Island Hopping in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands
The best way to visit the Yasawa Islands in Fiji is onboard a small cruise ship. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip!
The Yasawa Islands are a chain of islands in Fiji, located off the northwest coast of Viti Levu. The Yasawas are known for their dramatic peaks and pristine beaches. The clear waters make for excellent snorkeling and diving, and there are many caves and reefs to explore.
In fact, the Islands’ natural exotic beauty has earned them spots on Hollywood movie sets and is a popular choice for reality shows!
The Yasawas are also home to some of Fiji’s most exclusive resorts. But, in my opinion, there’s no better way to see the islands than by taking a cruise.
With a cruise, you can see multiple islands in one trip, and stop to explore each one at your own pace. It can be challenging to travel between islands, so a cruise is a sure way to see everything and make the most of your time on the island.
Traveling in the Yasawa Islands
The Yasawas are a popular tourist destination for backpackers and cruise ship passengers. The largest island is Nacula Island, which is where the majority of the population lives.
The Yasawa Islands were first settled by the Melanesian people some 3,000 years ago. European contact was made in 1789 by Captain William Bligh. The islands were later visited by Christian missionaries who arrived in 1835.
Tourism began to develop on the islands in the late 1960s when a resort was opened on Yanuca Island. Ever since then, the Islands continue to grow in popularity among travelers.
English is the official language and is widely spoken in Fiji, which is a great relief for travelers and makes it easy to get around.
Fijians are also known to be some of the most friendly and hospitable people in the world (and I found this to be very true!).
My Experience on Captain Cook Cruises
I took a 4-night cruise with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji during my visit to the Yasawa Islands. The ship was modern and comfortable, and the staff was knowledgeable and extremely friendly. I really enjoyed every minute of this cruise.
The cruise is known for its stops across different islands, where you can go ashore and explore. You can also participate in activities such as snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. The cruise also included meals and entertainment onboard.
I had an amazing time on my Captain Cook Cruise! I got to explore so many remote northern islands and meet local communities that I would never have been able to visit on my own.
But let’s jump into some details.
Yasawa Islands Itinerary
On the first day, we were welcomed to Tivua island, which is Captain Cook Cruises’ private coral reef island.
We were able to snorkel with baby sharks in crystal-clear water right off the beach, and there was also a volleyball court, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. In the evening, we joined the Captain and his crew for the Gala Captain’s Dinner.
An important tip for the first day, make sure to charge all of your electronics before you board the ship. I arrived from an overnight flight from LAX and planned to charge my camera and drone batteries as soon as I got to my room, but that wasn’t enough time before we left on our first stop.
On the second day, we started with a swim and snorkel in an idyllic bay at Brothers Island. Then, they offered a gourmet buffet lunch as we journeyed to Naviti Island. I loved looking over at the aquamarine waters along the white sandy beaches here. The scenery here is unmatched.
On the evening of the second day, we joined the festivities and entertainment of a Fijian Village at Gunu. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
I was able to try traditional Fijian foods, participate in their dances and ceremonies, and learn about their culture and way of life. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to connect with people from another culture and learn more about the world.
Some important notes on preparing to visit the villages
- Do not wear a hat in a village and do not touch anyone’s head as this is considered a sign of disrespect to the locals
- It is customary to take off your shoes when entering a home
- Dress modestly when visiting a village (covered shoulders and a sulu to cover your legs)
I woke up early on the third day of the cruise and was excited to explore and swim in the beautiful Sawa-i-lau lagoon! This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Later in the day, we visited a local school on Yasawa Island. It was another memorable interaction with local culture and it was very interesting to see how the children here learn and play. The view from the school’s peak was stunning. Back on board, we had dinner and they planned an evening of crab racing!
On the fourth day, the last full day of the cruise, we sailed to Drawaqa Island for some amazing snorkeling. It was a really beautiful last swim through the reefs. If you’re lucky, you might even get to swim with some Manta Rays.
Later in the evening, we had the Captain Cook Cruises Music Quiz. By this time, everyone on the cruise feels like an old friend. I really appreciated the social atmosphere on the cruise — especially since I was traveling solo. This is not always my experience on cruises, so it was a welcome surprise.
I found the other travelers to be very outgoing and friendly and there were other solo travelers on the ship, so we joined in on many activities throughout the trip.
The last day of the cruise was definitely bittersweet. I woke up early and enjoyed the view from my balcony one last time. After breakfast, I said goodbye to my new friends and headed to the pool deck. The crew sang their traditional Fijian song and I couldn’t help but feel emotional. It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad I was able to experience it!
How to Get to Captain Cook Cruises
The Yasawa Islands are located in the northwest of Fiji, and getting there is pretty easy from the international airport.
First, you’ll need to fly into Nadi International Airport. Nadi Airport is the primary international airport for Fiji and a hub for regional travel throughout the South Pacific islands, so you should have no issues booking a flight.
All of the boats and small ships that travel to the Yasawas leave from Port Denarau, which is a 25-30 minute drive from Nadi airport. I recommend staying at a hotel on Denarau Island before you depart for the Yasawas so you can sleep off your jet lag and be refreshed for your island adventure.
I stayed at The Radisson Blu Resort Fiji and absolutely loved everything about it. The grounds are stunning, they have an adults-only pool area, nanny service, several delicious restaurants, and the staff is amazing. I also had the best massage of my life at their spa!
Once you’re on the ship, sit back and relax — you’re in for a beautiful journey.
Read more: South Pacific Cruise Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!)
- The cruise includes all the amenities of a larger cruise liner such as buffets and 3-course meals, massage services, use of snorkeling equipment, cocktail bar, jacuzzi, gym and swimming pool.
- Massage prices are super reasonable on the cruise!
- WiFi is spotty so do your research before you board. Also, my data with T-mobile showed I had full bars but I wasn’t getting anything to load on my phone. So better to think of this as an “unplugged” trip.
- If you’re like me and tend to eat smaller meals often, be sure to bring snacks with you. I needed the extra snacks since we were active so much of the time.
- Denominations for the Fiji dollar are as follows: $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes. Coins include 5c, 10c, 20c, 50 c, F$1.00, and F2.00.
- Foreign currencies and travelers’ checks can be exchanged in commercial banks, large hotels and resorts, and foreign currency bureaus.
- Credit cards are widely accepted as well.
- ATMs that dispense local currency are easily found in major towns and cities.
- The electrical current in Fiji is 240 volts AC 50 Hz. Fiji has three-pin power outlets identical to Australia and New Zealand.
Pros and Cons of Cruising to the Yasawa Islands
Overall, cruising to the Yasawa Islands is a truly unique and wonderful experience. The islands are breathtakingly beautiful, the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and the activities are a lot of fun.
Here’s a quick pros and cons list if you’re considering an island-hopping cruise in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands:
- Enjoy the beautiful scenery and culture of Fiji
- Get the opportunity to explore some remote and uninhabited islands
- Cruise offers a variety of activities and amenities
- Great schedule with a good balance of scheduled activities and free time
- Fun in water sports, reef snorkeling, diving, and kayaking
- Enjoy the amazing sunsets on board
- Good for both singles and couples
- Can book custom activities such as spa sessions, vow renewals, private dinners, and more
- Limited access to wifi/cellular service
- Possible seasickness if you don’t do well on boats
- Might need to bring extra snacks if you get hungry often
Overall, cruising to the Yasawa Islands is a great way to experience this beautiful part of Fiji. If you decide to check out this unique part of the world, I promise you won’t regret it!
FAQ: Yasawa Islands Travel Tips
The most common way to travel the Yasawa Islands is aboard the Yasawa flyer ferry, booking a multi-day cruise, or booking a one-day cruise.
Depending on which island you visit, the trip can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours on the ferry. You can also book a multi-day cruise and explore the islands for 4 nights.
I recommend at least 4 nights if you are booking a cruise. You can also extend for 2-4 nights and stay at a couple of different hotels in the area.
The best time to visit the Yasawa Islands is December through February. If you want to avoid the rainy season, avoid the months of November through April.
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