Princess Cays is an exclusive port of call for those enjoying a Princess Cruise to the Bahamas. Surrounded by clear warm waters and coral reefs teeming with marine life, it’s a beautiful place to experience life in paradise!
You might be wondering how you can possibly fill a whole day of your vacation on an isolated sandy island, so let’s show you around! Once you have seen all the activities and opportunities available when you visit beautiful Princess Cays, you’ll definitely be adding a Princess Cruise to your bucket list!
First let’s answer some quick questions you might have about Princess Cays…
Where is Princess Cays?
Princess Cays is situated at the southern end of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. Eleuthera is part of the Great Bahama Bank, approximately 70 miles east of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas archipelago.
Although the name “Princess Cays” suggests a series of sandy islands and atolls, it is actually an exclusive resort at one end of this long island.
How Big is Princess Cays?
Princess Cays covers an area of 40 acres at the south end of Eleuthera Island. Covering 176 square miles, Eleuthera is 100 miles long and about two miles wide.
In fact, it is the 8th largest island in the Bahamas (out of over 700 islands and 2,400 cays spread across 5,358 square miles).
Who Owns Princess Cays?
Princess Cays is owned by Carnival Corporation which operates Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line. Princess Cays is used by both cruise lines as an exclusive port of call as part of a Bahamas cruise itinerary.
Quick Facts about Eleuthera
The island of Eleuthera has over 11,000 inhabitants and offers some fascinating highlights best discovered on a guided tour (see below). One of the best known residents is singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz who recorded a song called Eleutheria (Freedom) in 1993. The word “Eleuthera” comes from the Greek word for “free”.
The island was originally settled by Arawak Indians, who had migrated from South America in the 9th century. It became known as the “Birthplace of the Bahamas”. Settlers arrived at Preacher’s Cave in the mid-17th century.
From the 1950s to the 1980s the island was used for agriculture and became prosperous from the export of sweet juicy pineapples.
In 1973, the Bahamas gained independence from Britain and became the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. After that, the island’s economy focused on tourism, which is now the main source of income.
Eleuthera was severely affected by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 when high winds and an 18-foot tidal surge devastated the low-lying coastal areas.
In March 2019, 700 acres of Eleuthera at Lighthouse Point was purchased by Disney Cruise Line. They plan to develop their own cruise port resort at a cost of around $400 million. As part of the agreement with the Bahamian government, they will donate 190 acres, including the southernmost tip of Eleuthera, as a protected national park.
What’s the Weather like at Princess Cays?
The Bahamas enjoys a tropical climate with very little variation in temperature throughout the seasons. Average daytime highs reach 75°F (24°C) in winter and around 85°F (29°C) in summer, when it may be more humid with thunderstorms.
The islands get more rain in the wet season, which runs from June through October. It generally falls as short-but-heavy afternoon showers which quickly pass.
During the winter, the islands have a dry, sunny climate making it the perfect place to escape from wintry weather in North America and Europe.
What to Expect at Princess Cays
Princess Cays boasts over 1.5 miles of gorgeous soft white sandy shoreline and is carefully maintained as a natural paradise. There are three beach areas: the Main Shore; Little Bay which is a short walk from the marina, and the adults only beach at The Sanctuary.
There’s music and organized entertainment if you want to join in. The Junkanoo is a beach party with traditional Bahamian music, costumes and dance.
As well as idyllic white sandy beaches and clear aquamarine waters, Princess Cays is ideal for watersports, fishing and snorkeling. The warm sunny climate makes it perfect for all types of outdoor activities – or relaxing and doing absolutely nothing at all!
Youngsters can enjoy the supervised sandy play area at Pelican’s Perch which has a replica galleon for young pirates.
Surrounded by coral reefs and mangroves, Princess Cays is excellent for snorkeling. You will see plenty of colorful marine fish, anemones, different types of corals, and other sea creatures if you’re lucky. Keep your eyes open for sponges, giant clams, stingrays, dolphins, and turtles.
You can rent equipment or use your own and snorkel right off the beach. More advanced snorkelers wanting a better experience away from the crowds can take a boat tour that includes snorkel equipment.
If you like a more active day, there are volleyball and basketball courts for joining in some team fun.
The resort has over 3,000 beach chairs scattered around so you don’t have to pay for a nice comfortable beach chair.
Private cabanas and air-conditioned beach bungalows are available to rent, but you need to book ahead of time. Ideal for families, these brightly colored bungalows are equipped with beach chairs and provide shade overlooking the beach.
Couples will love having their own private escape with a Beach Clamshell rental that includes two comfortable beach chairs for lazing.
Princess Cays has its own Craft Market selling handcrafted items made in the Bahamas. Visit the Princess Tropical Treasures Boutique for some colorful island/beachwear. Other shops are run by local vendors with plenty of souvenirs, T-shirts, hats, shells and other regional items.
You’ll find all kinds of watersports rentals at Princess Cays including kayaking, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, paddlewheelers, stand-up paddleboarding and banana boat rides that always end it with a dunking!
Tours, Excursions and Add-on Experiences at Princess Cays
Guided Bus Tours
You might want the opportunity to see more of Eleuthera during your visit. Guided bus tours are available and will transport guests in air-conditioned comfort on a scenic drive. See the main highlights of this 110-mile long island which has just one main highway.
Points of interest include gorgeous pink sandy beaches, quaint towns such as Rock Sound, caves and unusual geological formations such as the Glass Window Bridge. Experience true Bahamian life with local churches, schools and markets.
Dune Buggy Adventure
Follow a guide along the back roads while driving your own Dune Buggy to a beautiful pink sand beach.
The trip includes a visit to a saltwater lagoon and the bottomless ocean hole at Rock Sound. Prepare to get dusty!
Explore walking trails through nature, visit display gardens and see the native habitat at the 25-acre Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve with an environmental education center.
Island Bike Tour
Lasting 90 minutes, this leisurely bike ride explores Princess Cays’ scenery while learning about local history from your guide. Helmets and bikes are included but guests should bring their own sunscreen.
The tour takes in the Straw Market, a sparkling lagoon, and the Salt Pond, once home to a prosperous 19th-century salt industry. The final stop is the Princess Cays Wishing Well.
Surf Fishing Tour
Cast a line and see what you can hook on this 2.5-hour fishing tour. You’ll be fishing from a stretch of rocky coastline using a spinning reel. Line and bait included. Catch and release is preferred as fish cannot be taken back onboard.
Long-line fishing is banned in local waters around Eleuthera. This helps maintain the diversity of marine life including sharks and rays.
This one-hour Coastal Cruise is the perfect way to enjoy the calm water and stunning scenery as you sail around the southern tip of Eleuthera Island. Sit back and admire rolling hills and the fragmented coastline edged with soft white sand and gentle waves. It’s idyllic!
To see more marine life, book a place on a Glass-bottom Boat Cruise which lasts about an hour. Sail past coastal mangroves and quiet lagoons before reaching pristine coral reefs inhabited by colorful species of fish. Large glass windows allow you to look down and admire fish feeding and swimming through the corals and anemones.
The Coastal Cruise, Snorkel and Float combines a boat trip on a 35-seater motor vessel with time for snorkeling offshore. All equipment is provided.
Stingrays are common in these shallow warm waters and the chance to get up-close is always popular with nature lovers and curious youngsters aged 6 and above.
The tour takes place on a private beach. Guests are provided with a snorkel vest and water shoes. Guides provide a safety briefing and some interesting facts about stingrays before participants enter the waist-high water.
Southern stingrays will quickly come around in search of food. It’s a unique opportunity to stroke their velvety skin as you hand-feed them.
Back on dry land, you’ll have time to change into dry clothes before a show-and-tell offers more opportunities to handle sea stars and learn about the national food in the Bahamas – the conch. Bring your camera!
What Equipment Rentals are Available at Princess Cays?
To make the most of your fun day at Princess Cays you can rent a full range of equipment for your visit. These include:
- Water noodles
- Floating beds
- Aqua chairs
- Snorkel vests
- Ocean-view sea boards (one hour)
- Kayaks (one or 2 person)
- Stand-up paddleboards (2 or 4 person)
- Aqua bikes
Princess Cays Transportation
Due to the shallow waters, cruise ships anchor offshore and guests are transferred ashore by tender (ship’s ferries). This makes the port of call unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
The tenders drop you at the Love Boat Marina just a short walk from the beach. Once ashore, all the facilities at Princess Cays are connected by boardwalks which helps preserve the fragile nature of this coral-based island.
There is a motorized cart which provides transport to the private beach bungalows.
Eat and Drink Like a Castaway
Food and some drinks are provided free at Princess Cays. There’s a full buffet and BBQ at Grill Crazy and the Sea Breeze Grill. Cruisers can help themselves to delicious meats, salads, bread, fruit and desserts.
Soft drinks are available with your meal and four bars around the resort serve alcoholic cocktails, icy coolers and other drinks. These are free for those with an all-inclusive drinks package. Other cruisers can charge the drinks to their stateroom account.
Tips for Enjoying a Day at Princess Cays
A day at Princess Cays should be treated like any other shore excursion. Apart from the free experiences, everything needs to be booked ahead of time, so don’t get caught out!
If you want to rent snorkel equipment, kayaks, paddlewheelers, beach bungalows, cabanas and water sports, you must complete a Tour Order Form onboard and hand it in at the Customer Relations Desk well ahead of the visit.
Get up early and be among the first in line for the tenders to avoid a very long wait. If you book a morning tour, you will automatically be given priority boarding tickets for the tender. Good to know!
Bring cash ashore with you as the local vendors only accept payment in US dollars.
Private Cruise Islands in the Bahamas
There are now several private islands and resorts in the Bahamas offering exclusive activities for cruisers. You can read about them all on CruiseHive!
Princess Cays FAQs
Princess Cays is located at the southern end of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It is approximately 70 miles east of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas archipelago.
Princess Cays is exclusively visited by Princess and Carnival cruise ships.
Just as onboard, there is a free buffet and BBQ near the Princess Cays pier for cruisers to enjoy an excellent selection of delicious meats, salads and desserts.
Main Photo Credit: Vlad Ispas / Shutterstock.com