Fiji – A Backpackers Path Less Trodden | A starting Guide

Backpacking around Fiji is a lot of fun. Unknown to many Fiji is an ultimate traveler’s playground. It’s an archipelago of islands, 330 in total, many uninhabited but all offer something for everyone. Whether you are on a gap year or taking a well-deserved backpacking break in you 40’s this is a trip of a lifetime. Backpacking around Fiji can suit everyone from going it solo, to couples, honeymooners or travelling in a large group, there are no constraints, the locals are helpful and friendly, and there is a lot to see and do, and it’s a bit cheaper than home too!

What awaits you is pristine sand on picturesque beaches in one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. From the beaches to the coral reefs, the welcoming tribal communities, to hidden waterfalls and caves, there’s not much of a cooler spot anywhere than Fiji. You probably remember Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway, the whole movie was filmed on Monukiri Island it’s simply spectacular and you can get day trips out to the island, though I doubt you’ll find ‘Wilson’.

People tend to think planning a trip to Fiji can be a little confusing and also time-consuming, I hope to debunk that myth by giving you some basics of what to look to do when your feet are on the ground. I travel regularly to the country as a good friend of mine from the UK has been married for 16 years to a former Fijian Airline stewardess, and they live back there now, and boy do I need no excuse for a visit. So I’m here to tell you to look at Fiji in closer detail and give it consideration for a visit and inform you of some of the things you can expect to do with the right tour company.

Fiji Turtle

Let us start with the essentials.

Transport

Fijian transport is very backpacker friendly. Vitu Levu is the main island this is where the international airport is, and it’s also the capital city. Mostly you will enter into Nadi Airport, so the best way to start a plan/itinerary is to use this as the proposed starting point.

  • If you have booked accommodation, this is where you’ll get picked up.
  • If you haven’t, there are buses, vans and taxis at the airport who know all the accommodation in Nadi.
  • If you are on a non-stop then it’s easy to jump on a bus or taxi and if you are heading straight to Yasawas then you’ll be wanting to head to the port to catch a boat.
  • Don’t be worried if you don’t know where you are going more often than not a local can tell you’re lost and will offer help before you even ask for it!

From Australia flights are:

  • ADELAIDE
    Fiji Airways (Twice weekly)
  • BRISBANE
    Fiji Airways (5 flights a week)
    Jetstar
    Qantas
    Virgin Australia
  • MELBOURNE
    Fiji Airways (Daily)
    Jetstar
    Qantas
    Virgin Australia
  • SYDNEY (Flights to Nadi and Suva)
    Fiji Airways (Daily to Nadi, once a week to Suva)
    Jetstar
    Qantas
    Virgin Australia

From New Zealand:

  • AUCKLAND
    Air New Zealand (Daily to Nadi)
    Fiji Airways (Daily to Nadi)
  • WELLINGTON
    Air New Zealand (Seasonal need to enquire)
    Fiji Airways (Daily to Nadi)
  • CHRISTCHURCH
    Air New Zealand (Seasonal need to enquire)
    Fiji Airways (Daily to Nadi)
  • Transport Prices: Taxi’s at the airport will tend to be slightly more expensive than the ones you’ll pick up around the city, but that’s the same in most countries right? But still cheap compared to the west.
  • Bus prices: Range from US$3 going into Nadi town up to US$15 going to Savu
  • Taxi prices: Range from US$15 going into Nadi town up to US$180 to the airport at Savu

For those I mentioned needing to hit the port to get to Yasawas it is usually US$15

Unsplash Fiji

Accommodation

You have all kinds of accommodation options. For those of you on a budget, there’s very affordable hostels and even some camping options available. For those of you who are not $ conscious, there is also the best of the best 5 –Star hotels available.

This goes for Yasawas and off of the coast of Nadi. Here is the real touristy area, so it’s ideal for backpackers you’ve got everything you’d expect anywhere else in the world, hassle-free travel. Why not look into staying with a Fijian family, there are options available and believe me it’s a worthwhile experience.

Food

The local environment heavily influences Fijian food. The seafood is incredible, and the local harvest fresh and plentiful.  Western food is creeping in and readily available at the hostels and hotels.

‘All inclusive’ meal deals you will see everywhere, it’s a big thing in Fiji, but be careful, at hotels these are pricey. If you are budgeting, then visit the local markets, the food is good, and they are not there to overcharge you; it’s quite something when a foreigner buys from a local vendor. Supermarkets are on the island too, so you’re covered, and try the local dishes, they are delicious.

Places to Visit

I’d love to say visit ALL OF FIJI, but let’s be realistic you can only see so much. As everywhere, there is a standard traveller’s route to follow, but I’ll touch upon a few options that are not so familiar to give you food for thought when you are planning the trip. Remember this is about giving you options to enquire further with the various tour operators that will appear when you search online, at least you’ll be able to test them to see just what they can offer you on your stay.

The Lomaviti islands are favorites of mine. Here are some places to check out:

  • Nadi
  • Yasawa Islands
  • Mamanuca Islands
  • Vanua Levu and Taveuni
  • Suva
  • Coral Coast

Things to Do

Where do I begin? Well, there’s a plethora of things which can be a bonus when travelling in a large group as everyone can go off do their own thing and meet up for food and drinks later in the evening. Let’s start with:

  • Surfing
  • Trekking
  • Diving in Fiji
  • Learning Local Dance
  • Fijian Cooking Lessons
  • Teaching English for the day in one the Villages
  • Learning to Spearfish with the locals
  • Play local sports (but be careful with the rugby, they are big boys and have a good international rugby team both in 7’s and Rugby Union and take it seriously) stick to the football in my humble opinion.

If you have anything particular in mind speak to your tour company, they should be able to line any of these activities up for you. All the tourist activities are close to transportation routes and have been designed with this in mind. This is the case on Vitu Levu and Vanua Levu, so get involved and don’t be shy.

In addition to what I mentioned above you also have:

  • Waterfalls
  • Zip lines
  • The beach of course (let’s not forget the sunbathing and relaxing)

The outer islands are the more cultural experiences, and there are many options for you to be able to volunteer for different activities from teaching English and sport, volunteering in Kindergartens, helping the farmers harvest crops and many more activities.

If you are looking for that kind of adventure be sure to have it arranged beforehand though, it’s not a case of turning up and just getting on with it; this is professionally organised volunteer work that helps the local community and any competent tour company will be able to provide you details on these options and more. Like in our culture, Sunday is a rest day so don’t be expecting lots to be happening, everyone is kicking back and relaxing.

Health and Safety

  • Safety is not a significant concern in Fiji as the local population are lovely people, but health can be very different in comparison to travelling to North America or Europe.
  • Vaccinations are available, check with your local health center before you book and be prepared.
  • Hepatitis A and Typhoid will be standard and look into health insurance. Be sure to bring repellents as mosquitos are plentiful everywhere due to the climate.
  • The midday sun is hot, be sure to have some drinking water with you at all times. Your tour company will provide contact details for the hospitals on the ground, the hospitals and doctors are competent there, so don’t worry you’ll be in good hands.

Personal First Aid Items to Consider

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Sun cream
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets, (this usually happens when you don’t carry enough drinking water as I mentioned above)
  • Water purification tablets especially if you do venture away from the normal backpacking and tourist route.

The Fijian Climate

  • March to October is defined as the dry season as is slightly cooler in temperature (although to many tourists it’s still too hot).
  • November to February is the rainy season, and it gets hot and sticky also, having said that if you are close to the sea on the island, the breeze will help.

Conclusion

From the volcanic peaks, of Monuriki, (from the film Castaway), to some of the world’s best scuba diving sites, to getting involved with the locals or just relaxing on the beach working on your tan. A gap year in Fiji or even just a short break is a never to be forgotten once in a lifetime experience.

Author Bio:

Peter Faulk is a blogger with an avid passion for travel and adventure, especially for Fiji and the Pacific Islands. He is associated with a company who have many years of experience organizing holidays to Fiji to offer visitors a taste of Paradise in Fiji.