'The Blue Lagoon' Turns 35! Christopher Atkins Returns to Turtle Island, Says a 'Flood of Memories Came Back'

"I feel like I'm a part of that island's history, and that island's a huge part of my life," the actor told PEOPLE

Photo: Everett; Courtesy Christopher Atkins

Get ready to feel old, people.

Cult classic film The Blue Lagoon, starring a then 15-year-old Brooke Shields, turns 35 on Sunday. To commemorate the film’s anniversary, Shields’ costar Christopher Atkins returned to Turtle Island in Fiji where a majority of the film was shot and embarked on an emotional walk down memory lane that left him in tears.

“I feel like I’m a part of that island’s history, and that island’s a huge part of my life. After I left that island, my whole life changed,” Atkins, 54, told PEOPLE about his return to the movie’s famous beaches.

“When I got there, a flood of memories came back. There were so many familiar areas, but at the same time it was so different,” added Atkins, who brought girlfriend Sandra Ankarbjork along for the journey.

“I lived in this tent off the beach with a swamp behind me [during filming]. Now, that swamp is filled in and they have an outdoor screening and showing of The Blue Lagoon every Sunday night.”

Though a lot of the film’s locations are now part of a very high-end resort, Atkins found his own way to travel back in time – with some youthful shenanigans.

“Of course we were going to enjoy the beach the way it was meant to be, without any clothes on,” said Atkins with a laugh.

Released in 1980, the risqué film became one of the top 10 box office hits of the year and helped launch the careers of Atkins and Shields (whom Atkins called “Patches” because of the way the sun freckled her face). It also may have started a brief fling between the two stars, depending who you ask.

“We had a little romance and it was very sweet. We were young so it wasn’t anything really serious. But at the time, it was one of the most magical moments of my life, to be on this deserted island for four months and share all that time and experience with her. You can never, ever take that away,” said Atkins.

However, in her memoir There Was A Little Girl, published in 2014, Shields said their relationship was merely “platonic.”

“He was really cute and I think everybody was even secretly hoping that we would become a real-life couple I would have none of it and their plan backfired,” wrote Shields. “But he really was so sweet and happy that I would eventually develop a crush on him. It lasted only a very short time because Chris and I were really more like brother and sister than we were lovers.”

Either way, these days Atkins is busy acting, producing and being a proud grandfather. And there may even be another trip back to the blue lagoon in the near future.

“They want us to come back and get married on the island,” said Atkins. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll do that.”

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