Backpackers who are yearning for an idyllic, tropical-island experience should look no further than a sojourn to Mamanucas, Fiji. This island archipelago is situated approximately forty kilometres west of Nadi, and consists of around thirteen volcanic islands, of which Malola Lailai, Tavarua, Mana Island, and Castaway Island are the most well known. With palm-tree-fringed beaches, jungle-shrouded hinterlands, and a pristine underwater environment, these islands are a traveler’s paradise. Fortunately for independent travelers, there are a few backpacker hostels in Mamanucas, Fiji, so you can enjoy their magic on a shoestring budget.
Two of the most popular things to do on the Mamanuca Islands are diving and snorkeling. The marine environment here is awesome, consisting of exquisite coral bommies, barrier reefs, and sheltered lagoons, populated with a vast range of underwater creatures including colourful tropical fish, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and reef sharks. If you don’t know how to dive, many backpackers do a course while they’re on the islands. Alternatively, even if you choose not to explore under the water, you’ll still see many beautiful fish and reef formations by snorkeling on the surface or going for a short cruise in a special glass-bottomed, coral-viewing boat.
Other fun things to do during a visit include surfing, jet-skiing, sea kayaking, hiking, or simply lazing on the beach. If you’re interested in traditional Fijian culture, your hostel will have information about tours and cruises that include visits to local villages, often including the opportunity to participate in a Kava ceremony.
Nadi International Airport is the closest international airport to the Mamanuka Islands, and from there you can catch a local flight to either Mana or Plantation Islands -- the only two islands in the group to have an airport. Otherwise you can go by seaplane (a spectacular but rather pricey option) or catch a ferry from Port Denauru, just ten kilometres from Nadi. Ferries connect Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, with all the populated islands in the Mamanuca group. They’re also a great way to island-hop between the various islands in the archipelago.
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