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Sunday 19 May 2013

Paradise revisited: Castaway Island back in business

When Tropical Cyclone Evan hit the Fijian islands in December last year many of the smaller resorts were put out of business for several months as a result of the immense damaged sustained. 
After months of hard labour, Castaway Island - one of the worst-hit resorts - reopened "refreshed and enhanced". During the closure, all staff remained employed. All bures have now been re thatched and many have new ceilings and air-conditioning units. Many of the trees that were uprooted have been replaced and the tropical gardens have come back to life.

For anyone who has ever dreamt of spending time a tropical island paradise, Castaway is pretty much what you imagine. Set on 174 acres, privately-owned it is surrounded by amazingly warm and clean waters teaming with multi-coloured fish - but it is the genuinely warm welcome from the locals that makes this a very special place.

It’s one of the prettiest of the Mamanuca group of islands 30 kilometres from Nadi International airport and is reachable only by boat, seaplane or helicopter.

There are just 66 bures, built well apart from each other, made from local timbers with hand painted vaulted lined ceilings and traditional grass thatched roofs which complement the comfortable air-conditioned interiors.

There are plenty of options when it comes to activities; from lazing in a hammock or enjoying a massage to snorkeling the coral reefs, windsurfing, kayaking, para sailing, catamaran sailing, water skiing or diving. There is a kids club to keep younger visitors fully occupied. 

And - unlike on so many island resorts - the food is not a constant regurgitation of uninspired buffets.

Lance Seeto, the executive chef, is one of those lifting the standards of Fijian cuisine by using traditional local foods alongside western techniques, utilising ingredients like spiny rock lobsters that are caught in an underwater cave just off the resort. Look for dishes like wild goat curry, otta miti (local bush ferns in fresh coconut salsa), or dishes using cassava, dalo (taro stems), breadfruit, sweet potato and other root vegetables, or maybe delicious lomo lemongrass vuaka (suckling pig cooked in an oven pit with roasted kumara).

Castaway Island: +679 666 1233.

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