Update: This post about the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay 5k was originally published in 2013, but I have since updated it and am republishing it now, in October of 2018.
Disney Cruise Line has a private island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. They also have a FREE 5k race you can run with a real medal given to you at the finish line. I have written other Castaway Cay 5k posts, you can search for them after reading this one, which is Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K including a walkthrough of how the morning goes. (If you want the short, bullet point tips version scroll down to the bolded wording)
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to at the end of the voyage. The Castaway Cay 5k is considered a runDisney run. It is a free fun run and is a 5k distance that has a race clock so you can see your time at the end.
The process of the 5k has changed over the years, but as of January 2018 when I last ran, below is the process:
-You sign up at the shore excursion desk and are given “tickets” telling you where to be and when.
-There will also be information in your navigator on where/how to sign up and where to be the morning of the race.
-We met in the main nightclub area which will be different depending on the ship you are on.
-They won’t let you in to “sign in” until a certain time, and the line outside gets quite long.
-BRING YOUR ID AND SHIP CARD. They will sign you in, and give you a race bib and safety pins
-Take a seat and hang out and meet new people until they come on stage explaining the debarking process and race map to you.
Typically, you walk off the ship together and to the starting point by the bike rentals. Please note it’s a pretty long walk, so be prepared.
At 9:30 when we were cleared to go ashore onto Castaway Cay (time changes depending on sailing). We walked together off the gangway as a large group and onto the island. A cast member led the way.
PRO TIP: Grab some towels to put into your backpack. Backpack? What backpack? That leads to my most important pro tip. Bring all your stuff for the day with you! They have a large box to store belongings in at the start/finish line. Trust me, you don’t want to walk aallll the way back to the ship after to shower and change then come aallll the way back. That will waste an hour of your day on this beautiful island. Instead, we pack a bag with our swimsuits, shower wipes, deodorant, sunscreen, and anything else we will need for the day post-race. Then after we run, we shower off outside the bathrooms, then go in to change, wipe off, and get ready for the day.
Ok so where was I. The starting line is also the finish line, and there are directional arrows on the course. The biggest problem people have is that they don’t listen. You have to make TWO TOTAL LOOPS at one point in the race and for some reason, this is confusing for people.
There will be cast members there to help get everyone lined up and ready.
Just like any race, it’s harder to move at first then it thins out pretty quickly.
Soon after you start you will see your first directional sign in red (below). As long as you aren’t in first place just follow the people in front of you ha!
You will then see a cast member standing by a water stop directing you into the bike loop.
The loop is my least favorite because you have to run it twice and it’s just tree after tree.
After you exit the loop, you head down the airstrip to Serenity Bay.
Once you get to the end you are supposed to loop it like a cul de sac and come back the other way then head into the loop again. Some people cut this turn short and cheat but I feel that only cheats yourself so just run the whole thing. 🙂
You then head back down the airstrip and this would be a great time to grab water before heading back into the loop if you need it. After you make it out of the bike loop you head back towards the finish line which was the way you first came/also the start line. The finish feels great, and be sure to watch the clock as you cross so you can see what your time is.
There are water coolers at the finish line, plus your medal! There was a photographer as well who was taking pictures. If you buy a photo package they have adorable little race decals at the bottom!
There are bathrooms near the finish (which is where we change) and there is also a shop that sells 5k merchandise. Be mindful that they have been known to run out, so don’t wait until the end of the day if you want a cute shirt.
We then grab our bags out of the box and change, then head to the tram stop which happens to be right by the finish line. We then head out to Serenity Bay, and hit the beach for an amazing and relaxing day on Castaway Cay!
Here are my best tips summed up that I have learned after doing the Castaway Cay 5k 10 times that may be useful.
1.) Bring your beach clothes and things with you in a bag or backpack so you don’t have to go back to the ship. You will waste a good 45 minutes to an hour walking back, showering, and coming back out when you can change and shower at the beach. They have a large bin you can keep your things in at the start line.
2.) Get towels when you get off the ship. I am so glad we did because they did NOT have towels at Serenity Bay and we would have had to go back and get some.
3.) Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat. It’s HOT and there isn’t a lot of shade on the course, especially on the airstrip.
4.) Hydrate! They set up a water stop at the bike loop, but you can also take advantage of the water stops in the bike loop and at the Serenity Bay tram stop.
5.) SOMETIMES they have a Disney character waiting at the finish line (didn’t this time but did last time) so bring a camera or phone to capture the moment!
6.) If you want to see the island but don’t want to run, there is an “island power walk” that leaves just a few minutes after the 5k that you can join in with, or you can always rent bikes.
7.) Be sure to look at your finishing time as you cross, it’s on your left up high in a brown box
8.) At the souvenir shop right by the finish, they sell 5k finishers shirts. I wouldn’t wait until late in the day to get one in case they run out of your size. I snagged mine right after I finished the race and they had plenty.
9.) Bring your ID and ship card or you can’t check in for the race or get off the ship!
10.) Have fun! Just remember, you burned extra calories so now you can enjoy an extra Konk Cooler on the island!
(This photo is taken from the start. When you are coming into the finish, the clock is facing the other way so you can see your time.)
Special note: Apaprently this happens VERY RARELY but it does happen and unfortunately it happened to us. We were unable to dock on Castaway Cay on one of our cruises, but we still had the 5k on the ship! We had to run around a certain number of times (9 maybe?) and they had a water stop set up and we got our medals. Not ideal, but it was nice to still get to run the race anyway! Read more about that Castaway Cay 5k experience here.
I have loved running the Castaway Cay 5k on the beautiful island, it’s a great way to start your day and you get a fun souvenir, too. Slow or fast, it doesn’t matter, be sure to give this a try on your next cruise!
Visit Travelwiththemagic.com for Disney Cruise Line information.
Jan @ Sprouts n Squats says
Sounds like a great race even if you didn’t feel you were at your best performing it. It seems like a fun venue to do it and I would definitely give it a go 🙂
It was definitely fun!
I would love to do this fun run….it looks really fun and I love the private island stops in the Bahamas. I need to talk my family into a Disney cruise! I ran my first untimed race yesterday in London, a charity race that was a super hero run. It was fun for a great cause and they gave us finisher medals too!
Yes you do, it’s so much fun. I would love to book for you 🙂
The charity race sounds like a blast!
Melanie A says
I’m doing this run a week from Tuesday! Can hardly wait! Last I checked there was a 60% chance of thunderstorms that day so I’m hoping for the best.
No worries the weather changes so much!
YES YES YES EVEN I WOULD RUN!!!
Amy - Mom's Magical Miles says
I did this last August and I was also NOT a fan of the loop! It was pretty hot. I’m glad I did it at least once, but I think I would head straight to the beach next time!
We have done 2 double dips with 2 stops to CC, and both times we did the 5k once and hit the beach once, it was nice lol!
I have been searching everywhere to see if they would offer it both days on a double dip. It sounds like they did on both of yours. Did I read you correctly?
when I went in 2010 yes, but I am not sure if that has changed or not!
Amy Lauren says
I’d do this run, I’d love to do it (I don’t know if I can call it a race since it isn’t timed, though), just because I love cruises, islands, and running.
Do they do this on every Disney cruise that goes to Castaway Cay, or is it a once a year or annual thing?
Every time the boats stop at the island. 🙂
If I ever have the chance, yes, I would do this race. I’m not good in heat so it would be a slow fun run to just get out there and get moving.
Ya I felt good afterwards b/c I had eaten so badly all week, so at least i was burning some calories!
I love that they offer a 5K! I’m looking into doing Cruise to Run on their next sailing. Must be such a cool experience running on an island!
I consider it my only international race lol
I loved this race! I’m so happy you talked me into doing it! 🙂
Im so glad yall had fun!
I would LOVE to do this race! Heck, I just want to go on a Disney cruise – my husband and I are thinking about going on one for a vacation in 2014! If we do, I will definitely do this 5K!
Also, Heather, I nominated you for a Liebster award, I love your blog! Check out my latest post for details 🙂
I would love to help you book your cruise! Going to check out your blog!
Awesome job on the race! it’s so amazing how far the CC 5k has come in the past 5 years. The first time we did it in 2007, we started at the ship, there were no bibs or water, and only like 5 people ran it!
Yes! We started at the ship my first time too and were dodging people the whole time.
Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers says
Looks like a fun race. I bet it was crazy humid though if it was drizzling before all that beautiful sunshine came out.
Oh yes, SO humid!
New reader, love your blog! Thanks for the informative post. My fiance and I will be honeymooning on the Fantasy after our wedding at WDW and I am really excited to run this!
Thanks for stopping by! You will have a blast. Have you booked the cruis eyet?
Yes, we have 🙂 Setting sail on October 26th!
Awesome tips Heather! Sounds like a fun place to do a 5K!
What an awesome idea for a race! I want to do it for sure should we have the opp to do a Disney cruise!
You would love it!
Frank@The Fat Runner says
Your first post about this race is what finally got me running. It was also the very first time I read your blog. Running the Castaway Cay 5K was my very first “goal race” which I got to do last November. It was awesome! I got “land sick” as well. lol Also, living in Puerto Rico I run in the Caribbean all the time. lol
I would do this in a heartbeat! Looks great!
Kierston @candyfit says
I want to castaway! Looks like a blast! Cute bikini too!
Mindy @ Road Runner Girl says
Yes I would LOVE to run this race! When we were on our honeymoon I don’t remember Castaway Cay having a 5K…of course that was 12 years ago so they probably didn’t lol!
LOL I’m not sure when they started it
Kristina @ Blog About Running says
Oh my gosh, this is so awesome. I had not heard of it before! I so wish they had something like this on the Royal Caribbean ships. I am excited about testing out the running track on Allure of the Seas next month, though I’m a little worried that boredom might set in. I think I read it takes 6 loops around the track to hit one mile…. eep.
LOL I think on the Fantasy 2 or 2.5 laps or something was a mile
Karen :0) says
This is definitely a fun but HOT race!! Great recap!
Do they do the 5k on every Disney Cruise that hits up Castaway Cay?
Jacinta Dawson says
My husband and I ran this in June 2012 and plan to do it again next week. We live in FL so we are more accustomed to the heat and humidity, but the heat at CC is pretty intense on the airstrip. I agree; that loop by the lookout tower does seem to last forever. Thanks for the hat suggestion!
Jay Pepper says
I’m glad to hear that the 5k run has gotten so big……. I’m the one who started the 5km run back in the day, where I would only have 5 guest.. This is such great news.
My 10 year old son is the runner in the family and my husband and I are going to jog along with him. This is the first time I’ve heard that there is an age minimum. Have you ever seen younger children run it? Does Disney make excaptions?
No I have not seen anyone younger than a teenager run, so sorry. You have to bring your ID when you check in for the race so they know who is what age. I can’t speak from experience in this cade but you know what happens when people start to make exceptions 🙂
You are right. I don’t want Disney to make an exception, it might not bode well for all. I am just thankful for your blog post. It will be easier for him if he knows ahead of time rather than finding out that morning. Thanks so much!
Looks like we will just have to plan another cruise in 2 years when he is old enough to run:) Maybe by then Disney will have a kids fun run and his younger brothers can join in on the fun!
Jacinta Dawson says
If I may chime in….we just ran the CC5K for the second time on May 31, 2013. This is what we have seen and experienced with 2 kids ages 13 and 8. The younger kids under age 12 can run the race with mom or dad, but the cast members will not officially sign them up to receive a race bib or finisher’s medal at the end. Only guests 12+ will be listed on the run registry.
you never know though they like to randomly change the rules. I would maybe go to the front desk and ask for sure when you get on the boat!
My family and I are going on our first Disney Cruise in April and we’ll be stopping at Castaway Cay. Did you have to register for the 5K prior to your cruise? Or is it just a show up on the day of kind of thing? Thanks!
you register when you get on the boat. 🙂
is there an oppourtunity to get a run in at any of the ports the ship docks
specifically st marteen/st john
I have never been to st. marteen so I can’t speak for that, but at most ports you can just take to the streets if you want to.
Jim and Karen says
Jim (69) and I (71) completed the 5K Fun Run on Castaway Cay Nov 2014. This was our first 5K. We were just happy that we didn’t finish last. It was quite fun and the other runner/walkers were friendly and encouraging. Going back in May and will try to beat our time. Gonna do a little parasailing this time also. We only have one life to live so enjoy it……..
We cruised in December 2012 and I was going to run the Castaway 5K, but we didn’t get to dock because of the wind and currents. I was so disappointed. We just cruised around in figure 8’s all day. We’re going to do a 5-day on the Wonder next April so I may be in touch!