What You Need To Know About Castaway Cay: Disney’s Private Island
Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. With turquoise water, white-sand beaches, and activities galore, Castaway Cay is a Bahamian oasis.
For the third year in a row, Cruise Critic named Castaway Cay the “Best Cruise Line Private Island”. Here is what you need to know about Disney’s Castaway Cay.
The History Of Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is an exclusive port for Disney Cruise Line. Disney purchased a 99-year land lease from the Bahamian Government in 1997, giving the company complete control over guest experience on the island. Only a small portion of the land has been developed.
Formerly known as Gorda Cay, bootleggers and drug runners once used the area. It was also a filming location for Splash and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
A few Disney Cruise Line employees live on the island full-time.
Disney Does Things Best
Disney has gone above and beyond to make sure your time on Castaway Cay is pleasant and memorable. A fantastic feature is that the ship docks right up to the island; you do not have to take a tender to get there. Cruisers rejoice!
Trams will take you around the three-mile island, so you don’t have to walk. Forget bringing towels from your stateroom to the beach (and remembering to bring them back!) as towels are provided for you throughout Castaway Cay. As with some Caribbean beaches, you don’t have to pay for using the lounges and umbrellas. They are readily available to those who wish to use them. A complimentary Caribbean lunch is even served on the island.
Castaway Cay is “cash-less”. You will use your Key to the World card for all purchases made on the island. Don’t feel like carrying around what you bought? Have your purchases delivered to the ship and pick them up once you return.
As usual, Disney is also doing what it can to help the environment. Solar panels fuel water heaters for bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry on the island. Disney is also helping to restore the coral reefs in the area (by transplanting long-spined sea urchins to foster growth) and protect loggerhead sea turtle nests. I appreciate that the company is not just using the island for its own benefit, but also giving back.
Things To Do at Castaway Cay
Whether you are interested in sunbathing, water activities, shopping, exercising, or exploring, Castaway Cay has something for everyone!
Castaway Family Beach
The Castaway Family Beach is the main beach area on Castaway Cay and the closest to the ship. Cruisers of all ages can enjoy spending time here. The beach is in a pretty centralized location, so you can get to everything on the island with ease from here. Just pick a spot on the beach, drop your things, and enjoy your day on Castaway Cay!
Serenity Bay is an adults-only oasis. This peaceful beach is at the very end of Castaway Cay, so I recommend taking the tram to get there. You can relax in a hammock or grab a drink from the Open Air Bar and listen to live music. Lunch is served at Serenity Bay, so you can enjoy a quiet, adults-only meal while you’re there.
Note: You must be at least 18-years-old to spend time at Serenity Bay.
This 2400 square foot floating platform is full of water-play activities, including two slides and a dump bucket.
Tip: Pelican Plunge isn’t just for kids!
Castaway Cay’s newest water-play area is Spring-A-Leak. Smaller children will love this spot, modeled after a storm-raged structure.
In Da Shade Game Pavilion
Take a break from the sun and play games like table tennis, foosball, and basketball in a shaded structure.
Buy Castaway Cay merchandise that you can’t find anywhere else. From t-shirts to hats, flip flops to toys, picture frames to cups, a little bit of everything is sold here. Forget to pack a beach necessity? You can pick it up here, too.
Tip: Pin Collectors, do not miss shopping for exclusive Castaway Cay pins!
Castaway Cay 5K
Take a 3.1 mile loop around the island with Run Disney’s Castaway Cay 5K. This popular event is free, but you must register at Guest Services ahead of time. All participants receive a medal at the end, whether you ran or walked the 5K.
Those running the 5K are let off of the boat first in Castaway Cay, so I recommend bringing a backpack full of what you will need for the day, so you don’t have to go back to the ship afterward.
You must be at least 10-years-old to participate.
Note: It’s about a ten-minute walk to the starting line.
Children ages 3 to 12 can hang out in the kid’s club, Scuttle’s Cove. Participate in organized activities, including a treasure hunt and “dig” while being supervised by the kid’s club counselors from the boat.
Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) will want to visit the Hideout, a special area just for for them.
What is a day on Disney property without characters?
Character Greeting times are listed in your Navigator, although some will pop up without warning. During our cruises, the characters that met on Castaway Cay were Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Stitch, Captain Hook, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Don’t miss the Character Dance Party at the Island Gazebo!
There are two trails on Castaway Cay that are great for walking, running, or biking. They are also great for checking out the beautiful landscape on the island and seeing parts you might not have visited otherwise.
Head out on a snorkeling trail to see marine life, sunken treasures, and a hidden Mickey. The Lagoon is free to use, but you will have to borrow a life vest.
Make the most of your visit to Castaway Cay by spending some time on the water. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, aqua trike, floats, snorkel gear, fins, or inner tubes. Life vests are free.
For the ultimate Castaway Cay experience, rent a Cabana or splurge for an open-air massage.
Disney Cruise Line will also offer several excursions during your day in Castaway Cay. Visit the Excursion Desk onboard for more information.
Shop Our Castaway Cay Essentials On Amazon
Very Merrytime Cruises
If you are sailing on a Disney Very Merrytime Cruise, Castaway Cay will be decorated for the holidays. A huge Christmas tree sits on the dock, garland wraps around the island, and Disney themed wreaths hang at the tram stops.
After visiting Castaway Cay in December and again in February, I prefer the island decorated for the holidays. It just added a little extra magic to our Castaway Cay experience!
Tips For Castaway Cay
- “Cay” is pronounced “Key”.
- Get off the boat early. The island will get busier as the day goes on.
- There are no lockers on Castaway Cay. Only bring what you will need for the day.
- Strollers and wheelchairs are provided on the island. You may use these for free, but keep in mind they are first-come, first-serve.
- You don’t need to head back to the ship super early. From Serenity Bay, it will only take you about 30-minutes (and that’s if you have to wait on the trams).
- Use the trams to get around unless you want to photograph the island. The walk from the ship to the first beach is pretty long, and the walk to Serenity Bay is even longer.
Enjoy Your Day On Castaway Cay
Whether you want to rent equipment and enjoy the water or just sit back and relax in a lounge chair, you are sure to have a memorable day on Castaway Cay.
I hope you enjoy Castaway Cay as much as I do–it’s one of my favorite ports of call!
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Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.