July 29th, 2011 | 4 Comments
I’m a lover of beaches, and Castaway Cay is one of my favorite places in the world. Albeit a severely manufactured beach, it’s still a great place to make family memories. Disney’s own private island, Castaway’s beach (featuring imported sand) is surrounded by a (man-made) break that makes swimming very kid-friendly. Since our last visit, two large water slides called Pelican Plunge (must be 38″ tall to slide) have been added, as well as Spring A Leak – a small sprayground.
Our previous Disney Cruise spent a day at Castaway, and when I think back to that visit, the first thing that comes to mind is sitting on a beach chair in the shade of an umbrella, a warm breeze rubbing against me sweetly while my children bury my feet in soft white sand. I was hoping that breeze would be there to greet me again on this trip, and indeed, it was.
This time, though, with the kids being a little older, we took a more active approach to island fun. For starters, we immediately tossed C&C into Scuttle’s Cove, the on-island kid’s club, where they could romp in the water jets, dig in the sand with a whole fleet of tonka trucks and sand toys, or take part in organized activities with the over-abundant crew of youth activities counselors. Then, Craig and I got what would turn out to be just the beginning of our day’s exercise by participating in the traditional 5K (3.1 mile) run. It was already hot by 9am, but the course is exceptionally flat, and I can now say I’ve run on an airstrip.
After the 5k, since we were already nice and sweaty, we went and got the kiddos and headed to the bike rental. We had originally planned to make this an adults-only activity, but when I saw the huge cruiser bikes with the kid seats attached to the back, I convinced Craig we could not miss the opportunity to haul the kids around the island, especially since they will likely be too big to ride along next time we visit.
So, we toured ourselves all around, with Callen behind me shouting, “Good Job, Mommy. Let’s go Faster!” and Carina behind Craig declaring, “We’re racing! Watch out, Daddy! Here they come!” During our bike ride, we climbed a lookout tower where the kids enjoyed looking through the (free!) viewfinders.
With a view of the entire island it became clear that Castaway is essentially a low-lying rock outcrop with scrub bush and small palms that in most cases don’t grow above about 6 feet. We also noticed the huge array of colors of blue in the ocean around the island, from very light turquoise to the white capped navy blue of the deeper water.
At Serenity Bay (the adults-only beach), we took a right and peddled down the hike/bike road along the back side of the new and ridiculously priced private cabanas (~$500 per day!) to a little point where you can see the ocean in its “natural” state. One nice thing is that DCL has placed water coolers all over the island, so you’re never far from refreshment.
At $6 an hour for the rental, the bikes are a great, cheap activity for families with little ones (they do have kids bikes for older kids) that allows you to get a look at the entire island without walking your bootie off.
TIP: We booked our rental online ahead of time, but when we walked up to get our bikes, I had to sign a medical release, but never gave our “key to the world” to be charged, and they didn’t record our room number. So, not sure, but on less busy days/times, you may be able to go for a ride without a fee (we weren’t charged).
Following our bike ride, we arrived at Cookie’s BBQ just as it opened for lunch. Served buffet style, Cookie’s cook-out is a great lunch, with a totally different feel than “cruise food”. Perhaps aided by the sun and the salt air, I’ll always think of lunch on Castaway as one of the best meals of the trip. It features burgers, hot dogs, mahi-mahi, and C&C’s favorite, CHICKEN ON THE BONE!! (You have to say it in a big voice.) Add in tons of fresh fruit, a nice selection of cold salads, chips, banana bread, huge cookies and soft-serve ice cream, and you’ll be re-energized to head back to the fun (or maybe a nap in one of the big hammocks?).
After lunch we went to change from our workout clothes to swimwear. We had planned to drop the kids back in Scuttle’s Cove while we did this, but found that all the kids/staff were gone to eat lunch, so we brought the kids back with us.
Tip: Make sure you’re aware of the eating schedule in the kids clubs if you plan to have your kids eat with you. We had instances when we ate lunch with our kids, and then they ate again in the kids club, and also times when we went to get them for dinner and they’d already eaten.
Disney Magic Moment of the Day: We got back to our room to find Certificates of achievement and two Disney water bottles as a reward for doing the 5k!
Since we only had the day to enjoy the island, we decided to push nap closer to our “all aboard” time of 4pm. So, we headed back out to the island to spend the afternoon in a blur of tram riding (three stops along the island take you to Scuttles Cove, the kids area; Pelican Point, the family beach; and Serenity Bay, the adult beach), swimming and playing at the beach, and a quick visit to Serenity Bay for Craig and I while the kids made a final appearance at Scuttle’s Cove. By 3pm I was well-done both figuratively and literally, as I was exhausted and could feel the sun beating down on me through my worn-out sunscreen.
TIP: There are shopping venues on the island, but you can save yourself some money and the headache of shopping when you should be playing by bringing your own beach toys if you have toddlers/preschoolers. If your kids are older, there are plenty of other things to keep them busy.
So, back on ship we caught a nap before heading out to Parrot Cay for a nice, casual dinner. After dinner, we put the kiddos in the kid’s club and went to see the feature show – Hypnotist Ricky Kalmon. Both Craig and Arnaud were completely entertained by this show, while Liz and I busied ourselves figuring out who was faking until text message via the wave phones beckoned us to happily go and fetch our children from the club.
Other Posts in this Series:
- Cruising with Disney (planning)
- Disney Cruise Day 1: Travel and Magic Kingdom
- Disney Cruise Day 2: Hollywood Studios & DCL Port
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