Everyone says that when you visit Fiji, what you really want to do is travel among its many islands. Unfortunately, for an archipelago, there are not a lot of easy ways to travel along Fiji’s waters, usually requiring one to travel back and forth through Nadi. Though the islands seem clustered close enough to each other, they actually take several hours to reach by boat.
Island exploration options
If you’re wanting to island hop in a single day, your best bet is probably a private vessel. This is, of course, expensive–it can run you several hundred to a thousand dollars depending on the number of people in your party and how many hours you’d like to go. You can rent from several outfits in Port Denarau, the main seaport near Nadi town. To get there, just take a bus. It should cost you only $1 FJD from most areas in or near Nadi. Fiji’s official travel portal has a lot of good information.
Then there’s AwesomeFiji’s Bula Pass. If you’ve traveled Europe, you could liken this pass to a Eurail, but for boats. You select a particular duration for which your pass will be valid, and you can use it on different ferries that travel to different island groups (the Yasawa Flyer, South Sea Cruises) . A complication is that you actually have to stay a couple of days on each island you visit. So this is best for a longer vacation.
What most people do is choose an island and book a stay there. Your transportation to reach it would then be included. This is what we did with Robinson Crusoe Island, and I’ll have more to say about this in future posts.
Still, we wanted to see more than one island, so we decided to book a day cruise. Basically, you board a boat, which will take you on a flyby of a particular island group before arriving at a private island where you spend the rest of the day. There are several options for this type of day cruise, depending on where you are going, what type of amenities there are on your destination island, and whether your food and drinks are included. We looked into several options and went with Whales Tale Cruises.
Whale’s Tale cruise
We checked in at Port Denarau around 9. Because it was my birthday, I was gifted a nice blue sarong printed with the Whale’s Tale logo. Neat! When we boarded the boat, we were treated to a pastry and fruit breakfast, along with a mimosa. On the Whales Tale, all alcohol and food for the day is included. The crew was really fantastic–they made an effort to learn each guest’s name. There must have been 30 of us during this trip, and it was impressive how they connected with all of us.
After our safety briefing, we were off to Schooner Island. Along the way, we saw the Mamanucas Islands from a distance. The crew pointed out each island and what it was known for. If cruising the Mamanucas factors highly in your choice of day cruise, I wouldn’t pick Whale’s Tale for it–we traveled a fairly straight path and we were some distance away from the other islands.
We met a couple from Portland who were on their honeymoon, Abigail and Nathan, and we ended up chatting quite a bit with them. After a relaxing hour, we arrived at Schooner Island.
Upon arrival, we had an hour to frolic. We could explore the tiny island on our own, borrow sea kayaks, swim, whatever we liked. We chose to join the snorkeling expedition that went a little further out the reef.
Afterwards, we returned to the island for a kava ceremony. Then we enjoyed a buffet lunch and of course, more drinks. We then had a few more hours to spend on our own. David and I timed how long it would take to walk the perimeter of the island (5.5 minutes), played in the sand, snorkeled some more, and just hung out with our new friends.
Returning to Port Denarau
On the way back, the crew called me, Abigail and Nathan, and a couple other passengers into the main dining area–turns out they had prepared special cakes for us! There was quite a bit of singing and merriment on the boat as we returned to Port Denarau.
I highly enjoyed my cruise with Whales Tale and strongly recommend them. If a different cruise provider suits you better, that’s fine too. But I definitely suggest taking a day out to sail along the waters of Fiji!