Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas: Castaway Cay
Formerly known as Gorda Cay (an isle with a colorful history), Castaway Cay is Disney’s very own slice of Bahamian paradise. It’s a private tropical island in the Bahamas, brimming with the ubiquitous personality that defines Disney. Castaway Cay was one of the two ports we visited during our 3-night cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream.
Here’s what you can expect on the island of Castaway Cay
Steps from the dock, you’ll find the Castaway Cay Post Office, which provides an opportunity to send a postcard to friends and family, or mail one home for a fun little souvenir that’ll be waiting in your mailbox by the time you return.
You can wait for the tram to get to the main part of the island. In the morning, the tram is guaranteed to be busy. While the wait won’t be long, you might want to go ahead and walk— it’ll take about 10 minutes walking at a very leisurely pace.
When you get to the main area, you can drop the kids off at Scuttle’s Cove, the Oceaneer’s Club outpost. Walk another minute or two from there, and you’ll want to stake your claim on a couple of beach chairs on the Family Beach. This general area will also be where you can do things like rent snorkel gear and other water sports equipment.
To Cabana, Or Not To Cabana?
We didn’t rent a cabana— primarily because they were mostly sold out by the time we even considered one. But also, holy moly is it expensive! Considering all we intended on doing during our time on Castaway Cay, the value in renting a cabana for a premium of ~$500 just wasn’t there for us.
A small jetty splits the stretch that comprises the family area. There’s this awesome playground structure on one side, and Pelican’s Plunge— a waterslide, on the other. Of course, there’s no shortage of lifeguards, and they’re nothing if not alert and constantly keeping tabs on activity!
Food on the island
Across from either arm of the Family Beach, you’ll find a Cookie’s BBQ (there are two). Unless you head back to the ship, this is where you’ll likely be eating lunch. Tip: If your kids are at Scuttle’s Cove during the time the kid’s club serves lunch, you’ll probably want to eat over in the adults only Serenity Bay area.
For those of you just itching to partake in some lawn games, you can get your fix at the In-Da-Shade Games area, where there’s a row of basketball hoops, ping-pong tables, and more.
There are a few shops on the island— mostly selling Disney and Castaway Cay branded souvenirs. There are also a couple of storefronts that feature local Bahamian wares. In classic, Caribbean vacation fashion, there’s a hair braiding station on the island, too. Of course, this being part of Disney Cruise Line, you can use your Key to the World to pay for your new stash of souvenirs.
Serenity Bay- an escape for adults
Serenity Bay absolutely lives up to its name! Being an area reserved for adults while situated on an island that caters heavily to families, it’s way less crowded than the family beach areas. Significantly so.
It’s quiet, impeccably clean, and oh-so serene. You can walk dozens of yards out from the shore, and the crystal-clear water will only be halfway up your legs. Make a point to spend time here for relaxing away from the busier parts of the island.
A private island experience for families
Disney engineered Castaway Cay for families. It is Disney, after all. With the Disney Dream’s max capacity of ~4000 passengers, we expected the rush when the areas became crowded. We noticed, however, that the crowds were already starting to thin out by around 1 or 2pm as people started heading back to the ship.
All in all, Castaway Cay was a fun and relaxing port! We really enjoyed having access to all the Disney amenities and services on the island, especially Scuttle’s Cove. Having an outpost of the kid’s club on the island gave us the opportunity to truly relax. We were able to enjoy more of the island than we would have been able to otherwise.
I’ve heard tell of Disney Cruise itineraries that double-dip into Castaway Cay; that is to say, make two separate stops at the private island! I’m definitely keeping that in mind for when I start planning our next trip with Disney Cruise Line.
Fun Fact: Disney’s meticulous consideration of the customer experience extends to how folks get from the ship to the island. Castaway Cay was the first Cruise line-owned private island that docked ships to land, instead of requiring passengers to be tendered.
This was huge! By spending the time and resources to build and maintain a dock at Castaway Cay, Disney did away with a common stressor experienced during a cruising vacation. This highlights their tireless dedication to an easy, seamless experience for their vacationers.
What’s tendering, you ask? That means the ship anchors in the immediate vicinity of the island. Passengers are then ferried over in boats carrying anywhere from 50 to 100+ people at a time.