Many major cruise lines have private islands out in the Caribbean, and Royal Caribbean is no exception. In fact, they actually have two — Labadee (in Haiti) and CocoCay (in the Bahamas). CocoCay is the one that has been recently updated and upgraded, and as we have said in earlier posts, CocoCay is definitely worth a visit. That said, frequently prospective cruise passengers want to know what to do at CocoCay for free.
You can definitely spend a full day at CocoCay without spending any additional money and still have fun! So keep reading to learn what additional fun can be had without any additional costs.
What To Do At CocoCay For Free – Is There A Free Beach?
CocoCay has multiple beautiful beaches around the island, and access to all of them except one is entirely free. You get complimentary access to three main beaches: There’s Harbor Beach, Chill Island, and South Beach. Each location has a unique draw, from the closeness of Harbor Beach to Skipper’s Grill and the ship’s port to the powdery shores of Chill Island.
You can use the free tram to move to the different beaches on the island. You don’t have to panic about missing the tram service and getting stuck in an area you’ve already thoroughly enjoyed, as the tram line runs every 15 minutes. Transport goes between South Beach, Thrill Waterpark, Coco Beach Club, Up, Up and Away, Oasis Lagoon, and Chill Island.
While we’re mentioning accessibility, there’s also a limited number of complimentary beach access wheelchairs that you can pick up at two specified locations on CocoCay. The island also offers complimentary beach strollers on a first-come-first-served basis.
These beach spots are appropriately named. Harbor beach is near the dock, Chill Island is fantastic for relaxing, and South Beach is for when you want to be active and sweat on a sports court.
There are both hard and sand courts for shooting hoops, spiking volleyballs and playing less-strenuous games like cornhole at Breezy Bay’s Sports Pavilion. Although South Beach is farthest away from the main pier, it still attracts lots of visitors and tends to be quite lively.
There’s no music at Chill Island, making it the quietest beach on the island, perfect for a laid-back retreat. Plenty of free umbrellas and reclining beach chairs will allow you to read a book or people-watch swimmers in the salty waters.
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Another lovely thing about the beaches is that you don’t have to rush to find a spot when the ship docks. Royal Caribbean has counted and says there are 12,000 umbrellas and 6,000 lounge chairs to choose from when you arrive at Chill Island on CocoCay. (All complimentary)
Locker real estate for valuables and spare clothes is part of the beach’s complimentary amenities. Complimentary life vests are kept clean to enjoy the waters even if you aren’t the strongest swimmer. Likewise, you will find several strategically placed towel stations.
You can also enjoy a day of snorkeling and treasure hunting away from people’s feet without paying anything extra if you bring gear from home. Snorkeling as an activity is free for every guest, with equipment rentals being the only cost involved for those without. (For those who plan ahead, you can usually grab reasonably priced snorkel gear for both adults and kids on Amazon or your local big box discount store.)
Visit Oasis Lagoon: The Free Pool Experience
If you are more of a freshwater person, then feel free to visit Oasis Lagoon free of charge. Royal Caribbean says that the freshwater pool here is the largest in the Caribbean. Given that it’s larger than 30,000 square feet, that seems likely! Unlike Chill Island, Oasis Lagoon is lively, with music above ground and underwater and an Instagram-worthy swim-up bar.
When you go underwater in Oasis Lagoon, the surround sound of curated upbeat music keeps you swimming much longer than you had intended.
Oasis Lagoon also has several coves that are unique from each other that you can freely explore whenever you so desire. Like the free beaches, the lagoon doesn’t leave you standing wet and dripping after your swim, as you get complimentary towels, beach chairs, and umbrellas.
The towel stations peppered throughout the area are especially useful as you tend to get wet often when you’re at the beach. You won’t want for a fresh towel, as the island has them strategically placed, and all you have to do is walk up and exchange your wet towel for a dry one.
Are Food And Drinks Free On CocoCay?
You will find an abundance of complimentary food and non-alcoholic beverages on the island.
You get free rein at the buffets in the Chill Grill and Skipper’s Grill, the two large pavilions on the island. These buffet spots serve the same food at no extra cost and are located on opposite ends of the island.
These two buffet spots primarily serve different types of sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, corn cobs, chicken, fries, a taco station, many salad variations, and so forth. You also get water and juice dispensers to do your hydration bidding at both of these spots, not to mention the mountain of soft-serve ice cream you can have to cool down your throat.
Because soft-serve ice creams and chocolate cookies are at your disposal, you can make yourself an island-made ice-cream cookie sandwich.
There are also a few Snack Shacks littered across CocoCay that let you order your free food, in case you’re not too keen on sunbaked buffets. Although the food selection is smaller than the buffets, you still get a lovely selection of food at any of the Snack Shacks, like tacos, sandwiches, and funnel cakes. The food quality here is often better than anywhere else on the island.
The merriment doesn’t stop here. People who bought a Royal Caribbean drink package to use during their cruise can enjoy the same package perks while at CocoCay. So Deluxe Beverage Package holders can have unlimited alcoholic drinks as well as bottled water, sparkling water, soft drinks, freshly squeezed juices, and everything liquid and edible.
You can also use your drinks package at South Beach’s floating bar. It’s in shallow seawater, so it’s not a swim-up bar, but the short ladder you climb up to get on reminds you that the tiki bar is technically in the water.
At South Beach, you can spot some fish around your feet from the moment you dip your toes in on your way to the floating bar. It’s also a nice change of pace for everyone who needs to use a life jacket before they can let down their guard and enjoy the tranquil surf.
Snack Shack also reportedly offers secret menu items to the discerning traveler. Just politely ask for the unlisted chicken parmigiana sandwich. You’ll be pleased you asked, as reviews say the sandwich has all the crispy chicken sandwich’s crispiness, the cheesy mozzarella sticks’ cheesy flare, and the juicy qualities of marinara sauce.
There are still several smaller specialty bars and kiosks that charge for alcohol and buffalo wings, just in case the urge to spend in paradise overtakes you.
Are Rides At Cococay Free?
Access to Thrill Waterpark requires an extra fee. But all of the heart-jolting rides and waterslides are included in the admission price once you’re inside. It’s not a situation that requires an entrance fee and separate charges for each attraction. Admission also gives you access to all the pools found in Thrill Waterpark.
Before you have to set sail, you can pre-book admission into Thrill Waterpark using Cruise Planner.
Pre-purchased tickets come with an early bird-of-sorts discount and save you some money. You can also keep an eye on the Cruise Planner site, as Royal Caribbean regularly tempts planners with Thrill Waterpark sales.
Although a bit pricey, this pass gives you all-day access to all the attractions in the park. There are also umbrellas and lounge chairs for anyone that prefers to chaperone rather than return to their childhood days by joining in on the fun.
Why Pay For Thrill Waterpark Access?
Thrill Waterpark has attractions for everyone that considers themselves a “big kid” even when they’ve exceeded the biological timer to be classified as such.
One of the draws of this water wonderland is those attractions go from a 135-foot waterslide that coerces shrieks to one of the largest wave pools in the Caribbean to let you flex your surfing prowess.
You’ll find two waterslide areas: Daredevil’s Tower and Splash Summit.
In Daredevil’s Tower, you have five rides, almost all of them with views of the entire island. The 135-foot Daredevil’s Peak is this area’s main attraction, with its status as one of the tallest waterslides in North America.
The next slide is 75 feet in height and drops from a vertical, while the following two 50-foot slides allow for a steeper descent and a ride full of twists and turns. The last slide is more forgiving and allows two people to slide down the open flume slides.
Splash Summit has slides for partnered experiences with Sling Shot, allowing up to four riders to ride on a raft and experience weightlessness before plunging downward.
Along with the wave pool, there’s also the adventure pool with lily pads to bounce on, a swing rope, and other obstacles to maneuver through.
You can still enjoy some free privileges even while inside the park, as there’s a trusty Snack Shack for all the complimentary food you enjoy around the island.
The Water Park also has lockers available for storage. Unfortunately, you might not stay long enough to use these lockers if you come with small children, as most of the slides in the park have a minimum requirement of 40 to 48 inches.
Splashaway Bay is Free
While Thrill Waterpark has an admission charge, there is a small aqua park for younger kids that’s complimentary for all guests. Namely, Splashaway Bay’s Aqua Park next to the Oasis Lagoon has many kid-friendly attractions that’ll satisfy those little hearts.
CocoCay’s version of Splashaway Bay has fountains, geysers, sprinklers, water cannons, slightly less heart-stopping slides, and drench buckets. Your children will be giggling and entertained for hours. The area also has seating for adults, so you can supervise the sun-soaked fun while catching your breath.
Any child under 48 inches and 200 pounds can play on the Splashaway Bay attractions. Also, adjacent to Splashaway Bay, you’ll find a giant pirate ship attraction that’s also free.
Can You Go To Cococay Without An Excursion?
You can absolutely enjoy the island without doling out additional funds. Treat CocoCay like any other port call that has some added perks. Yawn, stretch, walk right off the ship, and take an unsupervised stroll around CocoCay. You aren’t required to commit to a paid tour or excursion to be able to be allowed to enjoy the island.
Island admission is all part of your Perfect Day at CocoCay and allows you to enjoy the floral beauty of the island. You can go on the marked Nature Trail, which shows the island’s rich vegetation as you wind between Cove Beach and South Beach.
Does Cococay Have Shopping?
CocoCay’s Island Market at Chill Island has many shops where you can buy island souvenirs, including some Bahamian crafts that you can save as gifts for any upcoming birthdays. Before you even begin shopping, you can walk around Straw Market’s re-creation of a Bahamian village.
There are brightly colored cottages and artisan huts where you can buy locally made crafts using your SeaPass card or US dollars. Get there early because you can’t use your SeaPass after 14:30, but you can use your dollars all day.
Is There Anything Else That’s Free Or Included At Cococay?
Besides knowing that there are a limited number of free hammocks around the island, you should know that other items carry over from packages bought onboard the cruise. For instance, your WIFI access carries over if you bought a WIFI package to use while cruising.
Wondering where you can find one of these hammocks? Find some hammocks behind Chill Island’s Snorkel Shack and Oasis Lagoon.
The answer to “what to do at CocoCay for free” is quite a lot, actually! From food to nature trails to exploring three unique beaches, you’ll have no problem enjoying CocoCay for free.