Diving Yasawa Islands

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Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Yasawa IslandsFiji
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Country: Fiji  Area: Fiji

Water Temp: 23 - 30°C (73 - 86°F)

Visibility: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 3 - 40m (10 - 131 ft)

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The Yasawa archipelago is made up of twenty volcanic islands and small islets which stretch along the northwest of the Fijian region. The islands are naturally beautiful and largely unspoilt as tourism restrictions have only recently been lifted.

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The largest and northern-most island is Yasawa Island, which is also the most exclusive, with just one luxury resort where tourists can enjoy their own private beach and individual bungalows.

The other islands offer many different types of accommodation, ranging from backpacker hostels to large sprawling resorts.

The Blue Lagoon, Yasawa Islands, Credit

Divers visit to the Yasawas as the waters are home to some vibrant and “under dived” coral reefs.

Marine Conservation

The people of Fiji are passionate about marine conservation and protecting the coral reefs around the Yasawa Islands. In 2010 the Vinaka Fiji trust was established, which works directly with the Yasawa Island communities and addresses some of the important issues facing the region.

Tourists can also volunteer with Vinaka Fiji in the marine conservation area. Projects include planting a mangrove nursery, a manta ray behavioural and population study, a sea cucumber breeding program, coral planting and reef rejuvenation, a giant clam farm, and crown-of-thorns monitoring. 

Beautiful Fiji, Credit

Climate

The Yasawa Islands have a mild tropical climate, with the hottest and wettest months from December to April, and the coldest from May to October, which is also the dry season. Cyclones are possible between November and April, and in particular January and February are the most likely months for cyclones.

The weather is consistently warm but the wet season is more humid.  In the dry season expect a minimum of 20ºC (68ºF) and a maximum of 27ºC (80ºF), while the wet season will be a minimum of 24ºC (75ºF) and a maximum of 31ºC (87ºF).

 
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The Diving

Between May and October, divers can enjoy the migration of Manta Rays as they swim through the island chain. Almost every day they swim through a channel  between Drawaqa and Nannie Balavu islands to feed.

The water off the Yasawa Islands is extremely clear.  40m (131 ft) visibility is not uncommon.  

Butt coral, Credit

Sawa-I-Lau island is a little island near the southern tip of Yasawas and is known for underwater limestone caves. On the walls are ancient inscriptions and drawings.

The Ethel Reef Reck is a steamship which sank in the early 1900s. Divers will be able to see eels and rays, along with the propellers, steam engines, and anchors from the ship.

Nova Wall is a site for drift diving, and also has a vertical wall covered in soft corals. Expect to see Moray eels, crayfish, turtles, and eagle rays.

The Bommies is good for divers who like swim-throughs, and the massive pinnacles are overgrown with hard and soft coral, as well as sea fans. Spanish mackerel, grey reef sharks, eagle rays, and moray eels are usually seen here.

Novice divers and those who are looking for a relaxing dive should try Barrel Head, which is an easy site with lots of marine life including grey reef sharks and sometimes turtles.

Yellow fish, Credit

The Black Rock Corral Garden is the place to see living hard corals, with millions of tropical fish, anthea fish, sea whips, sea fans, moray eels, octopus, napoleon wrasse, and white tip sharks. Cameras are recommended. 

Divers who want to see Batfish should head to Gotham City, while sharks can be found at the site Supermarket, and Plantation Pinnacle has tunnels, undercuts, and hoards of marine life. The Zoo is a good place to spot barracuda and trevally.

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How to Get there

There are daily international flights to Nadi airport. One way to get to the islands is through Turtle Airways, which has seaplanes flying from Nadi daily, although they cost $300 one way (still less than what resort guests will pay).

The Yasawa Flyer, known as the Yellow Boat, is operated by Awesome Adventures Fiji. The catamaran has air con, bathrooms, and a snack bar, and departs at 9.15 each day from Denerau Marina.

Fiji Airways, Credit

Those planning to island-hop should grab a ‘Bula Pass’, which offers unlimited travel within the time period, although it does only include one return trip to Denerau. This is an excellent option for those who don’t have their plans set in stone, and want to spend some time checking out the different islands.

Travellers who will only be in Fiji for a short time can take day trips from Nadi, such as the Beachcomber Day Cruise, which includes lunch and optional activities like snorkelling and scuba diving.  

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Where to Eat & Drink

Unfortunately there are no public restaurants in the Yasawa Islands. Each resort has its own restaurants, and meals are usually included in the room price. 

Navutu Stars resort a boutique hotel known for using local ingredients to make traditional Italian delicacies. The lobster, crab, and beef are very popular, and guests can choose to dine by candlelight under the stars, or on the Sunset Terrace.

Breakfast, Credit

The Botaria Resort provides a strong emphasis on fresh food.  Many of the main course include fish.  The menu changes daily, but it’s a good place to go for simple, filling, and delicious food.

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Other Activities

Most of the activities in the Yasawa Islands revolve around diving and snorkelling, but there are still plenty of non-diving options. 

The Seaspray Day Sailing Adventure will take you to the outer mamanuca Islands on an old sailing schooner.  The trip includes a visit to a traditional Fijian village and a kava ceremony.

Into the blue, Credit

For the more adventurous, consider the Sawailau Caves Trip, which is a boat trip to the ancient lime stone caves in the Blue Lagoon region. Those on the tour will need to swim through an underwater tunnel to get to the second cave, but it’s well worth it, and tourists can also choose to take a jet ski tour as well.

Foodies will enjoy the chance to experience a Fijian cooking school, and will learn how to make traditional foods with coconut cream and vegetables. Many of the resorts run their own cooking classes, and there are also day tours for the cooking schools as well.

To learn more about the Fijian culture, why not visit a Fijian Village? Tourists are welcomed into the local villages, and will be able to meet the villagers and their children as they go about their normal, every day life.

For an excellent view of the islands, take a guided summit walk up the southern Yasawas, which have volcanic peaks with incredible views of the islands and ocean. The best time to go is for sunrise of sunset, so be sure to bring a camera. 

Happy feet & Starfish,Credit

Family Friendly

There are many opportunities for the kids to learn to dive in Fiji, with most resorts offering introduction dives and courses for children.

Families with older children will find plenty to do in the Yasawa Islands. Take a guided Kayaking trip around the Yasawa Islands, and your guide will show you the best snorkelling spots and the most pristine beaches around.

Most islands have excellent hiking, along with someone who can teach the whole family how to weave baskets and bracelets using banana leaves and palm fronds. One of the best ways to meet the locals and get up close to Fijian culture is to go to church in one of the villages for Sunday service, where you’ll be able to hear the amazing singing of the choirs.

There are also plenty of locals who will take visitors through their plantations and will show off their bananas, papaya, breadfruit, and mangoes.

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Tips

Taxi drivers in Fiji usually won’t use a metre, so be sure to agree on a price before using a cab.  Day trips on a Sunday can be difficult as most Fijians see it as a day of rest.  

Hammock, Credit

Keep an eye out for the black-banded sea snakes in low tide, or when snorkelling in Fiji as they are extremely lethal. Be wary of brushing teeth and drinking the water, as most water in Fiji is unsafe.  Tourists should always use bottled water.

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