Lookout Cay vs Castaway Cay: How the Disney Cruise Line Private Islands Compare

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line, Lookout Cay

Wondering what the differences are between Disney Cruise Line’s two private beaches? Disney Cruise Line sails to both Castaway Cay and Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, two separate destinations that are both filled with various entertainment, shopping, dining, and relaxation options.

Disney Cruise Line officially has two private islands! With the grand opening of Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, travelers can now enjoy two tropical private getways, along with Castaway Cay. But what exactly is the difference between the two islands? We’re sharing a complete guide for what’s different (and the same!) between Disney Lookout Cay and Castaway Cay.

Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point Overview

Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is Disney Cruise Line’s newest private island destination. Located on the southern tip of Eleuthera in The Bahamas, Lookout Cay is designed to to offer guests an immersive experience that blends Disney’s signature magic with the natural beauty and rich culture of the Bahamas. The island is developed with a strong emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices, showcasing Disney’s commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship. Visitors can expect an array of activities and experiences that highlight Bahamian art, music, and traditions, providing a unique cultural immersion.

The island’s design incorporates the natural landscape, ensuring that guests feel a deep connection to the Bahamian environment. Lookout Cay features a variety of attractions, including serene beaches, interactive exhibits, and performances by local artists. The culinary offerings also include locally inspired cuisine, allowing guests to savor traditional Bahamian dishes alongside classic Disney fare.

Ship Options

The first sailings that include visits to Lookout Cay will take placethrough the summer of 2024. You can find 3-, 4-, 5-, and 10-night cruises that include stops here:

  • 3-night Bahamian cruises from Fort Lauderdale
  • 4-night Bahamian cruises from Fort Lauderdale
  • 5-night Bahamian cruises from Fort Lauderdale
  • 10-night Southern Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral

Make sure to check Disney Cruise Line itineraries when booking if you’re considering to find out if Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is an included stop. Many cruises will stop either here or at Castaway Cay, but some sailings do include stops at both of these exclusive Disney destinations.

Castaway Cay Overview

Castaway Cay is Disney Cruise Line’s original private island, situated in the Abaco chain of The Bahamas. The island officially opened in 1998, and has become a beloved stop for Disney cruisers. Castaway Cay was meticulously designed to provide a tropical paradise experience that caters to families, couples, and solo travelers alike. The island features pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and an array of activities that appeal to all ages, making it a perfect retreat for relaxation and adventure.

Castaway Cay. Photo by Jimmy Taylor.

Since its opening, Castaway Cay has been continuously enhanced to offer a wide range of amenities and experiences. Guests can enjoy three distinct beach areas: the family-friendly Castaway Family Beach, the tranquil adult-only Serenity Bay, and the dedicated Teen Beach. The island also hosts numerous recreational activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, biking, and the popular Castaway Cay 5K run. Dining options on the island include the much-loved Cookie’s BBQ and Cookie’s Too BBQ, serving a variety of American favorites.

Ship Options

A few of the options that include one (or two!) stops at Castaway Cay include the following itineraries:

  • 3-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral
  • 4-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral
  • 5-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral

Make sure to check Disney Cruise Line itineraries when booking if you’re considering to find out if Castaway Cay at Lighthouse Point is an included stop. Many cruises will stop either here or at Lookout Cay, but some sailings do include stops at both of these exclusive Disney destinations.

Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point vs. Castaway Cay

Wondering what the major differences between the two islands are? We’ll be outlining some of the key differences (and similarities!) between Disney’s two exclusive islands so that you can know what to expect. We’ll be taking a look at the beach options, dining, shopping, entertainment, and more for when you plan your Disney Cruise Line vacation. Want to skip ahead to a section? Click on a jump below.

Beach Options

As you may expect with these tropical islands, beaches are a main attraction! At both destinations, there are both family-friendly and adult-exclusive beaches that will appeal to all different travelers.

Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point Beaches

At Lookout Cay, you’ll have both a Family Beach and Serenity Bay, which is exclusive for adults 18 years and older. Both are accessible through a tram ride, with stops at Mabrika Cove and Goombay Cultural Center. Once you reach the Goombay tram stop, wagons and strollers are available free of charge on a first come first serve basis, which will make a huge difference if you’re traveling with smaller children.

There’s also a beach located at Mabrika Cove, which is the closest beach to the boat. Mabrika Cove is a tram ride away from the bulk of activities, which are located closer to Serenity Bay and the Family Beach. Instad, this is a spot for bike rentals and cabana check-ins, and is accessible to those that have a Mabrika Cove Cabana reserved.

Beaches Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point

Photo by Danny Shuster

At the Family Beach, you’ll find Rush Out Gush Out, a family water play area. Additionally, the area is home to Sebastian’s Cove, a splash pad intended for younger children. In between both beaches, you’ll find spots like the Goombay Cultural Center, where much of the entertainment for the island takes place. Each beach also has various dining options and bars, with Serenity Bay BBQ and Blue Hole Bar exclusive for adults 18 and older.

Both beaches offer plentiful beach chairs, with cabanas available at Serenity Bay or Mabrika Cove. You also have the option to rental snorkels at Flippers & Fins, getting the chance to see what’s going on beneath the crystal blue Bahamian waters.

Castaway Cay Beaches

As you may have guessed, the Castaway Family Beach welcomes adults and children of all ages. Here, you’ll be able to swim, snorkel, kayak, and more. Castaway Cay also has its own Serenity Bay, which is an adults-only oasis for those aged 18 and up. You can stay on the beach or rent a private cabana. Plus, pick up frozen specialty drinks at Castaway Air Bar or grab a bite to eat at Air Bar BBQ, both exclusive to adults.

Disney Lookout Cay vs Castaway Cay: Entertainment Options

Along with the relaxation of sitting on the beach, both Castaway Cay and Lookout Cay have recreation and entertainment for you to enjoy while you’re on the tropical islands.

Entertainment Options

At Lookout Cay, you have the opportunity to meet with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale, all wearing distinct looks created by Bahamian fashion designer Theodore Elyett.

One of the highlights of entertainment experiences is RUSH! A Junkanoo Celebration at the Goombay Cultural Center, which takes place throughout teh day. A local Junkanoo Group performs and introduces you to the signature festival of The Bahamas with parades of music and dancing. Along with performers, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy are dancing as well. It’s absolutely gorgeous in person, so we recommend trying to get a front row view to see everything up close!

Over at the Play-Play Pavilion, the Disney Fun in the Sun Beach Bash offers family activities that can be done alongside Disney characters. This includes Goofy’s Good Day Limbo, Pluto’s Pineapple Ring Toss, and Chip-n-Dale’s Water. Plus, you can sing along to Bahamian renditions of Disney tunes arranged and performed by Bahamian artists. Throughout Lookout Cay, additional cost experiences are available, including snorkeling, a gaming pavilion, and bike rentals.

Additionally, a beautiful Nature Trail allows you to view the island’s natural beauty. Along the way, there are signs that will share the backstory of different creatures you may find, such as crabs or lizards that are native to the area.

Castaway Cay Entertainment

One of the most popular activities is snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the Snorkeling Lagoon. Here, guests can explore an underwater world teeming with vibrant marine life, including colorful fish and intriguing shipwrecks, some of which are Disney-themed. For those new to snorkeling, gear rentals and life vests are readily available, making it easy for everyone to join in on the adventure.

pelican-plunge_things-to-do-at-castaway-cay_featured_smith

Pelican Plunge. Photo by Scott Smith

For guests seeking more active pursuits, there are numerous sports and recreational activities available. The island features sports courts for basketball and volleyball, as well as Pelican Plunge, a floating water play area equipped with two twisting water slides and water cannons. The Family Beach offers various water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing, allowing families to enjoy the calm, shallow waters together. Additionally, Castaway Cay has a dedicated 5K running trail, where guests can participate in the Castaway Cay 5K race or simply enjoy a leisurely jog through the island’s scenic paths.

Kids and Teens

Kids and teens have their own special areas designed just for them. Scuttle’s Cove, a supervised kids’ club, offers organized activities and games, allowing younger guests to have fun while parents relax. The Hideout is a teen-exclusive spot where older kids can socialize, play games, and enjoy music in a laid-back environment. For a touch of Disney magic, characters like Mickey Mouse and Goofy make appearances throughout the island, providing photo opportunities and entertainment for all.

Beyond physical activities, Castaway Cay also offers plenty of relaxation and pampering. Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach, provides a peaceful retreat with lounge chairs, cabanas, and the option to indulge in a beachside massage. The tranquil atmosphere is perfect for unwinding and soaking in the natural beauty of the island. For a more luxurious experience, private cabanas are available for rent, offering a secluded spot with personalized service, comfortable seating, and stunning views.

Dining and Bar Options

Grab a bite to eat or a drink with numerous dining and drink options at either tropical island! Here’s an overview of what you’ll find at both

Lookout Cay Dining

The food options at Lookout Cay take inspiration from the flavors of The Bahamas. The main dining areas are True-True and True-True Too BBQ, which offer menu items including Bahamian pigeon peas and rice and Bahamian-style lime-marinated grilled snapper. Plus, pick up favorites like barbecue ribs, island-spiced rotisserie chicken, and grilled cheeseburgers. These menu items are also offered at Serenity Bay BBQ, which is part of the adults-only Serenity Bay area.

There are four bars available: Bow & Ribbon Bar, Watering Hole Bar, Reef & Wreck Bar, and Blue Hole Bar (the latter of which is part of Serenity Bay). You can pick up cold drinks and cocktails, including the Disney Lookout Cay signature cocktail, the Eleuthera Euphoria, made with rum, pineapple smoothie mix, and DOLE Whip.

Photo by Danny Shuster

Sandsational Smoothies offers frozen drinks, while Mangroves & Go is a great spot to pick up a coffee (which is why it’s conveniently located near the tram stop!). Mangroves & Go offers locally sourced beverages, such as Bahamas Goombay Punch soda, Bahamas Coffee Roasters coffee, locally roasted in Eleuthera, and Pirate Republic Brewing Company Long John Pineapple Pilsner.

Castaway Cay Dining

One of the main dining highlights is Cookie’s BBQ, which offers a mouthwatering buffet of barbecue favorites. Cookie’s Too serves similar fare, ensuring that delicious meals are never far from reach. For a more relaxed dining experience, Serenity Bay BBQ caters exclusively to adults on the adults-only beach, featuring a selection of grilled specialties in a tranquil setting.

In addition to the barbecue options, Castaway Cay offers various snack and beverage stands throughout the island. Summertime Freeze is a popular spot where guests can cool off with refreshing frozen drinks inspired by beloved Disney characters. Another favorite is the soft-serve ice cream stations, perfect for a sweet treat under the tropical sun.

The island also boasts several bars where guests can unwind with a tropical cocktail or a cold beer. The Sand Bar, located near the main family beach, serves a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, allowing parents to relax while keeping an eye on their children. Heads Up Bar offers a serene spot to enjoy a drink with a view of the turquoise waters. Finally, the Castaway Air Bar, located in the Serenity Bay area, is styled like an old aircraft hangar, provides a unique ambiance and a selection of specialty drinks.

Disney Lookout Cay vs. Castaway Cay: Shopping

Looking to grab a souvenir while you’re at Lookout Cay or Castaway Cay? You’ll find a few different shopping options at each.

Lookout Cay Shopping

You’ll find a few different shopping options at Lookout Cay, including a shop for your typical Disney fare and another that features work from Bahamian artists. Treasures of Eleuthera is a unique location where you can pick up artwork, jewelry, bags, and accessories that were made by local artisans. The assortment includes beautiful picks such as woven bags with Disney characters, or handmade jewelry. Plus, you can pick up local Bohemian coffee in the shop.

Disney T’ings has all of your classic Disney souvenirs, with Lookout Cay-branded accessories, apparel, drinkware, and more that you can take home to commemorate your time on the island. It also features souvenirs from the Theodore Elliott collection! First & Last Chance Stand offers a similar assortment at a smaller kiosk location.

Castaway Cay Shopping

The island features several retail locations. She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else! is a popular stop for visitors looking to take home a piece of their Disney cruise adventure. This shop offers a wide range of Castaway Cay-branded items, including clothing, hats, beach towels, and accessories. Buy the Sea Shore has nautical-themed merchandise, including home décor, jewelry, and tropical-themed toys for the little ones.

For those interested in authentic Bahamian crafts and goods, Castaway Cay features a local market area where guests can browse handcrafted items made by Bahamian artisans. This market provides a wonderful opportunity to purchase unique, locally-made products such as straw hats, woven baskets, wood carvings, and colorful artwork.

Port Excursions and Recreation

There are a ton of recreational activities on each of the islands, as well as port excursions (which are often available for an additional cost). For any port excursions, you’ll want to make sure to book ahead of time when you plan your trip to guarantee a spot.

Lookout Cay Recreation and Excursions

When it comes to excursions, you have quite a few different options. These include the following:

  • Private Historical and Cultural Tour
  • Tropical Reef Safari Snorkel
  • Bahama Bank Catamaran Boat Escape
  • South Eleuthera Eco, Cultural, and History Tours
  • Snorkel by Boat
  • Banana Boat
  • Historical Nature and Awesome Buggy Tour

If you’re looking for activities, the island is also home to a Nature Trail where you can discover the beautiful natural land while walking or biking. Along the way, you’ll find bronze sculptures representing some of the indigenous animals, including money bat moths, curly-tailed lizards, and land crabs.

Castaway Cay Recreation and Excursions

Wondering what some of the paid excursion options are at Castaway Cay? These include:

  • Aqua Trike Rental
  • Banana Boat Ride
  • Bike Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Snorkeling
  • Waterbike Rentals
  • Jet Boat Tour
  • Float & Tube Rentals
  • Fly Fishing Rental
  • Fun Cat Rental
  • Hobie Cat Rental
  • Parasailing
  • Paddle Boat Rental
  • Sea Kayak Rental

Castaway Cay also features the unique experience of the Castaway Cay 5K. This family-friendly race invites guests of all ages and fitness levels to participate in a scenic run through the island’s picturesque pathways. The route takes runners past beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant ocean views, offering a unique way to explore the island’s natural beauty. Participants receive a commemorative medal and the satisfaction of completing a fun, active challenge in an idyllic tropical setting.

Disney Lookout Cay vs. Castaway Cay: Cabana Options

Each of the two islands offers private cabanas, which can be returned for an additional cost. These private cabanas give you a bit of privacy and shade away from the main beach. They can be a perfect option whether you’re looking for an adult-only private retreat or a place to rest and relax with little ones.

Castaway Cay Cabanas

There are a few different cabana types you can choose from (note that all guests under age three are free):

  • Family Cabana: $880 for up to six guests (max ten guests, $56 for each additional)
  • Grand Family Cabana: $1,238 for up to ten guests (max sixteen guests, $56 for each additional)
  • Serenity Bay Cabanas: $523 for up to four adult guests (max ten guests, $56 for each additional)

Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

As for what’s included in the cabanas, each comes with towels, light snacks, sand toys (for kids), sunscreen, and a fridge with water and soft drinks. Cabana guests also get free snorkel equipment and bike rentals. As for the Castaway Cay cabanas themselves, they’re fairly simple with a fan, seating, and loungers overlooking the beack. Each also comes with a outdoor shower and hammock, though they do not have private bathrooms (there are cabana-only restrooms available). Each cabana also comes with a button you can push for service to get drinks or snack refills.

Lookout Cay Cabanas

There are a few different cabanas you can rent, both at Serenity Bay and family cabanas at Mabrika Cove. Here are the available options (note that all guests under age three are free):

  • Serenity Bay Cabanas: $523 for up to four guests (max ten guests, $56 for each additional)
  • Serenity Bay Grand Cabanas: $963 for up to ten guests (max sixteen guests, $56 for each additional)
  • Family Cabanas: $963 for up to four guests (max ten guests, $56 for each additional)
  • Grand Family Cabanas: $1,375 for up to ten guests (max sixteen guests, $56 for each additional)

Each cabana comes with a small fridge, a safe, seating, towels, sunscreen, and a ceiling fan. Outside you’ll find lounge chairs, an outdoor shower, a hammock, and a shade. Similar to Castaway Cay, fresh fruit and snacks are included along with bottled water, and you have dedicated beverage service.

Disney Lookout Cay vs. Castaway Cay: Kid Areas

When it comes to activities for kids, both beaches offer quite a few options for you to consider. Each of the islands is home to a Family Beach, which is available for all ages. Additionally, each of the islands has its own water play areas, which are interactive water areas that kids of any age can enjoy. Along with that, each of the islands are home to character meet and greets, family activities, and more.

Castaway Cay Kid Areas

Castaway Cay offers recreational activities such as a snorkeling lagoon, bike rentals, and other recreational activities kids will love. Additionally, here are a few highlights of family-friendly areas and activities:

  • Scuttle’s Cove: A supervised children’s program area where kids can enjoy games, activities, and water play under the watchful eyes of Disney counselors.
  • Spring-a-Leak: A water play area featuring sprinklers, geysers, and splash zones, perfect for cooling off and having fun.
  • Pelican Plunge: A floating water play area with two twisting water slides, water cannons, and a giant bucket dump.
  • Monstro Point: An excavation site-themed playground where kids can dig in the sand and uncover “whale bones.”
  • In Da Shade Game Pavilion: A covered area featuring games like foosball, table tennis, and basketball, providing a fun break from the sun.
  • Snorkeling Lagoon: A designated snorkeling area where kids (and adults) can discover underwater treasures and marine life.
  • Teen Hideout: A special area for teenagers to relax and socialize with peers, featuring activities and games geared toward older kids.

Lookout Cay Kid Areas

There are tons of activities for kids of all ages at Lookout Cay, which you can find throughout the island. Here are just a few of the highlights for family- and kid-friendly amenities:

  • Disney Fun in the Sun Beach Bash: A beach party with games you can play alongside Disney characters like Goofy’s Good Day Limbo, Pluto’s Pineapple Ring Toss, or Chip-n-Dale’s Water Brigade.
  • Gaming Pavilion
  • Volleyball Court
  • Gaga Ball Pit
  • Kids-Only Dining Area
  • Rush Out, Gush Out Water Play: A water play area for all ages featuring two water slides
  •  Sebastian’s Cove: A splash pad for younger kids, along with an area for youth activities.

Photo by Kent Phillips, Photographer for Disney

Two key highlights are Rush Out, Gush Out Water Play, a water play area for all ages, as well as Sebastian’s Cove, which houses an array of youth activities. Rush Out Gush Out has a prime location right near the beach, and is a particularly great splash pad for kids. Sebastian’s Cove also has a splash pad, but one aimed for kids that are going to be too young to experience the slides and other parts of Rush Out Gush Out (which is intended for ages three and up who are no longer using diapers). With decor inspired by The Little Mermaid, the more gentle Sebastian’s Cove splash pad is in a mostly shaded area that toddlers will adore.

Additionally, snorkeling, bike rentals, and other recreational activities are available for children to enjoy.

Disney Lookout Cay vs. Castaway Cay: Travel to and From the Boat

Wondering what it looks like to travel from port to the beach? At each destination, you’ll find trams to take you where you need to go, but the process is going to look a bit different for each.

Lookout Cay Travel

In an effort to avoid drudging and keep the area and environment as pristine as possible, Disney has built a 1/2-mile bridge that will take you from the boat to the main island. Once on the island, you’ll have a 10-minute tram ride that will take you over to the Family Beach, with trams running continuously throughout your time.

For the bridge walk, if you have mobility issues, you will be able to make accommodations ahead of time to have a golf cart take you to the tram. For younger kids, we recommend bringing a collapsible wagon or stroller with you for the walk, which is nearly equivalent to the walk between Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Magic Kingdom.

Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point

Photo by Danny Shuster

Once you’ve reached the Goombay Tram Stop, wagons and strollers will be available free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis throughout the day. However, these cannot be brought back on board, something you may want to keep in mind when it comes to the journey back to the ship after a day at Lookout Cay.

Castaway Cay Travel

Traveling from the boat to the beach is shorter at Castaway Cay. A short walk from your disembarkment point, you’ll have the option to take a tram over to the beaches. If you’re looking to get to Serenity Bay Beach, you can exit the tram at the Castaway Family Beach and switch to the tram that will take you to the adults only beach. However, a tram is not required — though it will shorten your travel time. Walking to the Castaway Family Beach is going to be about a fifteen-minute walk.

Thank you to Disney for hosting us during the Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point preview cruise aboard the Disney Magic.

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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