Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is a highlight for anyone traveling on a Disney Cruise Line Caribbean or Bahamian itinerary. This activity-filled island paradise offers some fantastic amenities for everyone in the family and is completely private – just for Disney Cruise Line. Once you visit for the first time, you’ll be absolutely in love with the island.
Most of the staff that you’ll grow to love on the cruise ship disembarks to work on the island for the day, making it a fantastic experience. Whether this is your very first time on Disney’s private island, or you’ve been before, this list of things to do at Disney’s Castaway Cay should help you plan a fabulous stay for the day.
I’ve been to Castaway Cay 12 times on separate sailings, and have found that there are so many things to do. You’ll definitely want to go back and it probably won’t feel repetitive.
Disclosure: I’ve experienced Castaway Cay on complimentary press trips, at a discount on the Disney Social Media Moms trip, and at full cost on personal trips. All opinions are my own.
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Things to Do at Disney’s Castaway Cay
What’s On Disney’s Castaway Cay?
Until you visit Castaway Cay, it’s difficult to imagine exactly what to expect when you get there. Is it a beach, or a town? Most frequent cruisers claim that it’s the best port of call on their itinerary.
Upon disembarking the ship, you’ll find a number of fun activities for your day at Castaway Cay. Here’s some of what you’ll expect.
The island offers several beautiful beach areas, including the snorkel lagoon, the family beach, and Serenity Bay (the adult-only section). Beaches include hammocks, lounge chairs, and umbrellas that are available at no extra cost
There’s also a small beach area that is only available to guests renting a Castaway Cay cabana.
There’s plenty of room on Castaway Cay for everyone, but I always love to disembark early so that I can choose my favorite location and settle in for a nice beach day. Note that if you are on a Disney Dream or the Disney Fantasy, you’ll find that the beaches get more crowded and it’s more difficult to get a cabana. That’s because those ships accommodate more passengers.
Another fun area is the Pelican Plunge, which includes two water slides and a bucket dump. This is one of my kids’ favorite spots, but it can definitely be cold when the water temperature is lower.
The Spring-a-Leak water play area is another fun area for kids, as is Scuttle’s Cove, a kids’ club for ages 3-12. Cast members for the club are the same ones from the ship, so your kids will have some familiarity with them.
Teens may enjoy the Teen Hideout. This area is for kids aged 14-17. There’s also a special teen excursion, The Wild Side Teen Adventure, which is offered at an additional fee.
You’ll also find character greetings (see the Disney Navigator or the Disney Cruise Line app for a full schedule). My kids love seeing Captain Jack Sparrow on the island.
Entertainment is offered on the island. You’ll find the various offerings on the Disney Cruise Line app. In the past, these have included a DJ and crab races, run by the cruise staff.
If you love to shop, you’ll find several shops selling Castaway Cay exclusive merchandise. Keep in mind that the discount for Castaway Club gold and platinum members doesn’t apply in the Bahamas, however. Purchases can be made on your ship account, and everything is in US dollars.
There’s also a separate post office on the island, as well as a few outdoor, open-air bars (chair service is also available on the beaches). If you want to play sports, there’s a Sports Beach featuring sports like volleyball and soccer.
On Castaway Cay day, activities and meals on the ship are fairly limited, since the cruise staff heads outside to the island. I definitely recommend getting off the ship for a good part of the day. If you are like me, and chase shade, there are plenty of umbrellas where you can sit in the shade.
What’s Included at Disney’s Castaway Cay?
As soon as you disembark, you’ll find bins of beach towels to use for the day. Cast members will assist you in getting them. You’ll also be offered the opportunity to purchase cooler bags filled with cold water bottles.
Beach chairs, hammocks, life vests, and umbrellas on Castaway Cay are free to use but are first-come, first-served. It’s pretty easy to find a beach chair and umbrella, but the hammocks are usually taken pretty early, especially if you are on one of the larger ships.
Meals on Castaway Cay, including soda and ice cream, are complimentary at Cookies BBQ, Cookies Too (a little further from the Family Beach), and Serenity Bay BBQ (smaller, but adult-only and located near the adult-only beach). While it’s standard BBQ fare, I always find the food to be delicious, and perfect for a beach day. The restaurants are staffed by the dining room teams from the ship.
While you are allowed to walk to all of the beach areas at Castaway Cay, there is also a tram service that can take you from near the ship, all the way to Serenity Bay (although you will have to change trams). I find it easy to walk to the family beach, but take the tram when I go to Serenity Bay. It’s a long walk and it can be hot.
What are the Extras at Disney’s Castaway Cay?
There are definitely some extras that you’ll be able to book/purchase on Castaway Cay, although you can still have lots of fun without spending any money at all. Castaway Cay activities include the following:
- Charter boats for fishing, snorkeling, and parasailing
- Bicycle rentals (fun for a bike ride exploring the island)
- Inner tube and snorkeling gear rentals. You can also bring your own snorkeling equipment.
- Excursions, including the popular Castaway Ray Stingray experience. Book these on the ship.
- Private cabanas, which cost extra, but include inner tubes, snorkeling equipment, bike rentals, canned soft drinks, snacks, and sunscreen. Book those right when your booking window opens, because they are extremely popular.
- Alcoholic beverages (purchased either at one of the several bars on the island, or the beach-front servers).
- Specialty non-alcoholic drinks, including those served at Olaf’s Summertime Freeze
- Merchandise purchased at the shops.
- Bottled water
If you are thinking of renting snorkels, tubes, and bikes, the Castaway Getaway Package can be a good deal. It includes a bike rental for an hour and a snorkel/float or tube rental for the day. It’s a port adventure and can be booked online or through the port adventure desk.
You’ll want to make sure you use everything that’s included in the Castaway Getaway Package to get full value. Otherwise, it’s best to rent just what you need. Gil’s Fins and Boats is where you’ll pick up snorkel gear and other equipment, while you can get tubes, fins, and floats at Flippers & Floats.
Castaway Cay Excursions
Excursions and cabanas can be booked in advance, according to the schedule based upon your Castaway Club level. Cabanas book up very fast and are often only available for platinum Castaway Club members and concierge guests (because of their earlier booking window) – especially on the Dream and Fantasy. Keep checking if you aren’t able to get a reservation right away.
If you are interested in participating in the Castaway Cay 5K, you’ll need to book that at the Port Excursions desk on the ship or on the app. Lots of people participate in the Castaway Cay 5K. If you choose to do it, you’ll meet up with the group on the ship and then head out first thing. It’s a fun run, so no need to feel any pressure. Note that since the cruise restart, the 5K has become an individual activity.
Port excursions include:
- A stingray adventure
- Glass bottom boat trips
- Jetboat tours
When I go to Castaway Cay, I usually spend my time relaxing on the beach. Although there are tons of activities on the island, I usually just love to grab a beach chair and umbrella and spent time between the chair and the water.
Castaway Cay Weather
Castaway Cay is located in the Bahamas, and so you’ll want to check the weather in the Bahamas before you go. It can definitely vary. I’ve been in January when the temperature was absolutely perfect – in the low 80s and sunny. But during another January trip, the weather was in the high 60s.
After twelve visits to Castaway Cay, I can say that I’ve only experienced bad weather once. It’s always a possibility, however, so be prepared, just in case. If that does happen, I can assure you that the cast members will do a great job of making sure you still have a great experience.
On that sailing with bad weather, we were able to spend the morning on the beach. When the thunderstorms came, we had to stay under shelter until it was safe to return to the ship. Once we were back on cruise ship, we were met with towels and additional onboard activities were added.
Frequently Asked Questions About Disney Castaway Cay
Are there any hotels on Castaway Cay?
Castaway Cay is exclusively for Disney Cruise Line passengers. There are no hotels, homes, or other overnight accommodations on the island for guests. One ship docks there at a time so you’ll only be there with passengers from your ship.
Do all Disney Cruise Line ships go to Castaway Cay?
The Caribbean and Bahamian Disney Cruise Line ships typically visit Castaway Cay. Other itineraries, including Alaska and Europe do not, for obvious reasons. There are some special double-dip itineraries that include two stops at Castaway Cay.
Do you pay for food at Castaway Cay?
Lunch at Castaway Cay is complimentary, although just like on the ship, you’ll pay for alcohol and other specialty foods/drinks.
Do you go through customs at Castaway Cay?
You’ll have to take a photo ID off the ship. While you won’t go through customs, you will have to show your ID and your Key to the World card when you return to the ship.
Do you have to get off the ship at Castaway Cay?
While you aren’t required to get off the ship at Castaway Cay, I highly recommend visiting the island. It’s absolutely beautiful, and there aren’t as many dining options or activities on the ship during Castaway day. You can always return back to the ship whenever you’d like.
How did Hurricane Dorian affect Castaway Cay?
I recently visited Castaway Cay in November 2019. It seems as though the crew beach and Serenity Bay (the adult-only beach) were the most affected. We spent most of our time on Serenity Bay, and while there was definitely less beach, it was still more than enough for the adults on our Disney Dream sailing.
If you want to take a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line, be sure to book with Get Away Today. When you mention Family Travel Magazine, you get an extra $25 onboard credit! Give their agents a call at 877-510-2929.
Have you been to Castaway Cay? What was your favorite thing to do?
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