Travel

5 Immersive & Adventurous Activities To Do In Fiji’s Yasawa Islands

By Caitlin Booth
7th Oct 2022

If you’re like me, when you first think of Fiji, things like white-sand beaches ripe for lazing on, sipping fresh coconuts when the sun is high in the sky and cocktails with umbrellas in them when the sun dips low come to mind. The thing is, sometimes you need a little bit of action and adrenaline to balance out all of the brain-smoothing effects of the delightfully slow aspects of Island life. 

Thankfully, you can get both in Fiji's Yasawa Islands. From ridiculously convenient and beautiful coral reefs on your villa’s doorstep to exploring ancient caves and diving with manta rays, there are plenty of ways to get your adventure fix and expand your knowledge on your next tropical getaway to Fiji. 

Read on for my top five adventurous and immersive experiences in Fiji's Yasawa Islands. Plus, if you like the sound of a Yasawa escape, head over here for your chance to win a 6-night getaway for you and a mate.

Dive Into History At The Sawa-I-Lau Caves

two people standing on the stairs leading to Sawa I Lau Caves - Tourism FijiThe journey to Sawa-I-Lau, made famous by the film, The Blue Lagoon, is awe-inspiring of its own accord, so imagine my delight when we got to explore the beautiful caves themselves. During the 30-minute trip to the cave, our longboat skipped across the silver surface of the sea and I was mesmerised by the ribbons of white water curling away from the sides, guiding my eyes toward the rolling hills of the surrounding islands.

We moored the boat in shallow waters and cooled our feet walking through the shallows onto the shore of the stunning inlet that houses the entrance to Sawa-I-Lau Caves. We then met our cave guides, Sawa-I-Lau locals and the Traditional Custodians of the historic site. The caves are known as the resting place of the 10-headed ancient Fijian god, Ulutini and are steeped in legend. The history felt palpable as we climbed the stairs up to the entrance—and then began the descent into the caves.

I pretty much flung myself (safely) down the short ladder into the inviting blue water. Above the water, the massive sandstone walls reach dramatically up to a sliver of blue sky and the sun slid through to cast a golden haze back down into the cave. Once we recovered from the initial awe, it was time to find the courage to swim through a short underwater opening to access the mysterious second cave. I was stoked to have mustered my bravery because the reward was an immersive experience that slowed my mind and allowed me to embrace the peace of the darkened cave.  After floating calmly in the main cave, taking in the dappled rays and greenery peeking through the walls, we headed back to the boat, stopping to support the village-run market stalls selling handmade mementos on the shorefront. 

Submerge In Serenity With Snorkelling Galore

Image of a coral reef with a lot of fish in the distance - Tourism Fiji

If you’d asked me before my trip if I was much of a snorkeller, I would have said “kind of”. Ask me now and my answer is an enthusiastic “yes”. The ease with which we could head over to the snorkel shop at each resort, pick up a pair of fins, a snorkel and mask, and within minutes be gazing at an abundance of sea life, was game-changing.

My favourite underwater encounter was spotting a couple of elegant Teira Batfish while paddling around the reef on the shoreline at Nanuya Island Resort. As soon as the delicate fins and iconic black and white stripes caught my eye I was like transported into major childhood-wonder mode. I know that Gill in Finding Nemo is actually a Moorish Idol fish, but my excited brain didn’t care for the details, I was just thrilled to spot his convincing look-a-like IRL. 

We saw coral that would fit right in with the colour palette and textures of 70s home decor, had a staring competition with a territorial clownfish, spotted vivid, blue starfish and more fish species than we could ever hope to name. I could live among the vibrancy and the calm of the Yasawa reefs for my whole life, given the opportunity.

Witness Underwater Elegance On A Manta Ray Swim

An image of manta rays underwater on a Mantaray Island Resort manta ray swim We stayed at Mantaray Island Resort with the main goal, you guessed it, to see some manta rays. Upon arrival, we were informed that the reason we couldn’t see a scheduled time for the manta ray outing on the activities board was that it could happen at any moment. We were to keep our ears open throughout the afternoon for the booming tone of a shell horn, signalling the sighting of the elusive beauties. 

No sooner had I checked into my beachfront villa and begun contemplating a refreshing rinse in my stunning outdoor shower, than the sound of the manta ray horn tumbled through my door. Time to see some manta rays. 

I whipped down to the snorkel shop and within minutes was boarding a boat with my fellow hopefuls to head to the nearby sighting location. The stretch of water was stunning, with towering islands and white-sand inlets framing our dive spot. We waited for our guides to spot the elegant shadows beneath the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Once the sighting was confirmed, we slipped into the water and watched as a gentle ray glided effortlessly against the current. 

Start Your Day With A Stunning Sunrise Hike

A person walking along the top of a hill with the sun rising over the horizon in the backgroundThis dry-land activity was well timed to give all my togs the opportunity to dry out before we travelled to a different resort later in the day. The first light of the day gave the air a soft feel as we headed up the track behind Nanuya Island Resort at 5.45am. As we ventured up the incline, we caught glimpses of the vegetable gardens and solar panels that contributed to the resort’s Tourism Sustainability Award in 2017 and ongoing sustainable practices. 

Tall grass and palms gave way to incredible views of the surrounding islands and the rippling ocean below. The rising light coloured the sky a gentle mix of pastel yellows, pinks and blues and as we made it to our destination at the top of the hill, the golden orb peeked over the horizon. On our journey back down the hill, we walked toward the beach. Lush tunnels of palms and small, wooden bridges punctuated the journey. As we slipped off our walking shoes and completed the walk along the beach, we waved to some local kids, heading out in a longboat on the daily trip to school. 

Learn About Traditional, Tongue-Tingling Kava 

Kava ceremony at Blue Lagoon Resort with the sunset in the backgroundThe one thing that people mentioned most when I said I was going to Fiji was the kava ceremonies. I had limited knowledge of kava before I arrived but by the first night that changed. We tried the bitter drink, made from a dried plant root and fresh water, learned about its calming properties and experienced the tongue-tingling sensation first-hand.  

Before dinner at Blue Lagoon Resort, we were invited to join our hosts around the kava tanoa (bowl) for our first ceremony of the trip. We learned about the history and significance of kava, or yaqona as it’s colloquially known, and the traditional process when drinking it—clap once with cupped hands before accepting the kava, give an enthusiastic 'Bula!', drink it all in one go, followed by 'Vinaka!' and three more claps with cupped hands. This ceremony was the beginning of many immersive moments throughout the trip, as culture, music and Kava popped up throughout our days. Music was ubiquitous in Fiji and I loved hearing the captains who ferried us from island to activity and back singing to themselves and the ever-present sound of song and guitar at mealtimes. 

Keen to plan your own Yasawa escape? Head over here for all the details on where to stay and travel between island destinations with Awesome Adventures.  

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Tourism Fiji and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Image credit: Urban List, Mantaray Island Resort

 

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