Place of connection
Our ferry glides into the crystalclear waters and we are met with a postcard panorama of paradise: the palm trees are swaying, the sun is shining, and the beach is so white it’s almost blinding. Beaming Fijian staff members dressed in all the colours of the rainbow are lined up on the shores clapping, singing, waving and strumming guitars.
“Bula! Welcome to Castaway!” they holler in unison as our small group steps off the boat laughing and smiling – their energy is positively contagious. Digging my toes into the sand I am greeted with a lei, a handshake and a warm “welcome home”. Ushered into The Water’s Edge Restaurant, I am met with a platter of fruit – and an even fruitier cocktail – and told to “relax and feel the sunshine for a moment”. I don’t have to be told twice. With luggage in hand and still dressed in the outfit I wore on my flight, I’m stretched out and settling into the slower paced island life.
I’m escorted to my room by yet another smiling face and every passerby on the way stops to chat with me – and not just the staff, but the other guests too. I almost trip over my own feet as a young girl darts between my legs, tugs on my pants and whispers “Bula!” before disappearing into the pool area.
Accommodation options include beachfront, family, island and ocean view bures – all traditionally inspired, spacious and stylish – and all with small details of Fijian charm, such as the thatched roofs and rattan interiors.
The original name of Castaway Island – Qalito – means “place of connection” and this adage still rings true 50 years later. With no television, no phone and no room service, it’s just Fiji and your family to keep you company, but in the best way possible.
The warmest of ‘Bulas’
You can walk anywhere on the island so that’s how I decide to spend my afternoon. Making tracks between beach and bure I soon start to recognise the staff members. Some have been working here for the better part of their lives, the island truly a second home to them.