“It might be a bit bumpy,” my pilot revealed as our plane touched down on Yasawa Island. Looking out of the window, I saw hues of blue ranging from electric to deep cobalt form halos around the islands chain. White sand beaches and green rolling hills punctuated the blue.
Our plane touched down on the grass airstrip that led to the Pacific Ocean. I stepped off the plane and received traditional lei that quickly intertwined with my wind-spun hair.
After two years of living in Fiji, I’d finally made it to the northernmost island on the Yasawa Island archipelago, one of my favorite regions in the world. The Yasawa Islands are a chain of islands that span north of Viti Levu, the country’s main island. Because these islands are so remote, the only way to reach them is by private plane of a day-long boat ride.
For the next two days, I’d be spending my time at Yasawa Island Resort and Spa, the only resort on the 13-mile arid island.
After a short van ride on an Indiana Jones-approved dirt road, I checked into my room for the next two days—a beachfront bure complete with a spacious deck, a hammock, and two lounge chairs set under the shade on the beach. Inside, a welcome bottle of wine, an in-villa dining menu, and fresh cookies await. This beach shack was a slight step above sailing around the Yasawa Islands with my friends in a cramped sailboat, where we slept in close quarters and took turns washing dishes off the back deck each evening.
Though Yasawa Island Resort is quite flash with a beachfront spa complete with massage tables that overlook the ocean, a seaside infinity pool, lively cocktail bar, and outdoor showers, you’re able to live a luxury lifestyle in a destination that stokes true adventure. When I was assigned to stay at the all-inclusive resort on behalf of a travel trade publication, I jumped at the chance despite knowing that I might be the only solo traveler among a sea of loved-up couples.
Cooling off in the Blue Lagoon
Nearby cave-laden islands, coral reefs, and sprawling beaches surround the resort—all acting as pseudo playgrounds for those who make the extra effort to leave the comfortable island of Viti Levu in search of sights unseen.
These remote islands of the Yasawas made Hollywood headlines after being featured in the 1980s film The Blue Lagoon starring Brook Shields and Christopher Atkins, who are stranded cousins-turned-lovers on the isle. Despite the film’s problematic premise—Brooke was only 14 years old at the time during the filming of the salacious scenes—you can pay a visit to one of the caves featured in the film.
Eels reside at the bottom of the Sawa-i-Lau cave, which has a small staircase that leads into its opening. During a visit to the cave, my guide instructed me to hold my breath and swim under a ledge to discover a pitch-black cave just beyond the initial keyhole. A waterproof flashlight illuminated the edges of the cave until we found a small window with sunlight shining through. In the cave’s main hull, intrepid guests and locals jumped from the ledges into the cool pool below.
Beaches to fall in love with… and on
Perhaps the main highlight of staying at Yasawa Island Resort is the eleven private beaches that guests can spend an afternoon lounging on. There is an unspoken message that guests can expect utmost privacy. Before each beach trip, staff pack a picnic, a bottle of champagne, and remind guests to bring along some sunscreen—it’s easy to scorch skin that the sun doesn’t usually see. When it’s time to head back to the resort for a cocktail, guests radio the boat driver who arrives shortly after the call. Or, they can ask for a set pickup time.
After driving past solely a handful of the island’s main beaches, I could see why some earned the nicknames of ‘Champagne Beach,’ ‘9 Months Beach,’ and ‘Lovers Beach.’ (If there was a ‘Divorce Beach’ in Fiji, it’d only be found on the tourist-trap island of Denarau.) When the other guests at the resort (all couples) returned from an afternoon at a private beach, they seemed to hold eye contact with one another a little bit longer and doted around one another with a spring in their step. Were they always so in love? I wondered.
Because I was traveling alone, I simply asked for the best place to swim and fly my drone. The shots from the sky were well worth it. The owner joined me with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and helped me add to my repertoire of random life skills by teaching me how to open the champagne bottle with a sword. I pondered how long one could survive on an island with a bottle of bubbles, some snacks, and half a bottle of sunscreen.
Some of us fell in love with the beach, while others of us fell in love on it.
If you go…
If you want a secluded stay, opt for the honeymoon bure. It’s located on the beach away from the main resort and has a private infinity pool.
Take care when planning your flight to Nadi International Airport. You will need to coordinate the second 30-minute flight that leaves from Nadi to Yasawa Island.
If you’re visiting Fiji as a romantic getaway, avoid planning your trip during Australian school holidays. Prices tend to be higher and adults-only resorts often open their doors to the little splashers.
Scuba divers and snorkelers will be happy to know that the reefs are well worth venturing out to. There are tens of dive sites around the region where you’re likely to see reef sharks, sea turtles, large anemones, reef fish, and a mix of hard and soft corals. Don’t skip the saltwater excursions.