Review: Snorkeling at Castaway Cay is an amazing experience

Castaway Cay is arguably the most popular destination that Disney Cruise Line 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 snorkeled at Castaway Cay during our September 2018 cruise on the Disney Dream. Below are some thoughts on our experience as well as some tips on how to make the most of your time.

What’s it cost?

Snorkeling at Castaway Cay was $34 per person (prices subject to change), which included renting the 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.

You’ll have to wear a snorkel vest

Included with the 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. Partially inflating it made the experience much easier, as you can float around instead of treading water.

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 you to see that’s isolated from the main family swimming area.

Taken from the top deck of the Disney Dream, the area outlined in red is where you’ll be snorkeling. 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.

Due to the 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. Inflating part of your snorkel vest will make this much 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.

When should I snorkel?

Early. Seriously. 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 animals and no one has stirred up the sand in the water. Visibility is the highest first thing in the morning.

I wouldn’t say we ever saw the snorkeling section get too crowded, but we did see maybe 50+ people in the water in the afternoon while we were the only swimmers for about 30 minutes first thing in the morning.

What can I see?

Honestly, more than I expected. We saw a ton of fish. As the first and only swimmers in the water, the fish were extremely curious and followed us around. There was a huge variety (and colors) of fish.

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 sunk some fun items for guests to see. One that 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. There’s also a fun Mickey Mouse statue that’s usually surrounded by fish.

Is the water warm?

It all depends what time of year you visit Castaway Cay. The water was quite warm during our September trip (OK, it was basically perfect), but people have said that trips in the cooler months are too cold to swim comfortably.

Is it worth it?

If you go in the morning, it absolutely is worth both your money and time. When else can you see wild fish and sea turtles swimming around in a fascinating setting?

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.

David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018. This site is a source of news, information, and reviews about all things Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Cruise Line. Click here to learn more or contact us.

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