Disney’s Castaway Cay is my absolute favorite day when sailing with Disney Cruise Line and easily my favorite private island! My feelings are not alone! In fact, so many cruisers love Castaway Cay that Disney Cruise Line occasionally offers 2 stops at Castaway Cay on the same sailing. We call this the “double dip”! Read on to find out all about the island and what you should not miss while visiting!
What is Castaway Cay (key)?
Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Lines private island that is a one day stop for most of their Bahamas and Carribean sailings. It’s the first of Disney’s private islands, the second has yet to be named or any announcements made on when it will be ready for guests.
Which side do you dock on?
Disney backs the ships into port so the Port side ends up looking at the dock and the Starboard side at the island. There really isn’t a bad view it just depends on what you prefer to look at. Many guests in a verandah stateroom enjoy having the island to look at while others enjoy watching the hustle bustle of the crew preparing the island as soon as you’re in port. It’s quite a scene watching crew members unload the ship for the day’s activities.
All of the food and beverages for the day are unloaded when the ship arrives. It’s literally a catered meal on the island. At the end of the day, the crew loads everything back onto the ship including all of the towels that guests use on the island during the day.
For most itineraries the ship will dock at Castaway about 7:40 am. and guests will be able to disembark the ship at 8:30 am. Guests signed up to do the Castaway 5K will be the first off the ship.
What’s included at Castaway?
The easiest way to understand what’s included on the island is to think about what’s included on the ship. The island is essentially an extension of being on the ship so that included amenities are the same. All of your food which includes a BBQ lunch and ice cream all day, plus fountain beverages are included. Extras like excursions, alcoholic beverages, bikes, snorkel and fins, and other rentals are not included.
One of the biggest extras included on Castaway is the 5k. Yep, it’s true! The 5k is free on the island! This is about a $100 value. Guests do need to register for the race prior to race day at the shore excursion desk.
How much should I expect to spend on Castaway?
You could literally spend nothing although I don’t necessarily recommend this. You should explore the island and that will require a little spending.
We love to rent bikes and ride around the island. There are great bike paths and a lookout tower on the far side of the island. It’s really interesting to see what a small portion of the island has been commercialized and what the island looked like prior to it being made guest ready. Bike rentals are $13 per person and available in all sizes.
We also love to snorkel and see the “shipwreck” and sea life creatures in the ocean. You can bring your own snorkel gear to avoid the rental expense (we do) or rent while you’re there. Life vests and snorkel vests are available for free to all guests and should be used!
In addition to shore excursions, you can also rent a Cabana for the day. You’ll need to be staying concierge level to secure this very popular option as they sell out quickly. And of course, there are all the beach drinks you desire… for a cost!
What is there to do on Castaway Cay?
How to get around on Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is a pretty large island to explore and while many parts of it are walkable there are some distances that would not be so fun to carry your beach gear too! You can use the on-island tram to get around the island. You will need to walk a pretty good distance from the ship to the first tram stop so keep that in mind when planning your day.
There are a total of four tram stops servicing the island. Kargo Handling Tram Stop is the stop closest to the ship. From there you are able to hitch a ride to Scuttle’s Cove Tram Stop that gets you near the Boating Harbor. Personally, I would walk this distance. I think you will spend more time waiting for the tram.
The next stop on the route is the Pelican Point Tram Stop that gets you close to the two family beaches that include the Snorkel Lagoon and Pelican Plunge Water Slide. I would also walk to this area but can see how some guests with small children or limited abilities to walk long distances would prefer a tram.
The fourth and final stop is the Serenity Bay Tram Stop. While this is walkable and on the Castaway Cay 5k route, it is a good distance away from the ship. This is the stop that delivers guests to the adults only area, Serenity Bay. It’s at the end of the island runway and the area is not shaded. I think it’s best to take a tram here unless you really enjoy the journey!
Things to do on Castaway Cay
Post Office – Mail your postcards home from here!
Monstro Point – Whale Dig Site
Gigi’s Fins and Boats – This is where you’ll rent your snorkel, fins, tubes, and floats for your day at the family beaches and Snorkel Lagoon. You can bring along your own snorkel and fins to save money but this is a very convenient option!
Snorkeling Lagoon – This is one of my favorite areas at Castaway Cay and is so much fun to explore! However, it’s not for the lazy beachgoer! It requires quite a bit of swimming to see all of the sites there are to see including a sunken ship with a statue of Mickey and Minnie (separate from each other) and a submarine. Each of these is marked by buoys in the water so you at least know where to look! As we were swimming around we talked to other snorkelers and all shared where we were seeing different things. I mean if I was going to swim that far I was seeing it ALL! Snorkeling vests are provided at no cost and should be used. There are lifeguards in the area but you really should wear a snorkel vest no matter how great of a swimmer you are! Snorkles and fins can be rented from Gigi’s Fins and Boats or Flippers and Floats for a charge or you can bring your own.
In-Da-Shade Games – Here you’ll find your typical outdoor beach games! Basketball, billiards, ping pong and more!
Beach Sports – This area is near the In-Da-Shade games but out of the shade! Here you can play tetherball, volleyball, and soccer in the sand.
Pelican Plunge – A favorite among kids and parents! This amazing waterslide is so much fun but you’ll have to swim or float to it!
Hideout – Teens only area
Bike Rentals – This is one of my favorite things on the island! Rent a bike for just $13 per person and explore the island! You’ll ride the same route used for the Castaway Cay and be able to stop along the path and climb the lookout tower. We also used our bikes to explore the area behind the Cabana’s so we could see just what it would be like to live the Cabana life!
Observation Tower – This is worth exploring! Climb the few flights of stairs to see across the island! You’ll be surprised by how much of the island has gone untouched! The view also provides a gorgeous look back to the ship!
Spring-A-Leak – splash pad play area for kids ages 3-12
Character Dance Party – Join your favorite characters for live music and a dance party on the island.
I love the Castaway Cay 5k! There are a couple of great perks for participating in this! First and foremost it’s FREE! If you’ve ever participated in a RunDisney event you know they can be pretty expensive! In fact, a RunDisney 5K typically runs around $100 per person! The second part that is so great is that you are the first passengers off the ship!
To sign up you will need to visit the Port Adventures Desk or Guest Services Desk once you are onboard the ship. You are not able to sign up online prior to getting on the ship. Make sure that you sign up prior to your day on Castaway Cay. Guests trying to sign up the morning of the event may not be accommodated. All guests must be 10 years or older to participate.
On the morning of the event, you will check in at the Azure lounge at 8 am. Double check your sailings Personal Navigator to be sure the meeting location and time have not changed.
What do I do with my kids while I run the Castaway Cay 5k?
Scuttles Cove, the on-island kids club will be open to keeping kids that are not participating in the 5k. This is the easiest way to participate in the 5k and then go straight to your next on island activity.
Scuttles Cove is open for the duration of the island day and is for kids ages 3-12 years old. Kids ages 11-14 are invited to the “Teen Hideout” on the island. The Edge Teen Club will meet there for the day.
The on-ship kid’s clubs, Oceaneer Lab, Oceaneer Club, are also available on port days including your day at Castaway Cay. This is an option for the morning of the 5k however it would be a lot of extra walking and work to get back on the ship to pick up the kids only to return back to the island. The easiest way is Scuttles Cove!
Scuttles Cove Kids Club
Scuttles Cove is the on-island kids club for kids ages 3 -12. The club offers water activities and other entertainment. My kids really enjoyed the kids only area. You don’t need reservations but your kids do need to have been previously registered with the kid’s clubs on the ship.
Characters on Castaway Cay
Meeting your favorite characters on Castaway Cay is so much fun! They’re in their island attire and ready for a day of fun. Check your personal navigator to see when and where to meet your favorite characters. You can also set reminders in the app that will pop up on your phone during the day to remind you when to go see your top picks!
You can expect to see Jack Sparrow, Chip & Dale, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Mickey, and Pluto. They typically meet two times a day on the island.
Excursions offered on Castaway Cay
Most of your port excursions can and should be pre-booked online on your online check-in day. Your online check-in day will depend on how many times you’ve sailed with Disney and if you are staying concierge level. The easiest way to know your online check-in day is by knowing your final payment day. Pay a day in advance to be able to book your excursions without delays on check-in day.
Once you’ve entered all of the information for online check-in you will have access to book excursions for not only Castaway Cay day but also all other days. Most excursions won’t fill immediately but things like Cabana’s on Castaway Cay will be filled long before the general sailing guests have access to book them.
Once you are on the ship you can also visit the Port Adventures Desk to book anything that is still available or make changes to your existing reservations.
For a complete list of excursions on your sailing make sure you check the Disney Cruise Line website.
Boat Beach – watercraft and ski adventure meeting location.
Dining on Castaway
A BBQ lunch is provided as part of your cruise fare on Castaway Cay. It’s served from 11:30 am to 2 pm on the island. The self serve ice cream and drink station is open near Cookies for most of the day.
There are three locations on the island to eat it but they all serve the same thing. Having three locations is all about the laid back island life and not having to go far to get anything you need!
Near each dining area, there are also covered seating areas with picnic tables. You’ll never have to walk far or wait long for a table which is so nice compared to days at Disney parks!
Gluten Free dining on Castaway
There are many gluten-free options at the BBQ buffet. They are not all clearly marked so you will need to ask the crew members. I was able to have all of the meat options and some sides. It’s definitely not my favorite meal while cruising with Disney but it works and is safe!
Castaway Cay Bars
The bars on Castaway Cay serve the same bar drinks you’ve surely grown to love on the ship! They all serve the same things but are located across the island for easy access. Besides seeing all of the different views and experiencing all the fun the island has to offer there’s no need to bar hop to try it all!
My favorite frozen beach drink is always a Pina Colva! This is a pina colada and raspberry mix that is so good! You can also get bottled water and beer at the bars!
Conched Out Bar– Frozen Speciality drink, cocktails and beer located near the family beach area.
Summertime Freeze – Smoothie and Speciality Drinks located near the shopping area
Beaches on Castaway Cay
There are two large family beaches on Castaway Cay for you to enjoy. The other beaches are restricted to Cabana users or guests over the age of 18 but most areas are available for everyone to enjoy. There is an additional beach area “Boat Beach” where small watercraft and paddleboats launch that is not available for swimming.
- Boat Beach
- Castaway Family Beach 1 of 2
- Castaway Family Beach 2 of 2 showing the private section for the family Cabanas 1-21
- Castaway Family Beach 1 of 2 near the Snorkeling Lagoon
- Castaway Family Beach 2 of 2 near the Pelican Plunge water slide
Shopping on Castaway Cay
There are several small shops to visit while on the island including a Bahamian Retail area that houses Bahamian arts and crafts and other items specific to the area. The islanders working here arrive on Castaway Cay each day on their own boats from nearby islands they call home. I think it’s so interesting to see what they have to offer and also support the locals.
You will also find two Disney owned stores called She Sells Sea Shells and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore. All of the items here are Castaway Cay branded and can only be found on the island. If you see something you want don’t wait. The shops will close earlier than the island does and you can’t find these items on the ship!
The merchandise you’ll find on Castaway Cay.
You can also purchase beach toys, bathing suits, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen and other beach day essentials you may have left behind.
Bahamian Market Place – I wish I had some pictures of their offerings but I missed it before they closed last time!
Serenity Bay – Adults Only
Serenity Bay is the adults only beach area on Castaway Cay. Guests using this area and its amenities must be 18 or over. The secluded beach is home to 12 of the Castaway cabanas and has all the amenities the rest of the island offers without guests having to travel far or mix with younger families. There is also a massage cabana on Serenity Bay for on-island massages. Sign me up!
Serenity Bay is located on the far side of the island from the ship. You’ll need to take the tram to get there. Above is a look at the Tram Stop located closest to Serenity Bay. The entrance to the beach is immediately to the left located just outside the picture.
Serenity Bay guest can enjoy lunch at Serenity Bay BBQ, purchase drinks at the Castaway Air Bar and rent floats at the Windstock Hut.
Castaway Cay has 25 Private cabanas for rent on the island. 12 are in the adults only area Serenity Beach. The other half are located closer to the family beach area and also have a private beach area for Cabana users only.
Private Beach for Cabana guests.
How to rent a cabana for the day.
Cabanas are rented on the Disney Cruise Line website once your reservation has been paid in full and your online check-in is complete. Cabanas are generally rented by concierge level clients who have the ability to do their online check-in at 120 days prior to sailing. They are typically sold out by the time general sailing guests are able to check in. If you want a cabana you should choose to sail in one of Disney Cruise Lines concierge level rooms and let the concierge level staff or your travel agent know prior to your online check-in date.
What is the Cost of a Cabana?
- Family Beach Cabana -$549
- up to 6 guests, each additional guest $50, max 10 guests total
- Grand Family Beach Cabana – $899
- up to 10 guests, each additional guest $50, max 16 guests total
- Serenity Bay Beach Cabana – $399
- up to 4 guests, each additional guest $50, max 10 guests total
What does the Cabana Rental include?
- Private beach retreat
- Comfortable seating
- Fresh Water Shower
- Unlimited Bottled Water
- Unlimited Soda
- Fresh Fruit
- Snorkel equipment
- Tube Rental
- Bike Rental
- Sand Toys
- Selection of magazines
*prices and amenities subject to change without notice.
What to Pack in your Beach Bag?
- Beach toys
- Beach bag
- Portable battery
- Change of clothes
- Shoes to ride bikes or do other excursions activities
- Beach Shoes/Water Shoes
- Water bottle
- Snorkel gear if you decide to bring your own.
Perfect Day Castaway Cay
Many of my clients ask me what to expect for their day on Castaway. I know it can be really hard to imagine especially if you’ve never visited a private cruise line island. To help you better understand what to expect I say picture it as a beach day with built-in activities and water park type amenities. Here’s my perfect day at Castaway Cay to help you plan for your day.
- Order room service the night before for a quick breakfast before you disembark the ship or eat at Cabanas.
- Meet in the Azure Lounge to Disembark ship for the Castaway 5k
- Beach time after Castaway 5k or preferred excursion
- Bike ride to explore the island. This takes about an hour.
- Snorkel in the lagoon.
- Shopping – Note that the shops will close earlier than your back on board time. Make sure you’re shopping several hours before you need to board the ship.
- Beach time
- Back on board
Tips for the Day
- Order room service the night before for breakfast the following morning. Then you can sit on your verandah and enjoy breakfast while you watch the island come to life.
- Mickey waffles and hot items are not available on the room service menu for breakfast. But you can quickly run up to Cabanas buffet and bring a hot plate back to the room if you desire!
- If you’d like to be first off the ship make sure to sign up for the Castaway Cay 5k prior to the morning you arrive on the island. Sign-ups must be done onboard at the excursion desk.
- Pre-sign up your kids for kids club on the ship if you plan to drop them at Scuttles Landing Island kids club.
- There is no wifi on the island.
- Do your shopping early so you don’t miss out. The shops will close prior to the island departure time. You can only get Castaway Cay items on the island so don’t wait if you see something you want!