Mention Castaway Island and most people think of the movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks. However, there are two major differences between the movie which was shot on location in Fiji and Castaway Island Resort. Cast Away wasn’t filmed at the island known as Castaway. Most of the action took place on nearby Modriki Island, a small atoll that is a 20 minute speed boat ride from the resort. And, unlike Tom Hanks, you won’t be in any hurry to leave Castaway Island Resort. Our family did see a few couples during our stay however this resort really is ideally suited to families. With a fabulous kids club, a friendly, casual Fijian vibe and plenty of other children for your kids to play with, it is pretty much heaven on earth when you’re a parent. Here are our tips to help you get the most out of your stay at Castaway Island Resort.
How to choose your Castaway Island Resort bure
It’s worth knowing that all of the bures (except for the family one) are the same inside and very roomy with a minimum of two beds/couches in one room and a king size bed in the other. A sliding divider separates the two rooms which provides some privacy for parents.
Budget: Castaway Island Bures
These bures are scattered throughout the inner part of the island and most of them are surrounded by native vegetation. Officially these bures don’t have ocean views but if you are lucky, you might get one of the few with attractive ‘ocean glimpses’. As is the case at almost every hotel, some rooms are better than others. We thought a couple of the Island Bures near the main beach could almost be classed as Ocean View but what you get comes down to luck. As I mentioned above, these bures are exactly the same inside as the most expensive Beachfront ones so they are certainly a great deal from that perspective if money is tight and you don’t want to splash out on an ocean view.
Midprice: Castaway Ocean View Bures
You might think it is crazy of me to say the mid-price room is actually better but this is something our whole family agreed on. You still get generous ocean views between the other bures and because this accommodation is set back from the beach. If the weather isn’t the best you are protected from the elements too. Even on one extremely windy day, we weren’t bothered by the wind at all on our balcony. Also, if you do want to go and enjoy the hammocks near the Beachfront Bures, there is no problem. These along with the sun loungers are available for everyone to use.
Splurge: Castaway Beachfront Bures
Beachfront Bures are down near the water and have stunning uninterrupted ocean views. However, when it gets windy the bures on the ‘windy’ side of the island are quite exposed which means it’s not very comfortable to sit outside on the patio (you would almost get blown away!). There are also Beachfront Bures on the other side of the island which aren’t exposed to the wind but these overlook the main swimming and snorkelling beach. They are not as private as those on the other side of the island but if you have young children you can watch them playing on the beach from the outdoor sitting area.
This is brilliant if your little ones can’t get enough of playing in the sand. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t windy at all the last time I visited Castaway. For this reason, if I was going to stay in a Beachfront Bure, I would be inclined to request one away from the main beach as there is a little more privacy over this side of the island. As you can see from the photo below, it is really beautiful despite the wind.
Castaway Island Resort Kids Club
Our 11 year old took one look at ‘all the little kids’ and said there was ‘no way he was going to kids club’, despite the fact it looked like everyone was having fun. However, after attending a few of the resort activities which are aimed at all ages but run by the kids club team, he was won over by the friendly, enthusiastic staff. We joined in with the other guests and their kids and made Fijian bookmarks and joined a game of rugby which was open to all ages. During these activities the staff encouraged our son to ‘give the kids club a try’ that night and after that he was hooked.
Particularly during the night time program, the children are divided into multiple older and younger groups. Our son loved hanging out with kids his own age and had an absolute ball running around and playing games. You won’t find an Xbox or Playstation at this kids club, something parents (and ultimately also their children) really love. Younger children love every minute of the kids club program. In fact, we overheard parents joking that they had to put their foot down and insist on some family time as their children would have spent the entire day (and night) at kids club if they let them. If your children are older, the night time program is a real winner. Even if your kids think they’re ‘too old for kids club’, encourage them to go along and give it a go. Older kids can sign themselves out of the program (with parental permission) which worked well for our family. Our son could go along to kids club for an hour or so and then come and find us whenever he wanted to. It is almost impossible to lose each other as the island is compact.
Castaway Island Resort dining
Our package included breakfast which was great but meant that buying a full meal plan wasn’t going to be an option for us. This concerned us at first as we had heard stories about the cost of dining out in Fiji and how families in particular should definitely pay for a meal plan. We were apprehensive about blowing our budget, especially with a hungry pre-teen boy in tow, however we quickly discovered there was nothing to be concerned about.
As much of the produce used on the island is organic, even the simplest dishes tasted fantastic. Breakfast was plentiful and delicious and could almost see you through until dinner. Along with the usual eggs-made-to-order, bacon, muffins and fruit there were organic Fijian bananas, delicious rambutans from a market garden and hot Fijian speciality dishes every day, all of it served with a smile.
We had lunch at Sundowner Pizza Bar & Grill most days as the wood-fired Hawaiian pizza was made with freshly cut pineapple and tasted fantastic. One regular sized pizza and a kids pizza was more than enough for the three of us. Food prices at the resort were generally in line with what you would expect to pay in Australia and servings were generous. We didn’t spend any more than we would have at a mid-priced Australian resort.
We enjoyed an a-la-carte dinner at the Water’s Edge Restaurant on all three nights. On our final night the signature menu from Restaurant 1808, the restaurant where Chinese and Fijian cuisine is blended to high acclaim. Usually Restaurant 1808 is run as a separate outdoor venue but the windy conditions prevented it from opening on all of the nights we were there. It’s worth noting that Castaway Island Resort specialises in catering for special dietary requirements.
Luckily we do not have any food allergies but if this is a concern for your family, you should definitely consider making this resort your first choice. Our friends have a child with life-threatening food allergies and they holiday here each year. It’s one of the few places they can go without having to worry at all about the food. Speaking of health issues, Castaway has an on-site nurse so if your child does come down with something like an ear infection there is immediate help available. I can think of a few trips in the past when I would have given pretty much anything for this service.
Castaway Island Resort activities
There are two different pools to choose from at Castaway. One is a dedicated kids pool which is quite shallow at one end with a couple of water fountains to play in. Here you and your kids can have as much crazy fun as you want without having to worry about annoying anyone. There is also a ‘serenity pool’ which isn’t strictly ‘no kids allowed’ but parents are encouraged ensure the serene nature of the pool is maintained. This worked well for the majority of the time although some parents did get a bit lax. I guess everyone has a different concept of ‘serene’ when it comes to children.
Non-motorised activities such as kayaks are free to use and so is the snorkeling gear. We didn’t have high hopes for the snorkeling as on previous trips to Fiji it has been lacklustre. However, the ‘house reef’ just off the beach at Castaway is excellent, particularly if you walk past the rocky outcrop on the right hand side of the main beach and snorkel off the adjacent beach around the corner.
We did a lot of snorkelling around this area as a family and were blown away by the quality of the coral and the amount of fish. We saw several species that we had never come across before and the visibility was fabulous, particularly when the sun was out which was every day. If you are snorkelling with children it is great being able to access good snorkelling from the beach as it is much easier for youngsters and/or beginners to master getting in the water from here rather than trying to get on and off a snorkel boat.
My husband and I also did a snorkel trip out to the Castaway drop-off, a deep water reef located a 10 minute boat ride from the resort while our son played with his friends at the kids club. No one else was booked on the tour but they took us out anyway at no extra charge. We felt like rock stars with our own private boat and enjoyed the chance to snorkel together in deep water without having to worry about our son. Much to our surprise (and delight), this turned out to be one of the best snorkelling trips we have done. We are keen snorkelers from Queensland, home of the Great Barrier Reef, so this is really saying a lot. We also thought the trip was well-priced at A$28 per person. If you are after a family getaway with a Fijian flavour where you can do as much or as little as you like, Castaway Island Resort is hard to beat. We are already planning our return visit.
Disclosure: The writer won her three night stay at Castaway Island Resort for ‘Best Family Travel Story’ at the Australian Society of Travel Writers’ Awards for Excellence.
If you’re heading to Fiji on holiday, check out our tips for choosing the perfect Fiji holiday, our suggestions for getting around Fiji without spending a fortune, and our reviews of Cloud 9, Outrigger on the Lagoon, the Sheraton Fiji at Denarau, and the ultra luxe Likuliku Lagoon Resort.