Second-to-none authentic Fijian experience
Oarsman’s Bay Lodge and Nacula Island are an essential part of a true Fijian experience! This was so much better than the resorts in Port Denarau. Oarsman’s was a little more rustic than we had expected, but it was nothing short of breathtaking. It’s an authentic slice of paradise! Below you will find more info about what to expect, including some details about off-site excursions and travel.Accommodations:We stayed in a studio, beachfront bure that was comfortable and beautiful! We had an outdoor (but private) shower, a covered porch, a hammock, designated lounge chairs, and direct beach access. The beach view bures are just a hair behind the beachfronts; so if you’re trying to decide between the two, I didn’t really see a difference except for the views (unobstructed vs obstructed). There is no WiFi or TVs in the bures. The windows have large shutters, bug screens, and no glass. You can open all of the shutters to get a nice, natural cross-breeze in your bure, but there is also a small A/C unit that goes down to 17°C. None of the outlets have USB ports; so make sure you have Type 1 plug ins or a converter. The room also doesn’t have a hair dryer, ironing board, or telephone, but this wasn’t an issue for us. Oarsman’s has a relaxed, unplugged atmosphere. Everything seems intentionally designed to help you disconnect and enjoy life at a slower pace (aka Fiji Time), and we loved it. Food & Drink:The required meal plan was better than we expected. All of the food was delicious! Meals have set time frames and the menu is also pre-set. I recommend adapting to Fiji Time while you’re here; meals were rarely served on time but rather 15-20 minutes after the scheduled start time. Oarsman’s was able to accommodate my wife’s Gluten-free diet. They made small modifications to each meal or served her different food entirely if needed. They really went above and beyond for her. During our 5-day stay, we only had one issue with cross-contamination that was rectified quickly. Overall, we really enjoyed meal times here. It was the best food we had in Fiji! Our favorite food item was, unfortunately, served only upon our arrival, which was a fresh coconut. It would be nice if fresh coconuts could be purchased daily as this is one of our favorite things to have when traveling to islands (We can’t get fresh coconuts at home in Colorado). So make sure you cherish your coconut when you arrive! The staff are happy to cut it open for you so that you can eat it after you’re done drinking it. Also, the only coffee available was instant coffee. Being on a remote island, I assume instant coffee is more economical and environmentally friendly, but fresh coffee would be a nice change to see if it’s feasible. The cuisine in Fiji definitely has a British flair to it. Tea Time occurs daily at 4 PM at Oarsman’s. We really enjoyed the cakes and Earl Gray. I wouldn’t recommend the cocktails at Oarsman’s, but they have a very nice selection of beer, wine, and Fijian rum. I didn’t feel like alcohol was a big focus here, which was a nice change from other vacations I’ve had. There isn’t always a bartender available; so if you like to drink a lot, I’d recommend that you BYOB. Alternatively, adapt to the way of life on Nacula Island and just drink a little less during your stay. It’s plenty of fun on its own!Rental Gear:With no digital entertainment on site, the focus here is really the beautiful environment. Paddle boards, snorkel gear, kayaks, and more are available to rent for free. We had a blast right off our doorstep! If you’re a serious snorkeler, I would recommend bringing your own snorkel gear as the correct sizing is not always available to rent. The rental gear is also used by Oarsman’s guests for off-site excursions. There were a couple of times that the fins in my size were not available because someone else was using them for the Reef Hopping or Cave trip. And again, don’t be in a rush to rent gear! The staff could be assisting guests on or off site. Enjoy Fiji Time, and find something else to do until you see a staff member near the rental shop. Reef Hopping:I highly recommend the Reef Hopping trip, but there is also a beautiful reef 5 feet off the beach here (arguably more beautiful than the reefs you see on the trip). The Oarsman’s staff will take you to 3 different reefs on roughly a half day trip, including a spot where reef fish are hand fed right in front of you! Travel for this trip is via a small fishing boat with no protection from the sun or sea. It’s best to leave all of your clothing and shoes in your room and go in your swimsuit alone. If you need to bring anything along that can’t get wet, you need a high-quality, submersible dry bag. You also need to be an experienced, strong swimmer for this trip. You’ll get the best views of the reefs on this trip if you aren’t wearing your life jacket, which will allow you to dive down deeper for a better look. We saw tons of reef fish, a sea turtle, a Blacktip Reef Shark, and beautiful coral. It’s definitely some of the best snorkeling in the world!Cave Trip:This trip is a MUST! The caves are so beautiful. Again, you’ll be in a small boat, and you WILL get wet. The same advice I gave regarding the Reef Hopping trip applies here as well. Once you are in the caves, you’re protected from the open ocean and the sun. It’s really a large, saltwater swimming pool. There are 1 or 2 fish in there, though. You will get to experience two different caves while you’re here. The first cave is what you see in all the photos online, and the second cave is totally dark. The guides will assist you in swimming through a small “tunnel” to reach the second cave. It takes about 1 second underwater to get through it, and then the guides will illuminate the second cave for you with strong flashlights. It’s really beautiful in there! After you’re done exploring the caves, you can buy small crafts and jewelry from islanders out on the beach, but it’s cash only. I recommend bringing $300 FJD in your dry bag if you want to buy things here (we brought $50, and it was barely enough for two small items). This is a great place to buy unique souvenirs that you won’t find in the shops at Port Denarau or the airport.Island Sunset Trip:A trip to Yaromo Island while at Oarsman’s is also a must, and the Island Sunset trip is a great way to experience it! Unlike the other trips, you won’t really get wet on this one. It’s a short and peaceful boat ride to the island. Once on the island, you’ll be guided up to a private viewing deck. The staff can also bring along drinks for you. This is a great place to have a bottle of wine! In case of rain, Yaromo Island has shelters on it. There’s also a bathroom. We had a great time exploring the island, watching the sunset, and drinking wine! The staff leave you alone on the island until you’re ready to leave; so it was really the perfect getaway from the more social scene at the main lodge. The western side of the island is rocky and rugged, which was so beautiful. The viewing deck is quite high on the side of a rocky cliff. Down below you can see crabs crawling across the rocks as waves crash over them. The sunsets at Oarsman’s become so much more beautiful after the sun has set. So make sure you don’t leave Yaromo too early! You’ll want to stick around to see the pink and purple hues reflecting against the rocks.Getting to Oarsman’s:Oarsman’s Bay Lodge is in a remote location. It takes about 5 hours via ferry to get there. The staff are happy to make those arrangements for you. You can also get there via helicopter if weather permits. We chose to fly in and ferry out, and the helicopter was definitely the better of the two travel options. Oarsman’s can arrange these flights for you, and I highly recommend it if it’s in your budget. Just be aware that if the weather turns sour, your flight will be canceled, and you’ll have to ride the ferry. The Yasawa Flyer feels like a large bus on water. It’s crowded and a little hectic. We decided to upgrade to the Captain’s Lounge, which was well worth it. Snacks, drinks, and alcohol are included with the upgraded fair, whereas these are additional purchases with the standard fair. Traveling via helicopter allows you to have a nearly direct transfer from Nadi International to Oarsman’s, and you’ll avoid Port Denarau entirely. A shuttle will take you from the airport to a nice waiting room at the helipad – about a 5 minute drive. There’s free coffee, snacks, and Fiji water. The helicopter flight from there to Oarsman’s is 30 minutes direct. For us it was 45 minutes because we had others with us that were being dropped along the way. Helicopter is really the best way to view and appreciate the beauty of the Yasawas!