An Awesome 10 Day Yasawa Islands Itinerary

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Dotted off the northern coast of Fiji in the South Pacific are 20 volcanic isles, the stunning Yasawa Islands. With dramatic peaks – some grassy, others jungle-clad – and dusty white shores, the Yasawa Islands are the epitome of a Fijian paradise.

Island-loving explorers will find that the Yasawa Islands offer everything they could possibly want in a rejuvenating holiday destination. 

Instead of just staying in the same resort on one island for the whole holiday, island-hopping the Yasawas will give visitors a wonderful insight into the varied character of the archipelago.

10 days is just enough time to visit about 3 different islands, with buffer time either side for returning to the mainland.

You’re thinking about visiting Fiji, with so many islands, it may seem like it would be hard to pinpoint which ones to include in your 10 day Yasawa Islands itinerary. However not all of the Yasawa Islands are inhabited and many islands are more popular, and have better infrastructure than others.

Having island-hopped the Yasawas myself, here is my recommendation for how you could spend a 10 day Yasawa Islands trip, which strikes the balance between being both relaxing and active!

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10 day yasaws island itinerary
yasawas guide
10 days yasawas guide

Why should you choose to visit the Yasawa Islands anyway?

Ease of access

Firstly, the Yasawa Islands are easily accessible from the mainland, Viti Levu. That means you can fly into Nadi, stay a night there if you wish, or head straight off on the South Sea Cruises catamaran to the Yasawa Islands, without having to get any other flights.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about being too far away from Nadi for your return flight. If you were over in more remote islands to the east for example, and bad weather impacts your flight, you could well get stuck until it clears.

Essentially, if you don’t have much time in Fiji, the Yasawa Islands are an easy getaway for an insight into island life.

– A blend of comforts & rural life

Most islands in the Yasawas have great tourism infrastructure, but they are not totally over-developed. There is definitely the feel of being very remote and away from it all.

The Yasawa Islands only really have resorts, homestays, villages and natural attractions. There are no shops, sky-rises or anything commercial or ugly like that.

Most goods such as food or other household consumables are actually shipped over from the mainland on a weekly basis. That being said, if there’s anything you can’t bear to be without, then you should consider bringing it with you.

– Beautiful natural wonders

Practicalities aside, the Yasawa Islands are an extremely dreamy cluster of volcanic islands ideal for those who want a quintessential Fijian paradise with a sprinkling of outdoor adventure.

From cool caves to epic wildlife encounters, incredible hiking experiences to ocean sports, the Yasawa Islands are a fantastic place in Fiji for outdoors enthusiasts to visit.

How to island-hop the Yasawa Islands:

yasawa island hammock
Image credit: Jeremy Bezanger via Unsplash

Option 1: The Yasawa Flyer

Getting to and around the Yasawa Islands is easy. The South Sea Cruises ‘Yasawa Flyer’ catamaran travels between Port Denarau and Nacula Island (and then back again) every day.  

Transfers from most Nadi, Wailoaloa and Denarau hotels to Port Denarau Marina are included in your ticket free of charge.

You can either buy a 10 day Bula Pass for $446AUD, which means you can hop-on-and-off with no limitations, or book single transfer tickets with your accommodation. I found it was actually around $80AUD cheaper to book the single tickets ($180FJD/$118AUD each) than a Bula Pass. 

If you’re following this 10 day Yasawa Islands itinerary pretty much exactly, then single tickets are likely the cheapest option. Check out the South Sea Cruises transfers and the Awesome Adventures Bula Pass website to help you compare.

The ferry stop beside the island you’ve booked accommodation at, and your resort send a small boat out to pick you up.

Option 2: A pre organised tour

Another way to travel is opting for a pre-organised island-hopping tour. This ‘Coconut Cruiser’ 7 day 6 night Yasawa island-hopping package includes resort accommodation, food and transfers.

This is the easiest option if you don’t like to plan so you can be relaxed knowing everything is organised for you.

Option 3: Turtle Airways seaplane

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then Turtle Airways offer seaplane transfers and private charters for up to 6 people.

From Nadi, in only 30-35 minutes you could be touching down on your island of choice in the Yasawa Islands.

Yes, this is the most expensive option of getting to and around the Yasawa Islands, but it is by far the quickest and most thrilling. If you have the budget, then it’s a convenient option for at least starting your island-hopping adventure. 

Your 10 day Yasawa Islands Itinerary:

Yasawa Island Scenery

A suggestion of where to stay, sleep and what to do on each day of your 10 day Yasawas island-hopping trip.

Stop 1: Nadi – 1 night, 1 day

When you arrive in Fiji, then firstly congratulations, it’s vacation time! You’ll likely want to wind down and get a feel for the place, especially if it’s your first time in Fiji.

Depending on when your flight arrives, I would highly recommend spending at least one night in Wailoaloa Beach, which is only a 10 minute taxi ride away from Nadi airport.

Where to stay in Nadi

The ferry from Port Denarau Marina to the Yasawa Islands leaves at 8:45am daily, so you’ll likely need to stay the night in Nadi and leave the next day.

Nadi is the launching pad for the rest of Fiji. There are many accommodation options right on the beachfront of Wailoaloa Beach, or just behind it. If you’re travelling Fiji solo, it’s also a fantastic place to meet people who are potentially going island-hopping in the Yasawas too.

For a cheap backpacker joint with a pool and wholesome, lovely staff, I would recommend Bluewater Lodge. It’s not beachfront, (it’s just the street behind) but it’s a perfectly adequate option if you want to save money for more lavish accommodation in the Yasawas.

For something mid-range, there’s the ever-popular Smugglers Cove on the beach, which has private rooms as well as dorm rooms.

What to do in Nadi

If you have time and the inclination to head out exploring in Nadi for an afternoon or day, then I would encourage you to. Some people think Nadi is overrated but I would disagree, especially when you can cram in the highlights in a day!

There are two must-do activities: The Thermal Hot Springs & Mud Pools, and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant botanical gardens. Both are located a few minutes away from one another on a bumpy, rural road.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

garden of the sleeping giant

Organise a driver for the day and first visit the wonderful Garden of the Sleeping Giant located at the foothills of the Nausori Highlands.

For $25FJD, you can wander through the tranquil gardens and boardwalks brimming with the most incredible array of tropical flowers, plants and trees. They have over 2,000 species of orchids here which are truly breath-taking to witness all in one place! Afterwards you can cool down with a complimentary fruit juice. 

Tifajek Mud Pool & Hot Springs

Tifajek Mud Pool

Next are the Tifajek Mud Pool & Hotsprings, just a few minutes down the road, costing $30FJD per person.

First, you must cover yourself in mud from the sticky mud buckets dredged from the bottom of pool 1, and let it dry. You wash it off in pool 2 (next to it) and progress to the other thermal pools in order, finishing on the hottest (and cleanest) pool of them all. 

girl covering herself in mud from mud pools in nadi fiji
two people soaking in a mud pool in Nadi, Fiji

Massages by strong Fijian women are also available for an extra charge (roughly $70FJD for 1 hour).

They’re pretty basic facilities so don’t expect fancy changing rooms or pools. However you’ll definitely leave the hot springs feeling rejuvenated and having had a fun time!

Both the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and the Hot Springs can also be combined with a half day village visit in this pre organised tour if you do’t fancy organising your own driver.

Stop 2: Nadi to Nacula Island – 3 days, 3 nights

nacula island sunset

It makes sense to begin your 10 day Yasawa Islands itinerary as far away from the mainland as you plan to go, in order to island-hop back south. 

Located the second island furthest north is the stunning hilly Nacula Island which is where I recommend you begin. It will take roughly 4 hours to reach Nacula Island from Port Denarau on the Yasawa Flyer catamaran ferry. 

Where to stay on Nacula Island

Nacula is the third largest island in the Yasawas and in my opinion is one of the most beautiful. It has probably the best beach in the Yasawas, right on the doorstep of the two most popular resorts (Oarmans and Blue Lagoon). Blisteringly white soft sand and an aqua blue ocean is set against a backdrop of epic rolling hills – stunning!

There are four resorts on the island: Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, Safe Landing, Oarsman Bay Lodge and Nabua Lodge. Blue Lagoon and Oarsmans are right next to each other.

Oarsman’s is a much quieter resort geared towards couples and honeymooners. They have a series of very beautiful bures (cabins) along a beachfront garden.

Oarmans private bures
front of Oarsmans resort in Fiji

The main feature of Oarsman’s Lodge is probably the large beach-front deck and bar. It’s where you hang out during the day and have a romantic three course dinner at night. I was the only solo traveller at Oarsman’s and they opened the dorm room just for me, so I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the best place for a solo traveller. I felt quite awkward alone!

Blue Lagoon Resort next door is more lively as it’s much bigger. They have a pool where Oarsman’s does not, and a bustling dive and activity centre. I joined their day trips instead as there wasn’t much going on at Oarsman’s. 

Nabua Lodge and Safe Landing Eco-Lodge are more basic family-run homestays towards the bottom tip of the island.

What to do on Nacula Island

There are some fantastic things to do on or from Nacula Island. Here are my two favourites.

Sawa-i-Lau Caves

Sawa-i-lau cave chamber

A half day trip to the stunning Sawa-i-Lau Caves is a must when visiting Nacula Island.

The main area is a large limestone cavern with a vine-clad opening at the top. The result is a spectacular light stream that creates an ethereal glow within the chamber. It perfectly highlights the beautiful blue-green colour of the fresh and saltwater pool.

As well as swimming and jumping into the cave pool from small rocky outcrops, bold explorers should put trust in their guide, hold their breath and dive under a submerged rock face into a pitch dark tunnel. Lit by the single beam of a torch, a series of large hidden chambers emerge beyond the main cave. It’s a little scary but worth it, I promise!

– Sunrise or sunset hikes

hiking nacula island

All accommodation providers offer various free guided activities during your stay such as demonstrations, social activities, equipment like kayaks and also hikes. 

Nacula Island is wonderfully hilly and the peaks are blanketed in tall grass. A sunrise or sunset hike to a viewpoint to take in the sheer beauty of the island is simply one of the best ways to enjoy it.

Or, if you’re like me and prefer hiking solo, ask your resorts permission to go off on your own instead, ensuring you take some water with you.

Stop 3: Nacula Island to Drawaqa Island – 3 days, 3 nights

dorm room on a beach in Fiji

Drawaqa Island is most famous for the Drawaqa Passage where during April – October Manta Rays come to feed on plankton stirred up within the channel.

The best place to stay on Drawaqa Island is Barefoot Manta (in fact, it’s the only place!). It has a laid-back jungle vibe. It was probably my favourite resort for the atmosphere. 

The restaurant/bar/lounge area is the most basic compared to the other resorts mentioned in this guide. However they have a variety of very nice beach-front accommodation options. There are 6-bed ‘luxury’ dorm rooms, private safari tents and other spacious private bures. 

They also have a resident marine biologist and a Marine Conservation Centre which is a real asset.

What to do on Drawaqa Island

There aren’t loads of things to do on land on Drawaqa Island, but the protected marine reserve surrounding the island means there are plenty of water-based activities to do instead!

Swim with Manta Rays

person snorkelling with a manta ray in Fiji

If you’re visiting during Manta Ray season the benefit of staying at Barefoot Manta Resort is that they have pretty much daily boat trips to snorkel with Manta Rays. Every day the team go on a recce, and if they have been spotted in the channel, you’ll hear the call to assemble and head out!

Swimming alongside these gentle and graceful ocean giants is a truly magical and memorable experience which may well be your highlight in Fiji, like it was mine!

Make sure you read my blog post about my experience of swimming with wild manta rays to know what to expect!

Snorkel protected reef


Free snorkels and flippers are provided from Barefoot Manta’s activity bure, and don’t hesitate making use of them!

Either side of Drawaqa Island is fantastic snorkelling right from the very beach of the accommodation. You’ll see an array of brilliant marine life and colourful corals. Just make sure you stay away from the Drawaqa Channel as the current is strong and it can get busy with boats looking for Mantas.

Stop 4: Drawaqa Island to Nanuya Balavu Island (or Naukacuvu Island) – 2 days, 2 nights

Nanuya Balavu Island

After a few nights at Barefoot Manta, it’s worth making one more stop to get a well-rounded impression of the Yasawa Islands.

Nanuya Balavu Island is just next to Drawaqa and so you can go between them just by swapping tenders. Basically, the ferry waits between both the islands for resorts to pick up and drop off their guest. That means you can leave on your resorts small passenger boat and hop onto the other resorts small boat to do the transfer for free, with no need for a ferry ticket.

Where to stay on Nanuya Balavu Island

Mantaray Resort is the only resort on the island. Positioned on an incline, it has a treetop restaurant located at the back of the resort, and the beach and a large deck/bar area to the front. They have a variety of interesting bures to stay in, including beachfront jungle bures and budget treehouse bures, where I stayed. 

treehouse bure in Fiji
DSCF0189 min 1

If you’d like somewhere a little more upmarket, then you could always swap out Nanuya Balavu for the island south, just next to it, Naukacuvu Island. Paradise Cove Resort has a large and very cool central hangout area with sociable bench seating and multiple swimming pools!

Things to do on nanuya Balavu Island

Although marketed as being the place to swim with Manta Rays, the channel is actually right next to Drawaqa and Barefoot Manta Resort so I would recommend you swim with manta rays there instead. However, absolutely make the most of a new part of the reef to explore the protected marine reserve.

– Go diving (day or night!)

shark night dive

Whether you are a certified diver, or not, the marine reserve around Nanuya Balavu Island offers a wonderful opportunity to do fun dives, or even get qualified. Mantaray Resort’s onsite activity guide will teach you all you need to know, or help you brush up on your skills.

If you’re brave, a night dive will show you a whole different side to the ocean. Sharks are mostly active at night and Fiji is well known as being one of the best places in the world to see a variety of different species.

– A village visit

basket weaving fiji

The Fijian’s are such kind and warm people who make you feel so welcome as a guest to their country.

A village visit organised by the hotel, is a great way to meet the locals, visit their village to understand how people live. As well as making traditional items like basket weaving or jewellery making, you’ll maybe even visit a school or a small church.

You’ll leave the village brimming with good vibes from a day of endless smiles, laughter, song and dance.

Stop 5: Return to Nadi (1 night)

I’m sure like me you’ll be sad at the impending end of your Yasawa island-hopping adventure. But heading back to the mainland the day before your flight is wise. Plus you get to spend one more evening drinking a cocktail or an ice cold Fiji Gold on Wailoaloa Beach!

This concludes my 10 day Yasawa Islands itinerary which I hope has been useful in guiding you on how you can spend your time in this beautiful cluster of Fijian islands.


Going to Fiji Soon? Don’t forget these essentials!

Flights: compare and search for the cheapest flights using Skyscanner

Accommodation: hotels to hostels, glamping to apartments, I always use

Tours: to find the best group tours and activities (with up to 20% off), use Viator

Visa: don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the passport you are travelling with on the Fiji government website

Inspiration: how about Lonely Planet’s Guide to Fiji, or to kick-start your next adventure, Lonely Planet’s top 500 places to see… ranked?

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6 thoughts on “An Awesome 10 Day Yasawa Islands Itinerary”

  1. I didn’t know about the Yasawa Islands before and had no idea there were so many interesting things to see and do there. These beautiful places are now on my bucket list for our next family holiday!

  2. This all sounds fabulous! I have wanted to visit Fiji for years (my Aunt used to have photos of it on her fridge…so I loved the idea of following in her footsteps…) BUT I didn’t know much about the other islands in the area. I LOVE the idea of Yasawa Islands hopping, swimming with manta rays and hiking around those beeeautiful volcanic views.

  3. Can you explain how this swapping works? Thank you!
    Nanuya Balavu Island is just next to Drawaqa and can be accessed just by swapping tenders from Drawaqa to Nanuya Balavu. That means you don’t even need to buy a ticket for the ferry!

    • Hey April. Sure! They take you on a little boat used for taking guests to the ferry, however you just get on the other resorts small boat for the same purpose, and don’t actually go on the ferry at all. The ferry basically stops in the middle between the two islands and wait for the resorts to drop guests to them. I hope that makes sense? I’ve updated my post to make that more clear. Thanks so much for your comment 🙂


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