A Private Island In The Bahamas
Is Disneys Lil Slice Of Paradise
Castaway Cay, a private island in the Bahamas is designed as an exclusive port of call for Disney cruise ships. This was by far
my favorite, most memorable stop on the whole cruise.
This 1,000-acre tropical oasis features miles of crystal-clear turquoise waters as far as the eye can see, powdery white sand beaches, and swaying palm trees.
Castaway Cay has been designed in the theme of a castaway shipwreck setting. The buildings and scenery look as if they were handmade and built like you would see on an episode of Survivor.
Once you step foot off of the ship, you get this calm soothing feeling like you don’t ever want to leave but before you start looking for some real estate to purchase (yea right… I wish) Castaway Cay does have some skeletons in its closet.
The Dark Side Of Castaway Cay
Before the island became Castaway Cay it was known as Gorda Cay. Gorda Cay used to be a harbor for pirates. Then in the 1970’s and 1980’s this beautiful island was a hot bed for drug runners.
There is an airstrip on the island that is now abandoned. The airstrip and the tropical seclusion made the island perfect for drug runners as they used Gorda Cay as a base for their drug operations.
The Bright Side Of Castaway Cay
Looking on the bright side though, Gorda Cay has also been used for filmmaking; the beach where Tom Hanks first encounters Daryl Hannah in the feature film Splash
is on Castaway Cay.
Disney leased the island and spent 18 months and $25 million developing 55 acres (only about 5% of the island). 50,000 truckloads of sand were dredged from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to make the beautiful beaches.
The Disney crew also did a deep channel dredge to a section of the island so the Disney cruise ships can pull right up to the dock on Castaway Cay and you can simply step right off of the ship and onto the island.
Castaway Cay Guest Facilities
The Castaway Cay facilities are ran just like any other Disney theme park. The gift shops also accept your stateroom keys for payment instead of cash.
She Sells Sea Shells (say this 5 times real fast) is a Disney-themed shop with unique Castaway Cay logo items. There are two Bahamian-run retail shops near the end of the family beach that sell crafts, shirts, and trinkets.
We actually bought a really nice Bahamian hut wind chime from one of the retail shops for a very reasonable price. We are afraid to put it outside to chime in the wind though. We don’t want the weather to get to it and ruin it so we just keep it hanging in our living room.
I know… We’re a coulple of boneheads...
The stores are obviously very convenient for all to see and ended up being a bad deal for me and dad. We couldn’t keep mom and Terrie out of the shops. When all they have to do is throw it in a basket and swipe a room card, it’s hard to stop them and it can add up pretty quick.
We were on the vacation of a lifetime though so we let them shop til they dropped. I even got a couple of cool things as well. The neat thing about shopping on Castaway Cay is that you don’t have to lug everything around with you when you’re done.
Disney will bag and tag the stuff you buy and have it delivered to your stateroom. All of your Castaway Cay treasures will be there waiting for you when you get done playing on the island.
How cool is that?
I did get revenge on Disney though. Terrie and mom’s shopping expedition on the island didn’t go unpunished.
You see the food on Castaway Cay is an extension of the cruise package, which means it is included in the price of your cruise.
The food on the island is AMAZING so my brother-in-law, niece, the kids and I made sure that we got our monies worth and then some. I think I may have tried ALMOST everything.
A post office on the island has special Bahamian postage specific to Disney Cruise Line, and a "Castaway Cay" postmark. We went into the post office and sent our family, friends, and even ourselves post cards. It took about 4 to 5 weeks for them to arrive but it was still very cool.
We also took a couple of U.S. dollars and had them exchanged into Bahamian coins and dollars to keep as a sort of souvenir.
Castaway Cay Staff Facilities
Castaway Cay has facilities for the exclusive use of the ships' crew as well, including beaches and recreational areas.
A staff of 50-60 Island Crew Members lives on the island. There are 5 departments working on the island and they are Recreation (lifeguard duties), Maintenance, Custodial, Landscaping and Animal Programs (Stingray)
When one of the Disney cruise ships comes in to port, some of the crew trade off or they have fulfilled their contract and heads home for some well deserved time off.
The Disney cruise ships themselves are responsible for bringing in food and other supplies for the staff members of the island. Seawater is desalinated for drinking and other uses with reverse osmosis water processors.
All Ashore At Castaway Cay
When you arrive at Castaway Cay you are usually allowed to get off of the ship at around 8:30 or 9:30 am, and you have until about 5:00 pm (7–8 hours) to play or relax or both.
We made sure we were up bright and early for this stop because we wanted all the time we could have on this beautiful island.
is, by far, the best and easiest port to get around in. Thanks to the well-marked paths and convenient trams, everything was very easy to find and not far off no matter where you laid down your beach towels.
All You Can Eat At Castaway Cay
According to my wife, the best place to eat on the whole entire cruise was Cookie’s BBQ. The girl was tearing it up. I will admit that I didn’t do a bad job myself. As I mentioned before, this is also included in the price of the cruise.
It is a big buffet-style setup and the food was awesome. They had BBQ ribs, grilled chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, fruit, frozen yogurt, chips and big chocolate chip cookies.
As you can see on my wife’s plate above, the cookies were bigger than the piece of chicken… Now those are some BIG OL’ cookies.
Beverages are also provided. You could either get free sodas at the drink stations or you could buy alcoholic beverages at the Conched Out Bar near by.
There is also an adult’s only eatery called the Castaway Cay Air Bar-B-Q. It is located at Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. It pretty much offers the same stuff as Cookie’s minus the kids.
They also have little vending areas all over the island where you can get fresh fruit, ice cream, drinks, etc.
Playing At Castaway Cay
There is plenty of snorkeling, hiking and water sport activities on the island. Swimming with and feeding the Stingrays at Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure is also a favorite of Disney cruisers.
Some activities on this Disney Cruise Line getaway do require advance booking though. You can reserve floats, bikes, and snorkel equipment in advance but these are usually available on a walk-up basis as well.
There are Disney characters all over the island that you can get pictures with and, if your lucky, you might even run into Captain Jack Sparrow as he is known to frequent the island.
There are three sections to the beach on Castaway Cay:
- The family beach (usually the busiest)
- Serenity Bay (adults only beach)
- The Teen Beach (exclusively for teens)
Strollers and beach wheelchairs are free for use on a first-come, first-serve basis. While beach wheelchairs are designed to roll on the sand, they were still a little hard to push.
We had a great time messing with mom and pushing her around in her beach wheelchair. Then had an even bigger laugh watching my brother-in-law fight the sand to get her back up the hill and on pavement.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to check out the island you can rent bicycles to ride around on. Terrie and I wanted to do this but never got the chance. Oh well, maybe next time.
There is also a supervised playground for kids called Scuttle’s Cove. Counselors will guide kids in different activities, but they do not take them swimming. Beside Scuttle’s Cove is Monstro Point, which has a huge whale “skeleton” that the kids can dig up.
Snorkeling is a very popular activity to do on the island, which is also an excellent place for beginners to learn how to do it. You can rent the equipment at Gil’s Fins near the family beach.
The snorkeling lagoon is very large. There’s plenty of fish and sunken treasure to discover. Two submarine-ride vehicles from the now-closed, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage" ride at the Magic Kingdom are underwater in the snorkeling area for you to explore.
We were looking forward to snorkeling as well but never got the chance to do it. There is so much to do on this Disney Cruise Line island that you simply do not have enough time to get it all in.
There are boat rentals where you can rent a boat and go out into the ocean. The cool thing about the boat rentals is that the Flying Dutchman ghost ship from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" is docked here and you can paddle or sail right up to it.
I have a hilarious story to share about my dad and I on our three-wheel trike adventure but I will have to share it with you later because it will take a whole page to tell this story.
Just look at the picture below and you can kind of get an idea. Here’s a hint: The front wheel isn’t supposed to be almost completely out of the water like it is. My mom was in tears she was laughing at us so hard.
There are family games located at the Group Pavilion. There was shuffleboard, billiards, foosball, Ping-Pong, basketball/football toss, horseshoes, a giant checkerboard, and a sandbox with toys.
Sometimes, there is also a pirate scavenger hunt scheduled where you can go on a very cool clue hunting adventure. This is really an adult or family activity, as some of the clues require good reading or logic skills.
Goofy’s Sandlot is the sport beach on the island. You can play volleyball and tetherball there. And its location by the teen beach, Castaway Jo’s, and the Heads Up Bar make it very convenient, too.
This is also a good area to find an empty hammock if they are all occupied on other parts of the island.
If you’re really looking to relax, they offer a cabana massage near Serenity Bay that you can reserve.
This beautiful island will provide you with the ultimate escape, whether its adventure, relaxation or quality time with your family. Designed with areas and activities for every age group, Disney Cruise Line provides an authentic tropical experience for everyone.
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