There’s no better way to see the Disney island of Castaway Cay then to run a 5k first thing in the morning!
I saw this run mentioned on different Disney forums while I was researching before the cruise and was super excited for it. We registered soon after getting on the ship, but they also allow people to register on the day of. Just make sure you have an ID and your room key. I think kids are allowed to register also. I forget the age limit, but there were kids around 10 years old that were running twice as fast as I was!
We got up early to get a light breakfast at Cabana’s and met everyone for the run. We met at Evolution and got our race bibs as well.
Around 8:30am, the event coordinators walked us off the boat and to the starting line. It was nice to be the first guests off the boat. The walk gave us a chance to see things around the island without a crowd of people. We also saw a lot of details that we could have missed if we took the shuttle.
We passed by the sign that shows the cancellations for the day and unfortunately our parasailed expedition was cancelled due to the high winds. I was really looking forward to it too! Oh well…
It was about a 10-15 minute walk from the boat to the start. Near the start line, there’s a chest to put your personal belongings in. Try not to carry any valuables when you’re off the boat. No passports, cash, or credit needed either. Just the room key and maybe an ID.
TIP: I suggest you bring everything you need for the whole day so that you don’t need to go back to the boat after the run: shower stuff, change of clothes, beach clothes, beach accessories. It’s a waste of time and energy to leave the island to get back on the boat to just get off again. We had all our stuff and we didn’t get back on the boat until the end of the day. More time spent on the beach!
Also near the start line, there’s a small store called “She Sells by the Seashore” that sells Castaway Cay 5k and other Disney merchandise. We waited until after the run to buy shirts, but some people bought them right before the run (I heard some sizes run out quickly. Luckily, we found a couple shirts in our size). Bathrooms are also nearby for last minute stops.
The coordinators explained the route. The route was displayed on a big map near the start. Run to the round-about, around, out to the airplane hangar, back around the round-about, then back to the start line! They would only be there for 45 minutes after the race started, so that means we had to finish in 45 minutes to get a finisher medal!
EJ tried to run slower at my pace, but it was just too hot for me to run any faster. I told him to go ahead and I’ll just catch up. The whole time I was thinking: “Finish in 45 minutes! You need that finisher medal!” I finished in like 38 minutes haha. EJ finished way before I did. Probably in 30 or less. Regardless of the time, I still got a plastic finisher medal. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a great souvenir! And it forced us to work out at least once on our trip to neutralize all the buffets and room service we ate.
We we hoping the weather would be hot enough to swim in the water, so we went ahead and pre-reserved a package that included a floater ring, snorkel gear, and a bicycle when we booked the cruise. We took a tram with the floater and the snorkel gear to Serenity Bay. I wasn’t planning on walking with all that stuff.
Serenity Bay is on the far west side of the island. It’s designated as an Adult-Only beach. Perfect for us with no kids! We spotted a vacant hammock and dropped all our stuff. Sucky part of cruising in January was that the weather at that time was about 75 degrees. It was perfect for sunbathing, but the water was freezing, so we didn’t even get to use the floater or the snorkel gear. We eventually used the bike though!
After trying out the hammock (which is a lot harder to get in than I thought), we got a bike from near Serenity Bay BBQ and biked the 5k route and we stopped by the Observation Tower. The bikes were supposed to have a “one-hour limit,” but the bike rental people were very lenient on letting guests use them most of the day.
Funny story: EJ signed up for the shooting contest, but they were playing in groups of four and they were short a person. So I volunteered. We tied each other in the first round, and I think I embarrassed him haha. I was last place in the second round, and EJ lost to a 12-year old in the last round. It was a fun experience!
We got another set of bikes and went back towards Serenity Bay. To the right of the entrance of Serenity Bay towards the cabanas entrances, there’s a bike path to a lookout. We took pictures and went back to the Serenity Bay BBQ before it closed down for the day (only open during lunch hours).
They served above-average BBQ items, and they had real plates/utensils/and cloth napkins. It was a fancy BBQ. I wish I got more pictures while we were there, but here’s a review from the Disney Food Blog.
Food coma set in soon after, so we headed back to our hammock and lay down for a little. EJ ended up falling asleep, and I went ahead a wrote postcards to some people and wrote in my journal. It was nice. There was a nice breeze and it was sunny. Our hammock was shaded by a tree, but there were umbrellas to shade all the hammocks all along at beach.
Everyone was to be back on the ship by 5:30pm, but we wanted to beat the rush, so we attempted to head back by 4pm. We walked back instead of taking the tram to get some last minute photos!
All in all, I love Castaway Cay. If you ever take a Disney cruise, make sure you stop there. Some Disney cruises “double dip” and go to Castaway Cay twice in one sailing!
A few more parting pictures to remind me how much I loved it there and that I need to save my money for another trip!