It isn’t easy to find a traditional Fijian Island that is close to the main island of Viti Levu yet sufficiently separated from it to have escaped an uncomfortable degree of development and infrastructure, but Yasawa Island in the Yasawa group of islands to the northwest of Viti Levu is one tranquil exception.
The South Pacific island paradise of Fiji is every bit as gorgeous as it looks in pictures. Perhaps even more so, because the people are so friendly.
With dozens, if not hundreds, of islands to explore, it can quickly become a planner’s nightmare (or dream, if you’re into that). Fortunately, getting to and around these islands is fairly easy, and there are lots of resorts to choose from.
The Yasawa volcanic group consists of six main islands and numerous smaller islets. The archipelago stretches in a north-easterly direction for more than 80 kilometers. The islands are volcanic in origin and very mountainous, with peaks ranging from 250 to 600 meters in height. The only safe passage for shipping is between Yasawa Island (the largest in the archipelago, about 22 kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide) and Round Island, 22 kilometers to the north-east.
The slow approach to life and — well, everything — is palpable from the moment you arrive. There are no designated walking trails, but that hardly matters as the entire 32 square kilometers of the island is one giant trail, with numbers time-worn paths crisscrossing it and taking you to plentiful bays and beautiful headlands. There are eleven deserted beaches on this tiny island, but no telephones, no banks, and no shops. This is the way paradise was meant to be.
Yasawa has miles of unspoiled beaches, is the home of several communities that have lived there for countless generations, and has tourist numbers capped to preserve the environment and the peace. No matter when you go on the island, you can be assured of a tropical paradise that, once you leave the confines of the exceptional Yasawa Island Resort and Spa, you will have largely to yourself.
The First European to sight the Yasawa group was Captain William Bligh of HMS Bounty fame in 1789, but even then, they remained uncharted until 1840 and the arrival of the six U.S. sailing ships that comprised the Wilkes Expedition. Visitors were not allowed to set foot on the pristine beaches until the 1950s, and land-based tourism wasn’t introduced until the late 1980s. The Yasawa group has a long tradition of taking things slowly.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no infrastructure on these islands. Power is provided by big diesel generators occasionally augmented by solar. Water is desalinated on site by the same. Occasionally, there’s a hiccup and you’ll lose one or both for a period of time. Such is the island life.
Receive weekly travel news and special offers.