Erin Foster, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, shares with us free and inexpensive things to do on Disney’s Castaway Cay.
The majority of Disney Cruise Line itineraries include a stop at the Disney private island, Castaway Cay. This tropical paradise includes pristine beaches, clear blue water, and many dozens of friendly and super-helpful cast members to help make your stay enjoyable.
Like all cruise ports, there are plenty of paid excursions you can take at Castaway. If you’re in the mood to splurge, go ahead and sign up for the $184-per-person Backcountry Fishing Adventure or the $120-per-person parasailing trip, but if you’re on a more modest budget or you want to conserve funds for other ports, there is plenty to do without breaking the bank. So, without further ado, here are some great ways to spend time on Castaway Cay at little or no cost.
Eat, eat, eat. There are three all-you-care-to-eat restaurants located on Castaway Cay: Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ, and Serenity Bay BBQ. You can dine at these to your heart’s content, chowing down on hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, pork ribs, chicken sandwiches, and a bounty of sides, toppings, and desserts. It’s all included in the price of your cruise. Pro tip: Add a squirt of soft-serve ice cream to your soda for a DIY float.
Nap in a hammock. There are no fees for most comfort amenities at Castaway Cay. You have use of lounge chairs, umbrellas, and hammocks for free at both family beaches and on the adults-only beach.
Rent a bike. Bike rentals on Castaway Cay are theoretically $13 per hour, but no one ever keeps track of the time, effectively making every bike an inexpensive day-long rental. Explore the island paths and ride out to an old airstrip. Helmets are included and sanitized between guests.
Run a race. The Castaway Cay 5K is held during almost every sailing. There is no fee to enter and the route is open to both walkers and runners, with water stops and cheering staff stationed along the way. You’ll get a free plastic medal for finishing, or you can reward yourself with a commemorative tee shirt for about $20.
Have someone else watch your kids. While the ship is at Castaway Cay, some of the onboard kids’ club activities move to the island. Take advantage of Scuttles Cove (for ages 3-12) or The Hideout (for teens), where enthusiastic cast members will entertain and supervise your kiddos while you have some much-deserved R&R.
Burn some calories. The sports area on the island includes tetherball poles, volleyball nets, and a basketball court. Get in on a pickup game—all the equipment is free to borrow. Other active options include foosball, Ping-Pong, and shuffleboard. You may also find free yoga lessons offered on the adult beach area.
Observe ocean life. The waters around Disney’s Castaway Cay are teeming with dozens of species of ocean life. Swim out with goggles or bring your own snorkel equipment and observe the fish at no charge (life vests are required and provided at no cost). If you want to use Disney’s snorkels and fins, the daily charge is $34 per adult and $18 for kids ages 5-9.
Make sand castles. We’ve seen some epic constructions on the beach. Bring your own bucket or buy one for a nominal fee in one of the island shops.
Meet characters. During most sailings there will be Disney characters stationed on the island, ready to greet guests and pose for photos. We’ve spent time on Castaway Cay bonding with classic characters like Mickey and Goofy, with troublemaker Stitch, and with pirates including Captain Hook and Smee, as well as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Groove to some music. The mid-island gazebo often hosts live musicians playing island tunes. Relax and listen with a drink or try out your dance moves.