In this Article by South Pacific travel expert Ian Osborn
Mamanuca Islands Holidays — Day Cruises — Watersports — The Coral Islands — Malolo Group & Mana Island — The Outer Mamanucas
Clearly visible from Nadi Airport, the Mamanuca Islands is a stunning collection of 23 small islands with stunning beaches. Situated in the lee of the main island of Viti Levu, the Mamanuca Islands boasts the finest holiday weather in Fiji - year-round sunshine, calm seas and gentle breezes. This is Fiji's tourism gem. With a choice of a dozen resorts, several of which are on uninhabited islands, and as many day cruises from Nadi, a visit to the Mamanuca Islands is a must on any travel itinerary.
Mamanuca Islands Map
Reasons to Visit Mamanucas
- Romantic Beach Holiday
- Family Holiday on Island Resort
- Snorkelling & Sea Kayaking
- Day Cruise & Island Hopping
- Staying on an Uninhabited Island
- Luxury - Castaway Island Resort
- Luxury - Matamanoa Island Resort
- Deluxe - Mana Island Resort
- Affordable - Plantation Island Resort
- Backpacker - Ratu Kini's
Best Mamanuca Island Resorts
Mamanuca Islands Holiday Overview
Nowhere else in the South Pacific will you find such easy access to so many beautiful islands, all with perfect white sandy beaches and lots of water activities. And although commercial tourism thrives, the physical make-up of the Mamanuca Islands has enabled it to retain its laid-back unspoiled atmosphere. Most of the island resorts are just that - one island, one resort with no neighbours nor overcrowding.
Small island resorts with glorious beaches and fantastic watersports drive the Mamanuca Islands popularity. There are resorts aimed at families, for budget travellers or for couples only. Some are tiny coral islands where you can walk around in less than five minutes. Others are rugged volcanic islands with just one resort tucked into a secluded bay whilst a couple are larger islands with excellent hill walks and hosting several large holiday resorts. Communally, all island resorts share the same massive lagoon where you can go on dolphin spotting cruises, whizz around on a jet ski adventure, dive a great variety of coral reefs, surf the big waves of Cloudbreak et al or seek out a small sand caye for a quick picnic. The only downside is that holidaying at a small island resort means you're restricted to the resort restaurant and facilities.
Day Cruises to the Mamanucas Islands
Staying on a small island is the stuff of dreams - sitting back with a cocktail watching the sunset or taking an early morning dip in the ocean. However, island resorts come at a premium - for those looking to save money and sacrifice a few of its pleasures, consider staying in Nadi where rooms are far more competitively priced and dining out at independent restaurants can save a lot, and instead take day cruises to the various islands. There are many day trip options available in Nadi, from spending the day at an island resort starting at F$ 80 per person including hotel pick-up, transfers and lunch, or taking a sightseeing trip by sail boat with dolphin watching and snorkelling along the way starting at F$ 130. Aerial sightseeing by either helicopter or sea plane is a spectacular way to see the islands.
Watersports & The Malolo Barrier Reef
Scuba diving and game-fishing are excellent along the many outer reef passages of the 12km Malolo Barrier Reef, with all major resorts having their own dive operators base and game-fishing charters. The modern marina at Musket Cove offers skippered and bareback sailing charters and hosts several International Regattas during the sailing season between May and October. Activities are mostly organised by the resorts activities centres although scuba diving is generally provided by specialist scuba diving companies which are available at all island resorts. Watersports on offer include para-sailing, jet-ski adventures, banana boat rides, wind-surfing, knee-boarding and kite-surfing, with most resorts providing complementary sea kayaks, snorkelling trips to nearby reefs and Hobie cats for sailing.
Where to go on Holiday in the Mamanuca Islands
The Coral Islands
The inner Mamanucas are made up of tiny flat coral islands, often taking just ten minutes to walk around and include several island resorts as well as day trip destinations from Nadi for snorkelling and beach BBQ's. These are the quickest islands to reach from the mainland but the snorkelling lagoons are not as good as the outer islands due to bleaching caused from pollutants / soil erosion from the mainland rivers.
Malolo Group and Mana Island
The middle islands are the most popular to visit in the Mamanucas and include Malolo Lailai and Mana, both of which have large resorts and an airport runway for the short 10-minute flight from Nadi Airport (stunning views en-route). This area also includes the group's largest island, Malolo, at just over 2400 acres with the delightful Malolo Barrier Reef off its southern coast with exceptional diving and surfing. These middle islands offer gentle hills with some lovely walking tracks offering stunning views over the lagoon and islands and are a better choice for those who like the freedom to explore, trekking to summits for sunset views and finding secluded beaches with no-one on them.
Outer Mamanuca Islands
The outer Mamanuca Islands are rugged volcanic islands with secluded bays and interesting rock formations. They are less commercial and offer smaller more intimate beach resorts as well as several traditional fishing villages. The outer Mamanuca Islands take one and a half hours to reach by fast catamaran, or its a 20-minute hop on a helicopter.