Half Moon Cay -- the Carnival-owned private island in the Bahamas -- looks like a movie set of a beach. The sand is pristinely white, with nary a scratchy shell or untoward piece of seaweed, while the turquoise waters are welcomingly warm.
The cabanas are painted in vivid colors, and the bars have quaint thatched roofs and inviting Adirondack chairs -- or are set inside a faux pirate ship. You have to try to have a bad time at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.
Based on our visit to the Carnival private island, here are six great ways to spend your day in Half Moon Cay.
If you're more of an experience-focused traveler, there are fortunately plenty of things to do in Carnival's Half Moon Cay to satisfy your wanderlust. Book a tour to go snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding or even horseback riding on the beach. We had wondered if excursions on a Carnival private island were worth it, but by all accounts, they are.
We talked to people who saw sharks, barracudas and stingrays, as well as plenty of stunning fish, just by kayaking on the lagoon. We did a three-mile bike ride that took us all over the island and even got glimpses of the rays ourselves.
No need to plan -- just put on your swimsuit, grab a lounge chair and let the day go where it will. You could kick back on the patio of the "I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever" bar with a cold beer or daiquiri. If you're feeling a little restless, try renting a water bike for an hour. The option to simply take a dip in that sublime Caribbean water is always available, too.
If you've got little ones in tow, hit the beach and walk toward the tender boats. At the far end, there's a fabulous water play area for kids with water slides, a dump-and-spray area and even a giant shooting fountain.
Pack a few sand toys and floaties, and you'll be here all day (or until nap time). If the Half Moon Cay weather is surprisingly cool or you want to change things up, head to the pirate ship-themed playground on the other side of the road. Regardless of the weather, rest assured that there are plenty of things to do with the kids.
If you want to get away from the crowds and the noise, head for the far end of the beach (to your right). Past the last lifeguard stand, you'll find a stand of trees with hammocks and shade -- and far fewer people. Beyond that, you've got the beach mostly to yourself until the horseback riders come through, at least. Just use caution when swimming.
If you want to be where the action is, set up by the pirate ship, flag down a roving waiter for a bucket of beer or "twister drink" (corkscrew-shaped straw cups of fruity frozen beverages) and dance in the sand to the blaring music coming from the ship.
Really go for gold in the wacky beach games that take place here. Just arrive early enough to stake out loungers before the crowds descend.
If you've got enough people traveling together, and you book early enough, you can snag one of the coveted two-story beach villas (for a fee). Villas A, B and C are near the pirate ship action (and noise) while D and E will get you away from all the hubbub.
Bring a football or Frisbee for some shallow water games, or make use of the snorkel gear and floats that come with your rental. If you feel so inclined, you can take a stellar group photo here with your friends and/or family to commemorate your trip together.