If you sail on the Disney Cruise Line to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, you can look forward to stopping at Castaway Cay. The island isn’t just a Disney destination; it actually belongs to Disney. Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island–no other cruise lines have this port of call available to them. Disney Dream’s Cruise Director Jimmy Lynett told us most of the passengers on the ship debark to visit Castaway Cay, and after spending an afternoon on the island, it’s easy to see why. Like other parts of the Disney cruise experience, there’s something for everyone. Activities for kids and families abound, but there’s also an adults-only beach made for those of us who enjoy the sound of silence.
Castaway Cay has three areas for visitors, and though they’re all reasonably walkable, it was a hot day and I opted for the tram because shade and breezes are nice. The first stop was all about activities. You could rent watercrafts, snorkeling gear, and floats and arrange to go parasailing or fishing. Kids could dive into action at Monstro Point and dig up the whale or stop at Castaway Ray’s and pet a stingray.
The second stop was still family-oriented but a little more laid back. Olaf’s Summertime Freeze was near the Pelican Point tram stop ready to greet sweating visitors with a variety of frozen beverages in souvenir cups–because of course everyone needs to drink from a large plastic snowman at least once. If you were thirsty but not necessarily into frozen drinks, you had the option of stopping by the fountain beverage stands at Cookies BBQ (there was a location at each tram stop) for free refreshments and also soft serve ice cream. You could also pause to shop for souvenirs (there’s a post office on the island so you can get a Castaway Cay postmark on your postcards but just know that transit time is so slow you’ll probably have forgotten you sent postcards by the time they get to the recipients).
Even with all the diversions along the way, the main attraction was the ocean. By the time I arrived at Pelican Point a few hours after debarkation, several families had staked out spots on the beach and claimed umbrellas. The snorkeling lagoon was dotted with swimmers, and Pelican Plunge–a floating platform with water slides–was crawling with children. Though it all looked like fun, I craved something… quieter.
After a little more exploring, I took the tram to the third and final stop–Serenity Bay. I should have gone there first and settled in for the entire day. I’d heard high praise from friends and the Internet at large about the adults only beach on Castaway Cay, and I was pleased as punch to learn it was all true. I’m admittedly not a person who opts to lounge near the water, but this place? Forget about it. The location was indeed serene. I strolled down to the end of the beach where there were still several unclaimed chairs and umbrellas and the only sound to be heard was waves gently rolling in. The water was clear, the drinks were cold, and the air was cooler than elsewhere on the island. Sure, I could have taken advantage of a dozen or so amenities and activities, but I’m easy to please. Soaking in the atmosphere of Serenity Bay was all I needed.
After spending most of two days within the confines of a large but still limited Disney Dream, taking a break at Castaway Cay was necessary. I had to stretch my legs literally and otherwise. I wasn’t positive I’d find respite on the island considering how many other passengers were there, but sitting on Serenity Bay was the most relaxed I’ve been in basically forever.
See more photos from Castaway Cay in the gallery below. If you’ve been to the island, head to the comments and let me know about your favorite parts.
Editor’s note: Nerdist visited Castaway Cay courtesy of Disney.
Images: Amy Ratcliffe