If you ask most people who have sailed on a Disney Cruise what was the best port of call they will have one answer for you.
Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay has been delighting guests since the first passengers sailed on a Disney Cruise in 1998.
The Disney difference extends to their private island. Everything is taken care of to make your time on Castaway Cay very special.
Disney Makes Everything So Easy
Disembarking at Castaway Cay is an absolute breeze.
Unlike many other cruise line private islands Castaway Cay has a custom-built dock. This means you simply step off your Disney Ship right onto the island.
No need for that tedious tender boat process that many other cruise line private islands have.
To create the Castaway Cay dock, a 1,700-foot channel around 35 feet deep needed to be created. This channel ranges from 200 to 400 feet wide.
The transformation of Castaway Cay into Disney’s Private Island paradise took around 18 months and cost $25 million.
It takes tremendous skill to navigate this channel to dock at Castaway Cay. Although the Captain always tries his best, sometimes due to weather conditions, it is not possible to dock here.
Safety is always the first consideration – although when it happens it is disappointing when the ship can’t dock.
Happily most times the ship does make it to the dock!
Disney even makes it super easy to get to the beach. Whether you want to go to the Family Beach or Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach, you can either walk or take a tram.
You can be claiming that free beach lounger within minutes of stepping off the ship. Just remember to pick up a towel from the dock – that is provided for you too.
There is one thing we suggest you bring with you to Castaway Cay as well as sunscreen. The sand may look perfect, but some areas can be pretty painful to walk on with bare feet!
We always bring some inexpensive beach shoeswith us to Castaway Cay. Your feet will thank you!
You Don’t Need to Spend a Dime on Castaway Cay
You can easily visit Castaway Cay and not spend any additional money at all.
Food and non-alcoholic drinks are available for no extra charge. You can of course always buy drinks from the bar if you want something a little more exotic.
The food is barbecue style – and you can choose from three different locations.
Cookies One is located closest to the ship on the Family Beach and tends to be less busy than Cookies Two which is further in but also on the Family Beach.
They both serve the same menu.
There are plenty of places in the shade to sit down and eat.
There is also a Serenity Bay BBQ – if you can go here then this really is the best choice, even though it is the furthest away from the ship.
It’s the least crowded and sometimes has dishes you won’t find at the other locations.
All of the Castaway Cay BBQ venues serve the same menu (although you may get lucky at Serenity Bay).
There is a selection of salads and fruit as you first enter the buffet area.
You will also usually find Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Ribeye Steaks, Rotisserie Chicken, Cajun Mahi Mahi, and BBQ Pork Ribs.
If you have special dietary needs then be sure to mention this and a Cast Member will help you.
There is a self-serve drinks station, just like on the pool deck of the ship for you to get soft drinks and water. There is also self-serve ice cream.
With all your essential food and beverage needs included, you can just sit on a lounge chair, enjoy the ocean and not spend an extra dime.
But You Can Spend Spend Spend
Just because you don’t need to spend any money, doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t! You can run up quite a bill depending upon which activities you choose to do on Castaway Cay.
One of the most sought-after things on Castaway Cay is the Cabanas. Your very own private Cabana on either the Family or Adult Beach.
Even if you are prepared to pay the price of a Castaway Cay Cabana, actually getting one is a bit like winning the lottery. There is far more demand than there is supply!
Really there is little chance of securing a Cabana Rental unless you are sailing Concierge or have Pearl Castaway Club status.
It doesn’t hurt to try though so always put your name down at Guest Serves on the waitlist.
Miracles do happen.
If you do manage to get a Castaway Cay Cabana then you have your very own piece of paradise.
A Cabana rental on the Castaway Cay Family Beach is $549 for up to 6 guests. But you do get free sunscreen!
There are also a number of different Castaway Cay Activities to choose from.
These range from renting a tube to float in the ocean to parasailing!
Another very popular activity is Castaway Ray’s Stingray Excursion where you can get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures.
It is a lot of fun to snorkel on Castaway Cay, even if you have never done it before.
There is a specially created snorkeling lagoon where you will see lots of fish and some rather more unusual underwater sights.
Maybe even Mickey himself.
If you don’t want to bring your own equipment, there are rentals available on Castaway Cay:
- Snorkeling Equipment including mask and flippers are $34 for adults, and $18 for children aged 5 to 9 for the whole day
- A Castaway Cay Double Dip 2-day rental is $46 for adults and $26 for children.
- Float Rentals are $13 for the whole day
- Bicycle Rentals are $13 per hour for all ages.
- Castaway Cay Getaway Package – includes snorkeling and floats for the whole day and 1-hour bike rental, $46 for adults, $26 per child
- There is a Castaway Cay Double Dip 2-day price of $60 for adults and $33 for children.
Of course, you really don’t have to spend anything extra – you can just spend your time relaxing on the sand, swimming in the ocean or having fun on the waterslide at Pelican Plunge!
There is a Lot To Do on Castaway Cay – But Maybe You Want to Do Nothing at All
There are many activities that you can do on Castaway Cay. If you aren’t the sitting down on a beach type of person, then you will have plenty of options to enjoy.
You can even run a 5K on Castaway Cay! It isn’t an official event right now, but you can still find out the route and get your medal when you complete the challenge.
However, whilst you will definitely want to make the most of your day, sometimes the thing to do is to plan to do very little.
Even though your little piece of paradise is probably being shared with a few thousand others, it rarely ever feels like that.
Snag your beach lounger or hammock and enjoy the peace for a while. Even take your chair right up to the shore and let the waves lap gently over your feet.
You May See a Pirate or a Mouse
Of course, it simply wouldn’t be Disney if there weren’t characters on the island.
Although you will never see a Disney Princess getting her toes in the sand, you will most likely see Mickey and Minnie Mouse in their beach wear.
Goody and Pluto are also ofter around on the dock. In recent times even Olaf has been known to make an appearance without melting.
One character who usually appears is Captain Jack Sparrow.
The Flying Dutchman may have long since sailed away, but everyone’s favorite pirate can often be seen on the dock of Castaway Cay.
Adults Have Their Own Space on Disney’s Private Island
Adults are very well cared for on Disney Cruises, and Castaway Cay is no exception.
The Grown Ups have their very own beach on Disney’s Private Island.
Don’t even think of trying to relax on Castaway Cay Serenity Bay unless you are over 18.
There are Cast Members there to check your ID!
The adult-only beach is the furthest away from the dock, but there is a convenient tram to get your there without too much effort!
Of course, you don’t have to go far to find food or drinks.
There is a Serenity Bay BBQ and the Air Bar is a great place to check out the adult beverage menu.
The classic on the Castaway Air Bar menu is the Castaway Cay Konk Kooler. This is made with rum, coconut cream, pineapple, passion fruit, and orange juices.
You Can Even Get Married on Castaway Cay
Want to get married in Paradise? Then why not have your wedding on Disney’s Castaway Cay?
You can exchange vows on Disney’s Private island in front of up to 100 of your chosen guests! It is a fabulous location to be a Disney Bride.
Many things are included in the basic cost of the ceremony and there are plenty of opportunities for upgrades.
Including adding appearances by Mickey and Minnie – if their schedules and your budget allow it!
If you are tempted you can find out more details at Disney Weddings.
The History of Castaway Cay is Surprising
Castaway Cay has a less-than-desirable past.
Things were not always exactly within the bounds of the law before the Mouse arrived.
There are unconfirmed rumors that pirates once lived on the island.
It is highly likely that the real ancestors of the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow lived on the island.
However, its more recent history is most definitely on record.
Before Disney arrived and transformed it into Castaway Cay, the island was known as Gorda Cay.
Unfortunately, it attracted the attention of drug smugglers.
The fact that it already had an airstrip made it an ideal place for drug smugglers to use to import their goods into Florida.
Now the airstrip has a much better use – you can rent a bike and ride down the wide concrete path!
One Visit To Castaway Cay is Never Enough
One thing is for certain. One visit to Disney’s Castaway Cay is never enough.
Some people are lucky and they sail on one of the Disney Cruises which has two port stops in Castaway Cay.
Affectionately known as the Castaway Cay Double Dip, there are always a number of special cruises each year which stop twice at Disney’s private island.
However, it is for sure that once you have spent any time on Castaway Cay you are going to want to return again!
Want to Know More About Disney Cruise Ships?
We have sailed many many times on Disney Cruise Lines and have written hundreds of articles to help you have the very best experience. Here are a few to get you started:
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.