Fiji is an archipelago of Oceania made up of over 330 islands of all shapes and sizes. The two largest islands are those of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu which alone account for almost 90% of the nation’s total area. Among all these islands, less than 100 km north-west of Viti Levu and just north of the archipelago of the Mamanuca islands, there is a spectacular chain of twenty wild and mountainous volcanic islands: the Yasawa islands. Until a few decades ago, these islands were an almost unattainable destination. In fact, to visit them it was necessary to get an invitation from a village chief. But today they have become one of the most popular destinations for those visiting the South Pacific.
Small resorts have sprung up in the Yasawa in recent years. Almost every island has at least one. But noteworthy is that many of these structures are managed directly by the inhabitants. In Yasawa there are no roads and cars and the villages are interconnected by paths that cross the interior of the islands. The population economy is based on agriculture and fishing. But the type of tourist exploitation, not at all invasive, allows to help local communities thanks to the collaboration with the resorts that employ local staff and who do their best by helping local schools and eco-sustainable development projects.
WILD AND MOUNTAIN VOLCANIC ISLANDS
The Yasawa Islands extend from southwest to northeast for approximately 100 km. The southernmost is the island of Kuata, while in the far north is the long island of Yasawa. Proceeding from the south, north of the island of Kuata which is characterized by strange rock formations, are the islands of Wayasewa and Waya, with high and scenic mountains. Further north-east are the small Narara, Naukacuvu, Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa. Then it is the turn of the large island of Naviti. Isolated about 25 km west of Naviti is the flat island of Viwa. Continuing north-east from Naviti are the islands of Yaqeta, Matacawa Levu, Nanuya Levu, Nanuya Lailai and Tavewa.
The Yasawa chain ends with the large island of Nacula, with the small island of Sawa-i-Lau, characterized by limestone caves, and with the largest island of the archipelago: the long and narrow island of Yasawa which is mainly formed from rolling hills and spectacular beaches. All the islands are characterized by hills and mountains that are often very scenic and wild. Some islands have peaks that exceed 500 meters in height. All the islands are united by a splendid sea, by an intact coral reef, by spectacular volcanic mountains, by dream beaches and by a welcoming population.
HOW TO GET TO YASAWA ISLANDS
The islands are connected to each other by a convenient daily catamaran service, the famous Yasawa Flyer, which shuttles every day between Port Denarau along the western coast of the island of Viti Levu and the main islands of the Yasawa archipelago. The Yasawa Flyer is a large and modern high-speed catamaran and is the most classic and popular means that tourists use to get to the Yasawa islands. If you are in a hurry, you can also use a seaplane flight.
The Yasawa Flyer departs from Port Denarau in the morning and arrives in the middle of the day on the island of Nacula, while in the afternoon it travels backwards until it reaches Port Denarau in the late afternoon. The journey time is 5 hours for the outward journey and 4 hours and 15 minutes for the return journey. The crossing on board the ferry is also a splendid cruise that allows you to see almost all the Yasawa islands from the sea. This type of itinerary and the daily frequency of connections allow you to stop on an island and then in the following days embark again and stop in the next, visiting as many islands as you want within the time available.
Among the most beautiful resorts of the Yasawa those located on the islands of Kuata (Barefoot Kuata Island), Waya (Octopus Resort), Nacula (Blue Lagoon Beach Resort), Naukacuvu (Paradise Cove Resort), Yasawa (Yasawa Island Resort and Spa).
A CRUISE AMONG THE ISLANDS
If instead you want to make a real cruise in this beautiful archipelago there are two companies that offer 3 and 7 day itineraries: Captain Cook Cruises and Blue Lagoon Cruises. Both companies use small cruise ships with a capacity between 70 (Blue Lagoon) and 130 passengers (Captain Cook). They have similar itineraries, but what differentiates them is that the more luxurious Blue Lagoon Cruise does not allow families with children to board. Northern Yasawa Islands Cruise: Captain Cook Cruises. Cruise to Mamanuca islands and southern Yasawa: Captain Cook Cruises.
WHEN TO GO TO THE YASAWA ISLANDS
The best time to visit the Yasawa islands is the dry season between May and September, but the islands are rather dry by Fijian standards and their visit can be made at any time of the year, although it is preferable to avoid the rainiest months between December and March, which are also those of the hurricanes.