Island Hopping in Fiji’s Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands

Spending eight nights island hopping on Fiji’s golden sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters in the Mamanuca and Yasawa archipelago was a perfect break after travelling for nearly three months in the United States.

We booked the Yasawa Wanderer package with Awesome Adventures Fiji. However, not all of the resorts were available because we did this at short notice.

In the end, we spent two nights at South Sea Island; one night at Mantaray Island Resort; one night at Octopus Resort and three nights at Oarsman’s Bay Lodge. All were absolutely stunning, but uniquely different in their own way.

Interestingly, we expected to be with solo travellers of a similar age group, but we found it was more young couples and families who were coming on holiday to Fiji.

Stupidly, we came to the ‘Soft Coral Capital of the World’ underprepared. We forgot to buy beach towels, bug spray for the pesky mosquitos as well as after-suncream and I hadn’t bought any suitable beach footwear.

However, more importantly, we had remembered to buy lots of snacks before boarding!

Day One – Overnight stay in Nadi

Flying from Los Angeles to Fiji took 10 and a half hours, which is now one of our longest flights out of the way.

We left at 23:55 PM on 8 July and because of the +19 hour time difference, we didn’t land in Nadi until 06:00 AM on 10 July. We literally time travelled into the future by skipping a whole day!

I find it challenging to sleep on an aeroplane, so by the time we landed, I think I probably managed to get just a couple of hours sleep.

Once at our hotel, we did a mandatory COVID-19 test and thankfully both testing negative – giving us the green light to travel. By now, we’d been awake for 26 hours.

I was worried we might be jet lagged but thankfully we both dealt with the time difference well. Not wanting to mess with our body clock and sleep pattern more, we had a few hours sleep and then headed down by the pool for the rest of the day.

Day Two – Departing from Port Denarau to South Sea Island

We learnt the next morning that ‘Fiji time’ is definitely a thing. Our coach shuttle to Port Denarau Marina was supposed to pick us up outside our hotel at 08:00am. I was getting rather twitchy, but it eventually arrived twenty minutes later.

After getting our holiday vouchers, we boarded the Yasawa Flyer catamaran. This is the most popular way of Island Hopping in Fiji and it tends to be what most use to transfer to and from the various different resorts.

Our first boat journey was only 30 minutes to South Sea Island – a tiny remote island within the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji in the South Pacific, which you can walk around in just six minutes!

For the rest of the day, we sunbathed on the beach without a care in the world, played children’s games and chilled out.

I also snorkelled for the very first time in my life and have now caught the bug. It’s amazing being able to swim alongside hundreds of different varieties of fish.

Tonight, we had the island to ourselves. The staff cooked us a three course meal whilst we looked up at the stars which was lovely, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to eat a great deal of the meals because I’m a super fussy eater! The bread was nice, though!

Day Three – South Sea Island

Because of the short cruising time from Port Denarau, we found the majority of people who came to South Sea Island were on day trips.

By the end of this blog, I’m probably going to sound like a broken record. Today, we snorkelled and chilled out. After all, there’s not a great deal more you can do on a secluded Fijian island!

Day Four – Mantaray Island Resort – Sunset Tubing

At 9:15, we were picked up by the Yasawa Flyer from South Sea Island and gradually cruised for two hours over to the Mantaray Island Resort on Nanuya Balavu Island – part of the Northern Yasawa group of islands.

When we arrived, the staff greeted us with a welcome song and we then replied back with a loud BULA! (This was the same routine at every resort).

The Fijian people have to be one of the friendliest I have ever met. They really go out of their way to help you. They also love you to say ‘Bula‘, – Hello and ‘Vinaka’, – Thank You.

Not wasting anytime, we snorkelled in amazing, colourful coral at high tide. This was probably the best snorkelling experience of our time island hopping in Fiji. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get any GoPro footage).

In the evening, we paid $45 p/p (around £20) to go sunset tubing. A big advantage of travelling in Fiji is the great price conversion rate to the Great British Pound.

A private boat took us out into the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, where we then jumped into a rubber ring and watched the sunset with drinks in our hand. Emily would end up getting rather drunk tonight…

Once back at the resort, we made the most of the happy hour alcohol offer before having dinner.

Emily is a very strict vegetarian, who hasn’t eaten meat since the age of 11, so kudos to her for managing to eat all of the slightly weird vegetarian options including battered pumpkin and stewed aubergine.

By now, Emily was well on her way and I was still sober. I decided to get an early night whilst Em played drinking games with a big group of Irish travellers as well as others staying at the resort.

Day Five – Octopus Resort

Because of the later shuttle time to our next destination, we were able to spend the morning and most of the afternoon at the Mantaray Island Resort before making the short 30-minute cruise over to the Octopus Resort on the volcanic Waya Island – one of the southernmost islands of the Yasawa archipelago.

This was my favourite of the four resorts we visited. It was a shame that we only had one night here.

The shoreline and water was absolutely unreal – it was exactly how I imagined island hopping in Fiji would be. After an induction from the staff, we hired snorkelling equipment before you guessed it, chilling out on a sun lounger for the rest of the day.

The sunset tonight was the best of our time in Fiji. It was breathtaking.

Day Six – Oarsman’s Bay Lodge – Evening Guided Snorkel

Not wanting to leave, but knowing that we would be going to another amazing resort, we begrudgingly packed our bags once more and headed for our next location.

It was significantly more windy today, which meant the two hour cruise over to Oarsman Bay Lodge on Nacula Island was an extremely rocky one! I don’t suffer from sea sickness, but Emily really struggled.

Similarly, the staff welcomed us with open arms and with a welcome song when we arrived. For the rest of the afternoon, we caught the last couple of hours of sun and then booked to go on a night time guided snorkel costing $45 p/p.

Beforehand, I had only ever snorkelled for fairly short 15/20 minute periods. I would consider myself to be a strong swimmer, but I get cramp in my leg rather easily so always being not far away from shallow water really helps.

This time, we were going on a 45-minute snorkel. I was little apprehensive, but excited nonetheless.

The experience started off as an enjoyable one but after around 25 minutes, I got really bad cramp which eventually locked all the way up into my left leg. I then went into panic. I signalled to Emily using a thumbs down signal underwater and she then immediately alerted one of the guides.

It was a scary situation because I could see that we were such a long way from the shore. Once my leg cramps like that, the only way I am able to get rid of it is by putting my full body weight onto my foot. Obviously, with being in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, I was unable to do that!

Rather embarrassingly, I had to be slowly hauled back to the shore by a guide who maybe could well have ended up saving my life. I’m not sure I would have been able to swim back on my own. It was an experience I will always remember but for the wrong reasons!

Day Seven – Oarsman’s Bay Lodge – Day Trip to ‘Honeymoon Island’

Overall, this has to be my favourite day. In the morning, we were supposed to go on a trip to the Sawa-i-Lau Caves – referred to as ‘the very heart of the Yasawas’ in Fiji’s Blue Lagoon – costing $100 p/p (£38). However, I decided to cancel at short notice because my leg was still rather tight from snorkelling the night before.

Instead, we paid $300 (£114) to go to Yaroma Island for the day – Oarsman Bay Lodge’s very own private and secluded island – sold as ‘Honeymoon Island’.

I’ve been on many nudist beaches in my time as a young child on family holidays and with Em previously but never felt comfortable enough to actually sunbathe naked.

We couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity with being on our own private island for the day. Admittedly, we both did make the most of this! (No pictures, sorry)!

Later in the evening, we watched the sunset from a viewing platform before being picked up at 18:00PM. It really was a rather special and romantic day.

Day Eight – Oarsman Bay Lodge

Unfortunately, this was our final full day island hopping in the Fijian Islands. And, as you can probably guess, we spent it doing as little as possible.

Emily went paddle-boarding whilst I read my book. Later in the afternoon she took part in a coconut bowling game – it was more like Crown green bowls than Ten-pin bowling where she ended up finishing in a respectable third place.

Day Nine – Cruising back to Port Denarau

The Yasawa Flyer shuttle back to Port Denarau was a long four and a half hour extremely rocky cruise (a lot worse than the last), which gave me just enough time to finish putting together this blog post. Thankfully, Em managed to get some sea sick tablets.

Next, we start our adventure in New Zealand by flying into Auckland. Here, we pick up a camper van which we have hired for the next six weeks as we travel down the North and South Islands.

To read my previous blog posts of our time in South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and most recently, the United States, click here.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with our travels, then you can enter your email to receive notifications of blog updates at the bottom of this article; follow my blog by clicking the link, or drop me a follow on Twitter at @AlecW95 or on Instagram at @AlecW95 or @alatw95.

Alternatively, you can follow Emily on her travelling TikTok account at @emstraveladventure.

Thanks for stopping by, until the next time…

Al

Published by alatw95

26 | Freelance Journalist | Travelling the World 🌏

4 thoughts on “Island Hopping in Fiji’s Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands

  1. Wow Alec, I think you deserved those lazy days after everything else you have been doing. Glad you’re OK after your frightening experience. Hi to you both and I look forward to the next episode in NZ! Take care, Sue x

  2. Another wow. Fijian Islands now on my bucket list. Looks amazing. Alec you are a true inspiration as Em is too. Nothing seems to stop you. Must have been a bit scary when your leg cramped. Thankfully you are ok and now we can move on with you and read about your time in NZ . Xxxx

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