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Dos & Don’ts of Disney’s Castaway Cay

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While Disney’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas is a tiny island, it’s packed with so much to do that you might have a hard time deciding how to spend your time. This wee isle measures just 3.1 miles long and 2.2 miles wide, but it offers tons of activities like waterslides, bike trails, open-air massages, two water play areas, parasailing, fishing, a stingray interaction experience 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 from family travel experts.

Disney's private island, Castaway Cay

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

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)

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)

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)

Do choose the right beach.

There are three beaches on Castaway Cay: Family Beach, Sports Beach and Serenity Bay. If traveling with babies and young children, Keryn Means of Walking On Travels 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, a waterpark structure floating in the ocean. Cruisers must swim out to the platform to play. Choose from two waterslides here: one dark tunnel slide and a open air slide. Sliders must be at least 38 inches tall and those under 48 inches in height must don a complimentary life vest.

Active cruisers should head to Sports Beach. Sand volleyball and tether ball reign supreme here.

Meanwhile, cruisers aged 18+ can spread out on Serenity Bay. This is the mellow adult-only beach on the island.

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)

Don’t miss live entertainment and games.

Family Travel Magazine‘s Jodi Grundig advises seeking out Castaway Cay’s live entertainment and game options. She 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.” Other fun to be had at this pavilion includes foosball and pool tables as well as giant checkers and chess boards.

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)

Do work off your vacation calories.

There’s no reason to feel guilty for indulging in desert during your Disney Cruise if you stay active. 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)

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, she recommends bringing “full face snorkeling masks so they don’t have to mess with the separate pieces.” Life vests are provided free-of-charge and are required for snorkelers. If you forget your gear, you can buy or rent masks and fins on the island.

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)

Don’t pay for bottled water.

Why pay for water when you can hydrate for free? There are plenty of coolers 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)

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. She says, “We all earned medals and still had time to hit the beach for sand play and snorkeling afterwards. This is perfect for families who are 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)

Don’t take cash or credit cards with you onto the island.

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 in order to shop at the few Castaway Cay souvenir stores. This turned out to be not true. Souvenirs were bought using our stateroom key with credit card information on it.”

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)

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

If you wait to purchase Castaway Cay gear and memorabilia on board the cruise ship, you will be disappointed. 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)

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!

Food is plentiful and free for cruisers on Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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” BBQ near Serenity Bay. 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.

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)

Do book a shore excursion or activity.

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)

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. 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.” (Basically, life vests, which are available for free on Castaway Cay.) Your fabulous flamingo pool float just may be confiscated by Disney, so it’s better to leave your own pool floats at home.

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)

Do find out where Disney characters are located on the island.

Photos with your favorite Disney characters 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 out 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 wheel chairs are available on the island (Photo credit: Kent Phillips, Disney)

Don’t get stuck without 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. 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)

Do book your private cabana in advance.

Cruisers who want to ensure they have space and amenities on shore should rent a private cabana. Be forewarned that they are not cheap! They 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. There is a limited supply of cabanas on the island, making them a hot commodity. If you aren’t able to nab one at first, try checking 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)

Don’t forget about free childcare on Castaway Cay.

Trips with Tykes Owner 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 that 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)

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 that will 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)

Don’t wait to plan your Disney Cruise.

Research shows that travelers may actually enjoy planning their vacation more than the actual trip. So, start planning! You can read more about Disney Cruise Line on CruiseDirect.com. I also suggest buying  The Unofficial Disney Cruise Line 2019 guidebook. It’s packed with helpful tips for making the most of your time at sea and in ports of call.

Meanwhile, for fun scavenger hunts while sailing, check out Hidden Mickey’s at Sea.
Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney in the Bahamas

Disney Fantasy at Castaway Cay (Photo credit: Disney)

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!

Save these Castaway Cay tips!

Considering a Disney Cruise? Be sure to keep these Castaway Cay dos and don’ts for future reference. Just pin the image below to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Disney's Castaway Cay Tips

Before your vacation, be sure to take a look at what to pack for a Disney Cruise and read these 12 tips for cruising with kids.

Have you ever been to Castaway Cay? 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 in 2012 and Dream in 2011. My family has also paid full-price to sail with Disney.

About Colleen Lanin

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. 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?

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Hi Meagan – There is a Spring A Leak splash pad for littles on Castaway Cay. It’s listed under “Do make a splash” above. 🙂

  2. Warren Robertson says

    Just got ack from Castaway Cay and there was excellent cell service for roaming through BTC.

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