Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
Located on Yasawa Island, the largest in the chain, Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is an understated luxury lodging with 18 thatched-roof bungalows nestled in tropical vegetation, steps away from a white sand beach. All bures have huge decks, king size beds and large bathroom. Each bure is stocked with homemade cookies and ‘Pure Fiji’ brand amenities in the bathrooms.
The all-inclusive property serves excellent cuisine. There’s a new main dining complex where food is served al fresco, with 180 degree view of the ocean. You can also dine beachside, at the horizon pool; or, in the privacy of your own beach hut. Unlike some of the other resorts where it’s obligatory for everyone to dine together, here one can choose to dine with friends or at your own table.
The chef places an emphasis on “fresh” whether it is from the garden or ocean. Seafood is caught locally and all meals offer fresh fruit and liberal amounts of fresh vegetables. Typical dishes include avocado & shrimp salad, homemade breads and fresh lobster. Unlike some of the other resorts where everyone dines together, here one can choose to dine with friends or at your own table.
There’s plenty to keep you busy. Snorkeling offshore is excellent and there’s also sea kayaking, boating on a catamaran, deep sea fishing, stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing. On shore, there’s tennis, volley ball and even rugby matches. A number of treks that can be taken around the island and peaks of several hundred meters provide remarkable vistas. A complimentary picnic on one of 11 white sandy beaches is also an option.
The full service Baravi Spa, offers ocean view massages and its ‘Baravi Rhythm,’ four handed synchronized massage in tandem with the waves of the ocean.
Cultural activities include a a visit to nearby Bukama Village where travelers can meet the chief, partake in a kava ceremony, hear the school choir, partake in a lovo feast, witness a traditional dance (meke performance) or attend a Sunday church service.
US$500 round trip. Prices start at US$1,000 per couple, per night which includes all meals, non alcoholic beverages, scheduled motorized and non-motorized activities, not including scuba diving and spa.
Thanks to YIR for the featured image at the top of this page.
Nacula Island is located in central Yasawa, 85 miles north of Nadi International Airport. The northern most island where tourist properties have been established is Nacula which has three highly recommended high end backpacker retreats. All have excellent white sand beaches, good food, lots of water activities (such as kayaking and diving) and limited electricity provided by gas or diesel powered generators. Some (but not all) have local style thatched roof bures. They also offer proximity to Fijian Villages, which many resorts in Fiji do not offer.
Oarsman’s Bay Lodge Yasawa
Oarsman’s Bay Lodge is on a 1200 meter long white sandy beach. The property is owned and operated by a local clan or Mataqali Natia managed by Chief Ratu Epeli from nearby Nacula village. Guests can see and experience Fijian culture. For example, you can join the congregation at the local church on Sunday or visit the village during the week. The beach is excellent. In addition to individual bures there is also a 13- bed dormitory with shared facilities. Oarsman works for couples too, it’s not exclusively for backpackers.
Prices begin at F$245 for a three day/2 night package at the dorm and F$350 for the same package for a garden bure. You’ll need to pay an extra F$96 per day for meals.
Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
Blue Lagoon Beach Resort is located on Nacula–they share the same lovely beach with Oarsmans Bay Lodge. Frommer’s rated it as a world class beach and Fijiguide member Marilyn Marsh, who had the opportunity to visit site prior to its official opening, concurred. Said Marilyn, “We were impressed by the setting – the beach is wonderful, crescent shaped, white sand, all-tides swimming, and good snorkeling (great variety of fish & corals) straight off the beach.”
The resort is built on a level strip on the beachfront, backed by some bush, and with a hill behind. There are a labyrinth of trails and tracks in the immediate environs that lead to banana plantations, wells, and papaya trees.
Sustainability is important with management. They plant their own gardens and from the site nursery they propagate all fauna and plantations. They also support local farmers and fisherman. Other efforts include a composting station, an incinerator to limit paper, cardboard etc having to be transported back to the mainland, and a recycling bay.
There about 30 dive sites including reefs, walls, drop offs, swim throughs, pinnacles and a Shark dive. Sites are from 3 minutes to 25 minutes away and dives are scheduled 3 times a day. They offer PADI courses ranging from Open Water Courses up to and including Dive Master.
There are seven types of room options ranging from US$136 for couples to a family village for six that goes for about US$700. There’s also a dorm for about US$25 per night.
From all reports, this property is a winner.
Nanuya Lailai Island
Nanuya Lailai the island where the Brook Shields movie ‘The Blue Lagoon‘ was filmed. is the home of five (mostly backpacker) properties. On the northern end is Nanuya Island Resort, which has a wonderful white sand beach and all the amenities including diving, kayaking, fly fishing and village visits. (It’s definitely not a backpacker facility.)
The property was founded by an Australian family, Val and Ivan Parker, who have a long standing relationship with the community since 2002. They have seen the locals through cyclones and other mishaps. Sustainability is a huge part of the family ethos
There are four categories of bures (18 units in total) with prices ranging from $209 – $439.
All existing units were upgraded and repaired with improved plumbing and drainage installed. Work on the beach front area was commenced in 2015 and 4 Superior Villas built close to the waters edge. Their Nanuya LaiLai Day Spa was also opened at that time.
There are the usual water sports activities and the resort furnishes snorkeling gear, kayaks, SUP and view boards. There’s plenty to do such as game fishing, guided walks, village visits, glass bottom boat tours and diving.
The property has received high marks from Trip Advisor which should be reassuring.
Matacawalevu is home to a boutique property called Navutu Stars Resort. The Italian owners say it is an Asian-Mediterranean-Fijian fusion of aesthetics complete with Southeast Asian objects d’art, wet bar, cd players, and “outdoor day beds to indulge in lazy naps under the stars”. They proudly proclaim that there’s no television or phone in the sumptuous bungalows.
There are nine thatched roof bures, nestled along three bays. They come in three categories–Garden, Beachfront and Grand. Prices range from US$253 – $620.
All bures have 26-foot ceilings, king-size beds, dual stone sinks, and outdoor daybeds. Privacy is paramount at this property. The spaces between the units are separated by bamboo borders; each has a wall of French doors opening onto a thatch-covered deck just shy of the sand and the lagoon.
Food is reportedly excellent. The restaurant caters only a la carte dishes (mostly seafood) cooked expressly for guests according to their tastes and preferences.
There’s a litany of activities –snorkeling kayaking, hiking, village tours, volleyball, yoga, basket weaving, fishing, visiting the Sawa-i-lau caves, swimming with the mantas, diving and picnics at a secluded beach.
Sounds like paradise to me.
Nanuya Balavu Island
Mantaray Island Resort
Mantaray Island Resort (with prices from US$52 – $323 per night) has five varieties of accommodation. Their meal package (which is compulsory) is about US$50 per person per night.
Given the spectrum of accommodations, the demographics of the guests range from backpacker and flashpacker to mid-tier. The accommodations are distributed across a small hill and two beaches. There’s a 32-bed dorm and inexpensive treehouse bures inland, whereas self-contained Jungle Bures, Reef Bureas and the Beachfront Villas are much nearer the water’s edge.
My good friends at Lonely Planet said they are “far enough from the lively bar to be peaceful” and I’d have to agree. The bar scene here can be pretty scintillating.
Food is good. The restaurant serves large slices of wood-fired pizza not to mention Indian and Fijian cuisine.
There’s a ton of activities. There’s the usual ocean sports and activities such as kayaking, snorkel, fishing diving, etc. (It’s called Mantaray because of the nearby channel where you can observe these amazing creatures).
There’s also are plenty of social activities to while away the moonlit nights—The Sunset ‘Happy Hour’, Full Moon Parties, kava drinking and theme nights among others. You can even take cooking classes. Dollar for dollar this is one of the better values in the Yasawas.
Mantaray is a winner.
Barefoot Manta Island
I’ve had good reports about Barefoot Manta Island, a well appointed budget property set near a marine protected area. Marine conservation is a big deal here. In conjunction with the Manta Trust (a world leader in manta ray conservation and research) every year a dedicated team, associated with the resort, leads research into the population of rays that aggregate in the channel between Naviti and Drawaqa Islands between May and October.
The property offers four types of accommodation–two types of dorms; a bure for couples, a safari tent and a family bure. Prices start at F$60 for the dorms, F$178 for the couples bure/safari style accommodation and F$400 for the family unit which can accommodate two adults and two children. Resort Package of F$99 per person, per night for food is compulsory.
The property has a great beach and excellent snorkeling with coral gardens right offshore. Diving is also a big deal here. Not only are there a variety of types of dives offered but PADI certification is available. The usual land activities such as village visits, hikes, cave exploring and the like are here.
Naviti, one of the largest islands in the Yasawa group, is south of the Tavewa area.
Korovou Eco Resort
Korovou Eco Resort, located in the midst of a long sandy beach is a budget resort that has something for everyone and comes highly recommended. There are two spacious 17- and 31-bed dorms as well as one person and doubles bures– all of which are arranged close to the shoreline. The property has a beach side restaurant and a fresh water swimming pool.
At the back of the resort is a church (for locals but open to visitors on Sundays).
Snorkeling is excellent—you can check out Manta Rays Passage to see the rays close up and personal. Other activities include diving, fishing, crafts, massage, kayaking village visits, cooking lessons and their own patented ‘sunset tube cruise’.
Management also offers a host of volunteer activities to engage with the community. These include sustainable living, marine conservation and schools/educational opportunities.
3 day/2 night packages begin at F$322 for a dorm and F$343 for a shared bure and F$460 for a one person bure. (Meals are included in the accommodation price and packages.)
Unlike most of the Yasawa Group, mobile coverage is available at the resort.
Octopus Resort on Waya Island is situated on gorgeous stretch of white sand beach on Waya Island, far off the beaten track. This property has been an icon over the years a model of good management and consistently great service.
I’ve seen the resort evolve from a minimalist budget property to one that encompasses a more mid-range to upmarket demographic. True to its roots, there still is a dorm for only US$22 per night.
However, now it offers a nine separate options ranging from a private bungalow at US$142 to a three bedroom beachfront villa at US$1130 per night. (You can see the offerings on this video). The meals plans are US$58 per person per day and for Adults and US$44 per child per day.
One constant that remains the same is that the environs are tastefully decorated and carefully thought out. Each bure has its own private bathroom featuring a commercial grade, environmentally friendly solar powered hot water system. There are also open roofed showers which are now ubiquitous throughout Fiji.
The resort has a swimming pool and a beach side bar located in front of the restaurant. The restaurant offerings include spaghetti, omelettes and very fresh seafood, chop-suey, chicken dishes at reasonable prices.
The source of electricity is solar panels and there is plenty of good potable water available. There is one main structure, an open air bar/dining area shaded by a canopy. It has a sand floor and a small walkup bar that serves very cold beer.
Like most of the Yasawa properties, Octopus has excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. There are 40+ dive sites in the area and they run regular trips to swim with Manta Rays from May to October. PADI beginning and advanced certification is available from their in house operation.
The resort offers complimentary WIFI in the public areas around the pool and bar, and also in the Premium Rooms. Oh yes, you can text your friends shots of the sunset with your mobile. There is cellular coverage on the island from Vodafone and Digicel.
Barefoot Kuata Island
Skipping to the southernmost island in the chain is a budget property called Barefoot Kuata Island Resort, which is just south of Waya on the island of the same name. Kuata offers equally beautiful environs as the northern islands.
There are five different accommodation options ranging from dorms, safari rooms, couples Bures and family rooms. Prices start at F$60 for a dorm and F$178 for a bure to F$399 for a family unit. A compulsory meal package is FJ$99 per person, per day.
The Resort is located so that visitors can watch both the sun rise and set against the horizon from the edge of its beach.
Snorkeling is of course first class. If you’re not a diver they offer snorkeling with the sharks. If you are diver there’s a plethora of diving options including PADI open water certification, conservation dives and shark dives. Other activities include kayaking, village visits, crafts and hikes. There’s even an in house botanist who will teach you about the plant life.
Most of the properties can be booked by contacting them individually. I would also consider book via Margaret Travel, a Nadi Airport-based agency that specializes in Yasawa Travel. She knows all the players and can provide very objective advice. Contact her at Margarettrvl@connect.com.fj.