Monuriki Fiji is Cast Away Island.
You know, that Cast Away Island – the one from the film with some dude named Tom Hanks who spent four years (Well OK, 45 minutes in real time) talking to a volleyball when his plane crashed “somewhere over the South Pacific”.
Like you saw in the film, it’s a tiny and uninhabited island pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Also like you saw in the film, it really is beautiful. Unfortunately, there’s a little confusion about Monuriki and the bigger question of ‘Where is Castaway Island?
The answer is simple: the movie was filmed at Monuriki. But here’s why you might be confused.
Castaway Island Ain’t ‘Cast Away Island’
There is actually no ‘Cast Away Island’. That’s a name superfans like you and me started Googling after the film was released back in 2000 (yup, it’s been that long). However, there is a Castaway Island in the same region. That’s not the right one. Here’s an explanation of what’s really going on…
Castaway Island (NO!) – This is an island in the Mamanuca group of islands in Fiji. It’s also called Qalito. This is not where Cast Away was filmed.
Monuriki (YES!)- This is another island in the Mamanuca region. It’s smaller than Castaway Island (Qalito), and no one lives here. Also, if you Google Monuriki you’ll see it sure looks similar to the island Chuck Noland (‘C. No Land…get it?) called home for four hapless years. There’s a good reason for that – it’s because they filmed the movie here. Really! Check it out – the beach is there, the hill’s in there too. Look really carefully and you might see the cave.
Pretty cool, right? Well, here are two more ways to screw things up:
1 – Monuriki is sometimes called ‘Modriki’
2 – The Film is Called ‘Cast Away’ – but most people Google ‘Castaway’ when they search for the film or the Tom Hanks Island. That’s when things generally go sideways…
Monuriki (Or Modriki) Is Cast Away Island. Really
So what the heck is a fanboy or girl supposed to do if they want their selfies with Wilson on the very beach where Tom Hanks made being a cast away so darn fun to watch? Hit up a boat for ‘Monuriki’ or Modriki that leaves from Nadi, on the western coast of Viti Levu – the largest island in Fiji.
If a tour says ‘Castaway Island’, ask, but it’s most likely headed for Qalito. It’ s a nice island, but that’s not what you want.
If a tour says ‘Cast Away Island’ , ask the boat and verify if it’s headed to Monuriki Island or Modriki Island. They’re one in the same, and you’re a step closer to your selfie with Wilson.
How to Get to Monuriki/Modriki/Cast Away Island
Head to Fiji, friend. Yup, I know, that’s one heckuva slog if you’re coming from Canada or the US. But that’s the whole point – the plane went down in the South Pacific, worlds away from Memphis Tennessee, where our good friend Chuck found himself spearing fish, drinking coconuts, and talking to a volleyball for four hapless years.
Wait, I said that already. Oh well, you get the idea. I’m preaching to the choir if you’re a Cast Away fan (and yes, I am definitely one of them!).
You ain’t a Cast Away fan until you’d knock your own tooth out with an ice skate sans anesthetic to see Monuriki for yourself (you know exactly what I mean by that – OUCH!).
If you’re traveling to Fiji from the United States, you can fly direct from Los Angeles to Nadi. You can also get there from Sydney, Australia or Auckland, New Zealand.
From Nadi you can find a day trip to Monuriki. Or, if you’d prefer to see Monuriki and the Mamanuca Islands in a little luxury on a liveaboard boat tour, whether a scuba excursion, snorkeling and/or a combination of both.
The Fiji Princess is a good option for snorkelers/non-divers who just want to set foot on Cast Away Island. Reef Endeavour is an excellent Fiji-based liveaboard dive boat if you’d like to squeeze in some Scuba with your fandom.
Note I am an affiliate of Liveaboard.com and will receive a commission if you book a tour through those two latter links (at no additional cost to you).
Leave A Light Footprint
Finally, remember that Monuriki is a sacred place. It was there long before Robert Zemeckis, and will be there long after we’ve all departed this life. The condition we leave it in is a different matter completely.
In 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio made a film called ‘The Beach‘ at Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. That was great for tourism, but not-so nifty for the island’s delicate ecosystem, which, thanks to a combination of sun block, litter, boats and pollution, saw roughly 80% of its coral reefs destroyed.
Don’t let that happen to Cast Away Island.
I know you want your selfie, and it’s a catch-22, because you won’t get there without a boat, and most likely a big one. Still, you can at least minimize your footprint in this fragile ecosystem. You know the concept about ‘Leave No Trace‘. Dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize fire impact and don’t hurt the wildlife.
Wilson Selfies, fortunately, and most definitely allowed.