Fiji travel tips

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NOTE: This page is a daughter page of: Travel

I visited Fiji for the first time in August 2023. On this page, I've written some of my tips and linked to some great videos I came across.

The cluster of islands that is Fiji, and a map of islands accessible by the bula/awesome pass .... (see full res).

Broad Information

  • Fiji is an archipelago comprising more than 300 islands - 110 islands of which are permanently inhabited - and more than 500 islets. The total population of Fiji is ~one million, but given the size of Fiji (~18,000 square km), it can feel pretty sparse. For context, the single island of Oahu in Hawaii is also about one million.
  • The main island is Viti Levu - it's about 9 hours to drive around the coastal highway of Viti Levu.
  • The main airport is in Nadi - a major city of Viti Levu (although honestly not that big) - on the west side.

My Experience and General Advice

Yasawa Islands: Island Hopping

  • Most tourists don't stay in Viti Levu/Nadi for more than a few hours... they have already booked their week-long island hopping trip via the "bula pass" or "awesome pass" (both by "Awesome Adventures Fiji"), so they go straight from the Nadi International airport to the Port Denarau Marina (the main and maybe only big marina) and get to see all the stunning Yasawa Islands and island resorts north of Nadi. Island hopping is popular for both young backpackers and families alike - different islands have different vibes, and the unlimited pass isn't cheap but if you upgrade to the "awesome pass" it includes accommodation and you can just kind of look ahead and skip island to island apparently.
  • I was in an unusual case where I was moving all my stuff from the US to Australia - 4 huge bags, so I decided not to do the "island hopping" thing (not very practical with so much stuff) and instead stay at Nadi and mostly check out the main island. It was a limitation for sure, but I made the most of it. I rented a car via my amazing new friend there (ask me for his contact details!) and had fun driving around the island. Be warned though.... the beach near the airport is just as dirty as it looks on Google Maps. A stark contrast from the amazing beaches on the little islands. You have to take a boat or drive to get to the nice beaches.
  • For me, I at least enjoyed one outing around the nearby islands with snorkelling etc - a Full Day South Sea Island Cruise) with Aqua Tours Fiji... enough to know that if I came back I'd do island hopping - since I already did a good amount of Viti Levu (mud baths, waterfalls, cultural tours, etc). The cruise stopped at the (relatively close) "South Sea Island"... a tiny island, but the snorkelling wasn't too shabby and they had unlimited drinks... then they took a long route back... enough to wet the taste for island hopping the next time I visit.

The main (Viti Levu) island of Fiji.

Viti Levu

  • I booked all my days in Fiji (I believe 6 total) at The Ideal Bed & Breakfast (7 Wasawasa Road, Wailoaloa, Nadi, Fiji) because I got a great deal, and the owner there, Wame Waqanaceva was amazing! Friendly, funny, and intelligent, and I enjoyed hanging out with him! Nadi is usually where people just crash overnight before or after their island hopping, but if you want to explore Viti Levu with a "home base" this is a great option.
  • The Tifajek Mud Pool & Hotspring where you cover yourself in mud is fun! You'll see them in the video. If you have time, you might want to pair this with the nearby Garden of the Sleeping Giant which is quite pleasant. You'll probably need to book a car to get there is the only thing.
  • Driving around the south of the island is quite pretty... I enjoyed the "'Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park" and seeing the markets at Sigatoka (a town with a river in the middle)... but it chews up most of the day!
  • Near the "Coral Coast Fiji village" is where they have the Biausevu Waterfall that some people visit - they try to charge quite a bit - pity these wonderful places are on private land so you can't see it for free. They'll try to get you to take a horse or pay for lots of footwear but you can almost do the walk barefoot (or wear flip-flops/crocs) and they don't take great care of the horses, so you might skip that. Getting to the parking lot is a little dodgy with a non-four-wheel drive. I managed to do it, but if it was any muddier it might have been hairy. Would be hard to get stuck so far from Nadi for sure. So yeah, driving is a commitment.
  • Your hotel will recommend some of the "local" island experiences. I did the Fiji Culture Village and I adored our guide, and learned quite a lot.... plus the fire show was great. Sadly, if you look deeply into it, most of them are owned by Chinese businessmen who pay the local Fijians very little to dress up and put on a show. It's still pretty fun, but it takes away from the magic a bit. Part of learning about Fiji is to realize that a once very proud warrior people experienced mass immigration from India and then China and they kind of took over. The native Fijians put on a wonderful smile and "bula!" (hello) for tourists, and represent happy people, but they also have little expressions they use to acknowledge their hardships and feel like they were robbed of their native land. In certain towns I explored it felt like everyone was Indian, or at least Indo-Fijian. Very different from what you see in the media, but hey - if you just stick with the tourist islands and resorts you wouldn't be any the wiser. The Jewel of Fiji tour includes canoe and waterfall, so honestly, I think this would be a good one.
Some pics from my Fiji album.

Little Warnings

Safety and Scams

  • Most of Fiji is very safe, but certain areas of Nadi don't feel completely safe BTW - I went out with some British backpackers to a local nightclub... very dingy. Needless to say not much nightlife around, or they call it nightlife, but you'll not want to go alone.
    • The markets in Nadi are worth a visit (you'll also see them in the videos) and maybe you'll try a fruit you've never seen before. I went during the day to one of the markets where I was with one of the backpackers, and they led us astray to show us their shop... convincing us it was the only legitimate Fiji-owned store in the whole area, but even then I wasn't convinced! They didn't pressure us too hard to buy anything, but I bought a little trinket (a cannibal fork) to keep the peace. Not exactly a scam, but there is pressure to buy.
  • I'm a pretty trusting person, but usually, I have my wits about me and never get ripped off. Well, sadly I got ripped off at "King Singh Wine & Dine" in Sigatoka while I was solo. They showed me an insanely cheap price for lobster and I went for it. I should have taken a picture of the price they showed me on the menu, but of course, they took the menus away and the owner - a middle-aged Indian man - seemed like a slippery fish who showed me a much, much higher value on his copy of the menu. Valuable lesson learned! If it looks too good to be true it probably is. :)

Be Prepared for Poor Cell Service and Internet

  • So Fiji is not known for good cell service options, coverage or internet.
  • I thought I did the smart thing by getting a 7-day local cell "Digicell" at the airport (one of the two providers - neither of them ideal), but it was really hard to set up, and I struggled to even just call the people at The Ideal Bed & Breakfast for my free pickup! I think I may have ended up asking a local to make the call for me. The lady who picked me up was amazing, she actually drove me around a few times and we had lots to joke and talk about.... but she also warned me that local SIM cards were expensive and not reliable. Sure enough, I soon ran out of credit and had to hunt down a shop to buy a recharge card. Oldschool!
  • Internet is pretty spotty in most of Fiji - maybe if you pay for a really expensive resort you'll get a reliable connection, but for most people, you just have to hope you get enhanced wifi to WhatsApp people occasionally.... and be friendly and bold enough to ask locals for help if you need to call any local numbers.
  • Trying to meet up with a local was almost impossible because the two different cell providers there don't play nice with each other - I needed help on this one.
  • I wish I could give you good phone advice... but instead, it feels like nobody in Fiji knows a reliable solution... just make sure you download Google Maps Offline before you leave and warn friends/family you might be MIA for a bit (depending where you travel within Fiji of course).

Main Tips

  • Watch the videos and plan out what you want to do - the "awesome pass" is the no-brainer choice for many.
  • Book ahead.... or you might be out of luck finding good accommodation or even a car to get around.
  • Download google maps offline for the whole of Fiji before you leave.
  • Pack light. It's a tropical climate and swimwear folds nicely.
  • Take lots of sunscreen. Don't get sunburned on your first day - like some British idiot who doesn't understand real sun.
  • Bring snorkelling gear if you have some, else most places provide it.
  • Have your wits about you when people try to lead you off to see/buy something "authentic".
  • Learn as much as you can about the culture and history!

Final Words

Fiji is a stunning place! Probably not the cheapest, but hey - it's still cheaper than Hawaii, and maybe if you book way ahead you'll get some good deals. The Fijian locals are incredibly friendly with big smiles, so I highly encourage you to ask them for their advice on where to go, what to eat and so on. I highly recommend learning a little about the culture - the history of the island and the Fijian people as proud warriors is fascinating. They had their unique rituals, incredible weapons (like throwing clubs and ornate spears) and traditions, so a cultural tour is well worth it. For me, one highlight was dating a local Fijian girl who I met at the Marina, and who served me a pizza with a big smile. We only had time for one date, and they are a pretty conservative people and I was surprised me that she brought her sister along! This turned out to be a great chance for me to hear about how people live, and a little insight into the real Fiji - the hardships of the island. In many ways that is the real Fiji... just a small step beyond the smiling faces and songs they play for tourists. I feel like it would take a long time in Fiji to dig down that extra layer, but hey - if you only have a few days to play with just enjoy the amazing sunshine and some pretty darn good snorkelling (if you find the right spots). Bula! :)

Map of Nadi area.


  • Fiji at Large
    • Why you need to visit Fiji - 7 Day Fiji Islands Travel Guide - (1) Markets, Gardens of the Sleeping Giant, Fiji mud bath, Kanu restaurant, (2) Biausevu Waterfall & Natadola Beach (2 hours drive from Nadi), Natadola Beach (on the way back), (3) Mamanuca island Boat Tour (sand bar) & Port Denarau (hotels do drop off). (5) Pacific Harbour (2 hour drive from Nadi), scuba experience, Maui Palms Beach. Travel to (1.5 hours flight) & First Night in Taveuni ("The Garden Island" - natural water slides).
    • How to Travel in Fiji | The Perfect Tropical Getaway - A lovely couple explaining that you use to book flights with Fiji Airways > most tickets are $100 and ~an hour & very scenic.


My Fiji photo album.

More pics from my album.
More pics from my album.
More pics from my album.

And a reminder before you leave:

Downloading Fiji for use online on an Android (see full res).