As part of our Celebrity Parents Magazine Takes On series, we visit Castway Cay in the Bahamas.
We believe that exploring the world is one of the best ways to learn about life. And what better way to do it than with the people you love the most — your family? So take your tribe on an adventure of a lifetime, whether it’s to a destination on your bucket list or a road trip that allows you to roam. The most important thing is that you wander often — and together.
Sure, you’ve done Disney World or Disney Land—or both. But unless you’ve set stail to Disney’s Castaway Cay, you haven’t experienced all that Disney has to offer. Even though Castaway Cay is a small island (it measures 3.1 miles long), it is by far one of the biggest attractions on the Disney Cruise. In fact, more people got off the boat at Disney’s private island than when we docked in the Bahamas. It’s the exclusive port for Disney cruise ships, which means you won’t be seeing a Royal Caribbean or a Carnival cruise ship trying to dock.
As soon as the boat docks, try to get off the ship. Castaway Cay is truly a tiny piece of paradise, and it pays to get off the ship sooner rather than later. Don’t forget your room key, because you’ll need it for reentry. And once you’re off the ship, you’ll immediately be in an island state of mind. So get ready for lots of fun, great food, amazing adventures, and a magical experience that only Disney can do when you visit Castaway Cay.
Take The Tram
You might think that the beach is a hop, skip, and a jump from the boat, but it’s…not. It’s best to take the free tram, especially if you’re toting around little ones. Towels are free and you’ll be handed some right when you get off the boat, so don’t worry about schlepping some from your room. We did the walk from the ship to the beach, and while you won’t overexert yourself (and there’s some pretty scenery to be found), the tram will get you to your destination faster.
By far, this is one of the must-dos at Castaway Cay. This floating waterslide and play area is located in the ocean (not on land), so you have to be able to swim out to it. Pelican Plunge has water cannons, two water slides, and a huge bucket water dump, and is super fun. Children under 38” tall must wear a life vest, which is provided at Castaway Cay.
If you thought that the only thing to do on Castaway Cay was splash in the waves, think again. You can choose from going deep sea fishing, take a banana boat ride, rent an aqua trike or a sea kayak. You might even get an inner tube and bob along in the water, or feed the stingrays for a magical experience.
Serenity Bay Beach
The adults-only beach is at the far end of the island—and for good reason. It’s the perfect place to relax and watch the ocean without hearing screams and squeals from noisy kids. Serenity Bay Beach offers private massages in its cabanas.
Character Meet and Greets
I’m all about the character photo opps, and Castaway Cay doesn’t disappoint. Even if you’ve already snapped a pic of your crew with Mickey on the boat, you’ll definitely want another one of him on the island. After all, the characters will be decked out in their island finest, and there’s really nothing cooler than getting shots of Mickey Mouse in a Bahamian shirt and shorts on the white sandy beach. Captain Jack Sparrow often makes an appearance in all his boozy best, so be sure to look out for him as well.
If you’ve never gone parasailing before, doing it at Castaway Cay is a total bucket list item. About 10 people can board a small boat at a time, and are taken out into the water, where you’ll be strapped into all sorts of straps and buckles. And before you know it, you’ll be up, up, and away, serenely sailing past the Disney Cruise ship and taking in the sights from above. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Snorking at Castaway Cay is also a super cool experience, even for those who have snorkeled in the past. For one thing, Disney has a “hidden” Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the bottom of the lagoon. My daughter gave Mickey an underwater high-five, which she still talks about to this day.
You won’t have to hightail it back to the boat in order to grab some grub. There are many lunch options on Castaway Cay. Cookie’s BBQ, Cookie’s Too, and Serenity Bay BBQ all offer buffet-style lunch, including burgers, fries, chicken, salads, ribs, and more. After 2:00 p.m., lunch won’t be served, but you can still find some grab-and-go items, like pre-made sandwiches. There’s also self-serve ice cream and hydration stations located throughout the island.
Mail A Postcard
Want to send a postcard to someone special? Located close to the dock is the Castaway Cay Post Office. You can mail a postcard here to your loved one (or to yourself!). Just keep in mind that the post office isn’t always open, so if you purchase your stamps and charge it to your room, you’ll be ensured that your postcard will be properly mailed.
Although options abound for buying items onboard the ship, the things you’ll find on Castaway Cay can only be purchased on the island. We bought super cute buckets and shovels for the kids that they didn’t have on the ship, and other memorabilia, too.
Disney’s Castaway Cay is truly an exceptional port adventure. Luckily, the boat stays docked all day at the island, so you can always go back and forth from the ship to the island if need be. (Free drinks will be waiting for you before you reboard the ship, and there’s a station to clean your hands as well.) So be prepared to book a second (or third) Disney cruise, since Castaway Cay will be an adventure that you’ll want to experience again — and again.