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Fiji is the ultimate tropical getaway. A haven of pristine, palm-fringed sands and breathtaking scenery, Fiji is as picture-perfect as it gets.
I’ll never forget the first time I visited – I was blown away by the beaches, the rugged volcanic landscape and the crystal waters abundant with coral. If you’re a beach lover like me, Fiji will no doubt be your dream vacation.
Perfect for every kind of traveller, Fiji boasts 333 islands and has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. But, with all this choice, it can feel daunting planning a trip.
So, to help you out, this Fiji island hopping itinerary will show you all the best bits without feeling too hectic.
Two to three weeks is the ideal amount of time for island hopping in Fiji. But, if you’re limited on time – or want to squeeze a trip into two weeks of annual leave – this 12-day itinerary has you covered!
Mixing relaxation with adventure, here’s everything you need to know for a dream Fiji island hopping holiday…
Fiji island hopping Vs choosing one island
Staying on just one island in Fiji will, of course, be an absolute dream getaway. But, to maximise your experience, island hopping gives you the chance to explore the best that this beautiful country has to offer.
With so many islands to choose from, Fiji is one of the world’s best island hopping destinations. And, if you want to spice up your vacay with a bit more adventure, island hopping is a top choice!
As a country with so much beauty, flitting between islands is also a big part of the charm. Whether you take a ferry, private boat or a flight, the journeys across shimmering seas are guaranteed to take your breath away.
And if island hopping sounds a little hectic – don’t worry! While you can fit a ton into 12 days, this itinerary has a slower pace so you still have plenty of time to relax.
Fiji island groups
Fiji’s islands can be divided into several groups. Viti Levu is Fiji’s largest island and has over 70% of the country’s population.
It’s here that you’ll find the capital Suva as well as Nadi International Airport – which will be your starting point for your Fiji island hopping itinerary.
Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island, followed by Taveuni – an eco paradise abundant in rainforest and natural beauty. Remote and less visited by tourists, Kadavu is the fourth largest island and is a secluded, off-the-beaten-track destination.
The rest of Fiji’s islands are divided into groups of smaller islands – including the Lomaiviti group located in the central part of Fiji and the far-flung Lau further east. You’ll also find the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands north of Viti Levu.
If you’re visiting Fiji for the first time, it’s the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups that need to be on your radar.
The Mamanuca chain is the most popular for island hopping and is within easy reach of Viti Levu. It boasts tiny white-sand isles with cast away vibes – not least because Tom Hanks’s Cast Away was filmed on Monuriki island here.
Likewise, the Yasawa islands are the epitome of desert island bliss. Further north from the Mamanucas, and slightly more secluded, you’ll find stunning beaches, sapphire waters and dramatic volcanic landscapes.
It’s also here that you can explore the famous Blue Lagoon which offers some of the world’s best snorkelling.
How to island hop in Fiji
The great thing about island hopping is the freedom it gives you. Depending on where you visit, there are a few ways to travel around Fiji’s islands.
If you’re staying at one of Fiji’s more exclusive resorts, private transfers can be organised through their reservations team. You can also find independent companies that offer private transfers to, and between, islands – including seaplanes, helicopters and water taxis.
If you’re visiting the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, one of the easiest ways to travel is aboard the Yasawa Flyer. A high-speed catamaran, the Yasawa Flyer departs daily from Port Denarau (near Nadi) and stops at multiple islands across the Mamanuca and Yasawa chain.
You can buy a flexible hop-on-hop-off pass or you can choose a package with extra inclusions, such as accommodation and activities.
If you go for the hop-on-hop-off (Bula Pass) option, you can choose passes of 5 to 15 days, but you’ll need to have your resort booked before you get off the boat.
Resorts can be booked on board, but it’s best to sort in advance as many are small and can get booked up fast.
The Yasawa Flyer offers transfers to most of the Yasawa island resorts as well as a selection within the Mamanuca islands. The sister company, South Sea Cruises, also offers an extensive service to islands in the Mamanuca chain.
The Yasawas are the focus of this Fiji island hopping itinerary so you can take advantage of the Yasawa Flyer. It stops at each of the listed resorts on its 2023 schedule.
Best time to visit Fiji
With a tropical climate year-round, there’s no bad time to visit Fiji. However, the wet season runs from November-April with higher temperatures that often bring storms.
While it’s the least popular time to visit, the storms can be short and you’ll still experience plenty of sunshine. The best part is, there will be fewer crowds and prices tend to be lower.
That said, the recommended time to go island hopping in Fiji is during the dry season from May-October. It will be less humid with temperatures around 25 to 30°C.
If you travel between May and October, you’ll also catch manta ray season, which is a must on a Fiji island hopping holiday!
Getting to Fiji
Nadi International Airport is Fiji’s main airport and is located on Viti Levu.
If you’re flying from the UK, flights usually transit in Los Angeles or San Francisco but there are also options via Hong Kong and Singapore. You also have a choice of airlines that codeshare with Fiji Airways – including British Airways and American Airlines.
Economy flights to Fiji from the UK typically cost around £1,500 and take 25-30 hours.
12-day Fiji island hopping itinerary
Day 1-2: Viti Levu Island (2 nights)
Bula and welcome to Fiji!
If you suffer from jet lag, unfortunately Fiji isn’t the easiest destination to acclimatise to. For travellers from the UK, it’ll probably take you a few days to adjust to your new time zone and climate.
Most long-haul flights arrive early morning which, after a sleepless flight, can also be a struggle.
So, if you’re like me and can’t sleep on planes, you’ll be thankful for a few rest days in Nadi, or nearby Denarau, before your Fiji island hopping adventure begins.
There are lots of beautiful resorts in Denarau that offer respite after a long flight. Some might be able to arrange early check-in, and you should be able to leave your bags if you want to lounge by the pool or visit the local area once you arrive.
As Fiji’s biggest island and international hub, Viti Levu is often seen as a transit spot en route to the smaller islands. And, while most of your first two days will involve catching up on sleep and lounging at your resort, there are still things to do if you want to explore!
Top things to see & do near Nadi
– Garden of the Sleeping Giant – At the foothills of the Nausori Highlands, around 20 minutes from Nadi, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant is a lovely visit. You’ll be able to explore dense rainforest as well as gorgeous landscaped lawns filled with orchids.
– Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool – One of Fiji’s hidden gems, a visit to these hot springs is a great way to relax after a flight. Believed by locals to have healing properties, you’ll cover yourself in mud before washing it off in natural thermal pools. You can choose to have a massage afterwards, too.
– Cloud 9 – If you can’t wait for turquoise seas, consider a trip to Cloud 9. An iconic floating bar, Cloud 9 is a one-of-a-kind experience where you can enjoy DJ sets, drinks and pizza.
The platform is located in the middle of the sea in the Mamanuca region, but tickets include a transfer from Viti Levu’s Port Denarau.
Where to stay near Nadi
It’s best to stay in Nadi or Denarau so you’re close to Port Denarau for when you begin island hopping. I stayed at the beautiful Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort, which has all you’d expect from a five-star complex – spacious suites, multiple restaurants and lagoon-style pools.
Day 3-5: Waya Island (3 nights)
Today’s the day you’ve been waiting for! After an early start, you’ll head to Waya island in the southern part of the Yasawas.
If you’re using the Yasawa Flyer, the boat will leave Port Denarau at 8:45am and you can get a coach transfer from most resorts.
The boat takes around two hours, so you’ll be able to soak up the scenery as you cruise past the Mamanuca islands and on to the Yasawa gateway. On board the Yasawa Flyer there’s an outdoor deck, which is the best spot to enjoy the views.
As your first introduction to Fiji’s islands, Waya is truly breathtaking.
As with all Yasawa islands, there are no cars or roads on the island, but there are four villages on Waya connected by footpaths – making it a great island to experience authentic Fijian life.
Known for its hilly terrain, Waya island is also a great choice for hiking – you’ll be treated to panoramic coastal views.
Idyllic, golden beaches come as standard, so you can while away the time on a hammock with a good book. Nearby reefs offer brilliant snorkelling and dive opportunities, too.
Top things to see & do on Waya Island
– Village visit – Visiting a local village is a must on your Fiji island hopping itinerary. On Waya, there are several villages where you can mix with locals and experience genuine Fijian hospitality. This is also a great opportunity to support the communities, experience a village meke and buy handmade arts and crafts.
– Kava ceremony – Made from the root of the pepper tree, kava is the national drink of Fiji. It’s a huge part of Fijian culture and a kava ceremony is a significant and fascinating ritual to be a part of.
– Guided hiking – The perfect island for hiking, choose to take part in guided cross-island hikes or trips to the top of the highest peaks. The southern Yasawas have incredible rugged landscapes, so you’re guaranteed amazing views.
Where to stay on Waya Island
Octopus Resort is a peaceful spot for your first few days in the Yasawas. Set on soft sands, and with a colourful reef just metres from the shore, this resort is a beach lover’s paradise. Different types of accommodation are available from dorms to premium bures and suites.
Day 6-8: Drawaqa Island (3 nights)
From Waya island, the next stop on your Fiji island hopping itinerary is the gorgeous Drawaqa island. About 40 minutes north of Waya, this is another Yasawa island that’s postcard perfect.
Surrounded by a marine protected area, the island is a dream if you’re a diver or want to try snorkelling. You’ll find pristine reefs right off the beachfront, with the area surrounding Barefoot Manta Island Resort declared as a no-fishing zone.
With a focus on sustainability, this island is great if you want to learn more about marine conservation and what’s being done to preserve its reefs.
And, if you visit between May and October, it’s here that you’ll have the chance to swim with manta rays.
Top things to see & do on Drawaqa Island
– Snorkelling & diving – Boasting some impressive snorkelling and dive spots, spend your days exploring the colourful waters. You’ll be able to hire snorkelling gear from your resort.
If you want to try diving for the first time, you could also take an introductory dive. And, for experienced divers, there are over 40 dive sites surrounding the island.
– Swim with manta rays – One of the top things to do while island hopping in Fiji is swimming with manta rays. This is an unforgettable experience that feels completely otherworldly.
Travel in season (May-Oct) and you’ll be able to swim with manta rays as they feed in the channel between Drawaqa and Naviti island.
– Paddleboarding & kayaking – With calm crystal waters surrounding the island, paddle boarding and kayaking are great ways to spend an afternoon.
Where to stay on Drawaqa Island
For an authentic, tropical retreat Barefoot Manta Island Resort is a lovely choice. Situated on the island point, you’ll have three paradise beaches on your doorstep – and with just a handful of rooms, there’s plenty of privacy to enjoy them all.
If you’re interested in conservation, Barefoot Manta Island Resort is also the only resort in Fiji with a dedicated Marine Conservation Centre.
Day 9-11: Tavewa Island (3 nights)
Moving north, the next stop on your Fiji island hopping itinerary is extra special. Fiji’s Blue Lagoon is known world-over for its paradise beaches and vibrant coral. So, to make the most of your last few days, your final island is the beautiful Tavewa.
In the heart of the remote Blue Lagoon region, Tavewa is the epitome of heaven. As you’ve come to expect from Fiji, dream beaches, palm trees and sparkling teal seas are found in abundance. But, this area boasts some of the clearest waters.
When I visited, it was in this region that we experienced some of the best snorkelling!
When you’re not exploring the sea or lounging on sands, you can also visit the majestic Sawa-I-Lau Caves from Tavewa. And, make sure you treat yourself to some spa treatments back at your resort!
Top things to see & do on Tavewa Island
– Sawa-I-Lau Caves – Located further north, you’ll be able to take a resort tour to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves from Tavewa. A must-do if you’re travelling to the Yasawas, these ancient limestone caves are significant in Fijian culture and are amazing to experience.
– Swimming & snorkelling – As expected, water activities are a big part of a visit to Tavewa. You can snorkel straight off the beach and enjoy lazy afternoons dipping in crystal waters.
If you want to head further afield, you can also visit the famous Blue Lagoon beach.
– Stargazing – If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Fiji, this is for you! The remote Yasawa islands are brilliant for stargazing – and what could be more perfect than watching the stars with the sounds of waves gently lapping the shore?
As one of the Yasawa’s northernmost islands, Tavewa is a great choice for this.
Where to stay on Tavewa Island
Coconut Beach Resort is a magical option for your time on Tavewa island. Offering a front-row seat to the Blue Lagoon, this little resort is a tropical gem. With only 11 bures nestled amongst coconut groves, you can expect first-class hospitality in a tranquil setting.
Day 12: Onward travels
I know you won’t want to leave, but on the last day of your Fiji island hopping itinerary, you’ll journey back to Viti Levu.
Around a 4 ½ -hour journey from Tavewa, you’ll arrive at Port Denarau in the early evening. Unless you have a late flight, it’s worth staying an extra night in Nadi to avoid delays before flying home.
And that’s it! After 12 incredible days island hopping in Fiji, it’s time to head home or continue your onward travels. If you’re staying on in Oceania – why not head to New Zealand next? You can check out my New Zealand North Island itinerary here.