Every scuba diver has fantasized about the day they’ll escape to a a remote island, go diving in paradise, and never return. Well, all but that last part is possible at Yasawa Island Resort & Spa in Fiji.
You won’t find any place quite like Yasawa Island Resort & Spa. Located on the last lonely island of the Yasawa Island chain in Fiji, it feels worlds away from Fiji’s sleepy international hub of Nadi–despite being less than a 30-minute flight.
Come along as I share what it’s like staying at this all-inclusive luxury dive resort that’s somehow managed to hold on to its island identity.
Getting to Yasawa Island Resort & Spa
The trip began well before I arrived on the island. I climbed into the front seat of an island hopper airplane that departed from Nadi International Airport. Butterflies crept into my stomach as we gained altitude, cruising towards the open ocean. Hues of electric blue zoomed beneath us as we flew over coral reefs. We passed one island after another along Mamanuca and Yasawa archipelagos.
Is it possible to fly in a small plane and not feel excitement for what’s to come? When a journey starts in such an novel way, you know you’re in for an adventure.
My hand grew sore from snapping pictures out the airplane window. Each island seemed more dramatic than the last. The dry, barren islands of the Yasawas were a stark contrast from the emerald isles found south of Viti Levu. White sandy beaches accented each island, as if to highlight the sea beyond.
“It’s windy, so we might have a bumpy landing,” the pilot noted.
I looked up from my camera and peered at the grass landing strip ahead. We’d made it Yasawa Island, the last island in the chain.
The plane landing was surprisingly smooth–despite the warning. A friendly woman holding a floral necklace (called salusalu) greeted me and the other guests with a smile. We were handed a cold towel to wipe off any semblance of city life on our faces and welcomed into a shuttle. A short ride along a bumpy dirt road, and I was welcomed to the place I’d call home over the next few days.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa: The Rooms & Property
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is laid out along one stretch of sand. The central part of the resort is an open-air restaurant and bar set on the beach–just steps away from a pool lined with lounge chairs. This is the central hub where guests check in and out, congregate for day trips, and dine. At sunset, it’s the place to intermingle over a drink and enjoy watching the day drift away, marked by the setting sun.
Nearby the restaurant area is the activity center, where guests rent kayaks, standup paddleboards, and snorkeling gear. From here, boats shuttle scuba divers, snorkelers, and those wanting to escape to a private beach for the day. A tennis court is located behind the main restaurant area, hidden behind a wall of foliage.
18 beachside bungalows, called bures, span along the ocean’s edge. Hammocks beckon those who want to lounge the day away and outdoor showers invite you to rinse off the sand and salt before heading inside. Choices are between suites, one-, and two-bedroom bures, though the pick of the resort is an isolated honeymoon bure tucked away from the resort with its own private pool. All rooms are air conditioned and overlook the water.
A basket of fruit and bottle of wine welcomed me to my deluxe bure, a spacious room with a wide patio and two showers. With so many things to do at the resort and so little time to stay, I knew I wouldn’t be in my room for long.
Perhaps the highlight of the property is Yasawa Island Resort & Spa’s seaside spa. The massage chairs are set over the water, where you can hear the waves and feel the sea breeze as enjoy a relaxing massage with Pure Fiji products. During my time at the spa, I had to will myself to stay awake–despite the relaxation. I needed to be conscious for the entire experience as it is certainly one I won’t easily find again.
Staff at the resort live on the island and many have worked at the resort since it’s inception. If you visit, you must request a peek at the island’s photo book that documents the behind-the-scenes of building the resort from scratch. Staff are happy to tell stories and reminisce about what all the cyclones, building fiascoes, and memorable events that the island has been through. While so many luxury resorts in Fiji feel as though they don’t belong, Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is a stark exception.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa: Private Beaches
The highlight of Yasawa Island Resort & Spa are the private beach picnics included in each stay. Guests can request to be dropped off at a nearby beach with a picnic basket. Privacy is nearly guaranteed until you hear the hum of a boat engine nearing to retrieve you.
The size of the beaches vary from long, thin stretches of sugar to peaking sandbanks that jut into the water. Some couples at the resort chose to visit a different beach every day, champagne and sunscreen securely tucked into their bags. I had a hot date with my drone to capture the view of the best beach on the island from above.
Scuba Diving Around Yasawa Island
It should come to no surprise that guests often cite the scuba diving around Yasawa Island Resort & Spa as being the main draw. Jacques Cousteau once deemed Fiji as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World,” and this title still holds to date.
Scuba diving at the resort was the number one thing I wanted to do during my stay, and the friendly folks at the dive center ensured that this would happen.
A few other guests and I piled into the dive boat with our equipment and zoomed to the northern point of the island. Paired with just my guide, I dropped into the water and took a look around.
A range of soft and hard corals with hundreds of reef fish surrounded me and my guide. We finned along from one coral bommie to the next, searching for sea turtles and reef sharks. Because there is just one dive resort on the 22-kilometer (13-mile) island, dive sites are guaranteed to be uncrowded. After spending years diving the reefs of Indonesia, this is still quite a treat. Other divers at the resort told me that they’d seen plenty of sharks, manta rays, and eels during their dives around Yasawa Island.
A Trip to the Blue Lagoon
Day excursions are included at the resort, and one iconic tour is a trip to the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon was featured in a Hollywood film, The Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in 1980. The lagoon is only accessed by a narrow entrance with a slippery set of stairs leading into the water.
Inside the Blue Lagoon, locals climb and jump from ledges into the water–each person climbing just a little higher than the last. Because the tide was right, my guide to the Blue Lagoon led me and some of the other guests to a dark and eerie cave attached to the lagoon’s main center. We followed the beam of his flashlight, afraid of being left behind in the black water. Who knows if we could find our way back.
Once we reached the end of the cave, our group yelped in a frenzy of excitement. Our voices boomed between the cave walls, intimidating anything creepy that might have lurked underneath us.
Verdict: The Most Romantic Dive Resort in Fiji
Last year, I was sent on an assignment to review tens of resorts around Fiji. This includes resorts that range from $50 USD to $5,000 USD per night.
Yasawa Island Resort & Spa is the one of the best resorts in Fiji. Unlike many of the luxury resorts in Fiji that feel somewhat soulless–as though you could be spending the night anywhere in the world–Yasawa Island Resort & Spa offers a distinctly Fijian experience that is obvious in its architecture, staff, location, food, and atmosphere. Untouched reefs and uncrowded dive sites make it a haven for scuba divers. As a general rule, kids are not allowed at the resort outside of dedicated family weeks. This adds to the air of romance, with no shrieks or baby cries to interrupt an evening of stargazing and sweet nothings.
The resort also connects guests with Fijian culture. One night a week, Fijian cuisine is served family style, with dance performances, live music, and kava ceremonies frequently taking place. Guests can also visit the nearby villages with a local guide who no doubt will know just about everyone he or she passes along the way.
While elements of the resort are not as polished as those elsewhere (the dirt road entry, seafront grassy areas are natural rather than highly manicured, some bures are more exposed than others), this simultaneously adds to the resort’s charm. With escapes to private beaches guaranteed for every guest, I have a hard time naming a resort that would be as romantic.
The author stayed as a hosted guest of the resort. All opinions and words are her own.