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How To Go Island Hopping In Yasawa Islands Fiji 2024 Guide

Thinking about going island hopping in the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, South Pacific, but unsure how to plan it, which islands to stay on and how long you should spend in the Yasawa group? We had similar questions too. Since we’ve come back from our Fiji Islands trip, I’m sharing everything I learnt about how to travel Fiji to those beautiful white sand beaches.

This guide is for everyone. If you’re trying to plan a family holiday to Fiji, this is for you. If you’re trying to plan a backpacking Fiji trip, this is for you too. And if you’re looking for more adults only resorts or honeymoon destinations, then you’ll love this Fiji travel guide to the Yasawa Islands.


Why visit the Yasawa Islands?

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If you’re at the stage for trying to work out where to holiday in Fiji, check out our Ultimate Fijian Islands Travel Guide. This has absolutely everything you need to know about which island groups are the most popular when it comes to holidaying in Fiji.

Here’s a quick run down of the main island groups tourist visit in Fiji in the South Pacific:

Viti Levu (main island where Nadi International Airport and Suva Airport are located) for convenience:

  • Port Denarau – basically a marina with big resorts, but loads of day trips to islands and main island activities
  • Coral Coast – more big resorts but with access to activities you won’t get on an island (like zip lining etc)

Island hopping island groups

  • Yasawa Islands – caters for all budgets but more pristine islands with impressive white sandy beaches
  • Mamanuca Islands – easier to get to, more luxury resorts

Off the beaten path islands

  • Kadavu Island – jungle like island with one of the biggest barrier reefs in the world, and authentic Fijian cultural experiences
  • Taveuni Island – jungle island with traditional Fijian cultural experiences

Yasawa Islands are super popular with backpackers and all budgets because they cater for everyone. These islands provide a proper island experience, with many local people from nearby villages working a them.

Come here to snorkel with sharks, manta rays, swim in the famous Sawa-i-Lau caves and enjoy being in paradise with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters in the coral reefs from your accommodation.


Yasawa Islands vs Mamanuca Islands

Many tourists either go island hopping in the Yasawa Islands or Mamanuca Islands, and if you’re wondering what the difference is, let us break it down for you.

IslandProsCons
Yasawa Islands– Caters for all budgets
– More activities to do
– Clearer water for diving, snorkelling and kayaking
– Takes longer to get to (up to 4.5 hours) or take helicopter
– May need to stay in Fiji either day of ferry schedule
Mamanuca Islands– More up market resorts
– Easier to get to with more ferry times
– Visit set location island for ‘Cast Away’ movie with Tom Hanks
– Water isn’t as clear
– Not as many budget resorts

When is the Best Time to Visit the Yasawa Islands?

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While the best time to visit Yasawa Islands is between May to October as it’s not as hot as other months of the year, Christmas is also super popular because of school holidays.

I have been to Fiji twice now, once years ago around February time and now just recently in September. The first time I went it was crazy hot, like I remember having to sit in the water pretty much all day long.

This time around, because we visited in what the Fijians told us was windy season, it was actually a great temp. We would see a similar pattern each day: super windy in the morning and a bit cloudy, and very calm and sunny by the afternoon. Some nights I needed a light long sleeved top because it was cooler than I imagined it to be.

We had aircon in the our room, but for those that didn’t told us they slept fine without it.


How long to spend in the Yasawa Islands

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We spent six nights at just Blue Lagoon Resort in Yasawa Islands. Was it too long? Not for us! We wanted a really lazy holiday to chill out and could have easily spent a few more nights here. A lot of people were spending 2-3 nights per resort, so it’s just up to you how long you want to spend at each resort. Our resort had a lot of activities on which I’ll talk more about later in this guide so we were never bored.


How to plan your flights

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As I mentioned above, one of the downsides about booking the Yasawa Islands is you’ll probably have to spend a night in Nadi or Port Denarau when you arrive, and then possibly at the end of your trip because of the one ferry a day situation.

We managed to dodge a night on the way there as we timed our flight to arrive at 5:30am, so we would make the ferry in time. On the way back, we spent the night at Club Fiji Resort and it wasn’t great. Luckily our flight left early the next day, but I would avoid staying the night if you can.


How to get to the Yasawa Islands

You can either jump on the ferry which is the cheaper option to visit the Yasawa Islands. Alternatively you can book a helicopter (which many people do) to get there in style. We’ll break down all of the passes and ways to get there.

How to get a helicopter to Yasawa Islands

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Prefer to arrive in style on your Fijian islands holiday? You can book a helicopter flight with Island Hoppers which starts from $620 FJD pp. As I said, people were flying into our resort on a daily basis, and I can imagine the flight experience would be pretty incredible seeing the reefs and islands from above.


How to book the Yasawa Flyer ferry

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Because our flight arrived at 5:30am and it was only a 3.5 hour flight, we didn’t exactly get much sleep. But the excitement made up for it and we pretty much got through the whole day until we arrived at our resort and then crashed.

The good news is, catching the ferry from Port Denarau is really easy. We booked our ferry with Awesome Adventures which takes you through to the booking page for South Sea Cruises. This is the company who run the ferry called The Yasawa Flyer. Don’t go through any other sites, they will charge you more money.

Because we were just going to Blue Lagoon Resort, we booked a return ticket to that resort which cost us $200 FJD each, each way. Our total cost for two return tickets to Blue Lagoon Resort (which is one of the furthest way resorts) cost us $550 AUD.


Captains Lounge Ferry Pass

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You can buy the Captains Lounge pass which is more expensive, giving you more room, unlimited alcohol and pastries to keep you full. There is aircon in both the lounge and the normal pass. We met some kiwis who booked the Captains Lounge Pass and they said it was freezing in there, so bring some warmer clothes for the boat.


Bula Pass (multi-day pass for island hopping)

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If you’re island hopping in Yasawa islands, you’ll need to book the Bula Pass which will give you multi-stop offs rather than one pass. The pass ranges from how many days you plan to be there for from: 5 days, and up to 15 days.


Finding the bus transfer to Port Denarau (for the ferry)

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We didn’t want to deal with taxi drivers ripping us off from Nadi international airport to Port Denarau, and luckily we didn’t have to worry about that. This is because your ferry transfer ticket will include pickup transfer from your hotel in Nadi or from Nadi airport.

Finding the bus transfer is super easy when you get into the arrivals at Nadi international airport.

The airport is small, and when you arrive, there’s an information desk as soon as you come into arrivals. The lady behind the counter directed us to someone with a sign who showed us the bus out the back of the airport.

Even when we went out the back, some of the locals asked us if they could help us and we assumed they were touts. They aren’t. Fijian people are so nice and helpful, they simply wanted to show us the way to the bus which made me quickly realise we were going to have a great time in Fiji.

The bus picked us up at 7am and as we picked up everyone else from their hotels and resorts, we made it to Port Denarau to pick up our ferry passes, drop our bags off and jump on the boat.


Eat before jumping on the ferry

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The only problem with our schedule is we wish we bought some food at the airport before jumping on the boat. We didn’t have time to buy anything at Port Denarau, and ended up buying a packet of Pringles and a kitkat for $13FJD ($10AUD) to get us through until we arrived at Blue Lagoon Resort.


Before you plan your resorts, do this

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Before you plan your Yasawa Islands resorts, make sure you choose in order for where they are located. For example, book the closest resort to Port Denarau first, then the next one that’s closest the the resort and so on.

From what other tourists told us, they said start closest to Port Denarau, then work your way up North because the islands get better and better the further way from the main island.


Yasawa Island Resorts

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Now we’ve discussed the basics, let’s jump into how you can plan which resorts are best for you.

Let’s start by listing all of the Yasawa Island accommodation for you to choose from. We’ll then separate them into backpacker, budget, adults only and family friendly resorts.


Number 1 Yasawa Island Resort

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If you’re looking for the most luxurious resort in the whole of Yasawa Islands, you’ll want to visit Yasawa Island Resort & Spa. Located the furthest north of the Yasawa Islands, you’ll need to fly by helicopter to get here. Although it’s not going to be cheap, this is one of the best resorts in Fiji!

Most popular Yasawa Islands resorts


Best backpacker / budget and mid-range resorts (in order of which to visit first)

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This list is based off what we learnt from all other tourists on our trip, plus our own experience as well.


Best Luxury Resorts

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Best Adults Only Resorts

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Best family friendly resorts

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Prefer to do a Yasawa Islands Cruise instead?

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If you’d prefer to do a Yasawa Islands cruise, Blue Lagoon Cruises offers this 4 day Yasawa Islands cruise to spend your time getting involved in the Fijian culture while relaxing on multiple islands. You’ll swim with reef sharks, take part in a cooking lesson, visit a remote island village and much more.

This is perfect for those who can’t be bothered to organise accommodation and ferries, and prefer to have everything organised for them instead.

Prefer to spend longer in the Yasawa islands? Check out this 7 night Yasawa Islands Fiji Cruise which is really good value.


Best Things to do in Yasawa Islands

While you’re choosing your accommodation in Yasawa Islands, there’s loads of activities to choose from. Here are some of the best things to do in Yasawa Islands that you need to put on your radar.

1. Swim in the secret Sawa-i-Lau Caves (aka Blue Lagoon Caves

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We went on this day trip to Sawa-i-Lau Caves which is only a 25 minute boat ride from Blue Lagoon Resort. It’s also located very near to Yasawa Island Resort and is a fun day out. Check out our Sawa-i-Lau Caves Review to learn all about the scary second cave you can visit as well. It was certainly an experience!

2. Swim with reef sharks and manta rays!

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The best way you can do these experiences is by staying a Barefoot Kuata Island for reef sharks and Mantaray Island to swim with manta rays. We assumed we would be able to do day trips from our resort to these experiences but they don’t openly offer it. They can organise a boat for you, but you’ll need to get a couple of people to help pay for the boat as I can imagine it won’t be cheap.

3. Learn various Fijian traditions

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At Blue Lagoon Resort, we had the opportunity to take part in loads of Fijian experiences such as learning how to open a coconut, cooking classes, voivoi weaving, basket weaving and more.

4. Take part in a kava ceremony

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At Blue Lagoon Resort, there was a kava ceremony every night you can partake in. It’s basically drinking kava root which gives a similar feeling to beetle nut which is what is chewed in India for a buzz like feeling. It’s not a drug and you’ll be fine to have a little bit of it.

5. Go for a hike on your island

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There will most certainly be hiking trails on most of the islands you can explore. Check with the staff at your resort first before going hiking. At ours, the staff told us a tourist went off for a hike and was found 10 hours later at a local village. The staff had to go out to find him, so be very careful and listen to the resort staff.

6. Explore the water activities

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Most resorts have excellent coral reefs you can snorkel right off the beach like ours did at Blue Lagoon Resort. We also had free access to kayaks and SUPs which was fun. Go on a snorkelling day trip or go scuba diving in some of the world’s best dive spots in Fiji.

7. Village visit

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Village visits are a fantastic opportunity to see how local Fijians live. In the Yasawa group, there are plenty of villages to visit and support by buying something from their women’s markets. We loved our village visit and really enjoyed meeting the locals and watching them sing beautiful songs to us.


Tips before you go

Single travellers & safety

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Thinking about heading to Fiji on your own? You won’t be alone. So many people are travelling Fiji by themselves, including people holidaying and backpacking. You’ll meet loads of people on the ferries and at other resorts and homestays, that you’ll be able to choose if you want to spend time with people or by yourself.

Fiji is incredibly safe. The locals are super welcoming and won’t be looking to scam you.


Meal packages & alcohol costs

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One thing that really surprised many travellers are the meal package costs. When you book your accommodation, just check with the resort if it includes the meal package first. When we booked ours, we were sent an email saying we then owed $160 FJD per person per day for the meal package, which came to about $1500 AUD for two of us for 6 nights of food. It’s a mandatory cost and you can’t get out of it, no matter how much you try because the islands don’t have roads or any shops on them to buy your own food.

Most resorts charge from $110 pp per night for all meals.


Stock up on snacks

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Lots of people I knew told me to stock up on snacks before arriving in Fiji. I remember from the first time I visited years ago, I spent my time thinking about meal times. We brought some museli bars with us and they were sufficient to last us.

To be honest, Blue Lagoon Resort gives you so much food, we were full all the time. We had a menu to choose from whereas I know Oarsman’s Bay Lodge next door would give you the option of either chicken or fish each night. At Blue Lagoon were were given a 5 course meal which changed every night.


Water

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Bring a water bottle with you to refill water to save on costs. Fiji is home to some of the best water in the world! Just don’t brush your teeth with tap water as you might get sick, only drink filtered water. Need a water bottle? Buy this water bottle which will keep water cold all day long.


ATMs on the island

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There are no ATMs in the Yasawa Island, so if you’re bringing cash, get it out at the airport. There’s a Westpac ATM at Nadi International Airport but it costs $15 FJD per transaction. Our resort took credit cards, so just check with the resort or homestay first before jumping on the ferry.


Wifi & sim cards

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You can easily by a SIM card from Vodafone at Nadi Airport. The most popular option was for 175GB for $55 AUD. We decided not to go with a sim because we wanted a digital detox which was excellent. It’s way better to be in the moment than scrolling on your phone, missing the amazing sunsets for example.

Our resort had wifi but it wasn’t strong enough, so I had to get up at 6am before everyone else and spend an hour waiting for an app to download.


More Fiji travel guides to read!

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Looking for more inspiration? Check out our popular Fiji travel guides below!

My Honest Review of Blue Lagoon Resort in Fiji

Blue Lagoon Caves (Sawa-i-Lau Caves): What You Need To Know

The Ultimate Fijian Islands Travel Guide You Need To Read


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