Visiting CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's Private Bahamas Isle, with Kids
Royal Caribbean recently debuted a massive renovation (and renaming) of its private CocoCay Bahamas island. The brand-new "Perfect Day at CocoCay" Caribbean destination now offers three beach areas, a stunning freshwater pool, a helium balloon ride — and what's billed as the water park with the tallest slide in North America. New dining areas, more water sports, zip lines, and additional updates were added to the refresh.
I was invited on the Royal Caribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale to see the 125-acre upgrades, including brand-new "floating" cabanas that debuted in January 2020. Read on for what to do at Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas, how to get there, and what it might cost your family.
Find more resorts, cruises, and things to do in our Bahamas Family Travel Guide.
A water park, pools, and more await at CocoCay Bahamas.
More and more cruise lines are offering excursions to private islands. It's a chance to disembark and explore with fewer crowds and lines, while still exploring a tropical island. My family has enjoyed Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay and Carnival’s cruise to Princess Cays—both in the Bahamas—so I was excited to explore nearby Perfect Day.
Royal Caribbean Cruise to CocoCay Bahamas
Guests can only arrive at CocoCay Bahamas via a Royal Caribbean cruise—and a stop at the isle is included in the cruise fare. While visiting the island is FREE for cruisers, there are some attractions here that will cost you extra (more info on this later). Families will love that there are a variety of cruises to reach Perfect Day at CocoCay. If you want to try a seven-night cruise from New Jersey or even just a two-night Caribbean cruise from Ft. Lauderdale that only stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay, there is a cruise that will take you there.
The length of time you’ll stay on Perfect Day at CocoCay will depend on the specific cruise itinerary your family opts for but generally, you can spend the full day, from 7am to 7pm. In the coming months, there are plans for some itineraries to stay docked overnight but guests would still need to return to the ship for sleeping. Just note that there aren't any overnight guest accommodations on CocoCay.
The first thing I loved was the large CocoCay pier to disembark from and the shuttles to take passengers from the ship entrance to the beginning of the island. This may not seem like a big deal on paper but it really is a nice little luxury for tired cruisers. Also, being docked at the pier allows families to come and go at their leisure without much difficulty (or the lines).
Big kids will love the water slides at the water park! Photo courtesy of the Royal Caribbean
What Do You Do on a Perfect Day at CocoCay Bahamas?
The biggest attraction of the Perfect Day at CocoCay skyline is the Thrill Waterpark. With its 13 water slides, a wave pool that Royal Caribbean says is the Caribbean’s largest, and an Adventure Pool with obstacles to conquer, it will be hard to tear the kids away.
Thrillseekers might try Daredevil’s Peak, the one listed as the largest water slide in North America at 135 feet. Other slides in the water park are the Dueling Demons, two Manta Raycers, a Screeching Serpent, and the Green Mamba. If the Daredevil’s Peak doesn’t thrill, then the Dueling Demons with their drop entry that launches guests from standing certainly will.
Fuel up at the Snack Shack, a small food area inside the water park. We found plenty of chairs, shaded seats, and free lockers for stashing items we didn't want to get soaked.
Multi-rider slides and rides were a hit with families.
The Splash Summit is fun for families with six multi-rider slides, which thrill but aren’t nearly as extreme. The Slingshot is a zero-gravity ride for four guests, while the Twister is a tube-slide for dual riders, letting kids and parents ride together.
Keep an eye on the heigh requirements. Most rides required a 48-inch minimum, but there were a couple of rides at 42-inches and 40-inches. Those under 48-inches tall will have to wear a life vest in the pools, too. What parents may not love is the pricing for the Thrill Waterpark as there is an extra cost to enter the water park, including for parents who just want to watch over kids. The pricing varies but starts at $44 for a full day or $39 for a half-day entry for everyone over the age of 3. (Tots can enter for free.) At this time, there isn’t special pricing for non-riders, and anyone under 14 has to arrive with an adult companion.
Water Park, Pools, Beaches, and More Water Slides
Cool off at the wave pool on CocoCay.
Families with younger children or those who want to skip the large water slides, can stick to the free pools, beaches, and other attractions on the isle. Little ones will likely enjoy the free Splashaway Bay with its five smaller water slides, fountains and drench buckets. It's just outside the water park and offers plenty of splash pad fun for little ones.
The freshwater pool on Perfect Day at CocoCay is free to enjoy for Royal Caribbean cruisers.
Another pool on the island is the Oasis Lagoon. It holds the claim as the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool and the party place for everyone. Families will love the zero-entry area with water features while parents can indulge in the swim-up bar.
The white sand beaches are another great place to hang. I found plenty of chairs and umbrellas all around the island. Harbor Beach, a beach on a cove facing the island, offers mellow surf while Chill Island hosts the island’s largest eating area. Chill Island, South Beach, and Coco Beach Club all face the ocean and offer free chairs and umbrellas for lounging. South Beach is where you can find more active pursuits, such as jet skiing or paddleboarding. There are also courts for volleyball, soccer, and basketball.
Ride this giant helium balloon up 450 feet for a one-of-a-kind view. Photo courtesy of the Royal Caribbean
More Fun Attractions for Families
For those seeking a day out of the water, there are a few more entertainment options at Perfect Day at CocoCay. Try the 1,600-foot zip line that goes over the Thrill Waterpark and beach, or just hit a ride with the Up, Up and Away Helium Balloon. It can go up to 450 feet on a clear day and provides a 360-view of the island with a protective barrier on the sides. Both attractions require an extra fee.
Is Perfect Day at CocoCay Worth Visiting with Kids?
Perfect Day at CocoCay is a great destination for cruising families. As a private island deliberately designed to serve cruise ships, I think they've thoughtfully catered to families in terms of activities, cleanliness, and crowds. The only place that I ever saw a line was at the ice cream stand. There were plenty of complimentary food options and always a bathroom nearby, too.
If the cost of the water park is too much, I do think there is enough to do on the island that families can skip it, from the beaches to playing basketball to even a storytime. However, as the mom of two adventurous boys, Thrill Waterpark is worth the added fee for my family.
Perfect Day at CocoCay also felt safe to me. There are lifeguards stationed all around the island, and because it’s a private island, it also felt comfortable in terms of who else was around (as opposed to a port disembarkment). The local artisans and staff who don’t live on the island take a ferry over.
More Tips for Visiting CocoCay Bahamas
- Beach wheelchairs, umbrellas/chairs, towels, lockers, and showers are all free of charge and were easy to find.
- Perfect Day at CocoCay only has room for two cruise ships at a time, minimizing crowds.
- There is a small shopping village with local artisans; it is cash only.
- Point out the chickens and iguanas running around for the kids!.
- There are three complimentary restaurants on CocoCay. They all serve the same buffet menu of sandwiches/salads, BBQ chicken and burgers, and a taco station. There are also self-serve flavors drinks and ice cream at each of the restaurants. The Snack Shacks serve much smaller but similar menus and also are included.
- The one specialty restaurant is Captain Jack’s. It serves wings and fries priced a la carte.
- Trams are available to ferry guests around the 125 acres of Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Families with children of all ages will likely find that Perfect Day at CocoCay is working hard to earn the title of "a perfect day," and I know our family will be back. More attractions are planned, too!
Photos by the author except where noted