The Mamanuca Islands lie in a majestic arc only a short distance from the mainland of Viti Levu, curving to the northwest, and almost touching the Yasawa chain of islands.
There are 20 islands and they all share in common pristine white sandy beaches, waving palms, crystal blue waters and, at night, the cooling influence of the trade winds.
The Mamanuca Islands (pronounced Mah-mahnoo-tha) are essentially volcanic outcrops pushed up from the ocean floor in a gigantic earthquake thousands of years ago. Some are especially significant in Fijian folklore.
From the air you can see that the Mamanucas islands are two clusters known as Mamanuca-i-ra and Mamanucai-cake. Within the Mamanucas is the Malolo group, five kilometres inside the barrier reef, extending in a curve for 120 kilometres.
A number of resort islands are scattered throughout the Malolo group, each offering bure accommodation, a relaxing holiday atmosphere and a range of water activities. There are boat excursions, fishing trips, and watersports including surfing, SUP, jet ski safaris, parsailing, kiteboarding, kayaking and coral viewing for the kids. The islands of Malolo are the centre for most tourism to and from the Mamanucas. It has safe anchorage, a cosmopolitan community and an airstrip. The movie Castaway was also shot on Monuriki Island in the Mamanucas.
At the southern end of the chain, Cloud 9 is a world-class wave that hosts the Fiji Pro International Surf Competition and recently hosted the World Stand-Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships. Here there is also a two-tier floating bar off Malolo Island on stunning RoRo Reef.
The Yasawa Islands have a different ambience and are dotted with small resorts and backpackers accommodation. They are a chain of 16 volcanic islands and dozens of tiny islets stretching 80 kilometres in a northeast direction off the west coast of Viti Levu. They are special because their beautiful, isolated beaches, cliffs, bays and reefs and are less commercialised than the neighbouring Mamanuca Islands.
Islands in the group include Waya, the highest with amazing scenery and Tavewa, a strikingly beautiful, small island that is about two kilometres long. In 1972 Richard Evanson bought Turtle Island while others in the group include Sawa-i- Lau Island with ancient limestone caves and Yasawa Island that has small villages and a five-star resort. Naviti is the largest island while Viwa is the most remote, sitting alone 25 kilometres northwest of Waya. The Blue Lagoon movie was filmed in the Yasawas.
The limestone caves of Sawa-i-lau is a very popular day trip as are diving with manta rays and snorkelling with sharks. There are also multi-day island-hopping small ship cruises to the Mamanucas and Yasawas with three and seven day itineraries.
Exploring Mamanuca Island
It is quite easy to access the Mamanuca Islands via light plane that takes about fifteen minutes from Nadi. The islands are also accessible by catamarans and boats travelling between the islands and Nadi. Tourists can find several tours taking place all across the island which allow you to escape from the chaos.
At a distance of merely thirty minutes from Denarau, the South Sea Island can be a fun day trip for the family. It has many activities to offer such as a swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, coral viewing, etc.
You can explore Mamanuca’s beautiful lagoons, beaches and clear waters onboard ‘Seaspray’ which is an old sailing schooner, and takes you to the secluded island of Modriki and other places on the island.
Get lessons in Fijian craft, do coral viewing and have delicious cocktails at a brilliant bar. You simply cannot miss scuba and snorkeling when visiting Beachcomber Island.
From the air you can see that the Mamanucas group is two clusters known as Mamanuca-i-ra and Mamanucai- cake. Within the Mamanucas is the Malolo group, five kilometres inside the barrier reef, extending in a curve for 120 kilometres. A number of resort islands are scattered throughout the Malolo group, each offering bure accommodation, a relaxing holiday atmosphere and a range of water activities. There are boat excursions, fishing trips and water sports including waterskiing, windsurfing, snorkelling, diving, sailing, speed-boat rides and coral viewing. Malololailai is the centre for most tourism to and from the Mamanucas. It has safe anchorage, a cosmopolitan community and an airstrip serviced regularly from Nadi.
Interesting Activities in Mamanuca Islands
Tourists can find several interesting activities to do on the Mamanuca Islands including swimming, sailing, snorkeling, coral viewing (semi-submersible), kayaking, swimming next to reef sharks, hiking, windsurfing, mini-golf, village tours and exploring isolated beaches.
In addition to these activities, there are some brilliant dive sites on the Mamanuca Islands, particularly the Supermarket and Gotham City. Surfers can find several decent breaks close to the southern islands.
Lazing under the sun can be an ideal way to relax and enjoy the island’s beauty and calm. There are plenty of secluded islands such as the Monuriki (featured in Cast Away) and Bounty Island for this kind of peaceful relaxation. If you’re looking for good walks, head to the Navini and Tokoriki islands. You can indulge in some brilliant native bird-watching as well game fishing.
You can also find several tours taking place on the Mamanuca Islands which help offer you an escape from the huge crowd.
Quite naturally, seafood is a staple on the Fiji Islands. There is amazing cuisine offered on the Mamanuca Islands, particularly its seafood. A very surprising fact about the cuisine on this island is that the food is quite strongly influenced by the Indian cuisine. It was the Indian laborers who introduced several interesting dishes in the 1800’s and 1900’s.
If you’re visiting the Mamanuca Islands, you must try the rourou soup, kokoda as well as some refreshing tropical fruit.
Kokoda is known to be a popular Fijian delicacy and tastes like ceviche (Hawaiian poke). It is made with raw fish pieces marinated using coconut milk and lemon juice and is typically accompanied by onion, tomato and pepper.
A Lovo is famous as a classic feat meal. It is prepared by cooking inside the earth and tastes similar to barbeque. It considered as an efficient mean to prepare large food quantities.