Mamanuca Travel Guide
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mamanuca pictures map
Clearly visible from Nadi, the
is a stunning compact collection of 32 small islands in 35 sq. km. of tepid ocean. Situated in the lee of the main
, the Mamanuca Group boasts the finest holiday weather in
- year- round sunshine, calm seas and gentle breezes. This is
’s tourism gem. With a choice of twenty- four beach resorts - eighteen of which are on uninhabited islands - and as many day cruises from Nadi, a visit, however brief, is a must on anyone’s travel itinerary.
Apart from the beautiful beach resorts and snorkelling lagoons throughout the group, there are plenty of water activities to keep tourists busy including world class surfing, game fishing, jet ski’s, parasailing and kayaking. There’s also a fully serviced marina on Malolo Lailai which hosts visiting yachts between May and October. Scuba diving is extensive throughout the group with both deep and shallow dives, drifts and passages as well as shipwrecks and caves - almost every resort has its own dive operator offering daily 2- tank dives, night dives and PADI and advanced dive courses.
The Coral Islands, the area closest to Nadi and Lautoka, is blessed with a dozen picturesque tiny coral cays which feature heavily in the tourist brochures and postcards. All of these uninhabited specks of sand now support either a resort or a day trip cruise yet three species of sea- turtles, Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill, unaware of this recent invasion, still come to lay their eggs deep in the sand between November and February. The south- eastern tip of the Malolo Barrier Reef has world class reef surfing.
Malolo and Mana is volcanic in nature with rolling grassy hills framing beautiful beaches, and the surrounding seas bustle with yachts and ferries. They offer instant appeal - Malolo, the largest island in the group at just over 2400 acres in size, and its little sister Malolo Lailai having eight resorts between them. Beautiful Mana is the liveliest island with the largest resort in the group and four backpacker hostels. These central islands are a good choice for those who like the freedom to explore, trekking to summits for sunset views and beachcombing along secluded coastlines. They are typically surrounded by a fringing reef, usually less than a hundred metres offshore, followed by a steep drop- off where snorkelling is great, and enclosing a tepid- warm protected lagoon with gentle lapping waves ideal for swimming.
are also volcanic in appearance but with more rugged coastlines and steeper hills covered in light forest. Being further from the mainland - it takes one and a half hours by speedboat from Nadi - these islands are the least commercial in the group with just four boutique beach resorts. The majority of these islands are uninhabited and serve as important nesting grounds for migrating sea birds, particularly terns and noddies. The stunning
in the far west of the region can be visited on an overnight cruise.
Such is the popularity of these island resorts that discounted stand- by deals are rarely offered to the public - it’s advisable to book at least three months ahead if planning to visit in the peak season between June and October when the main tourism market of
are gripped by cold weather. There are regular sea transfers and flights from Nadi but island hopping can prove a little more difficult.
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, the region remains quite undeveloped. There are no towns, no commercial industries and the barren hills receive too little rainfall for commercial farming. The four villages rely exclusively on tourism for an income, earning money from land leases to build schools and other community projects with most villagers working in the hotels, buying their food supplies from the mainland and supplementing their lifestyle by fishing in the lagoons. Resorts are small and intimate with no building rising higher than the surrounding coconut palms. Even on the most developed islands, Mana and Malolo Lailai, it’s possible to wander just a little way from the hotel reception to be on a secluded stretch of beach. The only drawback of this laid back holiday environment is a complete lack of independent restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs and shops. If you’re looking for a bit of holiday razzmatazz you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Getting around the Mamanucas
Travelling between Nadi and the
is a real sightseeing treat. Sea transfers are offered by South Sea Cruises and Leeward Services, both departing Port Denarau at the southern end of Nadi and offering free hotel pick-up and drop-off in the Nadi area, or by hiring a private water taxi at several spots along the coast. There are airstrips at Malolo Lailai and
, but airlines only fly to and from
and not between the two airstrips. Seaplanes and helicopters can land at most island resorts and to make the most of fantastic sightseeing along the way you should definitely consider transferring out to your resort by air and returning to Nadi by sea.
Those looking to save money on their accommodation might consider staying in Nadi where rooms are far more competitively priced and visiting the islands on a series of day cruises. There are many tour options from Nadi, from soaking up the sun at an island resort starting at F$80 per person to cruising the islands on a sail boat or taking a snorkelling trip to the Malolo Barrier Reef.
Flights to Mamanuca Group
Sea plane and helicopter transfers are available to all Mamanuca Resorts. There is an airstrip on Mana Island and Malololeilei Island with regular daily flights from Nadi Airport.
Fast Catamarans to Mamanuca Group
The mamanuca group is served by numerous fast catamarans and smaller boats, most departing from Denarau Marina off Nadi. South Sea Cruises operate a daily fast catamaran to Waya, Waya Lailai, Naviti and Tavewa islands. Takes between 2 - 4 hours from Nadi.
Local Cruises / Ferries
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