Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, is a stop on almost all of their Bahamas and Caribbean cruises. A day on Castaway Cay is the perfect beach vacation; as there is something for everyone. You are welcome to relax on the beach and soak up the sun, slide down a waterslide and enjoy some of the many Castaway Cay activities during your stay on the island. Disney provides guests numerous things to do on Castaway Cay and all you need to bring with you is your Key to the World card (and some sunscreen). We have visited Castaway Cay several times and were lucky enough to book a cruise that “double-dipped” and stopped here twice. It’s one of the many things that make a Disney Cruise worth the cost. I’m here to share with you a list of the many Castaway Cay activities to enjoy with (and without) the kids.
Things to Do on Castaway Cay
Disney has themed Castaway Cay beautifully. It incorporates the main characters, yet does not treat it like a Disney park, letting the natural beauty of the island be the star of the show. While you can book Castaway Cay shore excursions (more on that below), this is a place where very little planning is needed. The Castaway Cay activities for most people involve finding a lounger in front of the water and letting the rest take care of itself; however, if you are someone who likes to have an idea of what types of things to do on Castaway Cay specifically, then here you go.
Overview of the Beaches
There are three major sections of the island: the family beach, sports beach, and Serenity Bay (the 18+ area). To get to these beaches all you have to do is take the tram or walk. I highly recommend taking the tram.
The Family Beach is the most populated area on the island. It is where all of the Castaway Cay excursions leave from and where all of the Castaway Cay activities, rentals and shopping can be found.
Sports Beach (Teen Beach)
Besides enjoying the water, the Sports Beach offers guests more active things to do on Castaway Cay. The Teen Beach or Sports Beach is an area near the Family Beach that has volleyball and tetherball nets ready for action. While it is not restricted to teens, there are many of them there. There is also a Hideout section which is a covered lounge area for teens to relax and literally hang out.
Serenity Bay is the adults-only beach. It is at the farthest point of the island and is a place where adults come to relax and escape from the noise and mayhem of the Family Beach. There are no gift shops, no water sports, and best of all – no kids! Here, there is a bar to enjoy fruity island drinks, another BBQ location for food, hammocks, lounge chairs, massage areas, and even some cabanas to rent (more on that later). This beach is very shallow and often you will find chairs in the water and adults enjoying the peaceful ocean breeze. To me, this is one of the best things to do on Castaway Cay.
Of the four times we have been to Castaway Cay, we have only been able to enjoy it once due to various reasons. We dropped the kids off at Scuttle’s Cove and told them we would return in an hour. We took our wave phone with us so that the counselors would be able to contact us if anything happened. Once we arrived, we immediately noticed the difference in the ambiance. There were very few people in the water and it was just so quiet (except for at the bar area). We noticed that there was a mojito tasting going on and learned that it had to be booked ahead of time. This is one of the Castaway Cay activities that I cannot wait to return to.
If you are not sure about which beach to choose, then consider this advice from Rai from A Rai of Light:
A Disney Cruise Line vacation to Castaway Cay is bound to be filled with tropical destinations and just the right kind of beach, featuring beautiful white sand and clear waters. It is important to choose the right beach to make the most of a visit. There are three beaches: Family Beach, Serenity Bay, and Sports Beach. When traveling with children, the best option is to stick to the aptly named Family Beach, closest to the docking area, which is the largest beach, offering fun activities, open spaces and convenience. Serenity Bay is the adult-only beach while Sports Beach is ideal for those looking to be active with its wide variety of beach sports.
Pelican Plunge, found on the Family Beach, is a floating platform on the water with two water slides (one open and one closed), a giant bucket dump of water, and water cannons that you can use to shoot targets. This is my kids’ favorite Castaway Cay activity. Our whole family went down these slides at least five times in a row.
These slides are not just for kids – be sure to try them! The minimum height for this water slide is 38″ and there are life vests provided at the beach. Since it is a floating platform, guests required to be able to swim out to it. The water is too deep to touch the bottom, so be sure you are aware of this when you go. This area is very popular, and the lines can get very long. I recommend finding a lounger as “home base” and heading straight here when you arrive.
Spring a Leak
Spring a Leak is a water play area for kids. There are water sprayers, “broken pipes” and fountains everywhere. This is a great splash pad for little ones and all kids to enjoy and cool off. There are shaded seats all around the sides of the splash pad to rest or place your items. If you are traveling with toddlers, this may be one of their favorite places to enjoy during your time on Castaway Cay.
This is the DCL youth club on the island for kids 3-12. The counselors from the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab are here and there are optional programmed activities throughout the day as well as free play. Parents can drop the kids here to play and go enjoy some adult time at Serenity Bay Beach or do an excursion.
Some of the fun activities kids can experience at Scuttle’s Cove are Sand Castle Fun, Disney Beach Party, Sand Soccer, Water Games/Fights, Capture the Flag and Scavenger Hunts. There is also The Dig at Monstro’s Point, which is an artificial whalebone excavation site. There are plenty of sand toys for free play along with balls and soccer goals. Hours usually run from around 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM depending on your ship’s departure and arrival time on the island. If you drop your child off around noon, they can be served lunch there.
Our kids have visited Scuttle’s Cove four times. The first time we visited Castaway Cay, they did not want to leave us (they were 4 and 6); however, the three other times they have had a great time. I would recommend reapplying sunscreen right before you drop them off because the counselors are not responsible for that part.
In Da Shade Pavilion
Of all the things to do on Castaway Cay, this game pavilion has plenty of options. The In Da Shade Pavilion is meant for tweens and teens, but anyone can use the facility to take a break from the heat. It offers fun in the shade with complimentary foosball, ping-pong, pool table, shuffleboard, basketball, golf wiffleball, chess, and checkerboards. There are DCL counselors organizing games and playing them too, so your kids will be supervised if you decide to leave them here for a bit.
Our kids have never been old enough to go inside this area, but we traveled with friends who did have eleven-year-old boys, and it was hard to pull them out of here. I am sure that if we do return to Castaway Cay, I will have the same predicament.
Rent Castaway Cay Cabanas
These coveted cabanas are very difficult to obtain, even when you book ahead of time during online check-in. There are 20 private cabanas on Castaway Cay that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Each cabana comes with a stocked refrigerator with cold water and drinks, as well as fresh fruit, snacks, towels, and sunscreen. There is also a freshwater shower for rinsing off sandy feet. Each cabana has its own hammock, lounge chairs, and beach chairs too.
The Castaway Cay cabanas include snorkel gear, floats, and a one-hour bike rental that is included in the price. Cabana attendants will take you on a golf cart to lunch if you like and even drive you back to the ship. Prices start at $549 for a Family Beach cabana and $399 for a Serenity Bay cabana. Check out more details and pictures inside here.
Run or walk the Castaway Cay 5K
While I have not participated in the Castaway Cay 5K, my brother in law did, so I got the scoop. You can run/walk it and it includes bib number and plastic medal for runners ages 10 and up. The Castaway Cay 5K begins at 9 AM, but participants can disembark the ship at 8:30 AM and parents can drop their children off at Scuttle’s Cove along the way. The 3.1-mile long run begins at the bike rental stand and follows the paved bike trail to the Serenity Bay Tram Stop and then loops back around to finish at the bike stand. There is a water station that runners will pass by a total of 4 times. Participants are given a plastic cup and asked to hold onto it for the duration of the race in order to cut down on waste.
Once you are done, you can stay on the island if you choose. If you don’t plan on heading back to the ship afterward then I suggest you pack a small snack or breakfast, as there is no food available on the island until lunch begins at 11:30 AM. If you are running the Castaway Cay 5K, you could also snag a prime spot at the beach. Check out everything you need to know about the Castaway Cay 5K.
Castaway Cay Snorkeling and Float Rentals
At Gil’s Fins and Boats and at Flippers & Floats, you can rent masks, snorkels, and fins to use in the Snorkeling Lagoon. Although technically the Snorkeling Lagoon is free, if you didn’t bring your own masks/snorkels, you can rent them here for $30. The Snorkeling Lagoon has two “trails”, one closer to shore and the other farther out. You are required to wear a bright life vest regardless of which trail you choose.
Depending on the weather and water visibility, there is plenty to see when you are snorkeling. There are a number of unique sunken treasures scattered around the snorkeling lagoon and the majority of the items are marked with buoys. If you look near the orange buoys you will find a small submarine, a large anchor, and even a fishing boat. Under the white buoys, you will find Mickey, Minnie and Nemo’s Sub from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Besides snorkeling, you can also rent floats like inner tubes, rafts, paddleboats, and kayaks. One very popular rental is the 3-in-1 Castaway Cay Getaway Package, which provides snorkel equipment for the day, an inner tube for the day, and bicycle rental for one hour.
Jen from Travel with a Plan says that in order to experience the absolute best of Disney’s Castaway Cay, you should definitely plan on pre-purchasing the Castaway Cay Getaway Package to complement your day in paradise! At an amazing price of $46.00 for guests ages 10 and up, and only $26 for children ages 5-9, the Getaway Package is a 3-in-1 rental package, which includes snorkel equipment for the entire day, a float or inner-tube rental for the day, and a bicycle rental for one hour.
An adventure that must be booked online, or onboard prior to arrival at Castaway Cay, the Getaway Package is a phenomenal excursion add-on that we would recommend time and time again! Our kids loved biking the 1.5 mile flat trail around the entire island while stopping to climb lookout towers and find secluded beaches. Snorkeling in the 20-acre protected snorkel lagoon not only had us marveling at tropical fish, but swimming among hidden Mickeys and buried treasure anchored to the ocean floor.
Last, but not least, the inner tube rental (for the entire day!) was such a treat as we splashed the day away in the pristine Caribbean Sea! This, and other great Disney Cruise tips, make for an unforgettable family vacation!
Bike Around the Island
Biking around the island is one of our family’s favorite Castaway Cay activities. We have done it three times and enjoy exploring the trails and working off our lunch. The trail is just under 2 miles and is a great way to see the island and all of the Disney elements that were Imagineered. I would recommend biking to the overlook and climb to the top to see a beautiful view of the whole island.
While you can reserve bikes in advance, it is usually not necessary as their inventory is quite large. You can rent a bike for $13/hour. They have assorted sizes of bikes available to rent, including those with training wheels and kids attachments for those you want to tag along behind an adult. There are water stations along the way to refresh yourself and the hour time frame is perfect for a loop. Check out more details about bike rentals on Castaway Cay here.
Character Meet and Greets
One of the most unique character meet and greets can be found here at Castaway Cay. The characters are dressed in their beach gear and are stationed around the island for photo ops. We have seen Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Captain Jack Sparrow. If you see characters when you are disembarking the ship, I would stop to take pictures as they come and go pretty frequently. We have also seen them around the walkway near Cookies, the Post Office and even in Serenity Bay. The best photo spot though is in front of Mount Rustmore, the character buoys.
There are a variety of shopping options on Castaway Cay, which is not surprising since it’s a Disney island. The two primary spots for shopping on the island are “She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else” and “Buy the Sea Shore”. Castaway Cay logo items are only available on Castaway Cay, and cannot be purchased on the ship. So if you are looking for a souvenir, then buy it at one of these shops and don’t wait until you get back on the ship.
In addition to logo items, they have the typical beach store items: sunscreen, disposable underwater cameras, beach toys, and hats. All of the items are Disney priced, so be sure to pack your own items beforehand or get some personalized gear on Etsy.
In addition to all of the Disney cruise dining options, DCL offers free dining in Castaway Cay. So, do not go back to the ship to eat lunch!
There are three BBQ locations on the island that serve great food a d are included in the cost of the cruise. Cookie’s BBQ is located on the near side of the family beach, Cookie’s Too is located on the far side of the family beach, and Serenity Bay BBQ is the adult beach option.
Each of these locations serves almost exactly the same items, namely BBQ, including ribs, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, salads, corn on the cob, fresh fruit, and self-serve soft serve. If you are traveling without kids or are sending the kids to eat at Scuttle’s Cove, the Serenity Bay BBQ often has a slightly better menu. They add ribeye steak as one of the options and if the ship has a surplus of certain items, they get sent here.
Castaway Cay Excursions: Port Adventures
While there are plenty of things to do on Castaway Cay that do not involve money, if you would like to rent or experience something on the water, then that is what a Port Adventure is. The Castaway Cay excursions include boat and watercraft rentals, glass-bottom boat tours, catamaran sailings, “outside” snorkel adventures, jet boats, water bikes, parasailing, and fishing tours. All of these Castaway Cay excursions need to be booked ahead of time when you do online check-in.
One of the most popular Castaway Cay excursions is Ray’s Stingray Adventure, which provides the opportunity to snorkel with about 40 stingrays that are in the water off the island. To see all of the Castaway Cay excursions and port adventures, click here.
Special Touches During Holidays
During November and December, Castaway Cay gets decked out for the holidays. This is one of the highlights of the Very Merrytime Christmas Cruises. Disney decorates the island with a large Christmas tree and “sandmen” around the area. Besides the tree, there are Christmas decorations around Castaway Cay, mostly consisting of garland and other holiday decor in the areas closest to the ship and beach-inspired holiday music. This is just one of the many ways that Disney goes above and beyond with their signature theming. Check out DCL’s holiday sailings here.
General Castaway Cay Tips
- Pick up towels when you exit the ship and drop them off before you board.
- You don’t need to bring water as there are many water coolers all over the island with cups.
- There’s no need to bring a stroller. There are free strollers, wagons, joggers and even special sand wheelchairs available.
- Try to go early and stake your claim on beach loungers, as they tend to fill up in the family beach area by 11AM.
- Just like on the ship, sodas and ice cream are free!
- You don’t have to take the tram. Sometimes the wait can be long and it actually may be faster to walk back to the ship.
- There are no lockers for rent to keep your items safe. Try not to take your valuables off the ship.
- Enjoy wandering around the developed areas of Castaway Cay, pose for pictures, and look and all the Imagineered details. For extra fun – check out Hidden Mickey’s Go to Sea.
Final Thoughts: Castaway Cay Activities
Hopefully, I was able to effectively summarize the abundance of Castaway Cay activities and help you to prepare for your upcoming Disney Cruise and share with you some Castaway Cay tips. While my Alaska sailing was very memorable on DCL, our family visits to Castaway Cay have been some of our favorite beach days ever.
If you have not booked your Disney Cruise yet and are just looking at options, I would recommend using a travel agent to help you with the planning and give you some onboard credit as a thank you for using them. I have been on 5 Disney Cruises in the past 8 years and am a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. I can share my tips and tricks about cruising with Disney, provide free onboard credit, and go over what types of things to do on/off the ship. By the way, my services are completely free! If you’re interested in a free quote or even if you have already booked and would like to transfer it over so that I can help you, email me and we can get started.
Land and Sea Package
Are you looking to combine a Disney Cruise vacation with a Disney World stay? Nothing extends the magic more than combining a Disney cruise with your WDW vacation. I can help book your stay at one of the Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resorts, book your dining, and Fastpasses. To try and cut down on some costs, you may want to take a look at how to do Disney on a budget, planning things to do in Disney World besides the parks, and what to bring on the trip using this Disney packing list.
If you are planning on doing both a visit to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, I recommend doing your trip to the parks first and then finish it off with a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral. Here’s why – while a Disney World vacation is fantastic, it is not always relaxing. You are waking up early, running around the parks, and trying to make it to the next attraction for days. On a Disney Cruise, you will vacation at a much slower pace and be pampered by the signature Disney service.
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