How to Visit the Yasawa Islands on a Budget
The Yasawa Islands are the capital of budget holidays in Fiji. Enjoy five-star locations of beautiful islands of sandy beaches and sparkling waters at a fraction of the cost of the luxury resorts. Budget resorts and even villagers open their doors to travellers to see how islanders really live in Fiji, as well as give guests the opportunity to take on some adventure activities or simply relax and embrace “Fiji time“. We’ll guide you through it all in this guide to the Yasawa Islands on a budget.
Before we begin this guide to the Yasawa Islands on a budget, don’t forget to bookmark The Complete Travel Guide to Fiji on a Budget. Trust us, there’s a lot of useful tips in there!
6 Tips for Visiting the Yasawa Islands on a Budget
- Don’t underestimate the number of free activities available in the Yasawa resorts!
- While some activities do have a fee, most activities are very reasonable at well below FJ$50 per person
- Do a homestay with accommodation, food and activities at fraction of the price of a resort
- Compare resort rates with the meals included. The compulsory meal package will be added to the room rate if not stated otherwise.
- Take cash with you to the Yasawas. There are no ATMs and all homestays/some resorts only accept cash
- Ask your resort about the different ways to get there. While most resorts use the Awesome Adventures ferry (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), some work with Tavewa Seabus for a slightly cheaper fare.
For more tips and free things to do, check out our list of 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in the Yasawa Islands.
How to Get to the Yasawas on a Budget
Stretching far north above Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, the Yasawa Islands does take some time (and money) to get to but is well worth the journey. The most economical way to get to the Yasawas is via boat transfer with a catamaran ferry or speed boat. Expect the journey from the mainland to take 2-5 hours one way depending on which island you are heading to.
Yasawa Islands via Ferry
One of the cheapest and most popular ways 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. Expect adult prices to be around FJ$110-FJ$150 one way and child FJ$50-$90 one way. Hop-on-hop-off passes start at around FJ$300 for five days.
Alternatively, a ferry runs between Lautoka (a short drive from Nadi) and several islands and resorts in the Yasawas. Prices range from FJ$100 to FJ$160 one way.
Find out more about these ferry services in How to Take the Ferry to the Yasawa Islands.
There are more ways to get to the Yasawas for those with a bigger budget. Check out 5 Ways to Get to the Yasawa Islands for more information.
Free and Cheap Water Activities
Once your flights, boat transfer, accommodation and meal package has been paid for, budget travellers can relax once they reach the resorts and homestays of the Yasawa Islands. There’s a wide array of free and cheap activities that will keep you entertained for the duration of your stay, starting with the water activities…
Who doesn’t want to do snorkelling in Fiji? No matter what your budget is, snorkelling is a must-do. The best thing is: snorkelling is 100% free. Most resorts offer complimentary use of snorkel gear if there is safe snorkelling to be done right from the beach. Otherwise, a snorkelling safari, where you’ll be transferred by boat to the nearest snorkelling hotspot, is usually one of the most inexpensive activities that resorts offer.
Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Be as active or relaxed as you like when you use one of the free-to-use kayaks or stand-up paddleboards offered by the resorts in the Yasawas. Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the island and watch the fish swimming in the clear waters below.
Handline Fishing Trips
Fishing is part of everyday life in the Yasawa Islands. The staff at many of the budget resorts can take you to the best local fishing spots to fish the local way – handline fishing. Prices on fishing trips between resorts vary widely so make sure you inquire first to get the best price. Good deals can be found for under FJ$30 at Long Beach Resort. Get more advice in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Fiji.
Free and Cheap Land Activities
Aside from embracing “Fiji time” by lazying in a hammock or lounging by the pool, there’s a great deal of free or super cheap land activities. Seriously, you won’t need to spend a thing to have a good time. Cultural activities such as crafts, guided walks and village visits usually come at a small fee (FJ$10-$50).
Walks and Hiking
Most resorts and homestays have access to spectacular walks on the islands. From short beach walks to mountain hikes, there’s something for every fitness level. Sunset or sunrise is the most popular time of day to go for a walk, so ask about the sunset walk at Naqalia Lodge or explore caves, jungles and beaches with Barefoot Kuata Resort.
Fijian Crafts and Cooking Lessons
Make yourself some awesome Fijian souvenirs with one of the crafting lessons available with many resorts and homestays. Weave yourself a basket or a hat or put together your own coconut bracelet. Learn how to tie a sulu (sarong) for your village visits around Fiji. Fijian cooking lessons are always another fantastic and inexpensive option where you’ll get to cook with tropical ingredients you have likely never seen before! Throughout the experience, you’ll learn a great deal about the Fijian culture with your guide, so the experience is definitely worth the small fee!
Many of the resorts in the Yasawas come alive at night with Fijian dancing and singing known as “meke” and even get involved yourself with resorts like Octopus Resort teaching guests their famous “Octopus Bula Dance”!
Many of the resorts and homestays also greet guests with a kava ceremony – a traditional welcoming ceremony where guests are invited to drink kava with the resort staff while you learn about the rituals of the ceremony. For homestays in Fijian villages, make sure you bring your own yaqona root for the ceremony, which is expected of a village visit. Read more about it in our Fiji Village Etiquette: What to Do When Visiting a Fijian Village.
A volleyball net and balls on the beach is kind of a staple in the Yasawa Islands resorts, as well as access to other sports equipment, so playing sports is another way to enjoy your time in paradise with your mates, family or fellow travellers staying at the resort. Resorts, such as the Octopus Resort offer free yoga sessions. Almost all the resorts have nights of coconut bowling and crab racing!
Dining in the Yasawas on a Budget
Due to the remoteness of the Yasawa Islands and their resorts, accommodation rates usually include three meals a day, as there will be no opportunity to buy food supplies or visit restaurants on the islands.
Budget Dining at the Yasawa Islands’ Resorts
Resorts offer a range of food options to cater to their varied guests. Expect a mix of Fijian and Western food, where one night a week is likely to be a “lovo” night where food is slow-cooked in an underground oven the Fijian way, as is the case with Naqalia Lodge.
Resorts like Octopus Resort offer set breakfasts and dinners and an a la carte lunch menu. Snacks can be purchased from resort bars. Higher-end resorts like the Mantaray Island Resort have more expensive meal packages so guests have the option for buffet breakfasts, a la carte lunches and three-course a la carte dinners.
Meal packages in budget resorts range from FJ$50-$100 per person per day, half price for a child and, in some cases, children under six years old eat free.
For any dietary requirements, make sure you get in touch with the resort before booking to see if the resort can cater to your needs. They often cater to vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets.
Homestays in the Yasawas offer meal packages as an optional add-on but it’s usually the most convenient option to take a meal package due to the lack of stores and restaurants. Meals will be a set breakfast, lunch and dinner of Fijian food – bread, seafood, rice, noodles, tropical vegetables and fruit, etc. You will either eat with the family you are staying with or your hosts will prepare food for you to eat first, then they will dine after you.
Meal packages with homestays are usually between FJ$10-$30 per person per day. For dietary requirements, you will have a limited choice so it is best to stay in a resort.