Disney’s Caribbean Paradise – Castaway Cay
The Highlight of Taking a Disney Cruise
Castaway Cay is the beautiful private island exclusively for the Disney Cruise Line. It is part of the Bahamian island chain and is approximately 3 miles x 2 miles in size. The Caribbean waters are crystal clear and the sand is powder soft. And even though the island is relatively small, areas of it can make you feel a million miles away from everyone else.
The history of Castaway Cay (aka Gorda Cay) is grittier than the wholesome version that Disney relays. It contains a history of pirate hideouts and treasure, as well as, a huge drug operation! Read more about the island’s history at this Disney fan website.
Regardless of its dodgy history, the island today is pristine and Disney perfect. It contains three beach areas, a water park in the ocean, several bars and stores, clubs for kids, bike trails, and more. This port is the highlight of any Disney cruise vacation.
Note: These tips only apply to our experience at Castaway Cay via the Disney Dream.
Disembarkation Tips at Castaway Cay
Onboard the Disney Dream, passengers exit the ship to Castaway Cay at 8:30AM. Exits are located on deck 1 from both the aft and midship. My daughter and I got into line at 8:15AM (midship) and had approximately 40 people in front of us. However, once they opened the doors, it only took a few minutes for us to get off the ship. I highly recommend getting off at the aft. It places you steps closer to the island!
Once on the island, take some pictures of the ship with your family. You will love how you look before a few hours in the sand and sea! Also, grab at least two towels per person (trust me, get extra), head to the tram station, and then get off at Pelican Point. Now, if you choose to walk, it will take you approximately 20 minutes to get from the ship to the family beach areas (Note: my “pace car” was a 6-year-old, so take that into consideration).
Castaway Cay Activities
The island literally has activities for everyone to enjoy. There are things to see and experience all over the place. With the exception of Serenity Bay, the adult beach, children are allowed everywhere.
Here are just a few of the activities that we experienced:
Castaway Cay 5k
My husband was really excited to run the Castaway Cay 5k this year. As soon as we got on the ship, we signed him up. This is a ticketed event, so if you are interested, be sure to sign-up on the first day and don’t forget to pack your running shoes!
All participants met for information at 8:30AM and then the race began a little before 9:00AM. My hubby finished it in 28 minutes. Per the Disney coordinator, the average time of the run is between 30-45 minutes. This was my husband’s first 5k run, so I would assume that the average time is pretty accurate. The path of the 5k takes runners across the island and back – everything is well marked. The finish line is near Pelican Point.
For participating in the race, you get a fun “medal.” The gift shops have Castaway Cay 5k souvenir items, which of course we purchased.
Castaway Cay has two family beach areas – one before the water slide (Pelican Plunge) and one right after. I personally prefer the beach area after the water slide. It seems to have more shade and I like the beach better. I must not be alone in this opinion, because this area filled up faster than the other beach. Here are some pictures of how quickly the beach filled up.
Our trip was in October and I personally found the water too cold for my taste! I am kind-of a wimp!! Lots of other people were braver than me and hung-out in the water all day. The water is as calm as a pool and beautiful! I just wished it was a tad warmer!! You can rent tubes for $11 or the kids can get free life-jackets.
Serenity Bay has been appropriately named, it is very serene! We didn’t get to spend a lot of time on this beach, but we did make a point to visit for a few pictures. Although the water had a few more waves, it was gorgeous and had more character than the family beach. If time permitted, I would have happily stayed on this beach for days.
Bike Rentals / Biking Trails / Observation Tower
On Castaway Cay, you can rent bikes for $11 per hour. They have bikes for all sizes, including ones with training wheels and baby seats! They also have helmets to borrow.
The bike path takes you along the island’s landing strip (no longer used) and along jungle lined bike paths. This path just happens to be the same path used for the Castaway Cay 5k. After just a short ride, the observation tower is in sight. Climbing the tower has been a goal of mine since our cruise in 2015! It was worth it, the views from the top did not disappoint.
Kid’s Club (aka Scuttle’s Cove)
As with almost every other day on the cruise, our daughter begged us to take her to the kid’s club. This worked out perfectly, because my husband and I wanted to rent bikes and visit Serenity Bay.
At Scuttle’s Cove, the security works the same as it does on the cruise ship. She scanned her badge to access the area and off she went into the secure area. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures within the kid’s club (I actually got scolded for trying to…), but I can describe the area for you! The club has lots of shaded areas so you don’t have to worry about constant sunscreen application. They can play games, dig in the sand, or play at the splash park. As usual, our daughter had great supervision and had a blast with the activities!
Castaway Cay Food & Drink
At 11:30AM, lunch service begins at Cookie’s BBQ (two locations). Waiting to eat until 11:30AM was HARD for my kiddo. I highly recommend brining a snack for smaller kids (and husbands). Cookie’s lunch features everyone’s favorite “back-yard” BBQ food. They have hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, etc., along with all the sides and fixings.
Cookie’s BBQ also has a soda/water fountain to keep you hydrated throughout the day. While Disney doesn’t want you placing your refillable cup up to the machine, you can use their cups to fill your personal cup up with ice and water (or soda, yuck, if you prefer) for the beach.
All across the island, you can get specialty drinks, beer, and smoothies from fun themed places. Our daughter’s favorite was the Olaf cup at Summertime Freeze.
Leaving Castaway Cay
After you’ve had your fill of the sand, sea, and sun – be sure to buy a Castaway Cay souvenir. This is the ONLY place you can buy souvenirs with the Castaway Cay name. I bought a coffee mug, because I always buy a coffee mug everywhere we go!!
If time and energy permit, walk back to the ship. You’ll get lots of beautiful pictures of the ship as it sits in port.
Getting on the ship is a breeze! You’ll scan your Key to the World card and place your belongings in an x-ray machine.
Once on the ship, don’t go back to your room just yet! Head up to deck 13 in the aft for some amazing pictures of Castaway Cay! Depending on what time you get back to the ship either take advantage of the lower crowd levels on the pool deck or wave goodbye to the island as the ship pulls away!
I hope you’ve enjoyed a small taste of our day at Castaway Cay! A visit to this island paradise is our favorite part of a Disney Cruise!
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