Planning our trip to the Yasawas was a bit of an ordeal. A HUGE thank you to Poonam at USP International Office is in order for all her assistance.
There is one company called Awesome Adventures with the Yasawa Flyer which does entire packages to the Yasawas. This is the easy no-brainer way out, particularly if you have no chance of getting a discounted rate.
But what is easier is not always better because as we found out they will only give you 20% off on the transportation section of their price. So it is best (as we spent two weeks figuring out) to book the transportation with them to get 20% off (you will need your passport with study permit to prove you’re a “local”) and book accommodation with the resorts who will often give you a student rate.
But when you only have 4 nights and places require a two night stay and there are 20 islands in the Yasawas it can be a little difficult to decide which resorts are best. Also rates, quality of accommodation, quality/amount of food, and availability of activities can be quite variable. Our priorities when booking resorts were cheap but quality, one resort able to swim with the manta rays, and one resort able to swim in the caves (which we actually didn’t end up doing).
Up north in the Yasawas we ended up choosing Coralview because of their awesome local rate of $84 (Fijian) per night in the dorms including meals (as of 2012). Additionally we heard that the atmosphere was great and they were super friendly. More in the middle we chose Barefoot Lodge instead of Manta Ray because again it was cheaper at $95 local rate per night including meals. But also it has a marine biologist on staff and is the closest to the channel that the manta rays like to hang out. They were both great choices and I’ll talk more about them later.
The transport to and from these islands ended up being up being $317 (the prices are advertised 168 from the Port to the north of the Yasawas, $84 between islands, and $152 from the middle of the Yasawas to the Port). This is because the Yasawa flyer boat (which admittedly is very nice) has a huge monopoly on transport in the Yasawas so they can basically charge anything they like. Any other transport is very limited and often departs from Lautoka and not Nadi. It was very nice to travel on basically a big yacht and watch the islands go by. Accommodation and food at an international student price ended up being $358 for 4 nights. Clearly it pays to stay longer and stay on islands for longer. If I could do it again with more time I would consider spending 3 nights at Coralview and 3 nights at Barefoot since the price only goes up by $200 for so much more time.