When it comes to cruise line private islands, there is CocoCay… and then everything else. Royal Caribbean has completely transformed its private island into a world-class port of call with swimming pools, waterslides, exclusive areas and even over-the-water cabanas.
Ever since the cruise line put in an investment totaling $250 million (about 25% the cost of a brand-new cruise ship) to completely overhaul the destination a few years ago, those who have visited CocoCay have raved about the island.
But if you’ve never visited before (or it’s been a while since you have) you might be wondering exactly what you can expect during your visit. Cruzely has you covered. Below we review everything you could want to know, including details about everything on the island, from prices to tips and more.
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What Is Perfect Day at CocoCay?
For years Royal Caribbean operated CocoCay in the Bahamas. The private island — exclusively for the cruise line’s ships — offered plenty to like. It had beaches, a number of activities, snorkeling, and more. Essentially, it was an extension of life on the cruise ship.
Over the years, you might have noticed that cruise ships have become larger and more extravagant. Today’s ships have entire neighborhoods, wave simulators, countless restaurants, bars, clubs, and more.
In other words, private islands like CocoCay could actually be a downgrade from hanging out on a modern cruise ship. So Royal Caribbean decided to upgrade the island.
Investing $250 million, the area is now known as “Perfect Day at CocoCay” and offers the most wide-range of amenities of any cruise line island.
There’s a complete waterpark, a 33,000 square foot pool, beaches, restaurants, and even over-the-water bungalows straight out of Fiji. It’s all designed to make a world-class destination for Royal Caribbean’s passengers.
Where Is CocoCay?
The island sits in the Bahamas, just about 140 miles due east of Miami. That makes it ideal for any Royal Caribbean ship that sails in the area, including those coming from ports like Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades.
Given the proximity, if you are sailing from anywhere departing the east coast of Florida, then chances are your ship will make a stop here.
What’s the Difference Between the Old CocoCay and the New Version?
To put it simply, just about everything.
The old version of the island had some amenities and entertainment, but it was primarily a place to hang out by the beach and maybe do some water activities like snorkel or kayak.
Perfect Day at CocoCay now has tons of activities. While the main beach (now known as Chill Beach) is still there, practically everything else is new within the past several years. Where there was once just jungle brush now sits an entire waterpark. The cruise line also built the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean and the tallest waterslide in North America. And did we mention the helium balloon that can take you up 450 feet in the air?
The closest analogy we can think of is Las Vegas when it was a sleepy town in the desert with a few casinos compared to Las Vegas today.
Here’s a picture of what the island used to look like before the renovation:
And here is a video with lots of images of how it looks now:
What Can I Do on CocoCay?
With the number of attractions, it can be a bit overwhelming to get an idea of everything that’s available. Here’s a run-down of what’s on the island:
Thrill Waterpark ($)
Perhaps the crown jewel of the island, the Thrill Waterpark offers a ton of different water activities (including 13 different slides). The highlight is Daredevil’s Tower, home of the tallest waterslide in North America at 135 feet tall, along with several other slides. There’s also the adventure pool (an over-the-water obstacle course) a massive wave pool, Splash Summit (another group of slides), and a spot to eat (See our full guide to Thrill Waterpark here.)
Up, Up, and Away ($)
A helium balloon that rises 450 feet into the air, Up, Up, and Away can give you a bird’s eye view of the entire island, your ship, and the stunning waters of the Bahamas. Just note that if there is too much wind, then it won’t fly.
Zip Lines ($)
Royal Caribbean is known for having zip lines on their Oasis-class ships. CocoCay extends the trend… literally. You can zig zag across the island, getting a great view and an adrenaline rush at the same time.
Captain Jill’s Galleon (Free)
A free water feature for the kids, Captain Jill’s Galleon is in the style of a pirate ship with water cannons and multiple slides. In other words, you’re not getting out of here dry.
Splashaway Bay (Free)
Similar to what you’ll find on many Royal Caribbean ships, CocoCay features a Splashaway Bay. The splash park features sprayers, dumping buckets, slides, and more. If your kid is smaller, they will love the area. Older kids will likely want to go to the Thrill Waterpark.
Chill Island/Harbor Beach (Free)
If you want some beach time, then these spots are ideal. Packed with umbrellas and chairs, they feature a wide beach and calm blue water. There is also the Chill Grill to grab a bit to eat when you’re hungry. A straw market is also here if you want to do a little local shopping.
Oasis Lagoon (Free)
Lagoon? Maybe it should be called a lake instead. The Oasis Lagoon is the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. It’s surrounded by umbrellas and loungers, making it a great place to spend the day. There’s also a gradual entrance (for those who don’t want to dive in) and a swim-up bar.
Coco Beach Club ($)
Coco Beach Club is an exclusive enclave on the island. It features a private entrance, along with an open-air restaurant serving higher-end dishes (filet mignon and lobster) than you’ll find elsewhere on the island. There is also an infinity pool and bar.
The most notable feature, however, is a group of over-the-water cabanas. Rent one of these and you have your own private floating spot to relax and unwind, complete with waiter service and your own slide into the water. (See our guide to the Coco Beach Club here.)
South Beach (Free)
If you want something a little more active on the beach, then South Beach might be your destination. It features volleyball, basketball, kayaking, paddle boarding. Or you can just hang out on the beach. As with other beaches, there are also plenty of loungers, umbrellas, daybeds, cabanas, and more. We like this spot because it’s a little farther from the ship, so the crowds seem a little smaller.
Where Can I Eat?
You won’t go hungry while on the island. As well, you don’t have to spend any money on food either, unless you want to.
Skipper’s Grill/Chill Grill (Free)
These two spots are complimentary, serving typical beach buffet fare at lunch time. The menu includes chicken, salads, burgers, dogs, and desserts. You can think of it as an extension of the Windjammer buffet on Royal Caribbean ships.
Snack Shack (Free)
Dotted around the island are several Snack Shacks. These spots serve up burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and salads. You can also get fries and mozzarella sticks, as well as desserts like funnel cake. The Snack Shacks have longer hours than Skipper’s/Chill Grill and since there are several, it’s never far to a bite to eat. You might also find them handy because there are normally smaller crowds than the large buffets.
Restaurant at Coco Beach Club (Included with Admission)
This restaurant is included with paid admission to the Coco Beach Club. Here, you can get your choice of a number of higher-end dishes, complimenting the exclusive atmosphere. Filet mignon, grilled lobster, and garlic tiger prawns are all on the menu, as are things like rum cake and chocolate brownies for dessert.
Captain Jack’s ($)
It’s more of a bar than a restaurant, but Captain Jack’s serves some bar food like chicken wings and steak fries. There is a small charge for items from here.
Perfect Day at CocoCay Price List
Royal Caribbean is known for variable pricing of nearly everything on its ships. What you pay depends on your specific sailing. CocoCay is similar. While visiting the island — and many attractions — are free, there is lots that you’ll have to pay for if you want to enjoy it.
We’ve listed some prices below from a recent cruise. What you will pay depends on your specific trip (for instance, we’ve seen prices of $160+ for admission to thrill Waterpark). Prices will be available when you board the ship or online with your cruise planner.
Note: You can often get discounts for booking early. Also, there are occasional sales. For instance, during Black Friday we saw rates cut essentially in half for many items.
CocoCay Tips & Things to Know
The Island Averages Around 11,000 Guests a Day
According to Royal Caribbean, CocoCay can handle a lot of people — right now it averages up to 11,000 at the current configuration…. and that number is set to rise. With that sort of size, having one ship in port provides plenty of space without a lot of overcrowding. But the number of guests it averages should tip you off that it means multiple ships visiting the port on many days. On these days, its obviously a bigger crowd, but not overwhelming.
Royal Caribbean Wi-Fi Works on the Island
Want to stay connected… or post to Facebook/Instagram to make everyone back home jealous? You can do that on CocoCay. Royal Caribbean’s on-ship wi-fi (VOOM Internet service) does extend to the island.
Considering that many people pay for internet service for the entirety of the cruise but normally can’t use it in port, this is a big addition to the wi-fi package.
Drink Packages Work on the Island
If you’ve ever bought a drink package on a cruise ship then you likely know one of the big drawbacks is that they don’t work in ports. If you are off the ship, you’ve got to open up your wallet for a drink.
But on CocoCay, there’s a huge benefit — drink packages (alcoholic or otherwise) work while you’re enjoying your time at the beach. There are bars all around the island, so you can walk up to any of them and grab a drink just like you would on the ship.
Oasis Lagoon Is the Largest Freshwater Pool in the Caribbean
It wouldn’t be Royal Caribbean if they didn’t lay claim to the biggest and best. In this case, we’re not talking about the cruise ship, but the pool. Oasis Lagoon on CocoCay is the large freshwater pool that’s a centerpiece of the island.
How large? At more than 33,000 square feet, it’s about 3/4 of an acre! That makes it the largest pool in the Caribbean. In other words, you’re unlikely to have a hard time staking out your own little spot in the pool.
Loungers? That’s another thing. We suggest getting there early as lounger space can fill up quickly.
Daredevil’s Peak Is the Tallest Waterslide in North America
On just about any picture of CocoCay, you’ll see the huge structure that looks like a skyscraper, with waterslides wrapping around it. This is Thrill Waterpark, and that tallest slide that goes to the top is called Daredevil’s Peak.
All told, the slide rises 135 feet above the ground (about 14 stories). If that sounds tall to you, then you’re right. In fact, it’s the tallest waterslide in North America. If you don’t do anything else at CocoCay, riding this slide would give you a lifelong memory… and bragging rights.
You Could Need a Reservation for Daredevil’s Peak
On a recent trip, we saw something we hadn’t before. With two ships in port that day, staff was taking reservations for riding the tallest waterslide. You had to get a reservation time at the base of the tower. When we visited, all the spots were filled up until 2 p.m. After that time, however, the staff said there are no more reservations needed and you can just walk up to ride like normal.
You Can Spend as Much… Or as Little as You Want
On CocoCay you can spend as much money or as little money as you want. If you just want to eat the free food and hang out by the pool or the beach, then good news — that’s completely free to do, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
However, if you want to do things like rent a cabana or play at the waterpark, then you’ll have to spend some money. Considering a cabana can costs thousands and we’ve seen admission prices up to $160+ per person to get into the waterpark, there’s no shortage of ways to spend your cash.
Five Different “Zones” on the Island Provide Something For Everyone
While the boundaries aren’t hard and fast, the island is divided into separate zones that each have something different going on. First is the Thrill Waterpark. A full-fledged waterpark with more than a dozen slides, wave pool, and more, there is an admission fee. Nearby is the Oasis Lagoon, which includes the free Splashaway Bay for kiddos and the large freshwater pool open to all guests.
Keep going and you’ll find Chill Island — a relaxing spot to hang out in a lounger at the beach. The other two areas are also known for their comfort — South Beach and the Coco Beach Club (including its over-the-water cabanas).
Crowds Are Much Thinner in the Afternoon
Crowds not your thing? With one ship at the island, crowds aren’t that big of an issue as everyone has plenty of space. Two ships and it might feel a little more cramped (though certainly not unbearable).
If you want smaller crowds, check things out later in the day. After around 2 p.m. you start to see many people head back to the ship, creating more space around CocoCay.
Want a Great Photo? Head to the Bridge
As you arrive onto the shore of CocoCay, hang a left and you’ll pass over a bridge that heads to Chill Island. This bridge doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the best photo opportunity in our opinion. It looks back toward your ship docked at the pier. Here you can get a great photo of your ship, or get a photo of yourself with the ship in the background.
Bring Your SeaPass Card… And Some Cash
For the most part you’ll need your SeaPass card when you are at CocoCay. You’ll need it to exit and return to the ship, and you will also use the card to pay for things on the island. The one exception is that there is a straw market with local goods and souvenirs where you will need dollars.
The Island Is Wheelchair Accessible
Overall, Royal Caribbean has made the island accessible to those in wheelchairs. For instance, there are beach wheelchairs available for use, concrete paths are easy to navigate, and the Oasis Lagoon is also accessible as well. There is also the tram (see below) to help those who can’t walk long distances get around the island.
A Free Tram Runs Around the Island
CocoCay is pretty big — it can take a good 20 minutes to make a loop. And with all the different things to do and see, you can anticipate walking a around quite a bit. If you’re not big on walking, don’t worry. There is a free tram that runs around the island, stopping at the major attractions. It operates continuously throughout the day.
CocoCay Is Great for Babies & Toddlers
If your baby or toddler isn’t yet potty-trained, then swimming on the cruise ship can be a challenge. Kids that are still in diapers are prohibited from the pools for health reasons (though there are some kids areas for those in swim diapers). But on CocoCay babies and toddlers have a dedicated area to play with Splashaway Bay. Of course, they can also swim in the ocean. That gives two great options for getting your little one in the spirit of The Bahamas.
Rides Don’t Have Age Limits… But There Are Height/Weight Rules
If you have kids, you’ll be happy to know there aren’t age limits on the waterpark rides. Instead, there are only height and weight limits. The minimum for the majority of the rides is 48 inches (four feet tall). This includes the Daredevil’s Peak slide. Some slides do allow riders at 42 inches tall.
The maximum weight limit for most rides is 300 pounds. So as long as someone is above four feet and less than 300 pounds, they will get to enjoy all the water rides.
Several Spots Offer Free Food On the Island
Something about the sun and water can take it out of you… and build up an appetite. Luckily there are a number of free spots to eat on CocoCay. This includes Skipper’s Grill, Chill Grill, and multiple Snack Shacks. There is also Captain Jack’s where you can get wings and fries, but it’s priced a la carte and not included for free.
Lockers and Beach Towels Are Available
One of the nice things about having an island that’s run by the cruise line is that there is a lot of convenience. On CocoCay there are lockers available at spots all around the island, no matter where you want to visit. There are also beach towel stations (free) so that you don’t have to worry about bringing a towel from the ship.
Have more questions about Perfect Day at CocoCay? Let us know in the comments below…
More on Visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay
- 24 Things to Do at CocoCay (Including 11 FREE Things)
- Thrill Waterpark on CocoCay: 20 Tips, Secrets, and Things to Know
- 8 Discoveries We Made Visiting CocoCay