Royal Caribbean advertises their private island in the Bahamas with the very catchy phrase “Perfect Day at Coco Cay”. It’s almost perfect… except “cay” is pronounced “key” and not “kay”. So close! Regardless, Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s answer to things like Disney’s Castaway Cay, and if you’re a beach person, a cruise line’s private island is a really cool opportunity to lay back on the beach and just enjoy the day.
My husband and I are not beach people, but HEY! It was Thanksgiving, and a private island was a way better offer than a dramatic family dinner. Even if it meant missing out on my sister-in-law’s amazing cooking, as well as her company (my sister-in-law is my favorite) it was definitely a good year for us to try something else.
Full disclosure, I actually spent most of this day lying in a purple hammock and listening to Half Bad. You can take the girl away from her books, but you can’t take the books away from the girl.
There are a few different sections on Coco Cay to visit – some are free, and some come at an additional uncharge. When we visited in November of 2019, there were still parts of the island under construction. Going into this year, Royal Caribbean will be opening up more cabanas and another beach area. The cabanas are an extra charge, but if that’s your thing, cabanas could be totally worth it. Retrospectively, I think I would have considered them (although they were a bit too much $$$s for my blood, especially just for two people).
Other options for entertainment for an extra change (i.e. anything not a beach or pool) include a waterpark as well as zip lines, a hot air balloon, and jet skis. All these things depend on weather to be functioning, so on a stormy or too-windy day, they may not be available.
If you want to hang out on the beach for the full day, the trick is to get off the boat early. That’s what I did, rudely leaving my husband behind and disembarking the ship at about 9:45am to go grab a hammock. Hammocks? Also hot commodities. And, trust me, if you’re going for hammocks, grab one that’s full fabric. Hammocks are great because they’re out of the sun, nobody kicks sand in your face accidentally, and you get to watch a lot of people struggle to get in and out of them. Comfort and entertainment!
The entire beach was filled and people hung over their claimed chairs like a momma wolf protecting her cubs… all by 11am. Lesson? Grab your real estate fast and early, if that’s your thing.
I still advocate for the hammocks, though!
While there’s a lot of low-key, fun, relaxing stuff to do on the island for free, Matt and I decided to pay the extra to go jet skiing. … … So, here’s the thing.
Back when he and I got married in 2015, our first cruise was our honeymoon to Bermuda (beautiful country, by the way, I would love to go back). At the time, money was really tight and we weren’t really booking any excursions because we wanted to save money and couldn’t agree on what we wanted to do. I wanted to go to St. George and see the old town stuff… and Matt? Matt wanted to go jet skiing. Our compromise, since we’d be in port for three days, was that we each could plan our own day. Matt spent months looking into jet skiing options…
…and never booked anything.
Decision-making is not my husband’s strong point, and I have used it to my advantage since. Honey, I know you’re not reading this, but I love you.
When jet skiing popped up as an option for this cruise, I decided to suck it up and book it. Adrenaline sports are really not my thing (see: Jamaica) but he enjoys them, and since I’m dragging him to all sorts of historical sites again next year in Europe, he deserved a bit of fun. And you know what? Jet skiing was a BLAST.
I don’t have any photos of this, because we couldn’t take cameras on the skis (and I wouldn’t’ve wanted to anyway), but we had a lot of fun. It was really windy the day we were there, so our tour actually got cut in half and we ended up going over some sizable waves. The island is gorgeous, and the tour guide was lovely (the safety officer was super grumpy though and kept muttering under his breath). We stopped in a starfish grove and my goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large, bright red starfish! Not getting a picture of the starfish is my only regret in regards to jet skiing.
When you’re on the island, food is included in your day the same way it would be included on the boat – booze is not included, unless you’ve bought the package, and there were some upgrade foods at certain points on the island… but honestly there was no need. The food at the grills was pretty tasty – honestly, I think that lunch was the tastiest one I had the entire week!
As a note, the restaurants and bars on the island are staffed by the ship’s staff. Our assistant waiter was on the island that afternoon, but our head waiter said he wasn’t able to make it off, unfortunately. Guys, if you’re on a cruise ship, please make sure you tell your staff – waiters, housekeeping, etc. – that you appreciate them, and make sure you tip the extra. These guys work really hard. Even the “fun” days are work days, and things like raises and days off largely depends on guest feedback.
Also, honestly, there was a taco bar. If you want to get me to go anywhere, tell me there is a taco bar, and I’m all in!
After eating, Matt and I combed a couple of the beaches looking for empty chairs, but there never was any. Instead, we retreated to the hammocks and waited for occupants to fall out before snagging them for ourselves and curling up with our audiobooks. Outside of a little chill from the wind, it was really a lovely day and the island was beautiful no matter what angle you look at it, so it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
This post is pretty short because when it comes to a private island, there’s really only a certain amount of things to talk about! There’s no real history in this place, so I can’t dig into that the way I did in the Azores, for example. Coco Cay is purely a beach bum island, and if that’s your aesthetic, this place is perfect and you’ll love it.
For my husband and I, while we appreciated the exclusive feel (we were lucky – we were the only ship docked that day), since we’re not really beach people, a lot of the island’s inherent charms were wasted on us. Caribbean vacationers who absolutely adore those beautiful, sunshiny days off the boat and with their toes in the sand will love Coco Cay, so if that’s you… get excited if you see the island on your itinerary!
Guys, this wraps it up for travel posts for a while – we’ll be heading abroad again next fall, but until then, hopefully we can fit in a few fun side-trips or weekend getaways to share with y’all through the spring and summer. Thank you, as always, for stopping in to read about our adventures! If you’re heading out on your own trips soon… happy sails and happy trails!
What would a perfect vacation day look like to you? For me, it’s seeing something old and magnificent… which is a far cry from the beach like most people I know! Tell me about your ideal vacation day in the comments!