Fiji has the well-deserved reputation as a honeymooner’s paradise – the quintessential Pacific Island escape. But what many holidaymakers are beginning to discover is the lesser-known chain of islands hidden in the north- the Yasawa Islands. These stunning islands are perfect for a family sojourn to keep the kids entertained and provide plenty of memories for the adults.
The Yasawa Islands are only accessible by boat or seaplane, so we hopped aboard Awesome Adventures Fiji’s big yellow boat, the Yasawa Flyer. The Flyer stops at all of the islands along the way which gave us the chance to not only admire the spectacular scenery of the archipelago with its prehistoric-looking flora-coated mountains, but also learn a bit about the different islands, most of which are occupied by only one resort.
At our first destination Nanuya Balavu Island, holidaymakers can learn to dive and snorkel at Paradise Cove’s fabulous dive school. Visit in manta ray season from April-October and embark on one of the tours to swim with these majestic creatures which will soar underneath you like giant underwater aliens.
If it’s an adrenalin hit you’re looking for, Barefoot Kuata on Kuata Island recently launched their shark diving and snorkelling experience where the brave can take a dip with curious white tip and black tip reef sharks. I was not one of the courageous ones but I do hear it is very safe. One of our fellow travellers had their GoPro nipped by a curious shark though, so keep that tech safe!
One of the things that sets the Yasawa Islands apart is the increasingly strong focus the resorts have on conservation, both of the spectacular marine life and traditional villages. Barefoot Manta Island have a wonderful conservation program in place with marine biologists monitoring the surrounding reef and manta rays. If you’re lucky enough to be taken snorkelling by the resident marine biologists Dan and Heather, not only will you enjoy checking out the intricate and vibrant reef, you’ll be helping to control the overpopulation of Crown of Thorns by pointing them out to Dan or Heather when spotted, who will then scoop them into large bags to be destroyed later.
A short trip on the Flyer to Naviti Island is Soso village, where we had the fantastic opportunity to meet some local Fijians and see how a traditional village functions. Walking along the beach to the village, it was instantly apparent that the locals are used to seeing tourists. The voluntourism program Vinaka Fiji works with the village to make it more sustainable through power, water and education initiatives. Visit the school at Soso and be greeted with a bright “bula” and a wave from cheerful little children who absolutely love to play rugby. If you’re travelling with your own children this will be a great experience for them to witness how happy these kids are, with very little more than the basic necessities of life.
Relatively untouched by the masses, a trip to the Yasawa Islands is the perfect tropical getaway with a lot of adventures to be had and plenty of heart.