Castaway Cay is likely to be your favorite island on your Bahamian or Caribbean cruise. The weather is almost always gorgeous; the shore excursions are reasonably priced (mostly); and, as is the case with Walt Disney World, there’s little of the “real world” to get in the way of a relaxing day. And that’s before the free food and (nonalcoholic) drinks.
The sun and heat are intense, so bring plenty of high-SPF sunscreen and water. Insulated sports bottles are a great idea. Other solar protection you may need includes light-colored, long-sleeved, lightweight shirts; sweatpants; swimsuit cover-ups; hats; lip balm; and sunglasses. Disney will provide you with medium-size towels for use while on Castaway Cay—as many as you can carry. If you’d prefer a full-size beach towel, bring one of your own or purchase one while you’re on the island. Disney also provides life jackets (at no extra charge) for use while on the island. Strollers, wagons, and sand-capable wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you have small children who enjoy water, but you’re concerned about ocean currents, consider letting the little ones run around at the inland Spring-a-Leak water-play area, just beyond the Pelican Point tram stop, near the middle of the family beaches.
Scuttle’s Cove, an additional area for the little ones, offers supervised activities, yet another water-play area, and a giant-whale-bone excavation site.
Teens have their own dedicated area inland: The Hide Out, with volleyball, tetherball, and other activities. Some teens, however, may not like the fact that The Hide Out is away from the beach and has no water features or water-play areas.
Note that kids and teens must be registered at their respective youth clubs on board to play at Scuttle’s Cove and hang out at The Hide Out.
Adults ages 18 and up have Serenity Bay, a private beach with its own outdoor barbecue, bar, rental cabanas, and more. All beaches offer free lounge chairs and towels, with restrooms, food, and drink dispensers a short walk away.
There are 21 private cabanas available for rent on the family beaches. The typical price is $549 per day for up to six guests. In 2016, Disney added a seasonal supplement to the base price, making the cost $599 from late April until late September. The Serenity Bay side of the beach has five cabanas available at a cost of $399 per day for up to four guests. There is also one Grand Cabana that can accommodate up to 16 guests ($966 for the first 10 guests, $54 for each additional guest). The cabanas are covered and furnished with cushioned chairs, chaise longues, a hammock, and a bar area. Cabanas are also supplied with fresh towels, water and soft drinks, some snacks, a selection of sunscreens, a refrigerator, a private safe, an outdoor shower, and a shaded deck.
While the financial bite of a cabana is substantial, consider that a cabana rental also includes complimentary use of snorkeling equipment, floats, and bikes. Those three things total $49 a person. If you spring for that equipment and several soft drinks, the price of some private shade and comfort seems a lot more reasonable.
Favorite Shore Excursions at Castaway Cay
There are more things to do than you’ll have time for in a single day or even two. Here are five of our favorite activities.
This is one of the least expensive, most rewarding shore excursions offered on a Disney cruise. We recommend it for every family. Cost is $15.05 for kids ages 5-9 for one day, $19.35 for two days; $31.18 for ages 10 and up for one day, $38.70 for two days. There usually aren’t a lot of fish in the first 30–40 yards nearest the shore, though it’s possible to see almost anything once you’re in the water. Fish species in the lagoon include yellowtail snapper, sergeant major, banded butterfly fish, blue tang, and barracuda. Obviously, you shouldn’t try to catch any of these fish with your hands.
If you’ve snorkeled before and you enjoy it, Castaway Cay offers another snorkeling excursion in the waters off the island. You board a 28-foot Zodiac rigid-hull inflatable boat and head 30 minutes offshore for a 90-minute open-water snorkeling session. Cost is $113.50 for adults, $102 for kids ages 6–9.
Castaway Cay 5K Run
One of the best port adventures to start your day on Castaway Cay is fun, well organized, and totally free. Runners and walkers who wish to participate in the 5K meet around 8:15 on the morning the ship arrives at the island. The meeting location is almost always at one of the bars in the adult area of the ship because that’s the way the best races begin; check your Personal Navigator the night before for details on when and where to meet. Sign up for the 5K at the Port Adventures desk. On the morning of the race, cast members will make sure you have your Key to the World Card and ID. They’ll give you a runner’s bib (a nice touch for this unchipped race) and safety pins; then you’ll walk off the ship with the rest of the runners toward the start of the race, by the Pelican Point tram stop. Parents who need to drop their kids off at Scuttle’s Cove will be given time to do so on the way.
Once you arrive at the start, everyone is given a chance to hit the restroom and drop off anything they don’t want to run with in the storage area by the bike rentals. This is unsecured, so don’t leave your gold doubloons, but other stuff is fine. Once everyone is ready, you’re off and running. The route includes a trip up and down the airstrip and two loops out to the viewpoint. You’ll be sharing the road with the trams as well as folks on bicycles, so be aware of your surroundings. Cast members will be at the entrance to the loop with water—take advantage of it because this run is hot. A cast member will be by the digital timer at the end of the race to congratulate you on your spectacular finish and give you a medal. Wear it proudly for the other folks who were still at the breakfast buffet while you were out running 3 miles in the heat. The 5K and snorkeling are the two port adventures that we always do on the island—both fun and affordable ways to enjoy your day.
Float and Tube Rentals
Inner tubes and rectangular floats are available for $10.75 for one day or $14 for two days. You can swap out one type for the other during the day.
Castaway Cay’s Stingray Adventure
This is your chance to pet and feed small- and medium-size stingrays in a supervised, structured setting on the shore of the Stingray Lagoon. Disney keeps dozens of these stingrays in a sectioned-off part of Castaway Cay’s lagoon, and the stingrays are trained to use a special feeding platform at mealtimes. The cost is $51 for guests ages 10 and up, $40 for kids ages 5–9.
Guests looking for a bird’s-eye view of paradise should check out this excursion. Floating hundreds of feet in the air, you’re the master of all you survey—or at least it seems that way for several minutes. You board a speedboat and travel several hundred yards away from land. Then, in singles or pairs, you stand at the back of the boat and are harnessed to a line-bound parachute that is slowly let out until you and the parachute are 600–1,000 feet above the water. Enjoy panoramic views of your ship, Castaway Cay, and beyond.
Each excursion takes about 10 people onto the boat. There are no ride-alongs; every guest on the boat must pay. Your actual parasail event will last about 5–7 minutes. Depending on the number of other guests, the entire experience lasts 45 minutes–1 hour. Open to guests ages 8 and up, parasailing excursions cost $102.25 for both adults and kids.
For complete information on Castaway Cay and sailing with the Disney Cruise Line, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line by Len Testa, Erin Foster, Laurel Stewart, and Ritchey Halphen. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here.