When you're cruising the Caribbean, sometimes a hassle-free day at the beach is more appealing than booking a cruise line-sponsored shore excursion or wandering around souvenir shops, sorting through shell art and T-shirts. If you're in the mood for some sun and fun, purchasing a day pass at one of the many resorts lining those gorgeous island shores 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 on-site restaurants, transfers to and from the cruise port or daytime use of resort rooms when available. You might 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's Included: Passes come in three varieties: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $100; 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., $100; and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. (full day pass), $200. 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's Included: 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 nonmotorized water sports, and costs $75 per adult and $45 per child ages 3 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 a half-hour from port; take a taxi.
Occidental Grand Aruba
What's Included: Passes, which are $150 for adults and $75 for children, offer access to amenities including nonmotorized watersports, meals, snack and drinks, from 8 a.m. to 10 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's Included: The day passes offered at this Aruba resort include transportation to the resort's private island, as well as lunch, a drink and dessert. This activity is available beginning at 7 a.m., and the last boat leaves the private island at 6:45 p.m. 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's Included: The Discover Aquaventure pass is priced seasonally from about $120 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's Included: There are two options at Melia. For $35 ($25 for children, ages 12 and under), visitors gain access to the resort's beach and pools and nonmotorized watersports as well as beach chairs and towels. For $55 ($40 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's Included: 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 nonmotorized water sports equipment until 6 p.m. Children 4 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's Included: This pass is offered at $25 per adult, including children older than 2. 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's Included: 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's Included: Passes here are valid for pool and beach access, food and drinks and nonmotorized watersports between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The cost is $65 for adults, children 2 to 11 are half off, and children under 2 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's Included: 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's Included: 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's Included: 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's Included: Passes come in three varieties: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $85; 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., $100; and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. (full day pass), $185. 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's Included: Passes include access to resort pools, water slides, white-sand beaches, activities and games, and nonmotorized water sports. All meals and drinks are also included in the price, which is $80 per adult and $40 per child ages 3 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's Included: 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 Ochi Beach Resort
What's Included: Passes come in three varieties: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $85, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m for $100 or a full day pass (10 a.m. to 2 a.m.) for $185. 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: The resort is a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise port.
El Cid La Ceiba Beach
What's Included: 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, nonmotorized water sports equipment, and unlimited food and beverage throughout the day. Children 6 and under are free and 7 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's Included: 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 $30 per adult and $20 per child ages 12 and under 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's Included: Passes cost $60 per person during low season (May and September) and $80 per person during all other months. Passes include access to the fitness center, pool area, lounge chairs and showers. Meals, drinks and rooms are not included in the standard rate. Access is free for children under the age of 3.
How to Get There: A taxi ride from San Juan's cruise port takes just five minutes.
Intercontinental San Juan
What's Included: Passes here cost $30 per adult and $15 per child. Passes do not cover food and beverages, but include a 20 percent discount for the resort's bars and restaurants. A day pass is valid from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pass holders are entitled to use all resort facilities, including the pool and the beach. Meals, drinks and transportation to and from the port are not included. For rates and availability for specific dates, call the hotel directly.
How to Get There: Take a taxi for the 15-minute ride.
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino
What's Included: Conveniently, this resort offers with-room and without-room options. The cost of daytime use of accommodations varies based on season and availability. We were quoted a day rate of $155 plus tax per day for up to four people in May. Without a room, the cost is $59 per person, and children under the age of 17 get free access with a paying adult. 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 and a 10 percent discount at the restaurant.
How to Get There: From port, this resort is just 15 minutes by taxi.
Timothy Beach Resort
What's Included: Timothy offers two packages, available from mid-July through November. The first, for $25 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 $50 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 ages 12 and under are admitted 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's Included: Ideal for those traveling with family or as part of a group, this resort in St. Maarten offers day passes for up to four guests for $199 from April through December, and $299 from January through March (exact dates vary by year). 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 & Spa
What's Included: 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. Passes cost $89 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's Included: 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), fitness center, spa, sauna and hot tub. Additionally, pass holders may utilize the resort's mini-golf courses and tennis courts. The cost is $100 per adult and $67 for children ages 12 and younger. 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's Included: Passes start at $75 per adult and $55 per child 6 to 12 (children ages 5 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, Editor; updated by Caroline Costello, Cruise Critic contributor