100 miles long!

You’ll find all the water sports here – kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, aqua bikes, banana boats, and more – but also find a charming capital in Governor’s Harbor lined with Victorian-era homes and the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, a 25-acre ecologically sustainable sanctuary that is the first national park on the island. Visitors can walk the miles of trails that include views of orchids, edible and medicinal plants, and hardwood trees.

Not interested in getting wet, but still want to see the fish? There are several boat options from the island, including a glass bottom boat and coastal cruises.

3. CocoCay

Owned exclusively by Royal Caribbean since 1990, this island located between Nassau and Freeport may be one of the earliest cruise line privately owned islands.

Manatees, rays, and fish make their homes here, and don’t mind sharing the water with you. You’ll also find nature trails here throughout the island in addition to all the normal water activities.

If water slides are your thing, you’ll want to take a ($5) ride on the 40-story one, also known as the world’s largest. If water parks are more your style, you’ll find Caylana’s Aqua Park available for $22 per person, per hour of use.

Want to kick back, relax and watch the tide come in with a cold drink in your hand? You’ll find bars in each of the island’s 3 beaches (Barefoot, Coconut Willie’s and Snorkel) that will keep you cool and refreshed all day long.

4. Castaway Cay

Take one Bahamian island, sprinkle some pixie dust on it, and you’ll end up with Castaway Cay, Disney’s private, shipwrecked-themed island.

In addition to the typical perfect paradise amenities, you can experience some special Disney magic in the islands. While snorkeling, you’ll discover sunken ride vehicles from the former ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. You can party and pose with Lilo and Stitch. You can run a themed 5k race, complete with finisher medal. Find out what snowmen do in summer at Olaf’s Summertime Freeze.

You’ll find places for everyone in the family: kids-only Spring-a-Leak; Teen Hideout; Scuttle’s Cove for the little ones; Grouper Games Pavilion and Goofy’s Sand Lot for family fun and games; and the adults-only Serenity Bay.

Which private island would you like to own visit this Christmas season or on your next cruise? Do you have a favorite one to visit?

Featured photo: Castaway Cay – Disney Cruise Line

Read our previous entries in the 12 Days of Cruising series:

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