Updated: September 2023
Throughout the past few years, cruise lines have introduced their own private islands; havens of relaxation and tropical fun, these private islands are located in several different destinations throughout the world. Owned by major cruise lines, from Disney Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean, the amenities and features on these islands turn your cruise getaway up a notch.
Things to do on a Private Island
These stunning destinations have really taken off in the cruise industry and cruisers love them. While most of them offer similar amenities, many boast unique features that give them an edge over the others. From decadent restaurants, to watersports facilities, there's so many things to do on these private islands.
With most of the main cruise lines owning or renting a private island, it can be tricky to determine which you’d most like to visit. We've created a list of the top 10 private islands, including the top highlights of each of them to help you narrow down which one you want to visit!
1) Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line
- Great for families and kids
- Adult-only beach available
Set in the crystal clear Bahamian waters, Castaway Cay is like a mini Disney World in the middle of the ocean. Disney has only developed less than 10% of the island but in that 10% lies a stunning island jam-packed with fun activities and adventures for everyone.
You can enjoy an array of exciting activities including kayaking, water sports, snorkelling, stingray interactions and water parks. Twenty premium furnished cabanas can be hired on both Castaway Family Beach and on adult-only Serenity Bay Beach to have your own exclusive base for the day. In true Disney style the popular Disney characters enjoy time on the private island too and host various beach activities, so don’t forget to grab a photo when you see them!
Take a look at Disney Cruise Line deals.
2) Labadee, Royal Caribbean International
- Great for families and kids
- Adventurous, action-packed entertainment
A 260-acre private beach located on the northern coast of Haiti, Labadee is one of the most breath-taking private islands. This sun-drenched area is lined with turquoise blue water, sky-scraping mountains and lush jungles, putting you right in the middle of paradise.
Labadee is home to an extensive array of activities, including a zipline, roller-coaster, water park, sand-dune trips, jet-skis, parasailing, snorkelling and much more. Though the island is completely tourist-oriented, locals will present a Haitian market for guests to purchase beautiful handmade souvenirs. When it is time for lunch you do not need to head back to the ship either, as a huge BBQ is laid out on the island with everything from grilled meat to salads, pastas and desserts.
Take a look at Royal Caribbean cruise deals.
3) CocoCay, Royal Caribbean International
- Great for snorkelling
- Amazing for sea life and diving
CocoCay is another one of Royal Caribbean’s private islands and also lies perfectly in the Bahamian Sea. Although smaller than Labadee, it still offers an array of fun activities including water slides, jet-skis and pedalos. The snorkelling at CocoCay offers some of the best underwater sightings around with a sunken plane wreck that attracts an array of distinctive marine life. After an exhausting day of fun-filled activities, hire a floating beach mat and simply relax in the unbelievably crystal clear water.
Alongside the main resort, on Perfect Day at CocoCay you'll find Hideaway Beach. If you’re looking for a fun and vibrant adults-only escape, look no further than the new Royal Caribbean’s new resort. The ultimate tropical paradise, there are several highlights throughout the resort, from the swim-up Hideaway Bar to delicious all-American favourites at the Snack Shack. Alternatively, you can head over to The Hideout or Hideaway Cabanas to indulge in delicious cocktails whilst relaxing in comfortable seats! Opening in January 2024, this lively resort offers so many ways to unwind, party and have an unforgettable time!
Top 5 Highlights of Hideaway Beach:
- Hideaway Swim-Up Bar: Delight in a refreshing swim, sip on your favourite cocktail and enjoy the beats of the talented DJ at the cool Hideaway Swim-Up Bar. Take in the picturesque views of the breathtaking resort, relax on one of the loungers or party the day away – the choice is yours!
- Snack Shack: Satisfy your cravings at Snack Shack, and choose from a selection of mouth-watering food from burgers to chicken sandwiches and fresh salads.
- Hideaway Cabanas: Unwind and indulge in a tantalising drink in a Hideaway Cabana. Moments away from the resort’s party scene, these cabanas are a wonderful place to relax whilst in Hideaway Beach. Want to elevate your experience? Opt for a VIP experience with a Hideout Cabana.
- On the Rocks: Feel the tropical vibes and enjoy the Bahamian breeze as you sip on a frozen margarita, listen to live music or take part in a fun shuffleboard competition.
- Hideaway Beach: Whether you enjoy a revitalising swim in the sea or relax onshore, you’ll have a fantastic time on Hideaway Beach. An adult’s wonderland, the golden sands and turquoise blue water are the perfect setting for your day at this awe-inspiring resort.
4) Perfect Day at Lelepa, Royal Caribbean International
- Great for adventure
- Amazing for snorkelling and cave exploration
Created with sustainability at the forefront of the South Pacific island, Lelepa is a paradise of stunning ecosystems, outdoor adventure and relaxation. By developing a partnership with the community of Vanuatu, Oceania, Lelepa showcases the unique diversity of the island while creating employment and educational opportunities. Perfect Day at Lelepa will have a distinct feel from CocoCay, creating more choice for guests to relax in their ideal destination.
5) Catalina Island, Costa Cruises
- Ideal for couples
- Peaceful and intimate setting
Located off the coast of the Dominican Republic, this relaxing paradise is home to a long stretch of picture-perfect beaches with pure white sand and swaying palm trees. There’s no shortage of activities for the adventurous on Catalina Island, such as jet ski and banana-boat rides, while you can also sit in the shade and learn how to hack into a coconut, or embrace the sun onboard a catamaran.
Engines are banned on Costa Cruises’ section of the island, creating a perfect oasis of peace and quiet for guests to relish in. Wildlife also thrives here, so keep an eye out onshore and among the gorgeous barrier reef which is hugely popular for diving.
Take a look at Costa Cruises' cruise deals.
6) Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line
- Travel Weekly’s Readers’ Choice Award winner
- Great for families and kids
Half Moon Cay is said to be the highest-rated port of call for Holland America Cruises’ fans wanting to cruise the Caribbean. Located on the Little San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, it boasts over 2,400 acres of paradise.
This is definitely one of the most picturesque of the private islands and is so unspoilt the Bahamian National Trust made it an international wild bird preserve. Miles of powder-soft white sand is lined with crystal-clear water that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling in but don’t forget to leave time for horseback riding, kayaking and deep-sea fishing. With a waterpark for children, this is the perfect destination for families, and for couples, be sure check out the chapel for weddings and vow renewals!
Other Carnival Corporation cruise lines do stop off at Half Moon Cay, but when Holland America Line is in port HAL guests have exclusive use of the island.
7) Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line
- Many dining and bar options
- Great for families and kids
This sun-drenched island is part of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. Norwegian Cruise Line brought the island in 1977 and have developed it over the years into a popular tropical haven.
Like the other private islands, a wide selection of activities are available including snorkelling, jet-skiing, para-sailing and the world’s largest water slide. A complimentary beach BBQ is held at lunchtime, as well as a selection of bars scattered around the island to grab your favourite cocktail. Reserve a beautiful private cabana to enjoy with friends and family as you gaze out onto relaxing views of Bertram’s Cove, and for animal lovers, don’t forget to take a swim with Bahamian pigs and grab plenty of snaps for Instagram!
Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to introduce a private island and also recently developed another private island, Harvest Caye in Belize.
8) Princess Cays, Princess Cruises
- Water sports rental activities
- Great for families and kids
Princess Cays is situated on more than 40 acres and extends over half a mile of sandy shoreline. Located in the pristine islands of the Bahamas, it offers a tranquil beach bursting with fun amenities and even has its own accessible airport.
A market is laid out for you to purchase local crafts with a large lunch spread on offer. A unique feature on Princess Cays is the Observation Tower where you can relish the spectacular views of this stunning island, while there is also no shortage of rental opportunities so you can take part in water sports. For romantic getaways, enjoy a private, air-conditioned bungalow near the beach, creating your own little corner of paradise.
9) The Beach Club, Virgin Voyages
- Adults only
- 'Retox and detox' mantra
- Exclusive DJ Mark Ronson appearances on select dates
To give guests a true taste of the rock-star lifestyle, Virgin Voyages take guests onboard Scarlet Lady itineraries to an exclusive beach club in Bimini, the Bahamas. This island will show you how to ‘retox and detox’ with lazy days on a beach, diving to the SS Sapona shipwreck, yoga and meditation, followed by wild pool parties. Whether you decide to catch the sun with your favourite cocktail every day or get out and about on thrilling excursions, this island is a paradise for everyone.
Dance the night away as the sun goes down over an extravagant pool party at the lagoon, with plenty of refreshing drinks and delicious cuisines on offer, or settle down at a beach bonfire with the soundtrack of the ocean and acoustic tunes.
See our article - Virgin Voyages Announce Name of New Ship to find out more about the incredible Scarlet Lady.
Take a look at Virgin Voyages cruise deals.
10) Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises
- Great for environmentally-conscious activities
- Perfect for relaxation and enrichment
Designed to give guests the chance to get in touch with nature, Ocean Cay boasts lush natural surroundings with an abundance of vibrant wildlife and marine life.
After undergoing a transformation, the island is now home to 64 square miles of marine reserve, making for great snorkelling opportunities. As well as enjoying watersports, guests will also be able to indulge in award-winning spa experiences at The Spa Ocean Cay. With white-sand beaches and a stunning sunset providing the backdrop to a peaceful yoga session, Ocean Cay will truly transport you to ultimate serenity.
Future Cruise Line Private Islands
Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, Disney Cruise Line
Opening in summer 2024, Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is an exciting new Disney Cruise Line resort with lots to do for both children and adults alike. The moment you arrive on the island you’ll be greeted by an extraordinary celebration of Bahamian culture with the Bahamian Art and Culture Pavilion and several cultural influences created in partnership with local artists. Alongside this unique feature on the island, you can take advantage of several delicious eateries, private cabanas, an adult-exclusive beach, kid’s club and more!
Celebration Key - Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line’s first private destination, Celebration Key will be opening in 2025. With fun and adventure at its heart, this private destination offers leisure activities, including games, watersports and more for families and adults. There’s even Bahamian-operated retail, food and beverage options; which present the ultimate opportunities to immerse yourself into the local culture. With more information about the destination to come, it’s clear that Celebration Key is set to be an extraordinary destination in Grand Bahama.
Royal Beach Club, Royal Caribbean
Opening in 2025, the tranquil and tropical Royal Beach Club resort is another exciting destination offered by Royal Caribbean. Spanning 17 acres, throughout the island you’ll find delicious eateries, bars, 3 swimming pools and lots of watersports to enjoy! There’s even a swim-up bar and private cabanas that you can rent for the day.
Why a private island should be your next destination
Whether you’re travelling with friends, family or going solo, there is a private island idyllic for you with something for everyone to do. Make lifelong memories at an exclusive destination, enjoy a range of delicious dining options and take part in thrilling activities you won’t find anywhere else. Combined with multiple stunning destinations along the journey, a stop on a private island is the cherry on the cake of a fantastic cruise holiday. Take a look at our Caribbean cruise deals and experience a private island for yourself.