Yasawa Islands Travel Guide
The Yasawa Islands are located in northwest Fiji and are one of the most popular island regions in the country, especially among budget travelers. Approximately 30 resorts are spread through the 12 major islands in the group. Most resorts provide basic accommodation, include meals, contain access to natural ,and cultural sites. This islands caters to those who are not looking to spend thousands per night at a resort but still want tropical serenity. I loved my time here and would go back in a heartbeat. It’s the biggest backpacker destination in the country too due to it’s low prices. If you’re on a limited time and budget, definitely visit the Yasawas!
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Top Things to See and Do in the Yasawa Islands
- Go under the sea – Given the tropical waters that surround the islands, it’s no surprise Fiji is home to some incredible snorkeling and diving. Some islands even have spectacular snorkeling right off the beach. Diving is very cheap in these islands. I spent $300 USD to get my PADI certification. That’s about half the cost of getting it in the US.
- Take a hike – Most all of the islands have good hiking. In Wayalailai, you can climb to the top of the mountain to see the sunrise, or hike the length of the island and cross the spit to Waya. Guides are available, or you can go alone. No matter what island you are at, the hiking is pretty easy and can be done in flip flops.
- Take a Plantation Tour – Ask the locals to take you through their plantations and show you the bananas, papaya, mangoes, breadfruit, casava, and other fruits and vegetables. Most of the food grown on the islands ends up on on your plate at night.
- Enjoy a boat trip – There are a range of boutique boat trip options for exploring the Yasawa Islands, including snorkeling, village visits, and traditional magiti (feast).
- Visit the villages – An excellent way to experience traditional life and mingle with the locals, villages are located on the larger islands. You can experience dance performances, traditional ceremonies, church services, and sample traditional food.
- Go kayaking – Most of the islands offer sea kayaking and the water is calm and safe to kayak around. Most resorts have kayaks for rent or offer organized sightseeing tours.
- Just relax – Honestly, these islands are far removed from civilization. You aren’t going to find TV, phone service, or constant Internet. Sit around, go for a swim, get a tan, drink a beer, read a book, and chill out. There’s no need to do anything else here.
- Learn weaving – Basket and bracelet weaving is a cultural tradition in Fiji. On almost all of the islands, locals offer workshops to teach visitors how they can do their own weaves. Weaves are simple and done with palm fronds and banana leaves.
- Attend a Kava Ceremony – Kava kava is a root that has extremely calming effects when ingested (it’s a mild sedative). Kava ceremonies are traditional and at night time, you’ll see almost all the locals sitting in a circle drinking it. I participated in a few ceremonies while I was on the islands. It is considered rude to refuse a bowl of kava. I found it made me sleep better but it didn’t induce some weird drug effect that a lot of people assume it does.
- Explore the Sawailau Caves – You have the option of visiting two separate caves through an organized tour of the Sawailau Caves. The first is accessible by foot (you just need to descend some stairs), but to get to the second, you need to swim underwater a bit. The caves are an interesting experience, but nothing extraordinary if it’s not your first time spelunking.
- Take a Fijian Cooking Class – Fijian cuisine has obvious influences from other South Pacific countries, as well as from China and India. All in all, this makes for an interesting mix of flavours. Take a cooking class at one of the resorts, and then enjoy eating the food you’ve learned to prepare.
- Swim with Manta Rays – This is a seasonal activity, available from May to October. During these months, manta rays pass through the channel between Drawaqa and Nanuya Balavu Islands to feed. Organized tours allow you to get up close and personal with them.
- Go Fishing – Many resorts offer the opportunity to arrange a fishing trip with the locals. It’s a great chance to see the islands from another angle and get to know a few Fijians.