Why go to Half Moon Cay?
Holland America Line's private island is home to one of the Bahamas' top-rated beaches, which has garnered numerous awards
Currently, cruisers must tender to the island
From ecotours to multiple bars to sunbathing, there are an array of options for beach bums and adventure-seekers
Good to Know?
The use of reef-safe sunscreen (as well as bug repellent) is encouraged and available for purchase on the island. While all your other purchases can be charged via your keycard, you should bring cash (U.S. dollars) for the local straw market.
What Sets It Apart?
Just 6 percent of Half Moon Cay has been developed, with passenger facilities taking up less than 50 acres. Much of the remaining land serves as a nature preserve and wild bird sanctuary, with the Bonefish Lagoon on the east side of the island.
Free beach lounge chairs are available around the island, umbrellas can be rented and it's recommended that towels be brought from the ship. Cruisers can rent gear, such as floating beach mats, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment and water tricycles. Bikes are available but only as part of an excursion.
On Foot: Despite the fact that Half Moon Cay is essentially a deserted island when ships aren't in port, it's extremely hard to get lost here. Signage is readily available and marked trails and brick pathways lead from the main square to the dining pavilion and the beach. A 5K loop (which is a little more than 3 miles) is also offered for those looking to run/walk/bike around the island. Another safe bet is walking along the flawless shoreline until you reach a quiet spot on the beach, or closer to the welcome center. If one were to wander off trail, you would encounter thick underbrush.
By Tram/Golf Cart: There is continuous tram service running from the terminal to various points on Half Moon Cay throughout the day. (Transportation is included when you book an excursion, such as horseback riding.) Guided tram tours of the island are offered and last about an hour for $24.95 per person (and there are no kids' rates).
By Bicycle: A 75-minute bike tour around the island is offered for about $29.95 (and there are no kids' rates). It's a nice way to explore the 3-mile loop.
Tendering: There's a departure pavilion -- a thoughtfully designed covered structure equipped with misting stations -- which provides plenty of signage indicating where and how to return to the ship. As passengers gather here to board the next tender, ice-cold towels and water or lemonade are usually on hand while you wait.
There is a Club HAL kids club on the island, for parents who want to make sure their kiddos are enjoying some supervised time on shore, while they lounge one-on-one (or visit the massage cabana).
Kids will flock to the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park's fun and free "spray ground," conveniently located just behind the main beach. As attendants help keep an eye on the kids, a shipwreck slide leads to other water-filled parts of the playground, including squirting water cannons, dolphins and other sea life. A dry playground is also located nearby the Bahamian church.
A small but picturesque 20-person chapel is located on the island to host weddings and vow renewals. HAL offers multiple wedding packages, from elegant vow renewals to destination weddings that can be held on Half Moon Cay.
Holland America's internet service does not extend ashore on Half Moon Cay.
Beach wheelchairs are available for rent and you can arrange rental onboard the ship. Anyone who needs transportation around the island due to mobility issues can wait for a golf cart to transport them from the welcome center to a cabana or the dining pavilion, for example.