The Yasawa Islands are a group of about 20 volcanic islands in the Western Division of Fiji. You won't find any shops, banks or medical services here, but with so much natural beauty you'll enjoy the break from civilization that the Yasawa Islands offer.

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About Yasawa Islands

General Information About Yasawa Islands

The Yasawa Group is an archipelago of about 20 volcanic islands in the Western Division of Fiji, with an approximate total area of 135 square kilometres. The Yasawa Islands are more grand in stature than the nearby Mamanuca Islands but are less commercialized, making them popular with backpackers. You won't find any shops, banks or medical services here, but with so much natural beauty you'll enjoy the break from civilization. With gorgeous beaches, abundant sunshine and a range of backpacker resorts, this is the place to come for an affordable retreat in paradise.

The British navigator William Bligh (after which Bligh Water was aptly named) was the first European to sight the Yasawas in 1789, following the infamous mutiny on the HMS Bounty. Captain Barber in the HMS Arthur visited the islands in 1794, but they were not charted until 1840 by a United States expedition commanded by Charles Wilkes.

Image Source: Yasawa Flyer
Yasawa Flyer

The Yasawas weren't always tourism orientated. Visiting the islands once was limited to cruise ships, with passengers unable to actually set foot on the islands until the 1950s, and land-based tourism ventures restricted until 1987. However, thanks to the Government providing an ecotourism startup fund and the arrival of the Yasawa Flyer, the Yasawas are now dotted with small resorts and backpackers.

There are a good range of backpacker's available, often run by the islanders themselves. Increasingly, more upmarket resorts are springing up in the Yasawas.

The Yasawa Group are some of the most picturesque and scenic islands in Fiji. North of the more famous Mamanuca chain, the Yasawas are quite a different experience. While there are luxury resorts, the Yasawas is better known for its backpacking and flashpacking visitors.

Until 1987, it was the policy of the Fiji government that the Yasawa Group was closed to land-based tourism. There has been limited cruise operations since the 1950s, but passengers had to stay aboard their ships. Local residents benefited little from the passengers presence. Due to its freehold real-estate status, three budget resorts were operating on Tavewa island since the early 1980s.

Since the Fijian government lifted the restrictions on land-based tourism in the Yasawa Group, a number of resorts have been established there. Areas of the Yasawas were the locales for the 1980 filming of the romance adventure film The Blue Lagoon. Tourism is growing in importance. Permission is required to visit all islands in the group except Tavewa. The home of the Tui Yasawa the Paramount Chief of the Yasawa Islands, is at Yasawa-i-Rara, on Yasawa Island, but the largest village is Nabukeru.

Image Source: Wayalailai Resort
Wayalailai Resort

Wikipedia defines a flashpacker as an "affluent backpacker". Backpackers stay in dorms or share rooms, whereas flashpackers stay in their own villa or bure options, for example. The quality of resort bures or villas is normally about 2 to 3 star. The rooms are perfectly comfortable, and most are unlikely to have air conditioning – but not to worry, you really won't need it, and the soothing ocean sounds will be sure to provide the perfect ambience for a restful sleep or daytime nap. Shady seaside hammocks are also plentiful. Dining and food service is generally a group affair and often included in the room price. As for the beaches and the water, it's the same as the priciest resort – a 5 star experience.

The highlights are the people you'll travel with, a younger bunch of adventurers from North America and East Asia (as well as Australia and New Zealand) – and the people you'll stay with. Backpackers are often run and staffed with locals, and you'll get to know them, and the Fijian culture, with staff often providing evening entertainment through dance, storytelling, and native songs.

As well as popular Fiji water activities such as snorkeling and kayaking, the Yasawas are great for sailing. Experience the stunning islands from on board a floating hotel/cruise ship or a chartered sailing boat. Swimming, fishing, village visits and campfire barbeques are common activities for cruises.

Dining depends on the resort, as there are no private dining options available in the Yasawas. However, in cases where there are more than one resort on an island, they will cater to guests from other resorts. Also many resorts have a relationship with a neighboring village or two that will allow you to sample traditional Fijian fare during village tours, hikes or Meke nights.

There's really only one choice for traveling and fortunately they do it very well. Awesome Adventures will whisk you out of Nadi (Denarau Marina) on a huge and quite comfortable catamaran aptly named the Yasawa Flyer and you're off on a South Pacific adventure. The Flyer's first stops are in the Mamanucas, and then three hours later, the first of the Yasawa Islands will appear on the horizon.

You can choose 747 styled, interior, air-conditioned seating or catch rays and ocean breezes on the expansive outside decks. Either way, you enjoy the trip and there's always another island coming along to keep your attention.

For more information on where to stay and what to do, visit our Yasawa Islands directory.

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