If willing to give up a few home comforts, getting around Fiji's main islands is pretty easy and cheap using local buses, ferries and carriers. Air-conditioned express buses run on major routes and car hire is available, however is expensive. The main towns have an oversupply of taxis – just be sure to agree on a price first.
Although a good way to explore the islands if sharing, renting a car is somewhat limiting as most agencies don't allow their cars to be driven on unpaved roads. Be aware that the shorter the hire period, the higher the rate, with a day's hire costing twice as much as you would expect to pay daily for a week.
Taxis in most rural areas don't use their meters so ask locals for the standard rate. If a taxi is returning to its base expect to pay FJ$1 per person or less, however you may have to share a ride. In most towns FJ$2.50 will get you to most places. Have small change handy.
Small local boats will take you between most islands and daily ferries run from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Ovalau. Timetables are notorious for being inconsistent, sometimes leaving at odd hours and with long waiting periods at each stop. In which case, you might prefer hiring a charter boat or yacht depending on your budget.
The local currency is the Fijian Dollar with four international banks operating in the islands: ANZ Banking, Westpac, Colonial Mutual and Bank of Baroda. Branches and ATMs can be found in both Nadi and Suva. Most credit cards and travellers cheques are accepted at a charge in major urban areas. On more remote islands, this is not the case, so try to plan ahead.
The best time to visit Fiji is March to November when the temperature is between 26-30 degrees. November to April can get hot and humid with hurricanes, while May to October experiences cooler, drier weather. Rainfall can be brief but heavy. Each island has its own climate, Suva often wet and cloudy while Viti Levu and Mamanucas are envied for their sunshine.
Overall, Fijians are quite easygoing, however, if invited into a village along your travels, dress modestly and take off any hat as wearing one is considered an insult. Like many cultures, leave your shoes outside the door if entering a home and to avoid insult, don't touch anyone on the head, even if children approach you with curiosity.
Although hitchhiking is never recommended when travelling, in Fiji it is common among locals to hop on board small carrier trucks. Similar to bus services, these are run by locals and will cost the equivalent. Be wary of hitchhiking around Nadi and Suva however, as crime is more common and it's recommended to stay in pairs.
Nadi International Airport, 9km north of central Nadi serves most visitors to Fiji, however a few international flights also land at Nausori Airport near Suva.
Various airlines fly to Fiji from Australia. Among them are Qantas, Air Pacific, Pacific Blue, Jet Star and Virgin Australia.
From Sydney: A direct flight to Fiji takes around 4 hours.
From Melbourne: A non-stop flight to Fiji will take around 5 hours and upwards of seven with at least one stopover.
From Brisbane: A direct flight to Fiji takes around 3hours, 30 minutes.
From Perth: Flights from the east coast can take upwards of eight to ten hours with a stopover usually at a west coast capital city like Brisbane or Melbourne.
* We recommend arriving into Nadi no later than 1:30 to give yourself time to transfer to the Denarau marina and catch the last ferry (3:00/3:15pm depending on destination)
Vanua Levu and Taveuni, the Mamanucas and Yasawa Islands can be reached during daylight hours with Pacific Sun, Pacific Island Seaplanes, Turtle Airways or Island Hopper Helicopter Transfers. Suva, certain Coral Coast Resorts and Pacific Harbour can also be reached. If you hate long journeys by boat or bus, air transfers can get you to your destination in minutes.Island Hoppers (heli & Sea plane) http://www.helicopters.com.fj/index.html Pacific island air and sea planes http://www.pacificislandair.com/ Turtle Airways
From Nadi Airport, a 24hr water taxi service operates to the Mamanuca Islands where a driver can meet you at the airport, taking you to Port Denarau. Transfer time is 30-80 minutes depending on your island destination and subject to weather. Rates are on a charter basis per boat for four people from FJ$570 to FJ$880 depending on the region. For public ferry transfer please take a private shuttle or taxi to Denarau marina (20 min). All public ferry transfers leave from Denarau marina.
Sail the tall ship 'Ra Marama' – with departures daily – to Tivua Island from Denarau Marina. Snorkelling is a must among the 500 acres of coral reefs or simply dip your toes in the white sand as you lie back and drift off. Taking only 8 minutes to walk around, Tivua is a great day trip destination but offers complete solitude at night.
With over 400 species of coral and an abundance of exotic marine life, Rainbow Reef between Taveuni and Vanua Levu is considered to be one of the best dive sites in the world. July and September offer the best visibility however with water temperature as cool as 22 degrees rather than a potential 30 degrees in the summer months.
Discover Fiji's capital, Suva, at your leisure without the usual 'follow the leader' package tour. From around AUD$69 a round-trip coach ride will take you to Suva from your hotel with plenty of time to shop the flea markets, take a stroll through Thurston Botanical Gardens and Albert Park or watch the changing of the guard outside the President's residence.
For stunning views of waterfalls, lush rainforest and the chance to cool off in natural pools, head to Taveuni Island where the National Heritage Park covers 80% of the island. For keen walkers take the Vidawa Rainforest Trail past ancient village sites and discover some of the best areas for bird watching. A great trip for those in search of adventure.
The creation of Chef Eugene Gomes, originally from Goa, India, this restaurant is popular among locals and tourists alike, arguably the best in town. Renowned for its quality seafood and exotic international fusion cuisine, try the pan fried pakapaka with sweet brown apple sauce and without any need to elaborate: Fiji coconut cream pie.
For authentic and adventurous Fijian food, you always know you're onto a winner if the locals fill it. This two-room clapboard cottage from the 19th century offers some of the most unique home cooking in the South Pacific. Unpretentious and served with a Fijian smile, the food may be served cafeteria style, but you'll get far more than you paid for.
Overlooking the dramatic Beqa Lagoon and shaded by ancient Banyan trees, open air dining is married with a sophisticated mix of European and Pacific Rim cuisine. Boasting a menu that changes daily in accordance with the freshest market produce and best catch of the day, unwind over lunch in this luxurious and exclusive setting.
On special cultural nights, watch the village perform the traditional meke dance on the beach followed by lovo (where food is cooked over volcanic rocks in an earth oven). This small and intimate restaurant offers dining on the beach for views as delicious as the food. If you fancy a treat, why not try the breakfast with banana, coconut and papaya bread?
Traps is one of the most popular and longest running nightclubs in Fiji. Bring your dancing feet with a variety of music over five bars. Each bar has its own atmosphere, with live jazz nights, local DJ sets or even poetry readings on weekdays, meaning there is always something for everyone. Starts getting crowded around 11pm. Happy hour 5-8pm.
O2 Suva is a bustling nightclub, popular with both locals and visitors. With a range of cheap beers and vibrating music, this is one of those instances where you should follow the crowd for live DJ sets and a great, easy atmosphere. It is also reassuring to know that bouncers always make sure there is never overcrowding.
A trendy drinking hole popular with the twenty-something crowd for after work drinks. Known as Suva's top pub, stick around for some of Fiji's best pizza, chargrilled steaks and yellow fin tuna. Bad Dog serves up top notch comfort food and ice-cold beer with a city view.
Feeling nostalgic? One of the oldest night spots in Fiji, playing old school classics and island grooves in a traditional setting. Great if you prefer your party with the locals rather than the backpacking crowd.
From Port Denarau in Nadi, take a day cruise to the Mamanuca Islands. Enjoy a picnic of local fish and tropical fruit either on deck or on the beach. Snorkel amongst the crystal waters and discover the magnificent coral reefs or simply lie back and take in the view with a cold drink. Round trips from around FJ$130/150 per adult. Half-day trips cost around FJ$80-90.
For a day of adventure in the remote highlands of Viti Levu, go white water rafting down the Navua River to discover scenic beauty and rugged terrain. With Class III rapids, there is excitement around every turn for both experts and beginners. Majestic gorges, mesmerising waterfalls and rare species of wildlife in abundance, prepare for one of the most unique journeys in Fiji. Day trips from around FJ$360.
Take a road trip along Viti Levu's coastline on route to Pacific Harbour to explore breathtaking scenery or board the Coral Coast Scenic Railway. Trek the Sigatoka Sand Dunes or discover rich wildlife in the Kula Eco Park. With 80km of beach to sink your feet into, whether it's relaxation you're after or a dose of culture in Sigatoka's temples, you won't run out of things to do.
Lose yourself in the myriad of stalls in Suva's Municipal Market where you'll find something for everyone. Busiest on Saturdays, this is the largest and liveliest market in the South Pacific yet the merchants are still willing to give you a little language lesson if you return their friendly patter. Great for heady spices without the price tag and exotic seasonal fruit, at its best in October and November.
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