Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay is a tender port – Ships have to anchor off Half Moon Cay and tender passengers ashore by boat. When tendering is required, guests using mobility devices will not be transferred into or out of the tender. Many tender ports do not provide wheelchair access so even if the guest can board the tender they may not be able to disembark ashore. Again the shore-side facilities, movement of the tender, weather and tidal conditions can also preclude tendering.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay is an island privately owned by Holland America Cruise Lines, situated in The Bahamas. Carnival ships sometimes visit, too, as Holland America is owned by Carnival Corporation.

The island is a significant nesting site for water birds and consequently only a very small portion of the island has been developed for tourism.

Rental equipment for snorkelling, aqua bikes, windsurf boards, kayaks and beach floats are available at 3 locations. Shore excursions on offer include horse riding, water scooter rides, stingray adventures, deep-sea fishing, eco tours, parasailing, and guided bike or kayak tours.

For kids there is Half Moon Lagoon water park and a playground with slides and two wooden pirate ships.

There are several full service bars are located throughout the island and on the beach.

The island also offers a 25-passenger tram for easy transportation, a 5K running course and a chapel, which can accommodate up to 20 people for wedding ceremonies and vow renewals.

The disabled cruiser visiting Half Moon Cay

Since the cruise ship does not dock and the disabled cruiser is tendered to the island from out in the harbor; if the water is too rough, the captain may not let the disabled cruiser off the ship. Anyone with limited mobility would have some difficulty. Anyone in a wheelchair would have to be carried on and off the tender.

Where You’re Docked

Great Stirrup Cay is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship’s tender.

Ships are anchored off shore and passengers are tendered onto the island. Facilities are divided into three sections: the welcome center, Bahamian Village and Tropics Restaurant. The welcome center features an information hut, restrooms, a bar, a Bahamian straw market, a post office, a first aid station, an island shop and tram stop with benches and shade. A long, covered, wooden structure equipped with misting stations has plenty of signs indicating that this is the way back to the ship. Passengers gather here to board the next tender. Ice-cold towels and water or lemonade are usually on hand while you wait.

Good to Know

You’ll pay extra for alcohol, even if you have an unlimited package booked on your ship. A Half Moon Cay package is available for about $25 that gets you 15 drinks for your day on shore. Passengers can rent private air-conditioned cabanas or two-story beach villas if they want to escape the crowds, but these can book quickly as there might be other ships in port at the same time. Many expenses; such as drinks, activities and souvenirs at the line’s island shop; can be put on passengers’ onboard accounts. However, for purchases at the straw market, you’ll need cash.

Also good to know for families with kids in tow, 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).

Getting Around

On foot: 

By car: 

By bus:

Currency

U.S. dollars are accepted on Half Moon Cay, but unless you’re buying items for cash at the straw market, be sure to have your ship card handy for purchases. Credit cards are not accepted on the island and there are no ATMs.

Language

English is spoken throughout this tiny Bahamian island.

Shopping

Entering the island from your tender, through the Fort San Salvador entranceway, you’ll see a few shops around the square, along with a market called Straw Works offering handicrafts like carvings and driftwood art, and hair braiding. Lustre is a standalone jewelry store; a generic gift shop sells items like T-shirts, keychains and sunscreen.

Tropics Restaurant provides a free buffet style barbecue for passengers.

A straw market and island shop are situated near the welcome center selling typical Caribbean souvenirs.

You’ll pay extra for alcohol, souvenirs, many activities and shore excursions. Expenses such as drinks, activities and souvenirs at the line’s island shop can be put on passengers’ onboard accounts. However, for purchases at the straw market, you’ll need cash.

For such a small island, you have a respectable amount of dining and drinking options on Half Moon Cay. It’s important to note that in order to pack up for the day, and maybe discourage anyone from lingering too long and missing on-ship time, the bars close early — about 90 minutes before the last tender.

Points of Interest

  • Half Moon Cay – a seven-

Half Moon Cay Accessible Excursions

Whether your cruise ship stops in 

Half Moon Cay Accessible Guided Tour

This 4 hour accessible