It was during the summer of '84 that the most iconic and noticeable specimen of Sunny Isles Beach's collection of outrageous, preposterous, and downright fantastic row of beachfront resort motels, met its sad demise. The Castaways, and its famous "Wreck Bar" (currently resting under the foundation of the Oceania Island condominiums at Collins and 163rd) was being demolished due to a decrease in tourist income, thanks in part to a strong greenback, and the dwindling popularity of this kind of kitsch.
Sunny Isles, the once glorious party destination had become a faded strip, soon to be replaced by much grander development ambitions and hulking condo towers of salable residential stock. Yet, for those old enough to have spent a season as a Castaway the news came in as a wrecking ball. They just don't make them like this anymore.
Sitting atop the man-made Fairyland Island, an appropriately named home for a Motel that had nothing "real" about it, was America's most FUNderful Resort Motel. The Castaways, described as an Oriental Modern / Neo-Chinese Polynesian Pastiche, did not lack taste, as many critics have suggested, it just had a taste for everything; and what it lacked in sublime architecture and coherence it made up in pure and undiluted Miami Beach decadence. The motel boasted 540 rooms, 5 swimming pools, tennis courts, and a putting green all on 10 acres of land with access to 1000 feet of emerald coast. Yet it was not the resort amenities that amassed an international reputation, it was the Wreck Bar; open daily from 11 AM to 5 AM, the sunken galleon themed bar had porthole windows which provided an underwater view into the pool and drowned its patrons with live rock and roll and bikini wearing go go table dancers; while in true Miami spirit, also providing maracas, tambourines and mallets for added ridiculousness. The Wreck, always a celebrity hotspot, hosted the likes of The Beatles, The Monkees, and Jimmy Hendrix; interestingly, in 1971 it employed the lovable teddy bear pundit Bill O'Reilly as a bouncer; folks, you can't make this stuff up. The Castaways will live on in the memory of those who hung over watched the sun rise above the giant, fake pagoda gate.—Andy Morales