Family Adventure In The Yasawa Islands, Fiji
The Yasawa Islands are well known as one of the best destinations in Fiji, and for good reason!
This archipelago of 20 islands has a drier climate than the rest of Fiji, making it easier to plan the timing of your trip and guarantees more beautiful days during your vacation for all your adventures.
The Yasawa Islands are a favorite spot in Fiji for families as well as budget travelers, as it has many of the same experiences the rest of Fiji has to offer for a more affordable cost.
Current COVID-19 situation (as of May 2022)
Fully vaccinated travellers can enter Fiji without quarantine, pending a negative PCR or supervised RAT. See Smartraveller for more details.
You will also need travel insurance that includes COVID coverage.
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When to visit the Yasawa Islands
The best time to visit the Yasawa Islands is between May and October.
This is the overall dry season throughout Fiji, but is also the time of year when the Manta Rays pass through the Yasawa Islands. You will absolutely not want to miss swimming with the Manta Rays!
Keep reading for my tips on how and where to swim with the Manta Rays on your next vacation in Fiji.
How to get to the Yasawa Islands
There are several ways to get to the Yasawa Islands once you land in Fiji.
You’ll most likely land in Nadi. From Nadi, you can take a 20 minute flight to the island of Yasawa.
Alternatively, you can take a 2-5 hour boat ride from Denarau Marina on one of the famous Yasawa Flyer vessels (the length of the boat ride depends on the time of day and which island you’re disembarking on).
Mamanuca Islands or Yasawa Islands?
If you’re trying to decide between the Mamanuca Islands and the Yasawa Islands, I would actually advise taking a couple of days to explore both archipelago if you are able to. They may sound similar, but the two groups of islands offer very different experiences.
The Mamanuca Islands are absolutely beautiful – your typical “deserted island” vibe. Here you’ll find both the luxury and more rustic experience, depending on what you’re looking for. They are also easy to get to and have similar facilities to many of the resorts on the mainland.
The Yasawa Islands, on the other hand, offer dramatic volcanic landscapes, authentic cultural experiences, and fantastic hiking and diving opportunities. However, it’s a longer journey to get there, which means it can take a bit more planning. Outside of the uber-luxurious retreats, you’ll also need to expect some more basic amenities. To me, though, the Yasawas represent Fiji at its absolute most interesting.
So, if you’re ready to start planning your trip to the Yasawa Islands, let’s dive right in!
Best family-friendly places to stay in the Yasawa Islands
Many of the activities and experiences available to you and your family while you visit the Yasawa Islands are offered through resorts. While you don’t have to stay at the resorts to have access to these tours and activities, there usually are packages where you can combine the cost of your rooms and the activities you definitely don’t want to miss.
For those of you with younger kids, many resorts throughout the Yasawa Islands have kids clubs which have their own itineraries for children of all ages.
If you’ve already decided that you don’t want to stay at a resort, then consider staying at a local family homestay. You can actually stay in a Fijian family’s spare bungalow and experience the local culture in a very hands on way. Most of the families will also have their own offers for activities throughout the islands so make sure you ask your host before booking anything at one of the resorts.
For those of you who are considering staying at a resort, I’ve put together my top four favorite resorts for you and your family’s Yasawa vacation:
Blue Lagoon Beach Resort
Located on Nacula Island, Blue Lagoon Beach Resort has many family friendly activities and packages.
The Green Gecko’s Kids Club is also one of the most popular kids club in the Yasawa Islands.
Paradise Cove Resort
Paradise Cove Resort is on Yasawa Island and also has their own kids club.
They are also known for their adult activities as well and will do a very good job at keeping both children and adult entertained throughout your stay.
Octopus Resort is located on Waya Island and is well known for having a more significant emphasis on cultural experiences.
This resort has packages that offer island hopping, village visits and cultural performances and classes as well as your other classic activities that you also will not want to miss.
Barefoot Manta Island Resort
Located on Drawaqa Island, Barefoot Manta Island Resort focuses on family time spent together and offers packages that specifically target families with children of all ages.
The resort has a beautiful garden for children to play in and is most known for its family fishing and kayaking trips.
For more information, read our Fiji Accommodation Guide.
Best family-friendly things to do in the Yasawa Islands
Swim with Manta Rays
Swimming with Manta Rays is a unique and memorable experience for anyone regardless of age. It will be an even better experience if you’re able to see the beautiful migration of these wonderful creatures as a family!
Manta Rays swim through the Manta Ray Passage which is between the southern end of Naviti Island and Drawaqa Island. You and your family can swim alongside the groups of Manta Rays, some of which grow to be four meters long, as they migrate through the Yasawa Islands between May and October each year.
Most resorts in the region offer guided tours where you can take your family through the passage on one of the most memorable adventures out there.
Tour the Sawa-i-Lau Caves
The famous Sawa-i-Lau Caves (or Sawailau Caves) are on the southern tip of Yasawa Island and absolutely need to be on your list of family adventures for your next Fiji vacation.
Believed to be the resting place of Ulutini, the 10-headed ancient Fijian God, these limestone caves are simply breathtaking and unlike anything you’ve ever explored. These two separate caves are both half submerged, making it a unique and remarkable swimming experience. You can book a guided tour through most of the resorts throughout the Yasawa Islands.
Try to get a tour earlier in the morning so you have some time to yourselves in these awesome caves.
Hike a Volcano
All 20 of the Yasawa Islands are volcanic, though some have higher volcanic peaks than others.
One of the best ways to explore the Yasawa Islands and get to know some local culture is to go on one of the many walks throughout the islands. There is a wide variety of options, so whether you’re interested in a casual stroll or are ready for an all-out hike, you will be able to find what you’re looking for in the Yasawa Islands.
You can do many of the hikes on your own, but you should consider taking your family on a guided tour so you can get to know the local culture and history along your way. Most of the hikes weave through villages too, so you’ll want to allocate some time to explore the local villages as well.
Here are my top three hikes/walks in the Yasawa Islands:
Blue Lagoon Resort to Safe Landing Resort: This walk is my first choice for families who have younger children and want to explore some of the Yasawa Islands on foot. The trail takes you through several beaches, a coastal forest and mudflats. From start to finish it takes no longer than an hour, making it a perfect exploration for the whole family. I also recommend going on this walk as a guided tour so you can learn all about the surrounding wildlife and nature as well as the local culture.
Waya Island Walks: Located on Waya Island, this hike starts at Octopus Resort and has two options-you can either walk across the island to Waya Levu Village or hike to the island’s highest volcanic peak (or you could do both!). If you’re traveling with younger kids, I would suggest taking the hike that leads you to Waya Levu Village. It’s just as beautiful, an easier trail, and allows you to get to know local Fijian culture!
Mt. Tamasua: This is one of the hardest hikes in the Yasawa Islands but is also, by far, the most rewarding. On Yasawa Island, this hike leaves from the village of Nabukeru and takes you up the tallest volcano on the island. The hike is perfect for active families who like to go on new adventures together, though I would suggest only going on this hike if you have older children as it is a harder trail. You can also book this as a sunrise hike through Captain Cook Cruises! The view will not disappoint.
Go Island Hopping
There are several ways to explore the Yasawa Islands but whatever way you choose, island hopping is absolutely something you should do with your family when you visit the Yasawa Islands. You will most likely stay on one island for most of your time in the Yasawa Islands, so it’s important that you make time to see the rest of what this beautiful place has to offer! You will most likely have several activities already booked with your own guides, so this is another great way to see the islands at your own pace without needing a tour guide.
One of the best ways to island hop throughout the Yasawa Islands, is to purchase the hop-on hop-off ferry pass. This pass is incredible and helps you save so much money if you plan on visiting multiple islands while you’re in Fiji. With this pass you can jump on one of the many ferries that travel between the islands and hop off when you get to an island you and the family want to explore!
Another great way to explore the islands is to use the kayaks or the paddle boards from the resort. Most resorts throughout the Yasawa Islands have complimentary kayaks and/or paddle boards with every room. So, when you and the family are ready for some spontaneous adventures, hop in a kayak or paddle board and go explore! This is going to be easier on some islands than others, as there are several islands within the archipelago that are more isolated than the rest. So make sure you check the map before you head out on your adventure! Even if you’re on a more isolated island, like Yasawa Island for example, you should still take advantage of those kayaks and paddle boards to explore the coral reefs just off the island.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
The Yasawa Islands are known as being the “soft coral capital of the world,” which means you should absolutely take some time to explore these beautiful coral reefs.
The best way to do this is to rent scuba diving or snorkeling gear and jump in the water!
There are guided tours exploring the best spots to see all the tropical fish and the most vibrant reefs. If you want to scuba dive but don’t have experience, there are many classes for adults and for kids over the age of 10 available at many of the resorts.
Go Fishing with the Family
If you’ve never taken the family on a fishing trip, here is your chance!
Not only is fishing as a family such a fun experience, it’s also a wonderful way to see even more of the Yasawa Islands and get to know the local food scene on a much more intimate level.
You can arrange a fishing trip through many of the resorts on the Yasawa Islands. A private boat and guide for your group will be included. You can expect to see mackerel, marlin, tuna, giant trevally and wahoo on your fishing trip in the Yasawa Islands.
If your kids are on the younger side and are interested in fishing, you can look into reef fishing as well.
If you’re wanting to book in advance look into Fiji fishing charters here.
Have a Family Barbeque on a Private Beach
When you’re looking at the packages that the resorts offer, keep an eye out for any that have private beach barbeques. This is one of the best experiences your family can have in the Yasawa Islands. I know that’s a big statement. But how could it get better than having a family barbeque with local ingredients on your own private beach?
The resort will take you to one of Yasawa’s smaller islands to your own secluded beach and set up a barbeque for you and your family. Here you will eat local fish, traditional dishes and fruits grown on the islands themselves. After dinner, enjoy watching the sunset over the horizon.
So, what are YOU going to do in the Yasawa Islands? Let us know in the comments below!
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