Splurge on a Private Cabana
Renting a cabana on Half Moon Cay is definitely the ultimate splurge, but something to consider if you visit the island. At first glance, you might mistake them for tiny cottages but they are not quite that -- though they do come with some nice amenities. For our October cruise, my husband surprised me by renting a cabana and the three of us really enjoyed it!
After checking in at the information/guest services booth on Half Moon Cay, we were met by a golf cart with driver to take us to the cabana even though it was not too long a walk from the plaza. Our lovely Royal Blue #2 cabana was wonderful and only steps to the beach. It had a covered area with a mini-fridge, cabinets, wicker table & chairs plus crockery and cutlery and even AC -- oddly enough there was no changing area but we didn't necessarily need it. The maximum capacity for our type of cabana was 4 persons with a surcharge for each additional person.
The cabana came pre-stocked with bottled water, and our choice of soft drinks, plus you are welcome to bring other libations if you have them. For snacks, we were provided with chips and salsa with guacamole and sour cream, fresh vegetables and dip, and a fresh fruit platter. A free BBQ is also staged at the nearby Dining Pavilion for cruise passengers.
The cabana also had an uncovered deck area with 2 wicker loungers, a fan, an outdoor shower on the deck, and 4 floating pads and 4 beach towels which were nice additions too. Our cabana was not shoulder to shoulder with other cabanas, however, people arranged their beach chairs and "clamshell" shade covers much closer to our cabana than I would have wished. That being said, we were not always at the cabana as we each spent some time snorkeling (myself more than my family) in the clear and deliciously warm water or taking a walk on the beach.
Farther down the beach, there were "deluxe 2-story beach villas" which were really eye catching as they were painted in brilliant tropical colors. The Holland America website describes them as "outfitted with air-conditioning, a five-person capacity hot tub, refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, dining area with table and chairs inside, misting shower, and private sun deck. Fresh fruit, vegetables with dip, and chips and salsa are provided to snack on, as well as an assortment of soft drinks and bottled water ... Floating mats and snorkel gear are included for your use throughout the day." These villas are for a maximum of 8 persons.
The intriguing shipwreck that is actually Captain Morgan's "On the Rocks" bar was probably 50 yards or so away from our cabana, which was also the case with the dining pavilion where a BBQ lunch is served for passengers.
As cabanas and villas rent from $300 and up some consideration is needed before renting: will you be in port long long enough to make it worthwhile? how many persons will use it? will costs be shared? will the cruise line provide sufficient food and amenities for the price? how close is it to bathroom facilities? Some will say the price is too high for what is offered so it's very much a personal choice. It was a spectacular day and my only regret was that the hours literally flew by.
The number of cabanas or villas available are limited. To be sure you aren't disappointed, go online with your cruise line in advance and it will be listed under "shore excursions" for Half Moon Cay. The specific information, however, maybe a little skimpy so call your cruise line to get all the details.
When you're ready for an ice cold beer or tropical drink, walk on over to the island's newest bar,
Captain Morgan's On the Rocks Bar.
Snorkeling at Half Moon Cay
When I get the chance, one of my very favorite things to do while in the Caribbean is snorkeling. The best spot I've found for the shear variety of colorful fish is actually off Coki Beach in St. Thomas, but snorkeling at Half Moon Cay does have a few good spots in which to see some very colorful tropical fish, coral formations, and other sea life.
Half Moon Cay's name is derived from the fact that it has a wide crescent, or half-moon arc of beach with coral and limestone rock formations at either end. The rock formation closest to the debarkation point on the island is rather long and curving. In and around these coral rocks, fish are more plentiful and coral and other undersea plant life attaches itself here. This makes for some good snorkeling and I've seen several types of fish here including Sargent Major fish, Fairy Basslet, a very few Rainbow Parrot fish, Blue Tang (???), a Great Barracuda (which thank heaven didn't seem to care about me), and some others which I either can't identify or can't remember. Unfortunately, I did not have an underwater camera with me, but if you are interested, several people have youtube.com videos of snorkeling at Half Moon Cay which you can google. I recommend having your own snorkel gear but it can be rented, or will be provided if you take a snorkeling excursion.
For perhaps an even better snorkel experience, cruise passengers may wish to book a snorkeling excursion from their ship which involves a 20-minute boat ride which follows the shoreline of Half Moon Cay to its easternmost point near which there is the uninhabited "Treasure Chest Island." The geography here also includes limestone rock formations and caves which supports an ecosystem for numerous species of fish and marine life as well as bird life on the island. Nearby is an Elkhorn coral reef (so named for its antler-shaped structure) which snorkelers will visit. This particular snorkeling excursion includes the boat transfers to the snorkeling spots and a guide and by all accounts it is considered an excellent experience. (Be aware that this is not shallow water snorkeling, but is deep water.) Guides are in the water with snorkelers and will help identify fish for you. Expect to pay between $50 and $100 for a snorkeling excursion. My next visit to Half Moon Cay will certainly include this snorkeling excursion if at all possible.
You might also consider an excursion which focuses on stingrays alone -- I have not done this at Half Moon Cay but have done it at Grand Cayman Island and it is also a great experience.
All the activities on the island are great, but so is the ultimate island splurge --- a private cabana.
Horseback Riding on land and sea through Carnival
The horses were used to people. We rode on land then went into the ocean. The water was to the horses' chest, and they loved it. They worked hard to go as fast as they could in the water. Beautiful, pristine beaches. Really friendly stable hands.
- Horse Riding
what you can visit...
Because the island of Half Moon Cay is privately-owned has thankfully not really been developed, it means that there’s very little there to see – and this is its charm. There’s a small straw market selling your usual average t-shirts and hats, a first aid/nurse station, a post office and a bizarre church/chapel.
Why this construction is there, it really makes no sense - as the island is not inhabited... it's a white wooden building in typical Bahamian style, with a bell tower (I did not see the bells, though) and with only two pews inside. Maybe for weddings?
I haven't done most of the activities that the ship offers at Half Moon. The activity that I HAVE done is parasailing. Bob didn't want to go with me, so he went back to the ship and took pictures from there with the digital camera, but you can't really tell it is me, as even at the max zoom the parachute is less than the size of a penny
The parasailing boat people didn't ask for my ticket - they just took my word for it that I was on the 10:30 trip. There were three others. An older man called Buddy who went first, a young girl and a young man. They gave each of them a life jacket - except me. They said that I would use Buddy's jacket when he finished with it. I assume that was because they didn't have two big ones. As each of us went, we got into a harness which was hooked to a line and then attached to a parachute. We sat on the aft deck of the boat and they reeled us out. When it came time for me to go they asked me if I was going to chicken out, but of course I was NOT.
I took my film camera up with me and took a whole roll of photos. I was up - I think higher than the ship. I saw the horseback riding where they swam the horses from the beach - I saw over the island, and to the other side. It was quiet up there - not even any wind.
When they wanted us back, they reeled us back in, and we were supposed to come in and stand on the deck. When they pulled me back in, they dunked me in the water. So when I came in, I wasn't standing up - I pulled up my feet and came in just above the deck sitting down. Then because of the pitching deck, I couldn't stand up without help from Buddy and the parasailing boat guy because there was nothing to hold onto.
- Adventure Travel
Coming here as a part of a Holland American cruise, they will give you the following options - (in alphabetical order)
* Aqua Trax Adventure (one hour tour on PWC)
* Clamshell Sunshade Rental (two loungers)
* Deep-Sea Fishing
* Eco Lagoon Cruise in a glass bottom boat
* Eco Lagoon Kayak Adventure - an hour+ tour in a kayak with a guide
* Guided Tour by Bicycle (men's or women's - about 1.5 hours)
* Historic Nature Walk (1.5 hours)
* Hobie Catamarans (one hour)
* Horseback Riding on the beach and in the water (1.25 hours)
* Private Cabana (up to four guests) with an option of an upgrade for a Butler
* Private Oasis - Palm Package - building partly over the water for up to 12 guests
* Rental of snorkeling gear for the day (snorkeling on the beach with no coral)
* Snorkel by boat (1.5 hours)
I have not done any of these things as I do not like being in the sun.
- Horse Riding
Half Moon Cay
You can rent a Hobie Catamaran, Sunfish Sailboat, View Boards, Windsurfer Sailboards, kayaks, aqua cycles and float mats. There is even a separate area designated for these activities. There are volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoes and shuffleboard, a fitness trail with exercise stations and nature trails for hiking. On Half Moon Cay you can snorkel, SCUBA dive, jet-ski or even do some bone fishing. Of course, you can always just kick back and relax or have a beachside massage.
- Luxury Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons