Caribbean Travel Guide
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Disney Has a Private Island in the Caribbean and It Is Absolute Paradise for Families

PHOTO: Leigh Trail / Shuttershock

Take a look inside Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise in the Bahamas.

When you book one of Disney’s Caribbean cruises, you’ll get to visit Castaway Cay, a private island oasis that’s only open to Disney cruise guests. The 1,000-acre island is perfect for families and the Disney-obsessed, offering one-of-a-kind play areas and activities for everyone in your family.

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PHOTO: Alexander Shalamov | Dreamstime.com
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Snorkeling

The island has a 12-acre lagoon that guests can explore; rental gear is available for a nominal fee. There’s a ton of tropical fish to spot, as well as a few hidden surprises and treasures. For those wanting to stay on dry land but keep an eye on the snorkelers, the Heads’ Up Bar at Pelican Point provides the perfect perch.

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PHOTO: Quackersnaps | Dreamstime.com
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Water Fun

There’s a water activity for everyone on Castaway Cay, including sailing, parasailing, water bikes (also known as aqua trikes), and standup paddleboards—all available for a rental fee. Free and fun for the whole family is the 2,400-square-foot floating platform known as Pelican Plunge Water Slide. There’s a giant “bucket dump” on the platform and water cannons to soak watching guests while you wait for a turn on one of the two water slides—an enclosed corkscrew slide and a 140-foot-long open slide. Make sure that little ones wear the provided life jackets as the slides shoot riders into a fairly deep pool and it’s a short swim to the shore. It’s a blast, but can also be a bit scary without the jackets.

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PHOTO: Chloe Rice
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Private Cabanas

There are 20 deluxe cabanas on the island, including a few at the adult-only Serenity Bay. Prices start at $550 per day for 6 people at the Family Beach, but that includes access to the private beach, snorkeling equipment, floats, beach toys, bike rentals, and your own cabana attendant. Each 325-square foot space is furnished with tables, comfy chaise lounges, a refrigerator stocked with soda, water, and snacks, and a shower for rinsing off sand and salt water. There’s also sunscreen and towels. If you want to rent one of these beauties, make sure you make a reservation as soon as your online check-in window opens—75 days prior to sailing for first-time cruisers, and 90 days for repeat customers—because they fill up faster than you can say Mickey Mouse.

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PHOTO: Matt Stroshane
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Characters on Vacation

Guests aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy this private island. Characters, donning their best beachwear, show up for photo ops, so make sure to always have your camera ready.

INSIDER TIPMt. Rustmore—yes, that’s the name of the huge rusty anchors painted as Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto—is a must stop for a photo op. It’s also the location of most of the character meet and greets.

 

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PHOTO: Disney
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Adults-Only Spaces

Disney is great at making sure everyone has a good time…including adults. That’s why this no-kids-allowed section of the island is key. Serenity Island, so very appropriately named, has a private beach, a private food and beverage area, private massage cabanas that overlook that beautiful blue sea, and opportunities for beach yoga. There are also a handful of beach cabanas, but those fill up very fast. The island’s free tram runs between the dock area and Serenity Bay for those who might have mobility issues, or just want to get their chill on ASAP.

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PHOTO: Matt Stroshane
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Exploring the Island

Castaway Cay is easily walkable, and there’s a tram that will take guests as far as the adults only section. But if you’re up for a bit more adventure, rent a bike. There are bikes for all sizes, including some with toddler seats, and it’s a great, fairly low-impact way to explore the 3-mile long island. It’ll take about 30 minutes to bike to the island’s far side, but the views are worth it. Along the way, you’ll pass the airstrip, various Disney details disguised as plane wrecks, and an observation tower where you can see the entire island and cruise ship from.

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PHOTO: Disney Cruise Line / Facebook
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Group Activities

If you want to stay together with your group, the Family Beach is the perfect spot for everyone. There are umbrellas, hammocks, and lounge chairs—go early for the best selection—as well as waiters who will bring you drinks…with alcohol (for an extra cost). Water tubes are also available at no additional fee. Children will love the water play structure designed just for them; there’s also the Spring-a-Leak splash pad just behind the Family Beach that’s another great spot for the kids to cool off. Sporty groups should sign up (ahead of time on the ship) for the Disney Castaway Cay 5K. It starts at about 8:30 am, but it’s a great way to explore the island and participants are rewarded with a Castaway Cay medal.

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PHOTO: Disney
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Restaurants

Food and most non-alcoholic beverages on Castaway Cay are included with the price of your cruise. The island has a few dining locations, including Cookie’s and Cookie’s Too BBQ, which is conveniently located near the Family Beach with lots of picnic tables under a pavilion. Kids will be thrilled to find out the unlimited soft serve machines famous on Disney ships can also be found on the island!

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PHOTO: Brian Hubbard (CC BY-NC 2.0) / Flickr
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Shop 'til You Drop

If you haven’t shopped enough on board, you’re in luck because there’s ample opportunity on Castaway Cay. The two main spots, She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else and Buy the Sea Shore, sell exclusive Castaway Cay merchandise (read: items you can only get on the island) like hats, towels, T-shirts, pins, keychains, and magnets. Your purchases can be delivered to the ship so you don’t have to lug them around. Basic supplies like sunscreen, disposable underwater cameras, and beach toys are also available.

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PHOTO: Disney Cruise Line / Facebook
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Kids-Only Activities

Adults aren’t the only ones who get their own space. There are supervised kids-only sections on Castaway Cay, just like on the boat. Children ages 3-12 can head to Scuttle’s Cove, where parents can check them in from 9:30 until 3:30 (check the times beforehand). The sandy play area is located away from the water and there are activities planned for different ages just like onboard; a fan-favorite is Monstro Point (a nod to Pinocchio), where kids can dig for oversized whale bones. The Teen Beach includes Goofy’s Sand Lot with tetherball and sand volleyball courts. Wild Side is an island excursion just for teens with kayaking, cycling, and snorkeling.

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PHOTO: Matt Stroshane
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Good to Know

The four Disney cruise ships and Castaway Cay, are filled with “hidden Mickeys,” 300 in total. So before you set sail, pick up Steven M. Barrett’s Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea: A Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line’s Best Kept Secrets, which will help you find those hidden gems on your boat and on the island. When you get to the island, stop by the post office—you can buy postcards at the office, at one of the island shops, or bring them from the ship—and mail something to your favorite Disney fan, because there’s a special Disney postmark.