Castaway Cay continues to be a favorite destination of Disney Cruise Line fans. It may not have the waterpark vibes of Perfect Day at Coco Cay, but spending time on Castaway Cay is, for some Disney fans, the most sought after DCL experience you can have. Some cruise line fans even seek out opportunities to double or triple “dip” (read, stop 2-3 times) at Castaway Cay through special sailings or back-to-back cruises.
Over our many trips to Castaway Cay, we’ve developed a few tips to make our experience even more enjoyable. Here are five of those tips to make your next Castaway Cay experience even better.
1. Go to Family Beach Two
Once you disembark the ship at Castaway Cay you’ll have the option of a 10-15 min walk to the first family beach (and beyond), or you can hop a tram that operates on “island time” to take you to the first or second family beach, with the option of a transfer at the second family beach to another tram that will take you on to Serenity Bay (the adults-only beach).
We highly recommend skipping the first family beach in favor of the second family beach. It’s only an added 5-10 min walk or tram ride, and many families who get off the ship first will stop at the first family beach instead of continuing down to the second family beach.
The reason we recommend the second family beach is that it’s closer to Pelican Plunge, the over-the-ocean waterslides at Castaway Cay. Family beach two also has softer sand and a more shallow and lengthy water entry from the beach. While the second family beach is closer to Cookies Two, it has the exact same food offerings as Cookies One, so you’re not missing anything.
There have been sailings where the second family beach fills up before the first family beach, but we love hitting Pelican Plunge early in the day, before it gets crowded, lounging on the beach or in the water, and the hitting up Cookies Two for lunch.
Note: If you pre-ordered or need an allergy friendly meal you will need to visit Cookies.
2. Book the Parasailing Experience
If you have never experienced parasailing, it’s amazing. Brian (one half of the DCL Duo) has done it a couple of times both at Castaway Cay, and more recently when the Wonder stopped at Catalina Island for the first time, and enjoyed it each time. Parasailing at Castaway Cay is so special because you get unrivaled views of the island, and your Disney ship. Be sure to take a GoPro, a camera or phone (securely strapped to your body, of course) to get great pictures and video that few will have from your sailing. Disney makes sure the parasailing experience is very safe, and there’s nothing like the serenity and calm that come from quietly flying above a beautiful Caribbean destination.
One word of warning, this experience gets cancelled quite often due to wind and sea conditions. Brian is currently 1 for 6 in being able to parasail at Castaway Cay. If your excursion is canceled, you will be automatically refunded the cost of the excursion. It’s also possible that conditions will improve across the day, so be sure to check-in at Marge’s Barges if your parasailing trip gets canceled to see if there might be openings later in the day.
3. Don’t pre-book Rentals
While you can prebook a number of rentals on the island such as tubes, floats, bikes and snorkeling equipment (and even a package of multiple experiences or rentals), you don’t need to! Sometimes pre-booking means a discount, but if you get to Castaway after a long cruise full of activities, you may decide you just want a day to relax, rather than using those pre-booked rentals.
We have found after multiple trips to Castaway Cay that most of the time we are happy to just experience a lazy and restful day relaxing on some beach loungers and swimming in the ocean. Because these rentals are pre-booked as excursions, you are not able to cancel less than two days beforehand if you decide not to use them. Conversely, if you do decide you want to ride a bike or snorkel, you can easily rent the equipment that same day! See how you feel when you are at Castaway and have the flexibility to decide on the fly!
4. If it’s too hot on the Island, go back to the ship after lunch
While we love the Castaway Cay, our Seattle-acclimated bodies are sometimes too uncomfortable by the hot mid-afternoon temperatures on the island. We love to get off the ship early, while the temperatures are still reasonable and really enjoy a full morning on the island. But as afternoon rolls around, and things heat up, we often head back to the ship early where we typically find empty pool areas, no line for the Aquaduck, Aquadunk or Aquamouse, and plenty of onboard fun still to be had. Sometimes we just find a nice spot in cove café to sit and read a book while enjoying an iced coffee!
If Castaway Cay is on your last day, you may also want to head back early to get packed, before all the shows, dinner and activities really get started for the evening. There’s nothing worse that calling it a night early because you have to pack!
5. Do the Castaway Cay 5k!
One of the more unique experiences offered at Castaway Cay is the 5K. Once you’re off the ship, head to the second tram stop, where you will find the starting line for an on-your-own and un-timed 5k. Run, jog, walk, or do a combination of all three and get a chance to see more of the island than you’d likely experience just sitting on the beach. We highly recommend doing this during the winter months as summer in the Bahamas can be sweltering, even in the morning hours, but if you feel like you need to get some steps in, you can walk the course anytime of year. Best of all, after completing the run, you get a special medal for having run the Castaway Cay 5k! Disney even recently update the medal offerings on the island, so if you’ve run the 5k before, now’s a great time to do it again!!