The Yasawa Islands is an archipelago of about 20 volcanic islands in the Western Division of Fiji which covers approximately 135 square kilometers. The Yasawa group of islands break down into six main islands and numerous smaller islets and because they are volcanic in origin, their mountainous peaks range from 250 to 600 meters tall.
There are 15 words in the Fijian language meaning Heaven and ‘Yasawa‘ is the first. And, it’s easy to see why. The Yasawa Islands are heavenly in countless ways. Of all of the Fiji islands, the Yasawa Islands (or as many refer to as the Yasawas) are the most archetypical of the “South Pacific.” Some refer to them as a “string of blue beads dotted amongst pristine reefs and turquoise seas.”
Mostly undeveloped and pristine, the beaches boast beautiful white sand and the azure water will have you at hello — perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving.
Apparently they were first discovered by Captain Bligh in 1789 but little was known about the Yasawa Islands until around 1840. During World War II, the Yasawa Islands were used by the U.S. military as a communications outpost.
We spent our time on the main island: Yasawa Island, which covers roughly 32 square kilometers. It’s a limestone island which is famous for its underwater caves. It is home eto six villages, and a population of only around 1,200 people, so it’s very small.
The flight is incredibly scenic and takes you along the coast of Viti Levu, and over the turquoise reefs and spectacular islands of the Yasawa Islands group.
The Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
Arriving to the Yasawa Islands is just as magical as staying on them. The views are spectacular in all directions from above and the moment you land on the grassy airstrip in a small puddle jumper you catch from Nadi. Whether you’re looking out to a nearly untouched beach, lounging at the pristine blue pool at the resort or snorkeling under the sea, you’ll be in heaven during your entire stay.
There are only 18 luxury bungalows, all of which are hidden among the palms. Each bungalow has its own beach with a hammock swinging between two trees and a porch facing the ocean, which are perfect for morning coffee or a glass of champagne at the end of the day. Be sure to read our review on the property.
The water is so crystal clear here that swimming off any of their private beaches is a must do. They also have paddle boarding available for guests, which is a fun activity early in the day or near dusk when the water is calm and it’s easy to see coral from several feet away.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is inclusive of all gourmet meals & snacks, all non-alcoholic beverages, and complimentary wiﬁ in their public spaces. Note that wifi really only works in the reception area — the idea is to get away from technology so it softly forces you to minimize cell phone use, which will help to restore and balance you.
Guests have use of all standard activities (kayaks, stand up paddle boards, tennis, guided walks, catamaran, etc) plus all scheduled activities like Village Visits, trips to the Blue Lagoon Caves, guided snorkeling trips and private beach picnics.
There are 11 private beaches around the main island. Any one of them is the perfect place to relax, meditate or catch up on that novel you’ve been meaning to read.
The Blue Lagoons Cave
You can catch a banana boat out to the Blue Lagoons Cave. It takes roughly 45 minutes by boat from the resort, and you can visit the same caves from the 1980’s movie with Brooke Shields: The Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon Caves are located on the southern point of Yasawa Island.
- The views are breathtaking!
You can go to a private island where it’s only you and the beach and views. In other words, a pristine remote beach you don’t need to share with anyone. The main Yasawa Island is famous for its beaches, particularly Paradise (which also offers some snorkeling), Lover’s Point (where we went and is more suitable for swimming), and Vulawalu Beach near the village of Yasawa-i-Rara.
One of the boats we took to go to the nearby reef for snorkeling. Some opted to go fishing and swimming.
You can also take a nature walk to Lagona, where you’ll learn about the plants of the island and their different purposes. .
Sunsets in the Yasawa Islands
Sunsets are spectacular every night as well regardless of where you are in the Yasawa Islands.
There’s a charming village on the main island in the Yasawas, making it an easy side trip from the resort. Here, you can learn about the village, buy colorful materials and artisan work from the locals and hear the children sing. There’s also a church on-site you can visit as well.
The local church in the Bukama Village has services on most Sundays and they last around two hours. They suggest wearing a sarong (sulu) or a skirt below the knees with your shoulders covered if you do attend. For gents, they suggest long shorts or trousers. And, if you are wearing a hat, they ask that you remove it before entering the village.
The local religion is Methodist (predominantly). From the Chief, the islanders are not permitted to drink alcohol however locals can partake in Kava or “Yaqona” or simply “Grog.”
Entry to the village is by invitation only. In addition to honoring the above customs, they ask that you do not touch any Fijian on the head as it is considered highly offensive.
Snorkeling & Diving
There’s a dive shop at the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa. If you want to dive, they offer various dive packages including getting certified as well as dives for one, two, three or more days. And, you can even do a night dive.
Here, you can view a variety of coral and fish, from lion fish, reef sharks, parrot fish, surgeon fish, stingrays, and soft corals to trigger fish, angle fish, giant sweetlips, rock cod, turtles, and miniature sea life. There are a number of dive sites available so if you love the water, the Yasawa Islands is a great choice. While we didn’t dive, we did snorkel in several spots and had a blast!
The main island of Yasawa is surrounded by unchartered turquoise and jade green reefs with less than 5% of the reefs on the west or leeward side of the island (the preferred diving area). In the west, there are also unspoiled reefs and a number of different diving opportunities for all levels.
Some of the dive sites in the Yasawa Islands include Paradise, Lover’s Leap, Front Porch, Wonderland, Cascade, Bird Rock, Magic Wall (soft tree corals can be found here), Fantastic (barracuda sightings), Shallow Bay (hard corals, lobsters and whitetip sharks) and Race Track (angle fish and trigger fish).
Snorkeling is amazing off any of the islands.
Snorkeling above and below!
Fijian Culture & Music
Fijians love to sing and dance, so wherever you go, you’ll find performances including from the staff at the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa, who entertain for you on certain evenings right on the beach.
Food in the Yasawa Islands
Food is fresh in Fiji in general and on the Yasawa Islands, you’ll mostly eat fresh fruit, veggies, fish and lobster.
Many of the dishes we sampled were truly unique and the chefs bring in natural ingredients from the island too, Fiji style.
Other tasty dishes at the resort included Sweet Corn, Bacon & Leek Soup, Confit Chicken, Crispy Salmon, Mushroom and Brie Penne, Tempura Prawns, Pulled Pork Rib Pizza, Sesame, Soy and Ginger Snapper, Beetroot, Haloumi and Pesto sliders, Cauliflower & Parmesan Soup, Honey Glazed Pork, Pan Fried Walu, Cassava Croquettes, and for desserts, white chocolate panna cotta and orange marmalade pudding to name a few.
Some of the other exquisite dishes included Kokoda which is classic in Fiji (coconut, tomato & lime salsa, white fish and octopus), fresh salads and wraps (Thai Beef Wrap with Asian slaw), red curries, and our lunch on Lover’s Point was a Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad, which had us at hello. The smokiness combined with the sundried tomato pesto sauce, cucumbers, black olives, feta and basil was out of this world.
Getting to the Yasawa Islands
The easiest way to travel to get there is through their daily charter service — you can opt to travel via helicopter if you wish but it is more expensive to do so obviously. The Island Hopper airplane service and the trip is a short 25-35 minute flight from Nadi International Airport.
If you’re staying at the Yasawa Island Resort & Spa, you’ll land on the grassy airstrip on the main island, and then they’ll pick you up in a van after which it’s a short ten minute drive to the resort.
Below, our arrival in Nadi upon our return!