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An IN DEPTH Look at Disney Cruise Line’s NEW Private Island – Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point

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I’m back from a visit to Disney Cruise Line’s new private island, Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point. Lookout Cay is Disney’s second private island. The first, Castaway Cay, is also located in the Bahamas and has been operational for about 25 years.

Before I dig into the specifics about Lookout Cay, there a few points that may help put things in context. The history of Disney’s relationship with the island can be found in our post on the development of Lookout Cay. While Disney (and everyone else) calls Lookout Cay a “private island,” this is not entirely accurate. Unlike Castaway Cay, an island that is entirely under Disney’s control and operates solely for the entertainment of Disney guests, Lookout Cay is a 700-acre parcel of land on the larger island of Eleuthera. Eleuthera is an inhabited municipality with more than 10,000 residents. There are schools, airports, marinas, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, and all the other things a small town and a tourist destination needs to function. In addition to employees from the Disney ships, many of the workers at Lookout Cay will be full-time residents of Eleuthera.

Princess Cruise Line operates Princess Cays on Eleuthera, not far from Disney’s Lookout Cay. Princess calls their space a “private beach” rather than a “private island.” In my opinion, this is probably a more accurate assessment of Disney’s situation on Eleuthera as well. If you think of Lookout Cay as a private beach rather than a private island, then some of Disney’s choices will make more sense. They need to “play well with others” in a more overt way at Lookout Cay than they do at Castaway Cay.

Princess and Disney with adjacent spaces on Eleuthera ©Google

As part of their negotiations with the Bahamas and Eleuthera, Disney pledged to keep much of the Lookout Cay area undeveloped and, relatedly, to adhere to strict environmental controls. Additionally, Disney agreed to incorporate aspects of native Bahamian culture into the Lookout Cay experience. Another important aspect of the private/public dichotomy at Lookout Cay is that Disney has stated that there may be times when they open their island facilities and recreation to the residents of Eleuthera. We don’t have many specifics about this yet. I’ve heard some rumors about Lookout Cay “day passes” available to non-DCL passengers, but no verifiable information on this topic. My gut tells me that Disney would not allow day guests on their property while cruise guests are also there. More likely there may be a few days per month, when no DCL ships are in port, when Bahamian residents may use the facilities, but this remains an open issue. There have also been reports of people with private boats driving up to and anchoring at Lookout Cay. This has indeed happened. At Castaway Cay, it’s much easier to post literal and figurative “No Trespassing” signs that prohibit outsider presence. Whether and how situations like this will be regulated also remains to be seen.

Also note that I was on the June 6, 2024 sailing on the Disney Magic. When I booked this sailing well over a year ago, DCL advertised it as a “preview cruise” and stated that some elements of the island would not yet be fully operational. This was an apt description. As you’ll see below, some aspects of the island were not yet ready for prime time. Since I visited, the Disney Fantasy has also called twice at Lookout Cay and already a few things I experienced have been tweaked. The upshot is that right now you should consider Lookout Cay to be a work in progress. Much of what I experienced was good. Some of it was wonky. And you can be expected that much of it will change over the coming weeks, months, and years.

Next, let’s look at the map of Lookout Cay. To get your bearings, you’ll want to refer back to the map as I describe the elements of the island, but at first glance you should have two key takeaways. First, that label on the lower left of the map that says “to ship” is important. Second, there are two very separate areas of the island. One near the lower left of the map and one at the mid to upper right of the map. This bifurcation will be important in several ways, described below.


Ship Arrival and the Pier | Mabrika Cove Area | The Tram to/from Goombay Cove | Family Cabanas | Decks and Accessibility | Food | Adult Beverages and Specialty Drinks | Merchandise | Characters | Bathrooms, Showers, and Water | Goombay Cultural Center Area | Triton’s Trumpet Stage | Rush Out Gust Out Water Play Area | Play-Play Pavilion | Sebastian’s Cove | Family Beach | Serenity Bay Beach and Cabanas | Port Adventures | Bike Paths | Nature Trail | Guest Services

Tap the links above to jump to any section. Click photos to enlarge.

Ship Arrival and the Pier

Prior to the Magic’s first visit to Lookout Cay, the information most people had about the ship docking area was the “to ship” label on the island map. On this guest-friendly map, widely distributed by Disney, there was no indication of the length of the pier. Most guests were likely picturing a situation akin to Castway Cay, where the ship directly abuts the land. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were literal gasps by passengers when the size of the pier first became apparent. Indeed, from the time the ship docked at about 8:30 am and the time passengers were allowed to disembark at 10:30 am, the length of the pier was all anyone on board could talk about. Scott Sanders of the Disney Cruise Line Blog has rightly pointed out that the length of the pier has been publicly available for years as part of Disney’s environmental impact assessment plan for the island, but the average vacationer may not be that far in the weeds.

We now know that the pier is approximately half a mile long. This distance from shore is to protect a natural reef area between the dock and the land. Again, much of Disney’s agreement with the Bahamas to use Eleuthera as a private island had to do with environmental protections, so this makes sense. It’s worth noting that Princess Cruise Line uses tenders to get their passengers from the ship to shore at Eleuthera. In many cases, tendering can be more time consuming and less mobility-friendly than a half-mile walk along a paved path with no incline.

I timed the walk from the ship to the end of the pier as taking 11 minutes and 18 seconds. That was as a healthy adult walking at a moderate pace, carrying only a modest-sized day bag, and included the time I stopped to take two photos along the pier. I spoke to or saw posts from about a dozen other able adults who also timed their walk. All reported that it took between 10 and 12 minutes, with much of that variance due to things like photo stops and differences in the exact start and end points. If you’re carrying heavy gear and walking with small children expect the walk across the pier to take a bit longer, but let me state plainly, if you are physically able, the pier is visually intimidating, but not actually challenging.

While I have zero inside knowledge of the situation, my guess is that guest feedback will eventually prod DCL to add some form of shade or some rest stops along the pier. Reports from DCL’s second visit to Lookout Cay noted that cast members had been stationed at the pier mid-point and were distributing cool towels to guests and a water stop has been added – so already there is tweaking of the experience. If Disney places some colorful umbrellas, a few characters, and some PhotoPass photographers along the pier it could become a fun-filled start to the day.

During my visit, there was no signage about assistance for guests with mobility issues and I did see two guests drive mobility scooters across the length of the pier. I later spoke with two different cast members at Guest Services on the Magic and both told me that guests with mobility concerns could request a golf cart ride across the pier. I assume that the process for this will be more clearly codified in the future. In the meantime, if you have health issues that will be impacted by a half-mile walk in the sun, you should make your needs known to DCL early and often.

Other issues to consider regarding the pier are:

  • If you normally don’t apply sunscreen until after your arrival at a lounge chair on the beach, you’ll find that this is a mistake. Apply your sun protection before leaving the ship.
  • You may want to consider what shoes you bring for the walk. My husband initially planned to wear flip-flops to the island. After seeing the pier, he switched to sneakers and put the flip-flops in a tote.
  • If you’re traveling with young children, particularly if those children need lots of gear, you may want to bring a stroller across the pier. I’ve also now seen some guests from the Fantasy sailings say that DCL placed wagons at the ship side of the pier for guest use as they started their day at Lookout Cay. (More on strollers and wagons below.)
  • Given that you’ll have to return to the ship by walking the pier, you may want to keep a close eye on the weather late in the day. Many weather apps have accurate precipitation predictions within the upcoming hour. Imagine walking across the pier in a severe downpour and you’ll understand why timing your return could be important.
  • Guests will have to factor both the length of the tram ride (see below) and the length of the pier walk into their plans when estimating when to depart the ship for a shore excursion and when to depart the island for re-embarkation at the end of the day. A half-hour of travel on both ends is likely to be common.
  • While the pier is visually daunting, it may be helpful to put the walk in perspective. Disney fans routinely traverse similar distances in the theme parks. For example, the distance from the World Showcase entry point at EPCOT to the center of the American Adventure pavilion is about the same half a mile as the Lookout Cay pier. Other comparable distances are the walk from the Magic Kingdom front gate to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the walk from EPCOT’s International Gateway exit to the entrance of the Yacht Club resort.

As mentioned above, there were two hours between when the Disney Magic docked at the pier and when guests were allowed to disembark. It is currently unclear whether that will be a normal operating procedure or whether this interval was related to the initial visit. (The equivalent lag between docking and disembarkation at Castaway Cay is about half that amount of time.) There was significant activity on the dock during the two-hour wait, with the unloading of pallets of supplies and cast members heading out to their work stations on the island. My verandah stateroom on the starboard side of the ship had a fantastic view of the action. On TouringPlans social media I stated that you should choose a starboard side stateroom if you wanted to see the dock activity and the port side if you wanted a view of the ocean. However, I have since learned that when the Fantasy has called at Lookout Cay her port side has been against the dock, the opposite of the Magic. We don’t have enough information yet to assess whether this has been due to differences in tides/weather, due to the larger size of the ship, or whether the choice is otherwise up to the discretion of the captain. If you have concerns about your view, you may want to call DCL to enquire. Regardless of your stateroom location, every guest is welcome to view either side of the ship from many public locations.

Mabrika Cove Area

Once you cross the pier, you are at the Mabrika Cove Area. Mabrika Cove includes a security control station, a merchandise kiosk, the Mangroves & Go coffee window, the check-in desk for cabanas, a bike rental stand, an excursion boat dock (similar to Marge’s Barges at Castaway Cay), and a tram station.

The Tram to/from Goombay Cove

There are eight trams that run constantly throughout the day, each seating about 70 guests. The ride from the Mabrika Cove tram stop to the Goombay tram stop (the main beach and recreation site) takes about 10 to 12 minutes, plus time spent waiting for the tram to arrive. The first car of each tram is wheelchair accessible, with guests able to roll aboard via a ramp. We inquired about walking from the Mabrika area to the Goombay area and were told that this is not currently permitted. There are bike rental stands at both locations, but bikes are also unavailable right now. A bike rental cast member told me that guests would be able to bike and walk eventually, but safe pathways have not yet been constructed. He estimated that biking/walking would be available in “several weeks.”

Family Cabanas

Take a look at the Disney map above and you’ll see that the Family Cabanas (private shelters) are located close to the ship, part of the Mabrika Cove area, rather than rear main activity areas at Goombay. From a privacy and peace perspective, this is fantastic. However, if you have a child who wants to experience the Goombay water play areas or other points of interest, you’ll lose some time going back and forth on the tram rather than enjoying your very expensive oasis. Family cabanas are a hot commodity on Castaway Cay – they’re almost impossible to reserve unless you’ve booked a concierge-level stateroom or are a Pearl level Castaway Club member. I find myself wondering whether the cabanas on Lookout Cay might not be quite as popular, or perhaps they will have an audience of primarily guests with older children or VIPs that want to keep out of the public eye.

I did not have an opportunity to view inside the family cabanas, but I did speak to a few people who did. They had nothing but raves about the comfort and service in the cabanas. There are dedicated iPads in each cabana that you can use to call for assistance, change the music, order beverages, and the like. Also of note, there is a small food service location in the family cabana area. It has many of the same offerings as the main dining areas, with a few additional items such as cook-to-order steak. You don’t have to shlep to Goombay to eat. Whew!


There are three primary food locations on Lookout Cay, called True-True BBQ, True-True Too BBQ, and Serenity Bay BBQ. These are equivalent to the Cookies, Cookies Too, and Serenity Bay BBQ locations on Castaway Cay. The menus at these venues are duplicative; the only difference I saw was that Serenity Bay had a better selection of cut fruit. There are some vegetarian items on the buffet lines, including impossible burgers and a plant-based curry stew, as well as fruits, veggies, and various salads.

Note, July 2024. Specialty items have been added to the menu at Serenity Bay BBQ. At Serenity Bay you may now order: grilled ahi tuna steak, marinated grilled snapper with lime, grilled boneless ribeye steak, or a mixed leaf salad.

If you have food allergies, you must note this on your pre-boarding Special Services form and choose from a special menu the night before disembarking at Lookout Cay. Cristy Pudyk of the DCL Podcast and Pure Magic Vacations shared the allergy-friendly menu she was provided the evening before her visit to Lookout Cay.

Allergy-friendly menu for Lookout Cay

Most of the guests I spoke with seemed satisfied with the taste, freshness, and range of foods available. And yes, there are the same soft drink fountains and soft serve ice cream dispensers that they have on Castaway Cay and on the ships. Each Lookout Cay restaurant is surrounded by several shaded seating “pods” with round picnic tables. During my visit, I found the amount of seating to be ample. However, I’m hearing from guests on the Fantasy sailings that they’ve had trouble finding seating near the restaurants. The guest population of the Fantasy is much larger than the Magic (4,000 vs. 2,700), which likely accounts for the difference.

Another problem with the restaurants is that they are buggy – with flies swarming everywhere. I grew up next to a lake in Maine and have a high tolerance for flying insects around my food when dining outdoors, but the situation at Lookout Cay was borderline alarming. There are battery-operated fans on the picnic tables, intended to keep the bugs away; they were all but useless. I know that DCL is aware of the situation and, my opinion, this is the issue at Lookout Cay that is in most immediate need of remediation.

Note, July 2024. After three weeks of service, reports are now coming in that the fly situation has mostly been eradicated.

Adult Beverages and Specialty Drinks

Lookout Cay features four regular bars, plus a non-alcoholic smoothie bar and a coffee bar (which is located in the Mabrika area), all of which feature several signature beverages. I had intended to purchase and photograph several of these at each location, but I quickly found that none of the bars had yet been fully stocked and most of the specialty drinks were not available. I’m sure they’ll rectify this situation post haste. At the time of my visit, the only novelty cup available on the island was a pineapple-shaped sipper (about $15). A multi-color insulted DCL bottle (about $21) was also available here, but it is not unique to the island.

Most beverages from the bars are served in opaque insulted cups, blue for non-alcoholic beverages and yellow for beverages with alcohol. These cups do a great job of keeping your drink frosty (they’re seriously nice beach cups), but they’re horrible for differentiating beverages in photographs. Other than the bugs, the only two other food-related complaints I heard during my visit were an influencer bemoaning the yellow cup aesthetic (Ughhhh, why do they even have glitter in the drinks if you can’t seeeeeee it?) and another woman who was grousing that she was being served at drink with Belvedere vodka rather than the advertised Tito’s vodka (Ughhhhh, why am I being charged a premium price for a non-premium brand?). Having lived through the rapid disappearance of the Galaxy’s Edge sporks, I can all but guarantee that those questionably photogenic yellow cups will disappear through pilferage by fall. Sigh.

There were a few bartenders serving guests on the beach, but not many during my visit. Given that DCL makes a substantial profit on alcohol sales I’m sure that this is another area that will be given fast attention.


There are three merchandise shops at Lookout Cay: a small kiosk at Mabrika Cove (First & Last Chance Stand), a large Disney shop (Disney T’ings), and a Bahamian goods shop (Treasures of Eleuthera). The map also shows a hair braiding station (Plaits & Pleats), but I did not see it operational during the time of my visit. The vast majority of items for sale at the two Disney shops were branded with the Lookout Cay name. Prices were similar to other Disney Cruise Line merchandise.

Expect the merchandise lines to be hectic upon arrival to the island. Wait until later in the day if you can.

The Bahamian shop had little inventory. I’m sure this will change within the next few sailings.


Character greeting areas on Lookout Cay are located on either side of the True-True BBQ restaurant. We saw classic characters rotating in and out throughout the day. Characters also appear in some stage shows at the Goombay Cultural Center and at events at the Play-Play pavilion. They all have new costumes specifically designed for Lookout Cay.

Bathrooms and Showers

Clean, modern bathrooms are plentiful on the island. There is one bathroom at the Mabrika Cove area and seven bathrooms in the main guest area. Each restroom had a men’s room, a women’s room, and a gender neutral family bathroom. The rear of each bathroom features several outdoor showers. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a good photo, but several of the restrooms had water fountains and bottle refill stations near the showers.

An adult-sized changing table is available in the Guest Services building.

Goombay Cultural Center Area

The Goombay Cultural Center is a covered pavilion where native Bahamians can share their culture with the DCL guests. Tables and chairs are available where you can create Bahamian crafts. Periodically, storytellers will come to explain the history of the Bahamian Junkanoo celebration. The headliner activity at the Cultural Center is Rush! A Junkanoo Celebration, often performed twice per day. Performers will celebrate a mini Junkanoo, with characters, elaborate costumes, and the Bahamian equivalent of a marching band. The Celebration is fun, but loud. If members of your party have auditory processing issues, you may want to skip this one.

Triton’s Trumpet Stage

Triton’s Trumpet Stage is a fancy name for a place to build sand castles. There will be periodic classes throughout the day.

Rush Out Gush Out Water Play Area

Rust Out Gush Out is a family water play area. Children under the age of 12 are required to be supervised.

Play-Play Pavilion

The Play-Play Pavilion is a multi-purpose zone. Most of the day this serves as a covered area for family gatherings and light games. This was also the spot for the Fun in the Sun Beach Bash (a family dance party with characters) and the Vibe and Edge youth meeting area. We expect the activities held here will evolve over time. Also note that there is currently no separate area for tweens or teens on the island.

Sebastian’s Cove

Sebastian’s Cove is the area for children ages 3-10. There are supervised drop-off hours and open house hours when anyone may visit. (Note: These photos were taken during the open house hour. Normally random adults are not allowed in this area.) At your request, counselors will serve a basic child-friendly lunch (chicken nuggets, burgers, etc.) to children in their care. The counselor-to-child ratio was terrific. The adults were absolutely keeping a close eye on their charges, particularly in the areas with water.

Family Beach

The Family Beach is the showpiece of Lookout Cay – beaches like this are the reason why you book a cruise to the islands. The Family Beach feels much longer and deeper than the beach areas at Castaway Cay. There are some areas that are left as sand-only, which are nice for walking in relative quiet, as well as loungers and chairs on two levels; some chairs are near the water but more are up on a dune, a bit reserved from the ocean. There are umbrellas scattered among the chairs. During my visit, there were many hundreds of chairs and loungers left empty. Reports from the more recent Fantasy sailing were that some guests complained of a lack of seating. My educated guess is that there were enough chairs, but they may not have been located exactly where the guests wanted them. However, given that there was plenty of open beach space, this is an issue that could be resolved relatively easily. Lifeguards are stationed along the beach areas.

Snorkel rentals are available near the family beach near an area designated for snorkeling. Currently there are no Disney surprises like faux shipwrecks or buried treasures located in the water, likely due to the Bahamians’ desire to preserve the area’s natural beauty. I did not see any float or tube rentals, nor did I see any hammocks anywhere on the island. I have not heard anyone at DCL mention that any of these items are coming, but they may be planned for a later date.

I didn’t have much time for swimming, but I did make a point to wade in the water for several minutes. The temperature in June was absolute perfection. Overall the beach is the real showpiece of Lookout Cay. The sand is fine and easy to walk on. The water is a magnificent blue. Magnificent. The vistas are stunning. Seriously, the beach is divine.

Serenity Bay Beach and Cabanas

The Serenity Bay beach is basically an extension of the family beach, just keep walking to the far end of the family area and you’ll get there. On the beach side, the only demarcation between the family and Serenity areas was a set of traffic cones. On the deck side, there is just one small sign indicating that the area is for adults only. I didn’t see any kids in the Serenity area, but there weren’t a large number of children on my sailing. I assume that they will create more aggressive signage if children start to become a presence on the Serenity beach.

The Serenity Bay cabanas feel MUCH more public than the isolated Serenity Bay cabanas at Castaway Cay. This is essentially the opposite situation as the Family cabanas. The Lookout Cay version of adult cabanas are along one of the main walking paths. You will have people trekking past your cabana throughout the day.

Port Adventures

I did not have an opportunity to participate in any organized port adventures during this trip. Screenshots of the currently advertised Lookout Cay adventures area are below. Given that Lookout Cay is on an inhabited island, there may be a wider array of offerings in the future.

Bike Paths

As indicated on the map above, there are bike paths on the island. Guests are not yet able to access them.

There is a bike rental kiosk near the Goombay tram stop. Bikes were not yet available.

Nature Trail

Lookout Cay does include nature trails and wildlife discovery trails. These were not yet fully open at the time of my visit.

Accessibility on the Island

While the beach areas obviously have a sand surface, there are more concrete sidewalks and boardwalk-style decks connecting various areas of Lookout Cay than there are at Castaway Cay. Whether or not this is your stylistic preference, it does make this island somewhat more accessible via wheelchair or scooter (once you’re past the pier, of course). There are wonderful ramps that allow wheeled access down to the sand. Be aware, however, that currently some of those ramps go to areas of the beach without chairs or umbrellas.

Guest Services

Guest Services is located near the Goombay tram stop. This building includes a first aid station and a restroom with an adult-size changing table.

Guest Services building

Additional Information

In addition to all of the above, additional things we’ve learned are:

  • Currently, there is no 5K race. My educated guess is that this will happen eventually, but we don’t have confirmation.
  • I found my AT&T cell service to be excellent – much better than what I’ve experienced on Castaway Cay.
  • There are no play structures in the water. This is likely due to environmental concerns.
  • There are currently no dedicated land sports areas such as tetherball, basketball courts, or Gaga pits. There is plenty of room for DCL to erect something like volleyball or badminton nets, but they are not there now.
  • You’ll see that many of the photos, particularly those in areas traversed by the tram, look more barren and desert-like than you might expect. Many of the plantings in Lookout Cay are new. In several years, everything will be as green and lush as is it on Castaway Cay. In the meantime, expect that you’ll be in the sun – a lot.

What else do you want to know about Lookout Cay? Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Originally posted June 16, 2024. Updated July 1, 2024.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

3 thoughts on “An IN DEPTH Look at Disney Cruise Line’s NEW Private Island – Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point

  • I’d like to know a little bit more about the narration on the tram ride regarding the island inhabitants “Sandy” and the others. Is there a backstory to share?

    • I’m sure there is a backstory, but I’m not fully versed on what it is. I do know that the small metal sculptures of animals next to the Rush Out Gush Out area are supposed to represent the characters in the tram story. (See the crab sculpture photo above.) At this point the person I know who has spent the most time at Lookout Cay as a guest is Brian Flock of the DCL Duo podcast (dclduo.com), my guess is that if you reach out to him, he’ll have the scoop.

  • Disney should describe this as a Private Port. Not a whole island, but also more than “just a beach.”


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