Unforgettable Experiences at Fiji’s Yasawa Island Resort
After a sleep-filled overnight flight on Fiji Airways I landed at Nadi International Airport at 5:30 a.m. and collected my luggage in a drowsy haze. I managed to find my way outside, where the balmy South Pacific breeze hit my face and woke me up to palm trees and the smell of sweet tropical air.
I was heading to Yasawa Island Resort and Spa by way of The Fiji Orchid, where I had a day room waiting for me between flights. The layover time was about six hours, so I used my time at the Fiji Orchid to freshen up, take a swim, enjoy the sun, and eat a great meal before heading off to Yasawa via charter plane.
It was about a 35-minute flight from Nadi to Yasawa, and those were 35 scenic minutes, with views of turquoise water and coral reef surrounding the area. I will never get tired of seeing that view.
The Island Hoppers plane landed smoothly on a grassy private landing strip, where Yasawa’s welcoming committee was waiting with coconut drinks and leis made from local flowers. Upon arrival, the staff at Yasawa Island Resort and Spa greets every guest with a welcome song and escorts them to check-in.
Yasawa has only 18 rooms, all of which are private and special. A large balcony overlooking the beach, comfortable beds, a separate living area, and a roomy bathroom made me feel right at home, and the outdoor shower was an added bonus. I am always delighted to find a selection of teas and coffee with a French press in my guest room, and Yasawa raised the bar by offering a jar of homemade peanut butter biscuits to snack on.
The first day at Yasawa was pretty special. I woke up with the sun and was stunned by how beautiful the South Pacific sunrise was over the mountains surrounding the resort. The sky was clear and the water calm with a gentle breeze; it made for a perfect start to the day.
On the agenda was a trip to see the Blue Lagoon Caves. (Yes, the actual caves where Brooke Shields became a woman in the movie “Blue Lagoon.”) The site was beautiful and full of Fijian folklore. There is one cave in the lagoon called the Pregnancy Cave. Legend has it, if you are pregnant and try to climb in the cave you will get stuck, whether you are showing or not. If you are not pregnant, you will be allowed to pass through. Good thing I didn’t get stuck!
On the shore of the Blue Lagoon local women sell all sorts of things, some are handmade from shells and coconuts and some are typical souvenirs you’d find most places. I ended up buying my girls some coconut bracelets and shell necklaces.
After a few hours on board the boat, I was ready for some time relaxing in the sun—because you know how hard it is to be on a boat and swim in a lagoon all day! Good thing the resort has a gorgeous infinity pool that overlooks the beach as well as hammocks outside each room for lazy days watching the ocean.
Dinner that night consisted of a lovo and meke dance. Lovo is a traditional in-ground cooking method used by many different Polynesian cultures. Resort employees dig a hole, fill it with hot rocks and coals, cover it with banana leaves, place the meat wrapped in banana leaves inside, and cover them up with more leaves, hot rocks, and coals. The meat then cooks for an hour or two, depending on how much is being prepared.
Meke is a traditional dance performed by the Fijians to share a story or history of their culture. It was a lot of fun watching the dancers who, toward the end of their performance, invited each guest of the resort to get up and dance with them.
The next day’s activities were extra special because a private island picnic had been arranged on Yawini Island. Imagine for a moment turquoise water, a white-sand beach with an umbrella, a woven grass mat, and a cooler full of your favorite foods waiting for you as you are dropped off by Yasawa’s staff. You have all day on the beach to do as you please. That was my reality for half a day. We left the resort at 10:30 a.m. and headed to Yawini Island on a 30-minute boat ride that included the sighting of a pod of dolphins that rode the bow wake of the boat. I can’t guarantee that will happen every time, but it sure was fun to watch. I stayed on the island until about 2:30 p.m. and then headed back to get ready for a visit to Bukama Village with some of the other guests.
Bukama Village is a 10-minute drive from the resort and is lead by Manasa Ragigia. Manasa is the village spokesman and has been an important part of Yasawa Island Resort since the very beginning.
Upon entering the village we were greeted by a group of men who were waiting for us to sit and commence the kava ceremony. Anytime an outsider visits a village it’s customary to bring kava and make an offer and ask permission to be there. We were granted permission and then lead by Manasa to see the school where the children were singing and playing. We visited Manasa’s sister, who was busy making woven floor mats for the houses in the village. It was remarkable to watch how she put these mats together with such ease and skill. I wanted to try my hand at it, but I am sure I would have made a complete mess of things.
I had such a wonderful time at Yasawa. I really felt as though I experienced the South Pacific and Fiji. It wasn’t a bunch of contrived tourist experiences, but instead it was more of an authentic introduction to the life and culture found in Fiji. And there was still more to do; I would have liked to take part in some of the extracurricular activities provided at the resort, including tennis, snorkeling, and beach volleyball, but time didn’t allow before moving onto my next Fijian destination.
I am now planning my Christmas vacation with my husband and kids, and I am pretty sure Yasawa Island Resort will be part of those plans—as will some snorkeling and spa treatments at Baravi, Yasawa’s beachfront spa.