Carnival’s Half Moon Cay: Things to Know Before You Go

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Ever dreamed of escaping to a private island paradise? Carnival Cruise Line offers just that with Half Moon Cay, a hidden gem in the Caribbean’s Bahamian waters. This tropical haven is not just about sun, sea, and sand; it’s an adventure lover’s paradise and a relaxation seeker’s dream come true.

Carnival Elation cruise ship anchored off the coast of Half Moon Cay, featuring the ship's iconic red funnel against the stunning backdrop of the island's crescent-shaped white sand beach and turquoise waters.

But where exactly is this secluded paradise? Let’s explore its location, stunning features, and things to do. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or in search of tranquillity, this guide to Half Moon Cay promises a look into one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets.

About Half Moon Cay

Carnival does have a private island called. Half Moon Cay. It epitomises tropical luxury in the Caribbean. Known for its powdery white sand beaches and stunning turquoise seas, this Bahamian jewel offers an array of activities. Visitors can indulge in thrilling scuba diving, jet skiing, and horseback riding along the scenic coastline.

Additionally, the island presents opportunities for a more leisurely experience, such as kayaking along its tranquil coast or simply lounging on the sun-kissed beaches. This exclusive paradise blends relaxation with adventure, creating a unique and memorable experience.

Half Moon Cay is located in the Bahamas, on Little San Salvador Island and is situated in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Miami, Florida, USA. Specifically, it lies to the east of the southern tip of Andros Island, one of the larger Bahamian islands, however it is located approximately 120 miles (193 km) south of Nassau in the Bahamas.

Things to do at Half Moon Cay

When you arrive at Half Moon Cay, there are plenty of things to do. Here are my top free things to do and excursions to take part in:

Free things to do

  • Unwind on Half Moon Cay’s Beaches: This idyllic spot is famed for its breathtaking beaches, with its clear waters and soft, white sands. It’s the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun, have a swim, or even indulge in some sandcastle building.
  • Explore the Island on Foot: Embark on a leisurely stroll around Half Moon Cay to soak in its natural splendour. The island boasts several walking paths that provide magnificent views of the sea and the landscape.
  • Discover the Stingray Adventure: Although there’s a charge for interacting closely with the stingrays, you can still observe them from a distance for free. They’re kept in a specific area along the shore, easily visible to visitors.
  • Snorkel in the Sea: Bring your snorkelling kit to delve into the marine life just off Half Moon Cay’s coast. Alternatively, you can hire equipment on the beach, though availability isn’t always certain.
  • Join in Beach Volleyball: This is a favourite pastime here. The cruise line supplies the necessary gear at no cost, and you’re welcome to join a game with other cruisers.
  • Enjoy a BBQ Lunch: Typically, the cruise line offers a complimentary BBQ lunch on the island, included in your cruise package. It’s a chance to savour a tasty meal with the ocean as your backdrop.
  • Observe Local Wildlife: Half Moon Cay is a haven for various wildlife, including unique birds, lizards, and crabs. It’s a great opportunity to watch these creatures in their natural environment and capture some memorable photographs.
Three women, wearing life jackets, enjoy sailing on a catamaran near Half Moon Cay with the Carnival Splendor cruise ship visible in the background, against a cloudy sky over calm blue waters.

Excursions at Half Moon Cay

  • Boat Snorkelling Adventure: Join a guided boat trip to Half Moon Cay’s prime snorkelling locations. Dive into the underwater world to see the vibrant coral reefs and marine life.
  • Horseback Riding Along Shore and Sea: Experience a guided horseback tour across the island’s picturesque trails and beaches. Conclude your ride with a unique swim in the ocean alongside your horse.
  • Aqua Trax Jet Adventure: Speed around the island on a personal watercraft during this exhilarating guided tour. Discover the mangrove swamps and enjoy a fresh perspective of Half Moon Cay.
  • Kayaking in Tropical Waters: On this kayaking journey, paddle through Half Moon Cay’s crystal-clear waters. Explore the coastline, coral reefs, and underwater world.
  • High-Speed Ocean Rafting: Embark on a thrilling, high-speed inflatable boat ride around the island. This adventure lets you see the coastline and coral reefs and potentially spot some local wildlife.
  • Stingray Encounter at Half Moon Cay: Take a boat to a special area where you can interact and feed stingrays in their natural environment, guided by experts.
  • Eco-Friendly Bike and Hike: Cycle and hike through Half Moon Cay’s nature trails on this eco-tour. Discover the island’s flora, fauna, and wildlife.
  • Hobie Catamaran Sailing: Sail around Half Moon Cay on a Hobie catamaran, exploring the island from the sea and keeping an eye out for dolphins or sea turtles.
  • Mangrove Lagoon Exploration: Journey through Half Moon Cay’s mangrove swamps and lagoons by boat. Explore the lush greenery, spot wildlife, and learn about the island’s history.
  • Historical Nature Trail Walk: On a guided walk, stroll through the island’s nature trails, uncovering the history of Half Moon Cay and its unique plants and animals.
  • Calypso Island Tram Tour: Discover the island’s history and culture on a tram ride, stopping at various points of interest around Half Moon Cay.
  • Island Bicycle Exploration: Take a guided tour around Half Moon Cay to learn about its history and uncover some of its lesser-known spots.
A group of cyclists with helmets on, pausing during their bike tour to enjoy the scenic views at Half Moon Cay, with the clear blue sky above and the tranquil sea in the background.

Useful Things to Know

Before going to Half Moon Cay, there are a few things to know:

  1. On Half Moon Cay, you won’t be charged for beach chairs; they are available at no cost.
  2. While visiting Half Moon Cay, there’s no need to carry cash. Various activities and services on the island can be conveniently paid for using the Sail and Sign Card provided by your cruise operator.
  3. A passport is generally required to visit Half Moon Cay from a cruise ship. However, U.S. citizens might be able to use alternative documents such as a passport card or driver’s license. It’s advisable to check with your cruise line for specific documentation requirements.
  4. The picturesque Half Moon Cay is located in the Bahamas.
  5. The waters around Half Moon Cay are home to wild dolphins, often spotted in the early mornings or late afternoons when they are most active.
  6. Half Moon Cay doesn’t have any permanent inhabitants. Owned by Carnival Cruise Line, it serves as a private stop for their cruise ships.
  7. Free WiFi is available on Half Moon Cay, allowing you to stay connected via your mobile phone or tablet.
  8. Visiting Half Moon Cay doesn’t require paying for an excursion. You have the freedom to explore the island and its beaches independently. However, considering an excursion might be beneficial for those interested in a guided tour that delves into the island’s history and culture.
Aerial view of Half Moon Cay, Carnival's private island, showcasing its white sandy beach with sun loungers, vibrant blue waters, and a unique pirate ship structure amid lush greenery.

Wrapping It Up

In summary, Half Moon Cay, offered by Carnival Cruise Line, is a versatile destination in the Bahamas that caters to both adventure seekers and those seeking relaxation. Its range of activities includes everything from scuba diving and jet skiing to kayaking and beach relaxation. The island provides essentials like beach chairs and a BBQ lunch at no extra cost, and transactions are easy with the Sail and Sign Card. Connectivity is also ensured with free WiFi.

Half Moon Cay stands out for its natural beauty and range of activities, requiring little advance planning for visitors. While you can explore the island freely, various paid excursions offer deeper insight into its environment and history. Overall, Half Moon Cay is an ideal Caribbean destination for a memorable and hassle-free experience.

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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