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’s 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.

Dos and Dont's of Disney's Castaway Cay

(Photo credit: David Roark, photographer)

Don’t forget your stateroom key.

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

Do take the tram on Disney's Castaway Cay!

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Borrow a stroller or wagon on Castaway Cay

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Pelican Plunge on Castaway Cay

(Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Do rent an inner tube.

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.

Rent an inner tube on Castaway Cay

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Do eat on Castaway Cay!

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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. If you’d like to eat lunch on Castaway Cay, though, don’t wait till too late. The restaurants typically shut down for the day at 2 pm.

Fountain play area for kids on Castaway Cay

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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.

Rent a bike on Castaway Cay!

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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 bicycles are available for rental.

Be sure to buy Castaway Cay souvenirs on shore - they aren't available on the Disney Cruise Line ships.

(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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

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

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney in the Bahamas

(Photo credit: Disney)

Do 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! This story was originally posted in 2012 and was updated with new photos in 2016.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "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 gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Nikki Vaughan says:

    Hi, great tips! Thanks for sharing! We will be going to Castaway Cay for the first time in February. Just hubby and I as we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Our anniversary actually is on the 13th and we will be at CC on that day..so excited! My question is since this our first time we do want to explore a bit but mainly stay on the adult beach. We plan on snorkeling there and in the snorkel area for a bit, have lunch, visit shoos, post office, etc. We are thinking of doing a fishing excursion as we both love to fish and thought it would cool to fish in the Bahamas…but I’m worried we will not have enough time to enjoy the island. Any suggestions? Thank you! :).

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Nikki – I suppose it depends on how long the fishing excursion is. Castaway Cay is a small island and easily explored but if you really want to relax and enjoy the isle, you might want to skip fishing because you can fish elsewhere but there is only one private Disney island. It really is about how you want to spend your day!

  2. Frances M. says:

    How warm is it at Castaway in Feb? How warm/cool will the water be?

  3. December in Bahamas – I’m considering a Christmas cruise to the Bahamas but I’m concerned about water temps. Is it too cold to swim there at this time of the year? I’ve been to the USVI in Feb and water was warm enough to swim in and also in the summer months – I’m used to the temps being like bath water (around 85 F I’d say?).

    Has anyone been in December that can tell me what it’s like there – as well as on the ship. Is it just too cold to swim on t he ship pools / waterslides and /or the cay beaches in December?? If so, I think I’ll go during summer instead – thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Lesli – Here’s a chart of water temperatures in the Bahamas to help you make your decision: http://www.bahamas.com/water-temp-chart. The ship pools are heated when the temps drop below 75 degrees. Hope that helps!

    • We were there Jan 16, 2016. I was worried about the water temp. While ocean was cold when we first got in; my kids and I spent a lot of time in the water. In and out of the water at the family area and riding the slides at Pelican Point. My wife on the other hand felt it was too cold but her goal was to relax on the beach and get some sun so everyone was happy. Definitely not bath water temp. Recommend the bike ride regardless of when you go.

  4. Hello, we are doing a 4night cruise in the Bahamas. How much tips/gratuities should I expect to give? Btw your blog was very helpful.

  5. Michelle says:

    We just got back from there! We bought some
    cool drink holders beforehand that spike into the sand so your drinks don’t spill. They were a lifesaver. We got them from http://www.drinkspike.com. Loved all your tips!

  6. Leanne LaLonde says:

    We are also going on our first DC in April. Was wondering if we did the Extreme Getaway Package (Bike rentals, Snorkel rents, float rentals & Stingray adventure) if we would still have enough time to see the island, relax, have lunch and play at the beach? Or should we just not do the Stingray Adventure? How is the experience? It would be nice to relax but don’t want to miss anything.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Leanne – I think it really depends on what kind of a day you want to have. Do you want to stay active and experience as much of the island as possible? Or do you want to have a more relaxing lazy beach day? You will definitely have time to do the bicycle ride, snorkeling and floats…and the stingray experience looks to take about an hour so you could do that as well for sure. You could also play it more by ear. I didn’t rent my bicycle until I got on the island. You can also easily rent the snorkeling gear and floats once on Castaway Cay, assuming they don’t run out but they seemed to have plenty to go around. Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll have a great time! Enjoy!

  7. I was just at Castaway Cay last week. We had a great time! We disembarked early and did the 5K…afterwards, we went back to the ship gathered our kids, gear and had breakfast before heading back to the island. We enjoyed some beach time, parasailing and snorkeling. The snorkeling is better the further you go out (in protected area)…I was cold and turned back early because we were not seeing anything but churned up sand. My boys and husband continued on and said it was really good. Guess I need a wetsuit:) Parasailing was wonderful too…very calm and peaceful up in the sky.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Renae – Sounds like a wonderful day on Castaway Cay! (Well, besides the chilly water!) Thank you for sharing your experience.

  8. We’ve been considering a Disney Cruise. I’ll have to keep you beer tip in mind!

  9. Been there twice. Dirty, polluted and very crowded. It’s a tiny island and becomes uncomfortably crowded with all the passengers on it at once. It’s the only port I’ve ever hated. My Bf got sick (food poison) from the food and had to be wheeled back to the ship. Of all the private islands ive been to on the many cruise vacations I’ve taken, this is absolutely the worst!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Oh my, Nilda! I’m sorry to hear you had such a tough time!

    • I am surprised to hear this. We have been to Castaway Key 10 times and never had a bad experience. The island is beautiful and well cared for. There are plenty of lounges and umbrellas (free, by the way). We usually walk out to Serenity Bay (helps to walk off some of the calories we consume onboard) as soon as we are allowed to disembark, spend a couple of hours there enjoying the water and sun, and eat lunch there. The food is plentiful and tasty. Then depending on our energy levels either walk back to the family beach or ride the tram back. We spend a few more hours there. My hubby loves to do the snorkeling path and visit all the cool artifacts. I spend that time, reading, sunning and cooling off in the water. We stay on the island until about 4PM when we reluctantly head back to the ship to get ready for that evening’s show and dinner.

  10. We were just there June 22 2016
    You will not have as much time as you think.
    We ate breakfast on the ship, got off immediately afterward. Took tram to Island oceaneers club and left our 2 boys there (5 and 9) for 2 hours while BH and I hoofed it to Pelican plunge to get our area saved for later. Met our group of 8 for lunch at Cookies 1 and then got kids out of club. Walked back to pelican plunge area, rode slide once, swam as a family for maybe an hour and then people were telling us to start heading to the trams. I’m from PA and used to cold pool water, water did take a little getting used to.

  11. Stacey Stezoski says:

    Are towels provided for the beach?
    Any info or tips for doing the 5K?

  12. My family will be returning for the 4th time on Disney cruise! my two daughters one 20 and the other 17 three months shy of 18 can we all still go to the adult side of the island or will they give us a hard time?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Sue – There isn’t anyone checking IDs that I know of, so you should be fine. I think Disney just wants to provide a quiet, mellow place for people to escape little ones. Enjoy!

  13. PhotoDan9999 says:

    The Bike Rental is a must!
    I also did the 5K! It’s all flat so it was easy. And knowing if be doing the 5k at the end of the cruise forced me to not “over-eat” all week.
    I recommend doing the beach first and then excursions/bike ride, and then chill out at the beach last.
    Bring a couple freezer ZipLoc bags with you for your phone/camera and other valuables u opt to bring. You can also put fruit or ice in them for the beach. Double ZipLoc them! Get one of those lanyard waterproof zip cases to wear around your neck.
    If you don’t have kids with you, stick to the adult beach as the main beach is a zoo!
    Oh, and we “ended” our day with a Couple’s Massage, which was amazing! (We have kids but had pre-planned Grandma/Grandpa to babysit). BTW…we highly recommend bringing grandparents as you’ll feel lass guilty spending time away from your kids and the grandparents love it! Oh…and they surprised us by picking up the tabs at the end of the cruise!

  14. Can you bring things like plastic gold coins that you can bury in the sand for others to find?

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