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A Day at Castaway Cay: How to Make the Most out of Disney’s Private Island

Castaway Cay is a complete paradise experience. Disney has done a brilliant job of bringing fun and ease together to create this island haven. There’s something for everyone, from swimming to massages to water slides to food and drinks to hammocks and more. You’ll never want to leave. There’s a lot to consider when planning a day at Castaway Cay, but here are my tips to make the most out of Disney’s private island:

1. Watch the Ship Dock

Getting up super early may not be your cup of tea, especially not on vacation. But this is so worth it! The ship pulls into Castaway Cay in the early morning. If you have a porthole or veranda, it’s super fun to watch from your stateroom. But the best way to experience docking is to grab some breakfast at Cabanas and sit outside with your meal. This way you get to enjoy yummy food with some absolutely incredible views. Starboard side is best for views of the island!

2. Get out Early

Again, tough for some, I get it. But there are major perks for getting up and getting out early. If you’re one of the firsts on the island, you have a much better chance of staking a great spot on the beach. The family beach fills up QUICKLY, so if you can get there to put your stuff on a few chairs or a hammock, you’ll be glad. This isn’t as necessary at Serenity Bay, the adult beach. Plus you’ll want as much time on Castaway Cay as possible!

3. Just Bring Essentials

When packing a bag for your day, just bring the basics: sunblock, sunglasses, a book, etc. Disney provides towels right on the beaches, so don’t bother lugging those off the ship. Food is covered from midday on, while drinks are always available. Snorkels, floats, and that kind of thing can be rented if you’re looking for something extra to do. Don’t over-pack, or overthink!

 

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4. Port Adventures Aren’t Necessary

Castaway Cay offers Port Adventures like a normal port would. There are lots of really fun things to book, like parasailing, fishing, a stingray experience, and more! While these are great, I don’t think they’re necessary. To me, a relaxing day on the island is better than scheduled activities. There’s plenty to do without Port Adventures. And if you want an added activity, you can rent snorkel gear, water tubes and floats, bikes, jet skis, you name it.

5. Splurge on a Cabana

Cabanas aren’t for everyone, but if you can swing it, splurge on a cabana. For the longest time my family thought it was a waste of money. And then we tried it. This is an added expense, but you pay for ease. Everything is done for you, brought to you, and made magical with you. You can choose a cabana on the adult or family beach, depending on your party. Our cabana was on Serenity Bay and was filled with beautiful lounge furniture, fans, a stocked fridge, towels, music, and more. Plus it was right by the water. There’s a special button in the cabana that allows you to call to a Cast Member who will come to you in a golf cart for whatever you need. It’s incredible.

6. Adults Take Advantage of Serenity Bay

If you don’t have kids, or you’re comfortable leaving your kids in the clubs, take advantage of Serenity Bay. The adult only beach is a little slice of heaven – Disney style. Once you get off the ship you can take a tram to the family beach stop. Here you switch trams to take you straight to Serenity Bay. It’s a five-minute ride to this secluded wonderland. On this beach you’ll find miles of white sand, hammocks, a sand bar, star fish, rays, and best of all: quiet. There’s a lovely bar, cabanas for massages, and even an adult only version of Cookie’s Barbeque. If I close my eyes I can almost taste it…

7. Kids Take Advantage of Kids’ Club

If your kids are okay with ditching you, let them stay in the Club all day! DCL’s kids’ clubs will do everything for you on Castaway Cay day. There’s a check in spot right on the island where you can drop them off and pick them up later. In the club they’ll go swimming, play games, play on the basketball court for big kids or sand dig area for little kids, eat at the buffet, and basically have the time of their lives.

8. Rent a Bike to See the Island

If you’re reading over all this, or everything on the DCL website and feeling overwhelmed, I hear you. There’s a lot to explore and experience on Castaway Cay. A great way to squeeze it all in is to rent a bike! Bike rentals are available right on the island. They’re inexpensive and super fun! You can take these bikes all over, even all the way to Serenity Bay. This is a terrific family activity. You can explore, exercise, and enjoy all the beauty of Castaway Cay.

9. Eat Lunch at Cookie’s

Is it the best BBQ you’ll ever have? Probably not. Is it ten times better simply because it’s on Disney’s private island? Absolutely. Cookie’s and Cookie’s Too are awesome. It’s so convenient to have a full lunch right there on the island. Unless you just want to, there’s no reason to go back to the ship on a Castaway day. Cookie’s and Cookie’s Too offers burgers, hot dogs, ribs, salads, fruits, ice cream, and, of course, cookies. They’re massive. The barbeque on Serenity Bay adds in Mahi Mahi and steak. There’s plenty of covered seating, too, so lunch is super easy!

10. Get a Picture in Front of Mount Rustmore

Castaway Cay offers many picture perfect spots. The island is stunning, so everywhere you look there’s a photo opportunity. The palm trees somehow frame the ship flawlessly. But one of my favorite spots is Mount Rustmore. No, that’s not a typo. Mount Rustmore is a Castaway Cay landmark of four rusty hunks of metal, painted to look like Mickey, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy. Characters often tend to hang out here for pictures with you! And the ship sits beautifully behind. Goofy once tried to climb Mount Rustmore and got in serious trouble!

11. Get Merchandise on the Island

Disney’s all about merch. There’s no way around it. But one of the cool things about Castaway Cay is that its merch is island exclusive. You cannot find Castaway Cay shirts or pins or toys anywhere else in the world (with the exception of maybe one or two of each physically on board ship). So if you see something you absolutely love while on the island, snatch it up!

12. Have an Absolute Blast

Just have fun! Castaway Cay is all about island living. There are a million ways to “do” a day at Castaway, but honestly, just sit back and enjoy. Do what you feel like in that moment. It’s all about relaxing and family time. Hakuna matata!

About Molly Elias

Molly Elias has been a dedicated Disney fan since she was 18-months old. She has grown up with and learned from Disney her whole life. As her family's main vacation spot, Disney World is a place of love and laughter and magic for her. Her family also prides themselves on their Disney Cruise Line knowledge and would rather be on the high seas with Mickey than anywhere else in the world. Molly plans to keep Disney in her life forever, while also pursuing a writing career. She recently completed a master's program in creative writing in the hopes that someday she will be able to be a writer for the Happiest Company on Earth. Molly keeps Walt's famous quote at the forefront of her life: "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."