Monday, November 17, 2014

Disney Cruise - Castaway Cay

Our last stop was Disney’s private island. It did not disappoint! They rotate the cruises so there’s one cruise ship there per day, and almost all the staff is from the boat. There’s only a handful of people who come over from South Abaco island every day to help, the rest are different every day depending on what ship is there. All the food supplies, towels, etc. and brought off the boat and then put back on at the end of the day.

We didn’t explore the whole island, but they have tons of stuff to do. We had one snorkel excursion and planned to spend the rest of the day loafing on the beach. There’s a huge play area for the kids that’s built right into the ocean where the water is a couple of feet deep. The water was clear and warm and perfect.

We took a boat ride to a rocky area off the north side of the island and snorkeled there for a while. The water was really choppy there, and the current was strong, so the kids and I kind of struggled to not drift out to sea or crash into the rocks some of the time, but there were so many fish! There was a lot to see. Our guides were very good about calling us over when they saw something cool, or they would bring things over to show us. Rob was able to see a 3-foot-long barracuda. After spending some time there, the boat moved to a calmer, more sandy area and we all swam down that direction. We didn’t have to work quite so hard there and were more able to enjoy snorkeling. We saw some stingrays from a distance, and we saw several big starfish.

The guides then helped us back on the boat and they drove us over to a sandbar. We weren’t sure what we were supposed to do on a sandbar in the middle of the ocean, but that’s exactly what it was. I looked up Castaway Cay on Google maps and was able to find an image of the sandbar:

(Sandy Point is on South Abaco Island, Bahamas)

So we got off the boat in waist-high water and waded up onto the sandbar, where it was no more than knee-deep. It was a cool place to splash around in the waves and squish our toes in the sand. Pretty soon we started noticing some rocks on the bottom – they were sand dollars. Big ones!  Like 4 and 6 inches across and 2-3 inches thick. The guides were telling us the white sand dollars we usually see are dead shells, but living sand dollars are dark brown. It wasn’t long before we started noticing dark spots in the sand – living sand dollars! That was a neat thing to see. When you hold them, you can feel their little spiny feet moving a little. They’re very prickly, and the white sand looks neat in the patterns on their undersides.

On our way back to the boat, Robbie spotted something big and dark in the water. It was a big stingray. That was cool to see – from a distance, mind you. There were also some small fish now and then. We left our (non-waterproof) camera on the boat, so I don’t have any pictures of the sea life we saw there, but here are a couple of pictures of the area.

It’s crazy how you can see the difference between the shallow, light water around the sandbar and then the dark blue where it drops off into the ocean.

This is a view of Castaway Cay and the cruise ship on our way back.