Review: Is It Worth Snorkeling at Disney’s Castaway Cay?

Disney’s Castaway Cay is arguably the most popular destination that Disney Cruise Line C visits. Disney’s private island offers a ton of fun activities for the whole family, including a snorkeling package that gives guests some incredible views of sea life and an old piece of Disney World history.

We’ve snorkeled at Castaway Cay multiple times during our trips on Disney Cruise Line. Below are some thoughts on our experience as well as some tips on how to make the most of your time.

How Much Is It to Snorkel at Castaway Cay?

Snorkeling at Castaway Cay is $38 per guests age 10 and up, and $22 per guests ages 5 through 9 (prices are subject to change). The price includes the snorkel mask and fins for the entire day. We found that to be a bargain even though we only used our equipment for a couple hours.

Snorkeling equipment is included for guests who rent a cabana on Castaway Cay. Make sure you check out our full review of a Family Cabana on Castaway Cay.

You’ll Have to Wear a Snorkel Vest

Included with the snorkeling equipment is a deflated life vest called a snorkel vest. You’ll have the option to fill it with air, but you’re going to have to wear it regardless of whether you brought your own snorkeling gear. Lifeguards enforce the rule that all snorkeling guests wear the neon-colored vests, so make sure you have it.

Partially inflating it made the experience much easier for us, especially when the water at Castaway Cay was choppy. Some of the best things to look at in the snorkeling area are pretty far from shore, and it was significantly more relaxing being able to float.

There’s a Special Area for Snorkeling

Castaway Cay has a dedicated area for snorkeling that’s loaded with sunken treasures. As if the sea life wasn’t enough, there’s sunken boats and other items for guests to see that’s isolated from the main family swimming area.

The area outlined in red is where guests primarily snorkel on Castaway Cay. It’s located between the sting ray area and the main swimming area. It may not look too big, but it’s a very large area. This picture was taken from the top deck of the Disney Dream.

Guests can also take their snorkeling gear with them over to the adults-only beach Serentiy Bay. But, we don’t recommend that as there really isn’t much to see. While we have had some large stingrays swim past, snorkelers will really only see sand.

Due to the main snorkeling area being so large, it may seem intimidating to swim all the way out. But, make sure you do. The most interesting items are located in the very back of the snorkeling area marked by floating buoys. Inflating part of your snorkel vest will make swimming out to this area easier.

Below is a view of the snorkeling area from the beach. Note that you can see some swimmers with their bright vests on as well as the white rope that makes up one of the perimeters of the snorkeling section.

You’ll also see two lifeguards who are stationed on either side of the snorkeling section keeping a close eye on guests.

When Should I Snorkel at Castaway Cay?

Snorkel as early as possible in the day. We recommend guests who want to snorkel should wake up early and head to the snorkeling area as soon as Disney permits guests to visit the island.

We left the ship as soon as possible (around 8:30am) and headed straight to the beach by the snorkeling area (pictured above). From there, the equipment stand was just off to the left of the beach area. We were the very first people in the water. That’s extremely important as it means no one has scared off any of the fish or other sea life, and no one has stirred up the sand in the water. Visibility is the best first thing in the morning.

The snorkeling section only gets more crowded as the day goes on. We’ve never seen the area too, too crowded, but it can get congested. It’s not fun to bump into people while snorkeling.

What Can I See?

Honestly, more than we expected. We saw a ton of fish. As the first and only swimmers in the water early in the morning, the fish were extremely curious and followed us around. There was a huge variety (and colors) of fish. The area is relatively shallow, which means guests are in close proximity to any nearby sea life.

The highlight was the sea turtles. Enormous sea turtles were swimming all around, and weren’t afraid to come quite close. We saw three during our snorkeling adventure, which was easily one of the highlights of our entire cruise.

Beyond the animals, Disney has sunk some fun items for guests to see. One that Walt Disney World history buffs will love is an old ride vehicle from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage ride that used to be in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Corral and fish have taken over the old ride vehicle.

There’s also other figurines and Disney easter eggs (like Boo’s door from Monster’s Inc) at the bottom of the snorkeling area.

Is the Water Warm?

Water temperature varies a ton depending on what time of year you visit Castaway Cay. The water has been quite warm during our September trips (OK, it has been basically perfect), but people have said that trips in the winter months are too cold to swim comfortably.

It’s also all up to your personal tolerance. We’ve seen some guests brave even the coldest water temperatures. Hey, who knows when you’ll be able to enjoy Castaway Cay again. Make the most of it!

Is Snorkeling at Castaway Cay Worth It?

We absolutely think snorkeling on Castaway Cay is worth both your money and time if you go early in the morning. Having the chance to see fish, turtles, and some unique Disney objects beneath the water is a special experience.

Snorkeling later in the day is still fun, but we don’t think it’s as good of an experience. The odds of seeing any fish or animals decreases as the space gets more crowded.

For our Castaway Cay day, we snorkeled right away when we left the ship. This allowed for plenty of time to do other activities (jet ski, lay on the beach, eat way too much food) during the remainder of our all-too-brief stay on the island.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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