Fiji Travel Guide
Fiji is a collection of volcanic islands spanning 1000 miles in the South Pacific Ocean. Synonymous with good bottled water, the country is viewed as a far-off and exotic getaway, and rightly so. There are two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and nearly 900 smaller islands and inlets, so you’re sure to find a secluded spot somewhere in the country. But contrary to popular belief, a vacation here doesn’t need to break the bank. Yes, there are pricey resorts but there are also budget guesthouses. Inexpensive accommodation and food, combined with the fact most Pacific flights include a stopover here, makes the islands an affordable and easy place to visit. This guide can help you plan your trip so you don’t skip it like most people do. Fiji is the best budget choice in the Pacific!
Destination Guides for Fiji
Accommodation – Hostels begin at $10 USD per night for dorms and $30 for private rooms, with budget hotels at starting at $28 USD. On some of the more remote islands, dorm prices begin at $15 USD if you really look for deals. Big resorts start at $100 USD per night.
Food – You can find a cheap meal for just about $2 USD, but the average cost in a casual restaurant is $5 USD. On most islands, your accommodation includes three meals per day, so take advantage of this.
Transportation – Buses are efficient and inexpensive in Fiji. The 4 hour journey from Suva to Nadi on the main island costs just $22 USD. A taxi around Suva will cost no more than $3 USD. Flights are approximately $230 USD (round-trip) from Nadi to the Northern Group and about $170 USD (round-trip) from Nadi to the Southern Islands. Travel between the islands is usually done via small boats run by the hotel or hostel. Ferries are also an option – routes operate between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Ovalau and Kadavu and Vanua Levu and Tavaeuni. For a more luxurious trip around the area, splurge for the inter-island ferry pass for the Yasawa Islands that starts at $260 USD for 7 days. Islands in the far eastern portion of the country are much more expensive to visit.
Activities – A one-tank dive will be around $60-90 USD. A PADI certification course is around $330 USD. White water rafting is around $200 USD (only available on the main, larger islands). However, entry into the national parks is cheap, just $7 USD.
Money Saving Tips
Use “Share taxis” – As the name suggests, these taxis will pick up as many passengers as possible and charge usually the same as a bus fare, which is a good option for longer journeys.
Snack stands – The cheapest food in Fiji is found on the snack stands dotting the roads. You can pick up curry or fish and chips for as little as $1 USD.
BYO Everything – If you are going to the outer islands, bring as much as possible. Things are about 50% cheaper on the main island so save money and buy water, snacks, and alcohol ahead of time.
Top Things to See and Do in Fiji
Explore the Mamanucas – The Mamanucas are a group of tiny islands off the coast of Nadi and are popular with divers and snorkelers. Many people visit the islands on a day trip from Nadi to enjoy world class surfing breaks, soft corals and awesome wildlife. Alternatively, the beaches here are idyllic and perfect for just relaxing. Stay longer – once the day-trippers leave, the place is yours!
Visit Suva – As Fiji’s capital, Suva is a must see. Situated on the major island of Viti Levu, the city has colonial architecture, plenty of nightspots, and restaurants as well as beautiful temples and mosques. Head to the municipal market on a Saturday morning for a taste of Fijian life. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and inexpensive food.
Hike Bouma National Heritage Park – This beautiful national park is among the top attractions in the country and is located in the north of Taveuni Island. The park is famous for its deep pools, waterfalls and picturesque hiking trails. Entrance in to the park is $4 USD.
See the Fiji Museum – One of Suva’s best attractions is the Fiji Museum. The museum details South Pacific culture in general and also discusses the country’s own history. There are various displays including Indian art exhibits, HMS Bounty relics, and artifacts that showcase traditional Fijian life, such as cannibal forks, shell jewellery and tribal weaponry.
Go to Lautoka – Also known as “Sugar City”, Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city and boasts the largest sugar mill in the southern hemisphere. Visit Koroyanitu National Heritage Park for an excellent day of hiking past waterfalls and through forests, or explore the city’s mosques and Botanical Garden.
Go whitewater rating – For an adrenaline-packed day, choose one of the many whitewater rafting tours available. The Upper Navua River winds through the highlands of Viti Levu, creating waterfalls and all grades of rapids that are perfect for either beginners or seasoned pros. Many people combine whitewater rafting with kayaking along the rivers and mangroves. This trip is expensive at around $220 USD.
Go diving – Most people who visit Fiji will spend at least one day snorkeling or diving its warm waters. I actually learned to dive in Fiji. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve done. The visibility is fantastic here, with depths of up to 40 meters and there is an abundance of coral to explore. World famous dive spots include Astrolabe Reef, Beqa Lagoon, and Rainbow Reef.
Visit the Old Capital of Levuka – Situated on the island of Ovalau is Fiji’s original capital, Levuka. The town has largely escaped the influx of tourism, and it’s great to spend a relaxing afternoon here taking in the historical feeling of the city.
Go surfing – Fiji offers some of the world’s best surfing with countless famous sites like Cloudbreak, Lighthouse Rights, and restaurants. The breaks here aren’t ideal for beginners but there are calmer waters at Sigatoka. Head to the Mamanuca islands to try out windsurfing and kitesurfing as an extra bonus.
Explore the Yasawas Islands – The Yasawa Islands are popular with backpackers and budget travelers because of the inexpensive accommodation, cheap transportation, and late night parties on islands like Beachcomber. I loved the islands. If you are going here, spend time at some of the lesser-known islands for quieter nights and cheaper prices. They are a better alternative to the expensive resorts on the main islands. The film “The Blue Lagoon” was filmed in this island chain.
- Visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant – Originally the garden of actor Raymond Burr, the Sleeping Giant covers over 50 acres of land and is filled with native orchids, exotic plants, and many other flowers. Admission is $7 USD.
- Golf at The Pearl – The Pearl Fiji Championship Golf Course and Country club has over 60 bunkers, tons of water traps, and a winding course. It can be challenging for even those that are experienced at golfing.
- Drink kava – Kava is famous here in Fiji, and all the locals partake in drinking quite a bit at the end of each day. It causes a numbing sensation on the lips and mouth and relaxes you a bit. It’s very interesting and worth trying – in fact, it’s impolite to say no! Make sure you go “high tide”, and get the big cup!
- Hike Colo-i-Suva Forest Park – This is a lush rainforest park, filled with beautiful birds and tropical plants. There are several swimming holes found throughout the park too.
- See the Sri Siva Subbramaniya Swami Temple – This Hindu temple is at the base of Main Street. Behind it lies a dramatic mountain backdrop, which allows for great photo opportunities. There are very detailed wood carvings here that have come all the way from India.