Dos & Don’ts of Disney’s Castaway Cay (23 Helpful Tips!)

Disney’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas is a tiny island, but it’s packed with so much to do that you might have a hard time deciding how to spend your time. Measuring 3.1 miles long and 2.2 miles wide, it offers tons of activities like bike rentals, water play areas, parasailing, fishing, a stingray interaction experience, and more. Here are some Castaway Cay tips from family travel experts to make the most of your visit.

Disney's private island, Castaway Cay
Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (Photo credit: David Roark, Disney)

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1. Don’t forget your stateroom key.

The most important item to bring to Castaway Cay is your stateroom key. You will not be able to disembark or reboard the ship without it. Most other necessities, like sunblock and sand toys, can be purchased on the island.

Do take the tram on Disney's Castaway Cay!
The Castaway Cay tram is convenient for cruisers (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Do take the tram.

It’s a surprisingly long walk from the ship to the beach. Thankfully, you can hop aboard a handy and complimentary shuttle to get around the island.

Borrow a stroller or wagon on Castaway Cay
Stroller rentals are free on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Don’t bring a stroller.

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

Family Beach on Castaway Cay
Family Beach on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

4. Do choose the right beach.

There are three beaches on Castaway Cay: Family Beach, Sports Beach, and Serenity Bay.

Family Beach

If traveling with babies and young children, Keryn Means of Twist Travel Magazine advises sticking to the section of Family Beach closest to the ship. She says this area offers “a bit of space with a less rambunctious crowd.”

A little further along the shore on Family Beach, you’ll find Pelican Plunge. This is a waterpark structure floating in the ocean. Cruisers must swim out to the platform to play. Choose from two water slides here including one dark tunnel and an open air slide. Sliders must be at least 38 inches tall, and those under 48 inches must don a complimentary life vest.

Sports Beach

Active cruisers should head to Sports Beach. If sitting still on the sand all day sounds ho-hum, this is the place to be. Sand volleyball and tether ball reign supreme here.

Serenity Bay

Meanwhile, cruisers aged 18+ can spread out on Serenity Bay. This is the mellow adult-only beach on the island. (Psst…the food is better at the Serenity Bay BBQ!)

Adults can take a yoga class at Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay
Adults can take a yoga class at Serenity Bay (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

5. Don’t miss live entertainment and games.

Family Travel Magazine‘s Jodi Grundig advises seeking out Castaway Cay’s live entertainment and game options. Meanwhile, cruisers aged 18+ can spread out on Serenity Bay. This is the mellow adult-only beach on the island. Fun to be had at this pavilion includes foosball and pool tables, giant checkers, and chess boards.

Grundig says, “We love sitting on Family Beach by the island’s Gazebo because we can easily walk over and see things like a character dance party and the Island Vibes DJ performance. There’s also usually a basketball free throw competition and ping pong tournament at In Da Shade Pavilion.”

Bicycling is just one way to work off your vacation calories on Castaway Cay
Bicycling is just one way to work off your vacation calories on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

6. Do work off your vacation calories.

If you stay active, there’s no reason to feel guilty for indulging in dessert during your Disney Cruise. Good thing there are lots of exercise options on Castaway Cay.

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.

Your family can also explore the 1.5 miles of bike trails aboard a beach cruiser. Adult bicycles, child seats, and kids’ bikes are available for rental.

Rent or bring snorkeling gear to explore underwater wonders at Castaway Cay
Rent or bring snorkeling gear to explore underwater wonders (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

7. Do go snorkeling.

Kirsten Maxwell with Kids Are a Trip says snorkeling at Castaway Cay was the highlight of her family’s day on the island. For kids, Maxwell recommends bringing “full-face snorkeling masks so they don’t have to mess with the separate pieces.”

If you forget your gear, you can buy or rent masks and fins on the island. Life vests are provided free of charge and are required for snorkelers.

Cruisers must pay for bottled water but other non-alcoholic drinks are available free-of-charge on Castaway Cay
Cruisers must pay for bottled water but other non-alcoholic drinks are available free-of-charge (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

8. Don’t pay for bottled water.

Why pay for water when you can hydrate for free? Plenty of coolers are situated throughout the island where you can get a complimentary cup of cold filtered water.

Non-alcoholic drinks like sodas and fruit juices are also available free of charge at bars located throughout the island. Adults aged 21+ can purchase beer, wine, and tropical beverages like frozen mojitos, too.

Participating in the Castaway Cay 5K is a great way to explore Disney's private island
Participating in the Castaway Cay 5K is a great way to explore Disney’s private island (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

9. Do pack your running shoes.

Kimberly Tate, author of the Stuffed Suitcase blog recommends participating in the Castaway Cay 5K. She and her family have participated in these 3.1-mile races on the island. They’re open to walkers and runners of all levels.

Tate says, “We all earned medals and still had time to hit the beach for sand play and snorkeling afterward. This is perfect for families looking for more than just beach time.”

Keep in mind the run is for ages 10+. All participants receive a souvenir medal made of rubber material.

Every Castaway Cay 5K finisher gets to take home a special participant’s medal as a souvenir
Every 5K finisher gets to take home a special participant’s medal as a souvenir (Photo credit: Disney)

10. Don’t take cash or credit cards.

Debra Muccio, founder of Finding Debra, says there’s no need to lug your wallet around. “I had heard rumors before our trip that you needed cash or credit cards to shop at the few Castaway Cay souvenir stores. This turned out to be not true. Souvenirs were bought using our stateroom key loaded with our credit card information.”

Be sure to buy Castaway Cay souvenirs on shore - they aren't available on the Disney Cruise Line ships.
Souvenir shops feature Castaway Cay items available for purchase only on the island (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Don’t wait to buy Castaway Cay souvenirs.

You will be disappointed if you wait to purchase Castaway Cay gear and memorabilia on board the cruise ship. You can only purchase Castaway Cay souvenirs on the island.

Fountain play area for kids on Castaway Cay
There are activities for all ages on Castaway Cay, including Spring-A-Leak water play area (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

12. Do make a splash on Castaway Cay.

The Spring-A-Leak splash pad will keep children content for hours. Located near Family Beach, fountains bubbling from the ground incite joy and giggles from toddlers, preschoolers, and young grade schoolers.

Do eat on Castaway Cay!
Fresh fruit on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

13. Don’t waste time eating on the ship.

There’s no sense wasting beach time eating on the ship when the food is tasty and free on the island. Choose from three places to eat: Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ, and a “secret” Serenity Bay BBQ. Expect simple fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh fruit, soft-serve ice cream, potato salad, and soft drinks.

The restaurant at Serenity Bay is solely for grown-ups and offers bonus entrees unavailable at the other two. Think deliciously seasoned grilled steak.

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

Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure is a one-hour shore excursion for guests 5 years or older
Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure is a one-hour shore excursion for guests 5 years or older (Photo credit: Disney)

14. Do book a shore excursion or activity.

Castaway Cay excursion options include a jet boat tour, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, and jet ski rentals.

Monica Young of My Life is a Journey says, “Although most activities do have an additional fee, the experiences can be so memorable, such as feeding stingrays, which is a cool activity for the whole family. For adults, I recommend booking a massage on the beach.”

Rent an inner tube on Castaway Cay
(Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

15. Do rent a float.

Cruisers can rent inflatable inner tubes on Castaway Cay. Water toys like these provide oodles of fun for children or a relaxing way for grown-ups to laze about in the water. Your fabulous flamingo pool float may be confiscated by Disney, so it’s better to leave your own pool floats at home.

Keep in mind that the only floats you can bring to the island are “coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) and flotation sewn into the bathing suit for safety,” according to Disney Cruise Line. These are life vests, which are available for free on Castaway Cay.

You just might get a hug from Goofy or other characters on Castaway Cay
You just might get a hug from Goofy or other characters on shore (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

16. Do find Disney characters on the island.

Photos with your favorite Disney characters like Mickey Mouse make wonderful souvenirs of your time on Disney’s private isle.

Margie DQ of DQ Family Travel says, “You can check the Personal Navigator schedule the night before or right when you get off the ship to find character meet-up times and locations. Some of our cutest family pictures are with a Disney character in island gear with a beach background.”

Get to the island early in the day if you want to be sure to nab a beach chair on Castaway Cay
Regular beach chairs and special beach wheelchairs are available on the island (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

17. Don’t get stuck without a beach chair.

Plan ahead to nab a beach chair. Robin Hutson of Luxe Recess says, “Unless you take the tram early in the morning to the Family Beach you won’t get a spot, as this section fills up first.”

She continues, “If you enjoyed a leisurely morning on the ship and disembark after 10:30, get off at the first tram stop near the Snorkeling Lagoon. There will probably still be many beach chairs, loungers, and umbrellas. If you’re lucky, you may even snag a hammock!”

Rent a beach cabana as a special treat on Castaway Cay
Rent a beach cabana as a special treat (Photo credit: Chloe Rice, Disney)

18. Do book your private cabana in advance.

Cruisers who want to make sure to have space and amenities on shore should rent a private cabana. Be forewarned that they are not cheap!

Castaway Cay cabanas do come with a slew of amenities, though. Expect snacks, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, sunblock, sand toys, snorkeling equipment, free float rentals, and a one-hour bike rental.

Be sure to book your cabana online far in advance. The island has a limited supply, making cabanas a hot commodity.

If you can’t nab one at first, check the Disney Cruise Line website regularly for cancellations. You can also try to book a private cabana with Guest Services as soon as you board the ship.

Adult cruisers can relax at Serenity Bay
Adult cruisers can relax at Serenity Bay (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

19. Don’t forget about free childcare on Castaway Cay.

Trips with Tykes Editor Leslie Harvey recommends taking advantage of babysitting services on shore.

She says, “Although there is plenty to do as a family together, parents may also want some time to explore the island together or enjoy a tropical drink at the bar sans kids. Scuttle’s Cove takes kids ages 3 to 12 and offers the same high-quality supervision, security, and fun you can find at the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab on board the ship.”

Take time to relax on Castaway Cay
Take time to relax (Photo credit: Disney)

20. Do relax on Castaway Cay.

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

Opportunities for fun for all ages abound on Castaway Cay
Opportunities for fun abound on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

21. Don’t wait to plan your Disney vacation.

Research shows travelers may enjoy planning their vacation more than the actual trip. So, start planning! You can read more about Disney Cruise Line on I also suggest buying The Unofficial Disney Cruise Line 2024 guidebook. It’s packed with helpful tips for making the most of your time at sea and in ports of call.

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney in the Bahamas
Disney Fantasy at Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Disney)

22. Do book your Disney Cruise early.

Typically, the farther in advance you book your cruise, the better price you will pay. For assistance with booking your Disney Cruise, visit Get Away Today. On top of the best information, you can get bonuses like extra on-board credits and Mickey and Minnie plushes when you mention Travel Mamas sent you. Book your Disney Cruise now!

23. Do get more cruise tips.

Here’s how to choose the best Disney Cruise for your family.

Before your vacation, look at what to pack for a Disney Cruise.

Learn what to do if you get sick on a cruise.

Sailing with children? Read these tips for cruising with kids.

Disney's Castaway Cay Tips

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Do you have any questions or additional Castaway Cay tips? Share your comments and questions below!

A note from the Travel Mama: Thank you to Disney Cruise Line for inviting me to sail on Fantasy and Dream. My family has also paid full price to sail with Disney.

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    1. Hi Jim – I say the word “ship” 15 times in this story. I say the word “boat” 5 times. As a writer, I try to mix up the words I use in a story to keep readers engaged. I’m sorry if this offends you.

  1. I am looking at cruises with our 4 kids. They will be 3, 5, 7, 8 when we go, Royal Caribbean has an awesome looking splash pad for the kids. I dont see one on the disney island. Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Megan! A Disney cruise is just the thing you need! It has kid care and it is loads of fun! Castaway Cay has millions of attractions, its full of fun!
      Like water bikes
      Fun floating tubes
      Ice cream. And more!!
      On the boat is an adventure too! Full of fun family games, toys and adventures!

  2. We have a cruise booked for Jun 2020. We have a daughter who won’t be 14 until Jul and one who will be 18. Can they do the Teen Wild Side excursion together?

  3. I’ve taken the cruise 3 times and plan for another trip next year. My one constant complaint has been the food. It has never been served hot. I want the kids to have experience but our visit on the island will be short.

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear you haven’t had good meals on Castaway Cay! I can’t recall having any issues with meals on the island. I hope you have a wonderful Disney Cruise experience next year!

  4. Couple of things: leaving cash on ship is a little incorrect. If u buy a postcard or a sand bottle thing and u want a cc postmark, u MUST have cash to buy the stamps. American money works but it’s the one thing u can NOT charge to your room (stamps).
    Be aware post office doesn’t keep any set hours. If it’s open stop right then to buy your stamps if u want to mail something from there (which will take weeks to arrive). Otherwise u buy stamp on the boat and at some other stop at cc they will mail it. Once mine was postmarked 2 weeks later.
    Cabanas: go on your cruises Facebook page and see if anyone wants to share one. 2 adults with a kid (and baby say) can share with same. It’s worth it. And adult only ones for sure. If u have no kids.
    Water in January has been too cold for us on 6 of our 7 trips. Wait, nov Jan feb trips.