The Yasawa Islands for Foodies
Want to experience the real tastes of Fiji? Want to get away from the Western-style buffet dinners and the same old crowd-pleasers? Then your Fiji travels should take you to the Yasawa Islands. The remote island group populated with real island villages is one of the best places to have an authentic Fijian foodie experience. We’ll guide you through the resorts, village homestays, foodie activities and dining experiences of the Yasawas in this foodie guide to the Yasawa Islands.
10 Things to Do in the Yasawa Islands for Foodies
- Learn a new recipe in a Fijian cooking lesson
- Try a traditional lovo feast
- Take part in a kava ceremony
- Catch your own dinner in handline fishing or spearfishing
- Treat your loved one to a beach picnic
- See a tropical productive garden in a garden tour
- Do a cruise of the Yasawas with foodie activities included
- Attend a luxurious dinner party on Turtle Island
- Get an authentic Fijian food experience in a village homestay
- Enjoy a private dinner on the beach
To find out more about each of these activities, take a look at the 10 Things to Do in the Yasawa Islands for Foodies, or simply continue reading.
How to Get to the Yasawa Islands
Situated northwest of Fiji’s mainland, Viti Levu, the Yasawa Islands can be accessed by water or by air. Water transport takes 2-5 hours depending on your chosen resort, while air transport takes 20-30 minutes. Cruises around the Yasawa Islands are also worth considering.
Yasawa Islands via Seaplane or Helicopter
The quickest way to get to the Yasawa Islands is via a seaplane or helicopter flight. Air operators like Pacific Island Air (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Turtle Airways (on Viator and Tripadvisor) depart from Nadi International Airport and Port Denarau taking passengers directly to their chosen resort. Needless to say, flight transfers are the most costly way to get to the Yasawa Islands.
Yasawa Islands via Ferry
One of the most popular and economical ways to get to/from the Yasawa Islands is via a high-speed catamaran ferry with South Seas Cruises/Awesome Adventures. Departing daily from Port Denarau, the ferry stops at most resorts and also includes some hop-on-hop-off options. Alternatively, Tavewa Seabus offers transport between Lautoka (a short drive from Nadi) and several resorts in the Yasawas. Find out more about the ferry on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Yasawa Islands Cruises
For the ultimate convenience with your accommodation, dining, activities and transport sorted, consider a small ship cruise in the Yasawa Islands. Blue Lagoon Cruises offer cruises around the Yasawa Islands for three, four and seven nights, departing from Port Denarau Marina. For foodies, activities available while visiting the islands includes Fijian cooking lessons, a traditional lovo (see below), as well as meals onboard such as an al la carte Captain’s Dinner and themed buffets. Find out more about Blue Lagoon Cruises on Viator and Tripadvisor.
For more suggestions, check out 5 Ways to Get to the Yasawa Islands.
Foodie Activities in the Yasawa Islands
Food is a central part of the Fijian culture, with cooking methods and traditions surrounding food still being played out the same after hundreds of years. Needless to say, the food-orientated activities will also be central to your stay in the Yasawa Islands. Here are some of the foodie stuff you could be doing.
Fijian Cooking Lessons
Learning how to cook South Pacific cuisine is an absolute must-do for any foodie visiting the Yasawa Islands. At Naqalia Lodge, guests have the opportunity to learn traditional Fijian cooking methods, like cooking on fire using leaves, coconuts, herbs and more! Or enjoy a cooking demonstration using freshly caught seafood when staying at the all-inclusive Yasawa Island Resort & Spa. Fijian cooking lessons are also available at Paradise Cove Resort, Blue Lagoon Resort, Barefoot Manta Resort, Mantaray Island Resort and many of the Yasawa Island homestays.
What Fijians usually save for special occasions, visitors of the Yasawa Islands have the privilege to taste the smokey flavours of a traditional lovo feast. Lovo is food slow-cooked in an underground oven. Watch the unveiling of the lovo then tuck into a feast of meat, fish and vegetables. At the Barefoot Manta Resort, guests can learn to weave their own dinner plates before enjoying the lovo feast and cultural performances. Lovos can also be enjoyed every Thursday at Turtle Island Fiji.
Kava ceremonies are traditional welcoming ceremonies typically performed when there are new visitors to a village. Needless to say, it will be a staple of your village visit if you are doing a homestay in the Yasawas, so don’t forget to bring yaqona as a gift (sevusevu). See Fiji Village Etiquette: What to Do When Visiting a Fijian Village for more tips. At resorts, guests will still get to experience this signature tradition that Fiji is most famous for. Resorts like Paradise Cove Resort and Yasawa Island Resort have a kava ceremony night once a week, while the Navutu Stars Resort has a kava session every Friday afternoon to represent a taste of Fijian village life.
Mix romance and great food in a Yasawa Islands beach picnic. The resort chefs will prepare you a gourmet picnic then you and your lucky partner will be transported to a secluded beach or island to dine in paradise. This special dining experience is available at the Yasawa Island Resort, Barefoot Manta, Navutu Stars and Turtle Island Fiji.
Get amazing insight into island life with one of the garden tours available in the Yasawas. Learn how different types of fruit and vegetable grow at the Botaira Island Resort with their fun and informative Eco-Garden Tours. Alternatively, Turtle Island Fiji offers tours of their 5-acre (2ha) garden growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices for the five-star resort’s restaurant.
Handline Fishing and Spearfishing
Use fishing methods that have been used on the Yasawa Islands for hundreds of years to catch your own dinner. With Mantaray Island Resort, join the crew for a short stroll to a nearby reef to try your luck, after getting some much-need cold beverages from the bar, of course. The resort also does spearfishing trips, as does Naqalia Lodge mixing stunning underwater scenery with catching dinner.
Dining in the Yasawa Islands
When it comes to dining in the Yasawa Islands, you will be confined to the restaurant of your resort. All the resorts we list beside this article have been picked due to their use of fresh cuisine provided by the local land and sea. Whichever foodie resort you choose in the Yasawas, you won’t be disappointed.
The difference lies in the way guests purchase the food, with some resorts like Mantaray Island Resort and Naqalia Lodge offering compulsory meal packages. Navutu Stars, for instance, offers the choice of a meal package or an a la carte menus. Nanuya Island Resort keeps things strictly a la carte, giving guests a choice to suit their tastes and budgets. Luxury resorts like the Yasawa Island Resort and Turtle Island Fiji include all food and snacks in their all-inclusive rates. Finally, in the Yasawa Islands homestays, families will offer an affordable meal package where you will be served a set breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
Unique Dining Experiences in the Yasawa Islands
To celebrate a special occasion or “just because” treat that special someone to a romantic dinner for two. Enjoy a gourmet three-course meal at your own secluded private table on the beach while watching the sunset. This experience can be enjoyed at resorts such as Mantaray Island, Barefoot Manta and Navutu Stars. Don’t forget the private picnic as an option too (see above)!
Guests at the Turtle Island Fiji resort have the opportunity to attend their nightly “Dinner Parties” at a different unique location. Dine in the tropical gardens, on the mountaintops or on the beach – the possibilities are endless on a private island.
For the most authentic Fijian dining experience, it’s worth booking yourself a night or two in a village homestay. Fijian families open their home to international guests to see their way of living and, most importantly, share their food! Food is simple yet flavoursome and shrouded in tradition, making it an eye-opening and honouring experience. Check out our 10 Budget Homestays in the Yasawa Islands to see where to get this experience.
Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Diets
If you have a special diet, you don’t need to worry about eating in the Yasawa Islands, as long as you give your resort advanced notice. Resorts are happy to cater to special diets, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or something else. If you are doing a homestay, you should contact your host before booking to see if they can cater to your diet.