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Explore the Islands of Fiji Responsibly With Captain Cook Cruises

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Fiji is home to some of the most beautiful islands on this planet. But with over 300 scattered throughout the South Pacific Ocean, it can be challenging to plan a trip here!

I explored several islands in Fiji with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji on the MV Reef Endeavour, a small-sized purpose-built cruise ship.

What’s great about small ship cruising is that the size allows you to navigate remote islands, reefs, and shallow bays where bigger ships can’t go.

And as one of Fiji’s most responsible cruise operators, a tour with Captain Cook is a perfect way to explore remote Fijian islands and get an authentic cultural experience.

In this comprehensive Captain Cook Cruises Fiji review post, I’m sharing everything you need to know.

aerial view of remote island in fiji on a captain cook cruise in fiji

I was kindly hosted on this cruise by Captain Cook Cruises Fiji. As always, all opinions are my own.

Captain Cook Reef Endeavour Cruise Review

The cruise departs from Port Denarau, the hub of water transportation from Nadi.

If you’re flying into Fiji, I recommend giving yourself a day before the cruise in case of any delays and to adjust to the time zone.

There are plenty of hotels to stay in Port Denarau. The Radisson Blu Resort and Sheraton Fiji Golf and Beach Resort are two great choices!

Day 1

Captain Cook Reef Endeavour Cruise Review

The cruise was scheduled to leave at 1 pm, but as you’ll find out while traveling in Fiji, everything runs on “Fiji time,” which means nothing really goes on time.

While this may seem annoying to our fast-paced Western way of life, you soon learn to embrace it and accept what will be, will be. I grew to love Fiji time!

Upon getting on the cruise, we were greeted with a beautiful welcome song and a buffet lunch. Then, after a short safety briefing, we set off for our first island visit.

taking the boat towards Nukuimana Island
Nukuimana Island

Nukuimana Island is a small sand bank with some stunning turquoise-blue water surrounding it. It has a beautiful coral reef around it that you can go snorkeling in – I saw a reef shark here!

Nukuimana Island

After the island visit, we were back on board for afternoon tea, followed by pre-dinner cocktails and canapes.

Every night, a 3-course dinner is served in the Captain Cook Salon, with nightly entertainment from the amazing Fijian crew.

staff on captain cook cruise
Nightly entertainment by the staff

You get seated with a different group every night, allowing you to get to know the other passengers on board.

Day 2

Wake-up time on the boat depends on you! The sunrise comes up around 6 am.

captain cook boat with island
Early morning sunrises from the boat

I loved the sunrises from the boat and got up every morning to enjoy them from the top deck while journaling and sipping on my morning coffee. There’s no better way to start the day!

If you’re an early riser, they also have the option for a 7 am morning swim.

At 7:30 am, a breakfast buffet is served in the Captain Cook Saloon dining room, which was a variety of fresh fruit, pastries, eggs, and meats.

remote island in Fiji
Monu Island

Around 9 am, you set off for morning activities. The first day was the option of a dedicated snorkeling trip or a visit to Monu Island, where survivor was filmed.

They will also bring you to the beach after snorkeling so you can do both; it just means you’ll have less time.

At the beach, you have several activities and water sports to choose from, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), snorkeling, beach walks, or simply just relaxing in the sand and gorgeous crystal clear water.

lora standing on white sand beach in Fiji
Monu Island

The clear turquoise water against the stunning white sand beach looked straight out of a postcard.

I spent my first morning walking along the beach, swimming in the ocean, and stand-up paddle boarding. The water is so calm – it’s the perfect place to try it!

lora stand up paddle boarding in Fiji

They also have glass-bottom boat tours every morning if you aren’t up for snorkeling. These boats allow you to see below the water without actually getting in it.

Leita, the marine biologist on board giving a reef talk
Leita, the marine biologist on board giving a reef talk

After the morning activities, we were back on board in time for the reef talk with Leita, the marine biologist.

She gave a presentation about the coral reefs in Fiji and the current threats to them. I loved talking with her and learning more about the work Captain Cook is doing to protect the reefs. There’s more info about that below.

Every day, a buffet lunch is served in the Yasawa lounge, which is a variety of salads, vegetables, fish, chicken, and fruits.

Buffet lunch on captain cook cruise
Buffet lunch

At 2 pm, we left for our second island visit, Monuriki Island (where Castaway was filmed). There, you can enjoy more beach and water activities.

Monuriki Island

I spent my afternoon exploring the island. You can still see the ‘Help Me’ signs in rocks from the movie. So cool!

castaway island with rocks spelt out help me
Help me sign from Castaway Island

I loved practicing my free diving in the coral reefs around the island, which were full of color and life.

Later that afternoon, we had the option to go for a visit to a local village to take part in a Yanuya Methodist Church Service.

fijian men singing in church
Fijian men singing in church

Although I am not a religious person, I enjoyed getting to take part in this cultural experience.

The service was mainly conducted in Fijian, although they welcomed us in English, and the men’s singing was beautiful to hear.

After the church ceremony, we got back on board for a fantastic sunset and cocktail hour.

yellow and orange sunset over island in Fiji
Cocktail on Captain Cook Cruise
Cocktail on Captain Cook Cruise

That night we enjoyed another fabulous 3-course meal, followed by a Fijian fashion show where they showed us the style of clothing from past to present.

Day 3

The third day was one of the most beautiful sunrises I saw, as were surrounded by islands while the sun rose, casting a stunning glow over them.

captain cook cruise top deck by islands
Sunrise on the boat

This was an exciting morning as the marine biologist was doing a shark feeding demonstration, and I went diving at the same time to watch them feed underwater.

It was a bucket list diving experience to see dozens of black-tip sharks swim above me.

After the shark feeding, we went diving through the soft corals. Fiji is known as the soft coral capital of the world, and it lives up to the name with it’s amazing dive sites.

They are magical to swim through, full of color and amazing marine life.

soft corals in Fiji

After the dive, we headed to Sacred Island to meet the other guests for beach activities. There was also the option for a dedicated snorkeling trip that morning.

Sacred Island was another picture-perfect beach where I spent my morning swimming in the turquoise water and taking photos with my drone.

lora walking on beach in Fiji
Sacred Island

Back on board, we had another reef talk with Litia, followed by a buffet lunch before afternoon activities.

The second day had several cultural activities on offer, including a visit to Ratu Naivalu Boarding School, a guided tour of Yalobi village, and/or an adventure hike up School Hill.

Local village in Fiji
Local village in Fiji

I joined the guided tour of Yalob village, which was a fascinating insight into the local life here.

I loved learning more about Fijian culture and the wonderful traditions they still have today, passed down by generations.

You must cover your knees and shoulders while visiting the traditional villages, so be sure to take something suitable on the cruise if you plan to go.

Afterward, I was brought over by boat to another village for the hike up to the viewpoint.

It’s a short but steep 20-minute hike up to the top, where we were rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the island.

viewpoint of Fiji village

That evening they had a special ceremony onboard for the queen’s passing. Afterward, we headed downstairs for a buffet dinner.

Dinner on board Captain Cook Cruise

It was island night, so everyone wore Bula wear (tropical-style clothing), and we enjoyed a delicious meal while the staff performed traditional Fijian dances for us.

The men had so much energy; it was so much fun to watch!

men performing traditional fijian dancing

Day 4

I savored my last sunrise on the boat, as we arrived back in Port Denarau marina.

After breakfast, departing guests were sung one more song before disembarking.

Most of the guests stayed on for another four nights to the Yasawas, which I have more information about below.

Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavour

The Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavour

The Captain Cook MV Reef Endeavour is a small ship vessel with 130 maximum passenger capacity.

I stayed in a standard cabin, which had a comfortable double bed, two side drawers, a small desk with a plug, and a bathroom with bath amenities, a hair dryer, and a hot shower. The room had views of the ocean and AC.

lora inside cabin captain cook cruise
Inside my cabin

It took me a day to adjust to the slight feeling of the boat swaying, but I was used to it by the second night and slept well.

The top deck features a large open-air sun deck area with plenty of lounge chairs for basking in the endless Fiji sunshine.

sun set on the top deck of captain cook cruise

The 3rd floor has passenger rooms, a spa, and an outdoor seating area. On the 2nd floor is a similar layout where I stayed. It also had the reef room, where Leita gave her reef talks.

The main floor has a bar, Yasawa lounge area with a coffee bar, and an outdoor swimming pool with seating around it.

outdoor pool on cruise
Outdoor pool and seating area

Just below the first floor is the main Captain Cook Saloon, where we had dinner every night.

On the bottom floor was where we boarded the smaller boats to reach the islands, as well as the dive center.

Responsible tourism

sunset on captain cook cruise ship

What I loved most about this tour was the aspects of sustainability and responsible tourism they incorporated into the itinerary.

Captain Cook Cruises in Fiji are nature-based experiences with a focus on protecting the natural environment. They have a robust environmental policy to protect the incredible areas they visit.

When visiting the islands, we took smaller boats from the cruise ship to avoid disrupting the reef, and they visit different snorkeling sites each cruise to reduce the impact.

captain cook cruises fiji

We had a marine biologist on board to monitor the impact on the reefs. She also gave reef talks daily so we could learn more about them and how we can help protect them.

Captain Cook even has a coral restoration project you can take part in on their Tivua Island day tour.

I was happy to learn from Letia that they have been having a lot of success with the coral restoration project as new reefs begin to grow!

Dive Center

Dive Center on Captain Cook Cruise
Dive Center on Captain Cook Cruise

There’s a dive center on the boat, so take advantage of it and experience these incredible remote dive spots.

Diving is not included in the cruise price, but it’s easy to arrange on board with the dive center.

The soft coral reefs we visited were breathtaking. Not to mention the chance to go diving with sharks! I mean, how many times do you get a private shark viewing?

Diving with sharks

You can even get your PADI and learn to dive while on board the ship. They have qualified Instructors who can teach open water and advanced dive courses.

They will teach you all the qualifying skills in the pool on board so you can get comfortable with the sensation of being underwater without even stepping off the boat.

What it was like to solo cruise

lora in crystal clear water

Captain Cook Cruises was my first time on a small ship cruise, and I went as a solo traveler. I did feel a bit like the odd one out, as every other passenger was older couples and families.

That said, everyone on the cruise was friendly and welcoming to me. And of course, there’s the fantastic staff who are lovely to talk with.

Plus, I really enjoyed getting to spend time by myself journaling over the sunrise and relaxing on the beach.

If you’re the type of solo traveler that’s comfortable spending time alone, then you’ll have no problem. But if you’re looking for a place where you can meet other solo travelers, this probably isn’t the best place for you (at least from my personal experience on this cruise).

What to bring on a Captain Cook Cruise

Reef-safe sunscreen. One of the best things you can do as a tourist to protect the coral reefs while snorkeling or diving in them is to wear reef-safe sunscreen that doesn’t have Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.

On this trip, I used Indie Lee sunscreen for the first time. It blended in smoothly, and I never got sunburnt, which is pretty impressive considering I was in the sun all day. They also sell reef-safe sunscreen on the cruise.

Sun protection including a sun hat and UV sunglasses. Many of the islands do not have shade, so you really need this.

Insect repellant to avoid mosquito bites on the islands.

A lightweight beach towel. The staff provides you with beach towels and beach mats, but I prefer having my own lightweight as it’s easier to pack in my bag.

Downloaded movies or TV shows. The WiFi doesn’t really work on the boat, so if you’re someone who likes to watch things before going to bed, make sure to download some before.

Snorkel and masks are provided, but it’s always nice to have your own to ensure you have one that fits well.

Clothes to cover your shoulders and knees to respect Fijian traditions if you’re taking part in the village tours.

Hiking or closed-toe shoes if you want to take part in the adventure hike. Flip-flops are not suitable; it’s very steep.

While everything on the cruise can be paid on a credit card, bring some cash for the Fijian villages. At the church, they collected donations, and on the village tour, we had the option to buy coconuts and handicrafts made by the ladies. You can also leave a cash tip for the staff on the boat.

A camera to capture your memories! A GoPro is best for water activities, and the spectacular islands are amazing for drone photography. You can see my complete camera gear list here.

Other tours with Captain Cook Cruises

Map of where Captain Cook Cruises go in Fiji. Credit:

Captain Cook Cruises has many other cruises and unique itineraries throughout the Fijian Islands, depending if you have more or less time.

Most people from the cruise I was on continued for another four nights to the volcanic Yasawa Islands, where you can see manta rays and explore caves.

There’s also the 11-day cruise that takes you to Lau Islands and Kadavu, with island nights, kava, make, and a lovo feast.

If you’re short on time, they also have a day tour to Tivua island, where the coral reef restoration project is, as well as a nightly sunset dinner cruise.

Book your cruise below!

If you’re planning a trip to Fiji and looking for an authentic way to explore several remote islands, a Captain Cook Cruise is a fantastic choice.

I loved that we visited authentic Fijian villages and had a mix of outdoor activities, including water sports and hiking. It was a great way to explore Fiji, and it definitely won’t be my last small-ship cruise!


  • Lora Pope

    Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach. [email protected] Pope Lora

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