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Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Guide
Half Moon Cay is Carnival and Holland America’s private island.
If you have been to a cruise line’s private island before, you can expect the same thing at Half Moon Cay.
Half Moon Cary in the Bahamas is a great island. It’s basically empty (except for the people on your cruise ship!), and it’s relaxing.
This guide covers things to do in Half Moon Cay and insider tips for cruise travelers.
Overall, I’d recommend you make Half Moon Cay a beach day.
Half Moon Cay is usually the first or the last island stop on a cruise, so I'd highly recommend making it a beach day.
You'll probably arrive at 8:30 am and be cleared by 9 am by the local authorities. You can plan on being at the island between 9:30 am and 2:30 pm, which is when the last tender leaves.
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Best Things to Do in Half Moon Cay
Below are ideas on what to do in Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.
1. Lay on the Beach
The main thing to do on Half Moon Cay is...lay on the beach!
The beach chairs on Half Moon Cay are free, but you will have to pay extra for a clamshell cover for shade.
Tip: The clamshells are expensive ($80), but you can usually get one for free if you go to the island after 11:30 am and snag one that someone has left open.
2. Play Basketball or Volleyball
There is a basketball court and a volleyball court on the island.
In my experience, no one really utilizes the basketball or volleyball courts.
3. Take an Excursion: Horseback Ride or Boat Ride
You can pay for an excursion and go horseback riding or take a boat ride, but I'd recommend skipping these. Save those excursions for another island.
Tip: The only excursions available on Half Moon Cay are those offered by the cruise ship.
I personally would not recommend any of the excursions offered at Half Moon Cay.
4. Rent a Private Cabana
You can pay extra for a cabana or a 2-story house cabana on Half Moon Cay.
These are super expensive and don't look that great, so I wouldn't recommend getting a cabana unless you have so much money you don't know what to do with it. 😉
5. Grab Food at the Island BBQ
Half Moon Cay always has an island BBQ. In my opinion, it is alright.
The food at Half Moon Cay is pretty mediocre compared to the food you will find on your Holland America or Carnival cruise ship.
The BBQ usually has salad, fruit, fruit salad, chicken, fish, tacos, and hamburgers.
You can also pay extra for a drink at a bar (of course).
Below is a YouTube video of the island BBQ on Half Moon Cay. Yum!
6. Go Shopping (Kind Of)
Half Moon Cay also has a few shops, but we have never found anything of interest.
Many times, the shops are also closed, so don't wait to do any last-minute cruise shopping until you get to Half Moon Cay.
Getting to Half Moon Cay
To get to Half Moon Cay you will have to take a tender.
Plan for 30 minutes of travel time, as you may have to wait 5-15 minutes for the tender and then take a 12-minute tender ride to Half Moon Cay.
Water Temperature in Half Moon Cay
The water is usually cold on Half Moon Cay, so I'd recommend packing a wet suit if you want to protect your skin and dive right in without being cold.
Of course, you will find plenty of people on the water wearing a swimsuit 😄
My FAVORITE Wet Suit:
Wi-Fi at Half Moon Cay
There isn't free Wi-Fi on Half Moon Cay, but your phone will probably get free 2G internet (at least, that's what we get with T-Mobile).
Calls are .25 cents per minute, but we just use WhatsApp to make free phone calls when traveling (downloading WhatsApp is one of the must things to do before you leave for a cruise).
Final Tip for Half Moon Cay: Don't wander!!
My final tip for Half Moon Cay is to not wander around the island.
You will get lost!
Stick to the main paths with clear signage directing you to the bathroom, the island BBQ, and back to the ship.
On one of our Holland America cruises, we had a couple who got lost on Half Moon Cay for over an hour. The ship waited for them, but many times cruise ships won't wait and they will leave you!
Half Moon Cay Island Map
Half Moon Cay: Explore the Island with Me!
Below is a video from my most recent cruise trip to Half Moon Cay!
FAQs about Holland America and Carnival’s Private Island, Half Moon Cay
Below are a few helpful tips about Half Moon Cay.
Are there bars on Half Moon Cay?
Yes, there are at least 3 bars on Half Moon Cay. There is a bar right when you get off the tender boat, there is a bar by the BBQ, and there is a bar by the beach.
Are the beach chairs free on Half Moon Cay?
Yes, the beach chairs are free on Half Moon Cay. But there are no umbrellas available. If you want shade, you will have to rent a conch shell. Conch shell rentals start at $39.95.
Tip: You can often get a conch shell for FREE if you wait until after 1 pm.
How much are the private cabanas on Half Moon Cay?
The private cabanas at Half Moon Cay start at $449.95.
How much are the two-story private cabanas at Half Moon Cay?
The two-story private cabanas start at a rental price of $1,600.00.
Does Half Moon Cay have a kid’s area?
Yes. Half Moon Cay has a kid’s playground and a kid's water playground.
How long does Holland America cruise ship dock at Half Moon Cay?
You can expect to have about 4-6 hours at Half Moon Cay.
This should be more than enough time, as there isn't much to do on Half Moon Cay except go to the island BBQ and enjoy the beach.
Is the tender rough getting to Half Moon Cay?
No. The tenders to get to Half Moon Cay are quite large and are usually pretty smooth, even on rough sea days.
Are there other people on Half Moon Cay?
No, not really.
The only people you will see at Half Moon Cay are your fellow cruise passengers, perhaps cruise passengers from another Holland America (or Carnival) ship, the crew from your Holland America cruise ship, and local lifeguards from an island across the water from Half Moon Cay.
Are there lifeguards at Half Moon Cay?
Yes, there are lifeguards at Half Moon Cay.
Are there bathrooms at Half Moon Cay?
Yes, there are bathrooms on Half Moon Cay.
How does Half Moon Cay compare to other cruise lines' private islands?
Half Moon Cay is like other cruise lines' private islands.
The main difference is that Half Moon Cay doesn't play loud party music on the beach.
You also won't see young 20 and 30-year-olds strutting around in their bikinis on Half Moon Cay. 🤣
Instead, you'll see a lot of 60-75-year-old women in one-piece swimsuits and older, hairy men in swim trunks (and sometimes thongs). 😉
How long is the tender from the cruise ship to Half Moon Cay?
It is a 12-minute tender ride from the cruise ship to Half Moon Cay.
Plan for 30 minutes, as you may have to wait 10-15 minutes for the tender to leave.
Is there a pirate ship on Half Moon Cay?
Yes, there is a pirate ship on Half Moon Cay. The pirate ship is also where you can buy a drink and dance to music.
How much are the Conch Shell rentals at Half Moon Cay?
The conch shell rentals are about $50/day on Half Moon Cay. However, if you wait until the afternoon, you may be able to snag one for free!
More Cruise Guides for Travelers
You may also find these Caribbean cruise guides helpful!
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