10 REASONS TO JOIN THE CASTAWAY CAY CLUB
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. It is three miles long and 1000 acres of pristine Bahamian paradise with it’s own private cruise ship dock and airstrip. The only way you can get to Castaway Cay is by sailing on one of Disney’s four ships, the Fantasy, Dream, Magic or Wonder on a Caribbean or Bahamian cruise. It’s such a popular destination, if once is not enough, there are several “double dip” cruise itineraries that visit the private island twice. Here are ten reasons to join the Castaway Cay Club by booking a Disney Cruise and tips to make the most out of your day on this exclusive island:
1. Family Beach Castaway Cay has two family beaches to choose from with plenty of loungers, beach chairs (perfect for sitting in the shallow waters with a cool drink), and sun umbrellas. The waters are clear and calm, so perfect for kiddos playing in the surf, floating on a tube or mat, and just relaxing. Insider Tips: Don’t worry about packing towels; you will pick them up as you get off the ship. Do bring your Key to the World Card; you will need it to get off and on as well as to charge any extras or purchases to your stateroom. If a front row lounger or hammock is a must have for you, make sure to be packed and ready to get off the ship as soon as they start de-boarding. But if you are not an early riser or the “rope drop” crowd is not for you, not to worry, Castaway Cay has a ratio of two chairs per passenger so even if you head out later, there will still be plenty of places to camp out and enjoy the day.
2. Serenity Bay Serenity Bay is Castaway Cay’s adult (18+) exclusive beach. As the name implies, this is the place to be if you seek tranquility and relaxation in pristine surroundings where the loudest sounds you’ll hear are the gentle breaks of the waves. It’s a very shallow beach, so perfect for sitting, floating, or wading through. There is a sandbar farther out where you can remove yourself even further and you may even spy a starfish or two. Serenity Bay is home to the Massage Cabanas for the ultimate in relaxation, the Windsock Hut for float rentals, the Serenity Bay BBQ (adult only dining), the Castaway Air Bar for specialty drinks, cocktails, and beer, and the adult exclusive rental Cabanas. Insider Tips: In addition to the regular BBQ buffet menu offered at the other eating locations, Serenity Bay serves specialty items like grilled steak!! Try a Konk Kooler, Castaway Cay’s signature drink, a frozen mixture of rums and tropical juices. Get it in a keepsake Castaway Cay Coconut Cup so you can mix up your own tropical drink when you get back home and imagine you’re back at Serenity Bay. (You can get these cups at any bar on Castaway Cay with any specialty beverage, alcohol optional).
3. Pelican Plunge and Spring-A-Leak Pelican Plunge is a floating water slide play platform in the ocean located at the second family beach. It includes two water slides (one open, one closed), a giant bucket that periodically dumps water onto a tin roof above you, and several water canons that you can shoot targets with. The minimum height for the waterslides is 38” and if you’re under 48” you must wear a life vest. Know that you must swim a short distance to the Pelican Plunge platform. Spring-A-Leak is a water play area in what appears to be the remnants of a washed away beach dwelling located between the two family beaches near the bike rentals. It’s a shaded play area festooned with nautical flags, ropes, and driftwood where water randomly hisses, spurts, and sprays out of broken pipes and a padded splash pad. It’s most appealing to the toddler and younger set, but good fun for all ages to cool off in. Insider Tips: Pelican Plunge is a popular activity so to avoid long lines, try to enjoy it first thing in the morning or late in the day once folks start heading back to the ship. There are free life vests for kids and adults available at all of the equipment rental locations.
4. Snorkeling Lagoon The Snorkeling Lagoon is exclusive for snorkelers and separated from the Swimming Lagoon by ropes and buoys. There are two entrances on either side of the first Family Beach. You can bring your own snorkel equipment and snorkel for free or you can rent gear from two locations: Gil’s Fins and Boats or Flippers and Floats. You can pre-order your gear or rent the day of. There is plenty of equipment available so no fear of being shut out, but if you pre-reserve the Castaway Cay Getaway Package (snorkel gear, float, bike rental) there is about a $13 discount versus renting each activity separately. The Getaway Package is only available if you reserve ahead of time, you can’t get the discount the day you’re there. Everyone, kids as well as adults, must wear an inflatable life vest to snorkel. They are available free of charge from any rental location. In addition to tropical fish there are several sunken treasures to keep an eye out for throughout the lagoon, the majority of which are marked by brightly colored buoys. Look for Mickey, Minnie, and Nemo’s Sub from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea among other fun treasures. Insider Tips: For the least amount of crowds and best viewing try to snorkel earlier in the day. The waters tend to be clearer and the fish appear to be more plentiful. Make certain you are comfortable snorkeling and swimming. The water is fairly deep in most of the lagoon--you will not be able to stand up. Put on your fins after you get into the water. It’s a lot easier, you will get far less sand in your flippers, and you avoid doing the “Donald Duck High Step”.
5. Dining on Castaway Cay There are three dining options for lunch on Castaway Cay, Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too BBQ, and Serenity Bay BBQ (adult only). There is no extra charge for lunch, so no reason to trek back to the ship to eat unless the menu does not appeal to you. With the exception of one or two specialty items served at Serenity Bay BBQ, the menus at all three locations are identical. They are open air buffets serving burgers (meat or vege), ribs, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob, variety of salads (ex. couscous, potato, green salad, fruit), banana bread, chips, and of course cookies! There is a soft drink station and a soft serve ice cream station and ample picnic tables in the covered dining areas. Insider Tips: Lunch is typically served from 11:30am-2:00pm, so although you may be having the time of your life, don’t miss it or you will be very hungry. For the same reason, eat breakfast before getting off the ship. Same rules apply for Castaway Cay as any other port; you may not bring opened food off the ship. You can bring factory-sealed snacks like chips or crackers. Take some extra cookies or bags of chips from lunch back to the beach with you to snack on later. Cold water stations are plentiful so pack a refillable water bottle and stay hydrated all day.
6. Cabana Rentals For some Disney Cruise travelers the ultimate score is a Cabana Rental on Castaway Cay. There are 25 Cabanas on the island, 20 Family Beach Cabanas ($549-$599 for up to 6 guests, additional guests $50 each up to 10 max), 4 Serenity Bay Cabanas ($399 for up to 4 guests, additional guests $50 each up to 10 max), and 1 Grand Family Beach Cabana ($899 for up to 10 guests). A Cabana host will drive you via golf cart to your private retreat. Each Cabana is furnished with ample cushioned seating (couch, chairs, loungers & tables), a well-stocked refrigerator (Coke products, water, fruit plate, and cool damp wash cloths), snacks, towels, and complimentary sunscreen. There is a curtained changing space, plenty of outlets to charge electronics, a ceiling fan, and a safe—everything you need to make your stay comfortable and convenient. A call button will beckon an attendant that can restock your refrigerator, order drinks from the bar, and do whatever they can to make your day magical. You also have a large hammock, beach toys, floats, inner tubes, snorkel gear and use of bikes—all included in the cost of the Cabana rental. The Cabanas are farther up the beach and therefore provide an essentially private slice of beach for your personal recreation. Insider Tips: Cabana rentals are coveted and very difficult to secure if you are not sailing Concierge or are Platinum Castaway Club members. If a Cabana Rental is important to you and it’s within your budget, consider sailing Concierge. And remember, people do cancel, so check availability regularly and once on board check in with Guest Services as you may be able to score a last minute cancellation.
7. Port Adventures If you’re in the mood for a little more than a day on the beach, Castaway Cay has several Port Adventures to choose from. Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure: This one-hour adventure let’s you get up close and personal with one of Castaway Cay’s natural inhabitants—the stingray. It includes an educational segment, followed by the opportunity to feed the rays, and concludes with about 30 minutes of snorkeling among the stingrays in their private enclosed lagoon. This is a great experience for anyone who enjoys and is comfortable in the water, snorkeling, and interacting with creatures of the “non-furry” variety up close. You’re in the lagoon with them so they may occasionally bump up against you (their barbs are trimmed so they are safe). If any of this makes you uncomfortable you may want to consider another activity. As with anything involving non-animatronic live animals, whether you see a few or a fever of stingrays that day is up to them. Bike Rentals: Want to explore more of Castaway Cay? Rent a bike for an hour and take a tour of the island. Bike rentals are $12 for the hour and are of the beach cruiser variety of varying sizes including bikes with training wheels or baby seats so the whole family can join in. The 1.5 miles of paved bike paths are very well marked and completely flat with several Disney-esque sights to see along the way. One of the paths leads to the Observation Tower. A short climb to the top will reward you with a bird’s eye view of the island—great photo op. The path continues down the airstrip to Serenity Bay and down another one-way trail to that ends at a point where you can view a secluded beach (sorry, you can’t go down there). There are lots of cold water stations along the way to keep you hydrated. The trails are on the inner part of the island so you’re mostly riding through vegetation, but nonetheless an enjoyable way to burn off some of those pesky cruise calories. Parasailing, Fishing, Jet-skiing, and More: Craving a little exhilaration? Try parasailing, jet-skiing, or a thrilling ride on a banana boat. Angling your style? Choose from several catch and release fishing trips in the Bahamian waters around Castaway Cay. Insider Tips: With so much to do and explore on the island for free, unless you’re an avid fisherman, or you’ve been to the island several times and are looking for something new, I’d recommend sticking with the shorter adventures. The Castaway Cay Getaway package including float, snorkel gear, and bike rental for a discounted price will keep you busy for much of the day and is a great place to start.
8. Kids and Teen Activities Disney is renowned for it’s world-class kids programs, and Castaway Cay is no exception. Scuttle’s Cove: Basically an extension of the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab on land. The same counselors from the ship will check in and oversee kids activities at Scuttle’s Cove. Fun activities can include Sand Castle Fun, Disney Beach Party, Sand Soccer, Water Games, Capture the Flag and Scavenger Hunts. You can check the Daily Navigator for times. Check in your little sailors (ages 3-12) for an hour or two while you relax and enjoy the peace of Serenity Bay or other activity. Hours are generally 8:30am to 4:00pm but may vary based on your port times. Lunch will be served at Pops Props for kids checked in around noon. Monstro Point right outside of Scuttle’s Cove is a fun place to dig for whale bones that the whole family can enjoy. In Da Shade: Basketball hoops, pool tables, foosball, and a giant checkerboard in an outdoor game pavilion is a perfect place to take a break from the sun. The entire pavilion is open to kids and kids-at-heart of all ages. Tweens (ages 11-14) will have scheduled time here, supervised by youth counselors. Teen Hideout: The name pretty much sums it up. The Teen Hideout is an exclusive space for teens (ages 14-17) where they can chill out in a hammock, listen to music, play volleyball, and just be teens! The “Wild Side” is a teen exclusive Port Adventure that includes snorkeling, bike ride, speedboat ride, lunch, and time back at the Hideout.
9. Castaway Cay 5K The Castaway Cay 5K is a “fun run” for runners and walkers of every activity level, ages 10 and up. It is FREE to participate in but you must sign up at Guest Services on board the ship. You cannot sign up beforehand. The race takes place first thing in the morning and you will meet up on board to receive your race bib (great souvenir) and instructions for the race. You will then be escorted off the ship to the starting line. The 3.1-mile course is flat and takes you down the airstrip and through one of the paved biking trail