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Turtle Island, Fiji: Why this tropical island paradise is one of the world’s most recognised

Turtle Island, Fiji: Why this tropical island paradise is one of the world’s most recognised
Turle Island
July 08
10:44 2017

When the setting is the star of the movie, that’s a locale worth visiting. Turtle Island, a private luxury resort island in the Yasawa group of islands, is just such a place.

It is the location for one of the most recognised tropical island films, Blue Lagoon, released in 1980 and starring Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins and the late great Leo McKern, and an imagined nirvana for the stressed and overwhelmed taken with the notion of a Robinson Crusoe life, away from care and woe.

Columbia Pictures looked at more than 1000 sites before choosing the pristine beauty of Turtle Island as the archetypical tropical island paradise. The movie drew the world’s attention to Turtle Island, one of Fiji’s first luxury resorts, whose opening was hastened by the filming.


About Richard Evanson snr

The island’s owner, Richard Evanson snr, bought the 202-hectare island in 1972 and still lives there with his son, Richard Evanson jnr, who has taken over the reins. The film still screens with popcorn on Sunday nights at the resort.

Mr Evanson snr used the income from the movie to improve Turtle Island, later saying he should have asked for one per cent as Blue Lagoon was the ninth biggest box-office hit in 1980, grossing almost US$59 million (FJ$121m) in the United States and Canada.

This is despite the fact that the film was a critical “dog of the year”, Brooke Shields won worst actress in the first Golden Raspberry Awards, and the audience was conned – body doubles were used for her nude shots (understandable, mind you, as she was only 14 and closely supervised by her mother).

After the film’s release, stars flocked there to experience the real-life nirvana.


About the resort

The resort has 14 waterfront bures, 14 private beaches rotated between guest couples (some of which – Devil’s, Shell, Paddy’s and Honeymoon – featured in the movie) and private dine-out options from lagoon pontoons to cliff-point extravaganzas.



Hollywood stars who have been to the resort

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey honeymooned there, as did The Bachelorette’s Trista and Ryan Sutter. John Travolta celebrated his 50th birthday there, with Oprah Winfrey a guest.

John Cleese hoarded crab legs on his lap at communal dinners, resisting calls to goosestep around the table – he wanted peace. Eddie Van Halen enjoyed the family atmosphere, as did Pierce Brosnan, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, while Richard Starkey was recognised as Ringo Starr only on his departure when he gave an impromptu dock concert on the lali drums.

The Oprah Winfrey Show has featured Turtle Island as one of the world’s outstanding honeymoon destinations, and in 2003 the island was named NBC’s most romantic couples destination, pipping Fregate Island in the Seychelles, Lake Louise Resort in Banff, Canada, and a Mediterranean Silver Seas cruise.


Sports who have been at the island

From the sporting world, former Wallabies rugby captain George Gregan was married on Shell Beach, AFL star Nathan Buckley and his wife Tania honeymooned there, and former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh holidayed there with his family. Rupert Murdoch has also sought South Seas bliss on Turtle Island.

Guests at the resort can read more island anecdotes in the book Turtle Tales: An Exotic Island Paradise: – Richard Evanson’s Fijian Dream Fulfilled by a return guest, Amelia Robson. The book is in every bure.

And they keep coming back; Blue Lagoon’s blonde star, Christopher Atkins, was reduced to tears when a recent visit to Honeymoon Beach on Turtle Island stirred memories.

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