51 Castaway Cay Tips
This is the most comprehensive list of Castaway Cay tips on the Internet.
Real advice to make your stay on Castaway Cay as magical as it can be!
Table of Contents
What is Castaway Cay?
If you’re sailing on a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean Sea, chances are you will visit Castaway Cay.
Castaway Cay is the Disney private island operated by Disney Cruise Line.
Castaway Cay is the tropical paradise of your dreams. From its pristine white sandy beaches lined with swaying palm trees to the turquoise crystal clear Bahamian waters. You’ll never want to leave!
When you arrive at Castaway Cay, you’ll find that Disney Imagineers have prepared the island beautifully for families.
At Castaway Cay, you’ll discover gorgeous beaches, pristine clear lagoons with vibrant sea life, dramatic walking trails, clean dining locations that feature free BBQ meals, shops for exclusive souvenirs, play areas both in the water and out, and a free tram that shuttles you around the island.
Where is Castaway Cay Located?
Castaway Cay is part of the Bahamas island chain, approximately 225 miles from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Formerly it was known as Gorda Cay and is located near Great Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas.
The island is 2.2 miles wide and 3.1 miles long. Only 10% of the island has been developed by Disney. The rest remains as it was.
Castaway Cay History
In 1999, Disney Cruise Lines leased a small island in the Bahamas called Gorda Cay for a period of 99 years, the longest allowable land lease period. After much time and development by Disney Imagineers, the island is now DCL’s premier stop in the Caribbean and is the highlight of many Disney Cruise destinations.
It is rumored that Gorda Cay was used by pirates and smugglers prior to Disney’s lease, but reality is most likely the Bahamian government had cracked down on any drug-running prior to Disney’s interest.
Only 55 of the 1000 acres of the island is developed for Disney use. The rest of the island is a preserve.
Castaway Cay Temperatures
Castaway Cay Weather
Curious what the weather will be like when you arrive on the island? Here’s some average temperatures for you.
Castaway Cay Water Temperature
Are you wondering how the ocean temperatures will be when you cruise? Well, most people say that in the winter and early spring, the water is a little chilly at first but once you get in and start swimming the water is perfect. For some reason, the slightly chilly water has no affect on kids – they will most likely run right into the water with no problems at all.
Want to know the real-time, current Castaway Cay water temperature? Click here if you’re curious.
Castaway Cay Map
As you read this page, refer back to this map of Castaway Cay often to familiarize yourself with the different locations of Castaway Cay’s attractions. Click it to enlarge.
Source: Disney Cruise Line
CASTAWAY CAY TIPS
1) Claim a Beach Spot Early By Running the Castaway Cay 5k
For anyone ages 10 and up, I highly recommend the Castaway Cay 5K event.
It’s free to participate and no, you don’t have to make early reservations. All you have to do is register with Guest Services any time during the voyage.
The race is not really a race…it isn’t a timed event at all. Many people simply walk the it. All runners will receive a Castaway Cay 5k medal for participating.
When you head down for the race, bring a bag that doesn’t have valuables or use your beach towels (DCL hands them out when you get off the ship) and stake a claim on a favorite beach chairs before the race starts.
It’s great because you are one of the first passengers off the cruise ship, allowing you to choose pretty much any spot you wish. Leave your stuff on your favorite chair if you decide to go back to the ship for a shower or breakfast or whatever.
2) Bring a Camera
For many cruisers, the experience on Castaway Cay is one of the great highlights of a dream vacation.
You will find many photo and video opportunities as you stroll along Castaway Cay’s pristine beaches and watch your loved ones frolic in the sand.
Have a camera at the ready to capture the magical moments.
3) Don’t Take the Tram; You’ll Get Great Photos
For awesome photos, don’t take the tram to the beach.
Along your walk, stop and get tons of great photos of the ship.
(Take the tram on the way back when you’re tired.)
4) Start Your Day Early
Many Disney Cruisers, maybe even most Disney Cruisers, will tell you that Castaway Cay is the highlight of their trip.
There is a lot of great stuff to do on this little slice of paradise. Being the first off the ship at “rope-drop” gives you the best chance for crowd-free photos, as well as gives you a shot at claiming your perfect spot for the day.
Start your day early to take full advantage of your time there!
5) Don’t Bring a Stroller
Free strollers and wagons are available for your use all day long. They can be claimed when you get off the ship at the tram stops. (First come, first served, but from my experience, there has always seemed to be ample supply.)
6) Send a Postcard from Castaway Cay Post Office
There is a real functioning Bahamian Post Office operating on Castaway Cay. However, it isn’t open every day, and when it is open, their hours can be somewhat sporadic. But even if the post office is not open, as long as you have your post card with correct postage, you can drop it in the drop box outside the post office or even at Guest Services on the ship. Either way your post card will be delivered with a Castaway Cay postmark.
Rather than worrying about trying to buy a stamp to mail your card while on the island, instead you can purchase a Bahamian stamp at Guest Services while on the ship.
Postcards are available to purchase at the shops at Castaway but the shops are nowhere near the post office which is right next to the dock. You can use the free postcards from the desk drawer in your stateroom or Disney has more postcards for sale in the gift shops on the ship.
7) The Further You Go From the Ship, the Less Crowded the Beach Is
If you know anything about human beings, this Castaway Cay tip is just basic common sense.
Since the first tram stop is Scuttle’s Cove, many parents are excited about putting their kids in the Kids Club — more relaxation for them, right?
Naturally, they will gravitate to the Family Beach in that general vicinity so they can be closer to their kids.
Make your way further down to the next tram stop or even go beyond that to the adults-only beach at Serenity Bay and you’ll find you have a lot more space to yourself.
8) The Best Way to Get a Hammock
The best way to get a hammock is to arrive early (Castaway Cay 5k, anyone?) or wait until 3pm when people start heading back to the ship.
9) The Least Crowded Time on the Island Is…
Enjoy the island less crowded during the last hours you’re there.
Guests tend to go back to the ship early after being in the sun for awhile.
10) Book Your Excursions Beforehand
Okay fine. I admit it. I’m a planner.
And I’m guessing you are too…that’s why you’re reading this, right?
That’s good! To me, Castaway Cay time is precious.
Many people prefer not to do an excursion at Castaway Cay because there is so much free stuff to do (you’ll see that down below). Also, bikes and snorkel equipment don’t need to be booked ahead of time; there are plenty available.
If you do plan on doing a *bigger* excursion, I suggest you get those booked early (I suggest way before you sail) so that you are assured you’ll be able to maximize all of the Castaway Cay fun you can handle.
11) Rent an Inner Tube
Rent an inner tube! They cost about $11 for the day and the kids will love them.
Inexpensive way to entertain the littles (and bigs) all day.
12) Eat at Serenity Bay BBQ
The restaurant at Serenity Bay is solely for grown-ups and usually offers bonus entrees not available at the other two — like deliciously seasoned grilled steak.
13) Rent Bikes and Visit Observation Tower
For some fun moments away from the sand, renting a bike allows you to zip around the island, see the old runway, and make your way to the observation tower.
Climbing the tower for a bird’s eye view gives you a panoramic view of the entire island and you get a sense of what the rest of the untamed island looks like.
14) Don’t Pay for Bottled Water
15) Castaway Cay Souvenirs Only Available on Island
They don’t sell Castaway Cay souvenirs anywhere but on Castaway Cay itself.
If you want to take home a piece of Castaway Cay merchandise, don’t wait to get back on the ship.
16) Enjoy Live Music at Gazebo
There is usually a live band/duo/singer playing in the gazebo.
Try to grab an umbrella table where you can see and hear them perform.
17) Order a Drink While Sitting in a Chair…in the Water
This is one refreshing tip!
Your wait staff will walk into the water to bring you a fresh drink while you sit on a chair in the surf.
18) Go Snorkeling Before Everyone Shows Up
I’ve been surprised at the variety and plenitude of marine wildlife that there is to see in Castaway Cay’s lagoon.
The best time to enjoy this is as early as possible.
The fish seem to be out more earlier in the day. Maybe they just have more energy or all the people tend to scare them away when the masses show up. Also the water tends to get murky later in the day.
Either way, exploring the lagoon with snorkel gear before everybody else arrives is a smart move.
19) Take a Family Photo in Front of the Ship
This will likely be THE iconic photo of your trip. The one that goes on the front of your scrapbook. Your new facebook profile picture. Your Christmas card for the year…you get the idea.
There are plenty of great shots between the beach and the ship where you can have a nice photo taken.
And there are plenty of nice people around willing to take it.
20) Pin Traders: Get a Castaway Cay Pin on the Island
If you are serious about Disney pin trading, Castaway Cay is the only place to get an official Castaway Cay pin.
You can find pins in the souvenir shops on the island.
21) Get a Open Air Massage
Feeling like a splurge? Go on, you DESERVE it!
Get an open air massage while on the island. Sure, they are a bit pricey (you’re on a Disney vacation after all) but it’s a wonderful sensation having a rub down in a private cabana on Disney’s private island. Enjoy “all the feels” as you listen to the sound of the waves and the perfect tropical breeze blows through the windows.
Make your reservation for a massage as early as possible. It’s pure magic.
22) Bring Castaway Cay Map
You’ll receive a Castaway Cay map in your stateroom.
Bring this free map of the island with you for the day to help you more quickly orient yourself to everything on the island.
23) How to Do Sand Toys for Toddlers
I suggest finding some cheap beach toys at your local dollar store to bring to the island. It will save you a lot of money over buying the over-priced toys at the Castaway Cay shops.
Then leave them behind when you head home, providing you with more room in your suitcase for souvenirs!
24) The Gift Shops Sell the Same Stuff
Both the gift shops sell pretty much the same souvenirs. No need to stress about having to ride the trolley to the other side of the island to shop at the other shop.
25) Put the Photographers to Work
Pictures from Castaway Cay are dreamy reminders of your magical vacation.
If you have any sort of photography package at all, ask the official photographers to take your pictures. Lots of them.
They will often snap a few with your own camera as well.
I love the fact that they wander the beach and will even take pics of you in the water as a family.
26) Find Olaf
Olaf doesn’t always show up on the Navigator, but he can usually be found at Castaway Cay.
He can sometimes be found near Bahamian Retail and the snorkeling gear rental shop.
Don’t hesitate to ask a DCL Cast Member where Olaf will be appearing.
27) Eat Lunch Before 2pm
The food on Castaway Cay is delicious, definitely plan to eat lunch on the island.
However…if you don’t eat before 2 pm or so, you might be out of luck, because they have to close everything down to meet their departure schedule.
28) Use the Sting Ray Snorkel Gear All Day
If you participate in the Sting Ray Port Adventure, you can ask to use their snorkel equipment for the rest of the day.
This will save you time and money from renting them separately. There’s plenty of snorkeling to enjoy in the lagoon outside of the Sting Ray encounter.
29) Bring Snacks for the Morning
If you head down to the island early, it’s a good idea to bring snacks, as there is virtually no food until lunch (served around 11:30am).
You can bring down packaged items such as their PB&J sandwiches from room service.
Also, at breakfast, ask a Cast Member if they can get you some bags of potato chips. A nice staffer went out of his way to get me a few bags to take ashore.
30) Apply Sunblock More than Once
Not really a big secret here, folks.
It’s worthy of the reminder, however, as inevitably guests love Castaway Cay and stay out in the sun for extended periods of time. The sun beats down hot and reflects off the sand and water.
Being in pain for the rest of the cruise because you only applied one round of sunblock is a lousy way to enjoy your dream vacation. Put on more sunblock every few hours!
Note: if your child is having fun at Scuttle’s Cove, the youth counselors are not allowed to apply sunblock to your children. Probably a good idea to go do that from time to time to keep your kidlets from getting crispy.
31) Splash Pad is Fun for Toddlers
Don’t miss the opportunity to watch your toddler’s sheer joy at the splash pad at Spring-A-Leak.
32) Book Nursery Time for Infants
For infants under the age of three, the It’s a Small World Nursery allows you to book babysitting hours.
Anyone with infants knows that all day in the sun is way too long for the little ones. If you want to spend more time on the island, reserve a few hours of nursery time so you can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about your baby.
The nursery is pay-by-hour service and you need to make reservations in advance and your child must be at least 6 months old.
33) Check out the Fun Photo Spots
The Castaway Cay map is marked with Fun Photo opportunities.
There is one close to the ship that is definitely worthy of a stop. If they aren’t busy, they are a great place to grab a nice picture as a family.
34) Find the Hidden Statues While Snorkeling
Scattered throughout the lagoon, you’ll find “hidden” statues under the sea to find.
Look for Minnie Mouse by the second life guard tower.
35) Hopefully You Won’t Need This
There is an infirmary on Castaway Cay. In case of a cut, scrape or other minor injury, they can provide iodine, bandages, and other supplies at no extra charge. It’s located close to Scuttle’s Cove.
36) Pelican Plunge is Fun for Adults Too
Because of the fast water slides, the water depth being greater than 6 feet, and the fact that you must swim out to get to it, there are some restrictions to using Pelican Plunge.
Kids must be at least 38” tall to enjoy Pelican Plunge and those between 38” and 48” must wear a Disney provided life vest.
You may think Pelican Plunge is only for kids but adults can enjoy it too! Some have said the slides are better than the Aquaduck. You be the judge!
37) Put Kids in Scuttles Cove While You Run Castaway Cay 5k
Scuttle’s Cove is a secured play area for children ages 3-12 and opens at 9am. There’s a lot of fun things for the kids to do, like crafts, beach games, dance parties, etc. It’s basically an extension of the kids clubs on the ship.
If you’re running the Castaway Cay 5k, you can check your child into Scuttle’s Cove during your run. It opens a little early for race participants.
Take your kids with you to the 5K meeting location on the ship to get your bib, etc. You can then drop your kids off at Scuttle’s Cove on your way to the race.
38) Don’t Bring Cash
Castaway Cay is “cashless” — this means you can only make purchases (excursions, drinks, souvenirs, etc) using your Key to the World card.
39) Watch the Hermit Crab Races
For some delightfully silly fun, go watch the hermit crab races. They do them a couple of times during the day – you’ll just need to check the Navigator for times.
Everyone gathers at the gazebo and cheers on their favorite crabs as they, uhh, “race” to the finish line.
40) Be On Time (or Early) to Character Meet and Greets
If you’re interested in meeting one of the characters on Castaway Cay, pay close attention to the scheduled times and be there on time. Each character greeting usually lasts only 15 minutes.
Locations and times are listed in your Navigator.
I can only imagine that it gets very hot in the character costumes, so they are very prompt with their character schedule.
41) Do the Family Whale Dig
At Monstro’s Point, the whole family, even your littlest ones, will enjoy digging through the sand in search of whale teeth and other plaster “fossils” (which you can keep). Check the Navigator for times.
Archaeologist Mickey Mouse starts it all!
42) Get the Pronunciation Right
You may be wondering how you say ‘cay’.
Well, I’m here to educate you.
Cay is pronounced like “key” and not “kay”.
Here’s what Wikipedia says…
“A cay (also spelled key; both pronounced alike as “key” how to say: /kiː/) is a small, low island consisting mostly of sand or coral and situated on top of a coral reef.”
There you have it!
It’s Castaway Key er… Cay.
Now you can look down your nose at people who pronounce it wrong on your cruise. Haha!
43) Save Snacks for the Afternoon
Spend any time on a cruise ship and your body quickly becomes adjusted to eating all the time.
Food closes up by 2pm on Castaway Cay. If you’re planning to stay out on the island beyond that point, it is easy to prevent a case of afternoon hungries.
Save some cookies or bags of potato chips from lunch to munch on during the afternoon.
44) Get Married on Castaway Cay
Is there a more beautiful place to tie the knot or renew your vows than Castaway Cay?
You can book your wedding, vow renewal or commitment ceremony with Disney Cruise Line directly, as they have a program where they’ll reserve a gorgeous venue for you (up to 100 guests) on Castaway Cay.
45) Try the Konk Kooler
There are four bars located around the island – 3 on Castaway Family Beach and one at Serenity Bay. They serve a variety of adult tropical beverages and soft drinks.
A favorite is the Konk Kooler, a drink made with rum, orange juice, passion fruit and coconut cream.
46) Rent Bikes to Find a Secluded Beach Spot
If you rent a bike, make your way to Serenity Bay and make a right turn down an almost-hidden bike path. This takes you to a very quiet section of Castaway Cay.
There’s a beautiful beach at the end of that path. Awesome place for a photo!
47) Don’t Bring Towels
When you get off the ship at Castaway Cay, you can pick up towels to use for your day. Then, at the end of the day, there is a bin to easily drop your used towels before getting back on-board.
48) There Are No Lockers on Castaway Cay
It is a little surprising, but there are no lockers on Castaway Cay, so leave your valuables on the ship and only bring what you need.
49) Bring Something that Tells Time
It’s hard to find a clock on Castaway Cay. But if you have a Port Adventure scheduled, or you want to eat at a certain time (that’s me!), you’ll need to know the time. If you’re not planning on bringing a phone, you might want to bring a watch to keep you on schedule.
50) The Bathrooms are Clean
Let’s hear it for Disney and their clean bathrooms!
No, of course they aren’t the same as the potties on the ship, but for being on an isolated private island, they are clean, modern, and always close by. A clean bathroom…that’s quite a relief!
51) Keep in Touch on Island with Wave Phones
The DCL app does not seem to work once you are off the ship in Castaway Cay but works great on the ship.
The Wave Phones on the other hand DO work on Castaway Cay.
There are 2 phones per cabin and there is not a charge to use them. If you need Additional Wave Phones, they can be borrowed at Guest Services for a small additional fee.
FREE EMAIL COURSE
What to Expect on Your First Disney Cruise
FOR FIRST TIME DISNEY CRUISERS:
ANSWERS TO YOUR MOST COMMON QUESTIONS
CASTAWAY CAY: WHAT’S INCLUDED
What comes free at Castaway Cay?
Just about all of the food, activities, games, and other fun is available as part of your Disney Cruise fare. Of course, there are premium adventures, drinks, and souvenirs that are not included. Skip down to that list here.
Here is a list of everything that is included in the price of your trip…meaning you won’t have to pay extra for these things while on Disney’s private island.
Lunch buffet is served at three locations on Castaway Cay. Cookie’s BBQ and Cookie’s Too BBQ are located on the Family Beach, and Serenity Bay BBQ is located at Serenity Bay for the 18+ crowd.
All three buffets serve the same food – Ribs, grilled fish, chicken, burgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, fruit, banana bread and delicious cookies are just a few of the menu items.
Note: Serenity Bay BBQ is only for adults and usually features special dishes that you won’t find at the other two restaurants. Like steak!
After you load up your plate of food, you can take it to the nearby picnic tables that are situated under spacious open-air pavilions or take it to the beach and eat by the water’s edge.
Lunch is only served from 11:30am until 2:00pm so take note when you are planning your Port Adventures. You don’t wanna miss lunch! But don’t worry, the beverage and ice cream stations are available throughout the day.
Back onboard the ship, Cabanas is also open for lunch in port, as are the quick service spots on the pool deck.
All the food, soft drinks, filtered water at the beverage station, and soft serve ice cream are included. The only additional charges will be for specialty drinks including alcoholic beverages and bottled water.
Castaway Cay Beaches
There are two main beaches that make up the sandy seashore on Castaway Cay: Family Beach and Serenity Bay.
Castaway Family Beach
This is the main beach on Castaway Cay and is available for everyone to use. This area is closest to the ship.
This gorgeous beach has been crafted for family fun. At Family Beach you can lay out in one of the many beach chairs (there are plenty), relax under a beach umbrella, or take a quick snooze in a hammock.
The blue lagoon offers great snorkeling (go in the morning to see the best fish) and other water activities such as swimming, sailing, kayaking etc. Keep in mind that premium rentals are available at the beach (water craft, snorkels, etc).
Cookie’s BBQ is close to this beach so it’s easy to grab some lunch or soft-serve ice cream. The gazebo features live music and dancing. There are courts nearby for beach volleyball, tetherball and soccer.
Grown-ups should head further away from the ship to this adults-only beach (18+) on Castaway Cay.
Serenity Bay beach is intended to be an escape for adults who want a paradise oasis all to themselves.
Lunch is free here at Serenity Bay BBQ and they often offer steak and other dishes unavailable at the other restaurants on Castaway Cay.
Here you will find premium drinks and massage services (try the open air massage!)
Umbrellas, Hammocks and Beach Chairs
Total relaxation is absolutely possible on any of the Castaway Cay beaches.
At no extra charge, Disney Cruise Line provides plenty of umbrellas, chairs and hammocks.
If you’re wanting less competition for chairs and hammocks, my personal suggestion is to go further down the beach to the second Family Beach stop. By passing up the Scuttle’s Cove tram stop, you’ll have more options to choose from.
Transportation by Tram
Your Disney Cruise Line ship will pull into the pier connected to the island. This makes it very easy to get on and off the ship without needing any tenders.
Once you step off the ship, you can walk to the end of the dock to catch the tram or you can just can take the walking trail if you’d like to explore.
The first stop for the tram is next to Scuttle’s Cove and the first section of Family Beach.
Since most people get off at this first stop, I suggest you continue to the next stop if you want to be closer to Pelican Plunge water slides and want a better selection of beach chairs and umbrellas. Once you claim your preferred spot for the day, it’s easy to walk around and see the rest of the island.
The adults-only beach at Serenity Bay is also accessible by tram. You simply need to get off at Pelican Plunge tram stop and get on the exclusive Serenity Bay tram.
Strollers, Wagons, and Wheelchairs
Complimentary wagons and strollers are available at the tram stops that you can use during your day on Castaway Cay. They have plenty, so no need to stress about missing out.
I love this because it allows you to keep your own stroller back on the ship, and you don’t have to worry about it getting wet or sandy.
Sand wheelchairs are also available. You can take your own wheelchair off the ship and through the paths on the island and when you want to go in the sand, just trade in your wheelchair for a sand one, then trade it back in when you are done! All free of charge.
Water Play Areas
Your kids will not be bored on Castaway Cay. Disney Imagineers have created some epic water play areas that will thrill kids of all ages.
Pelican Plunge is a 2,400-square-foot floating platform at Family Beach. At this water-play area you can take a ride on one of the 2 twisting water slides – one open-air, one enclosed. It features a gigantic bucket that will “dump” hundreds of gallons of water on anyone that happens to be beneath.
Because of the fast water slides, the water depth being greater than 6 feet, and the fact that you must swim out to get to it, there are some restrictions. Kids must be at least 38” tall to enjoy Pelican Plunge and those between 38” and 48” must wear a Disney provided life vest. You may think Pelican Plunge is only for kids but adults can enjoy it too! Some have said the slides are better than the Aquaduck. You be the judge!
Kids love to cool off at Spring-a-Leak. This 2400 square-foot water playground is themed to look like a hurricane did some real damage to all the pipes, causing leaky plumbing and squirting water everywhere.
While the kids frolic all over this splash pad, parents can relax in the shaded seating and stay out of the heat. It is located near Castaway Family Beach.
Castaway Cay Clubs for Kids and Teens
Want to have some alone time away from the kids?
No problem! Castaway Cay has the same level of amazing entertainment and fun for kids and teenagers as they enjoy on the ship.
Scuttle’s Cove (ages 3-12)
At this on-island kid’s club, young cruisers (ages 3-12) can dig in the sand for giant whale bones, enjoy pop-up water play, as well as play organized games all under the supervision of the same Disney counselors caring for them on the ship. This is a secure environment so that adults can experience Port Adventures and the adult only beach, Serenity Bay.
If you want your kids to take part in the kids’ programs on Castaway Cay day, you will check them into the club right at Scuttle’s Cove. The program counselors will have laptop computers with the check-in information.
Scuttle’s Cove is located AWAY from the water and the counselors will not take the children near the water. Make sure your children wear their swimsuits to Scuttle’s Cove. Even though they are not near the water, there are opportunities for them to get wet in games they play. Remember, your kids will be outside in the Bahamian sunshine, so if they need to a second or third slathering of sunscreen, you will need to come back and do that for them. The counselors are not allowed to do so.
Lunch is offered for those sailors checked in during meal time, which is around noon. The kids at Scuttle’s Cove will walk over with the counselors and dine in Pop’s Props together.
The programming closes down at 3:00pm or 3:30pm depending on your itinerary to allow the counselors to move from the island back to the ship, so make sure are back from your Port Adventures before then. Check the Personal Navigator for hours.
Teen Hideout (ages 13-17)
Behind the bike rental, you’ll find Castaway Cay’s Teen Hideout. This serves as a homebase for teens ages 13-17.
There is a lot for them to do there. Activities like volleyball, ping pong, tether ball, foosball, music and more.
There are always DCL counselors there all day that will lead them in organized activities all over the island such as scavenger hunts, trips to Pelican Plunge, lunch, or fun at In Da Shade (a covered pavilion with many types of sports and games). Just like the clubs on the ship, the teens can come and go as they please.
Sports & Games on Castaway Cay
What other activities come free with your cruise fare for Castaway Cay?
If the clubs and beaches weren’t enough, take a look at other ways to have fun on the island.
In Da Shade Game Pavilion
The whole family can enjoy some sports, ping pong, foosball, even games of checkers or chess on boards with oversized pieces at this covered area.
It is open to everyone to come and go as they please.
At the “Sports Beach”, you’ll find open air volleyball, soccer, and tether ball.
This is open to everyone all day.
Castaway Cay 5K
The Castaway Cay 5K run is FREE and open to all guests 10 years and older. Runners will receive an official runDisney bib as well as a medal for its finishers (yay!)
Note: I have been asked if kids under 10 can run the race if accompanied by parents. As of right now, the answer is no, only 10 and up can be involved in the Castaway Cay 5K.
How to Register for the Castaway Cay 5K
You can register for the Castaway Cay 5K at any time you are on-board the ship. (Note: no Castaway Cay 5K online registration is available.)
Directions for race registration will be in your cruise newsletter, the Personal Navigator, but you can plan on stopping by either the Port Adventures Desk or Guest Services any time before arriving at Disney Castaway Cay to sign up.
When and Where to Meet for Castaway Cay 5K
Once you’ve registered, keep an eye on the Personal Navigator newsletter or the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to find the meeting time and place for the race. They usually meet around 8:00 a.m. in one of the ship’s lounges, where each participant will receive a race bib. Runners usually leave the ship around 8:30 a.m.
What to Do with the Kids During the Castaway Cay 5K
Due to the narrow paths on Castaway Cay, jogging strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs are not allowed in the Castaway Cay 5K. If your kids are above the age of three and potty-trained, you can drop them off at Scuttle’s Cove on your way to the race in the morning. Otherwise, if you need to sign them up for the “It’s a Small World” nursery, it is a good idea to book it as soon as possible. You can make reservations online before you sail or while you’re on the ship. I recommend doing this as early as possible to ensure your time is available.
Scuttle’s Cove is the kids club for ages 3-12 and it opens early for race participants. This makes it easy to drop them off before you head to the starting line. Once you’re on the ship, ask one of the counselors at the Oceaneer Lab about the opening time for your particular voyage.
How Long Does it Take to Finish the Castaway Cay 5K
The Castaway Cay 5K is not a timed race. There’s no need to feel like you have to finish in a certain amount of time. Many participants will walk the whole way.
Get a Commemorative Castaway Cay 5K T-Shirt
Want a shirt to commemorate the race?
There are Castaway Cay 5K t-shirts for sale in the gift shops on the island: She Sells Sea Shells and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore.
These are NOT available for sale anywhere else. Not even on the ship.
CASTAWAY CAY: WHAT COSTS EXTRA
What will cost extra at Castaway Cay?
Let’s talk about all of the bonus fun that is available if you’re willing to pay a little more for them.
Castaway Cay is the perfect place for beginners and experienced snorkelers to explore the tropical oasis under the sea. Newbies can follow the underwater Discover Trail, while more seasoned snorkelers will enjoy the Explorer Trail. Not only will you see beautiful tropical fish but also some hidden Disney surprises as well!
Castaway Cay has snorkel equipment you can rent when you get on the island at Gil’s Fins and Boats (near the 1st tram stop) and Flippers and Floats (near the 2nd tram stop) or you can reserve your gear in advance online.
The current charge to rent snorkel equipment is $32.00 per person (ages 10 and up) and $16.00 per person (ages 5 to 9). Kiddos under 5 are not allowed in Snorkel Lagoon so make sure to drop them off at Scuttle’s Cove or at “it’s a Small World” nursery! before heading out.
Another option is to bring snorkeling equipment from home. Snorkeling is free if you bring your own equipment!
Even if you bring your snorkeling gear from home, you and your family will need to wear a yellow life vest while snorkeling on Castaway Cay (it’s required). They are complimentary on the island and can be picked up at either Gil’s Fins and Boats (near 1st tram stop) or Flippers & Floats.
If you have an underwater camera, this is a great time to use it! Snap amazing pictures of your new aquatic friends.
The water depth is about 11-12 feet at the furthest point and this is where you’ll find the cool things hidden in the lagoon. Buoys at three spots in the lagoon mark something to check out in the sea.
Because you’re snorkeling in a sheltered lagoon, you’ll won’t likely be bothered with any turbulence that would cause seasickness.
Snorkels, Fins, and Tubes
At Gil’s Fins and Boats, near the first tram stop, and Flippers and Floats, near the second tram stop, you can rent inner tubes and snorkeling gear by the hour or for the full day.
Inner tubes are around $11 for the day.
Renting a bike is a great way to explore the island. The island is 1000 acres although less than 10% of it is developed. Bikes are available to rent near Flippers and Floats, very close to the second tram stop.
The bike rentals offer all different sizes of bikes including ones with training wheels and child seats. Helmets are included with your one-hour bike rental.
Now that you have a bike, I suggest you head to the observation tower. You’ll be able to see the entire island and take in magnificent views. Great photo opps here!
There is a second bike path at the end of the airstrip that many guests miss. Head to Serenity Bay and then turn right. This lesser known path will take you to an isolated section of Castaway Cay, where you will find a gorgeous beach at the end of the trail. Take advantage of the relatively few people in that area to get a great photo before you turn around and come back.
Boats, Aqua Trikes, and Paddleboards
Sail around the crystal blue waters of Castaway Cay on the boat of your choice.
At Gil’s Fins and Boats, near the first tram stop, you can rent:
- Sea Kayaks (1 and 2 seaters available)
- Paddleboat (4 person)
- Aqua Trike (2 person)
- Stand-up Paddleboard
- Hobie Cat Sailboats
Watercraft is available for rent for 30 minutes at a time on a first come, first served basis.
Bars and Adult Drinks
There are four bars located around the island: three on Castaway Cay’s Family Beach and one at Serenity Bay.
Each bar serves a variety of tropical beverages and soft drinks.
A favorite is the Konk Kooler, a drink made with rum, orange juice, passion fruit and coconut cream.
Castaway Cay Shopping
There are two main shops on the island: She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else and Buy the Sea Shore, so be sure to check out their exclusive beachwear, hats, souvenirs and collectible pins with the Castaway Cay logo.
Don’t worry about having to carry your purchases all over Castaway Cay; DCL will deliver them to your stateroom for you.
If you are into pin trading, browse the selection of Castaway Cay pins. These pins are exclusive to Castaway Cay which means you can’t get them anywhere else. What a great way to commemorate and remember your day on Disney’s private island!
You can have your hair braided on the ship and on Castaway Cay.
There are several local women who braid hair on the island.
Just stop at their hair braiding area, which is located along the main path while walking on Castaway Cay.
If you have purchased any of Disney Cruise Line’s photography packages, take advantage of the photographers from Shutters who will be at Castaway Cay to help you document those fun memories.
The photographers seem to roam the island, and can be found at the beaches, character meet and greets and at scenic locations.
If you have a photo that you want, just flag down a photographer to capture it for you.
Castaway Cay Post Office
Castaway Cay has an operational post office (run by Bahamian authorities) that you will come across right when you get off the ship.
Mail a postcard to friends and family (go ahead, rub it in their face that they aren’t with you), and it’ll be stamped from Castaway Cay with a special postmark.
To buy a Bahamian postcard stamp at the post office, you’ll need cash (no KTTW).
It may not be open for business each day that the ship visits the island, however. If the post office is closed, you can still put your letters and postcards in the drop box outside.
You can buy stamps at the post office, but if they are closed, you can purchase a stamp at Guest Services onboard the ship. Don’t get in a hurry; allow several weeks or even months for mail from the Bahamas to be delivered.
Castaway Cay Cabanas
Okay, you’re doing your research online and you spot the Castaway Cay Cabanas. You’re intrigued, right?
You should be! If you’re lucky enough to reserve a cabana (more on that in a moment), you are going to be spoiled rotten.
Your all day cabana rental will include snacks, towels, a fresh water shower, hammock, unlimited bottled water and soda, fresh fruit, a selection of magazines, comfortable seating, sunscreen, beach toys, included recreational rentals (snorkel, tubes, bicycles), and dedicated staff and more!
There are three different categories of Cabanas available to rent:
Family Beach Cabanas
The Family Beach Cabanas are located at the very end of Castaway Family Beach. There are 21 Family Beach Cabanas available to rent. The Family Beach Cabanas currently cost $549.00 (October through February) or $599.00 (March through September). These prices include up to six guests. In each cabana you can have a maximum of 10 guests at an additional $50.00 per person.
Cabana #1 can be found near Pelican Plunge and the rest of the cabanas are lined up alongside it down the beach. Get off the tram at Pelican Plunge tram stop and check-in for your Family Beach cabana at the check-in booth. They’ll show you to your cabana from there.
Grand Family Beach Cabanas
The second category of cabanas is the Grand Family Beach Cabana.
There is only one of this category of cabana located on Castaway Cay.
The Grand Family Beach Cabana is currently $899.00 and includes up to 10 Guests with a maximum of 16 Guests at an additional $50.00 per person.
Serenity Bay Private Cabanas
At the adults-only beach, Serenity Bay, there are five private beach Cabanas.
Each is currently $399.00 for four guests (ages 18+) and can host a maximum of ten guests (also 18+) at an additional $50.00 per person.
About these prices...Any prices I’ve mentioned here are subject to change. Also, they don’t take into account the (current) 7.5% Bahamian Tax.
How to Reserve a Cabana
First of all, you should know that Castaway Cay Cabanas are very popular and in high demand.
These cabanas get scooped up very quickly and because previous cruisers have an earlier chance to reserve, they are often all gone before first-timers have a chance to reserve them.
To reserve your cabana, you will need to make a reservation online. In order to have a chance, you’ll want to reserve at the moment your online check-in is available.
First time guests can begin their online check-in 75 days prior to setting sail. Here is the schedule of when other cruisers have a chance to do online check-in:
- 75 days out for 1st time Disney cruisers
- 90 days out for Silver Castaway Club Members
- 105 days for Gold Castaway Club Members
- 120 days for Platinum Castaway Club Members
What To Do If No Cabana Reservations are Available
If the cabanas are all booked up, there is still a remote possibility you may be able to get one.
Sometimes plans change for other guests. This could mean they release a previously existing cabana reservation.
I suggest that you frequently log into Disney Cruise Line website and check cabana availability before your cruise leaves. If you are still without a cabana by the time you get on the ship, visit the Port Adventures desk as soon as you get onboard to see if any have become available, or, at the very least, ask if you can be put on a waiting list.