Bula! If you’re hoping to visit Fiji then it’s time you get used to that phrase, you’ll be hearing it a lot. Bula is a term for hello and nearly every Fijian you pass will welcome you with a friendly & hearty “bula!”
After living in Hawai’i for four years I was doubtful that another Pacific Island would be able to impress my numbed tropical senses. And then I went to Fiji. The sand is the whitest of white, the water the bluest of blue, and the people the kindest of kind. Between the pristine beaches, the temperate weather, the contagious attitude of peaceful bliss, it’s impossible not to love this place. By the time we checked into our first hotel I was smitten.
Fiji’s biggest industry is tourism. And it shows. They make traveling to Fiji easy and enjoyable. Fiji has an overwhelming amount of accommodations to meet the budgets, needs, and wants of any traveler. With accommodations ranging from backpacking lodges to five star resorts over their 333 islands there is definitely an ideal spot for everyone on Fiji.
During our trip planning & performance I discovered a few tips & tricks to get the most out of Fiji travel. But let’s be honest, you could show up with nothing but a swimsuit & sunscreen & you’d be sure to have a good time. I mean it is Fiji!
Fiji Travel Tips & Tricks
- Bookme.com: Bookmark, underline, & double highlight this one. Book me is your key to an affordable good time on Fiji. It’s similar to Groupon, but way better. We booked all inclusive day cruises, spa treatments, & five star restaurants for nearly half the ticket price. Score! The deals are constantly changing so just keep checking back to see what is available during your travel period.
- The Fiji Dollar: Which brings me to another key point, currently the Fijian dollar is about half that of the US dollar. Do you know what that means? Basically, if you book a hotel for $150 Fijian dollars a night that translates to about $75 US dollars. So basically, every purchase feels like a major steal.
- The Off Season: The weather in Fiji barely fluctuates throughout the year. That means the sun in almost always shining & the ocean is always warm. So if you can be flexible with your travel dates you may want to consider booking a trip during the off season (November-May). There are less travelers during the off season which means lower prices on amenities, better deals, & more seclusion. Kind of a win-win-win.
- Visit the Outer Islands: The main island of Fiji, Viti Levu, is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t even begin to compare with the outer islands, mainly the Mamanucas & the Yasawas. We had the opportunity to visit multiple islands while in Fiji & wow, they are all so incredible. I definitely suggest making your way to at least one outer island. One great way to see multiple islands is a day cruise. They offer all sorts of cruises throughout the Mamanucas & Yasawas, many of which include multiple stops, snorkeling, a private chef, & unlimited drinks. Just bring a towel & plenty of sunscreen & you are set for an incredible day.
- Stay on the well-beaten path: When I travel I love to find hidden gems only locals know about. It’s one of the most thrilling parts of exploring a new place. So I spoke to as many locals as I could & everyone gave me the same advice, stick to the tourist destinations. Did I listen? Of course not. Was I disappointed. Yes. Fiji tourism is really well put together, & unlike many other places I’ve traveled, they’ve clearly outlined all the best spots to visit. Anything that is worth visiting can be found listed on the main Fiji travel websites www.fijitourism.com & www.fiji.travel.
- Bring your manners: Fijians are respectful & humble people. When you visit try to be considerate of their customs & traditions. You’ll be asked to dress modestly (wear something that covers you from the shoulders to the knees) & remove your hats & shoes before entering a village or taking part in a kava ceremony. If you visit a local village or home it is polite to bring a small gift (usually, kava). If you are traveling with a tour group your guide will coordinate a gift so you don’t need to worry about it. It is also disrespectful to touch a Fijians head, so admire their luscious locks with your eyes not your hands.
- Set Your Watch on “Fiji-Time”: I read about Fiji time prior to our trip but I didn’t take it seriously. I figured it was similar to Hawaiian time which runs a little slower than the continental US. I was dead wrong. When you see a time schedule in Fiji it’s more of a rough estimate. Fijians really appreciate the beauty of taking life slow. And it perfectly compliments the relaxing environment most tourists come to Fiji for. So sit back, relax, & turn that alarm clock off. It won’t be long until your back on the reality grind.
- Eat like a local: My husband read all these rave reviews about various pizzarias, hamburger diners, & other non-Fijian restaurants. So of course, he insisted we try each. And every time we were sorely disappointed. The best food on Fiji is the food that comes from Fiji. And with various ethnic groups in the country you can easily have your pick of Fijian, Indo-Fijian, or Chinese food & you will be sure to leave pleasantly pleased.
- Shop Fiji Made: When buying souvenirs & foods be sure to check for the Fiji Made trademark. Shopping local while on vacation not only supports the nearby industry but also ensures you are getting a more authentic experience.
Planning our trip to Fiji was tricky. We read multiple travel books & scoured travel blogs to compile a thorough travel itinerary. I’ll save you time & a little headache by putting all our favorite Fiji finds in one spot.
1.Essence of Fiji Rejuvenation Centre: Have you ever wondered what to do with those awkward hours between hotel check-out & flight departure? Well, if you are traveling to Fiji that dilemma is solved. Essence of Fiji is a full spa offering massage therapy, a gym, & a hair salon. They have a movie room & a play center (equipped with nannies!) for the kids. They even provide transportation to & from main hubs like Port Denarau & the Nadi airport for tourists who are without a car.
2. Sigatoka: If you want to tour a true Fijian city this is the one to see. We visited a number of Fijian cities, but Sigatoka was by far the best. It’s a darling little town tucked away between a mountain & a river. It’s a bit of a drive from the airport in Nadi but Sigatoka has the best selection of fresh produce & handcrafted souvenirs.
3. Roadside Stands: The highways in Fiji are lined with roadside stands selling a wide variety of fresh fruits, coconuts, & even popcorn. If you need a quick snack this is the perfect way to curb your hunger & do support the local trade.
4. Day Cruise: There are many different outer island groups, & I highly recommend you visit some. We chose the Mamanucas due to their accessibility & accommodations but I don’t think you can go wrong with any Fijian island. We opted to go on two separate day cruises around the Mamanucas & absolutely loved both. First, we snorkeled & explored Modriki island & visited a Fijian village with Sea Spray Cruise. The staff was delightful, the sites were incredible, & the food was unbelievable. Next, we spent a day on the Adrenalin Fiji yacht. We stopped by a pristine & deserted sandbar in the middle of the ocean & a secluded snorkel spot off the side of an uninhabited island. We had endless access to their jet skis, paddle boards, & snorkel equipment.
5. Hot Bread Bakery: We sampled different breakfast spots around Viti Levu, until we found Hot Bread Bakery. After our first taste we were hooked. And the price is just right. The coconut twist is especially good.
6. Uprising Resort Restaurant: I know it’s a bit out of the way, but if you happen to visit or drive through the Coral Coast this place is worth a stop. It was our favorite restaurant on Fiji. Every dish we tasted from the hamburgers to the omelets to the curry were absolutely delish.
If you get the chance you really should consider a trip to Fiji. In fact, if you are going to visit any island in the South Pacific this is the one. Fiji is like a real life dream. I’m talking top 5 on the bucket list. Have you been? What are your Fiji travel tips & tricks?