Many travellers who search the world for the finest white-sand beaches discover a hauntingly idyllic paradise in Fiji. After all, Fiji’s islands provide any weary traveller with a respite from the busy city, and an opportunity to commune with nature at its brightest and most refreshing scenery.
Of the islands in Fiji, it is probably the Mamanuca archipelago that has received more than 15 minutes of fame. One of its islands, called the Monuriki Islands, was the location for the filming of the Tom Hanks starrer “Castaway.” Since this movie premiered to the global audience, arrivals at Fiji, particularly Monuriki, have dramatically increased. In fact, it drove the birth of the tourism industry, such that the coasts of Monuriki are now lined with world-class resorts that leave tourists awed every day. Perhaps the most endearing consequence of the film is the “renaming” of the island of Monuriki as “Castaway Island.” The name gives tourists the recall factor. But to natives, the island remains to be the home that they have known for centuries, and the home that tourists, too, can call their own.
There are many places to check out within Castaway Island, as well as its 20 other neighbouring islands within the Mamanuca Group. Monuriki itself is a tiny island cramped with forests and vegetation. World-class resorts have sprung up along its coasts, offering travellers a taste of sun-kissed paradise, and heavenly afternoons spent dozing off under the shade of a palm tree. Another great attraction, aside from Monuriki’s water activities, is nature-watching and discovering the colourful native birds and reptiles that reside in the island.
The water surrounding Monuriki is also a temptress. Tourists who go there can’t leave without a taste of its dive sites and surf spots. The crystal clear waters are also great for snorkelling. After an afternoon in the waters, tourists appreciate gorging on local foods served on the shore, coupled with a glass or two of Fiji Bitter.
Elsewhere in the Mamanuca Group of Islands, tourists are likely to find other resorts surrounded by local community. Some of the smaller islands though do have a tourism industry but do not support any local communities because of the absence of a natural water source. In such places, the water is shipped to the resorts from the neighbouring islands.
Aside from these natural treats, Mamanuca also offers a great experience for those who want a taste of local color. A visit to the local village puts tourists in the thick of things, so to speak, giving them an opportunity to experience local festivals, cuisine, art and ways of life that no brochure can give.