Great Stirrup Cay, The Bahamas
Boasting long stretches of soft, white sandy beach, Great Stirrup Cay offers postcard perfect vistas and loads of that famous Bahaman sunshine. Great Stirrup Cay is owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and was the first Caribbean island to be purchased for the exclusive use of a cruise line.
NCL has invested considerable funds in improving Great Stirrup Cay and in recent years its beaches have been expanded and the island landscaped to create a resort-style escape for visitors. There are many bars for sipping cocktails in the sun and plenty of food at the extensive buffet. The main beach, Bertram Cove, is situated on a tranquil, turquoise lagoon perfect for swimming or simply staring out to sea from the comfort of one of the many sun-loungers. Great Stirrup Cay has plenty of history to explore too, dating back to 106 AD when Lucayan Indians are thought to have settled the island.
As it is a privately owned island, Great Stirrup Cay can only be reached on cruises operated by NCL, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) or Oceania. It is a popular stop, offering a carefree and catered beach escape.
Great Stirrup Cay is an island in the Bahamas. It is located just north of Great Harbour Island and forms one of the Berry Islands. Cruise liners anchor just offshore with tender boats taking visitors on the 5–10 minute journey to the Tender Pavilion, situated in a sheltered marina just off the main beach.
There are plenty of facilities on Great Stirrup Cay, so visitors should remember to bring their stateroom key with them to use as payment. Lunch is provided as part of the cruise package; however alcoholic beverages at the many bars on the island require additional payment. Similarly, renting equipment for water activities such as snorkelling costs extra. NCL has renovated the island recently for the comfort of visitors, so there are now more shaded pavilions in which to relax as well as a bandstand for performances. Necessary amenities, such as restrooms and first aid, are easily accessible at Great Stirrup Cay.
How to Get Around
Most of the facilities at Great Stirrup Cay are located at Bertram’s Cove, only a short walk from the Tender Pavilion. However, to get to the other beaches, it is a good idea to use the courtesy tram. To access the tram, turn to your left after arriving at the pavilion and cross a small bridge to where you’ll find the first stop.
Travel times from Tender Pavilion:
- 2 minutes to Bertram’s Cove
- 15 minutes to Lighthouse Beach
- 25 minutes to Bobolink Beach
- 7 minutes to Lighthouse Beach (free)
- 12 minutes to Serenity Bay (free)
- Currency – Most expenses can be charged to your Stateroom Key Card (NCL and MSC) or WorldCard (Oceania).
- Time Zone – Great Stirrup Cay utilises Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). From March and until November the island puts the clocks back an hour, switching to Daylight Saving Time (DST).
- Weather – Great Stirrup Cay is warm all year-round, with temperatures slightly higher in the more humid, summer months (May – September), generally hovering around 30 degrees Celsius. The cooler months tend to experience temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. August and September are the peak months for hurricanes.
- Bobolink Beach – To escape the crowds at the main beach take the tram to its final stop. You’ll find Bobolink Beach and its beautiful, peaceful lagoon with plenty of sun-loungers. The lagoon is one of the more recent developments to Great Stirrup Cay and is set in a pristine landscape with its own bar and snacks area.
- Eco Boat Tour – The waters surrounding Great Stirrup Cay are full of marine life. The best way to see it all is on NCL’s Marine Life Encounter Eco Boat Tour. Knowledgeable guides offer fascinating information to add to your experience. On-board there is even a touch tank so that you can get up close with some of the more touch-friendly species. The hour-long journey costs USD$39 for adults and USD$29 for children.
- Shore side Games – Get in on the fun at Great Stirrup Cay. For many visitors, the shore side games, from ping pong to beach volleyball, are the most memorable moments of their stay. So be sure to grab some friends – or make some – and start up a game.