Be a castaway for a day on Fiji’s Modriki Island

Fiji’s Modriki Island, the setting for the iconic Tom Hanks film Cast Away, is for day trippers only, but you’ll want to be left behind.

Trees in the white sand beach of fiji island.
  • Claire Sutherland
  • October 2018

Sure, there was some food deprivation, and the small matter of having to knock out his own tooth out with an ice-skate, but if you ask me, in Cast Away, Tom Hanks was just one big whiner.

Here on Fiji’s Modriki Island, where the movie was filmed, it’s all sunshine, sapphire water, psychedelic fish and powdery white sand. Better yet, behind us there’s a chef whipping up some of the best seafood Fiji has to offer on a portable barbecue (admittedly, room service was somewhat lacking during Tom Hanks’ stay).

We are here on a day trip from Outrigger’s Castaway Island resort, about 30 minutes south-east by speed boat.

Feeling like a Bond girl (minus the physical attributes and martial arts skills), I am sitting at the prow of the sleek white boat as it skips over the sea to Modriki. We pause as a school of 20-odd dolphins decide to join us, leaping out of the water like extras trying to secure a close-up.

We wade from the boat with our snorkels and open a bottle of champagne as we wait for lunch to be served under rustling palm trees.


Island and a form of rock near on the shore.
Modriki Island was where the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away was filmed.

Lost (in luxury)

The chef and his staff arrived early and set up a HELP sign in the sand made of coconuts and rocks to get us in the mood. They’ve even thoughtfully brought a replica Wilson volleyball, lest one of us get lonely.

After lunch we take our champagne to the shoreline and sit in gently lapping waves sipping from our flutes before putting on snorkelling fins and wading into the sea. A few kicks and we’re flying over an underwater city of coral, starfish, sea cucumbers and vividly coloured fish.

It might seem a strange day trip from a resort already on a tiny island paradise, but there’s something about spending a day on a completely deserted island that created a memory I’ll be dusting off on bleak days for the rest of my life. The speed boat arrives to pick us up and we wade ashore to our home for the night, Castaway Island.

Island style

Castaway was the first resort in the Mamanuca Group and is more than half a century old. But there’s nothing dated here. The self-contained bures each feature traditional hand-painted tapa cloths adorning their ceilings. Many are on the beach, with others in lush rainforest a few steps from the sand.

There are two swimming pools, including one for kids, and four restaurants servicing the 64 rooms.

At Restaurant 1808, named for the year the Chinese arrived in Fiji, Swiss chef Marcus Nufer’s Fijian/Chinese/Indian fusion menu is served on elegant tables on the sand.

The island is just 70ha but it would be easy to spend a week here. In 24 hours I kayaked, bushwalked, did a sunrise boxing class on the beach, and joined a coral planting session. Here, a local environmental group showed us how to carefully attach live coral to a metal frame before we swam it to the sea bottom. The coral will begin to grow and when it’s robust enough, the frame will be removed and reused.

On my final morning I take a kayak and paddle around the island. It takes an hour, including stops to simply drift and watch the activity on the sea bottom below me.

I could easily have spent the entire day paddling into private coves and beaches, but my ferry to Nadi awaited.


Island shore behind the trees on a terrace view.
Mana Island was the location for the 33rd season of Survivor.

Fiji on the silver screen

Discover the films and TV shows with Fiji in a starring role.

Cast Away

This 2000 Tom Hanks flick about a man washed up on a deserted island was shot on Modriki Island. The island is genuinely deserted, so Tom stayed on a luxury yacht moored nearby. Several Castaway Island staff worked as crew on the production.

Survivor

The 33rd season of US reality TV program Survivor used Mana Island, about 15 minutes by boat from Castaway Island, as its location, finishing shooting in July this year. Boats were asked to steer clear of certain areas lest they drift into filming zones.

Blue Lagoon

This 1980 teen classic starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins as two cousins stranded on a beautiful island after a shipwreck was shot on Nanuya Levu, in the Yasawa group of islands, just north of the Mamanuca group.


Getting there

South Sea Cruises depart for Castaway Island three times a day from Denarau Marina, about 30 minutes from Nadi. Tickets are AUD $53 one way for the 1.5-hour-trip.

Staying

Rooms at Castaway Island start from AUD $605 per night depending on the season. Each room includes a king-sized bed and most also have a single bed. The rate includes a welcome cocktail, all non-powered water equipment, cocktail party and traditional Fijian performance. An additional AUD $86 per adult per day covers all meals.

Excursions

A day trip to Modriki Island from Castaway with a picnic lunch is AUD $160 per person. A day trip with a chef to prepare your meal on the beach is AUD $224 per person with a minimum of four and maximum of eight people.