A Backpacker’s Guide to Fiji
Bula! When I started my planning for Fiji I wasn’t sure where to start. Where do I stay? Which island is best? Do I stay on lots of islands or pick one as base and explore from there? Is the transportation expensive? I was coming out of a difficult school year and really just wanted to show up at my accommodation, drop my bag, and lay on the beach.
So, what did I do? I picked a hostel called Bluewater Lodge on Viti Levu, the same island as the Nadi International Airport. I wanted simplicity. It turned out to be an amazing stay for about $8 a night. If you are a fellow young backpacker, staying either here or the Bamboo Beach Hostel are a sure fire way to ensure you’re going to have a relaxing, fun time. Both properties are in the same location and run by the same staff essentially. The Lodge is just a hundred steps inland, away from the beach and bar (which is why it is the better option if you want to sleep). The beach hosts a party pretty much every night with cheap drinks, volleyball, rugby, drinking games, bonfires, and kava drinking. This property also has an excellent travel desk that arranges daily trips for its guests at affordable rates.
Which brings me to my next point: excursions. There are tons of day trips in Fiji. Most of them involve the water. My hands-down, best day in Fiji was a day trip to Malamala Beach Club. It is a beach club on a private island.
While Malamala Beach Club was my favorite day trip, there are tons of others worth trying. Here’s a few:
- Cloud 9 – This a floating bar that hosts DJs. Just check out the pictures on it’s website. It is a party platform out in the ocean. I didn’t go because I thought the drinks and food would be expensive, but it sure looks like an amazing experience.
- Captain Cook Cruise – This one is pretty popular. I did opt to do this because it wasn’t crazy expensive. It takes you on a day trip around some of the smaller islands such as Tivua Island and includes food.
- Spend a day in Nadi – Okay this one doesn’t cost you anything except what you make of it. There is a local market with tons of stalls you could explore. You should also definitely make your way to Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple. This is the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere.
Transportation in Fiji is pretty easy. The hostel recommended above included airport pick up. One less thing to worry about sounds good to me. Once I arrived to my hostel, I only left the property for boating trips to other islands and on one occasion to head into town by public bus.
During your stay in Fiji you will likely at some point pass through Port Denarau. This is where most island transfers occur. The port itself is designed with tourism with mind, full of touristy shops and restaurants. A popular boat choice is to use the Yasawa Flier to transfer to different islands. You can also book group tours that will manage all of logistics through the hostel travel desk. For solo travelers, hostel group tours are a great way to make friends during the day that you can hang out with again in the evening for dinner or bar hopping.
As Fiji is very remote, you won’t find a traditional grocery store every couple of miles like you will in most parts of the USA. Rather, its pretty normal for your accommodation to offer you a meal service. The hostel I recommended above offered a cafe where you could buy budget friendly omelets, sandwiches, dishes, and more. While this is generally more expensive than buying your own meals from the grocery store, it just really isn’t that practical for you to expect to be able to get all your food from a one-stop-shop in town. Plus, I’m not sure of a hostel in Fiji that offers you kitchen access. While its unusual for me to eat all my meals from the hostel kitchen, it ended up being super nice because I ate every meal on the beach essentially.
A short walk down the beach from Bamboo Hostel is a small hotel that also has its own resturant. If you’re up for spending a little bit more on dinner than you would at the hostel (but still not an exorbitant amount) you can dine here and watch an exciting nightly fire show.
The hostel cost me $8 a night, for about 7 days. I spent $100 in excursions (one boat tour and one day at Malamala Beach Club). Food cost me about $15-20 a day, for a total of about $125. Drinks were another expense. At the hostel bar I think I spent about $10 day for a total of $70. This totals up to less than $400 for a 7 day trip. So, even with luxuries like drinks and excursions this trip was still affordable. What about flights?
Alright so I had the best flight ever on FijiAirways. I had the entire middle row to myself so I could sleep horizontally on this long distance flight from LAX to Nadi International Airport. FijiAirways also had good food and the cutest in-flight blanket I’ve ever seen. I know that aspect doesn’t really matter, but y’all this blanket is a legitimate blanket that people like so much that they sneak them into their bags to use during their trip as a beach throw. Of course your flight might be fuller depending on the time of the year that you fly, but FijiAirways is one of the few airlines I actually can recommend to anyone. A nonstop, one-way ticket from Los Angeles in June 2021 is less than $400.
Also shoutout to some of the coolest travel friends I met in Fiji: Katie, Mikayla, Melissa, Emma, and Ann.
Budget travel is within reach in Fiji, but be sure to watch out for falling coconuts! One almost got me.
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