What is the history of Castaway Cay?

castaway cay bahamas disney island

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Disney Cruise Line’s island Castaway Cay was initially known as Gorda Cay, named from the Spanish word for round, based on the island’s shape. 

Disney's Castaway Cay Island

It’s rumored that in the early 1700s, pirates would use Gorda Cay to hide because it was located north of the trade route and had hidden alcoves to wait for passing ships, hence the name Castaway Cay. 

In 1996, Disney Cruise Line signed a 99-year lease for the island, spending more than $25 million over 18 months to transform it into a tropical paradise for its guests.

Castaway Cay Airport Runway

The runway on Castaway Cay, initially constructed for private plane access by a previous landowner, Alvin Tucker, played a pivotal role in the island’s varied history.

airport castaway cay disney island

In the late 1970s and 80s, its existence made Gorda Cay, now Castaway Cay, an ideal stopover for smugglers transferring contraband to the United States. This runway’s legacy was cleverly repurposed by Disney, transforming it into a practical feature that connects the island’s two beaches where the tram runs back and forth.

Unlike many other private islands, Disney Cruise Line envisioned Castaway Cay as a convenient destination for families, so ships dock instead of tendering.

Before Disney’s acquisition, Great Abaco Island was the closest landmass to Gorda Cay, with a rich history and interesting culture of the Lucayan people, who were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas.

castaway cay bahamas disney island

Today, Castaway Cay is a 1,000-acre island that boasts a variety of activities for guests, including snorkeling, kayaking, and parasailing. Unique to the island is a 5K running trail and finisher medal, two water play areas, and several restaurants and bars.

We had a blast doing the underwater snorkeling trail off the coast of the island. The trail has a dozen underwater Disney statues and historical memorabilia.

Castaway Cay is a testament to Disney Cruise Line’s commitment to creating a serene and beautiful destination for its guests.

Disneys Castaway Cay 6

While the island’s past is marked by tales of shipwrecks, treasure, and smugglers, it has been transformed with Disney’s magical touch.

As a popular stop on Disney’s Caribbean itineraries, the island is universally praised for its stunning simplicity and natural beauty. It is a paradise that blends its fascinating history with the enchantment that Disney is known for.

The cruises that do a “Double Dip at Castaway Cay,” meaning the cruise stops there twice, always sell out in record time.

RELATED: Disney Cruise Line Ships by Size

History of Castaway Cay [VIDEO]

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