20 Tips and Secrets

Have you wondered what all there is for you to do to make the most of your island paradise day at Castaway Cay, an island exclusive to Disney Cruise Line guests? Imagine, walking off the Disney ship, and right in front of you are swaying palm trees, warm ocean breezes, clear Caribbean water, world class Disney characters, and loads of amenities.

So, where do you start? Your first time on the island can seem a little overwhelming, which is understandable when there is so much to see and do. Well, I hope to help you decide how to make the best of your day at Castaway Cay in this post. Feel free to comment below on what your favorite Castaway Cay activities are.

First, watch this video to get you excited about your day at Castaway Cay!

1. Disney’s Castaway Cay is Exclusive to Disney Cruise Line Guests and has Something for Everyone

Disney Castaway Cay (pronounced KEY), a private island paradise created just for Disney Cruise Line Guests who embark on Bahamas and Caribbean Cruises has areas for all ages including a secluded adult-only beach, ages 18+ (Serenity Bay), hang-outs for kids (Spring-a-Leak) and teens (Teens Hideout), as well as a large family beach (Castaway Cay Family Beach).

Colorful sign on Castaway Cay made from wood pointing the direction of each attraction
Photo Credit: Stephanie Inch

2. You Can Meet Disney Characters on the Island

Did you know the Disney characters are out and about on the island? Check the Navigator (paper and/or digital versions) for the meet and greet times and locations. You can meet them on the gangway, Marges Barges, the Post Office, and at Mount Rustmore. They all sport their island-wear. So, even though you may have already gotten your photo with Mickey and friends on the ship, go ahead and snap a few more on the island because they are so adorable in their swimwear!

Some characters have photographers, while others don’t, so make sure you take your phone or camera with you if you want all the photos!

3. Here’s a Hidden Secret!

Shhhh…here’s a hidden secret! You can meet Olaf on Castaway Cay for some warm hugs! As of our last few sailings, he was not listed as a character for meet and greets in the Navigator. I had to ask to find out when he was going to be out. You have to be quick about it because he melts pretty fast in that hot Bahamas sun!

4. Disney Photographers are on the Island

The only port you will have opportunities for Disney photographers to take pictures of your family outside the ship is at Castaway Cay. Take advantage of the multiple photo spots that are set up so you can get pictures of the beautiful ship behind you, or while you are basking in the warm Caribbean water! Don’t be afraid to ask the photographers for action shots. Many of them will take multiple shots until they get it just right.

Disney Photographers snapped this picture of my daughter in the water at Castaway Cay.

Tip: When you disembark the ship, take note of where the photographers are set up so if you go to the beach and return and they are not there, you know those are good spots to take pictures with your personal camera.

5. The runDisney Castaway Cay 5K is FREE!

My daughter is ready for the 5K on Castaway Cay with her race bib on and standing at the starting line.

The only runDisney race you can participate in for free is at Castaway Cay. Not to mention, you get a cute little rubber medal and keepsake race bib! This is a ticketed event and spaces are limited, so register at Port Adventures when you board the ship. On your Castaway Cay day, you will check-in at a designated area, so make sure you have your tickets, Key to the World Card, and photo ID with you. If you have small children, the group will stop at Scuttle’s Cove for you to register them during the 5K. No children under 10 (including children in strollers) are allowed on the 5K course due to safety regulations.

My daughter and I participated in the 5K together. She is more of a runner than me, so I found a group to power-walk with and she ran it! The best part is, is that we both finished! Once you get your medal, go and see some characters. They love seeing your award!

6. Castaway Cay Maps Make Great Souvenirs

Pick up extra Castaway Cay maps (click link for PDF) from Castaway Cay’s information hut. These are great souvenirs. This is a picture of a scrapbook page I made using the map on Castaway Cay.

A Scrapbook Page I Made Using the Castaway Cay Map

7. Experience Pelican Plunge on Castaway Cay

Race your family down one of the two slides on Pelican Plunge. One person decides to race in the enclosed slide, while you choose to go down the one that is open. Surely, no matter which side you choose, they both are a lot of fun. It is important to note that you will need to be able to swim to the beach to get back into the line, however, life jackets are available. When waiting in line, my daughter had a great time dodging the spilling buckets of water while she was spraying targets from the huge spray nozzles.

8. Schedule Port Adventures at Castaway Cay

There is so much to do on the island that is FREE, but if you want to participate in watersports or other activities, you can purchase port adventures on the ship at the Port Adventures desk or on the island. Some of the port adventures, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, parasailing, water-biking, stingray adventure, and snorkeling, have associated fees and should be booked ahead of time since space is limited. Once you are on the island, head over to Gil’s or Flippers and Floats to check-in and check-out your rental equipment.

Everything you need such as beach chairs, towels, umbrellas, and a buffet lunch are included in your day of fun on the island.  If you get there early enough or stay late enough, you might be one of the lucky ones to secure a hammock between two palm trees as you sway peacefully in the warm Caribbean breeze. Usually there are chairs available, but if you have a large group, you should get there early to secure your seats.

There are a ton of FREE activities for you to enjoy on Castaway Cay

Included in the activities that are free are character dance parties, character meet and greets, Pelican Plunge, Family Beach, tram rides, lunch, ice cream, and so much more, so check your Navigator for activity times and locations. We enjoy taking tram rides around the island just before we head back to the ship.

9. Explore the Bike Path on Castaway Cay

Renting bikes is a cheap port excursion and will allow you to explore the island. Part of the bike path is the same as the 5k, so if you slept in and decided to forego the 5k, this is a great option for the entire family! You can also stop at the tower that overlooks the island, which we haven’t gotten a chance to do yet.

10. Food and Soda are FREE on Castaway Cay

If you get hungry on the island, never fear because there are plenty of places for you to grab a bite to eat. Stop in at Cookies BBQ or Cookies TOO BBQ if you are on the family-side of the island. If you are on the adult-side of the island, Serenity Bay, enjoy a steak and some other adult options. Some of the food options include BBQ ribs, ribeye steaks, hotdogs, cajun mahi-mahi, jerk chicken, spicy chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, fresh fruit, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and a lot more!

In the event that you are thirsty, grab a refreshment at Conched Out Bar or Heads Up Bar. Also, there is unlimited soda at the self-service soda machines for everyone’s enjoyment. In my opinion, the water is filtered and therefore, tastes amazing! During your day at Castaway Cay, you might decide to be lazy, which is OK, because you are on vacation! Every now and then, the bar staff walks around and takes your order. So, order up, give them your Key to the World card, and don’t forget to tip! Soon enough, you’ll have a cold drink in your hand while you relax with your feet in the sand.

11. Shop for Souvenirs at Castaway Cay

We normally take our Castaway Club bag packed with bottled water, ziploc bags to place our phones in so they don’t get sandy or wet, sandals, sunscreen, and small clips to hold our towels on our lounge chairs. Oh, and a small bottle of baby powder because it helps take the sand off your feet and hands. Everyone needs to have their Key to the World Card and all adults need an ID to get off and back on the ship.

If you forget anything but your Key to the World Card and ID, you can purchase most items on the island. So, just head on over to Sea Shells and Buy the Seashore (do you see how Disney did this?). And, while you’re there go ahead and pick up some exclusive Castaway Cay souvenirs.

12. Find the Hidden Underwater Mickey at Castaway Cay

Snorkel on Castaway Cay to find the underwater hidden Mickey and other treasures. This is something we haven’t done yet, but plan to do on our next voyage! Snorkeling Lagoon is a great place to snorkel in a secure environment. If you have snorkeling gear, bring it with you if possible because you can snorkel for free. Everyone is required to wear a lifejacket, which are free to use. You can also rent snorkeling gear on the island at Flippers & Floats.

Keep in mind, at this time, there are two trails in the lagoon. Discovers Trail is for beginner snorkelers, while the Explorer Trail is for more experienced snorkelers.

13. Protect Yourself from Mosquitos and Sea Lice on Castaway Cay

Insect repellent is provided free of charge when you exit the ship. It’s also recommended that if you are planning on hanging out in the ocean by any of the ropes, snorkeling, or planning on going down Pelican Plunge to get sea lice treatment. Disney Cruise Line is aware there is sea life in the ocean, therefore, you can pick some up in Buy the Shore or Sea Shells.

14. Take Time to Walk the Island of Castaway Cay

If you are physically able, I suggest you walk to the beach from the ship, especially if it is your first time on Castaway Cay. There is so much beautiful scenery to see and photo opportunities along the way. However, if you can’t make the 1/2 mile or so walk, there is a free tram that will take you from the ship to any point on the island. While I believe in walking from the ship to the beach, I also believe the tram is great at the end of a hot, tiring day. It’s also a great amenity if you need to just run back to the ship for a forgotten item.

15. Kids Have Fun at Scuttles Cove

Scuttle’s Cove, which is where you will drop your kiddos (ages 3-12) off for some supervised fun in the sun, is the equivalent of Oceaneers Club on the ship. While they are here they can dig for whale bones at Monstro’s Point, dance with world-famous Disney characters, treasure hunt, and splash in the fresh-water splash pad.

16. Your Entire Family Can Enjoy In-Da-Shade Game Pavilion on Castaway Cay

In-Da-Shade Game Pavilion is a great way to get out of the hot sun into some cool shade while you play games such as basketball, billiards, ping pong, and foosball. There’s even a sports beach where you can play volleyball and tetherball.

17. Double-Dip at Castaway Cay

Surprisingly, many guests do not know they can book two magical days at Disney’s Castaway Cay with select 5-day Bahamian cruises? We were even more excited when we lucked out and ended up sailing on one of these special itineraries. The first day at Castaway Cay was dark, gloomy, and cold, however, we went back a couple days later, and it was sunny and warm. For this reason, we were so grateful of the two stops at this paradise island! As you can see in the photos before, there was a drastic difference in the weather between our two stops.

18. Holiday’s at Castaway Cay

Holiday’s at Castaway Cay are just as magical as they are at Walt Disney World. When you disembark at Castaway Cay you are greeted by a very large Christmas tree, snowmen in bathing suits, gifts in a sleigh, and snow! Yes, snow! If you look carefully, there are other hints of holiday magic around the island such as a well-placed Santa face enwrapped with tropical flowers.

19. No Drones Allowed on Castaway Cay

Due to the advancement in technology, new rules are popping up on the island I’ve never seen before . I actually chuckled when I saw this sign and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. “Drones are prohibited aboard the ship and at Disney Castaway Cay.” This should go without saying, however there’s a reason there’s a sign now!

Sign saying, "No Drones. Drones are prohibited aboard the ship and at Disney Castaway Cay"
Photo Credit: Stephanie Inch

20. Leave the Sand and Shells in Paradise!

Sponge and Sea Biscuits I found on Castaway Cay.

While everyone wants to take a piece of paradise home with them, it’s prohibited on Disney Cruise Line. Therefore, make sure you leave the sand and shells at the beach! Rather than taking the shells, take photos of them instead! For one thing, imagine what Castaway Cay would look like if every guest took the sand and shells from the island. Due to the seriousness of preserving the island, Disney Cruise Line states in the Navigator to leave the sand and shells on the island. Despite the notices, guests continue to try to get away with trying to sneak their slice of paradise onto the ship. Security will confiscate any shells or sand they find and then return them to where they belongs! So, save yourself the embarrassment and leave them on the beach for future beachgoers to enjoy!

I hope you found this article helpful for when you are thinking about planning a cruise! Contact me if you are ready to book your voyage! My services are always 100% free! I take the stress out of planning a cruise so you can just enjoy your voyage with no worries!

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I am an avid Disney fan, especially of the Disney cruises. Since learning of my love of travel, something I wasn't able to do as a child, I have decided I wanted to help others make magical memories. I became a personal vacation planner with Magical Vacation Planner in 2017. Since getting this job, I have traveled even more. I love sharing my travel tips with people, especially novice travelers. I hope you find my blog interesting and helpful. Be sure to subscribe if you like it. I post blogs on a regular basis.
Castaway Cay