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Yasawa Travel Guide
Yasawa Islands

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Thrust up from the deep blue ocean with jagged peaks and tranquil bays, the Yasawa Islands is where most backpackers and budget travellers head to. With stunning beaches and fantastic snorkelling, it’s the kind of place where you can lay down a towel and daydream, do a little snorkelling, climb a few hills and find yourself engulfed by the slowly- slowly essence of Fiji time. This contorted chain of islands extending to the north of the Mamanucas is the most convenient and accessible place in Fiji to travel around, hopping from beach to beach on the Yasawa Flyer, a daily fast catamaran from Nadi, swapping tales with other travellers and experiencing a little bit of local culture to justify the trip with the folk back home.

The group of thirty islands has four quite distinct regions although all are blessed with outstanding beaches. The Waya Islands , in the southern part of the group, are similar in nature to the outer Mamanuca Islands with high mountain peaks, dramatic rock faces and fantastic coastal and hill walking tracks. These three islands are the closest to the mainland taking just over an hour from Lautoka and are by far the most interesting to visit with the deep bays and pretty villages being regular stops for overnight cruises. To the north is the largest island in the group, Naviti, with rolling grassy hills and a dozen small offshore islands where manta rays congregate in the protected bays between May and October. About half an hour north of Naviti is a collection of eight small islands around Nacula, with three upmarket resorts and the freehold island of Tavewa boasting the original backpackers in the group. The surrounding islands remain the backpacker hub of Fiji . Its main attraction is its white sandy beaches and sheltered lagoon nicknamed Blue Lagoon, partly for its dream- like turquoise waters but also after the semi- erotic 1980s film, Blue Lagoon, which was filmed here starring an innocent looking Brooke Shields.

Most places to stay are found on the sheltered west coasts where the fast catamaran Yasawa Flyer travel along every day dropping off travelers. The local fishing villages tend to be found in secluded bays along the eastern sides of the larger islands - the villages, their plantations and the resorts they now work in are all connected to one another by small tracks which traverse hills and ridges and make for pleasant hiking. The villages are for the most part self reliant with few telephones, limited electricity, unreliable water and basic provisions, and the people rely almost exclusively on tourism for an income. Schools are under- funded with many primary school children boarding at neighbouring villages, and there’s just one secondary school, at Naviti, with the majority of teenagers either dropping out to help out around the home or schooling on the mainland and staying with their extended families.



The closest of the Yasawa Islands lies about 40km north west from Nadi and the islands extend almost 90km in a north easterly line. The 16 main islands can roughly be divided into four groups:


Kuata & Waya Island
These are the closest islands to Nadi. Scenically, they are the most spectacular with high rocky peaks and sheer cliffs dropping into deep bays. There are some lovely beaches with budget resorts, particularly the sand spit that joins Waya and Wayasewa islands which can be traversed at low tide. Both islands have excellent walking tracks making this the choice for explorers. Uninhabited Kuata Island has a busy backpackers resort and offers excellent snorkelling and diving.
... more on Kuata & Waya Island



Naviti Island
Naviti is the largest of the Yasawa Islands and is located across a 10km wide windy passage from Waya Island. The hilly island is covered in sparse forest with grassy ridges in many places. Naviti is also the most populated island in the group with half a dozen small fishing villages. At the southern tip of Naviti is a cluster of five small islands which offer tranquil lagoons and chance to swim with Manta Rays between May and October. There are several lovely resorts on white sandy beaches here.
... more on Naviti Island



Tavewa, Nanuya & Nacula Island
About 10km north of Naviti is another cluster of small islands where the original Yasawa islands tourism began. Two backpackers set up on freehold Tavewa Island in the 1980s at about the same time the exclusive Turtle Island Resort opened its door on the adjacent island. Apart from Blue Lagoon Cruises which uses the beach front on the third small island in this cluster as a day destination, there was virtually no other tourism in this group until the late 1990s. That's when backpacking sky rocketed and there are now more than 20 budget beach resorts here. This is a great place to relax on the gorgeous beaches, swim in protected lagoons, meet fellow travellers or do a little fishing or scuba diving. But expect to see lots of travellers up this way - the Yasawas have been discovered.
... more on Tavewa, Nanuya & Nacula Islands



Yasawa Islands Accommodation


The Yasawa Islands are served by the fast 200- passenger catamaran Yasawa Flyer with departures every day at 9am from Port Denarau and returning at 6pm. The Yasawa Flyer stops in either direction at all island resorts on: Kuata, Wayasewa and Waya (2hrs); Drawaqa and Naviti (3hrs); and Yaqeta, Matacawalevu, Nanuya Lailai, Tavewa and Nacula (3 ½ - 4hrs) as well as several coral atolls in the Mamanucas including Bounty Island, Beachcomber Island and South Sea Island. You can also purchase one way transfers between any of the Yasawa islands although if you’re going to island hop, the best option is to purchase the Bula Pass which allows unlimited travel on the Yasawa Flyer, although once you return to Port Denarau, the pass expires despite its duration. The Yasawa Flyer pitches in at several bays along the way and is met by a flurry of small boats picking up their guests and overloading their boats with luggage and supplies.

Turtle Airways provides seaplane transfers to resorts around Tavewa. Guests staying at Yasawa Island Resort are flown in by private charter landing on the grass airstrip on Yasawa Island .

Luxury Overnight Cruises
A great way to explore the group is on a 3- or 7-night luxury cruise. Blue Lagoon Cruises offer small ship cruises for 3- 4- and 7-night itineraries visiting traditional villages, remote beaches and anchoring in exquisite sheltered lagoons. This is the only region in Fiji where overnight cruises operate. Yacht charters through the group are also available through several sailing charter companies.


Flights to Yasawa Islands
The only island with an airstrip is Yasawa island in the far north of the chain. Pacific island Seaplanes fly their amphibious plane as a daily charter flight for Yasawa island Resort guests only. Turtle Airways sea plane offers private transfers to other island resorts.
Local Flights

Boats to Yasawa Islands
The 200 passenger Yasawa Flyer departs daily from Denarau stopping at Kuata / Waya (2 hours), Nanuya Balavu (2hrs 45 mins), Naviti (3hrs), Matacawalevu (3hrs 45mins) and Tavewa / Nacula (4 hrs 30mins). The 7-day travel pass costs around F$400 per person. Individual resort boats meet guests from the Yasawa Flyer and sometimes charge a few dollars extra. Local resort boats also depart Lautoka for Kuata / Waya taking just under 2 hours.
Local Cruises / Ferries



Readers may also be interested in the following destinations:

Cook Islands Travel Guide
Samoa Travel Guide
Tonga Travel Guide
Tahiti Travel Guide
Hawaii Travel Guide



Other Recommended Websites:


South Pacific Travel Guides:
Fiji Travel ; Cook Islands Travel ; Samoa Travel ; Tonga Travel ; Tahiti Travel ; Hawaii Travel ; Oahu Travel ; Kauai Travel ; Maui Travel ; Big Island Hawaii Travel



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