Disney Vacations

9 Things We Love About Disney’s Private Island

Last updated 18th February 2019

One of the highlights of a Disney cruise is stopping for the day at Castaway Cay, a private island in the Bahamas that is reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests. Here are 9 things we love about this little slice of paradise.

The Disney Magic docks at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the tropical waters of the Bahamas. Courtesy of Matt Stroshane

1/9 It’s Beyond Beautiful

As the ship pulls into the 1,000-acre Castaway Cay, you won’t believe your eyes. This is the stuff that deserted island dreams are made of: white-sand beaches, crystal-clear aquamarine water, swaying palm trees. Leave it to Disney to find the most idyllic oasis in the middle of the Caribbean sea. And of course, this being Disney, not a palm frond is out of place. The island is perfectly manicured and decorated with colorful, Bahamian-style cottages, including a working post office where you can mail postcards.

Pelican Plunge, an exciting water play area located within swimming distance from the shore at Castaway Cay. Courtesy of Matt Stroshane

2/9 There are Amazing Water Features

Just offshore is Pelican Plunge, a pair of waterslides set on a 2,400-square-foot floating platform. The more advanced slide is enclosed and sends you on a breathtaking corkscrew ride down to the lagoon. The easier one is a 140-foot-long twisting open slide. While you wait, you can play with water cannons and step under the giant bucket dump. For younger kids who want to splash around, the island has the Spring-a-Leak play area, with plenty of water guns and fountains.

Guests can rent snorkel gear and splash into the lagoon to explore 22 acres of underwater life. Courtesy of Matt Stroshane

3/9 The Snorkeling is Awesome

The lagoon is divided into two areas: one part is for swimming and the other part is set aside for snorkeling. It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss. There’s so much to discover, including a shipwreck, a submarine, even statues of Mickey and Minnie. Each snorkeling spot is marked with a floating buoy. And of course, there’s tons of sea life to check out, too.

At Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, guests can swim and interact with Southern Stingrays. Courtesy of Matt Stroshane

4/9 You Can Pet a Stingray

Want to take your underwater explorations to the next level? Book Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure to get up close with more than 60 rays. Don’t worry: Guests can safely feed, touch and snorkel around these friendly creatures.

Refreshments at Castaway Cay. Courtesy of Matt Stroshane

5/9 The Food and Drinks are Delish

At lunchtime, Castaway Cay puts on a huge, open-air barbecue party, with grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salads and all the trimmings. The two main restaurants are Cookie’s BBQ and Cookie’s Too BBQ, but there’s also an adults-only BBQ spot near Serenity Bay. Pro tip: The restaurants stop serving at around 2 p.m., so you’ll want to make sure you eat early. There are also plenty of drinks stands with frozen concoctions for mom and dad – and the kids.

The Castaway Cay Challenge, a 5K event on Castaway Cay. Courtesy Matt Stroshane

6/9 You Can Get Sporty

Sure, it’s tempting to just chill on the beach. But there’s so much to do here, from yoga classes to volleyball matches. At Gil’s Fins and Boats, you can rent parasails, sea kayaks, aqua trikes and even stand-up paddle boards (for ages 18 and up). At In-Da-Shade Games, you can play ping-pong, basketball and billiards. One experience you definitely won’t want to miss is renting a bike to explore the island’s 1.5 miles. There are bikes for men and women, adults and children, bikes with kids’ seats and even bikes with training wheels.

And then there’s the ultimate fun run: a 5K race for ages 10 and up. Participants register before the ship docks, and the event begins first thing, so that you’re not running in the heat of the day. The trail is paved and flat, and Disney distributes water along the way. The race is free, and everyone’s a winner. Each participant gets a medal.

Castaway Cay offers strollers and wheelchairs. Courtesy of Kent Phillips

7/9 Free Strollers and Wheelchairs

Disney thinks of everything. At Castaway Cay, you can leave your stroller on the ship. There are free strollers, wagons and even joggers that you can take on the beach. And guess what — if anyone in your group needs a wheelchair, they’re in luck. Disney provides wheelchairs that can cruise through the sand.

A private rental cabanas on the family beach. Courtesy of Kent Phillips

8/9 Private Cabanas

There are plenty of free loungers, beach chairs and hammocks, but if you really want to treat yourself, you can book a private cabana for the day. Each cabana measures 325 square feet and is equipped with lounge chairs, hammocks, a shower, a fridge filled with soft drinks and water, sunscreen and magazines. There’s a cabana butler who can get you cocktails. Some of the cabanas also include snorkel equipment, floats and bike rentals. But a piece of advice: Reserve a cabana early in your cruise. They sell out fast.

Strolling on Serenity Bay, a private beach for adults. Courtesy of Kent Phillips

9/9 Grown-Up Time

A tip for mom and dad: Send the little ones to Scuttle’s Cove, the Castaway Cay kids club, and escape to Serenity Bay, a gorgeous swath of sand set aside for adults. Here, you’ll find lots of loungers and beach chairs (with servers who walk around taking drink orders), plus a restaurant that serves entrees like steak, which you won’t find in the main areas. There are adults-only cabanas for rent, as well as massage cabanas where you can indulge with an outdoor spa treatment. The beach is generally peaceful, but if you want a little action, there’s a bar with live music in the afternoon.


And a Few Tips to Keep in Mind

• Towels are passed out when you get off the ship. You might want to grab two per person. There’s no other place to get towels than here.

• Bring reusable water bottles and fill them at the drink stations on the ship; it’s hot on the island, and water can get expensive.

• You can drop off your kids at Scuttle’s Cove — a free childcare zone manned by the ship’s staff. Your kids will be fed and entertained with plenty of activities and water games.

• It’s pronounced Castaway “Key,” not “Kay.”

by Laura Begley Bloom

Want more on Disney Cruise Line? You can read about Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic here.