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Castaway Cay Overview
Castaway Cay, formerly Gorda Cay, is an ultra-tidy 1,000-acre splash of sun and sand located near Great Abaco Island. Owned by the Walt Disney Company, the island is used exclusively for passengers of its cruise line -- though alert cinephiles may also remember it as the spot where Tom Hanks finds his mermaid (Daryl Hannah) in "Splash." Before becoming one of the cruise line's most popular ports of call, it was a haven for pirates and, subsequently, smugglers. (An airplane runway that runs down the spine of the island is no longer used, though it remains a busy thoroughfare for bicyclists, pedestrians and trams.)
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Other Bahamas Cruise Ports:
Castaway Cay • Charleston • CocoCay • Freeport • Great Stirrup Cay • Half Moon Cay • Jacksonville • Nassau • Norfolk • Princess Cays
How You'll Get There
Ships dock directly on the island at the Arrival Plaza, from which you can either hop on a tram to traverse the island or walk along well-marked trails.
Leave it to Disney to ensure that everyone -- including teens (Teen Beach), solace-seeking adults (Serenity Bay Beach, a sprawling expanse of white sand tucked on the island's northwest edge), active volleyball junkies (Sports Beach) and families (Castaway Family Beach) -- has his or her own play area. A new feature, Pelican Plunge, is a 2,400-square-foot floating platform packed with rope swings, water slides and a "bucket dump" that deluges fun-seekers with hundreds of gallons of water. Off the beach, a play area called Spring-a-Leak includes a massive fountain area that the little ones can play in, while an observation platform located amid the forest offers a bird's-eye view of the environs. (It's a long haul from the main drag, so prepare for a hike, or rent a bike.) Chill at a beach bar, get a rubdown in one of the massage huts, hit the game room for some Ping-Pong, or simply nab a hammock and take a nap. For those who want to flex the spending power of their key cards, shore excursions include parasailing, a Stingray Adventure and fishing; in addition, 20 for-fee beach cabanas come replete with chaise lounges, dining tables, refrigerators, non-alcoholic beverages and mucho privacy.
Mixed and frozen drinks -- including the island's signature Konk Kooler -- are offered at the island's numerous watering holes, including the Sand Bar and the Conched Out Bar, located on the busier beaches. For something a little more sedate, consider the Castaway Air Bar on Serenity Bay.
There's no chaotic straw market on Castaway Cay. Instead, expect a few shops offering Disney merchandise (including Buy the Sea Shore and She Sells Sea Shells) and an area offering Bahamian crafts.
What's for Lunch
Food is complimentary island-wide at several spectacularly clean, well-laid-out, covered dining spaces.
What You'll Pay For
You'll fork over extra for booze, souvenirs and shore excursions. One cool extra fee: The island has its own post office with a special Disney-themed postmark, though you'll need cash to pay for stamps. (Your key card will work everywhere else.)
What Sets It Apart
It's Disney, so you're in for a mega-themed day at the beach with family and friends. Happily, you don't have to spend all your time with them: the Disney Cruise Line Wave phones (glorified two-way radios that are provided free of charge onboard) also work on the island, so you can separate and still stay connected.
For More Information
Check out Disney's Castaway Cay info page.
--by John Deiner, Managing Editor