Fiji Island Hopping
With lush forests and sapphire waters and 333 paradise islands, Fiji was named one of the happiest countries in November 2016. The author of this article chose the relatively remote and not completely isolated Yasawa Islands as a base to start an island-hopping trip in Fiji.
The 1980s movie “The Blue Lagoon” made a deep impression on me, and decided that these South Pacific islands with stunning views were romantic vacation paradises. These dazzling islands are like pearls of different sizes, dotted in the blue South Pacific.
In 2000, “Cast Away”, also shot in Fiji, gave me another view of the breathtaking scenery, so I didn’t hesitate to put Fiji on my travel list.
In March 2020, I finally set foot on this beautiful island country. This rustic, sunny island nation boasts verdant jungles and sapphire waters. Under the bright sun, the different levels of the blue and green sea are wonderful.
Fiji has a unique geographical environment. She is surrounded by the third largest coral reef complex in the world. With the colorful underwater world, crystal clear waters, and white and smooth sandy beaches, Fiji has long been a holiday paradise for tourists who love the sun, sand, and sea.
She was named one of the happiest countries in November 2016. Fiji has 333 paradise islands. Viewed from the boat, each of the beautiful islands looks somewhat similar, but each has its own views and highlights. For the first time I set foot in the island country of Fiji, it was a bit dizzying to have too many choices, and I didn’t know where to start. Due to my limited annual leave, I finally chose the relatively remote and not completely isolated Yasawa Group as a base and an “island-hopping” trip in Fiji.
I chose Kuata, Naviti, Nacula, and Waya for this trip. These four different islands and the resorts I stayed in gave me a completely different travel experience in just a few days.
Kwata Island: Swimming with Sharks
Kuata Island was the first island I stayed in. Barefoot Kuata (I literally translate it as Barefoot Kuata) is the only resort on the island. Probably, for this reason, this pretty island is also named after a resort.
There is no pier on the island, and yachts are docked in deep water. We had to rely on the motorboat transfers provided by the resort to take us from the yacht to the shore.
From the boat, you can see blue sky, lush tropical rainforest, crystal clear waters, and coconut trees surrounding the white sandy beach. Isn’t this the classic picture that South Pacific islands should have?
I didn’t expect to be able to dive and swim with sharks in Fiji and it’s so special only on Kuata Island.
“The Awakening Shark Dive” is Barefoot Kwata’s signature event and the highlight of the island. Many adventurous tourists come here to dance with sharks.
I followed my diving instructor on a motorboat to Moya Reef, which took about 20 minutes. Moya Reef is home to whitetip reef sharks and blacktip reef sharks.
I don’t know how to dive in the deep sea. I can only swim in the dark blue ocean by snorkeling, looking at the beautiful coral reefs, and looking for traces of sharks.
Although blacktip reef sharks and whitetip sharks are relatively timid and have never bitten or harmed humans, I still feel nervous and scared when I see two sharks about 1 meter long not far from me. “Dancing with sharks” is such a rare and special experience, I believe I will never forget it!
Naviti Island: Get up close and personal with the stingrays
Naviti Island is the largest (33 km²) and highest (380 m at the highest point) of the Yasawa Islands.
I chose to come to Naviti Island because I wanted to get close to manta rays (commonly known as manta rays). In Fiji, the endangered manta ray is a protected fish. There are also only a few waters in the world where you can experience the opportunity to swim with the tame giant manta rays.
From May to October each year, spectacular schools of manta rays gather in the waters off Naviti Island to feed. I know that March is not the season to encounter manta rays, but I still have the mentality of giving it a try.
Fiji islands are surrounded by coral reefs, especially the waters around Naviti and Kwata islands are marine protected areas. The shoal in front of the resort is an excellent snorkeling spot, and the colorful coral reefs amaze me. Since you don’t have the chance to swim with manta rays, let’s frolic with beautiful tropical fish.
The resort has a walking trail that leads to the highest point of the island. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to walk to the highest point on the island. It’s true that you can climb up and look into the distance, and you can see the magnificent views of the adjacent waters and the surrounding islands.
Nacula Island: Self-Driving Seaplane
Nacula Island is about 22 square kilometers and is the third-largest island in the Yasawa Islands. The Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, where I stayed, is a favorite among tourists, not only is it well-equipped, but there is a beautiful white sand beach in front of the resort. I have seen a seaplane parked on the shore of a resort. To come to the remote Yasawa Islands, in addition to coming by yacht, tourists with affluent financial conditions can come by car or by seaplane.
The resort has a trail leading to the back hill. Through the trail to the highest point of the back mountain, you can overlook the invincible sea view, and the magnificent and intoxicating sunset scenery is right in front of you. I didn’t dare to spend too much time indulging in the beauty in front of me, because the mountain trail was a bit rough and a bit steep, and there were no street lights, so to be on the safe side, I rushed back to the resort before dark.
When I came to the resort, I was greeted by a colorful sunset. The resort features traditional singing and dancing and a sumptuous buffet, which made me happy to spend a pleasant evening.
Savailau Caves: splashing in limestone caves
The famous Sawa-i-Lau Caves are a must-see when visiting Fiji. After I settled my luggage, I immediately went to the front desk of the resort to book this popular half-day tour.
The Sawailau limestone caves are legendary and mysterious. No wonder the movie “Youth Coral Island” was filmed here. There is also a rock named after Brooke Shields in the cave.
It is said that the limestone caves originally formed hundreds of meters below the water. It gradually rises over time, forming a natural and hidden pool.
The light shines through the ceiling to illuminate the pool. It is a rare experience to splash in this natural and hidden limestone cave.
Bold and adventurous friends can follow the guide to explore the second cave. But you have to be mentally prepared, you not only need to be bold and not afraid of the dark, you also have to be able to hold your breath. Because the entrance of the second cave is in the water, you have to hold your breath (less than 1 minute) and dive into a narrow and long tunnel to enter the second cave. Remember to bring a flashlight as it’s pitch dark inside.
Waya Island: Great Snorkeling Spot
The Octopus Resort on Waya Island is the only resort on the island. Likewise, this popular resort has beautiful scenery and a long stretch of white sand.
The beach in front of the resort is the best spot for snorkeling, where you can see colorful coral reefs and tropical fish.
At low tide, standing on the shore can see dense coral reefs exposed to the water. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a spectacular and amazing picture so close.
Fiji still has many wonderland-like islands waiting to be discovered. Even if I did, I wouldn’t delete her from the travel list. Through the Vaccinator Travel Link (VTL) program, there is no mandatory quarantine upon entry to Fiji, and I will be revisiting soon