Dos & Don’ts of Disney’s Castaway Cay


While Disney’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas is a wee isle, 3.1 miles long and 2.2 miles wide, it is packed with so much to do, you might have a hard time deciding how to spend your time. There’s sunbathing, waterslides, bike trails, open-air massages, two water play areas, parasailing, fishing, a stingray interaction adventure and more. Caribbean cruisers aboard Disney’s Fantasy and Dream ships typically make one (or two) stops at this private island. To make the most of your visit, here are some Castaway Cay tips.

Disney Castaway Cay tips

Don’t forget your stateroom key.

You will not be able to disembark or reboard the ship without your stateroom key. 

Castaway Cay tram

Do take the tram.

It’s a long walk from the ship to the beach but you can hop aboard a handy (and complimentary) shuttle to get around the island.

Disney's Castaway Cay strollers

Don’t bring a stroller.

There are free strollers, wagons and joggers available on Castaway Cay. There are even special wheelchairs made specifically for use on the sand for physically challenged cruisers.

Castaway Cay waterslides

Do rent an innertube.

It provides oodles of fun for children for just a few bucks. Then you can sit back and watch the kids play while you dip your toes in the waves.

Disney's Castaway Cay toddler on the beach

Don’t let go of your beer.

The plastic beach-friendly bottles may look cool but they tip easily, spilling precious beer all over the sand.

Disney's Castaway Cay BBQ

Do eat on Castaway Cay.

There’s no sense wasting beachtime eating on the ship when the food is tasty and free on Castaway Cay. There are three places to eat: Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ and a “secret” BBQ near Serenity Bay (the adult-only beach). The restaurant at Serenity Bay is solely for grown-ups and offers bonus entrees not available at the other two — like deliciously seasoned grilled steak.

Castaway Cay Spring A Leak splash fountains

Don’t pay for bottled water.

There are plenty of coolers situated throughout the island where you can get a cup of cold filtered water for free.

Disney's Castaway Cay bike path

Do work off your calories.

Take a yoga class on the beach. Swim or snorkel off your lunch. Play volleyball or tetherball at Sports Beach. Rent a paddleboat, kayak or aquabike from Gil’s Fins and Boats. Play ping-pong, basketball and other games at one of two Game Pavilions. Explore the 1.5 miles of bike trails aboard a beach cruiser — child seats, kids’ bikes, and tandem bicycles are available for rental.

Disney's Castaway Cay souvenir store

Don’t wait to buy Castaway Cay souvenirs back on the boat.

You can only get Castaway Cay gear and memorabilia on the island.

Dos and Dont's of Disney's Castaaway CayDo relax.

You could get Castaway Cay fever trying to squeeze too many activities into one day. Instead, pick a couple of must-dos that will please everyone in the family. The point here is to unwind, island-style.

Have you been to Castaway Cay? What are your thoughts about the island? Let us know in the comments!

A note from the Travel Mama: Thank you to Disney Cruise Line for inviting me to sail on Fantasy in 2012 and Dream in 2011!

All photos by Colleen Lanin besides the final photo, which was provided courtesy of Disney.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is a mom of two and the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of THE TRAVEL MAMAS' GUIDE, she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen teaches blogging classes and has given travel tips on television, radio, and as a paid video blogger. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing.

Comments

  1. This sounds like a great break from the ship. Does the ship stop there only once per voyage?

    • All Disney Caribbean cruises include at least one stop at Castaway Cay. Some cruises include two days at this private isle.

      • HI, Will be at Disney Cay in late February,how do you pay for anything you buy or drink there,can you use your bracelet from the ship and have it charged to your room? Thanks

        • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

          Hi Dave – You can charge alcoholic beverages, souvenirs and activities to your room on Castaway Cay. The food is included, so no need to pay for that!

  2. I DO really want to go to Castaway Cay now! Great tips.

  3. Great timing for this article. We will be there next week and I’ve been trying to get info on Castaway all week. This has been the best article I’ve read so far… mainly cause this is the first I have seen the little splash area. My one year old loves those.

  4. Looks like an awesome place to visit! A little piece of paradise.

  5. Renting bikes was definitely our family’s favorite thing to do. It was a little chilly when we were there in December so the water wasn’t too inviting. The weather was perfect, however, for biking and you can ride out to a great overlook tower, and see the whole island while riding on flat and easy paved bike paths. I will definitely do it again next time I’m there.

  6. Emanuele says:

    This is one great post! You were able to show how fun would it be in the Castaway Cay while sharing tips at the same time.

  7. Amanda Murrell says:

    We are doing this in February. We have a waterproof camera. I would love to get some great shots from up in the air. But I also want some of us taken from the boat. I’ve seem some great ones with the ship in the background. Is there anyone official taking photos like that for purchase that you know of?

    • Amanda – Disney has “official” photographers available all over the boat and even at Castaway Cay. All different kinds of photo packages are available for purchase; I’m sure you will get some great shots. Enjoy your cruise! (So jealous…!)

    • The great thing about DCL is that the cast members will take photos of you and your kids with YOUR camera as well as the professional cameras they use! Other cruise lines won’t do this, they want you to buy all the good photos!

  8. Leela Ross says:

    I am so happy that I’m going on the disney cruise! It sounds so fun!

  9. Congrats on this Nice post.

    2 Questions:

    We will be there in first week of December. We have a 5 1/2 & 1 1/2 year old with us. Do you think we need Cabanas? Can we get hire Cabanas outside of Disney Cruise Web Site from private parties?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi KG – It’s really up to you if you want to have the luxury of the private cabanas. It will not be very warm in December, so I would think you will not need the extra shade the cabanas provide. You can’t hire cabanas from private parties – everything at Castaway Cay is Disney-owned and operated. Have an incredible time on your cruise!

  10. How I wish I’d seen this before our cruise earlier this month! We were at Castaway Cay and it was fabulous. However I didn’ t know the food was inclusive at Cookies’ places. Not that it mattered–we came up from the beach at 3:30 to get lunch and BOTH Cookies were CLOSED!! The bar where they gave us some chips was closing too, with a lock up time of 4:00. They told us that Cookies’ places both closed at 2:00. What’s up with that Disney!?! We didn’t have be back on the ship until 5:30. :*( Booo hooooooo We were so looking forward to relaxing with some BBQ and a cold drink after playing hard all day.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Mary – Good to know that the restaurants close so early on Castaway Cay. I hope you had a great time on Castaway Cay nonetheless!

  11. Andy Green says:

    Hi we are going this April, we are two adults two children 10 and 13, is it possible to have a great day without spending money on the organized trips, many thanks.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Andy – For sure you can have a fabulous time on Castaway Cay without any organized excursions. Bike rentals, inner-tubes and alcohol cost a little bit extra but you could simply play on the beach, swim in the ocean and go down the waterslides…all for no cost. Food is included too!

  12. Hi – we are going on a Disney cruise next week with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. They can play in the sand all day so we are really looking forward to this stop. Does Disney have shovels and sand toys for the kids? Can we rent them on the island? Should we think about bring our own?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Becky – What fun! I believe Disney does provide sand toys. I know they did on a beach excursion in Sardinia during our Mediterranean cruise. If not, you could easily pick up a few sand toys from the gift shops on Castaway Cay. If you really want to bring something with you, I like these buckets/shovels from Small World Express because they are small & easy to fit in luggage: http://astore.amazon.com/travmama03-20/detail/B001798SFC

  13. Do they have good snorkeling for all ages at Castaway??

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Melissa – Snorkeling is available for adults and children on Castaway Cay. You can rent gear on shore or buy or bring your own. They even have a sunken ship to attract fishies!

  14. Gaby Cisneros says:

    Hi we are going this February, we are two adults two children 9 and 5, is it possible to use the water coaster due to the weather?
    Thanks

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Gaby – I assume you mean the ship’s water coaster? Yes! Where are you headed in February? If it’s the Caribbean, I imagine it will be plenty warm enough to enjoy the water coaster on board the ship. Enjoy!

  15. Oh man, this makes me even more excited! We are going on our first cruise in September. Thanks for sharing this information. It’s very helpful and we can’t wait till it’s our turn.

  16. Kelly Mills says:

    Hi,
    We’re going on the Disney cruise to Nassau. I was thinking about the Catamaran trip to go snorkeling and was wondering if it’s better on Castaway Cay (2.5 hours) or Nassau (4 + hours)?
    Thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Kelly – I can’t help you out on that once since I haven’t done either snorkeling tour. You will really need to weigh the pros and cons for each. You may want to ask your question on a cruise chat board, like those on CruiseCritic.com.

    • Diana Creek says:

      The snorkeling is so so. They have what they call a rock garden with Mickey and Minnie and other man made objects for corrals and a sunken boat. It is very BUSY and the kids can be loud and stand on the bottome frequently making visibility an issue at times. If you have your own gear stop at the snorkel hut and get your life preserver!! They are required and it is a long walk in the sand to get back to them!

  17. We are going to take a Disney Cruise Line Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. We only have a tourist US visa, will we be allowed to enter Castaway Cay?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Angel – Castaway Cay is officially part of The Bahamas. I would check with Disney Cruise Line directly on this question to be safe!

  18. You said something about basketball on the island? Do you know if they have anythjng organized or if it is just for fun?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Tanner – I don’t think there’s anything organized but if you want to set up a game with fellow cruisers, I suggest going to CruiseCritic.com’s chat rooms. You can find the date of your sailing there and get to know your fellow cruisers before you even leave home. You could try to set up a basketball game on Castaway Cay via the chat room.

  19. We will be on the Wonder this Wednesday! It’s our 1st Disney cruise. Are there plenty of chairs & beach umbrellas on castaway cay? Is there a charge? The grandparents are joining us and this is a must have for them.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Rosie-

      I know you can pay a fee for a luxury cabana with shade and other amenities but I can’t remember if there were complimentary umbrellas available. There were plenty of beach chairs, but still they can get filled up so I suggest arriving early. I have sent your question to my PR contact at Disney Cruise Line and I’ll let you know what she says about the umbrellas! Enjoy your cruise!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Well, that was fast! My Disney Cruise Line PR contact said this about the umbrellas/beach chairs:

      Yes, there are plenty of beach chairs and loungers for all guests on Castaway Cay at no charge. Umbrellas are on a first come basis, no charge and there is a large quantity of those as well, already set up on the beach.

  20. kim magee says:

    Im a little concerned about getting the tram to other areas for the day and the tram being overly full if you dont head back early and not being able to get back to the boat on time, cant walk back if its far with small children walking, do the trams getting crowded heading back to the boat near to departure time to the point you might get stuck

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Kim – You shouldn’t have any trouble catching a tram back to the ship. If you are concerned, just give yourself some extra time instead of waiting for the final tram of the day! Enjoy your Disney Cruise!

  21. Michelle says:

    Do you know if there will be gluten free food available at Castaway Cay?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Michelle – Disney is excellent about offering dining options for travelers with food sensitivities and allergies. I don’t have specific information about gluten-free dining at Castaway Cay but I know that you can make your gluten free needs known when you register for your cruise. I would take it a step further by talking specifically with your head waiter (you’ll have the same one throughout your cruise) about your needs on your first night. I’m sure Disney can accommodate you!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Michelle – I checked with Disney Cruise Line PR and this was they said:

      Gluten-free dining options are available on Castaway Cay, as well as onboard. We ask families to notify us prior to sailing of any special dietary restrictions and to talk to their dining servers who will instruct them where to obtain gluten-free items on the island.

  22. Christina says:

    Does DCL provide swimming vest for kids, especially for those who don’t swim?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Christina – DCL DOES provide swimming vests for kiddos. My son is sporting one under the “Do rent an innertube” tip. Of course, you still need to be very vigilant about watching young ones in the water. Have a wonderful cruise!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Christina – I checked with Disney Cruise Line PR and this was their response:

      Disney Cruise Line has pool vests available for children onboard our ships and on Castaway Cay. We strongly recommend all children have adult supervision in the pools and water play areas onboard as well as at the beach on Castaway Cay.

  23. Carolina says:

    Do they have bikes with training wheels?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Carolina – That’s a good question! I tried to find the answer online but came up short. I’ve sent an email to the DCL PR peeps. I’ll let you know if there are any bikes with training wheels to rent on Castaway Cay when they get back to me.

      • Colleen,
        Your tips are so helpful. Thank you.
        My children and I will be on the Dream to Castaway very soon. They are chomping at the bit to try out the parasailing. Is it worth the short ride in the sky? Do I have to reserve on line before I leave for the cruise or is it something I can do once we are on the island that day? Currently, I noticed there is a 2:30 flight time (for an hour). If we do that time, will we have enough time to get back on board the ship? Thank you!\
        Austin

        • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

          Hi Austin – I have tried parasailing once, but not on Castaway Cay. It is definitely an experience your family will always remember! You could probably try parasailing elsewhere at a less expensive rate (I did it in Mexico), but it would be fun no matter where you go. You can book most activities on the island OR beforehand but if they get booked up, you’ll be out of luck. I’m sure you’ll have enough time to get back to the ship or they wouldn’t allow that time slot. I doubt you’d be in the air for a whole hour. (I think my flight was about 15 minutes or so, and that was plenty for me.) Have a great time!

        • Hi Austin,
          I just thought I’d add a couple things too about parasailing. I’ve done it twice in Phuket, Thailand and Destin, Florida. If it’s the same as Destin, we went via speedboat with 4 other people we didn’t know. So it takes a little time to get to where they put you in the harness. Also, you wait for the other people to have their turn too. Hence, the hour. On a separate issue, I also wanted to say we booked excursions ahead of time on our Disney Cruise (though not parasailing), and you can cancel up until you board without paying. We didn’t know this, and forgot to cancel a snorkeling excursion we decided we didn’t want to do. They weren’t going to let us cancel it, since we’d set sail already. We ended up getting out of paying for it, due to choppy waves and they canceled all the excursions that day on Castaway Cay. So, I’d say book now (since it doesn’t cost anything until later), make up your mind a day before the cruise, and go from there. Have fun!
          Kelly

          • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

            Kelly – Good point on the parasailing timing and great tip on booking now and deciding right before the cruise!

  24. Does Cookies and Cookies Too serve breakfast or just lunch. We’ve had lunch there and it was delicious but I was wondering if we go directly there in the morning can we get breakfast.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Susan – Breakfast isn’t served on Castaway Cay. I believe lunch is served 11:30 am – 2 pm, but the time might vary depending on your cruise and length of time in port.

  25. Hi, can you please help me with a few questions:

    1. I have my snorkel mask and flippers but no vest, are vests available to use for free or should I expect to rent this at the island?

    2. I’ll be doing the Disney dream cruise which stops at Nassau, my family and I will likely do a day at the Atlantis water park, I’ve been told the pre-pay price of admission via Disney comes with a premium vs. paying at the Atlantis facility, do you have insight into this?

    3. On the same financial topic – with respect to castaway cay activities, can you comment on the pre-pay price vs. the price of activities at the island, is there a price break if you wait to pay for (snorkeling/parasailing/biking) once you get to the island?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Colt – Let me check with my contact at Disney Cruise Line to see if I can answer these questions for you. I’ll post again when I hear back from them!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Colt – Here’s what the Disney Cruise Line peeps said in response to your questions:

      1. Snorkeling vests are available at Castaway Cay at no additional charge.
      2. Disney Cruise Line offers a number of Port Adventures to Atlantis that include Aquaventure (the water park at Atlantis), including some excursions with additional experiences like snorkeling and interactions with dolphins and sea lions. Additionally, there is a Port Adventure solely for Aquaventure, if guests want to take the entire day to enjoy the water park. All of these Port Adventures include transportation to and from Atlantis as well as lunch. According to the Atlantis website, day passes to Aquaventure can be purchased, but they are not always available. Guests wishing to ensure they can experience Aquaventure can book in advance with Disney Cruise Line, and can then focus on having a relaxing, worry-free vacation.
      3. Port Adventures are not more or less expensive when booked in advance, however, some of the packages are not available once on the island, such as the Castaway Cay Getaway Package. Others have limited availability (noted in the “Important Additional Information” section of the Port Adventure description on disneycruise.com), so guests wishing to participate in those experiences should consider booking in advance.

  26. Kelly Mills says:

    And don’t forget to check in online on Disney’s site. Lots of questions can be answered there too.

  27. Me and my soon to be husband are thinking of taking a disney cruise in march or April for our honeymoon. Which ship and month is best out of Florida should we take? And what should we know and do we need passports

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Tammie – Typically Dream and Fantasy (the two newer ships) are the ships that sail out of Florida. Both ships are fabulous and very similar. It really is a matter of which ports you’d like to visit and your preferred cruise length. For most cruises, you will need a passport because you will be stopping at Mexico, Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay (which is actually part of The Bahamas), or other foreign Caribbean islands. Have an incredible honeymoon!

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