When you tire of lounging on the beach or poolside, there is plenty of life to spot under the waves at Fiji's Castaway Island, writes Chris Hutchings.

Castaway Island is in a world of its own.

Quiet, warm, friendly, relaxing. There's no television or wi-fi in the bures. Just the sound of blissful quiet or the soothing melody of ocean waters gently lapping.

Castaway is a private island in the heart of Fiji's Mamanuca Island group, about 30km from the main island of Viti Levu. It comprises about 70ha of lush tropical rainforest, ringed by soft white sandy beaches - and all of that surrounded by the beautiful blue warm waters of the ocean and its rich coral.

The resort is nestled on one corner, giving it the benefit of north-facing and south-facing beaches. That means there's always a spot on the lee side, should the breeze pick up.


There are waterfront bures with nothing to spoil the view of the gently lapping waves, and bures nestled in the rainforest greenery. All offer a peaceful retreat.

There are two freshwater pools, four restaurants and bars, including its award-winning Restaurant 1808. It's named after the first year Chinese presence was recorded in Fiji and its menu incorporates the essence of Fijian, Indian and Chinese cooking techniques and flavours.

If you want to intersperse your sun-lounger relaxation along the beach or poolside, there's plenty to see snorkelling, or on a dive.

Whether you are a beginner wanting to learn on an introductory course or a veteran diver, there's plenty of packages to choose from, including a night dive option. And, believe me, there's a heap of marine wildlife to spot, both day and night.

I was lucky enough to do a night dive - my first - and it didn't disappoint. I saw the biggest hermit crab imaginable. I didn't realise what it was at first, initially mistaking it for a lobster sitting atop a lump of coral. Plus, there were parrot fish "bedded down" for the night in the nooks and crannies of the coral, their heads surrounded by a bubble of air they create when at rest.

During the day, while snorkelling just offshore, there were schools of brilliant turquoise garfish, bright blue starfish, massive sea cucumbers moving almost imperceptibly, parrot fish nibbling away at the coral - and that's just to name a few of the specimens spotted. If you just lie still in the water, tropical fish come up to investigate you, easily within reach.

After a tough morning fish-spotting you can take a boat to Cloud 9, a world-renowned floating bar and restaurant situated on the RoRo Reef, about a 20-minute sail away.



Fiji Airways flies daily from Auckland to Nadi. With a special price on return fares starting from $549 for adults and $199 for kids.