Fiji is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. With 333 islands, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together your in-depth guide to the Yasawa Islands, one of Fiji’s most popular regions.
The Yasawa Islands
The islands of Fiji are divided into two regions – the Mamanuca and Yasawa. The Yasawa Islands are made up of 20 ancient volcanic islands in the northwest of Fiji. The Yasawa Islands are among the most popular regions of the country, catering for all sorts of travellers and holiday makers.
The remote location of the islands means the nature has been left untouched with spectacular crystal-clear water, volcanic peaks, beautiful caves, coral reefs, traditional villages and palm-fringed beaches. With so much to do and see, there’s never a dull day on the Yasawa Islands.
Things to do
With so many islands, it’s tough to squeeze everything in. But here are our top suggestions:
1. Go scuba diving
The pristine waters of the Yasawa Islands means scuba diving is a must. The Yasawa Islands are famous for their untouched soft coral and abundance of marine life like turtles and eagle rays.
Diving is offered all year round, but between May and October the region’s Manta Rays pass through the channel from Drawaqa Island to Nanuya Balavu Island to feed. If you visit during this time, you have the chance to get up close and watch these majestic creatures glide gracefully through the water. And if you’re really adventurous, you can try diving with bull sharks.
2. Relax on the beach
You can take a break from all the action and chill out on some of the world’s best beaches. With huge shady palms and crystal water, it’s no wonder the beaches of the Yasawa Islands were used for scenes in the romance adventure film ‘Blue Lagoon’. Make sure you check out the beaches on the back of Tavewa Island – they’re some of the most untouched beaches in the world and are absolutely spectacular.
3. See the Sawailau Caves
Exploring the Sawailau Caves is a Fiji must. According to legend, a young Chief once hid with his love in the cave after her family threatened to arrange a marriage for her with a rival Chief. The caves are also known for being the resting place of Ulutini, the ten-headed ancient Fijian god. The magic of the caves can be felt when exploring the ancient limestone walls and roof.
4. Visit some villages
Many of the islands are home to traditional island villages. You can learn about the traditional way of life in Fiji by mingling with locals, attending performances and ceremonies and trying the local food.
Village life on the islands is very traditional with many customs, so make sure you’re aware and respectful. Knees and shoulders should be covered, hats and sunglasses removed and religious practices always respected.
While visiting the Yasawa Islands, you should check out a Kava ceremony. Kava is a national drink that comes from a root, and has calming effects when ingested. Kava ceremonies occur to welcome visitors to the village and the experience should be high on your bucket list when visiting Fiji.
5. Get hiking
Most of the islands have great hiking trails so make sure you pack some comfy shoes. In Wayalailai, and Sawa-i-lau you can climb to the top of a mountain and watch the sunrise, or cross the length of the island to Waya. Guides are often available or you can go it alone – whatever suits you!
Tips on visiting
If you’ve never been to Fiji before, here are some tips to help get you prepared:
- If you need to get cash out, make sure you do it in Nadi (the main island). Most of the smaller Yasawa Islands don’t have ATMs or card readers.
- Pack some conservative clothing. While you’ll spend lots of time lazing on the beaches in your bathers, you want to be able to cover up when interacting with locals, especially if you’re watching or joining in on local ceremonies.
- The sun in Fiji is fierce, so make sure you avoid a nasty sunburn and pack some sunscreen with you.
- There are no public restaurants on the Yasawa Islands, so you’ll need to dine at your resort.
The easiest way to get around and see as many islands as possible is on a cruise. Captain Cook Cruises offer three, four and seven night cruise options to the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands, aboard small ship, MV Reef Endeavour.
The three-night Southern Yasawa and Mamanuca cruise covers the beautiful islands of Waya, Naviti and Viwa, introducing guests to the friendly warmth of the local people.
The four-night Northern Yasawa and Mamanuca visits the private island of Tivua, the Sawa-l-Lau limestone caves, the blue lagoon and Mononki – the island famous for Tom Hanks’ Castaway. The cruise also travels through the spectacular passage from Yaqeta Island to the Yasawa’s northern reaches.
The seven-night Yasawa Islands and Mamanuca cruise combines the three and four night cruise for the ultimate Southern and Northern Yasawa Island experience.
All cruises combine daily cultural experiences like visiting Fijian villages and schools with water activities including snorkelling, glass bottom boating, swimming diving and kayaking. In fact the Yasawa Islands are home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. See it for yourself with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji.