Bula! So, you want to visit paradise but you aren’t too sure where to start? Well here is a quick guide to fiji (Viti)!
Before we set off into the nitty gritty here are some Fijian phrases to give you a kick start.
Bula – hello, cheers etc. Essentially an all-rounder of a word. You can have a bula shirt, bula dress and the island hopping boat pass is a bula pass!
Vinkaka – Thank you. Can also say Bula Vinaka for more formal. The least formal is ‘Naka
G is pronounced with a “ng” so Sega is ~Senga. C is pronounced with “th”. Moce is ~MotheySega Na Leqa – Pronounced (Senga na Lenga) The Fijian equivalent of Hakuna Matata!! It means no worries and is my personal favourite of all the phrases.
Moce & Soto Tale – Moce is a definite goodbye. You say this to someone you won’t see again that day. Sote Tale is literally “see you later”.
How to get to Paradise
Fly into Nadi (Pronounced Nandi) – home of the international airport. You can fly Fiji airways direct from all over the world. Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, California and many more along with code share.
Please check if you need visa’s for entry.
You have just landed and you are breathing in the fresh island air! Now you want to get rid of your suitcases and go for a swim and drink out of a fresh coconut. Make sure you stay at the bamboo backpackers, situated right on the beach. This is the first stop for most landing in fiji.
Bamboo Backpackers - Free collection from the airport. Once leaving security speak to the person at the table on the left just before the exit. They will ring the hostel who will send out a van to come and collect you free of charge. This is a very popular hostel and depending on the day, this backpackers can have a real vibe. It is a hot meeting point for the surrounding area.
Rooms are anywhere from $10 to $40 fiji ($5-20 US)
Bamboo has a concierge for booking all sorts of tours. All payment and logistics can be sorted through them which really helps save a lot of time and effort.
Being a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Fiji as a national relies heavily on tourism for income. Unfortunately, as a traveler, anything associated with tourism will come with a higher cost due to tourism taxes.
My expensive meter is gauged by local beer prices.
Beer is $12/14 fiji (~$6 US)
For a society that does not have that high of a residual income that is expensive. Traditionally, locals do not drink alcohol all that much. They stick to the “grog”.
Food in hotels or hostels is a bit on the expensive side, again, this is due to tourism. The prices won’t break the bank, but you know you’ve payed less for more in other parts of the world.
If you really want to be like a local and save some money on the way, where possible, you can visit a local market place. Fresh food is really cheap and so delicious. There will be stalls selling all sorts of fruit and veg as well as shops selling hot meals. For $5 fiji you can eat handsomely.
My go to are $1fiji roti. Curried chicken and potato wrapped in a chapati. Oh my word they are delicious. Just be cautious of bones!
From Nadi the options are pretty endless. The only determining factor will be how much time you have in Fiji and how far you are willing to travel.
The Mamanuca & Yasawa Group
Right of the coast of Nadi a chain of islands run over the horizon. The Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are anywhere from 30 min - 5 hours by boat.
The Mamanuca’s over a host of different options. You can do day trips to the island and spend the day soaking up the sun and drinking cocktails. You also have the option to stay on the islands overnight. These islands are tiny and you can throw a ball from one side to the other!
Most popular islands - Beachcomber and Malamala
Venturing further out to sea you will reach the Yasawa Islands.
A super popular trip is island hopping through the Yasawas on the reliable Bula Pass.
Everything in Fiji is based around the word “Bula”. Bula means I give you life. So, when one says bula, you respond back with bula.
The ship runs once a day and completes a loop. Leaving Nadi at 9 am and returning around 4/5 pm. The ship stops at all the islands along the way picking up and dropping off. Once at the top the boat re visits all the islands again, dropping and collecting passengers. Get the long trip out of the way and stop at the top and work your way down.
The Blue lagoon, caves, Manta ray swimming, scuba, snorkel, beaches, hill hikes, you won’t be bored. On arrival to every hotel very welcoming staff sing you a song as you set foot on the pristine beaches. Manta ray season is May to October.
You are in paradise as well as in the middle of nowhere. Everything is sourced from the mainland. So make sure to pack some extra snacks and water for your time out in the islands.
A common theme on these islands, due to a lack of resources is that all meals are included in the price and served at a specific time during the day. So if you are heading out for the day don’t forget to ask for a pack lunch!
The most expensive part is the boat. Unfortunately, the ship has a complete monopoly.
I completed my entire booking through the concierge at the Bamboo backpackers.
The boat to the yasawas was $300 fiji which is $150 US.
You can easily spend 5-10 days on these islands. Each island is different and worth the adventure.
I stayed at Korovu Eco resort. A really great place that is super lowkey and chill. They offer Manta ray swimming for half the price of the surrounding hotels.
The South Coast
If you are looking to surf some of the best waves in the world you can rent a boat and a captain for the day and make your way out to “cloudbreak”, “swimming pools” or “restaurants” for the day. To make the trip worth it you need to have a minimum amount of people to rent the boat and spread cost.
You can journey along the southern part of the island along the Queens road. South of Nadi, you will first reach Sigatoka (Pronounced Singatoka). Here you will find a fantastic nature reserve consisting of incredible with shifting sand dunes that reach 20 - 30 meters tall, maybe even more!
These dunes became famous after videos emerged from the Fiji 7’s rugby team training here pre the 2016 Olympics. A raw and wild part of the coast line, the sun makes the sand very hot and strong on shore winds can stir up the sands! Worth visiting in the morning before it’s too hot and have a run!
Following the coast, you will reach the Coral coast. A really beautiful coastline that which has the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. The Beach house is home to a palm trees supporting hammocks with a surf break right in front.
A beautiful hostel that is full of amazing characters. You will have your fill of activites, snorkeling, surfing, fishing trips and also the opportunity to scuba dive with bull sharks! I did find in fiji, activities are a day event and are always worth it.
Next stop is Suva. This is the capital of Fiji and is quite industrial. Honestly, there isn’t really a need to stay in Suva itself. Just outside the city there is the Colo I Suva Forest park which is host to a beautiful rain forest and waterfalls. This is worth a day trip if you are in the area.
In Suva, I stayed with a point of contact and lived in the village for a couple days with a rugby team. Which was absolutely incredible but being realistic you can “home stay” anywhere, throughout fiji.
The bus from Nadi to suva is 3-4 hours and $10 fiji dollars for a one way ticket. When travelling to Sigatoka or the coral coast, you will be using the same bus. The bus will drop you off right outside the entrance to the Beach house or any hotels on the way!
SavuSavu & Taveuni
This is one hell of a journey and my favourite destination of my entire trip. There are two ways to do this trip, Fly or ship. Booked early enough, flights will cost the same as the ship and trust me, if you can fly, do it!
The ship….. an experience I will never forget and I promised I’ll never do it again, we shall see.
Goundor Shipping - The Lomaiviti Princess - boat to Savusavu and Taveuni
I’ll never forget this name or ship. Economy is $67 fiji and First class is $100 fiji. “First class” is the exact same as economy except it is upstairs and contains less people. There are only seats on the ship, no bed rooms. The fair does not include any meals. The ship departs Suva twice a week Monday and Friday, so make sure your dates are free!
The ship boards at 4pm, and is meant to leave the dock at 6 pm. Our ship didn’t leave until 8pm and I’ve heard stories of later.
The ship leaves suva and sails over night for 12 hours where it docks in the early morning in SavuSavu, also known as “The Hidden Paradise”. A town situated on the second largest island in the Archipelago (Vanua Levu). Home to the blue lagoon, a beautiful spot to relax. We only spent two days here, close to the end of the trip, so we chilled out in a private villa. Felling adventurous, you can do a lot of deep sea fishing and at certain parts of the year there is a mass migration of hammerhead sharks in the deep dark blue ocean off the coast.
The Blue lagoon in SavuSavu is a beautiful spot to soak up the sun. We were blown away as we went snorkelling to find blue star fish! Incredibly beautiful animals.
Staying on the ship to the next port of call and you reach the Island of Taveuni after 16 hours. Taveuni is the garden island and is the third largest island. Taveuni is paradise. Empty beaches, coastal walks, palm trees running from the highest peak all the way down to the ocean, waterfalls, world class scuba diving and more.
Easily my favourite destination of the entire trip. Only there for a couple days, I never managed to do everything and I will be back. This island is host to a broad spectrum of accommodation. We stayed in the Maravu Hostel - brother hostel with bamboo. There is hotels for $3000 US a night which will fly in all of your favourite food and drink so that you feel right at home!
For a day trip get the bus from the west side of the island over to the east. Here you will come to Bouma Waterfalls. Three waterfalls that are surronded by lush green forest. There first waterfall is only 15 minutes walk from the road and in my opinion it is the nicest of them all.
In the southern part of the island there is a natural rock slip and slide that you can use till your hearts content. In the middle of the island at the top of the mountain is a lake that is home to a flower only found on the island. If it is moved the flower will die. There are stories of people trying to bring the flower with them as they left the island, storms would roll in and boats would capsize!
Bring your boots and get involved in some tough rugby with the locals down team the Somo Somo Sharks.
Rugby not your thing? Just down the road is the International Date line. Here you can stand in Yesterday and today!!
Home stays are also popular here. We met a girl at our hostel who stayed in one of the villages and had a room, 3 meals a day for $10 fiji a day.
There are over 300 islands that make up the nation of Fiji, so every trip can be so different.
Your overall trip will be dependant on your time constraints and what your end goal is. You can plant yourself in a 5-star hotel for a week and never leave the complex or you can travel around and live like a local.
The Fijian people are some of the friendliest in the world. They will question you as to why you are staying in a hotel, when you could just stay with them, and they are serious! We were offered beds everywhere we went.
Fiji has a tribe mentality when it comes to the community. There is a chief of every village and many levels of hierarchy. Most resources are pooled together and everyone helps each other however they can. Life is basic, life is good. A really amazing culture to be immersed in.
Fijians love a double word. Somosomo, savusavu, Sevusevu etc...
The most important of these words is SevuSevu. A Sevusevu is the equivalent of bringing a bottle of wine to your friends house because they invite you over for dinner.
The difference is that this aspect of gift bringing is very important in the Fijian culture. A very religious nation who believe strongly in a higher power. The belief behind a SevuSevu is that nothing will go wrong if you bring a sevusevu but if you don’t there is always the possibility. Better to be safe than sorry.
Our savusavu was always Kava (grog). Kava – a local drink made from a root which is grown for a minimum of three years. This root is dried and pulverized into a fine powder. It is placed into a cloth and mixed with water, which looks and tastes like earthy water. The locals drink it for the effect not the taste. When consuming Kava, the locals usually have a “wash” which is usually a sweet, drink or food to have after a bowl. As they have drank Kava their entire lives they hate the taste and pull faces as if they took a shot when they drink it. So they have a “wash” to help get rid of the taste.
With a “wash”, no matter what it is, they have a “strict” rule around it. One drink, one bite. So, for every cup of kava, you have one sip of cola or one bite of your food. You don’t keep eating or drinking between cups.
Kava is used to bring the community together. A time to relax, tell stories, jokes, sing songs, settle down after a long day.
Kava contains a natural sedative which numbs your tongue and will have you sleeping in no time. Common misconception is that kava contains alcohol. This is not true.
Barbecue, Braii, Hangi - every where around the world there is a different name, and style but the end result is always fantastic food and better memories!
In Fiji, they call it a Lovo. For a lovo, rocks are placed in a fire to heat up. Once red hot, food wrapped in banana leaf is placed down and covered with damp cloths and soil. Here the food cooks beautifully. While you wait, a game of touch rugby commences! Have to make sure you work up an appetite!!
The soil is removed and the clothes pulled back. Let the good times commence.
Fiji is incredible. If you have the time to go, do yourself a favour and make the trip.
I hope you found this blog insightful. Please feel free to reach out if you need more info!