The Yasawa Islands are an archipelago of 16 volcanic islands and dozens of smaller islets located in western Fiji, about 35 km (22 miles) northwest of the main island of Viti Levu. The island group has a total land area of about 135 km² (52 sq mi) with peaks of up to 600 meters (1,968 ft).
These islands are known for their beautiful white-sand beaches, warm and clear blue waters, cliffs, extensive fringing reefs, lagoons and diverse marine life. The Yasawas are ideal for a wide variety of water activities, including swimming, snorkeling, diving, sailing and fishing. The islands’ rolling hills and amazing scenery make them also interesting for land-based activities, such as hiking and sightseeing.
The Yasawas were made popular in the 1980 movie The Blue Lagoon. The movie is about two child castaways who grow up alone on a deserted island and later fall in love (the 1991 sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon was filmed on Taveuni).
Backpackers usually head to Nacula, Tavewa, Nanuya Lailai, Waya, Wayasewa and Kuata. Luxury resorts and facilities are available on Nanuya Levu (Turtle Island) and Yasawa Island.
Yasawa Island is the northernmost island in the Yasawa Group. It is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches and secluded bays. The island offers excellent scuba diving and snorkeling conditions because of its wide variety of corals and other marine life. The upscale Yasawa Island Resort is located here, featuring luxury bures on a fabulous beach. They also offer 4WD safaris to secluded beaches. The resort is mainly for couples (no children except twice a year when they offer family weeks).
From Yasawa Island you can also do a day excursion to Sawa-i-Lau Island, located off the southern tip of Yasawa. This small limestone island features a cave where you can swim in a natural pool. Or you can swim through a submerged passage to a neighboring darker chamber. The cave is featured in the 1980 movie The Blue Lagoon (Brooke Shields runs away to hide here).
At 579 meters (1,900 ft) Waya Island is the highest island in the Yasawas. It's a great island for hiking enthusiasts, and the beaches are very pretty too. The island is also home to four Fijian villages where you can immerse yourself in Fijian culture.
At 33 km² (13 sq mi) Naviti is the largest island in the Yasawa Group. It is also among the highest, rising up to 380 meters (1,247 ft). One of the main points of interest here is a snorkeling spot where you can swim with manta rays. Hiking opportunities in the island's rugged terrain also abound.
Nacula is the third largest of the Yasawa Islands, with peaks of up to 258 meters (846 ft) in height. The island has a great snorkeling spot called Long Beach, located on the island's southwestern shore.
Why visit the Yasawas?
Larger in size but less developed than the neighboring Mamanucas, the Yasawas offer something for everyone, from the budget traveler (backpacker) to travelers looking for upscale accommodations. The beaches in the Yasawas are longer and the mountains higher than those in the Mamanucas and the islands are wilder (there are no roads here). Since the Yasawas are located in the lee of big Viti Levu, they are usually dry and sunny.
What you get here are superb views and the opportunity to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, everything from swimming, snorkeling and diving in crystal clear water to hiking and exploring the all the corners of the islands. Most visitors arrive in the Yasawas by ferry, cruise ship or small seaplane.