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South Sea Cruises Fiji Review – Should You Trust Them With Your Cruise?

South Sea Cruises Fiji Review – Should You Trust Them With Your Cruise?

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If you’re thinking about booking a day trip in Fiji (and you absolutely should) you will undoubtedly come across many tours offered by many different companies. While most do a good job of delivering a satisfying and worthwhile experience we have found that some do a better job than others.

We have taken boatloads of Fijian island tours and cruises over the years through many different tour operators. One of the companies that seems to offer the most day trips from Port Denarau is South Sea Cruises. After going on several South Sea Cruises tours, we are here to tell you about our experiences and whether or not they are worth adding to your Fiji bucket list!

Don’t have time to read the full article? South Sea Cruises is one of the most popular tour companies in Fiji that offers cruise and island experiences. Their professional services and friendly staff really set them apart. Our favorite tours offered by them are the South Sea Sailing adventure and the trip to Malamala Beach Club!

What is South Sea Cruises?

The South Sea Sailing Full Day Cruise boat anchored in the water
The South Sea Sailing Full Day Cruise boat anchored in the water

Perhaps the most popular cruise company in Fiji next to Captain Cook Cruises, South Sea Cruises was founded in 1960 by an Australian and New Zealander who both shared a mutual love for the beautiful islands of Fiji. One of the oldest tour providers in the South Pacific, South Sea Cruises has been offering experiences to visitors for over 70 years.

Since the beginning, they have specialized in cruises to some of Fiji’s top destinations with full-day experiences as well as evolving to include ferry services to and from popular island resorts. They are the only cruise company in Fiji to be accredited in environment, quality, and health and safety standards. They have also won several tourism awards over the years so apparently they know what they’re doing! 

Is South Sea Cruises a good company to book with?

Wide angle shot of Malamala Beach Club as you arrive on the boat
Malamala is so beautiful!

In my opinion, South Sea Cruises is one of the most reputable cruise companies available in Fiji. Everyone we have ever encountered who works for them has been incredibly friendly and helpful. The tours they offer are on clean and well-maintained boats to beautiful destinations throughout the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands as well as their very own, South Sea Island.

Two other important reasons we like booking with South Sea Cruises is because they have some of the best food we have had on a day cruise and they always leave on time. Their gourmet lunches are always freshly prepared and offer lots of variety. Meanwhile, we’ve found that some other tour companies run on “Fiji Time” and seem to always leave late, which can be problematic if you have other plans set for the day. 

Reviews of South Sea Cruises Top Tours

1. Malamala Beach Club

Daniel relaxes poolside at Malamala Beach Club in Fiji
So beautiful!
Daniel and Bailey relax in the infinity pool at Malamala Beach Club
The infinity pool!

Malamala Beach Club is the world’s first-ever beach club on its own island surrounded by perfect turquoise blue water and great snorkeling locations. It is one of our favorite tours in Fiji and for good reason. 

This modern island beach club offers an assortment of water activities included in your day pass as well as many places to grab a sun chair and enjoy island life. I spent the majority of my day there in the infinity pool with a cocktail in hand! While it may not include food or beverages, the low cost of a day pass combined with their decently priced food and drinks means you can experience island life without breaking the bank. 

Since this is a popular destination I recommend doing the Full-Day Malamala Beach Club Experience over the Half-Day Malamala Experience since the full-day experience has you arriving early in the day while the half-day has you getting there after everyone else. This means there is a chance you have to wait to use all of the water equipment and there may not be any sun chairs left.

Tickets for the full-day island retreat are $84 USD per person while the half-day is $75 USD. Round-trip transfers from most hotels in Nadi, Denarau, and Wailoaloa are included. The full-day tour also offers free pick-up from hotels in the Coral Coast, Natadola, Momi Bay, and Sonaisali. 

2. South Sea Sailing Day Trip (Sabre Cruise)

A group of people relax on the seating on the South Sea Sailing Full Day Cruise in Fiji
Relaxing on Fiji’s only catamaran!
Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on the sandbar vistited on the South Sea Sailing Full Day Cruise in Fiji
Visiting secluded sandbars!

This South Sea Sailing Day Trip is hands down one of our favorite cruises in Fiji. We loved it so much we had our wedding party on it! Sailing to incredible snorkeling locations and sandbars on this 78-foot catamaran is as close to a perfect experience as you can get. Pair that with day beds, benches, beanbag chairs, and even a water slide and you have an experience you won’t soon forget. 

Everyone we have ever had take this tour has loved it, and for good reason! Upon boarding, you are given a complimentary mimosa as you make your way out to the Mamanuca Islands. The crew is so entertaining, even doing live performances throughout the day. When they aren’t performing, the music selection is on point keeping the energy high!

Pretty much everything is provided for on this tour including soft drinks, a morning snack, a delicious buffet lunch, water, snorkeling gear, and unlimited beer or wine for 2 hours after lunch. The only things you will want to bring are sun protection, a towel, and some cash if you want any additional cocktails.

The highlight of this day trip though is the pristine sandbar you stop at to snorkel and paddleboard around. Every time we take this cruise we see so many fish! Overall, I don’t think it gets better than spending a day on the Sabre – that’s the name of the boat!

Tickets are $120 USD, which we think is well worth it for everything it includes! Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one! 

Related Read: If you are staying in or near Nadi, make sure to check out the Fiji Mud Pools and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant!

3. South Sea Island

Views of the beach at South Sea Island, Fiji
Views of the beach at South Sea Island, Fiji

With 330 islands in Fiji, South Sea Island has managed to remain one of the top destinations. This South Sea Island Tour allows you to explore it for yourself and see what all the commotion is about. 

South Sea Island shares a lot of similarities with Malamala Beach Club except that it is less built up, more kid-friendly, and offers a BBQ lunch and beverages throughout the day. I have found that I enjoy the water activities around Malamala more, but there is an undeniable charm to South Sea Island. Plus, food and drinks are included!

We recommend opting for the Full-Day South Sea Island Experience over the Half-Day Experience since the half-day has you arriving after everyone else and water sports equipment and sun chairs may be limited by the time you get there. With that being said, we think the half-day option is great for families with small children who don’t want to be out all day long.

There is a pool on the island and plenty of shaded areas to hang out. Just be sure to bring a towel and sunscreen! There is also a complimentary kids’ club and a Subsea Adventure experience, where you can view the reef aboard an underwater vehicle without having to get wet!

Tickets for a full-day pass are $115 USD while the half-day pass is $101 USD. We think this is the best island tour for families as it’s only 30 minutes from Port Denarau and has many activities catered to children.

4. Snorkel with Sharks

A shark swims below me while snorkeling in Fiji
So cool!
A shark swims above me while snorkeling in Fiji
Some of the sharks are huge!

If you’re looking for a little more adventure during your trip to Fiji you can’t go wrong going Snorkeling with Sharks. Seriously, it is one of the coolest and most unique water activities you do during your visit! I never thought I would say that I think sharks are cute, but after swimming with them on our honeymoon it changed my mind.

What I love about this day trip is not only do you get to snorkel with sharks, but you also get to spend time at the beautiful Barefoot Kuata Island Resort. Located in the Yasawa Islands, Kuata Island takes about 2 hours to get to by ferry. Once there, you’ll get your snorkel gear and then head out on another boat to the site where you’ll snorkel with small, harmless reef sharks. Then it’s back to the island to spend some time relaxing and use the resort facilities for a couple of hours.

If you have never been in the water with a shark, this is a great opportunity to try it for the first time. It’s important to note though that this experience takes about 9 hours not including land transfers, so it is a long day! Tickets are $177 USD and you can book your spot in advance here.

If that sounds like too much traveling in one day for you, then you may prefer this 2-day Shark Snorkel experience instead. It’s basically the same as the day trip above, except instead of heading back to the mainland on a 2-hour ferry, you get to spend the night on the island! The next day you’ll get to relax at the resort and explore the island before heading back.

Meals and beverages are not included in this 2-day package, but it does include transfers to/from hotels in Denarau, Nadi, and Wailoaloa as well as the ferry, snorkel trip, and overnight accommodation. Prices vary depending on the accommodation type you choose, but they start at $221 USD per person for a dorm and $296 USD per person for a bure/room. So if you’re ready for a bucket-list excursion, book your spot here!

5. Castaway Island Resort

pristine beach on the Castaway Island Day Cruise in Fiji
The pristine beach on the Castaway Island Day Cruise in Fiji

A quick search on Google will show you that Castaway Island (aka Qalito Island) is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mamanuca Island archipelago. Not to be confused with the island where they filmed the movie Cast Away, this island is a slice of paradise located 90 minutes from Denarau Port by boat. It takes a little while to get there, but it’s worth it.

Aboard this cruise, you’ll spend 5 hours at Castaway Island Resort with a multitude of activities to take part in. The snorkeling here is great and paddleboards are available. I recommend bringing some good shoes because there are two trails you can hike here. The first takes you to the top of the hill on the island through a beautiful rainforest and the second leads you around the island itself (during low tide) and I found both to be spectacular.

Lunch is a complimentary BBQ buffet, but I would bring a credit card to purchase any additional food, beverages, or activities during your stay. Oh, and don’t forget a towel!

Transportation to and from most hotels in Nadi, Denarau, or Wailoaloa is included as well as a ferry service to Castaway Island Resort. Tickets for this day trip are $141 USD.

6. Mamanuca Islands Explorer

Mamanuca Islands from the ferry in Fiji
One of the islands you can view from the boat

This cruise is different from the rest on this list and I would only recommend it to people who aren’t interested in getting in the water or hanging out on an island. The Mamanuca Island Explorer Day Trip is more or less a ferry that brings you around several islands in the Mamanuca Island archipelago while it picks up and drops off island resort guests. You do get nice views from the boat, but that’s about it.

We didn’t find it very exciting and for the money you spend, we would recommend you consider one of the other fantastic tours South Sea Cruises offers. Alternatively, we recommend booking a night or two at one of the Mamanuca Island resorts such as Beachcomber Island Resort, and then booking your island resort transfer with South Sea Cruises. You’ll get the same experience and scenic views on the ferry to and from your resort as you would on this day trip.

However, if you would like to see some islands from the water for over 3 hours before returning to Port Denarau, this might be a good option for you. Tickets are $70 USD and include round-trip transportation from Nadi and Denarau hotels. 

7. Yasawa Islands Explorer

Yasawa Islands from the ferry in Fiji
The Yasawa Islands are gorgeous!

This Yasawa Island Explorer trip is basically the same thing as the Mamanuca Island Explorer trip except it travels around the stunning Yasawa Islands instead. This archipelago is much further away than the Mamanuca islands and people visiting normally stay overnight at one of the island resorts because it takes a couple of hours to get there on the high-speed catamaran ferry.

This “tour” is basically just a ride on a ferry for 9 hours as it stops by all of the Yasawa Island resorts to pick up and drop off guests. It’s a long day and you don’t get off the boat the entire time. You will get a provided packed lunch and there is a small concession on the boat where you can purchase additional food and beverages. The boat has some seats inside and an open-air deck to enjoy scenic views, but ultimately we do not think this tour is worth it.

There are so many better South Sea Sailing tours available that actually let you enjoy the islands instead. I’d only recommend this to people who want to sightsee the Yasawa islands from afar and are okay with spending 9 hours on a boat.

Instead of this tour, I’d recommend staying a few nights at one of the many Yasawa Island Resorts and booking the ferry as a means of transportation to and from your resort (you can even get a hop-on hop-off pass and visit multiple resorts!). This will break up the long boat ride and still let you get the scenic views cruising around the islands. We stayed at Barefoot Manta Island Resort and had so much fun exploring the island and being immersed in the Yasawa island culture. We even swam with manta rays!

If you’re interested in this Yasawa Islands Explorer tour, tickets are $111 USD and it includes pick up/drop off to most hotels in Nadi and Denarau. 

8. Barefoot Kuata Day Cruise

Barefoot Kuata Island resort
Photo credit: Barefoot Kuata Island Resort

If you want to explore the stunning Yasawa Islands, a better alternative to the option above is this Barefoot Kuata Day Cruise. This day trip is a ton of fun, but getting there takes 2 hours on the ferry, and 4 hours on a boat for the day is a long time. However, once you do arrive you will be treated to spectacular views and some excellent snorkeling as well as other water activities that will keep you entertained. 

This particular day trip includes lunch at the resort, but not any beverages so bring a credit card to purchase additional food and drinks if you would like. The island itself is fairly large and offers a hike to the summit of its small mountain if you’re feeling up for a challenge or need a break from all the snorkeling you will be doing. I love an opportunity to get out in nature!

Considering how beautiful the island is and how long it takes to get there, I recommend considering booking a couple of nights for an unforgettable island experience. It allows you to experience everything the resort has to offer if the 5 hours you’re given on the island during the day trip isn’t enough.  

Tickets for this experience are $131 USD, but there is a fuel surcharge that you pay on the day of departure so have cash or card ready. Transportation is provided to and from your hotel if you’re staying in Nadi, Denarau, or Wailoaloa.

Related Read: To learn more about Fiji’s unique culture and history, make sure to visit the Fiji Culture Village during your trip!

Why Book with Viator

Two people walk out of the water at the beach on Malamala Beach Club
It doesn’t get more beautiful in Fiji!

When you book with Viator you get peace of mind booking with a well-established tour company and protection if your travel plans suddenly change. This has certainly happened to us plenty of times!

Most tours have their “Book Now Pay Later” guarantee, which means you can secure your spot and not pay until 48 hours before. Need to cancel your plans? Not a problem! For most tours, as long as you cancel 24 hours in advance there is no fee, and it’s 100% refundable. If the tour you’re looking at offers these awesome perks it will say so under the green “Check Availability” button.

Alternatively, if you book your tours with South Sea Cruises directly their cancelation process is much more complicated than Viator’s and requires you to cancel in writing which can be quite the process. They also charge a 2.5-3% fee on any bookings made with a credit card or international debit card, which can add up!

Would I book a cruise operated by South Sea Cruises again?

Daniel and his friends take a selfie in the shallow waters of South Sea Island
Daniel and his friends take a selfie in the shallow waters of South Sea Island

When it comes right down to it, I can confidently say South Sea Cruises offers some of the best experiences in Fiji. Not all of them are created equal though, so it’s important to really read through the descriptions to make sure you’re choosing the right tour for you.

Some of the best experiences we’ve had in Fiji were with South Sea Cruises, and they offer reliable and professional services. So if you are planning on spending a day out on the water, they are 100% the way to go!

Where to Stay in Fiji

the private island of Beachcomber Island Resort
This place is just wow! Photo Credit: Beachcomber Island Resort

There are so many great areas to stay around Fiji. You can choose to stay on the main island of Viti Levu or venture out to the smaller surrounding islands. With so many choices, it can be hard to narrow it down. To help, these are my top picks for each area in Fiji that fit a range of budgets.

Nadi – The Ramada

Located right on Wailoaloa Beach, the Ramada Suites by Wyndham is the most luxurious hotel in this area. It features an exclusive pool and restaurant for guest use only. It is the tallest building in the area offering incredible views of the coastline and sunsets!

Because of its close proximity to the airport (only a 15-minute drive), many people stay here for a night before or after their flight. It’s a good place to spend some time before catching a ferry out to an island. A King Studio Room with a sea view goes for around $200 USD. Check availability and book a stay at the Ramada here!

Port Denarau – Radisson Blu Fiji Resort

The Radisson Blu Resort is just stunning, and for what you get, the price is very reasonable too. This resort is huge offering tons of activities for both families as well as couples. There is an adults-only pool as well as an area specifically for kids. It is beachfront and offers spa services as well.

Rooms here start from around $400 USD per night and range from standard hotel-style rooms with king beds or two queens, up to two-bedroom suites. Some rooms feature courtyard views while others have a view of the lagoon. All rooms have a balcony and minibar. Check availability and prices at the Radisson Blue Resort here!

Yasawa Islands – Barefoot Manta Island Resort

Barefoot Manta Island Resort is perfect for those wanting a real island getaway experience without paying huge amounts of money. Surrounded by a vibrant protected coral reef, this is the best place to go for ocean lovers. You can even swim with manta rays just off the shore from May-October!

You can easily get to Barefoot Manta Island Resort on the Yasawa Flyer ferry that departs Port Denarau regularly. The ride should take about 3 hours.

They offer dorm beds for only $29 USD a night. There are also private beachfront bungalows available starting at around $200 USD per night. Check prices and availability for Barefoot Manta Island Resort here!

Mamanuca Islands – Beachcomber Island Resort

Beachcomber Island Resort is one of the most popular island resorts to stay in Fiji. Its affordable pricing mixed with its close proximity to Viti Levu make it one of the best places to stay in Fiji. You can reach the Beachcomber Resort from Port Denarau by riding the Yasawa Flyer ferry. The ride should take about 2 hours.

There are many different rooms and bungalows to choose from – something for every budget! Remember all these prices also include ALL your meals. Dorm beds go for as little as $60 USD per night, whereas you can get a standard twin room for $225 USD. Check prices and availability at Beachcomber Island Resort here!

Coral Coast – Maui Palms

Mixing beach life and luxury, the Maui Palms is perfect for those wanting a bit of pampering on their holiday. There are lots of on-site activities and the snorkeling right in front of the resort is great. Expect an infinity pool, games room, bar, restaurant, and beautiful ocean-view villas with private balconies!

The location on the Coral Coast means you don’t need a boat to get there but can still experience some of the tranquility and beautiful beaches you might find on the smaller islands. There are also a few restaurants nearby, so you won’t be confined to the hotel. Rooms and villas here start at around $250 USD and up. Check prices and availability for the Maui Palms here!

If you’re looking for more info about where to stay in Fiji, be sure to read our blog. It includes detailed info on each area, the best things to do nearby, prices, getting to hotels, and so much more.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie as they arrive to Malamala Beach Club in Fiji
Thanks for reading!

I hope our review of South Sea Cruises was helpful and you found a day trip that suits you best! Fiji is beautiful and getting out on a cruise is one of our favorite ways to explore and get those vacation vibes.

If you found this guide helpful, there’s lots more where that came from! Have a look at our other Fiji blogs, including a few other popular ones below:

12 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Tivua Island, Fiji

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Shark Dive in Fiji

13 BEST Beaches in Fiji (that you just HAVE to see!)

8 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Robinson Crusoe Island, Fiji