In this blog we will focus on two of the incredible locations on our Tropical Fiji Escape!
Going Barefoot in the Fijian Yasawa Islands
We’re super-excited to offer ISV participants traveling to Australia and New Zealand this May to September the option of joining our Fiji excursion after their 4-week program. This is the pinnacle of years of research to develop a relaxing, educational and Eco-focused excursion. Here we showcase The Barefoot Collection of island resorts, our home for 4 out of 7 nights during the not-to-be-missed excursion.
The Yasawa Islands, or Yasawa’s to the locals, are a stunningly beautiful stretch of volcanic islands to the north west of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. They lie just far enough away to be off the beaten tourist track, so are more untouched and pristine. About half way into the Yasawa chain is the island of Draqua on which Barefoot Manta’s backpacker accommodation lies. The island is surrounded by a marine reserve with beautiful corals, and is most famous for the opportunity to snorkel with majestic manta rays between the months of May and October, which also happens to be the sunniest time of the year. Then at the beginning of the Yasawa Island chain is Kuata Island and home to our second Barefoot backpacker accommodations. Kuata is famous for the warrior on the rock who welcomes guests and snorkeling with sharks (an ISV included activity).
To get to the islands we will travel by fast ferry from Port Denarau to Barefoot Manta and then onwards to Barefoot Kuata. At both locations you will be picked up by a small boat and transferred to your island oasis and white sandy beaches. As for beaches, at Barefoot Manta there are three to choose from: Sunrise, Sunset, and Manta Ray Beach; the names are self-explanatory. Sunrise beach receives gentle trade winds to keep you cool when it’s hot, and sunset beach has a quaint cocktail bar with sunset views. The sands are white, the water turquoise in close and a deeper blue out deep. The water’s warm, but just cool enough to relieve the heat of the day. The visibility is wonderful and you can see the patches of reef right off the beach.
The best part about The Barefoot Collection isn’t actually the amazing locations, exceptionally friendly staff or untouched beaches. Staying true to ISV’s philosophy on responsible tourism, Barefoot has taken on their own social and environmental initiatives. Socially, Barefoot provides funds to assist with education in the nearby villages of Muaira (Barefoot Manta) and Namara (Barefoot Kuata) village locals at the resort. They’ve also voluntarily paid for open water scuba certification for about 10 locals, helping to improve employment opportunities with a greater skill set.
From a conservation perspective, Barefoot actively manage a marine pest, the crown of thorns starfish, which decimates corals. Also, recently 100 infant giant clams, the largest mollusc in the world, arrived on the island and these are being raised to help repopulate this endangered species. And then there are the sharks and manta rays – the Barefoot Collection are involved in helping to conserve these precious species that are so important to the ocean’s eco-system through supporting organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Manta Trust.
At ISV we also like to help and show our support with by encouraging our participants to “Pack for a Purpose” and bring donations towards the local communities in the form of schoolbooks and/or medical supplies. You can find out more about how you can help us to support Pack for a Purpose by clicking here.
If your budget is tight, there’s a variety of free activities to join if you feel like it. Learn how to make coconut milk, jewelry, hike to the lookout, take your own snorkeling gear and snorkel off the beach, 5pm volleyball every day, swim and relax to your heart’s content.
Although there’s not a huge party vibe at Barefoot locations you can make your own party if you feel like it; we know it will be hard to drag some people away from the sunset cocktail bar even after the sun goes down.
There’s a small dive shop at each location that caters to all the fee-based water sports, manta ray safaris, diving and intro to diving (if you want to see if you like it), kayak and snorkel hire; however prices are quite reasonable.
So, if you want a little sunshine, relaxation, incredible Eco-experiences that will immerse you in nature, and to go barefoot in the sand on a beautiful remote tropical island, this is for you. It truly does feel like paradise.