Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. Almost every DCL ship sailing in the Caribbean stops here and cruisers are guaranteed a day (or two) of fun in Castaway Cay.
There’s character meets, activities for all ages and incredible attention to detail as one would expect from Disney.
Here’s a few things you need to know before you make your way to Castaway Cay:
1. Book Your Excursions Early
There are a variety of tours and excursions you can sign up for on Castaway Cay. Everything ranging from parasailing, deep sea fishing, banana boat rides, inner tube and snorkel gear rentals, bike rentals and feeding stingrays.
Popular tours like the fishing charters and stingray feedings sell out quickly so if you can, book your excursion online or a few days prior to your Castaway Cay visit. My husband made the mistake of not booking earlier on our most recent cruise and couldn’t get a spot on the deep sea fishing charter. He did end up on a fishing tour – just not the deep sea one.
If the weather doesn’t co-operate and excursions get cancelled (the stingray feeding excursion I booked during our first Disney cruise was cancelled), you don’t have to worry as Disney will issue a full refund.
2. Skip Lunch on the Ship
There’s no need to fill up on food before you leave the ship. There are three BBQ buffet locations on the island – Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ and one at Serenity Bay (the adults only part of the island) which serve a lunch buffet from 11:30AM – 2PM.
You’ll find a variety of items including burgers, hot dogs, ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, fresh fruit and soft serve ice cream stations. The adults only buffet has the same items with a few extra – steak and seafood was offered when we visited back in September.
There’s also refreshment stations scattered around the island to keep you hydrated – pop/soda, water, juice, and iced tea. All of this is complimentary and included in the price of your cruise.
3. Head to the Beach Early in the Morning or Later in the Afternoon
There’s two beach sections on Castaway Cay – the Family Beach which is meant for everyone and Serenity Bay which is adults only.
As its name suggests, the Family Beach gets crowded quickly. Popular areas like right across from the BBQ buffets, near hammocks and Pelican Plunge are always the first to go.
If you’re planning on spending the entire day at the beach, it’s better to head out as soon as you can and reserve your seats.
Alternatively, if you’re only planning to spend a few hours here, go later in the afternoon when some of the early birds start heading back to the air conditioned cruise ship.
4. Sign Up for the Castaway Cay 5K or Morning Yoga
If you want to see the island before everyone else, sign up for the Castaway Cay 5K. Guests meet early in the morning to get their bib numbers and start racing when the majority of cruisers (including me) are eating breakfast on the ship. All participants will get a Mickey medal at the end of the race.
I’m told by 5K participants that you can walk or jog too if running isn’t your thing. Why didn’t they say this before? I would have participated ;).
There’s a free morning yoga class at Serenity Bay as well if you’re not interested in the 5K.
5. See Castaway Cay from Above
Just a few steps away from the bike trail, you’ll find the observation tower. Climb up to get a breathtaking view of Castaway Cay and your cruise ship.
6. Reserve Your Cabana As Soon As Possible
There are 20 cabanas available for rent ($499/day) on Castaway Cay.
Each cabana is approximately 325 square feet, accommodates up to 6 guests and comes with lounge chairs, dining table, sitting area, fridge, towel, sunscreen and lockers.
While we’ve never rented a cabana on Castaway Cay, I did notice every single one was booked shortly after they were made available online in the Planning Center section of the Disney Cruise Line website.
7. Explore the Island
There’s a lot to see and do on Disney’s private island so make sure you take some time out to explore Castaway Cay. Here are some areas you might want to check out:
- Scuttle’s Cove – children’s play area which runs supervised activities throughout the day
- Hide Out – beach for teens with lounge chairs and umbrellas
- Serenity Bay – the adult only beach section where it’s quieter and the water is calmer
- Pelican Plunge and Spring-a-Leak – two water play areas on the Family Beach side of the island. Spring-a-Leak is a splash pad water playground geared towards younger children. Pelican Plunge is further into the water (it’s deep and I could not touch the bottom of the ocean floor) and guests under 48″ must wear a life vest to play in this area.
8. Buy Your Castaway Cay Souvenirs on the Island
Castaway Cay branded gear and souvenirs can only be found on the island. So if you see a t-shirt you like, make sure you purchase it as you won’t see it again. Prices are what you would expect to pay for Disney souvenirs on the ship.
9. Send a Postcard from Castaway Cay
Just a few steps from the dock, you’ll find the Castaway Cay Post office – a dancing Olaf is there to greet you.
You can mail yourself (or a friend) a postcard here – Bahamian stamps are required and can be purchased here. Bring cash as your “Key to the World” card will not work here.