I recently had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for work and when looking at flights I thought to myself about a stopover in the South Pacific on the way home back to the States. I zoomed in and out of google maps traversing across the Pacific Ocean and kept scanning over Fiji. After confirmation from a friend and colleague who previously worked in Fiji, I jumped on it. Always having the impression that Fiji would be quite expensive to travel through I was pleasantly surprised. I had 5 days and wanted to see and do as much as possible. Here are some tips on traveling Fiji in 5 days on a limited budget.
Back to searching for flights, I ended up finding travel through Nadi International Airport from Auckland International $400 cheaper then flying directly back to Los Angeles. I flew New Zealand Air to Fiji (a short 2.5 hour flight), then Fiji Airways back to Los Angeles, then on home to Denver. I highly recommend searching different providers and one-way tickets. Also, keep in mind that the rainy season in Fiji is November to April, making the best time for drier weather and sunshine April to October. I was there April 4 – 8 and had beautiful days!
Arriving early afternoon to Nadi, I headed to Smugglers Cove Beach Resort. They have a variation of room offerings, a bar right on the beach and offer a free shuttle from the airport. A bed starts around $8.79/night. They have a travel desk to help you plan all of your adventures and if you are planning a trip out to the Yasawa Islands the bus stops right out front to take you to the boat.
That evening, I befriended a few Fijian locals. I ended up in a jam circle sipping on the local Kava tea. Kava is a mildly narcotic drink made from mixing the powdered root of the pepper plant with water and results in a numb feeling around the mouth, lips and tongue and a sense of relaxation. Well worth the try while in Fiji. Make sure to follow the local tradition of how to drink it with your new-found friends.
The next morning, I hopped the bus to climb aboard the Yasawa Flyer out to the Yasawa Islands. With limited time (and budget), I planned my first stop at Oarsmans Bay Lodge. This resort is located right near the Blue Lagoon, owned by an unforgettably friendly Fijian family and is much more affordable than the Blue Lagoon Resort. It was about a 4-hour boat ride on the flyer up to one of their last stops. I booked this directly on bookings.com and got a bit better deal then booking through Awesome Adventures Fiji. That said, their website is a great resource to research where you want to go and see. Oarsmans Bay was fantastic for a budget traveler. The rooms were well-kept, the food delicious and every morning they placed fresh Hibiscus flowers outside of your room. Keep in mind that wifi is not available here- which when traveling in Fiji it is the perfect reason to completely disconnect.
I spent two days at Oarsmans adventuring out on day activities offered by the Lodge. (A side note, it might be helpful to make a checklist of your must to-do’s while there so you don’t miss out on a particular activity then double check that accommodation offers what you like- it’s great to do this on the Awesome Adventures website). I had befriended a three girls; one from Sweden, one from Italy and another from the Netherlands. We stuck together and had an incredible time! We headed out to go swimming through a cave on another island, did some snorkeling, dancing with the family and of course taking in the views. When you book accommodations in the Yasawa Islands it is important to remember included in the cost your booking are all meals and activities.
After a couple of well-spent days at the Lodge, we boarded the Yasawa Flyer and all headed to our next island. I overheard that a night spent at Beachcomber Island Resort was a must-do. It is well-known as the party island and it is near the mainland (so I could catch my flight back to the States the next day).
Upon arrival to Beachcomber, the resort was packed. I was in a large hut with about 100 beds in the girls dorm and every one of them was accounted for… Come to find out it was spring break for the nearby University of the South Pacific and I found myself right in the middle of the festivities. Seize the day and the rest is history! The evening was full of Fijian libations, performances, fire dances, and I even had the honor of teaching a local Fijian dance and ending up as one of the two finalists in the limbo contest. When in Fiji! It was truly a night to remember.
With an evening flight the next day, I spent the morning and afternoon going out for a snorkel and relaxing on the beach. Right on schedule, the flyer arrived and toted us back to Nadi. I quickly dashed back to Smugglers Cove to collect my belongings, they let me leave locked in storage, and hopped in a shared taxi back to the airport.
Walking out of Denver International Airport nearly a day and a half later with the Fijian sun and sand still lingering on me, my heart was filled with gratitude for such a wonderful adventure with new friends in an unforgettable place. I’ve encountered many extraordinary places and memorable faces and Fiji tops the list. The people here are amongst some of the most friendly. When traveling Fiji remember, as famous poet and playwright once wrote, “live, love and let be.”
Fijian traveler tip: get used to saying, Bula Bula! Say it. Just once, maybe twice. It is hard to say the words without a smile immediately parting from your lips. Go ahead…try it. The word is heard everywhere in Fiji. Bula originates from the Fijian culture and means anything from hello, goodbye, welcome, love and more. It means LIFE. A blessing of health and happiness. Regardless of where you live; the concrete urban jungle, down under or near the north pole…you do not have to be in Fiji to celebrate LIFE. Enjoy how one simple word can transform your entire day. Bula blessings to you!