Entering Yasawa Island Resort has got to be one of the most unique experiences we’ve had to date. We were picked up at the Domestic terminal at the airport in Nadi and taken to the Island Hoppers lounge offsite. Over fancy Fiji Water, we met a few of the other guests who were also heading to Yasawa that day. Then we were whisked off for a short, 30-minute flight on a beautiful 9-seater plane. We approached the grass landing strip in the middle of the stunning island, home to Yasawa Island Resort. With nothing but this airstrip, a few villages and the resort around us, I knew we were in for a unique and treasured experience that would be unlike anything we’d seen so far.
Unchartered, undeveloped and like something out of a movie, are three ways to describe this stunning location. I’m not sure if there are many places left on our beautiful earth that look like this. There are no towering resorts, no shopping malls, not even a grocery store within many, many miles. Complete seclusion is something that many people search for long and hard and rarely find. The untouched coastline is spectacular, making the stars at night even brighter than you can imagine.
From the grass airstrip, dirt roads and off-grid buildings, the resort is set amongst towering cliffs and stunning blue water. What can be better than that?
Lobby & Check in experience: 4/5
We arrived at the airstrip and were taken by van about 5 minutes to the entrance of the property. The lobby is quite small, but we were welcomed by song and dance from the lovely staff who welcomed us with their special song.
Six of us arrived at the same time so we all sat down and filled out some paperwork, including a mini-bar request form. You can customize your minibar to include complimentary soft-drinks, water, sparkling water, etc. You can also opt-in to purchase alcoholic beverages for your minibar. We had some Fiji rum and a couple bottles of wine left over from our last resort, so we did not purchase anything for our minibar. The minibar was stocked by that evening.
After check-in, we were brought to our Bure (Fijian for “bungalow”). Since the hotel coordinates the arrival and departure during your stay, it was excellent to be taken straight to our rooms that were ready for us. All Bures are a short walk from the lobby.
Our first thought when entering the Deluxe Oceanfront Bure (#12) was “WOW”. The Bure was massive, with a sizeable living room, large bedroom and bathroom complete with two indoor showers and an outdoor shower (with privacy screen).
There were outdoor decks off of each area of the room including the sunken living room, bedroom and bathroom.
We enjoyed how open the rooms felt, with the traditional style shutter windows that opened fully (and had screens to protect from the bugs). It was great to get a breeze into the room each day and listen to the crashing waves all night.
The living room has a comfortable sofa, bar with your pre-selected beverages and a Nespresso machine and tea. The bedroom features a king bed with an excellent view out towards the lawn and beach beyond. Next to the bedroom is the bathroom, complete with a private toilet room, two vanities, large closet, shower with dual shower heads as well as an outdoor shower.
Each deluxe beachfront bure was the same and each featured the same view of the lawn and ocean beyond. It’s a beautiful, private setting. Each bure also featured a pagoda on the beach with two chaise lounges and a hammock.
The bathroom was a nice size and was nicely redone with modern sinks and a stunning shower. The products they offered were from the very well-known brand in Fiji, Pure Fiji. We loved the scents and each bottle was a big enough size that I may have brought a few home with me (hehe).
Overall, we loved the room and how spacious it was. There was only 1 small AC unit over the bed that tried it’s hardest to keep up with the heat outside, but due to the size of the room, it was almost impossible to keep it very cool. However, we found that at night, the combination of the fan and AC were more than adequate for a great night’s sleep.
For being on one of the most remote islands in Fiji, Yasawa really does have an excellent assortment of activities and facilities.
The activities hut on the beach provides complimentary non-motorized water sports like paddle boarding, windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, etc. The resort also offers a number of incredible excursions included in the cost of your stay, including guided snorkeling, a visit to the local village, a visit to the Blue Lagoon and hikes to the lookout above the property. For a fee, the hotel also offers daily scuba diving.
We had the chance to scuba dive as well as visit the Blue Lagoon. Scuba diving was an absolute blast with the dive master, Sam. Sam took us on several exploratory dives around the area to discover new dive sites. We typically went out between 10 to 1pm and came back in time for a delicious lunch. There was a surprising lack of fish, but it was made up for with the most incredible coral we have ever seen. Massive fans, neon corals and endless colors made up every dive site and it was a very unique experience. Since the property is so small (18 rooms), there were only ever 3-4 of us diving, making it a very personal experience. The rates were very reasonable, and they offered discounts for multiple dives.
The Blue Lagoon tour was exceptional as well. The 1980s movie, The Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields, made this a very popular tourist attraction. Approximately 15 minutes by boat from Yasawa Island Resort is the filming site. Upon entering the area, it is clear to see why they chose to film the movie here: it is stunning. We were taken to the entrance of the caves and we had several hours to explore the caves and lagoons. There’s also a small shopping area set up outside the caves by the local women from the village with some souvenirs. The tour went from 9:30-12:30 and we were all back right in time for lunch. It was a great experience and it wasn’t even very crowded! I think this is due to the remoteness of the island in general. There are so few people around that everything feels so untouched and uncrowded.
On our first night, Yasawa hosted the weekly communal Fijian-style dinner, called Lovo. The chefs prepared our food in the traditional underground oven outdoors and they sat us all at a long table for the 5 course meal. We felt this was a wonderful introduction to the property and we got to know the other guests! The food was fantastic and was accompanied by a traditional show of song and dance as well. Each chef came out and talked about their dishes and introduced themselves. We loved how personal the whole experience was and highly encourage everyone to attend this dinner.
The spa is also an exceptional experience. We’ve been to a number of incredible spas, but the setting of this one was just unbeatable. Situated at the edge of the beach is your own personal paradise. The massage tables are outside and you can listen to the ocean during your massage. We found out a bit late, but if you paid $475 FJD, you can get a massage every single day of your stay! Whether you stay 3 days or 15 days, it doesn’t matter- it’s the same price. This is an excellent option for anyone looking for a daily 50-minute treatment (facials included). Several people on property took advantage of this incredible offer and they loved it. We loved our massage and could have gone back to Aggie and Jenny a million times. The spa was definitely a highlight. Even though it was a fairly simple spa (no sauna, steam, pools, etc), the massage quality was 5 stars and I felt so refreshed after. I will be dreaming about that experience for a long time to come.
There is no gym on property, so if this is something you require, it’s important to know. The hotel offers a number of activities like hiking to make up for this. Similarly, there is no wifi in the rooms or on property outside the lobby/library. This is important to note if you require in-room wifi. We spent some time after dinner each night in the library updating our social media accounts and following up on emails, and that became our evening ritual. Coming from the US, I also did not have any service on my phone, which is lovely for disconnecting but I was unable to use my phone as a hotspot because of this. Other guests on property had Australian phones and they did have service.
Yasawa offers some private experiences as well, such as the beach picnic excursion. The hotel will organize a trip for you to explore a private beach and they will set up a full picnic with an umbrella as well as comfy seating and towels. This is included in your stay and we know many couples who went every day. On our last day, they took us to our favorite beach: Yawini Island. This is the beach in a number of the drone shots on their website, and for good reason: it is spectacular. There is something incredibly romantic about being on a private, white sand beach all alone. They leave you with a radio in case of emergencies and coordinate a time to come back and get you. Check it out, that’s us down there:
The dining was excellent at Yasawa. Yasawa Island Resort has an “all-inclusive” policy where everything is included in your stay, with the exception of alcohol. Tipping is also not allowed at the hotel. This makes for an incredibly stress-free vacation at Yasawa. We loved being able to show up to meals or to excursions and not signing a bill for it. Each evening, we would sign for any alcoholic beverages we purchased.
Breakfast offered a variety of dishes, such as scrambled eggs, eggs benedicts, crepes, smoothies, croissants, fruit, and the other usual suspects. We didn’t have any yogurt, unfortunately, but I believe they were just awaiting a shipment from the mainland.
Lunch and dinner menus changed daily, which was excellent and made every meal feel like you were in a different restaurant. They also offer room-service during the daytime. This is a great option for a tasty snack between lunch and dinner. On our beach picnic, we had the option to select from a wrap, two sandwiches (vegetarian and meat option) and salad. We also received fresh fruit and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also order alcoholic drinks as well and they will be delivered with your picnic.
One thing that I don’t think they did a great job advertising was the really unique dining experiences you can have while on property, so if you’re reading this- remember to ask! Yasawa has wonderful experiences that they cater for you, and you alone, but you have to ask for them. For instance, you have the option to request a seafood dinner on the beach or dinner on the deck of your Bure. Many of the guests did not know this was an option. The experiences are so wonderful. On Max’s birthday, they set up a stunning private beach dinner complete with lanterns, candles, a comfy lounge seating area and the star-filled sky. It was my dream dinner and I almost cried when I saw how beautiful it was. I can’t recommend this experience enough. we enjoyed way too much locally caught lobster, crab and tuna as well as a deliciously fresh salad. I had no idea they even had lobster here so this was a fantastic treat. They even made a birthday cake for Max and the whole staff came out and sang to him. It was my favorite experience we had at Yasawa.
Overall, dining was excellent. The option to request custom experiences as well is such a treat and I hope every future guest asks them for the experience they are looking for. From the communal Lovo experience, dining in the restaurant, to dining in our own private area of the beach, we adored our meals and the beauty around us.
Overall, Fijian people are kind, genuine and generous people. There are so many wonderful people working on the property that were so interested in sharing their culture and stories with us. Rupa, who served us on Max’s birthday, told us they call Orion (the constellation) “Iri”, or “fan”. The next day, he brought us a fan his mother made out of coconut leaves. That was such a beautiful gift and kind thing to do. We brought it home with us and are framing it. Staff were always singing, playing guitar or teaching us Fijian words for things.
The reason we provided the rating we did here is mostly for the housekeeping. The staff were so nice, but they just didn’t do a great job with housekeeping or turndown. It may seem like a nitpicky thing, but a clean room with clean robes, clean towels and wiped down counters can go a long way to showcasing the true luxury, 5-star experience. As many of you know if you’ve read our previous reviews, I am a stickler when it comes to cleanliness and bathrooms. Things as simple as putting your slippers by the bed at night or even putting a towel or small rug next to the bed to wipe your sandy feet on before jumping in at night are easy things that go a long way that unfortunately were missing from our experience.
Coming home to counters with dead flies on them that had been there since the morning, dead spiders on the floor, trash in the bin or dirty robes on the floor just doesn’t scream 5-star luxury to me. One evening, they had even turned off the AC in our room so it was a bit sweltering. They also did not restock the minibar and we had to consistently ask for more water or more bath products. If you asked, things came immediately and plentifully, but the point is we had to ask. The difference between that ultimate luxury experience and the almost-there-but-not-quite-there experience is the idea of getting what you need before you know you even need it. Thankfully, the housekeeping closet was left unlocked in our room so I found some toiletries for myself when they needed replacing. I have no doubt that if housekeeping is improved, my overall service perception would greatly improve as well.
When we review style, we look at many different angles: authenticity, refinement and follow-through across the property. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love checking into hotels, closing the curtain and feeling like I could be in Boston or London or anywhere else. We love checking into properties with the authentic feeling of the local area. Yasawa did an amazing job with this, particularly in the Bures. You walk in and there is absolutely no doubt that you are in Fiji. The vaulted ceiling with shell-wrapped beams, the traditional shutter-style windows, the art on the walls: everything felt authentic and curated. I felt like this room was meant to exist in this very place, and not anywhere else in the world. The addition of local products (Pure Fiji) and local flower arrangements in the room were extra bonuses that we loved.
Similar to authenticity is the history of the property. In the library, there is a surfboard on the wall that has old photos of the property, the owners and the people involved since the beginning of the Yasawa Island Resort story. We loved this little glimpse into the story behind Yasawa. A nice addition to this was a complimentary happy hour with wine, beer and a rum cocktail that the management hosts once a week to share the story of the hotel with the guests. We found out that the property deeply values its history and every owner and former owner of the hotel is still deeply involved in the hotel. The bar on property is named “Manasa’s Bar”. Manasa built the hotel and still works there! It was a beautiful experience to meet him and his wife and learn more about the hotel. I consider this part of the “style” because it adds to the authenticity of the hotel and the energy they are willing to put into keeping the history alive.
Overall, we had such a unique and incredible experience at Yasawa Island Resort. From landing on a grass airstrip in the middle of nowhere, to the most romantic private beach dinner of my life, to the soft sounds of the ocean while the strongest Fijian woman was massaging my back, there is just no shortage of unique experiences to be had. We could have spent weeks exploring all the activities, dining experiences…and massages, that the hotel has to offer. It’s rare for us to recommend more than 5 days in one hotel, but I can honestly say: spend a week. It’s worth it and you won’t regret it- just don’t forget to ask for those custom experiences, it will truly make your experience at Yasawa an incredible one.