With limited time and lots of options for how to spend the day once your cruise ship docks in the sunny Caribbean, it can be hard to decide what to do. Of course, you always have the option of booking a cruise line sponsored shore excursion or simply wandering around souvenir shops and grabbing a drink or a bite to eat in a portside venue. But if what you really want is a hassle-free day at the beach, purchasing a day pass at one of the many resorts lining the shores of those gorgeous islands might just be your best bet.
Resort passes offer all-day access to amenities like pools, lounge chairs, water sports equipment and activities as well as food and beverages. Some include meals at upscale restaurants, transfers to and from the cruise port and daytime use of resort rooms when available. You may even find that certain day passes end up being quite affordable compared to booking a private tour or a beach day through the cruise line, depending on inclusions. Just don't forget to factor in transportation costs, if any, when pricing out options.
Many Cruise Critic members find such passes to be great alternatives to traditional shore excursions.
"It's fun!" member LovetheSea posts on the message boards. "You just take a cab to the resort, buy the pass and spend the day there. Leave whenever you want to. It is usually a lot cheaper than a 'Beach Break' excursion."
Below, we've compiled a list of a few popular resorts that offer day passes in some of the Caribbean's most well-known ports.
Editor's note: Prices and amenities listed are subject to change at any time.
Sandals Grande Antigua
What You Get for Your Money: Passes come in two varieties: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $110.50 or 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., $88.50. Prices include access to all on-property entertainment, meals and drinks, but do not include accommodations. Sandals is a couples' resort for those 18 and older, so no children's pricing is available.
How to Get There: The resort is located 20 minutes from port; take a taxi.
Jolly Beach Resort & Spa
What You Get for Your Money: This resort in Antigua offers three pass options. The standard day pass includes access to the resort from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as a full breakfast, lunch, beverages and non-motorized water sports, and costs $75 per adult and $45 per child ages three to 11. The all-day pass allows access from 10:15 a.m. until midnight and includes all of the above as well as dinner and nightly entertainment, for $97 per adult and $59 per child. Lastly, there is an evening pass for use from 6 p.m. to midnight, which includes dinner, beverages and entertainment for a cost of $70 per adult and $42 per child.
How to Get There: Jolly Beach is located half an hour from port; take a taxi.
Occidental Grand Aruba
What You Get for Your Money: Passes, which are $78 for adults and about $39 for children, offer access to amenities including non-motorized watersports, meals, snack and drinks, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The price does not, however, include use of a room.
How to Get There: Occidental Grand Aruba is a 15-minute taxi ride from port.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
What You Get for Your Money: The day passes offered at this Aruba resort include transportation to the resort's private island, as well as lunch, a drink and dessert. Beach towels are provided and one hour of kayaking, snorkeling or paddle boating is included. The cost is $99 per adult and does not include use of a room. Children under 12 can visit the island for free, but food and other amenities are extra.
How to Get There: This resort is just one-quarter of a mile from the cruise port, and it's walkable.
Atlantis Paradise Island
What You Get for Your Money: The Discover Aquaventure pass is priced seasonally from $125 for adults and $80 for children, off-peak, and it provides access to beach towels, the Dig and all marine habitats and beaches. It also includes admission to the resort's water park, including all slides, pools and the river rapids. A number of additional day experiences including dolphin swims and snorkeling excursions are available at various price points. Depending on the number of people in your group and the time of year, it may be more cost-efficient to book a room for one day while you're in port; that will allow you access to all resort amenities for one price. Plus, you'll have a place to shower and change.
How to Get There:This resort is a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise port.
Melia Nassau Beach Resort
What You Get for Your Money: There are two options at Melia. For $30 ($22.50 for children, ages four to 12), visitors gain access to the resort's beach and pools and non-motorized watersports as well as beach chairs and towels. For $50 ($37.50 for children), lunch at the pool grill with drinks is available.
How to Get There: From the Nassau cruise port, the Melia is a 15-minute ride by local bus or taxi.
Turtle Beach Resort
What You Get for Your Money: For about $125 per adult ($70 for children ages 5-12), a day pass includes access to the resort's beach, pool, beach chairs, facilities and non-motorized water sports equipment until 6 p.m. Children four and under are free. Also included are breakfast, lunch and drinks.
How to Get There: The resort is located 20 minutes from port; take a taxi.
What You Get for Your Money: This pass is offered at $25 per adult, including children older than two. Pass holders are granted beach access and food and drink from the beach bar, redeemable for the value of your pass. Access to the pool, gym and other resort facilities are limited to guests with a room.
How to Get There: Because this resort is 45 minutes from the port in Barbados, you'll need to take a taxi.
Dominican Republic (La Romana)
Casa de Campo Resort
What You Get for Your Money: A day pass at this resort in Casa de Campo offers lunch at the Beach Club Restaurant, as well as beach access, chair use, one drink with lunch and water sports. The cost is $75 per adult and $45 per child.
How to Get There: The resort is located 10 minutes from port; take a taxi.
Dreams La Romana Resort
What You Get for Your Money: Passes here are valid for pool and beach access, food and drinks and non-motorized watersports between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The cost is $65 for adults, children two to 11 are half off, and children under two are free.
How to Get There: Because this resort is 10 minutes from port, you'll need to take a taxi.
Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa
What You Get for Your Money: The Westin offers day use of a room for up to four adults, including access to the beach and facilities for $119 per room. No food or beverage is included. Reservations are contingent upon room availability.
How to Get There:This resort is 15 minutes from port by taxi.
Editor's Note: Day passes are uncommon in Grand Cayman, however many resort beaches, restaurants and spas are open to the public.
Club Natale Bay Villas
What You Get for Your Money: Passes here come in four types: $35 per adult and $25 per child for entry and access to resort facilities, beach, pool and Wi-Fi; $55 and $45 for that basic plan plus beach chairs and towels, an island-style lunch with one drink and use of kayaks and snorkel gear; $90 and $50 for everything mentioned above plus unlimited cocktails, beer and wine (specific brands); and $100 and $85 for everything in the $90 plan plus an iguana farm tour and boat tour with snorkel. All plans include transfers from the cruise port to the resort, which depart an hour after the ship docks. Time at the resort is roughly 3 to 4.5 hours as the return shuttle departs two hours prior to cruise ship disembarkation.
How to Get There:Club Natale is a 10-minute ride from port. All packages include shuttle service to and from the resort.
Mayan Princess Beach Resort
What You Get for Your Money: Mayan Princess offers two day pass options: the Mayan package, which includes regular open bar, a buffet meal, the use of all resort facilities, a beach towel and chair and transportation, for $65 per person; and the Las Sirenas package, which includes regular open bar, one a la carte menu option, beach towel and chair, transportation and access only to the facilities of the resort's Las Sirenas area, for $45 per person.
How to Get There: This resort is a 25-minute taxi ride from the cruise port.
Jamaica (Montego Bay)
Sandals Montego Bay
What You Get for Your Money: Passes come in two varieties: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., both for $85. Prices include access to all on-property entertainment, meals and drinks but do not include accommodations. Because Sandals is a couples' resort for those 18 and older, no children's pricing is available.
How to Get There: Sandals Montego Bay is a 30-minute drive from port; take a taxi.
Sunset Beach Resort, Spa & Waterpark
What You Get for Your Money: Passes include access to resort pools, waterslides, white-sand beaches, activities and games, and non-motorized water sports. All meals and drinks are also included in the price, which is $80 per adult and $40 per child ages three to 12.A $15 per person deposit is charged for towels, but is refunded upon return. Lockers are available to rent for a small fee.
How to Get There: Transfers are available for an additional fee. Sunset Beach Resort is just a five-minute drive from port by taxi.
Jamaica (Ocho Rios)
Beaches Ochos Rios
What You Get for Your Money: Passes include access to resort pools and beach, entertainment, water and land sports. All meals, snacks and drinks are also included in the price, which is $100 per adult and $50 per child from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or $85 per adult and $45 per child from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
How to Get There: The ride from the Ocho Rios cruise port to this resort takes about 20 minutes by taxi.
Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Golf Resort
What You Get for Your Money: Passes come in two varieties: either 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., both for $85. Prices include access to all on-property entertainment, meals and drinks, but do not include accommodations. Because Sandals is a couples' resort for those 18 and older, no children's pricing is available.
How to Get There:It is a 15-minute taxi ride away from the cruise port.
El Cid La Ceiba Beach
What You Get for Your Money: For $48 a person, you get everything an overnight resort guest would, aside from the room. This includes access to the Cozumel resort's beach and pool facilities, plus umbrellas, hammocks, non-motorized water sports equipment, and unlimited food and beverage throughout the day. Children six and under are free and seven to 11 are $27. Passes are for use between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
How to Get There: El Cid La Ceiba Beach is a mere five minutes from port by taxi.
Hotel Cozumel & Resort
What You Get for Your Money: Passes here include all beverages, food from the resort's snack bar (which offers indulgent fare, such as hamburgers and chicken wings), and access to the resort's beach and its amenities (lounge chairs, shades, etc.). The cost is $40 per adult and $20 per child ages five to 12 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost does not include a room.
How to Get There:Take a taxi, or walk the one-mile distance from port.
Puerto Rico (San Juan)
San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
What You Get for Your Money: Passes include access to the fitness center, pool area, lounge chairs and showers. Meals, drinks and rooms are not included in the $37.49 rate. Children's passes can be purchased for $17.15 for those 12 years old and younger.
How to Get There: A taxi ride from San Juan's cruise port takes just five minutes.
Intercontinental San Juan
What You Get for Your Money: Passes here are a bit pricey, clocking in at about $199 per adult. However, pass holders are entitled to use all resort facilities, as well as a room for the day. Meals, drinks and transportation to and from the port are not included. For rates and availability for specific dates, call the reservations center.
How to Get There: Take a taxi for the 15-minute ride.
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino
What You Get for Your Money: Conveniently, this resort offers with-room and without-room options. If you'd like daytime use of accommodations, the cost is $125 per party (the more of you there are, the lower the price per individual). Without a room, the cost is $35 per person. Either way, pass holders are entitled to use of the resort's pool, spa and restaurant. Meals, drinks and spa treatments cost extra, but pass holders get a 15 percent discount at the spa, 10 percent at the restaurant and 10 free tokens for the casino (for the over-18's, of course.)
How to Get There: From port, this resort is just 15 minutes by taxi.
Timothy Beach Resort
What You Get for Your Money: Timothy now offers two packages. The first, for $20 plus tax, is the standard, which includes use of the pool, beach chairs and towels, one entree salad from the lunch menu along with a rum punch, fruit punch, soft drink or local beer. The deluxe pass, for $41 plus tax, offers all of the above plus a welcome rum or fruit punch, an appetizer with lunch and two additional drinks from the beach or restaurant bar. Children go for half price with both packages.
How to Get There:Timothy Beach is located just three miles from the cruise port; a taxi will get you there.
Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa
What You Get for Your Money: If you're traveling with your family or as part of a group, this resort in St. Maarten offers day passes for up to two adults and two children for $99, though rates may change seasonally. The price includes the use of a room between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., as well as use of the resort's pool, lounge chairs, beach and towels. Meals and drinks are not included.
How to Get There: Expect a half-hour taxi ride from port.
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino
What You Get for Your Money: Passes here include use of all resort facilities, including the pool, beach chairs, towels and umbrellas when available, as well as unlimited food and beverages during the day. Prices are $60 per adult. Children are not permitted at this resort. Day pass offerings are subject to change over peak season, so check the Sonesta website for updates.
How to Get There: Your taxi ride from port will take between 15 and 20 minutes.
Sugar Bay Resort & Spa
What You Get for Your Money: From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., day pass holders get breakfast and lunch, unlimited drinks and access to the pool, beach (including snorkeling and kayaking gear), spa, the resort's fitness center, sauna and hot tub facilities. Additionally, pass holders may utilize the resort's mini-golf courses and tennis courts. The cost is $85 per adult, half price for kids three to 18 and free for tots under three. The fitness center and spa do incur additional charges.
How to Get There: A taxi from the cruise port will get you there in 20 minutes.
Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
What You Get for Your Money: For $65 per adult and $50 per child 13 to 18 (children ages 12 and under admitted free), you have access to the beach area, chairs, towels and beach gear as well as the pool and sports courts. You are also invited to utilize the resort's restaurants. Room access, meals and drinks are not included.
How to Get There: Frenchman's Reef can be reached by taxi within 15 minutes.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor; updated by by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Cruise Critic contributor