Yasawa Islands, Fiji
Considered among the most spectacular of Fiji’s islands, the Yasawa Island group is a haven for honeymooners and backpackers alike, dotted with the full spectrum of upscale and budget accommodation options. The group of 20 mountainous islands in Fiji’s western division were the backdrop for the Hollywood action romance-film Blue Lagoon, an apt name considering the azure waters that surround the many rugged volcanic peaks that dramatically rise out of the ocean.
Yasawa, the largest of the islands, is located north-west of Vita Levu, the main island of Fiji and is home to exclusive resorts, charming provincial villages and amazing hiking, snorkelling and diving opportunities.
Visitors to the Yasawa Islands can choose from a number of cruise itineraries of differing lengths leaving from Port Denarau, Fiji’s major shipping port. Some routes explore only northern or southern islands in the archipelago, while longer cruises comprehensively tour the island group, covering an approximate area of 135 square kilometres.
Port Denarau is located in Nadi Bay, approximately 95 kilometres south of the Yasawa Islands on the western side of Vita Levu. Port Denarau is located on Denarau Island and is a 17-minute drive from Nadi International Airport. The port precinct is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Fij.
Visitors are spoiled for choice when spending time at the Port Denarau cruise terminal as it’s also a commercial hub for guests staying on the island’s many international luxury resorts.
- Restaurants including The Hard Rock Café
- Surf shops, diving shops and souvenir stores
- Children’s activity centre
- Bank and ATMs
- Internet café
How to Get Around
Most cruise itineraries will have pre-arranged schedules which transport their passengers around several of the islands in the Yasawa group on 3, 4 or 7-day cruises. These itineraries may include stops at the Sacred Islands, Waya, Kuata Naviti or Tavewa islands.
For those travelling independently, most visitors travel between the islands using the Yasawa Flyer, a large yellow catamaran. Multi day passes that allow unlimited travel between islands or individual trips can be purchased. There are also small local water taxis transferring passengers between some of closer island resorts (Waya to Kuata, Tavewa to Nacula). These only run in calm weather.
After arriving on any of the Yasawa Islands, visitors can explore most attractions easily on foot as many islands have no main roads. Bus or boat transfers to local resorts may also be available.
- Currency – The Yasawa Islands uses the Fijian Dollar (FJD). Coins are available in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and FJD$1 and FJD$2 coins. Bank notes of FJD$5, FJD$10, FJD$20, FJD$50 and FJD$100 denominations are used. Australian dollars may also be accepted but change for larger notes may not be readily available.
- Time Zone - The Yasawa Islands operates on Fiji time (FJT), which is 12 hours ahead of Universal Coordinated Time (UTC.) Between November and April, daylight savings comes into effect (UTC +13:00).
- Weather - Fiji in general enjoys higher temperatures and a tropical climate. The cooler months are between May to November (temperatures range from 19 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius).
- Village Trips - Visit some of the traditional island villages and be humbled at the lifestyle of locals who mostly living without electricity and other modern luxuries. Purchase hand woven baskets and bracelets and if you’re in town on Sunday, observe a traditional Methodist church service, with vibrant song and dance performances. In the evening, take part in the island ritual of drinking kava, a tongue numbing muddy brew.
- Island Hikes - Many of the Yasawa Islands, particularly Wayalailai and Kuata, have spectacular mountain hikes offering views across the lagoons surrounding the islands, and to the surrounding islands in the Yasawa chain. Be sure to take your own water, as well as sun protection and appropriate footwear.
- Sawa-i-Lau Caves – A must-do activity for adventurous types, these famous limestone caves are located on Sawa-i-Lau Island, which is situated north-east of Yasawa Island . Whether you are exploring them by boat or by swimming from cave to cave, you will be dazzled by the natural beauty of these magnificent caverns, carved from centuries of wave and tidal movements.
- Snorkelling and Diving - Cruising the Yasawa Islands demands that you take the time to explore the underwater worlds below to see the colourful coral, clams, stingrays and reef fish. World class snorkelling and diving expeditions are plentiful around the Yasawa Islands and this is an opportunity not to be missed.