Visiting an Island in the South Pacific was always my number one dream destination. Stunningly blue water, thatched roof bungalows hovering over the crystal clear ocean, white sand beaches, and swaying palm trees; it looked like heaven on earth.
However, my dream was shattered as soon as I looked at hotel prices in Bora Bora. $1,100 per night for one of those dreamy looking bungalows- yikes! I knew Bora Bora would forever remain a dream destination because I could never afford it.
But, luckily for me, one of my good friends opened my eyes to the (somewhat) less glamorous and not-as-trendy Island of Fiji. She was doing a University exchange in Australia and took a quick vacation to Fiji before her program officially began. When I found out she was going there, I inundated her with questions and her answers completely caught me by surprise- accommodations were fairly cheap, she stayed in dorm rooms, and there were lots of backpackers.
For some reason, I never imagined any South Pacific Island would cater to backpackers and budget travelers. I always just assumed opulent and luxurious hotels were really the only option for accommodation. I know these islands are quite popular with Aussies and Kiwis, but they seemed like such a distant and expensive destination for North Americans.
After six months of backpacking around Australia and New Zealand (in 2010/2011), I decided to make my South Pacific dream a reality and spent a week soaking up the sun in Fiji before returning home.
Packages and Accommodations
If you are short on time and want to see a few different islands, I would recommend booking a package with Awesome Adventures Fiji. They offer packages that vary in length from 5 to 12 days and include accommodations, meals, island transfers, and some activities. Dorm rooms are the least expensive accommodation option, but they offer private rooms as well. You can also choose between budget properties or something more high-end.
The packages start around $500 and increase in price depending on the length of stay, accommodation preferences, and activities. If I remember correctly, I paid around $780 for the 6 day package which allowed me to stay on three different islands and included various activities- like snorkeling, visiting a traditional Fijian village, and sunbathing on the island where Cast Away was filmed.
Awesome Adventures Fiji also has an option to purchase an Island Hopping Pass which will allow you the freedom of hopping on and off at any island of your choosing. Accommodations will then cost between (approximately) $40-$80 per night (for budget accommodation in a dorm-style room).
The Tourism Fiji website has a comprehensive list of accommodations here.
Whether you’re a beach bum or an adventure-seeker, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you in Fiji.
I was surprised to find such a wide range of adventurous activities when I visited. From white water rafting, to wind surfing and mountain biking- there are so many ways to experience every aspect of Fiji. Check out this post to see some of the adrenaline-inducing activities offered on the island. There are also many options for those looking to relax, and the Tourism Fiji website has a full listing.
Fiji Airways is the national airline and has regular flights from many international airports including Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Hong Kong.
If you’re flying from North America or Europe, flights can be atrociously expensive, and are a necessary evil. Hopefully you have some Air Miles or credit card reward points to help offset the cost. (Fiji Airways partners with Qantas and American Airlines Mileage Plan Programs).
I knew it would be much cheaper to visit Fiji at some point during my trip around Australia and New Zealand, so I made sure to book before I was set to return home. I flew from Christchurch to Nadi and paid roughly $300 for a one-way flight.
Affordability is only one of the many reasons I would recommend visiting Fiji. Sure it has all the traditional aspects of paradise-white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, and swaying palms- but there is so much more. The local people are some of the most genuinely friendly and welcoming people I’ve ever encountered, and they are the main reason people fall in love with this island. Whether you are watching a fire dancing performance, or sharing a cup of kava during a traditional ceremony, Fijian people will openly invite you to experience their unique cultures and traditions.
If you’re looking for a picture-perfect island paradise that won’t break the bank, great snorkeling and diving, adventurous activities, and cultural experiences, look no further- Fiji really does have it all.