This article was originally published in October of 2021 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in September of 2023 to remain current and relevant.
It’s a known fact that although the city of Orlando appears on the map to be landlocked, visitors and residents alike don’t actually have to leave in order to experience the thrills and relaxation of a day near the ocean. On the contrary, one of the best beaches in Florida is located right in the heart of Universal Volcano Bay, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
With four lush, tropical areas inspired by the Pacific Isles, 21 different attractions, and a 200-foot volcano, there is something for everyone at this water theme park. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to set your itinerary, but that’s what blogs are for! Below, I’ll outline all the best ways to make the most of your day.
Now, if you’ll excuse my pun, let’s dive in!
BEFORE WE BEGIN
Optimizing your time at Volcano Bay means ensuring you have plenty of it, so you’ll want to stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel. Any of our eight properties will get you into the theme park early for a head-start on your day with Early park Admission. Stroll in and grab that all-important beach chair or jump on several of the most popular slides before others even get through the gate.
Another great choice for visiting Volcano Bay is Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which has a walking path that leads straight to the park entrance and allows you to skip the bus from the parking garage. Plus, select rooms have a pretty amazing view!
You may have noticed I alluded to virtual line experiences. That’s right — you can skip the wait in line and experience all that this paradise has to offer. As you enter the park, you’ll be handed a waterproof TapuTapu wearable device that will “virtually” hold your place in line for various attractions while you’re off exploring. Simply tap your device on the totem in front of the ride of your choosing, and your TapuTapu will alert you when it’s time to come back and get your splash on. The key is that you can only tap for one ride at a time, so you’ll have to plan wisely (and we’ll get to that shortly).
But TapuTapu isn’t only convenient for rides. You can use it to engage interactive surprises throughout the theme park, open your locker, and even make purchases with TapTu Pay. I highly recommend taking advantage of this for a hands-free experience.
One last thing you need to know: Cabana rentals are great time savers, especially for large groups. Each comes with comfy seating, a small refrigerator stocked with water and fruit, towel and locker service, and a concierge service that will have your food coming directly to you. It takes a lot of worry out of your day and provides a homebase for your family to gather when people inevitably want to branch off and do different things. Premium Seating is another great option for when you just want to make sure you get the perfect spot on Waturi Beach.
Learn more and call ahead to add a Private Cabana or Premium Seating to your visit.
It’s finally time to start our day! Once again, I suggest arriving early to tap for some of the premiere attractions first. Not only will the waits be shorter, but this course of action will help you decide what you might want to ride again later. (If you’re anything like me, you’re a big re-rider.)
I like to head straight for Krakatau Aqua Coaster, a one-of-a-kind thrill through the Krakatau volcano that will be fun for the whole family. With 1,565 feet of linear track, this is the park’s longest ride and a great way to get everyone pumped for the day. While you wait, check out some of the other nearby rides and look for totems that say “Ride Now.” That means you can hop right on without waiting or interrupting your Krakatau reservation. Maybe you can get your competitive juices flowing with a run on the Punga Racers — winner gets bragging rights for the rest of the trip, of course.
Next, venture over to the River Village because Honu of the Honu ika Moana is a must-ride! Named after the turtle, this one will have you surfing some choice waves on a five-passenger raft. Need something to do while you wait? The Kopiko Wai Winding River is right there to carry you away to meditated bliss before your big adventure.
Round out your morning with one more jolt of excitement. The Rainforest Village is home to a pair of serpentine slides called Ohno and Ohyah that drop you up to six feet above the sparkling waters below.
PRO TIP: Make sure you’re first to ride and stay behind to watch your family members’ hilarious faces as they plunge.
Next up, the brave among your group can spend some time on TeAwa the Fearless River, a roaring whitewater ride through the volcano that picks you up and drops you right back near the slides.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the essential matter of lunch. We’re almost there, but first — in order to use your down-time wisely, might I suggest putting that TapuTapu to work? Take a look at one of the digital boards displaying virtual line times, find something with a longer wait, and tap so you can ride when you’re done eating. This is a great opportunity for that re-ride I mentioned. You should also know that if you change your mind, you can always tap for a different attraction to replace your existing reservation.
Ok, back to your growling stomach… There are plenty of options throughout the entire park that will make any foodie’s grandest dreams come true, but I’m going to recommend heading to Kahola Reef Restaurant and Social Club. From classics like pizza to the Coconut Crusted Fried Chicken, there is something for everyone on the menu. Not to mention, it’s located right off Waturi Beach, so it’s very convenient.
Now comes the part where I prove that Volcano Bay is perfect for both thrills and relaxation. Some of you may be pretty wiped from an active morning and wanting to digest that meal in a shady spot, while others are eyeing the multi-story slides that make up the guts of the volcano with pulse-pounding readiness.
The dare devils can tap for Ko’Okiri Body Plunge, a 70-degree fall through a drop door that sends you plummeting 125 feet downward. The (only slightly) less intense options are Kala and Tai Nui, which still feature drop doors that will leave your heart at the top. While waiting, take some time to venture into the volcano’s various caves for breathtaking scenery and colorful water features.
Our island-time crew can head instead to Dancing Dragons Boat Bar across from our lunch spot. Spend some time at the bar or simply grab a drink and relax on Waturi Beach for the rest of the afternoon. Menu highlights include:
· Vol’s Fire Punch: rum, pineapple juice, agave, and more
· Blue Hawaiian: rum, pineapple juice, blue curacao
· Volcano Blossom Beer: brewed specifically for Volcano Bay
An hour or two before the theme park closes, get the whole group back together for some waves. Float, swim, and play in the waters of Waturi Beach and you might even get to soak up one of the most beautiful sunsets Florida has to offer. Plan to retrieve your belongings from your locker with enough time to take a group photo in front of the towering Krakatau.
On your way out of the park, be sure to check out Waturi Marketplace for fashionable beach apparel that you can wear on your next visit (because face it — you’re coming back ASAP.) While you peruse, there is one last box to check and you absolutely don’t want to miss it. There is a stand nearby called Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona that sells Waturi Fusion, a soft-serve creation that looks and tastes like a rainbow. With banana, blue raspberry, orange, and strawberry flavors, it’s the perfect way to top off an amazing experience.
From the Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides to the Taniwha Tubes, there is still plenty we didn’t quite get to during this one day, but remember how you spend your time can sometimes be affected by the pace of the rest of your vacation. If you’re exhausted from multiple excursions to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, it can be smart to use this opportunity to take it slow. Maybe next time you just want to spend 8 hours asleep on the beach — that’s the beauty of Volcano Bay!
Whether you pass out at your hotel next or hit Universal CityWalk for some well-earned dinner and nightlife is up to you. Just know that this oasis is here whenever you need it. Kia ora, friends.
OOne day is never enough here at Universal Orlando Resort, so be sure to check out our multiple-day ticket offers here to get the most out of your vacation!