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Yasawa Islands

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Oceania : Melanesia : Fiji : Yasawa Islands
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This feels like paradise, Kuata

The Yasawa Islands are a group of islands in north-western Fiji. Approximately 30 resorts are spread through the 12 major islands in the group. Most resorts provide basic accommodation and meals with access to natural and cultural sites.

Islands[edit]

Getting there[edit]

The quickest and best way to get to the Yasawa Islands is by Seaplane. Pacific Island Air offer flights in their 10 passenger Otter seaplane and a 4 passenger Beaver plane. Both planes are new or near new (2014) and can get you there within 20 - 30 minutes. Flights depart from Nadi airport. Pacific Island Air also offer helicopter transfers.

Get around[edit]

If you came by the "yellow boat" (Yasawa Flyer) then it will pick you up on its daily run and take you to your next island. If you have a 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 or 21 day, this is included in your fare, otherwise, it can cost between $45 to $70 to go from one island to the next. A local water taxi can provide cheaper means to transfer between islands, especially for shorter trips when the weather is reasonably clear. Some resorts will pick you up from your current resort for free, otherwise rates tend to range from $5-$15. It always pays to ask around before you book, especially with the resort you are travelling to (that wants your business more than the one you've just paid for). Like all prices in Fiji, these charges are often negotiable, especially if you are travelling in a group (since most charges are per head, you can bargain for a group discount). One caveat: Local boats are slower and have been known to run out of fuel and never carry oars, so don't take local boats if such surprises would ruin your holiday (but if slow, reactive responses to problems is going to frustrate you, Fiji is probably not your ideal holiday location - Fiji time!)

See[edit][add listing]

The Yasawas are beautiful and unspoilt. The best two natural activities are hiking (many of the islands have high hills that provide great views of all the nearby islands) and snorkeling or diving (most of the islands have some level of reef life).

Do[edit][add listing]

Snorkeling and diving in the Yasawa Islands are excellent. Some islands even have spectacular snorkeling right off the beach. Diving rates are cheap. You can get certification if you need it. Manta Ray Island Resort and Barefoot Island Resort offers special snorkeling trips to see manta rays when they are passing a shallow passage between islands (May-October). Be sure to stay alert - you have to jump the boat in 5 minutes from "manta ray alarm".

Most islands have good hiking, e.g. Wayalailai or Kuata Natural Resort where you can climb to the top to see the sunrise/sunset, or hike the length of the island and cross the spit to Waya. Guides are available, or you can go alone.

Almost all islands will have someone who can teach basket or bracelet weaving, using palm fronds and banana leaves.

There are regular kava ceremonies on many islands. Guests are invited to join. On smaller and more intimate islands it would be rude to refuse. Kava is traditionally drunk in a welcome ceremony.

Go to church in one of the villages for the Sunday service. The locals are welcoming, and you will be in awe by their beautiful harmonious singing.

Ask the locals to take you through their plantation and show you the bananas, papaya, mangoes, breadfruit, casava and other fruits and vegetables growing for your eating pleasure.

Various day trips are available including the Sawa-I-Lau Caves trip (diving through a tunnel 30cm down and 1.5 metre long to visit several underground caverns), the Blue Lagoon (not the real one, which is privately owned) and local trips such as fishing or snorkeling. You can also do day trips on the island to visit local villages and schools.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Some islands have souvenirs but these are generally cheaper to buy on the mainland (e.g. in the streets and markets of Nadi). The key souvenir you may like to buy is a local sulu for that resort. Otherwise, your money is likely to be spent on drinks (water, beer or cocktails) and snacks (chips, biscuits, etc.).

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are three levels of catering - (i) sparse plates and buffets that run out, (ii) generous serves of high carbohydrate meals and (iii) broad balanced meals with endless buffets to suit all appetites and preferences. If you like fish, please be sure to let the locals (especially the chef) know - they often think people prefer chicken. Beef is quite expensive in Fiji and you are not likely to see it very often. Vegetarianism is generally poorly understood and for strict vegetarians or people with allergies it can be quite difficult to explain that even sauces, spices and flavourings are not suitable. If you have any kind of allergy or strong dietary preference you must talk to the chef as soon as you get on the island (lunch often follows shortly afterward) and explain it in detail (e.g. "must be cooked completely separate from any meat, fish, chicken, oyster sauce, seasoning, etc."). It is often valuable to say what you *can* eat (e.g. "any vegetables or fruit, even raw!") to give them a sense of what they can do.

Most people are reasonably happy with the food provided at resorts, although healthier eaters may miss a balance of non-starchy veggies and salads.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most resorts provide drinking water at meals, but sell water ($4-$5 for a 1.5 litre bottle) at other times. Water supplies are generally from rain (off corrugated roofs), springs or imported from the mainland. Bottled water is recommended in the Yasawa Islands.

English backpackers will be happy to hear that beer (Fiji Bitter or Fiji Gold F$5-6 per can) is in plentiful supply, and most resorts will also provide other forms of alcohol including cocktails ($F10-18 depending on resort and cocktail). Buy supplies like alcohol or cookies in mainland if you are short on budget but be aware that a lot of resorts don't allow you to drink your own liquor whilst on the island.

Accommodation[edit]

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Most islands have some kind of budget accommodation, where you sleep in a dorm or bure (thatched hut). Food (set menu, mostly local dishes) is usually included in the price or is a compulsory addition (no local alternatives exist). Some islands have considerably more upmarket rooms including private outdoor showers and the like.

Accommodation varies significantly in quality, from vary sparse rooms with open windows through to comfortable, Western-style private rooms with a toilet, hot shower and secure doors and windows. If the bures are not reasonably airtight then a good mosquito net is a real necessity, although a top sheet can also help to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Most beds are not grungy but do vary from vary soft through to firm, as do the pillows.

Sleep is also affected by the nightlife of the resort. Most resorts have a main bure with a bar and some form of night activity (dancing, international night, singing, etc.). Usually this concludes at a reasonable hour and people continue to talk quietly and drink until they go to bed. At some locations, a much more festive spirit is felt, and if the dorm/bures are anywhere near the main bure, sleeping may prove difficult.

Cold/luke warm showers are the norm, which is fine during the days (usually quite warm), and salt water or mixed salt/fresh water showers are not uncommon. Drinking water is a somewhat scarce resource on the islands, but is usually provided free at meals. Some resorts have unlimited water, others require you to buy bottled water outside of meal times (typically $4-$5 a 1.5l bottle).

The final factor in deciding where to stay are the natural surrounds and activities, which is somewhat subjective, although the below table attempts to categorise the reef life. Up until about five years ago, many areas in Fiji dynamited their coral to sell to aquariums, so there are large patches of dead coral with the occasional patch of life. Cyclones and tropical storms have also contributed to a reduction in coral life. However, there are an increasing number of marine sanctuaries and even coral farming that are bringing the coral (and accompanying sea life) back. Barefoot Lodge have a great marine conservation program and act as a base for Vinaka Fiji Marine Research volunteer programs. Some places have a great variety of fish up to one metre in length and some even have sharks and turtles. Marine life is particularly healthy around Drawaqa and Nanuya Balavu Islands.


Resort Island Phone/RT Private bure (max) Dormitories (max) Mosquito protection Food Vegetarian support Water source Showers (water type) Nightlife Coral Fish
Kuata Natural Resort Kuata 651 0504 / 651 3598 6 bures, max 3 people per bure 1x16 bed dorm, 1x4 bed dorm ? Buffet Vegetarian/vegan available on request Tap water safe to drink (dam) Cold showers only Tuesday (Fijian nite) White sandy beach. Outer reef snorkelling 15 mins boat ride Okay
Waya Lailai Eco Haven Resort Waya Lailai 666 1572 3 bures, max 3 people per bure 1x20 bed dorm, 1x6 bed dorm Mosquito nets Buffet, Fijian, international Vegetarian on request Spring Cold (spring) Quiet Good Okay
Sunset Waya Waya RT 6383 10+ (4) 1+ (20+) Flywire with some mosquito nets Buffet Poor Spring Cold (spring) Quiet Good Okay
Bayside Resort Waya RT 6383 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Adi's Place Waya 665 0573 / 992 6377 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Octopus Resort Waya 666 6337 / 666 6442 10 bures, 2-5 people per bure, depending on the room type 1x24 bed dorm Mosquito nets International buffet Vegetarian on request Filtered tap water. Bottled water at bar Solar, but good Lively Good Good beach at high tide. Not so good to snorkel at low tide.
Manta Ray Island Resort Nanuya Balavu 664 0520 / 672 6351 16 bures, 2-4 people per bure, depending on the room type 1x32 bed dorm Mosquito nets A la Carte, Buffet – traditional, western Excellent Desalination plant and rain Cold (desalinated), hot showers in Jungle Bure only Lively Very good White sandy beach. Can snorkel at all tides.
Barefoot Island Lodge Drawaqa 670 1823 / RT 1825 12 bures, 2 people per room 3x4 bed dorm Mosquito nets Buffet Poor, but vegetarians are catered for on request Mainland imported Cold (Mainland) Relaxed but there is some activity Excellent Great diving, marine reserve, snorkelling just off the shore
Botaira Beach Resort Naviti 666 2266 12 bures, 3 people max per room 1x25 bed dorm Mosquito nets Wed & Sat (Fijian), Sunday BBQ Vegetarian/vegan provided on request – best to reconfirm while checking in at resort Rain water – not recommended to drink Solar, but good Good Very good Swimming at all tides. Snorkelling good at all tides – marine reserve.
Coconut Bay Resort Naviti RT 1300 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Korovou Eco-Tour Resort Naviti 651 3173 11 bures, max 3-4 people per room, depending on the room type 1x28 bed dorm, 1x18 bed dorm ? Set menu Vegetarian on request Tap water NOT recommended to drink Hot water 24 hours in Private Bure only Mixed Entertainment Good Snorkelling at high tide only, manta rays visible while in season JUNE TO SEPTEMBER
White Sandy Beach Naviti RT 1360 6 bures 1x20 bed dorm ? International/ Local/ Lovo Vegetarians are catered for on request Tap water not recommended for drinking. Bottled water available to purchase Cold showers Entertainment every night Good White sand beach. Outer Reef snorkelling and beach at high tide.
Qereqere Resort Naviti RT 6558 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Manuka Bay Resort Naviti 672 3559 / RT 5860 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Navutu Stars Yaqeta 664 0553 / RT 8031 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Sanawai Resort Yaqeta RT 3726 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Long Beach Resort Matacawa Levu RT 3032 4+ (4) 1 (10) Mosquito nets Fijian & Indo-Fijian cuisine Vegetarian available on request Mainland imported Cold (Mainland) Quiet Good Swimming high tide only. Snorkelling trip to Blue Lagoon beach.
Coral View Resort Tavewa 922 2575 / RT 8876 9 bures, 2-4 people max depending on room type 1x20 bed dorm ? Chinese, Indian, traditional, international Vegetarian on request Tap water NOT recommended for drinking. Can purchase bottled water. Cold showers only Lively Okay Sandy beach – markers for snorkelling at all tides. Snorkel trips available.
Kingfisher Lodge Tavewa 665 2830 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
David's Place Tavewa 665 2820 / 672 1820 10 (2) 1 (10+) Flywire and mosquito nets Plate Good Rainwater Cold (rain water) Quiet Okay Okay
Otto & Fanny's Tavewa 666 6481 4 bures, 2-3 people max 1x8 bed dorm Yes Buffet (Breakfast to dinner). Delicious traditional food. Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free friendly. Request special dietary requirements at time of booking. Bottle water complementary. Rain water also available. Cold showers Quiet and relaxed Okay Okay, great snorkelling sites via boat trip.
Oarsmans Bay Lodge Nacula 672 2921 / RT 6789 6 bures, max 4 people per room 1x13 bed dorm ? Set menu (curry night Wed) Yes, available on request Tap water NOT drinkable. Bottled water can be purchased. Hot water available 24 hours Active / moderate Very good Very fine white sandy beach, snorkelling off the beach at high tide only. Swimming at all tides.
Nalova Bay Resort Nacula 666 9055 5 (6) 0 Flywire Plate (high quality) Very good Rain Hot None (go to Oarsmans) Very good Very good
Nabua Lodge Resort Nacula RT 6369 8 bures, 2-4 people max per room depending on the room type 1x12 bed dorm Yes Fijian traditional/seafood/international buffet Vegetarian – on request, Vegan - not catered for Stored rain water. Can purchase bottle water Hot and Cold showers available Quiet Okay White sandy beach. Swim& snorkel at all tides.
Melbravo Resort Nacula RT 7472 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Get out[edit]

  • Mamanuca Islands - The Mamanuca Islands just off the coast from Denarau offer beautiful crystal clear waters, palm-fringed long sandy beaches and abundant coral reefs. There are islands, villages, resorts to visit, and snorkelling and swimming. South Sea Cruises have a range of day cruises to choose from. A popular choice for travelers is the Seaspray Sailing Adventure - an all-inclusive day, sailing the Mamanucas on an 83 foot schooner.




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