Travel Travel Tips

A Private Island Escape to Half Moon Cay

Before our visit to Half Moon Cay (Little San Salvador Island), we had never been on a private island and it was everything we had imagined!

We were sailing on Carnival Elation for almost two days when we finally approached this beautiful half-moon shaped island oasis.

One sight I will always remember is the color of the water.

So much blue!


Check out our Half Moon Cay video!

About Half Moon Cay

Holland America (owned by Carnival Corp & plc) bought this island in 1996 to use as a private cruise port for Caribbean sailings.

The island is literally in the shape of a crescent moon which makes it unique. Its location is between Eleuthera and Cat Island in the Bahamas.

Half Moon Cay is 2400 acres mostly made up of wildlife and natural setting with a very tiny percent of the island dedicated as an island resort for cruise passengers.

Getting Off The Ship

Tristan enjoying a view of the tender

If you haven’t read our Carnival Elation guide yet, check it out! As mentioned before, you have to take a tender (small boat) to get to the island from the ship.

They board by groups and depending on how fast you can get to the line to claim your group boarding number, then the sooner you can get to the island.

I believe there were 2 tenders and it takes 10 minutes to ride from the ship to the island’s dock. We were in group number 6 and we didn’t board the tender until almost an hour later. Great example why you should have a Faster to the Fun Pass (FTTF) handy!


Water sports rentals for a fee

Being on a private island has its perks. You can have a relaxing beach day without worrying about beach vendors wandering from person to person selling you services, etc. Also, there are many excursions that are planned by Carnival (but you have to pay extra) and are easy to book.

Horseback riding along the beach, eco tours, nature hikes, sting ray adventures in the lagoon, kayak rentals and other water activities are available. There is also a water park for kids and a cool playground (the water park and playground is free!)

However, we did not book an excursion. Instead, we chose to play on the beach – Tristan’s favorite pastime!

Meshach and Tristan making themselves at home

Other Things to Know

  • Lunch is included and is served from 11:30 – 1:30. Get there early because the lines get long very quick! It’s a buffet style barbecue lunch of burgers, hot dogs, salads, jerk chicken, rice and beans, desserts, etc. Lemonade, water and iced tea are available for free in a drink dispenser but the cups are pretty small.
  • Keep your Sign and Sail card with you at all times, not only can you buy things with it on board, but you need to have it with you on port days or you cannot leave the ship or get back on without it.
  • You are allowed to take the pool towels from your room and off the ship only when going to Half Moon Cay.
  • Bring a water bottle, you’re going to get thirsty in the heat!
  • If you want to buy alcohol or soft drinks at the bars on Half Moon Cay, you can use your Sign and Sail Card to charge your purchases to it like on the ship.
  • You do not need to bring your passport to Half Moon Cay since it’s a private island, however you do need to bring your Sign and Sail Card to get on and off the ship. They will scan it to keep track of who is on and off the ship. Don’t leave it behind in your room, they will not let you get off the ship without it (it happened to us!)

Half Moon Cay is definitely an island you would never want to leave. We all can’t buy an island, but it sure was fun to spend the day pretending we did!

What is your most favorite island or one you’d really love to visit? Comment below and share this post!


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