Disney Allegedly Evaluating the Bahamas’ Egg Island for Potential Development

UPDATE: Disney closes the door on Egg Island following impact studies.

Reports streaming out of Eleuthera, Bahamas strongly suggest Disney Cruise Line may lease Egg Island from the Bahamian Government for future development as a cruise port.

Egg Island is a small island with two internal bodies of water at the end of a string of small islands extending west from the northern end of Eleuthera Island in The Bahamas. The island features two lagoons in the centerand over 3,000 lineal feet of beaches. Egg Island is located about 50 nautical miles southeast of Disney’s Castaway Cay and approximately 35 nautical miles northeast of Nassau.

Florida Cruise Ports Castaway Cay Egg Island Map

As the story goes, the island received the name due the its inhabitants, chickens, which became a provision stop for sailors looking to stock up on eggs. One scholar, Arne B. Molander, suggested Columbus made landfall at the northern tip of Eleuthera, possibly at offshore Egg Island. Off Egg Island lies the wreck of the Arimoroa, a 260 ft freighter.

This idea of a new private island for DCL first surfaced last summer leading up to the Disney’s D23 Expo. There was a rumor floating around of a ship announcement and a new island, but nothing other than a Disney Infinity virtual ship and island was announced during the expo.

Fast forward to March 2016, when Iger made the announcement of two additional cruise ships. Ok, maybe that original D23 rumor had some legs. Then in early June, DisneyAtWork.com (link does NOT work – article was pulled) published a story based on information from sources that Disney was or has purchased Egg Island. This article was short lived, as I suspect the Jeff Kober may have been asked to remove the story based on his former Disney ties. I sent him an email earlier this week to inquire what happened to the article, but it was the first that has gone unanswered regarding Egg Island. Jeff responded to let me know that he stands by the original story and he was NOT asked to remove the article, it was crashing his server.

Then, first thing on Monday morning I read an article from The Eleuthera News about core samples being taken from an area just off the shores of Egg Island and learned about a petition, started by Spanish Wells resident, Holly Peel, which at the time of publication has exceeded 2000 supporters all wanting to stop Disney and Save Egg Island.

Ok, there must be something brewing if local residents are connecting Disney to the project so I proceeded to spent more time than I’d like to admit researching the developments and Egg Island. I sent emails to the a few people including the addresses listed on the petition, but as of now those remain unanswered. I could not find the smoking gun connecting Disney to Egg Island other than a word of mouth conversation shared in the Facebook posts embedded below.

According to the petition, Egg Island’s natural beauty has been enjoyed by generations and is of great ecological significance to not only the communities of North Eleuthera and Spanish Wells, but to the Bahamas has a whole. Egg Island boasts several ecosystems including mangroves, coral reefs, salt ponds, rocky shoreline and beach. Egg island is known for having a sustainable grouper spawning aggregation, of which there are few left in the Bahamas. The endangered sea turtles are well known to nest on egg island beach, endangered shore birds nest there and the juvenile conch are maturing in safety.

Below is a video of Egg Island posted in support of the Save Egg Island movement.

Frankly, when DisneyAtWork.com story broke in June I quickly dismissed the idea after a brief bit of research where I found a couple development plans for Egg Island.

Egg Island Golf and Yacht Club

The first was the Egg Island Golf and Yacht Club that was mentioned in a 2004 article. The development plan included a golf course, tennis courts, yacht charter service, villas, estate lots with yacht berths, 50′ to 350′ yacht berths, provisioning facilities, heliport and a spa.

Egg Island Golf Course Yacht Club Sm

Sapphire Cay

My search also turned up plans from around 2011 to develop Egg Island into Sapphire Caya master planned community that reflects relaxed island living at it’s finest. Following the philosophy of The New Luxury, the island is focused on providing an environment appropriate to today’s discriminating resident. The project consists of 216 lots, of which 183 are waterfront, 97 villas planned for direct sale, a small marina focused on yachts up to 65 feet, a large marina focused on large yachts up to 220 feet and the 21 room Sand Dollar Beach boutique resort hotel. Supporting amenities include an extensive private club (The Sapphire Club), harbor and marina facilities, restaurants, bars, shops and other necessities and features required for island living. Here is a 48-page master plan for Sapphire Cay if you are interested.

Sapphire Cay 2011 Conceptual Master Plan

I did email both parties to see if plans were still in development, but once again, just like my emails to DCL, they went unanswered. Based on these two findings, I honestly didn’t think this was a story. Clearly I was wrong. Although, one thing I could not dig up were any stories of the locals protesting these development plans on Egg Island. If you know of any please let me know.

It was only a matter of time and Xian Smith, a business reporter for the Nassau Guardian reported on Tuesday that Disney does have plans to develop Egg Island per a government source. The report revealed that a temporary business license certificate was issued to Orlando’s Universal Engineering Sciences for the period of May 24 – July 28, 2016.

We don’t know much, but we do know: 1) This equipment arrived on Spanish Wells on May 12th, 2016 arrived via regular freight boat. 2) The Temporary Business License was granted to a property listed as 5th Street, Spanish Wells on May 24, 2016. 3) Equipment sat on the PUBLIC dock until June, 23rd 2016 4) Universal Engineering Sciences, Inc is a FOREIGN COMPANY based out of Orlando. The equipment arrived prior to the Business License being approved. These are facts. WHY DID THE COMMUNITY KNOW NOTHING? WE ONLY GOT WIND OF THIS BECAUSE WE SAW THE EQUIPMENT!! #saveeggisland #stopdisney #saveourislands #thebahamas #eleutherabahamas #drilling #coraldrilling #savethecoral #savetheenvironment #savetheecosystem

A photo posted by Eleuthera, The Bahamas (@saveeggisland) on


The core sampling seems to indicate preliminary testing of the sea bed for a potential dredging work to allow for a pier.

According to another report from the Miami HeraldEgg island is owned by the Bahamian government but had been leased to the pioneering Higgs family, said Spanish Wells Deputy Chief Councilor Robert Roberts. Local families for generations have used it, erecting small beach shacks for parties and spending summer vacations on the island, said Roberts, who speculated the island’s deepwater access drew the cruise line. When the Higgs family patriarch died, the lease returned to the government, Roberts said. It’s not clear if the family or the office of Prime Minister Perry Christie has been negotiating with Disney.

The Miami Herald article has provided the most concrete link to Disney as it directly mentions a meeting between Spanish Wells Chief Councilor Roberts and Chris Lowe, Disney’s director of global development and public affairs. Roberts said the executive wanted to wait for sampling results before providing more information.

“We know it’s going to be a cruise ship terminal port. He says they just do not know exactly how they’re going to go about it until they have the core reports,” Roberts said. “They have a layout in mind on the island, but they don’t know if they have a plan for where to put berthing or how much dredging to do.”

Disney has yet to make any public comment on these developments except for a “we do not comment on speculation” reply in the Miami Herald article.

The following Google Earth images show Egg Island over the years, starting with 2004. This was around the time of the Egg Island Golf and Yacht Club plans.
Egg Island Google Earth April 2004

Egg Island – April 2004

Egg Island Google Earth March 2010

Egg Island – March 2010

Over the 10-year period Egg Island remained relatively the same, at least based on this available imagery. It wasn’t until the late 2014 imagery where what appears to be lot lines were cut into the trees.

Egg Island Google Earth October 2014

Egg Island – October 2014

Egg Island Google Earth October 2014 Lot Lines

Egg Island – October 2014 – Lot Lines

So there you have it. I imagine if Disney had absolutely nothing to do with Egg Island, they may have issued a statement to the Miami Herald rather than the no comment. There is clearly something going on at this point even if it is just exploratory.

It will be interesting to see this play out as the Spanish Wells residents and others in the area do not seem pleased as it would mean this island will become off limits just as Gorda Cay became after it became Castaway Cay.

The Bahamas National Trust issued the following statement on Egg Island.

UPDATE: Prime Minister Perry Christie Confirms Talks with Disney Cruise Line

The Tribune242 has a report based on a conversation between the host of the 7/20/16 5:30 PM Ed Fields Live radio talk show and Prime Minster Perry Christine. During the talk show the Prime Minister confirmed to Fields that his administration has had preliminary talks with Disney Cruise Line and local administrators in Eleuthera, with all sides agreeing that impact assessment studies must come first. Furthermore, PM Christie noted that no deals have been signed at this time to construct a cruise port on Egg Island. However, he did say his Cabinet would NOT sign off on any plan without the relevant assessments being done.

Random Thought

At one point while researching Egg Island and seeing the Sapphire Cay plan, I considered the possibility of Disney building a Disney Vacation Club resort along the lines of Aulani on Egg Island and using a classic ship as a ferry for guest who could get a short cruise coupled with an island vacation.

I’d love to hear your comments on Disney potential development and long term leasing of Egg Island. Are you all for another private island or do are you signing the petition?

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41 thoughts on “Disney Allegedly Evaluating the Bahamas’ Egg Island for Potential Development

  1. Bill B

    I can see Disney developing an island in the area that would eventually replace Nassau as a port of call. The crime in Nassau continues to be a problem but the main reason to develop a destination island is to keep all the profits. Hotels, restaurants, excursions (dolphin swim, fishing, scuba diving, water park, etc) could all be either owned by Disney or leased out like is done in Disney Springs. Once fully developed, I can even see Disney allowing other cruise ships to dock at this island. I would welcome this port of call instead of Nassau.

    Reply
    1. Laribrook

      I completely agree. I don’t know why they don’t already pull Nassau and have two days at castaway cay. If they did that the 4 day cruise would be even more popular. Most tourists are not at all interested in Nassau. It could give them flexibility to have two ships docked at private islands. Esp when the new ships are done. This is what Disney did in FL as well – create his own town essentially, where he can control all variables fur the visitor, not just from a profit stand point, but from achieving the perfect tourist destination stand point.

      Reply
      1. Will East

        I am scheduled to be in Nassau in a few weeks. This is the part of the cruise that, when I think about it, sours the Bahama cruise experience for me. Unfortunately, I have family members who do like Atlantis. My initial thought is the more Disney can take ownership of (hotel, food, etc.) the more assurance we as tourists would have concerning quality. I’m not saying Disney is perfect but the alternative, in my mind now, is careless service and potentially life endangering food handling coming out of the likes of Nassau.

        Reply
      2. Jon

        DELIGHTED to read many many other folks that do not like Nassau!!!! The first time it was sort of looking around and then walking some streets … then wondering why we were here. The second times was to get off the boat for an hour so the GRANDchildren could say they had been “to the Bahamas”. Third time was to rush to a place because we NEEDED to get home – the locals could have cared less – and Disney did LITTLE to help. The next times – we just stayed on the boat. Disney actually does not “own” Castaway Cay – it is a long term lease where the Bahama still gets money. With current and future ships – Disney must do something to insure maximizing DIS revenue.

        Reply
    2. MichLW

      I was thinking the same thing. Nassau is just becoming gross and no one wants to get off the ship there. DCL needs a new port for the Bahamas cruise.

      Reply
  2. Adam

    If this is true, I wonder if Disney would keep both islands or change over to the new one? With two more ships I wonder if they need more space

    Reply
      1. Jan Hollis

        Check out the Guana Cay Abaco debacle. Disney abandoned the island after it was operational because they couldnt keep up with moving sand and dredging. Walked away from it after introducing non native insects to the island on the landscaping. Literally walked away leaving the garbage. Its a mess. Check out the fb page Stop Disney from Purchasing Egg Island for full story

        Reply
        1. joh macallister

          Debacle is an interesting word. Did the Bahama government act? OOPS – silly question. DIS will do what is in their interest … and that includes their smart lawyers insuring that stockholder interests come first. My take was that the “gvmt” was just delighted to have Disney give them some money to “work” on your Guana Cay … and had nothing to insure that Disney did/acted in a way that was of mutual benefit, OOPS – wonder way government does not act that way when the money of Disney come calling.

          Reply
    1. James a

      Castaway cay is already has a ship docked most days during the summer. With 2 more ships coming online, I can can see DCL running both non stop during the summer.

      Reply
  3. Wes

    Great investigative work! The evidence suggests that Disney is at least kicking the tires on a new private island! Very exciting!

    Reply
  4. Kathy

    How can I get a job shopping for a private island in the Bahamas? It is always very interesting how Disney goes about things. Thanks Scott, great job!

    Reply
  5. Darth Ricardo

    Someone else mentioned this at DIS – Maybe DVC? One way trips with DCL? Even with 6 ships, why would you need a second island?

    Reply
  6. Lacey Bean

    I feel for the local residents who have a history with the place. I especially would be concerned if there truly is so much endangered wildlife that finds its home on the island. Selfishly though, I’d love an additional private island by Disney. Castaway is by far my favorite port!

    Reply
    1. saveeggisland

      @saveeggisland on instagram and twitter. you will learn all that you need to know and understand why Disney shouldnt buy Egg Island

      Reply
    2. Jan Hollis

      Come experience the true Bahamian out islands not the Disneyfied caricature of it. It will blow you away! Tourists come to Spanish Wells because it is special with spectacular reefs to snorkle and dive.

      Reply
  7. Damo

    So much for caring for wildlife and the envoirment I think earth day that Disney still boast about is a load of crap if this was the Great Barrier Reef the world would be up in arms!!!!! Protect what we have before Disney kill yet another reef system to further there greed
    Shame on dcl the so called most magical place on earth!!!!!! The only magic you create is harm and greed and destruction!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  8. Jan Hollis

    Egg Island is 12 acres not 120 acres as stated. It is a pristine marine and bird breeding ground with a salt pond that Disney intends breaking through on both sides. It is a turtle nesting site and home to many species of juvenile fish. Healthy corals grow here. Seriously? Hasn’t Disney caused enough devastation with Castaway Cay? Marine life will never be the same there. Have you seen what they left in Guana Cay Abaco when it didnt work out there? Check out fb page Stop Disney Purchasing Egg Island to get the full story. And if that doesnt make you want to sign the online petition you are heartless.

    Reply
    1. Ron Forgnoni

      Disney isn’t the only cruise line “decimating your islands, what about MSCs new port of call opening in November 2017 and all the others? Beach fronts and islands throughout the world are being developed for the good of the many. Nothing stays the same forever unfortunately for the locals everywhere.

      Reply
      1. A

        The Bahamas does not need foreign companies buying/leasing our land, taking from the Bahamians and the marine life. By Disney buying this land the locals who are accustomed to enjoying the beauty of it will no longer be able to. We will be striped of all access to the land just like we were castaway cay!! Surrounding coral reefs that the locals depend on for a living, that the ecosystem depends on for reproducing will be destroyed! Now we must pay Disney money to use what is rightfully ours, money, that very little if any at all, does not even go back into the Bahamas economy. They employ very few if any Bahamians. They will be stopped. This isnt soley about Egg Island it is also about us as Bahamians protecting our land from other mega companies and future developments that will hurt our ecosystem and take away from the people!!!

        Reply
        1. Joa

          I won’t pretend to know the full facts, but I can tell you that when we dock at CC, Bahamians do come over to run the water activities.
          I’m guessing as well that every time the ship docks in Nassau, plenty of people get off and spend their money there … that surely helps your economy? Would tourism not be the Bahamas biggest industry?
          I’m not saying everything is perfect, far from it. But to argue a point, you must be in full control of the facts and I’m not sure you are.
          If Disney leases the land like it does for CC, that money goes directly back to the Bahamas (unless some official person squirrels it away somewhere of course).
          With all controversial decisions, comes a compromise somewhere and I just hope one can be reached for everyone.
          Joa

          Reply
        2. CindyC

          Disney Cruise lines would ruin what Egg Island is, habitat for sea life, corals, fish (irony is they rely on the fishes and conch that this island is key for), sea turtles etc.
          And ruin what Eleuthera and Spanish Wells are and have: friendly people, beautiful uncrowded beaches, delicious fresh fruits and seafood, like minded visitors that don’t trash the beaches, or are disrespectful, loud and obnoxious and inconsiderate, much less the destruction the big ships would do. If you want to visit any of the out islands, including Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, book a trip with family and friends for a lovely week or more for a vacation where you can rent a lovely home, explore, swim, snorkel, enjoy starry skies at night, food, uncrowded beaches. You can fly into Nassau and take the fast ferry (Bo Hingy II) for a lovely trip to Spanish Wells (about 2-2 1/2 hrs depending on weather and tides) then taxi boat to North Eleuthera, have rental car waiting, or pickup, or fly directly to Eleuthera, there are 3 airports (small yes). I don’t understand the mentality of people wanting to take over, with crowds, we don’t need these islands to turn into tacky Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach, etc.

          Reply
  9. Disney Lover

    I would love to see another private island owned by Disney. This makes me wonder if the new ships are going to be Caribbean based. I remember a past post where we thought that they would move to more spread out locations. But with the addition of a second island, Disney might Best, going more Caribbean based.

    Reply
  10. RichG

    I definitely agree with the two main scenarios- an island resort like the one in Hawaii as Scott said or that Disney plans to have all 6 ships in the Caribbean during peak times and would need more space than just Castaway.

    Reply
  11. paulm4031

    I know the new ships are meant to be close in size to the Dream class, but my first thought is what if they are too large for Castaway Cay and Disney doesn’t want to increase the dock/dredge again?

    Reply
  12. Joa

    I think at least one of the new ships will be in Asia … makes much more sense seen as they have 3 resorts over that way now and that market is huge!

    I would be in two minds about a new island, especially regarding the destruction that building causes. I live in a village in England that has a rare species of lizard and new buildings have almost decimated the species (it’s a protected species too). But I also recognise that infrastructure brings money to the local area, jobs and controlled conservation.

    I don’t think by not signing it makes people heartless as has been suggested here, that’s just a rude assumption based on emotions. People will make their own decisions based on the info given … read the FB page for Save Egg Island and you’ll get one side of the story. Read DCL’s version (when and if released) and that’s the other side. Somewhere in the middle is where the truth is I guess.

    Reply
  13. Wendy

    I know people complain about weather keeping the ships from docking at Castaway sometimes…would this location be in a spot where they might be able to reduce the times they cannot dock?

    Reply
  14. Bill B

    Since Egg Island is only 12 acres and Castaway Cay is 1000 acres (only 55 are developed), I can see Disney making Egg Island a private Disney destination much as Castaway Cay is today and then develop Castaway Cay into a resort area to replace Nassau as one of their cruise ship stops.

    Reply
  15. John Jenkjns

    I hope Disney buy the island and turn it into a DVC resort island as I will then finally purchased DVC no matter what the cost. Exciting times.

    Reply
  16. Frank B

    No Egg Island for Disney. Yaaaaa!!!!! A great victory for the Island of Eleuthera and surrounding Islands and its people. We do not want our environment destroyed.

    Reply
  17. CindyC

    Happiness Disney officially canceled purchase of Egg Island, thank you Holly Peel and all of us that signed petition!!!
    Disney Cruise lines would ruin what Egg Island is, habitat for sea life, corals, fish (irony is they rely on the fishes and conch that this island is key for), sea turtles etc.
    And ruin what Eleuthera and Spanish Wells are and have: friendly people, beautiful uncrowded beaches, delicious fresh fruits and seafood, like minded visitors that don’t trash the beaches, or are disrespectful, loud and obnoxious and inconsiderate, much less the destruction the big ships would do. If you want to visit any of the out islands, including Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, book a trip with family and friends for a lovely week or more for a vacation where you can rent a lovely home, explore, swim, snorkel, enjoy starry skies at night, food, uncrowded beaches. You can fly into Nassau and take the fast ferry (Bo Hingy II) for a lovely trip to Spanish Wells (about 2-2 1/2 hrs depending on weather and tides) then taxi boat to North Eleuthera, have rental car waiting, or pickup, or fly directly to Eleuthera, there are 3 airports (small yes). I don’t understand the mentality of people wanting to take over, with crowds, we don’t need these islands to turn into tacky Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach, etc.
    The locals do not want their islands ruined by obnoxious inconsiderate loud mouthed people and overcrowds. The locals do very well as it is now. Again, if you want to visit, check out VRBO, HomeAway, there are many lovely homes to rent, and resorts, condos. Book a trip with your family or friends, or both, and come and enjoy the non tacky, overcrowded touron mentality.

    Reply
    1. Joa

      ‘visitors that don’t trash the beaches, or are disrespectful, loud and obnoxious and inconsiderate’
      ‘The locals do not want their islands ruined by obnoxious inconsiderate loud mouthed people’

      If you’re a local, or even trying to promote the islands, I would give it up as a bad job now. Calling people obnoxious, loud mouthed and all of the other slanderous words you use doesn’t make anyone want to visit. It would, I guess, do the exact opposite as people do not expect to be offended by those who don’t know them.

      Let’s hope that the Bahamas has better, kinder and more polite people running their Tourist Board!

      Reply

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