So! You’ve either decided, or are thinking about travelling to Fiji. Excellent decision! You won’t be disappointed as there’s heaps of things to see and do in Fiji – whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for adventure, or wanting to relax by the pool in one of Fiji’s many 5 star resorts, Fiji has all of this and much more. And of course, the beaches – Fiji is world famous for it’s sparkling blue waters and soft white sand – but you already knew that! Here are 10 things that you need to know before jetting off to Fiji!
Note: Fiji is made up of over 300 islands and it would take forever to explore all of them – for my trip I stayed around Nadi (pronounced Nan-di) and some of the closer islands to the main island of Viti Levu. When flying in to Fiji, you will almost certainly fly in through its main international airport in Nadi
Get a Room with Air Conditioning
This one is pretty self-explanatory right? I made a rookie mistake by booking a room with no air con during my stay, and it was easily our biggest regret of the trip. Fiji has a tropical climate and almost all year long the temperature tends to stay between the high 20’s and mid 30’s (Celcius), but it’s the humidity that will get you. When you’re not in the pool or the beach, the humidity gets sticky really quick. One of the highlights of the trip was hiring a car and having air con readily available! So, when looking for a room in Fiji, pay the extra couple of dollars and get air conditioning, its well worth the money.
Island Time! It’s Really a Thing
This is something you will have to get used to. Throw away your watch when you’re in Fiji because it seems that the concept of time simply doesn’t exist. Things rarely run on schedule, as the laid back island way of life takes over. You want to order dinner? Be prepared for a wait. Planning an excursion? Be prepared for a late start. When we booked a boat to one of the islands, this is how the conversation went:
Her: Head down to the beach after breakfast and the morning boat will be there.
Me: What time will the boat arrive?
Her: After breakfast, the boat will usually be there.
Me: Yes, but what time will it arrive?
Her: After 9am. Maybe 9:30, maybe 10am. The boat will arrive when it arrives.
While it may be challenging for the first day or two, letting go and giving in to island time is hugely refreshing and relaxing, and you’re almost certain to enjoy the rest of your time in the islands.
Get out and see the Islands
Fiji is home to roughly 330 islands, and about one-third of them are inhabited. And while there are different chains of islands, the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are closest to Nadi and its port, Denarau, ranging from 25 minutes away by boat, to upwards of 5 hours. Each island has its own unique style, accommodation, and activities, so it is important to plan ahead to make sure you’re taking full advantage of Fiji and what it offers.
For our trip, we went to 2 islands – the idyllic tiny South Sea Island, and Mana Island. South Sea Island is the closest to port Denerau (25 minutes away) and is unique in how tiny it is, only taking around 5 minutes to walk around the WHOLE island. There’s a pool, lots of hammocks and cabana huts, snorkelling equipment, plenty of food and drink available, and even a submarine!
Mana (Magic in Fijian) is an island with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Things are a bit more basic on Mana, with only a handful of options for accommodation. There are lots of day trips to other islands and excursions like forest walks and snorkelling near the sandbar. Or you can even rent a canoe or stand up paddleboard, but with such an amazing beach you’re not going to want to do too much else while you’re here.
The Boats run on a Specific Schedule
Wanting to go to the islands? You’ll need to plan this in advance. I was surprised to find out that there are not many options when it comes to getting out to the islands – there are only a few companies who run the boats.
While some of the closer islands (South Sea Island for example) you’re able to purchase a full day or half day excursion, there are not many boats going to and from the islands that you can simply hop on and hop off. As the islands are grouped in chains, there is often only one boat leaving in the morning, and one boat that leaves in the afternoon, making its way back to the main land. This is especially true for the Yasawa Islands, so plan accordingly.
Kava is the national drink of Fiji – a brown watery liquid that is made from ground-up kava root, that is strained into water. While it may not look appealing, Kava is popular because of its effects – muscle relaxation, warmth, and a general feeling of well being. It has a muddy, earthy taste to it.
Whether it’s at your resort or accommodation, or somewhere else in Fiji, you won’t have a hard time finding a Kava Ceremony to take part in, and should be at the top of your list of things you want to do in Fiji.
Explore the Markets and try a Juice
If you’re staying in and around Nadi you’ll almost certainly be heading in to Nadi’s main town centre at some point. What’s even more certain is that you’ll be greeted by many locals with a big grin and a hearty ‘Bula Vinaka!’ While the town centre is fairly standard with supermarkets, convenience stores and souvenir shops around, head to the market to get a feel for the real Fiji. There’s loads to do and see here, and can be a bit of a sensory overload of colours, smells and textures. Try some of the local Fijian fruit – guava, pineapple, papaya, coconuts and bananas are aplenty here, so try your bartering with the locals. Also, check out the kava room of the market, which has huge amounts of the grounded root available for you to take home. Most importantly, you have to try the fresh pineapple juice here – I would go as far as to say it’s the best pineapple juice in the world – so fresh, so sweet and at $2 is an absolute bargain!
Drive to the Coral Coast
Someone has recommended this to me, and before I knew it we had hired a car and were heading off on an adventure. The Coral Coast is the 80km of coastline between Sigatoka and Suva, dotted with resorts and beaches that make this scenic drive a popular spot for travellers.
Sigatoka is just over an hours drive from Nadi, and then from there, you would begin the drive along the coastline towards Suva. However, like all good adventures, we got lost along the way, trying to drive along the coastline from Nadi to Sigatoka (there isn’t actually a coastline drive, so ended up going off road for bits of the drive). We found a beautiful, secluded beach, some amazing locals who took us on a private tour to an inhibited island, and snuck into a 5 star resort!
These adventures meant that we didn’t actually see much of the Coral Coast, getting in to Sigatoka a little before 4pm and driving a short distance to experience one of the best sunsets we had in Fiji. Still, the food, the sights, the swims, and the experiences of that day will stick with me for a long time!
It’s all About the Deals
A little bit of planning goes a long way, especially in Fiji. There is an awesome site that offers 20-90% off of different attractions and activities in Fiji that I recommend you have a look at prior to departure, as some of the deals may be sold out or not available on certain days, so booking a few things in advance means that you can save some sweet money.
Rhod is a 30 something guy from New Zealand who has recently taken the plunge into the blog world with Ugly Travel, a page that looks at the less glamorous side of exploring the world. We almost only ever see the end result of travel; the photoshopped pictures, the models, the sun and sand. But that’s not the reality of what travel is. It’s the delays, the cancellations, the early wake up calls and the rain. Ugly Travel is packed with loads of travel stories, as well as tips and advice that will help you plan your next trip, save money, or even embrace that 10 hour layover in between flights.