If you are planning a trip to either the Mamanuca or Yasawa island groups, then of course you need to consider how to get there (and back).
When you book accommodation at one of the many resorts in these islands, it is possible that transfers are included, and that will probably be on the Yasawa Flyer (or the SSC catamaran for the Mamanucas).
While this is a water taxi between the islands, don't assume that you can just turn up and expect to board. Pre booking is not absolutely essential, but it is highly recommended. The Flyer is often full and there is only one departure a day (8.30am), so if you don't have a ticket, you might just miss out. But don't worry... booking is easy, the trip is great fun, although we have to say the prices are pretty steep. So here's the beginners guide to the flyer....
The Yasawa Flyer departs Denarau at 8.30am, and visits several of the Mamanuca islands on the way to the Yasawas (those Mamanuca islands are South Sea, Bounty and Beachcomber). If you want to get to any of the other Mamanucas, then you don't catch the Flyer.
So how do I get to those other Mamanuca Islands? You need to catch one of the South Sea Cruises catamarans (those are the white ones, the Yasawa Flyer is yellow). These depart three times daily from Denarau, at 9am, 12.30pm and 3.00pm. Further information or booking forms can be found on the South Sea Cruises website. If you are looking for a day cruise around the islands rather than travelling to a resort, then you'll get the best deals on HotFiji.deals website.
If you book a stay at one of the resorts on these islands, then make sure your transfers are included (that will sometimes be the case, but not always). If you are doing all of your own arrangements, then you might want to book your accommodation and transfers directly with the AwesomeFiji website but you'll pay more with an extra 2.5% in card charges, if you book with FijiTransfer.deals website you'll get a cheaper fare. You'll only pay a small deposit now (no extra charges) and the balance on arrival. If you take cash for the balance you won't get charged the extra 2.5%, on a return trip for two this can quickly mount up to an extra $20.
The short answer to that is "most likely". Unless you are staying at one of the exclusive resorts and can take a helicopter or float plane (lucky you!), then you will need to catch the 8.30am departure of the Yasawa Flyer.
There are a few resorts that have their own water taxi service (for example, Octopus resort), but the majority rely on the Flyer to deliver and pick up their guests.
And you may need to do the same on the way home too, as the return leg gets back into Denarau after 5pm - too late to catch most international flights.
Either book your own accommodation, or get AwesomeFiji's arrival/departure packs. These are an easy way to put everything together. The arrival pack includes a greet at the airport, transfer to one of four overnight resorts close to Nadi, a breakfast in the morning, and transfer to the Denarau Marina to board the Flyer. The departure pack gives you the same services, but in reverse.
To be perfectly honest, the answer is "YES". To give an example of prices a one way trip to Malolo Island from Denarau (valid to 31 March 2016) was fj$230 for two people, one way for a quick 45 min trip.
Some resorts in the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands will book the Flyer for you at a discounted rate. They can get this cheaper than you can, so we suggest that you ask your resort to do the booking for you. This can save some dollars. But even with the discount, it's still expensive.
For more information or any questions the helpful team at Hotfiji.deals will quickly reply to your email and can quote you their cheapest price. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
As there are about 30 (and growing fast) different resorts on a dozen or so islands, we will just give a few typical fares to some of the popular destinations. The prices given are correct at time of publication (valid to March 2016) and are given in FJ$. Please note that fares are one way for one adult. Children 5 to 15 inclusive are half price and infants 5 or under are free. Upgrade to Captains lounge is an extra fj$30 to $40pp, and they do not allow children under the age of 12 in that lounge.
Denarau to Waya Lailai: fj$140. This is one of the closer of the Yasawa islands, and the resorts serviced by the Flyer on this island are "Waya Lailai Ecohaven" and "Naqalia Lodge".
Denarau to Octopus Resort (Waya island): fj$150. Waya island is approximately 2-3 hrs by Catamaran. You can also choose to take the Octopus Resort boat which departs from Vuda Marina, and costs about the same. The difference is, with the resort boat there are no other island stops, so the trip takes 1/2 the time. Transfers from local hotels/resorts is also included in the price.
Denarau to Coral View Resort(Taweva island) Booking with the Yasawa Flyer, the (one way) trip to Taweva island will cost in fj$170. So for a return trip, you are looking at about fj$340 pp just to get from Denarau to the resort and back again. Your family could easily spend fj$1000 or more just on the transportation! However, many of the resorts have an arrangement with the Yasawa Flyer for discounted fares. Or get in touch with email@example.com to get some better deals.
It's not a huge saving, but it's enough to be worthwhile, especially if you are travelling as a group. Our example of travelling to Coral View Resort is fj$340 + 2.5% card charges = fj$348.50 for two people, one way. However, by getting FijiTransfer.deals to book our tickets for us, we got the trip for fj$323.
So our advice is, before you confirm a booking with the Yasawa Flyer, check with your resort or FijiTransfer.deals to see what prices they can get for you.
Group discounts are also available, just fill in the contact form below with numbers and we'll get back to you with a price for your group.
The Bula Pass is very simple... you purchase the length of time that you need and that entitles you to use the Yasawa Flyer to hop from island to island for the duration of the pass. Spend a night at an island (or more, if you want), then hop on the Flyer next time it calls at that resort, and travel to the next. A good way to see a lot in a short space of time. Some resorts still require a minimum of a 2 night stay, check first before booking.
You can buy passes for 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 or 21 days.
The problem with the Bula Pass, is that you feel obligated to keep moving along to get your money's worth. You might start out with good intentions of visiting as many resorts as you can, but if you come across one you really love, do you stay there and miss out on the travel pass that you have already paid for? Or do you move to the next resort, and hope that it's going to be just as good?
They used to have a 2 night Minimum Stay that was pretty forceful, but I can see they have relaxed this policy and say "Most properties have a minimum 2 nights stay policy (updated April 2015). Waiving this is at the choice of the individual resorts." So it's up to you to check with the resort first to see what their own policy is.
You'll get the best prices on your Bula Pass over at HotFiji.deals Bula Pass page on their website. As an example on a 10 day pass you can save fj$32.
Hotfiji.deals can book all of your inter island transport cheaper than you can book directly with AwesomeFiji. Use the contact form provided to get a quote.
They also offer some great discounts on island trips, tours and activities or if you require a night before or after your trip to the Yasawa Islands there're sure to get you the best deal for you.