Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

Aerial view of Ocean Cay with blue water and white beaches

Covering 95 acres, Ocean Cay is an artificial island located 20 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami in the western Bahamas. 

Originally built through dredging in the 1960s by Dillingham Corporation of Hawaii, the area was mined for the aragonite sand. 

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a Switzerland-based Italian shipping line, acquired the island in 2015. Securing a 100-year lease, MSC set about redeveloping the island with a strong emphasis on a marine reserve component.

They opened Ocean Cay exclusively for its cruise ship passengers in December 2019.

MSC calls the marine reserve “A sustainable destination where guests can connect with nature.” 

>Over 75,000 trees, shrubs and plants native to the region were planted on the island. There were also 400 coral reefs relocated to the waters that surround the island and are a protected coral nursery that covers 64 square miles. 

It is helpful to remember that while the island is a beautiful stopping point, it is still a work in progress. This is evidenced in that there are few areas of natural shade on the island.

See the impressive transformation:

Weather:

The temperatures at Ocean Cay average between 80°F and 90°F. Summer and early fall are the hottest months and the highest humidity. Winter still has highs of 80°F, but evenings are cooler and it is the driest time of the year.

Currency:

Think of Ocean Cay as an extension of the ship. You pay for non-inclusive items with your MSC card. The one exception is the Bahamian market, and that is U.S. cash only.

Wireless Internet:

The wireless Internet from the ship extends to the island. You will, however, need to sign off the ship’s service and onto the island’s service.

Languages:

Both Bahamian Creole and English.

Where You Dock in Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

There is one pier at Ocean Cay for the exclusive use of MSC. This pier can accommodate their largest cruise ships. The pier allows passengers to walk right off and not have to wait for a tender. You will not need your passport to visit the island, just your room keycard.

Click here for an interactive map of the island.

Good To Know:
Bring beach towels from your cabin, both to and from, with you if you plan on heading to the beach. If you are a MSC Yacht Club guest, towels will be provided to you.

MSC asks that if you intend to go into the water, you use coral reef-safe sunscreen (which you can buy on the island).

Striving to be eco-friendly, there are no paper maps of the island so as to cut down on waste. There are also no plastic water bottles on the island, so if you want a container for the day bring one with you.

Getting Around Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

There are no cars, buses, or taxis on Ocean Cay.

Walking:

The island is large to traverse on foot, but it is possible. The closest beach is a 10 minute walk from the ship. The furthest point from the ship on the island is about a 20 minute walk.

Trams:

The island has a free tram service to get from the pier to the beaches. There are golf carts on the island, but those are used exclusively by staff.

Shopping In Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

Side of blue-sided shop with a round logo that says "Ocean Cay Trading Post 2019 Souveniers"
Credit: mscoceancay.com

There are four shopping areas on the island where you will find essentials and souvenirs.

The Bahamian Shop & Market has authentic arts and crafts.

Ocean Cay Trading Post will find a selection of souvenirs and gifts including T-shirts, caps, beach items and accessories.

The MSC Logo Shop will provide you with essentials and souvenirs. This shop is also where you will find MSC Foundation items.

Dining In Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

Sneakers Food Court

This stop is included in your cruise ticket and is the main dining area on the island. They have American favorites and Bahamian flavors, along with dining options for the kiddos.

Sneakers open air food court with outdoor seating
Sneakers Food Court – mscoceancay.com

 Food Trucks

There are food trucks located at various spots on the island. Their menus are limited to burgers, hot dogs, fries, pasta salads and brownies. There are also seafood food trucks that offer, at an additional cost, lobster bacon rolls, lobster grilled cheese and fried calamari.  

 Beach Bars

There are numerous beach bars all across the island where you can get something to drink. They have a wide range of beverage options.

 Lighthouse Bar

You can’t miss the 100 foot red and white lighthouse on the island. You will be able to enjoy drinks along with live music.

 Springers Bar

Located in the marina, this is an authentic Bahamian bar offering cocktails and other drinks.

 The Smiling Fish and Coffee Bar

One of the most fun places on the island, you will find hundreds of different kinds of ice cream. They also offer freshly brewed whole bean and ground coffee, espresso and cappuccino.

Things To Do in Ocean Cay Bahamas (MSC Marine Reserves)

Aerial shot of group stand up paddle boarding off the coast of the island with a ship docked in the background
Credit: mscoceancay.com

The sand and the surf are the main draws at Ocean Cay. It is a chance to soak in the beautiful sights of beaches and water.

There are no pools on Ocean Cay, but there are seven beach areas with over two miles of white sandy beach shore. Lifeguards are on duty in most of these areas.

  • Bimini Beach
  • North Beach
  • South Beach
  • Lighthouse Bay
  • Paradise Sands Beach
  • Sunset Beach
  • Ocean House Beach

Bimini beach has a beautiful view of the Bahamian Sea and has calm waters.

North and South beaches are the best for families. These areas are shallow and the waters tend to be calm. There are some palm trees, but not many. Umbrellas are available to rent.

Lighthouse Bay gives you great views of the lighthouse, pristine white sands and places to lounge near the water. This beach is the closest to the ship, and so tends to be the busiest.

Paradise Sands Beach is located next to the Ocean Cay spa where you can get a massage or facial treatment.

Sunset Beach is the longest beach on the island, but there are no lifeguards. There are a variety of water sports available here

Ocean House Beach is reserved for MSC Yacht Club guests. Here you will be able to rent a beachfront or ocean view cabana for the day.

Activities

Even though the beaches at Ocean Cay are the biggest draw, and there are other water related sports that you can take part in.

There are wave runner excursions, and a guided kayak or paddleboard trip. Snorkeling is a favorite activity too.

There is also a spa on Ocean Cay on the far side of the island that offers massages and facials.

Paddleboard tour

This activity allows you to see the natural habitat around Ocean Cay with a guided tour. Equipment is provided and both beginners and experienced paddle boarders will appreciate this tour.

2 people standing at the top of the lighthouse looking over the water and island
Credit: mscoceancay.com

Glow Nightime Stand Up Paddle Boarding

This specially equipped stand-up paddle board is fitted with LED lights that let you glide, illuminated, across the calm waters of Ocean Bay Lagoon.

Kayak Explorer Tour

This guided tour takes in the exquisite views of Ocean Cay’s coastline and marine life.

Beachside Stargazing

A guide will use state of the art computerized tracking telescopes to find star clusters, planets, nebulas and galaxies in the Bahamian sky.

 Ocean Cay Bahama Bank Escape

A spacious double decker power catamaran will take you on a boat ride around Ocean Cay. It will then anchor in the shallow waters of the Bahama Banks while you enjoy drinks and music.

Twilight Scenic Island Cruise & Light Show

Take a twilight cruise around the Cay on a double decker catamaran. You will also be treated to the Ocean Cay Lighthouse Lightshow from the water before returning to the island.

Shipwreck Snorkeling Getaway

You will be taken by boat to one of the best snorkeling sites. All of your equipment and instructions are provided. Explore on your own or follow your snorkel guide.

Sunrise and/or Sunset Cruise

Catch the sun as it rises on a private double dicker catamaran with complimentary mimosas. The sunset cruise will provide complimentary champagne while you view the spectacular Bahamian sunset.

Ocean Cay Waverunner Tour

You can ride solo or take a friend and set off on a guided tour of the Ocean Cay Marine Reserve.

Beachside cabana with beach chairs and couch
Cabana rentals – mscoceancay.com

Ocean Cay offers these rentals:

  • All day umbrella rental
  • All day rental of a floating beach mat for one person
  • Kayaks that hold one or two people can be rented by anyone over 18 years of age
  • All day rental of a beach cabana that accommodates six people
  • All day rental of snorkeling gear Paddleboard rental

To get a better review of what’s offered on Ocean Cay, check this out!