The Fijian Yasawa Islands are a cluster of volcanic archipelago islands to the west of the Viti Levu mainland. Derived from the Fijian word for heaven, the Yasawa Islands offer a South Pacific slice of paradise. Palm lined golden beaches, crystalline water and top notch snorkelling. Promising guaranteed relaxation as you quickly adjust to Fiji Time. They have only been accessible to visitors since the late 1980s. Previously, visitors couldn’t set foot on the islands and would have to remain aboard the cruise ships, thus making the Yasawa Islands relatively new to tourism and a unique opportunity. Now is the ideal time to explore the islands and experience a little slice of the Fijian culture, traditions and way of life.
Nanuya Lailai Island
Nanuya Lailai is a 5 hour Yasawa Flyer boat trip from the mainland. The small and pristine island of Nanuya Lailai offers an idyllic escape. First of all, it’s more remote than some of the other Yasawa Islands. Therefore, they’ll only be a handful of visitors. Secondly, it’s the perfect place to take the opportunity to untether from modern day technology. Instead, spend your days on the beach, catching up on your favourite book. Or relaxing under the shade of a palm, sipping on a refreshing coconut to quench your thirst.
What to do?
If you’re feeling energetic, try your hand at fishing, spear fishing or snorkelling. There are nearby coral reefs just feet from shore including Fiji’s iconic Blue Lagoon – a infamous Fijian spot. I highly recommend taking the short walk from one side of the rocky island to the other. At low tide walk via the palm lined coastline and at high tide on a well-trodden overland track. Romeo the local dog joined me as my guide, staying by my side the whole day. After a short time on Nanuya Lailai you’ll quickly adjust to the island pace of life. And before long you’ll fall in love with the Fijians welcoming friendly nature and beaming smiles.
Where to stay?
For a truely authentic experience, I highly recommend the Gold Coast Inn on the island of Nanuya Lailai. The small family run accommodation offers simplicity at its finest. The basic bures with comfortable beds and a mosquito net make the perfect retreat. You’ll love listening to the waves crashing not far away from the comfort of your bure. With no internet and limited power, you’ll have plenty of time for swimming, snorkelling, walks along the beach and exploring this picture-perfect and green island.
The Gold Coast Inn on the island of Nanuya Lailai serves delicious traditional Fijian cuisine. Think fresh, as fresh as fresh can be, with vegetables picked from the garden and seafood straight from the ocean. Taro (yam like root vegetable), sweet potato, rice, coconut and seafood including crab, crayfish and fish are served for dinner. The warm-hearted host family share stories, songs and insights into their life in Fiji – a truely unique Fijian experience.
Two and a half hours to the south is the largest of the Yasawa Islands, Waya Island. The perfect place to continue your Fijian island adventure.
What to do?
Try your hand at basket weaving or attend a church service at Nalauwalki Village and listen to the astonishing choir. Book yourself a Fijian massage or try your hand at yoga on Likuliku Bay with a jaw-dropping fiery sunset as the backdrop. Waya Island offers a wide array of activities to keep you and the family entertained throughout your stay.
Where to stay?
The Octopus Resort on Waya Island offers a fully catered Fijian experience with top notch, exceptionally friendly and helpful staff. Located on the pristine Likuliku Bay, Octopus Resort offers dorm rooms, garden bungalows, beachfront bures and a luxury lodge. All are powered and Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort. Whether you want to swim in the ocean or the swimming pool, snorkel on the nearby reef, dive on the outer reefs, play volleyball, walk or fish, Octopus Resort has something for everyone.
No matter what your food preferences, Octopus Resort has you covered. An extensive menu including delicious homemade pizza, fresh fish and chips and local Fijian cuisine. Served from the beach front and sand floored restaurant on the beautiful Likuliku Bay. Over dinner, get to know your fellow visitors at the communal tables. Or book yourself a private table on the beach for a more romantic experience. Either way, the local band will keep you entertained throughout the evening.
Finally, the awe-inspiring Fijian Yasawa Islands are the perfect destination for intrepid and resort-seeking travellers alike. The islands offer the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation and an insight into the Fijian island lifestyle. You will leave the islands with fond memories of the relatively unexplored and beautiful islands scattered within the Pacific Ocean. The welcoming nature and genuine friendliness of the Fijian people is something I’ll never forget.
Adam Constanza – Freelance Travel Writer | A Wellingtonian Goes Off The Beaten Track
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