Worth a Trip: Waya Island Homestays

Ruggedly ravishing Waya Island offers a miscellany of village homestays and experiences for those looking to get off the resort trail. Its friendly villages welcome visitors keen on immersing themselves in local life, while still enjoying the wonderful snorkelling and hikes of the more upmarket options.

In Yalobi, Jone Sau (735 5388) can arrange homestays and boats for pick-ups and island-hopping, as can Trevor Withers Dawai (755 0737); if you can't get through, try his daughter Ateca in Lautoka (805 6749). Trevor can arrange transport and hikes up to nearby Wayasewa's wobbling (balancing) rock.

In Natawa, contact Simi Sivo (766 8940).

For Waya Levu, call Tomasi Sayavi (780 3387) or email his son Ilaitia at isayavi@hotmail.com; in his youth, Tomasi was Fiji's greatest shark catcher! You can also contact the village headman Naqaro via his daughter-in-law Ivamere (7366198).

Be sure to bring along a sevusevu of kava root (if you arrange it in advance, your host can buy this for you) to present to the village chief or headman: you will be welcomed with a formal kava drinking ceremony before protocol relaxes. Just like on the mainland, modesty prevails at island villages: men can be shirtless on the beach but not in the village, and women should take along a sulu (sarong). Host-led excursions to nearby villages, schools and churches are a must; it’s worth bringing donations of cash for the Village Funds or worthy supplies (cheap fishing handreels, toothbrushes, LED torches etc) along with you. Hosts can organise snorkelling gear, but many guests choose to bring their own and donate it to the village once they leave.

Obviously, visits must be booked in advance. Take the Yasawa Flyer to Octopus Resort, and your host should have a boat waiting for you: in some cases they can pick you up directly from Denarau or Lautoka Wharf. Prices vary for homestays (they’re all cheap); discuss fees with your host when making arrangements.