Grip on re­al­ity slips away

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - ESCAPE - LEISA SCOTT

Just get­ting to Cast­away Is­land is like sail­ing into a sto­ry­book. Here’s the tiny co­ral cay called South Sea Is­land, now Bounty, then Trea­sure and Beach­comber, all laid out like step­ping stones for gi­ants across

Then Cast­away ap­pears, a vol­canic is­land ris­ing from the im­pos­si­bly blue wa­ter, and your grasp on the real world be­gins to slip away. Be­fore your toes even touch the is­land’s fring­ing white sand, the mag­i­cal sound of Fi­jian staff singing a wel­come song wafts up to meet the high-speed Co­ral Sea Cruises cata­ma­ran that has steamed here from the main is­land of Viti Levu.

Sur­ren­der to a dream­like state comes as you’re shown to your thatch-roofed buré. Some are right down near the lap­ping wa­ter, oth­ers just a few me­tres back but still with ocean views, or fur­ther in among the lush green palms. Rinse your sandy feet to a lux­u­ri­ous take on the tra­di­tional Fi­jian home. Na­tive art on the pitched ceil­ings is the high­light, best ap­praised by laz­ing on the comfy king-sized bed. There are two sin­gle/day beds, a big shower (with air-con­di­tion­ing, al­though it’s far nicer to open the lou­vres and turn on the ceil­ing fan if the seabreeze is waft­ing through.

You can’t lie around in the ham­mock tied be­tween two palm trees out the front of your buré all day. Okay, you can, but if you do strug­gle up, there are co­ral reefs to snorkel over, cata­ma­rans to sail and kayaks to pad­dle. Or get some fresh­wa­ter ac­tion at two swim­ming pools – one for fam­i­lies, with a pool­side cafe, the other for adults, with swim-up bar. Or take the re­sort’s speed­boat trip to nearby un­in­hab­ited Monuriki Is­land, the en­chant­ing lo­ca­tion for the Tom Hanks Cast Away, where co­conuts still spell out “Help Me” in the sand.

Cock­tail hour? The Sun­downer Bar has sen­sa­tional views of the set­ting orb, plus a top-notch lime daiquiri, or you can sit at the aptly named Wa­ter’s Edge Restau­rant.

For a spe­cial din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, book a ta­ble at 1808, win­ner of best restau­rant is the sand, its ceil­ing the stars. At night, ta­bles are carted onto the sand and Aus­tralian-trained chef Lance Seeto de­liv­ers a spec­tac­u­lar culi­nary fu­sion of the have shaped this is­land na­tion. Sea­soned with fresh sea air and the sen­su­ous feel­ing of din­ing with sand be­tween your toes, it’s the stuff of fan­tasies.

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