About the Yasawa Islands
Of all the Fiji islands the Yasawa (pronounced Yah-sow-wah) Group is the most archetypically `South Pacific’. Perhaps that is why both versions of Blue Lagoon were shot on location in the Yasawas. There are about 20 islands of volcanic origin, which lie in a chain just off the northwest coast of Viti Levu. The island chain begins about 40 kilometers northwest of Lautoka and stretch for approximately 80 kilometers. From a distance they suggest a string of emerald beads lying on the horizon. Up close they are precipitous, with long stretches of sandy beaches fringed by azure waters. The beauty of Yasawa Islands has lured the tourist dollar, which is fortuitous for villagers–arable land is limited, and some crops are difficult or even impossible to grow.
Definitely Do Not Miss
Check out the Octopus Resort which is situated on gorgeous stretch of white sand beach on Waya Island, Great ambiance, good food, reasonably priced and friendly service. The quintessential Yasawa venue.
The islands are a major attraction for cruise vessels originating in Lautoka, and in the last several years numerous accommodations have opened up in the region. Many are “upmarket” backpacker haunts, which offer good value for those who want basic accommodations close to ocean. Prices for the numerous backpacker resorts that have sprung up in the Yasawa Group range from F$100-150—meals included. The major islands where tourist meccas exist include (from north to south)—Yasawa, Nacula, Tavewa, Nanuya Lailai, Matacawa Levu, Naviti and Waya.
Preparing for a shore dive at Blue Lagoon Resort. (courtesy Blue Lagoon Resort)
The Yasawa group is volcanic in origin. It comprises six large islands and fourteen smaller ones, and has a total area of 135 sq km. From a point 40 km north-west of Lautoka, the islands stretch for more than 80 km in a north-easterly direction, forming a broken ribbon of land rarely more than five km wide and generally much less. The principal members of the group are high, their summits ranging from 250 to 600 meters in height. Except for the southern end, the land formation is so straight that a line could be drawn through a map of the islands with a ruler.
West of the Yasawas there is an extensive area of un-surveyed water littered with reefs. The only safe passage for ships is between Yasawa Island and Round Island, 22 km to the northeast. This was the route used by Captain Bligh, though how he managed to find it – especially considering that he was being chased at the time by a speedy war canoe filled with cannibals – is a mystery. The maze of barrier reefs lying between the islands and the open sea effectively intercepts ocean currents and prevents the free flow of tidal water into the lagoon, creating unfavorable ecological conditions for the growth of coral. Thus, apart from the few massive formations in the open water there is little coral development except for near the northernmost island. Despite the lack of coral, however, there are plenty of fish, and snorkeling is excellent. Coconut crabs are also found in the Yasawa Group.