I went to Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. It wasn’t for me, but I can see why cruise-goers love it.

Joey Hadden

Sun, 29 May 2022, 11:30 am

The author in her snorkeling gear (L) and a view of CocoCay from above (R)
Insider’s reporter went to Perfect Day at CocoCay on her first cruise with Royal Caribbean.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • Royal Caribbean has a private island in the Bahamas called Perfect Day at CocoCay.
  • The island gives cruise guests a combination of thrilling activities and relaxing beaches.
  • I recently went for the first time. While I found it fun, I longed for a more authentic port stop.

Welcome to Perfect Day at CocoCay: Royal Caribbean’s 125-acre private island in the Bahamas. It’s filled with thrilling adventures and relaxing beaches for vacationers.

Perfect Day at CocoCay island with hot air balloon and water slides seen from above with clear blue waters surrounding it and partly cloudy skies behind
Perfect Day at CocoCay as seen from Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas cruise ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line with a private island in the Bahamas. Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and Princess Cruises each have their own Bahamian paradise, according to Cruise Critic.

Pelican Plunge is a new water slide on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, that is visited by Disney ships such as the Disney Dream. ()
A water slide on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.Marjie Lambert/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Source: Cruise Critic

I recently went to CocoCay on the final day of my first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. It felt like an extension of the ship, but I longed for a more authentic Bahamian experience. Here’s what it’s like to visit.

The author takes a selfie with sunglasses on at CocoCay with sand, plants, and a hot air balloon in the background
The author at Perfect Day at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

CocoCay was the final stop of a seven-night cruise starting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship also stopped in Roatán, Honduras, and Cozumel and Costa Maya Mexico.

A map of where the author went on the cruise
A map showing the stops on the Royal Caribbean cruise the author took.Joey Hadden/Insider

The island is only accessible to cruisers onboard Royal Caribbean ships. Many Caribbean cruise itineraries include a stop here. Two ships can be docked there at a time, as Insider previously reported.

Two cruise ships docked at CocoCay on a partly-cloudy day with blue skies
Two ships docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Insider

Admiral Cruises, a company Royal Caribbean acquired in 1988, leased the island until 2050 in 1985, according to Royal Caribbean. In 2019, the island got a $250 million makeover.

The entrance to Thrill Waterpark at CocoCay on a partly cloudy day with blue skies
CocoCay in 2022.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

The only people who live on CocoCay are Royal Caribbean employees, according to the cruise line.

An arrow points to employee housing with palm trees between them and ocean waters in the background
Employee housing on Perfect Day at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

As Royal Caribbean guests step onto the island, a band greets them with Caribbean tunes.

Band plays under a hut at CocoCay
A band plays under a hut in CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Most attractions on the island are complimentary to cruise guests, including the food and many of the pools and beaches.

Poeple order from the Snack Shack at CocoCay with a blue awning above and clear blue skies above
People order food at Perfect Day at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

But the exciting features tend to cost extra, like the waterpark …

Several colorful waterslides at CocoCay with palm trees between them and ocean waters in the background
Waterslides at Thrill Waterpark in CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

… and excursions like zip-lining, snorkeling, and hot-air balloon rides.

side-by-side photos show ziplining (L) and the hot air balloon at CocoCay (R)
The island’s zip-line and hot-air balloon.Joey Hadden/Insider

There are tons of maps and signs to direct guests, as well as three color-coded paths. Green leads to Chill Island, orange leads to Oasis Lagoon, and blue leads to Thrill Waterpark.

A red path with a sign on the left directing guests at CocoCay on a partly-cloudy day
Signs direct guests around the island.Joey Hadden/Insider

To get around, walk or ride a free tram to different parts of the island.

The tram station with palm trees on a partly cloudy day at CocoCay with blue skies
The tram station at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

If you’re the type of vacationer who just wants to relax, head to Chill Island, which is free to access.

People walk through entrance to Chill Island at Coco Cay on a partly cloudy day
People walk into Chill Island.Joey Hadden/Insider

Chill Island is the place for a laid-back day on a lounge chair in the sand. It has the quietest beach on CocoCay, with no music. It’s full of umbrellas and chairs, which are all free to use.

A partly-cloudy day at the beach in CocoCay
People relax on Chill Island at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

You will surely find a comfortable spot. According to Royal Caribbean, the beach has 6,000 lounge chairs and 12,000 umbrellas on CocoCay.

A beach at CocoCay behind a bridge with pedestrians walking across it
People enjoy a day at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

If you want to be extra chill, you can rent a daybed on the beach for $150.

A view of the shore at the beach through an empty cabana on a cloudy day at CocoCay
A view of the beach from a daybed.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

There are also over-the-water cabanas. They cost a whopping $1,100 to rent.

Floating cabanas at the beach in CocoCay with clouds in the background
People enjoy cabanas on the water.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

Of course, there is a swim-up bar off shore. Luckily, your cruise ship drink package extends to CocoCay.

People at a swim-up bar in CocoCay in the ocean with cloudy skies in the background
A swim-up bar at the beach of Chill Island.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

For a more active beach day, check out South Beach on the other side of the island.

A sign of rules in front of a palm tree and beach chairs and umbrellas at a CocoCay beach
South Beach in CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Here you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities, like basketball, volleyball, and …

A basketball court at the beach in CocoCay with palm trees all around on a cloudy day
The sports court at South Beach.Joey Hadden/Insider

… even life-size billiards.

People play life-size pool and volleyball at CocoCay with palm trees in the background
People play billiards at South Beach.Joey Hadden/Insider

Both beaches offer free amenities that make your day easier and more enjoyable. This includes lockers for your change of clothes and valuables.

Blue lockers in front of a blue building at CocoCay
Free lockers at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Amenities also include free life vests for your safety.

A sign says "Cleaned and ready for you" above a rack of blue life vests on the beach at CocoCay with palm trees and cloudy blue skies in the background
Life vests at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Both beaches have snorkeling shacks where you can rent gear for $37. I went snorkeling at Chill Island and saw some pretty cool fish.

The author goes snorkeling at CocoCay
The author went snorkeling.Joey Hadden/Insider

The beaches have several shops that sell souvenirs like t-shirts and essentials, including sunscreen.

Shops in the sand between palm trees at CocoCay on a partly-cloudy day
Shops on the beach under the palm trees.Joey Hadden/Insider

If you prefer the pool over the beach, head to Oasis Lagoon. It is home to the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, according to Royal Caribbean.

The entrace to Oasis Lagoon at CocoCay
The entrance to Oasis Lagoon with a freshwater pool.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

The pool features several inviting coves, upbeat music, and, of course, a swim-up bar.

A pool with five small fountains at the entrance at CocoCay with palm trees and cloudy blue skies in the background
Guests enjoy the pool in Oasis Lagoon.Joey Hadden/Insider

Next to Oasis Lagoon is Splashaway Bay, a water playground for children.

The top of the slashaway bay water playground is seen through shrubs and palm tree leaves on a cloudy day at CocoCay
Splashaway Bay is seen between the palm trees.Joey Hadden/Insider

The playground looks just like the Splashaway Bay found on Royal Caribbean ships. It is free for guests.

People walk around Splashaway bay at CocoCay on a partly cloudy day
Guests hang out at Splashaway Bay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Next door are the water slides for the “big kids”: Thrill Waterpark, which costs $130 to access.

Thrill Waterpark at CocoCay is seen from above
Thrill Waterpark on CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Royal Caribbean

This area of the island hosts all the waterslides as well as the wave pool.

Several colorful waterslides at CocoCay with with palm trees between them and ocean waters in the background
Guests ride waterslides at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Thrill-seekers also gravitate toward the hot-air balloon ride, which reaches 450 feet into the air. Unfortunately, the winds were too high for the balloon to be used when I visited. (A ride costs between $24 and $64, depending on the season.)

The hot air balloon on CocoCay from above with palm trees surrounding it and clear ocean waters in the background
The hot air balloon at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Sources: Royal CaribbeanRoyal Caribbean

Back on the ship, I quickly took in a panoramic view of CocoCay before departing.

The edge of CocoCay seen from above with clear ocean waters in the foreground and background
CocoCay as seen from the cruise ship.Joey Hadden/Insider

In the distance, I could see some of the other 700 Bahamian islands, and I wondered what it would be like to visit them.

A far-off view of Bahamian islands with clear ocean waters in the foreground
Bahamian islands in the distance.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: The Government of the Bahamas

While I had a fun and relaxing day at CocoCay, it felt more like an extension of the cruise ship than visiting a foreign country. Since I’m not into the thrills of waterslides and zip lines, I would have rather spent time on a Bahamian island where I could have learned more about the culture.

Thrill Waterpark (L) and the author in front of the shore at the beach in CocoCay
The author at CocoCay.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read the original article on Insider

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