Top 5 Things To Do At CocoCay

Are you looking for an island adventure with a little something for everyone? Well, located in the Bahamian Cays approximately 55 miles north of Nassau lies CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. It is one of our favorite destinations on a cruise because of all the fun things this Royal Caribbean exclusive destination has to offer. Here’s a list of our top 5 things to do for a Perfect Day at CocoCay!

1. Thrill Waterpark

You will need to purchase an extra pass to get into CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark but, believe us, it is worth the extra money. After purchasing the Thrill pass, either before your cruise or day-of, you can enter the waterpark by scanning your sea pass card at the park entrance. It is a full-day pass, so you can leave and come back as many times as you would like during your day on the island. Complimentary lockers are available near the main entrance, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your valuables unattended under a beach chair.

The waterpark has two main water slide towers. The first is Daredevil’s Tower, with seven body slides distributed along the climb and the tallest water slide in North America located at the top (more on that one later). There are tube slides, open-channel slides, and two drop slides as well. My husband said the drop slides were an absolute blast with how the floor just drops out from underneath your feet. Either start at the top or work your way up from the bottom, but make sure to try out all seven slides on Daredevil’s Tower!

The second water slide tower has three different kinds of water slides and is called Splash Summit. The first slide, Sling Shot, sends your multiple-person raft through a few twists and turns before picking up some extra speed on a drop that sends your raft up a steep incline. For a long second, you experience a zero-gravity feeling before going back down again to the landing pool below. The second slide is called Twister. This tube slide is either single or double rider and is my favorite tube water slide (probably of anywhere, not just CocoCay)! It’s fast and has lots of twists and turns with fun, colorful segments. The third slide is called Splash Speedway. This mat slide is a race between you and other riders down to the bottom. This is fun if you’re competitive—loser buys the next basket of mozzarella sticks (just kidding, they’re free).

Other fun thrill adventures in the park include a wave pool with continuous waves and an activity pool with lily pad crossings, rope swinging, and a small climbing wall. You could definitely spend your whole day just at CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark. There’s food and drink options there as well!

2. Daredevil’s Peak

Daredevil’s Peak is the tallest water slide in North America, and it’s a thrilling adventure you can’t miss! It’s located at the very top of Daredevil’s Tower in CocoCay’s Thrill Waterpark (described earlier) and it’s cool enough to get its own dedicated shoutout. Daredevil’s Peak is 135 feet tall and it takes about 35 seconds to go down. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a must do if you love water slides! It’s probably one of the fastest slides I’ve been on and it just. keeps. dropping. On your way to the top of Daredevil’s Tower, you’ll pass by several other awesome slides (definitely go back and ride them all), but Daredevil’s Peak is a “main event” that’s worth the climb. Be sure to take in the view once you reach the top—you’re over 12 stories up!

*Pro Tip-either do this first thing when you get off the ship or later in the day. The line can get quite long mid-day to early afternoon.

3. Chill Island

Chill Island is exactly what it sounds like—chill. It’s perfect if you feel like just relaxing and enjoying the ocean breeze. There is no fee to enjoy this area, so get there early and grab a spot! There are several beaches along the ocean or lagoon that have lounge chairs (included) that are perfect for a lazy day. If you would like to throw in some adventure, water activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and beach volleyball are also available for a rental cost. If you don’t mind a little swim, there’s a floating bar just out from the beach!

In addition, there is also the Oasis Lagoon Pool, which is the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean. Dive under the water, and you’ll be surprised to hear music playing through the underwater speakers. This pool is family friendly, however be aware that it can get quite rowdy since there is a swim up bar that is definitely a party spot! We like to get a cabana near this pool because it provides shade from the sun or protection from the rain, since both can come and go throughout the day in the Caribbean. The cabana includes an attendant that helps all day with beverages and food service. The cabana even had sand toys for my boys—an extra perk!

4. Floating Cabana

The floating cabanas are the prime spot for a more private relaxing island experience and are located in the CocoCay Beach Club. These are ideal if you are looking for the perfect relaxing tranquil day with your family or group. The cabanas include a small slide into the ocean, a shower, a mini bar and refrigerator, couches, table and chairs, a water hammock, and more. There is an attendant that comes by all day who can help with any food/beverage requests. They even brought a few surprise snacks and drinks for us (and they were awesome). I enjoyed relaxing in the water hammock with a beverage, my husband and older son had fun on the slide and swimming in the water, and my younger son loved napping on the couch in the shade with the fresh sea breeze.

*Pro tip-these book out early, so when they become available you definitely want to reserve it right away.

5. Kids Activities

There two main little kid activity areas: a giant pirate ship and a huge splash-pad playground with water slides. The giant pirate ship is the first thing you see when you arrive at CocoCay—it’s hard to walk by and not have the little kids wanting to play on it, so be prepared for a little play break! My boys love pretending to be pirates, so they have the best time on this.

*Pro Tip-adults are allowed on it too and you can actually get a great picture of your cruise ship up on the top! Make sure to put your camera or phone in a waterproof case though.

The second main kids area is called Splashaway Bay and it’s like a little waterpark for young kids—but at no extra cost. In the center is a giant splash-pad playground with bridges, platforms, and water spraying and dumping everywhere! Off to the side, there’s even an area with five water slides that are perfect for kids who are still a bit too small for the Thrill slides. There is still a certain height requirement for the slides, but my four year old was able to go on these and have a blast!

(Bonus!) Zip line and Balloon Ride

There is a 1,600-foot long zip line course that criss-crosses over the island. We have not tried this yet, but it definitely looks like fun if you love high adventures.

There is also a giant helium balloon called Up, Up, and Away that takes you 450 feet above the ground. This is a great place to view everything and take awesome pictures! The balloon is highly dependent on the weather though, so you may need to be a bit flexible with your planning.

Overall, we absolutely love CocoCay because there is truly something for everyone, whether you love adventuring or relaxing (or both). We highly recommend going here as a port stop when traveling on Royal Caribbean. There’s enough great things to do that you can go back again and again and have a super fun and different experience each time. Some itineraries even stop here twice in one voyage and can definitely pull it off. You’ll hear it a lot, but it really is a Perfect Day at CocoCay!


8 Tips to Healthier Travel

When you first think of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling, you might be overwhelmed by all the unhealthy food options and obstacles, especially if you’re following a diet. I’m here to provide you with some tips to healthy traveling!

1. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

It’s super important to stay hydrated. Traveling often makes you dehydrated, which could lead you to make unhealthy choices you wouldn’t normally make, such as grabbing a bottle of pop instead of a water—and most importantly you can get a dehydration headache, which is no fun while on vacation. I love to bring my own water bottle from home because it’s convenient and it saves money. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly! Airports are starting to put in filtered, contactless water bottle refill stations, so you can fill your water bottle up after security. Drink up!

2. Pack Your Own Snacks

It’s important to plan ahead and bring some of your healthy snacks from home. I like to bring turkey pepperoni sticks, protein bars, and almonds. It’s easy to pack those in a purse or backpack so that whenever you are hungry you can grab a quick, easy, and healthy snack. This is a cost saver tip too because then you don’t have to keep purchasing a lot of snacks (which are probably not as healthy either). This is helpful for any kind of travel whether you’re flying or driving.

3. Use Stairs

My husband and I try and use the stairs whenever there is an opportunity. This adds cardio activity and steps while traveling. Sometimes, the stairs are actually quicker than waiting in line to get on an escalator. Many times there are completely empty stairs right next to a packed escalator. Small choices like that really can add up over the long run!

4. Research Gyms

It’s important to research gyms close to your hotel. Almost every hotel or cruise I stay at has a nice fitness center. However, not every one has a Peloton bike to workout on. So, it’s nice to do a little research before to see what’s available. I did research before I went on the Wonder of the Seas and I found out that they had the first Peloton bike on their cruise line.

When I travelled to La Jolla, California I researched Orangetheory studios close to my hotel—and there was one within walking distance! It was fun trying a new studio in a different city! If working out is part of a routine you love, why not include it in your vacation?

5. Research Walking & Running Routes

My husband loves to run and he researches the best running routes near the hotel before we leave on a trip. He looks on Google maps and Strava to see the route and then he has an idea of how long it will take and where it will go. For example, at Aulani in Oahu there is a beautiful path right by the ocean where he got in a couple of great morning runs! I was actually able to see him from our hotel room while he was running and it was great to know that he had the route planned out and when he’d be back. Sometimes you can even find some great “local” trails as well. Running also is a great way to explore a new place and to “scope out” places to visit later.

A trip to Disney World involves a lot of walking in itself—sometimes you can easily reach 20,000 steps daily. So on a trip like that, just think about all the walking you’re going to do in general and incorporate it into your fitness plans.

6. Research before Dining

It’s always fun to try new restaurants and it’s easier to make healthier choices when you look up the menu before you go to the restaurant. Also, it’s wise to pre-plan your meal when you are not super hungry. For example, you can decide if you are going to have the full prepared meal or sub out other healthier options. Also, you can plan on only eating half of your meal and taking the rest back to your room (if you have a refrigerator) or splitting it with someone—another cost saver tip!

7. Bring Your Own Drink Flavor Enhancers

I love my coffee and my alcoholic beverages, but adding all those additional sugars often makes me not feel too good and adds a lot of extra calories. For coffee, I like to bring Skinny Mixes Sugar Free syrup in a small travel bottle. Then, I can squirt a small amount in my coffee without extra sugars and calories. For alcoholic beverages, I like to bring Crystal Light or Mio flavor enhancers in a small travel bottle too. I order a vodka soda and then add the flavor enhancers to the drink. This cuts back on a lot of sugars and calories as well. My husband drinks his coffee black, but my poolside “Mio cocktails” are a big hit. You can even get flavors like piña colada and sangria!

8. Head to the Grocery Store at Your Destination

I like to book a room with a full kitchen because I am able to go to the grocery store or have groceries brought to the hotel with a service provider. At Aulani, we were there for 11 nights and we had a car, so we went to the grocery store and I was able to get healthy food for meals and snacks. For breakfast, I was able to make oatmeal with yogurt and blueberries rather than hotel restaurant or grab-and-go options. For lunches, I had a wrap and a salad instead of eating at the pool restaurant with less-healthy options. Having a full kitchen is definitely something to consider when you are planning your trip, especially considering whether or not it would be healthier and more cost-beneficial. Sometimes the extra cost of having a hotel kitchenette balances out the additional cost spent on going out all the time—and with a kitchen, you’re in control.

Finally, Don’t Stress About It

Traveling is a lot of fun and you can make healthy choices just by knowing a few great tips. It’s important to enjoy the authentic food and drinks at the new locations, but it can be done wisely or at least be off-set with extra activity. Set yourself up for success before you go, but don’t stress over it. Vacations are meant to be fun, so don’t make yourself feel guilty or stressed. Remember, small choices can make big changes, so plan your options to set yourself up for success beforehand and then go and enjoy yourself!

10 Top Tips Flying with Kids

Flying with kids can be quite intimidating at first, but it actually isn’t all that bad if you keep a few key things in mind. I have some recommendations that will definitely make your traveling with kids easier and help put your mind at ease.

1. Car Seats

Let’s talk about car seats. Are you doing any driving at your destination or will you be exclusively taking trains and buses?

If you are driving and will be renting a car, then you can either bring your own car seat with you or rent one from the car rental company. We have done both. The rental car seats are super convenient, but keep in mind that they likely won’t be what your child is used to. Depending on the child, this may or may not be a big deal.

The times we brought our own car seats, we put them in a car seat check-in bag and it fit both a car seat and a backless booster—I highly recommend one of these bags. This is especially nice because it keeps them protected and you do not have to lug the car seats through the airports. We have a car seat check-in bag with wheels—making it convenient to roll.

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Rather than checking them with their luggage some people do carry their car seats with them through the airport and strap it in their child’s airplane seat. This is nice because the toddlers are secure and won’t be unbuckling themselves throughout the flight. We’ve never done this but have seen it and it seems to work well.

2. Bring a Stroller

A stroller is a must! We have even brought two strollers flying before, since we had both an infant and a toddler at the time. It’s super convenient being able to push your child while stowing carry-on bags below and using hooks or carabiners to hold additional items such as water bottles.

The last trip we went on, my 3 year old son was able to help push a carry-on suitcase while being pushed in a stroller. This was actually useful because he felt like he had a job and it helped keep him entertained.

Make sure you purchase a stroller gate check bag! The small cost of the bag will save your stroller in the long run. The airport staff does not handle strollers all too kindly. Plus, they can get super dirty in the bottom of an airplane. I’ve seen a couple of damaged strollers before where the families couldn’t repair them and just set them by a trash can at the gate. You don’t want that to happen as the first thing on your trip, so I highly recommend a stroller gate check bag!

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Pro tip-make sure to get a special handling tag for your stroller at the gate booth as early as possible. Then, you can attach it to your bag and have it already before you board the airplane.

3. Have a lot of Food

Make sure you have a lot of food! Kids constantly eat and you definitely don’t need any tantrum’s going through security or on the final decent of the flight.

I like to make snack bags with a couple of my kids favorite snacks. If you’re going on a longer flight or flying through a meal, pack your own lunch. It’s rare that airplanes have toddler-approved lunches. Plus, if you pack your own snacks, then they can eat whenever they are hungry rather than waiting for the snack/drink cart.

Pro tip-if your child can have a lollipop, it can help their ears with take off and landing. For babies, a bottle or a pacifier helps with this too!

Pro tip part 2-don’t give your kids more candy than usual. For example, don’t pack a whole bag of Gummies and expect them to self-regulate—they have no self control. I did this before coming back from Disney World and it did not end up well

4. Bring your own Water Bottles

Bring your own reusable water bottles from home (this is cost saver tip too)! Buying water bottles can get quite expensive throughout the trip, so save yourself a little money. Plus, it’s more environmentally-friendly to bring your own water bottles from home and fill them up after security checkpoints.

Kids can easily get dehydrated, so bringing their favorite cup along on your journey can help encourage them drink more water. For toddlers, make sure you bring one that has a spill-proof top. For older kids, having a hook or carabiner on the top is useful to easily attach to a stroller carabiner.

Pro tip-many airports have contactless filtered water bottle refill stations. Plus, some resorts are starting to have these stations too!

5. Each kid gets their own Carry-on

Make sure each kid (any age) has their own backpack. This is an easy way to keep everything organized. Plus, they feel special having their own bag. It’s fun for them opening their backpack and finding surprises. Just the aspect of a surprise keeps them entertained in itself.

Pro tip-for toddlers who can walk, get a backpack with a leash. Yes, it looks funny, but it helps if they are prone to run off!

6. Use Electronics for Entertainment

Yes, electronics entertain kids and can be super helpful while traveling. My kids have their own Kindle Fires and I highly recommend them. It’s perfect because there is a parent dashboard where you can control what your kids have access to. You can avoid overuse by setting “travel time” as a special time for electronics that is apart from the daily routines.

Wi-fi while traveling is rarely reliable, especially on airplanes, so always make sure games and shows are downloaded before the trip. I like to do this a couple of days beforehand. While you are still at home, make sure to turn their devices into airplane mode and double check what’s available. A tablet without Wi-Fi and without pre-downloaded content is an expensive brick. Don’t bring a brick on your trip.

I like to download a couple of kids games and shows on my devices too just in case their own devices don’t work. I’ve had this happen and it’s not too fun (see brick comment above). My son ended up on my iPad while I read.

Last but not least, make sure you have the right attachments and converters for all the devices. For example, make sure you have a converter jack for your phone so kids headphones can be plugged into it just in case. It can be tricky making sure headphones plug in properly, so check it all out before you leave the house.

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7. Pack Toys

Every kid loves to play and it’s good to have a couple small toys they love and maybe some new ones too. My boys love the small transforming cars and trucks and they have actually entertained them for quite some time on flights. Avoid toys that make a lot of noise though out of respect for the other passengers. For babies or toddlers, make sure you have teething toys—they will find other things to teethe on if you don’t.

8. Activities—Books, Stickers, etc.

Since you can’t expect a child to be entertained solely from a tablet, it’s nice to have several non-screen activities. My kids have always loved magic marker coloring. This is nice on an airplane because coloring won’t get on the seat or tray. Other favorites include: traditional crayons and coloring books, water color painting (careful with that one), sticker books, dry erase books, and more. I love finding these items at the dollar section at Target!

9. Bring their Favorite Stuffed Animal & Blanket

If you have a long flight during nap time or overnight, it’s helpful to bring their favorite stuffed animal and blanket. Making your child more comfortable is the best way to help them to fall asleep. We have done several overnight flights and it definitely helps if they have a familiar favorite friend and their own blanket along!

10. Fly First Class

No one likes being cramped and it’s definitely worth considering paying a little extra money for a bigger seat with more room—especially one that reclines fully into a bed. Our kids have done really great flying in first class and we have actually received many compliments from both passengers and flight attendants alike on how well our kids fly. They could barely tell kids were seating in first class! Particularly for long flights, it’s worth checking if first class fits in your budget. It’s special for the kids too (not just adults), and the extra comfort goes a long way for everyone, making sure that you and your kids start or end your journey feeling refreshed rather than jet-lagged.

The bottom line is: don’t be afraid to fly with kids. All the tips and tricks listed in this post are things we’ve actually used multiple times and they really to do help! All the prep work before the flight does pay off and you’ll thank yourself later. Happier kids make happier parents!

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