Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I’m using this time of rest to honor and thank those who serve our country and keep us safe.

Today I’d like to share things to do in Fiji on a budget. You could easily travel to Fiji and have a blast by spending loads of money (those interisland transfers aren’t cheap!), but on our recently DEM Flyers trip to Oceania, we just wanted to chill in Fiji after a whirlwind trip through Sydney and New Zealand.

As usual, suggestions are welcome, especially since we didn’t end up going to the other islands, which I’m sure are gorgeous. Fiji is interesting because it can be both a very expensive and a very affordable destination, and for this trip we definitely stuck to the “very affordable” side of things. 🙂

Suggested Activities

  • Scuba/snorkel – Fiji is often known as the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” with amazing crystal clear visibility, so don’t miss this activity! On the main island of Viti Levu (where the airport is), they say the best snorkeling sites would be along the Coral Coast between Nadi and Suva. We snorkeled at the resort we stayed at for the first two nights — Naviti Resort, which provided the equipment for free. Michael went scuba diving at both Naviti Resort and our second resort, the Intercontinental.
  • Check out the daily schedule at your resort and see if any of the activities or shows strike your interests. Naviti Resort had free activities like boat tours, stand-up paddleboard, snorkeling, basketweaving, and archery, while the Intercontinental required fees for any sports but had free shows and live music every night.
  • Participate in a kava ceremony – “You gather in a circle on traditional mats and drink kava, a natural root plant only found in the South Pacific. Kava is supposed to have a mild sedative, calming effect. Wherever you find a group of Fijian men, you can be sure a kava bowl isn’t too far away. Join a circle in the evening, have a few bowls and join the conversation.” (excerpted from North & South Nomads)
  • Watch fire walking – “Every July or August, you can watch men walk across red hot coals at the South indian fire-walking festival at the Mariamma Temple. Indigenous Fijian fire walking (known as vilavilairevo) was originally practiced only on the tiny island of Beqa, but today you can also see fire walking year round at the Pacific Harbour Arts Village, in many major resorts, or at Suva’s Hibiscus Festival in August.” (excerpted from The Barefoot Nomad)
    • Check out this fascinating background about fire walking.
    • We paid to watch fire walking at Naviti Resort, and to be perfectly honest, it was not that interesting because it happened really slowly and I was being consumed by mosquitoes in the meantime. We enjoyed the fire dancing show at the Intercontinental much more, which was very entertaining and also free.
  • Suva Municipal Market and walk around eating things in Suva
  • 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.” (excerpted from Nomadic Matt)
  • 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.” (excerpted from Nomadic Matt)
  • Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Baths (FJD$20/US$11.50)
  • Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park (Lonely Planet FJD$10) – “These vast sand dunes set against a deep blue sea are well worth the two hour hike that takes you along the dunes and through a mahogany forest. If you ask, the rangers will tell you a little bit about the ancient burial site in the park that has evidence of human habitation from almost 3,000 years ago.” (excerpted from The Barefoot Nomad) 
  • Colo-i-Suva Forest Park – “The Colo-i-Suva (pronounced tholo-ee-soo -va) Forest Park is a true lush rain forest. If you’re lucky, you may spot a sulphur-breasted musk parrot, Fiji warblers or goshawks. There are natural swimming holes along the walking trails, with a rope swing in the Lower Pools to bring out your inner Tarzan.” (excerpted from The Barefoot Nomad) 
  • http://freeyourmindtravel.com/backpacking-fiji-on-a-budget/
    • Castaway Island Trip (Mamanucas): Expect to pay $40 USD
    • Spa: Expect to pay approximately $31 USD for a full hour massage
    • Snorkelling:  Expect to pay $3-$5 USD for a full day rental
    • Blue Lagoon Snorkel Trip (Nacula): Expect to pay $15 USD for a half day snorkel trip
    • Snorkel With Manta Rays (Yasawas): Expect to pay $20 USD
    • Scuba Diving: Expect to pay approximately $85-$95 USD per dive
    • A PADI certification course is around 705 FJD ($324 USD)
    • Snorkelling: Bring your own mask & snorkel if you can. Gear quality is typically not great and the hygiene between uses was questionable.
  • “You can surf in famous areas like Cloudbreak (Mamanuca Island), one of the most consistent surf spots in the world, you can waterski or wakeboard, or even charter a catamaran if you’re an experienced sailor. Sigatoka has calmer waters for beginners.” (excerpted from North & South Nomads)
  • Naihehe Caves ($$?) – “The Naihehe Cave was once a fortress for a cannibal tribe, and still houses a cannibal oven. Even today, the cave is secluded, and only accessed by a 4Ă—4 drive through the limestone mountains.” (excerpted from The Barefoot Nomad) 

SIM Cards

Michael and I have T-Mobile, but Fiji is not covered on their list of supported countries with free/unlimited 2G data. I needed data for my job, but we also just wanted to have the data for maps, etc.

At the airport, as soon as you exit baggage claim, you will see 2 telecom stores: Vodafone on the left, and Digicel on the right. I inquired with both companies, and found Digicel to have better prepaid packages and better value. I used my Chase Ink Plus to pay and yes, I did indeed get 5X! Not a huge deal given how cheap it was though. I believe I paid something like USD $13 for 2 GB of data, but I don’t remember exactly. Since these things change frequently, check out the SIM Card wikia and also Digicel’s website. Coverage was very good on Suva and we were glad we purchased SIM cards for half our group.

Transportation

  • Buses are very cheap, but are fairly infrequent (compared to American/Asian/European standards :P)
  • Taxis are cheap, but can be very slow. However, the first thing you’ll learn about Fiji is “Fiji Time” – nothing is done quickly, because nothing is ever urgent. Don’t be in a hurry to anything and just chillax. With that said, make sure you give yourself twice as long as you usually do to get to the airport…
  • Take a south-bound bus out of Nadi along the Queen’s Road and head down to the Coral Coast. You could continue all the way east to Suva, and from there head north along the King’s Road, up to Rakiraki and eventually all the way around the island back to Nadi. You’ll see stunning scenery, get a great cultural experience in the form of the bouncy, crowded bus ride (which can actually be really fun!) and have the opportunity to experience  some of Fiji’s best budget spots. And the whole thing will set you back less than FJ $30 (about AU $20).” (excerpted from Martina in Motion)
  • Inter-Island Ferries: (excerpted from Free Your Mind Travel)
    • Suva to Savu-Savu & Taveuni
      • Goundar Shipping: $29 USD per person for economy, $42 USD per person for first class, $110 USD for cabin single occupancy or $139 USD for a cabin double occupancy ($165 USD to Taveuni). If you decide to not get a cabin and stay in economy or first class and do not have your own mat to sleep on, you can rent one for $5 USD.
    • Savu-Savu to Taveuni
      • Taveuni Princess – Bus & Ferry Combo: $8 USD per person
      • Goundar Shipping – $16 USD per person for economy
    • Boat Transfers Via “Awesome Adventures” to and from the Mamanucas & Yasawas: This cost is completely dependent on how many islands you want to check out and how long you want to be island hopping for. We paid approximately $100 USD per person for a seven-day, three island round trip ticket to the Yasawas.

Eating

From Martina in Motion, my primary goals in Fiji were to eat roti parcels (Fijian-Indian fusion) and fresh coconuts. I managed to do both, but not really how I expected! We were mostly “resort captive” during our 4 nights there — we stayed at 2 different resorts and didn’t really leave them.

At the first resort (Naviti), we noticed there was a small group of huts set up next to the resort. We didn’t go to explore them. We had breakfast included in our stay, so we would make sandwiches for lunch at breakfast and keep them in our rooms. For dinner, we took a taxi to nearby sister hotel The Warwick. We definitely paid American fine dining prices, but it was a great seafood dinner and we got to try kava.

However, we noticed the similar huts set up next to our second resort (Intercontinental), and the villagers who had set up shop there were more proactive in soliciting customers from the resort. Daniel and I were solicited by some of these villagers, but all I cared about was food at that point, so I kept pressing them to tell us if they had food. They didn’t have food that night, but they sold me a coconut and promised to bring us enough roti and meat for 4 people the next day for $10 USD total. Score! Daniel told this story already, but it was good enough to tell again, given that the cheapest food at the resort otherwise was pizza for some $25 USD.  We did the same thing with the villagers for our second lunch there, and for dinners we ate ramen inside the hotel room that Michael had picked up at a local supermarket.

In short,

Fiji

References