Caribbean,  Travel

How to Survive Your Visit to Half Moon Cay for the First Time

If you are thinking about visiting Half Moon Cay on your next cruise (or already have), but have no idea what to expect on a cruise that’s full of boomers, you’re in luck! When I traveled here I couldn’t find anything online that wasn’t from the cruise company (or reviews that didn’t have really small photos). I had absolutely no idea what to expect from a private island in the Caribbean that a company purchased.

Even though Half Moon Cay is consistently voted the best private island in the cruise community, I wanted to see and hear about what other people’s experiences were on the 55 acres of San Salvador Island. Check out my travel tips if you’re not sure what to pack on a cruise, or what to pack for the beach.

Hint: You can’t go wrong with anything in The Bahamas, especially when you go on a cruise geared for the older generation —well…unless you want to get rowdy.

What’s more, I had no idea what to expect after hurricane Dorian (the island of San Salvador was fine), let alone what I could eat. Instead of wondering what is even available on this stop, here are my tips on how to survive your visit to half moon cay for the first time.

Half Moon Cay

The Cruise Company Knows Its Audience and Will Keep You Comfortable

Naturally, people who book a cruise have certain expectations. This includes great food, ship entertainment, and the creature comforts. After a short tender to the shore of Half Moon Cay, guests walk into a welcoming area complete with excursion information, gift shops, tables & chairs, and a bar (enjoy that margarita!).

You will recognize many of the employees from the ship itself, as they tendered early that morning to set up food and drinks for the day. There are ample opportunities for bathroom breaks, plus walking trails, and misting stations, making it easy for everyone to eat or see the fantastic beach.

In addition, the open-air food pavilion has shade, free water, and casual food from the grill available. During my visit, menu options included hot dogs, hamburgers, fish tacos, and other sides typical of your standard food geared for Americans. You didn’t have to pay for this food, but you had to pay for any specialty drinks at the numerous bars across the island.

Also, for an additional charge, you could stop at another grilling location for items like lobster. It was definitely good for the average American, but for someone like me with numerous dietary restrictions, I decided to have a large breakfast on board, tender to the beach, and have a late lunch as soon as I got back onboard the ship.

Half Moon Cay

Ample Island Activities Keep Everyone Entertained

Immediately upon learning a the cruise company owned the island of Half Moon Cay, I was really concerned about the size of the place and what I would do while there (Like, how packed is this island?). Fortunately for our ship, we were the only ship visiting that day so I was already used to the number of people I had been on the ship with all week.

The types of excursions included island tours by car, horseback riding on the beach, kayaking, snorkeling and opportunities to see stingrays (to name a few). What I really liked about Half Moon Cay was the options for families. They had a water park for kids (right next to the entrance) and numerous playsets available near the food pavilion. This made it easy for me to avoid those areas too (Did I just say that out loud?). Check out my Insta story on Half Moon Cay for full details on amenities.

Renting Chairs, Clamshells, or a Cabana Is Your Call

Whereas food is included, there are additional charges for using beach chairs, clamshells, and renting private cabanas. The beach is beautiful, and if you live for the sand, you will want to make time to visit. I didn’t use a chair during my visit, as I spent my time walking around or swimming in the beautiful ocean before heading back to some shade so I could protect my Bahamian glow and avoid a burn.

Now, you may want to add the chair or clamshell rental if your only goal is to sit by the beach for hours. If you are with a group of people or a family, the cabana will be a good rental to get a break from the heat. I did not stay in a cabana, but they had fans and servers to assist with food and drinks.

In any case, reserve your chair, clamshell or cabana ahead of time if you’re on a big ship. If you just want to sit at the bar and enjoy a margarita, don’t bother as you won’t use it. Know and understand what kind of traveler you are so you can make the most of your day at Half Moon Cay.

Half Moon Cay Horseback Riding

As I have said, a visit to the private island of Half Moon Cay will be an easy day at the beach. This isn’t a deserted island as it’s fully equipped to handle the tourists that arrive each day. Take some time and talk to your ship’s concierge to figure out what the best options are for you while visiting.

And if you’re just like me and want to have a day relaxing at the beach, just take your time. Walk along the path until you get so far away that everyone looks small, and have the beach to yourself. You have the power to create a day that you want to enjoy at Half Moon Cay. Whether that’s relaxed, full of adventure, or wearing the kids out.

Let me know if you have additional questions about visiting Half Moon Cay, or what you experienced in the comments below.

Half Moon Cay Map
The Basics – Half Moon Cay
Best time to visit:

First tender before it gets too hot in the sun

How to get there:

Book a cruise that stops at Half Moon Cay

Getting around:



Your cruise card for specialty food and drinks.


Primarily English, but that depends on your cruise!

What to eat:

Options include barbecue items like hamburgers and hot dogs. I ate a late lunch on the ship (a salad).

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Half Moon Cay
Half Moon Cay
Things to Do in Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas


  • Patricia Espinoza

    Is there shops at Half Moon Cay? All the cabanas were already booked will there be other companies you can book with besides cruise recommended.

    • Laurel | BayRosemary

      I noticed that the entire island was cruise employees, except the tour guides. I didn’t see any other companies. However, there are many spots in the shade with picnic tables or bar/restaurants if you need a break from the sun.

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