Carnival Cruise Line has a private island called Half Moon Cay, also known as Little San Salvador Island. Located about 100 miles southeast of Nassau, the island sprawls over 2,400 acres, although only about 50 have been developed for guest and crew usage.
Half Moon Cay was purchased by Holland America Line in 1996 and, for some time, was exclusively used by the said brand. Shortly after development, Carnival Cruise Line started calling there, and Half Moon Cay eventually became one of the most popular ports of call.
Interested to know more about this Bahamian paradise? If so, then read on, as this article will provide you with a detailed review of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas!
In this article:
Getting to Half Moon Cay
There is no pier at Half Moon Cay because of the shallow water surrounding the island and the reef system. This means the boat anchors offshore, and cruisers must ride on tender boats to get ashore, which takes about 15 minutes. The tender boats have two levels, which hold 150 guests.
When the boats arrive at the island, there’s usually a mad dash as passengers scramble to get off. The beach won’t go anywhere, though. Let the masses leave the ship while relaxing and enjoying the surrounding view.
The minute you arrive on the island, walk off the tender and turn left, where you’ll see a gorgeous beach right out of a postcard.
Alternatively, if you want to shop or rent a locker to store various things while exploring the island, you may walk to the main square, where you will find restrooms and a changing area.
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The horseshoe-shaped beach is one of my favorite spots in the Caribbean. The sand here is powder-soft and glistens in the sun as the cerulean blue waters lap gently on the shoreline. The best thing is no shortage of beach chairs.
While some people spend the entire day here and must be dragged back to the ship, many find that just a few hours is enough. This is not the place to go, though, without your sunscreen. So better be prepared!
Moreover, you’ll see a small army of servers carrying trays of fruity concoctions and buckets of beer. Drinks are the same price as on the ship and offer basic beers, mixed drinks, and frozen drinks.
It’s important to note, however, that Carnival’s Cheers package does not extend to the private island, unlike the drink packages offered by both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
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To make your day memorable for your crew, you can rent a cabana for around $699.99. The amenities include a refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, table, chairs inside, and lounge chairs.
You will also be provided snacks and an assortment of soft drinks and bottled water as part of the rental. The best thing here? They allow you to extend your time on the island when all those folks baking in the sun beat a hasty retreat.
Want to impress your friends? Rent one of the two-story beach villas, which cost $999.99.
The villas include all of the amenities offered by the regular cabanas, plus a second floor with chaise loungers, a dining room table, and chairs.
Two villas are wheelchair accessible throughout the first floor and restroom area. You’ll also get floating mats and snorkel gear.
Lunch at Half Moon Cay
The beach-style BBQ at Half Moon Cay is pretty typical of what you’ll find on comparable islands run by the other lines. They have a jerk chicken option, burgers, hot dogs, sides, and toppings. Sure, you won’t go back to the ship hungry.
Just remember that lunch is generally served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Try lining up at 1:35, and you’ll probably find yourself out of luck!
The beach-style BBQ menu includes the following:
- Hot dogs
- Jerked chicken
- Couscous with roasted zucchini
- Titi shrimp and beans with tapenade
- German potato salad
- Medley of mixed greens
- Roasted yellow squash
- Chips n’ salsa
- Roasted broccoli salad
- Banana rum cake
- Linzer torte
Drink-wise, they serve lemonade, unsweetened tea, and water in little plastic cups. Or you can swing by the bar, conveniently located next to the food pavilion!
Since Carnival owns the island, you’ll need to go through the cruise line if you want to do a shore excursion. All the excursions vary by price, with horseback riding along the shoreline as the priciest, which costs $119.99 per person.
Some more popular excursions include jet ski rentals, an eco-tour, bike riding, and the tram tour.
What’s not to miss?
- Don’t miss the chance to have a picture taken in front of the most popular signs in the Caribbean called “I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever.”
- Grab a drink at the pirate ship, head upstairs, and take the surrounding view!
- Walk along the horseshoe-shaped beach.
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