Castaway Island, Fiji, Review
The Elevator Pitch
A family holiday in paradise… with quite a few other families. Don’t worry, the island is large enough to elude to the feeling of a private escape. With sixty Fijian style bures, some with he sound of water lapping outside onto white sand, others with the sounds of the garden and floral smells to wake up to, this really is a little island paradise.
Arrive with a regular smile, leave with a Fijian one.
Who doesn’t like being welcomed by their own singing, dancing band serenading them with a three-part harmony… If only we could arrive home like this every day of our lives! Just don’t return to the shores when the next guests arrive as it might take a bit of the shine and self-indulgence away from the experience.
There is a refreshing juice and cold towel on arrival. The reception is part of a larger bure that also houses the main dining area. You get the feeling very promptly that this place is for families rather than couples. Which was fine with us as we had two kids in tow.
The bures are spacious and the ceilings are hand painted in a traditional Fijian style. The king bed can be separated from the kids beds with a sliding privacy screen. The bathroom is well appointed. We found it really easy to keep our room tidy, which is often difficult in cramped holiday spaces, there was definitely enough to room to swing a sarong quite comfortably. There is a fridge, fan and air conditioning to take the edge off the island heat.
Leisure & Activities
There is a complimentary Kids Club for over 3 year olds, which is a massive draw card for parents. OK let’s call it what it is – an Ace up the sleeve or a royal flush. My husband and I were delighted until we found out that our children were too young. It was OK though we managed to wrangle some private babysitters.
Times of opening for the Kids Club are 9am-4.30pm so you can enjoy the day with your significant other and 6.30-10.30pm so you can have a romantic dinner that does not entail wiping pasta sauce off anyone’s chin (depending on how many cocktails your partner has had). Kids will enjoy activities like snorkel lessons, drum playing, ice cream eating competitions and crab hunting.
There is a pool for every occasion, and the best one of all is the ocean. There is a pool with a funky swim up bar, The Malua Pool, and hence it also the kid free pool. However no one really adheres to the rule and you can often find kids lurking in there.
To be honest we didn’t have high hopes for the snorkeling, we had heard plenty about the degradation of the coral in Fiji and the snorkeling from the beach is pretty uninspiring, unless you have a real penchant for sea cucumbers. So we decided to get all Jacques Cousteau grab some paddleboards, snorkels and head out into the great unknown, alright just past the coral reef, we could still actually see our bure from the pontoon we tied up to.
We jumped off the platform in to the crystal clear water and were beyond pleasantly surprised. I saw a giant Parrotfish, though my fish knowledge is not that astounding, it could have been a Peacock fish, all I am 100% sure of is that it was beautiful. There were plenty of other fish to keep us occupied and the time flew by on our private snorkeling expedition.
The glass bottom boat reconfirmed that there was still plenty to see above the sea as well as below the sea. Various scuba diving options are also available as are banana boat rides, deep-sea fishing, volley ball, tennis, walking tracks, barefoot boxing, cooking classes and kayaking. Or perhaps you would prefer to just chill out languidly on one of the many hammocks that adorn the island.
There is a lovely little spa bure for a traditional Fijian massage or you can splash out and ask for one on the beach.
Meet The Family
They do actually call the staff ‘the family’ at Castaway. Saying that the people are warm is an understatement. Castaway is a boiling Jacuzzi of lovely personalities. It is what Fiji is famous for – the beautiful people, with mammoth smiles that could melt an iceberg and Castaway does not disappoint.
Look it is Fiji, hence you are operating on Fiji or island time, you do get used to it, but to be honest Castaway is one of my more efficient run-ins with Fiji time. Everyone at reception was very helpful with organizing our ferries and activities and island time was not an issue at all.
The Castaway family appreciate the beauty they have been bestowed with and take numerous measures to sustain the environment, particularly as it relates to tourism development. Many other island nations that I have visited are not so diligent and I applaud their respect for the their surroundings.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
There are a few dining options at Castaway. The Water’s Edge Restaurant buffet is extensive and I understand that it definitely serves a purpose. It is probably best for kids and families as kids can be particular with what they want to eat and it can change daily. The food was pretty good, but for me personally there is a certain lustre taken away from the lunch experience when you are fighting for the last prawn with a twelve-year old. Everything is re-stocked pretty quickly, but it does change the ambience somewhat. In case you were wondering, the twelve-year old won.
At dinner the kids often disappear back to kids club at 6.30pm so it is best to wait till then to enjoy some relaxing dining. There is also an a la carte modern Fijian option including chilli prawns, calamari, rice paper rolls and bakery treats made by the island’s award winning chef.
Restaurant 1808 has also amassed some awards, it uses local organic produce to create its’ Fijian Asian cuisine and unique outdoor dining experience. The upstairs Sundowner wood fired pizza bar feels a little more quaint and cute, you can also take your pizza down to the beach to watch the sunset on the sand. The Nuku Marau family pool area has some good lunch basics including burgers and sushi.
Let’s Step Outside
If you have the time get on a ferry to the Yasawa Islands, please do. Think of the Blue Lagoon movie and replace Brooke Shields or Christopher Atkins with yourself as this is where the movie was filmed. The water is crystal clear and the perfect temperature to swim in all day. We took a smaller boat to visit the Sawa-i-Lau Caves. This is a truly remarkable natural wonder with Limestone caves, natural skylights in the roof, azure waters and iridescent green algae casting Monet like paintings on its’ walls. It feels like you have stumbled upon a rare gem on a remote little island. While you are approaching or leaving the caves you might even get to enjoy your very own pristine beach with no one else on it.
It is always fun to experience a traditional kava ceremony in Fiji. The strange muddy water is an absolute delicacy in these parts, it is often offered as a gift. There is a lot of clapping, numb lips and a funny little buzz. Ask reception and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
You can have a champagne picnic on the beautiful neighbouring uninhabited Modriki Isand, where Castaway starring Tom hanks was filmed.
The world famous Surf Break ‘Cloud Break’ is just around the corner and you can check it out with a very reasonably priced boat. While the world tour no longer stops here, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is one of the top surf spots on the globe.
I believe the islands in Fiji have a lot more to offer than the mainland, having said that diving with Tiger and Bull sharks just off Pacific Harbour was simultaneously incredible and terrifying. The crazy guides hand feed the huge sharks with their ‘hands’! It really is something quite spectacular to behold. These massive maneaters are very impressive to watch through the water, I don’t think I needed my scuba equipment as I am pretty sure that I didn’t breathe throughout the whole experience. The mainland also offers, among other things, Zip lining through the treetops and trekking to pretty waterfalls.
Show Me The Money
Castaway will set you back about $600AUD per night. The ‘family’ have managed to pack plenty of awards under their belts over the last 50 years, including: Best Overseas Family Holiday, Luxury Travel Magazine; Top 10 Best Family Hotels in Fiji, Trip Advisor; and numerous National Tourism Awards. Celebrities who have pounded the sand here include Aussie swimmer Geoff Huegill.
Set A Date
Located in the Mamanuca group of islands, the weather is pretty good all year round, however cyclone season is said to be from November to April. The Musket Cove Regatta is in early September, which can be a great time to visit, as it is just a couple of islands away.
Some of the pools were actually really cold, which we weren’t expecting. I like a refreshing swim in tropical paradise as much the next person, but this was a little too refreshing.
The nannies spent a lot of time putting the kids to sleep, which would normally be great, but it would have been nice if they spent more time playing with them so they could enjoy the beaches and scenery.
The Mamanuca Environment Society run turtle conservation and waste management projects.
Addressing awareness for violence against women and children in Fiji.
To see more images of this beautiful resort visit our Discovery section by clicking below.