Family Guide to the Yasawa Islands
For the family that wants to discover the “real” Fiji, you’re onto a good thing with the Yasawa Islands. Located a 2-5-hour boat ride or 20-minute flight from the shores of Nadi, the Yasawas are well worth the journey for their stunning tropical island landscapes, underwater adventures and cultural discoveries. Far from the polished family resorts of the nearby Mamanuca Islands, a family holiday in the Yasawa Islands is more adventurous and more suited to families who would rather spend their “Fiji time” together than taking their kids to a kids’ club. That’s not to say that the whole family won’t be well looked after as kids are at the forefront of Fijian culture, which shines through the large smiles of the accommodation staff. The Yasawa Islands also provides more opportunity for families to have their island paradise holiday on a limited budget. Find out all you need to know about a holiday in the Yasawas with this guide to the Yasawa Islands for families.
10 Things to Do in the Yasawa Islands with Kids
- Snorkel with the fish from your resort or on a snorkelling trip
- Learn how to scuba dive (for 10 years+)
- Jump on a boat trip to the Sawa-i-Lau Caves
- Discover the Fijian culture on a village visit
- Learn how to craft jewellery or weave hats
- Check out the tropical nature on a walking trail
- Enjoy a family fishing trip
- Learn more about the underwater world on a marine talk
- Get competitive with beach volleyball or football
- Take your kids to the fantastic kids’ clubs
Learn more about these activities in our 10 Things to Do in the Yasawa Islands with Kids, or continue reading.
How to Get to the Yasawa Islands
Stretching far north above Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, the Yasawa Islands does take some time to get to but is well worth the journey. Air and water operators depart from Nadi Airport and Port Denarau, so getting to your resort transfer after you’ve landed in Nadi is easy-going. Here are some of the best transfer options for families.
Yasawa Islands via Ferry
One of the cheapest and most popular ways for families to get to and from the Yasawa Islands is via a high-speed catamaran. Departing daily from Port Denarau Marina, the ferry stops at almost every resort and also includes some hop-on-hop-off options for island-hopping. Learn more in How to Take the Ferry to the Yasawa Islands.
Yasawa Islands via Seaplane or Helicopter
For families that want to get to their destination quickly and see some sensational views along the way, consider using a helicopter or seaplane transfer. Air operators depart from Nadi International Airport and Port Denarau transferring you straight to your chosen resort. Compare your options in our article, Helicopter Vs. Seaplane for Island Transfers in Fiji.
Yasawa Island Cruises
For the ultimate convenience, with your accommodation, dining and transport sorted, consider a small ship cruise in the Yasawa Islands. Cruises around the Yasawa Islands last for three, four and seven nights. A cruise is another way to see the Yasawa Islands with a bit less hassle. Find out more in The Guide to Cruises Around Fiji.
For more suggestions, check out 5 Ways to Get to the Yasawa Islands.
Family Water Activities
Known as being the “soft coral capital of the world”, Fiji and the Yasawa Islands is undoubtedly a spectacular place to get out on the water. Coral reefs teeming with life can be enjoyed through snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing or simply kayaking and watching the fish swim in the crystal-clear waters below.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
For families travelling with children who are able to swim, don’t hesitate to discover the underwater world of the Yasawa Islands. Snorkelling is the most accessible way to see the coral reefs teeming with tropical fish. Resorts in the Yasawa Islands can transport you by boat to the best nearby snorkelling spots, or point you in the right direction to snorkel straight from the beach.
Children from 10 years old can learn to scuba dive with the Yasawa Island’s PADI and SSI-associated resorts. Some of the best resorts to learn how to scuba dive are Barefoot Kuata, Barefoot Manta, Blue Lagoon and Paradise Cove.
Resorts in the Yasawa Islands have an abundance of watersport equipment for families to enjoy. Note that non-motorised equipment like stand-up paddleboards and kayaks are usually free for guests to use. It’s a great way to explore the coast of your island and watch the fish in the clear waters below.
Game and Reef Fishing
It’s a classic family bonding activity, but fishing in the Yasawa Islands provides some of the world’s most exciting fishing trips for families. Mum and dad have the opportunity to catch some big ones, with game fish like Pacific sailfish, mahimahi, giant trevally, yellowfin tuna and much more! Check out What Types of Fish Can You Fish For in Fiji? The little ones can give reef fishing a shot, where the pride of their first catch will be remembered for years to come! Almost all resorts in the Yasawa Islands offer fishing charters so be sure to inquire.
Island Excursions and The Sawa-i-Lau Caves
While you and your family might find it hard to leave your chosen island resort, it’s always worth exploring the other islands of the Yasawas. A popular trip is to the limestone caves of Sawa-i-Lau, where towering limestone pillars are bound to take your breath away and get the imagination of your little ones running. Alternatively, island-hopping is another fun way to get out on the water. Accommodation like Waitui Basecamp can take you and your family to a secluded beach and set up your very own beach barbecue with freshly caught fish, fresh drinking coconut and fruit.
Family Land Activities
In the Yasawa Islands, it’s easy for families to find a fine balance of land and water activities. For those days on dry land, you have sports equipment to make use of, landscapes to discover along the walking trails, and fascinating Fijian culture to engage with. Your days can also be made up of simply relaxing, where hammocks or a secluded spot on the beach is never too hard to find. That way, you’ll see what “Fiji time” is really all about.
Playing sports together is a fun way to reconnect with your family and the resorts in the Yasawas have a multitude of ways to get competitive together. Resorts like Mantaray Island Resort has beach volleyball, tug of war, beach football and frisbee golf ready to be tackled. Or join the staff or Barefoot Kuata for coconut bowling at sunset or, a Yasawa Islands-favourite, crab-racing!
Discovering the sounds and sights of your chosen island’s interior is a must-do in the Yasawa Islands. Discovering the wildlife, tropical forests and magnificent viewpoints make a fun way to spend an hour to a whole day as a family. Each island has a number of walks to discover, including some gentle walks for the little ones. Ask at your accommodation where are the best walks on the island for your family’s ability. Some accommodation may offer guided walks where the trails are not as obvious.
With many of the resorts sharing islands with Fijian villages, the local culture is very much alive and incredibly accessible in the Yasawa Islands. Many of the resorts offer village visits, such as Blue Lagoon, Octopus Resort and Waitui Basecamp, where you’ll meet local villagers and see traditions being played out in their everyday lives. There’s even an array of homestays for families in the Yasawa Islands’ villages where you’ll live and breathe the island culture as you stay with the villagers. Check out 10 Authentic Village Stays in Fiji for more information.
For more “hands-on” experiences within your resort for the whole family to enjoy, try a handy craft class! Get the kids involved with making their own woven hat or bag or make their own coconut jewellery. Craft lessons are available at resorts such as Naqalia Lodge and Manta Island.
Finally, be captivated by the Fijian entertainment in the evenings in your resort or homestay. Any resort or homestay will involve a kava ceremony, which is part of Fijian tradition when entering a new village. The ceremony involves drinking kava – an earthy drink leaving the lips and tongue-tingling. While it’s polite for adults to accept the drink, children are not expected to drink if they don’t want to. (If doing a homestay, make sure you bring your own kava root – yaqona – from the mainland). Some resorts will also put on “meke” nights of cultural dancing and serve “lovo” feasts.
Resort Activities for Kids
Compared to the Yasawa’s sister island group, the Mamanucas, the islands are more about activities experienced as a whole family. There is not quite the abundance of kids’ clubs or child-exclusive activities as you would find in the Mamanuca Islands. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule, with some resorts offering something a little extra for the little ones.
Kids’ Clubs in the Yasawa Islands
Kids get a chance to mingle with others their own age and do some super fun activities at the Yasawa Islands’ kids’ clubs! The Green Gecko Kids’ Club at Blue Lagoon Resort is free of charge for children over three years old. They’ll use nature’s playground with activities including backing lessons, crafts, sandcastle competitions, face painting and crab racing.
The Octopus Resort‘s kids’ club and the Crooked Coconut Kids Club at Paradise Cove offer similar services and are another option for children over three years. There are activities for kids that can swim, as well as land activities for children who can’t swim. Activities include Fijian language games, painting, hair braiding, nature walks, coconut husking, snorkelling tours and much more. The kids’ clubs operate 10am-12:30pm, 2pm-5pm. Then there’s a kids’ dinner at 6pm with more kids’ club activities until 9pm.
Many of the resorts offer babysitting services for an hourly fee. Fijians are renowned for adoring children. Often the babysitters are the sisters or wives of the resort staff who have a wealth of experience being around children.