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Castaway Island, Fiji Travel Guide
 
Last Updated: Apr-03-2012, Hits: 4,459, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Location: Australia & Pacific
Geography: Island, Beach, Jungle/Rainforest
Vacation Type: Family, Romantic, Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Expensive
Attractions: Scenery, Boating, Fishing, Scuba & Snorkeling, Spa & Wellness, Surfing, Windsurfing

Facts and Stats:
Population: Unknown
Land Area: 0.3 square miles
Elevation: Sea level
Country Dialing Code: 679
Languages: English, Bau Fijian, and Fiji Hindi
Electricity: 240V
Currency: Fijian dollar (FJD)
Time Zone: UTC +12 (+13 Summer)
Current Time:

Introduction:
Castaway Island (AKA Qalito Island) is a private resort island offering an idyllic beach and plenty of water-based activities. It is surrounded by coral reefs that offer excellent snorkeling. This upscale resort was the first in the outer islands.

Geography:
Castaway Island is located in the Mamanuca island group off the western coast of Fiji. It is just 19 miles from Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu. Castaway is only 174 acres, most of which is uninhabited. There is 1 resort that lies on the west side of the island. There is a small village a very short distance to the southwest where the resort staff stay. The island is fringed by coral reef which provides excellent snorkeling and there are over 20 dive sites nearby. The land is covered in tropical rainforest.

Brief History:
It is believed that Fiji was originally settled by the Lapita people in about 1220 BC. They likely came to the area from Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands by way of Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. Aroung 500 BC, a shift towards agriculture combined with an increase in population resulted in intertribal fighting. As a result, cannibalism became common in times of war and this practice would continue until the 19th century.

Abel Tasman was the first European to sail past Fiji in 1643, but his descriptions of the dangerous reefs kept explorers away for nearly 130 years. James Cook was in the area in 1774, but Captain Bligh is often credited for sailing through the islands after the "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1789.

The first outsiders to live among the native Fijians were escaped Australian convicts and shipwrecked sailors, many of whom became dinner. Missionaries arrived during the 19th century, and as Christianity spread, cannabilism waned.

Fiji was pronounced a British crown colony in 1874. Enslaving local Fijians wasn't legal, so the British turned to indentured servants from India to help them run the sugar cane fields and sugar mills. Indentured servitude was abolished in 1919, however, over 40% of Fiji's population is made up of descendants of this Indian labor force.

Tourism came to the Mamanuca Islands in the 1960's.

Fiji gained its independence from the British in 1970.

People & Culture:
There is a small village next to the resort where the resort staff stay. Most of them hail from the main island Viti Levu. Fijians are laid-back and are said to be the friendliest people in the world. Although the locals' native languages are Fijian and Hindi, pretty much everybody speaks English.

There are some local customs to keep in mind if you visit one of the villages (there are tours to villages on other islands available). When visiting a village it is customary to present a gift of kava (more about that in the food section). If you are visiting via a tour from the resort, they will take care of this for you. If asked to participate in kava drinking, it is a good idea to partake. It is considered rude to touch someone on the head - even children. If entering someone's home, take your shoes off before entering. Do not wear skimpy clothing or a hat to the villages.

Food & Nightlife:
The only restaurants and bars on the island are the ones found at the resort. The resort offers a meal plan that provides access to the restaurants which provide local and international cuisine.

Every Monday night, indulge in a Fijian feast called Lovo. Similar to a Hawaiian Luau, the food is cooked in the ground and followed by traditional singing and dancing.

Money & Costs:
The resort on Castaway Island is on the higher end of the budget. After purchasing a meal plan, additional costs will include transfer service, tours, and alcoholic beverages. There are no banks or ATMs on the island, however, the resort does accept credit cards.

Fiji's currency is the Fijian dollar (FJD). Tipping is not customary in Fiji and even somewhat discouraged.

Entry Requirements:
Entry Requirements: Holders of Passports from visa exempt countries are granted visitors visas valid for 4 months on arrival. Extensions can be made up to 6 months on condition that they hold a valid passport (valid for 3 months) beyond the intended period of stay in Fiji, outward ticket and sufficient funds to facilitate duration of stay.

For a list of visa exempt countries, visit the Fiji Department of Immigration.

Getting There & Around:
To get to Castaway Island you will first need to fly into Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu. From there, you have the following options to get to Castaway Island.
  • South Seas Cruises - They will provide an airport transfer to Denarau Marina where you will board a 150 seat, split deck air-conditioned catamaran. The trip takes 1.5 hours and costs about $130(US) round trip. There are 3 departure times per day.
  • Mamanuca Express - This water taxi service operates 24 hours per day. This costs substantially more than the above. Call for rates.
  • Pacific Island Air & Seaplanes - Take a 10 minute seaplane flight to Castaway. They provide transportation to their seaplane. Keep in mind that these flights are only available during daylight hours.
  • Island Hoppers - Take a 12 minute helicopter flight to Castaway. Transfer from Nadi to their helipad included. Flights only operate during daylight hours.
There are no roads or land vehicles to rent. You can hike around the island, and the resort can transport you to dive spots and neighboring islands.

Weather:
The best time to visit is between May and November when it is the driest. In addition to less rain, temperatures and humidity are lower as well.

The table below shows weather averages.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 88 88 88 88 86 82 82 84 84 86 86 86
Avg Low 73 73 73 72 70 66 64 66 68 70 72 72
Water Temp 84 86 84 84 82 81 79 79 81 81 81 82
Precipitation 16.5" 10.2" 13.5" 7.6" 5.5" 3.1" 2.0" 2.8" 3.5" 5.2" 2.5" 7.5"
Days of Rainfall 21 22 22 19 11 9 12 11 11 13 8 17
Humidity 83 82 83 82 78 77 77 77 75 76 77 80

Tips & Additional Information:
  • Fiji is free from malaria, yellow fever and other major tropical diseases.
  • Yellow Fever and Cholera vaccinations are only required if coming from an infected area.





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