Experience the Mamanuca Islands on a Budget!
Thinking of travelling to the Mamanuca Islands? Then you’re onto a good thing! The Mamanuca Islands are the breathtaking white-sand beach islands centred with tropical forest and surrounded by coral reefs that you have been dreaming about. While some of the islands are home to luxury resorts, there are actually, plenty of budget to mid-range resorts on the Mamanuca Islands packed with free activities! Swimming in crystal clear waters, snorkelling with tropical fish, stand-up paddleboarding or simply relaxing by the pool can be done for free (or at least very cheap) when staying or just visiting the islands of the Mamanuca Group. Find out what else you could be getting up to on these paradise islands in this list of free and cheap things to do in the Mamanuca Islands!
While there are plenty of free ways to spend your time on the Mamanucas, the only thing you need to worry about is how you’re going to get there. Luckily, the Mamanucas are the closest islands to Nadi and Denarau on the mainland, so you have a good selection of ways to get there. Check out 5 Ways to Get to the Mamanuca Islands.
1. Snorkel at Coral Reefs
The Mamanuca Islands are surrounded by coral reefs rich with tropical fish, so snorkelling is an absolute must when visiting the islands! Many of the resorts offer free use of snorkelling gear, such as Beachcomber Island Resort which also runs two snorkelling trips per day. Gear is also complimentary with trips to South Sea Island (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Combine your visit with some affordable dorms, private rooms and bures to stay in. Check out our 6 Budget Accommodation in the Mamanuca Islands for more information.
2. Swim in the Resort Pools
The best thing about resort hopping is trying out all the different outdoor pools! Many of the Mamanuca Islands are open to day-trippers, which also means visitors who are not guests can also use the pool.
3. Swim at the Beach
On the subject of swimming, no one is going to stop you from swimming in the warm waters off the beaches of the Mamanuca Islands. It’s a great way to cool off and feel connected to nature. If you are unsure where to swim, make sure you ask the resort staff first for safe swimming locations.
4. Explore the Islands by Kayak
Being a guest at one of the resorts or just taking a one-day island excursion to a resort often means you get access to the resort’s “non-motorised” watersports equipment. Almost every resort has kayaks, which is a great way to get out on the water and explore the reefs and coast of the island! If hiring a kayak at your chosen resort is not free, then it’s usually very cheap (we’re talking around FJ$5 per hour).
5. Get Out on the Water on a Stand-Up Paddle Board
Another watersport equipment available to hire for free (or very cheap, usually around FJ$5 per hour) are stand-up paddleboards (SUP boards). This relaxing sport is great for working muscles without having to over-exert yourself. It’s possibly one of the most relaxing ways to exercise and discover the beautiful island surroundings. Check out the resorts with free SUP hire in The Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Fiji.
6. Play Volleyball
Resorts on Tivua Island, Beachcomber Island, Malolo Island, Mana Island and more have volleyball nets and free use of volleyballs so you can grab your mates and battle it out! Other sports equipment is also usually available like rugby balls and cricket sets.
7. Resort Evening Entertainment
Staying the night on one of the Mamanuca Islands? Then it’s likely that you’ll catch some of the free evening entertainment that resorts organise for guests. Be captivated by a traditional Fijian cultural performance, take part in a kava ceremony where you’ll taste a mouth-numbing traditional drink, see fire-walking and more! Take a look at the resort’s daily entertainment itinerary, usually available from reception to see what’s on.
8. Explore the Islands on Foot
Hike to magnificent viewpoints or discover secluded beaches just by taking a walk from your resort. Ask resort staff if there are any good places for walking nearby. There may even be free guided walks! For example, the Funky Fish Resort on Malolo Island offers free guided walks to a Second World War hill fort, and the Ratu Kini Dive Resort is a mere 20-minute walk away from Sunset Beach, often described as one of the most beautiful beaches in Fiji.
9. Treat Yourself to a Spa Treatment
Indulge in a bit of “Fiji Time” with one of the island resorts’ spa treatments. It’s true when you think “spa,” you think “luxury”, however, some of the budget resorts have very reasonable spa treatments for under FJ$30, such as neck and shoulder massages at Ratu Kini Spa on Mana Island.
10. Get Some Braids
No one will believe you have been on holiday unless you go home with a head full of braids! A fun and affordable activity for kids (and adults – we’re not judging) is getting braids. Many of the resorts have a professional braider on site who will have you or your little ones rocking the braids in no time! Braiding costs between FJ$1-$3 per braid. Check out some other great activities for kids in our Family Guide to the Mamanuca Islands.
11. Sit by the Pool with a Cocktail or Sample Some Local Cuisine
Let’s be honest, resort food in the Mamanuca Islands can get pretty costly, especially ordering mains off the menu. However, with the heat of the Fijian sun keeping your appetite in check, it’s likely that all you’ll need is to sample one or two entrees or choose something from the lunch menu instead (which is cheaper while still serving huge portion sizes) to keep you going. With that in mind, you can try some great Fijian dishes without spending too much! Check out 10 Foods You Have to Try in Fiji for things to look out for on the menu! Oh yeah, and there’s always the drink option too, so try some local Fiji beer or sip on a cocktail.
12. Talk to the Resort Staff
Most of the staff at the Mamanuca Islands resorts are locals from nearby villages or the mainland. Fijians are super friendly and are usually happy to talk to guests about their culture and way of life! Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn more about Fiji.