The first islands of the Yasawa group are Kuata and Wayasewa (small Waya). Kuata is separated from Wayasewa by a deep, narrow channel and kayaking between the two islands is a great way to spend a calm-water afternoon.
Both have unusual volcanic rock formations, with caves and coral cliffs in the waters off the southern end of little Kuata, which is also where you’ll find that island’s best snorkelling – the island is easily walkable.
Wayasewa, also known as Wayalailai (Little Waya), is dominated by a massive volcanic plug (Vatuvula; 349m) that towers dramatically over the beaches below. At Naqalia Lodge every afternoon there at 4 p.m. will start the wummit walk. The track passes a ‘wobbling rock’ (pronounced endearingly, by Fijian-speakers, as ‘wombling’) and is highly recommended; upwards is a good work out for the thighs and the downhill slopes are not for the fainthearted or weak-kneed; you’ll likely find your legs, too, wombling on return. The views towards Kuata, Vomo and Viti Levu are phenomenal.
The Fijian government declared Wayasewa’s Namara village unsafe and moved it north to two present locations, Naboro and Yamata, in 1985 after a rock slide damaged some of the buildings, though some die-hard locals refused to move and still live in Namara like most of the people that work at Naqalia Lodge. Naboro’s rugby sessions are the stuff of local legend, and kick off every Friday afternoon at the village school. The rugby field is in poor condition, the teams unruly and the atmosphere great – we highly recommend attending. Staff from local resorts attend and, if you are willing to cheer for their team, will happily keep you company.
Yamata, on the northwestern side of the island, also receives tourists on village visits. It is far more low-key and visitors should expect a stroll through the village, a look at the small church and occasional stalls selling shells and jewellery.
A 15-minute boat ride away from the resorts, at a local reef, is a spot renowned for shark snorkelling. The sharks, which are mostly white-tip reef sharks, are totally harmless but their sleek looks and stealth-like appearance make for a thrilling outing. The local divers are able to grab hold of their tails by distracting the sharks with food hidden in rock crevices. Snorkelling with the sharks is one of the most famous attraction of Naqalia Lodge … departure every morning at 8.00 a.m.