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.