It’s that time of the year that perhaps you are planning the next big family vacation. Or may be you are a solo traveler looking for a great beach vacation spot but looking to travel on a smaller budget. You have come to the right place for information on how to choose a good hotel or resort among the best hotels and resorts in Fiji. Having traveled to many countries, I always look for ways to optimize travel expenses all the while finding ways to get the most memorable experiences out of my vacations. That said, I don’t want to set the wrong expectations by saying that you can indeed travel on a budget to anywhere in the world as it is just not true. Why? It all depends on your budget. Certain countries are inherently expensive that traveling on a shoestring budget may not just be feasible.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at ways to optimize expenses when planning your big Fiji holidays. Before we optimize expenses, shouldn’t you get acquainted with the basic details about Fiji? So, here you go.
Fiji is a small island country considered to be part of Australia/Oceania continent. In a typical globe or a map, you will find Fiji diagonally above Australia and New Zealand in a way where the three countries form a nice equilateral triangle. Even though, Fiji is a country of its own, it is really a collection of very small islands. Estimates suggest that Fiji is comprised of about 333 islands. When most people talk about of Fiji, they refer to the main Fiji island in which the Nadi international airport is located. This detail is critical as it determines your cost of trip to Fiji. Some of the best hotels and resorts in Fiji offer rooms ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars a day. Should you choose to go to one of the smaller islands around the main Fiji island, you would have to take a boat or a helicopter ride. It might also be helpful to know that the boat ride could be anywhere between half hour to two hours, or even more depending on your boat’s point of departure. Boats are available for some of the islands from Denarau which is relatively a short drive 30-minutes from Nadi international airport. For other islands, the point of departure would be Suva. Suva is about more than 3 hours of drive from Nadi international airport. You can always land in Suva international airport but the flight options from certain countries are limited that you are likely to find more flight options to Nadi than to Suva.
Travel, flight options and time zone difference
Fijian residents suggest that they get the most number of visitors from Australia due to the proximity. So, it is natural that travelers have a lot more flight options every day from Australia compared to most other countries. If you are traveling from United States, depending on west coast, central or east coast, your flight options and travel time would vary wildly.
From west coast, Los Angeles seems to be the preferred hub for flights to Fiji. Fiji Airways has a flight every day around 10 pm from Los Angeles to Nadi International airport in Fiji. The typical flying time is about 10 to 11 hours. Fiji is about 21 hours ahead of pacific time zone due to which you would land in Fiji a couple of days later at 6 am local Fijian time. For example, if you leave on a Monday evening, you would land in Fiji on Wednesday morning at 6 am despite the total flying time being only 10 hours.
Fun Fact: The cool thing about the time zone difference is that when you travel back, you land on the same day about 11 hours before the time you boarded the flight from Fiji. For example, if you board the flight from Fiji on a Sunday night at 10 pm, you land in Los Angeles on Sunday morning at 11 am. This would mean that you can celebrate New Years in Fiji, plan your trip back to San Francisco on the night of New Years day and celebrate New Years all over again in San Francisco. Try it! It’s a lot of fun!
From west coast, the other option is to travel from San Francisco. As of the date of this post, there is only one flight from San Francisco per week due to the low volume of travelers flying from out from the crown jewel city of west coast. There is a possibility that the frequency might increase should there be more people traveling from the bay area.
If you are traveling from east coast, you have a few options. You can fly directly from New York or Washington or you can fly into Los Angeles. Nonetheless, plan for a total flying time of at least 15 hours or more including stopovers if you are traveling from east coast.
Other options to travel to Fiji include flying into Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia or Australia and taking connecting flights to Fiji. Data from major travel sites suggest that the cost of travel to Fiji increases significantly when more connecting flights are involved through major international airports.
Best Hotels and Resorts
When you think of choosing hotels or resorts in Fiji, you need to figure out the type of vacation you had planned, the month of the year in which you plan to travel and the potential list of places you would like to visit. Let’s understand why each of these factors matter when reviewing accommodation options.
Month of the year is a key parameter for two reasons -
1. If you go offseason, you can find amazing deals in luxury resorts, family-friendly resorts, beach resorts, island resorts and island hotels. However, there is a chance of storms and floods ruining your well-planned vacation. Local residents suggest that these kind of heavy storms and floods are very rare but they do happen, and when they do, the devastation is unimaginable. A good example would be the storm of Feb 2016. That said, if you are person with a brave heart and willing to risk it, you will definitely get the most amazing vacation packages even in most of the top luxury and beach resorts.
2. Some Fijian resorts cater to only certain type of audience. For example, certain resorts explicitly say that they are meant only for adults. Other resorts advertise that they are kid friendly. That said, during the offseason, when the resorts are not able to get enough visitors, they relax their policies and welcome all types of visitors. This could be a problem for some of you who travel as couples and are looking for an adult only resort. So, pay attention to these details when choosing your accommodation. After all, a Fijian vacation is typically expensive and you do not want to be surprised after you arrive at the resort.
As per Fijian residents, Fiji attracts three types of travelers -
1. Families who travel with kids for wholesome family fun
2. Couples who travel for honeymoon or just out for an exotic vacation
3. Singles who travel with friends to enjoy the beaches and wide variety of water sports
The type of vacation and travel determines the best island and the type of resort for your vacation. As per recent estimates, Fiji is comprised of 333 islands. Most people think of main island when they think of Fiji. However, there are hidden gems among these 333 islands like the Cast Away island (as per residents, the famous Academy Award winning movie starring Tom Hanks - “Cast Away” was shot in this island, hence the name) and Tivua island. Some of these islands are incredibly small and are meant to be visited for a day through a cruise. Other islands are slightly bigger, offer accommodations, are meant primarily for couples and does not offer too many activities for kids.
Among the various islands, main island offers the most activities for singles, couples and families alike. When you think of Fiji, you probably imagine beautiful white sand beaches with greenish blue water appear. And that is true. However main island offers a lot more than just pretty beaches. Main island also offers stunning mountain hikes, white water rafting, beautiful caves and more. For those of you who are into shopping for handicrafts, main island is full of beautiful artistic items that are native to Fijian tribes.
If you are traveling as a family with kids, it is safe to say that main island has some of the best places to stay in Fiji at relatively lower costs. You can find some of the best family resorts and best beach resorts along the way to Suva. These resorts also provide water-sport activities for kids. Most medium to high-end resorts are equipped with swimming pools, a cut-out area for backwater that is conducive for paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and more. The activities are conducive for novice to advanced water sport enthusiasts although it should be said that experienced scuba divers may not enjoy the experience as much in these resorts.
The price range of the resorts in the main island vary widely depending on the location of the resort and amenities offered. Fiji is comprised of three main cities - Nadi, Suva and Lautoka. Of the three, Lautoka is not known for tourist activities as it is primarily comprised of sugar mills. Nadi is host to the international airport and has a typical downtown area with a lot of shopping options. Suva is the capital city of Fiji. A lot of the resorts preferred by most travelers are located between Nadi and Suva. Naviti resort, Warwick Fiji, Fiji hideaway resort and spa, Tambua Sands beach resort, the beach house and Mango bay resort are all amazing choices located on the shores of beaches and offer incredibly competitive resorts..
If you are traveling as a couple, unless you plan to get involved in a lot of activities like white water rafting, hiking or visiting local tribes and caves, you would potentially choose one of the many exotic islands resorts away from the main island. Needless to say that the price ranges of the resorts in these surrounding islands is significantly higher than those in the main island. Additionally, these islands also require additional commute that could involve a helicopter ride or a boat ride to your final destination and the commute could be additional one or two hours on top of your flight journey to Fiji. That said, some of these islands offer the seclusion preferred by couples. These islands also offer views of beautiful coral reefs combined with a rich variety of species of fish that snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts often consider these islands as a paradise on earth. Please do remember that once you reach these islands, you would pretty much have to spend all your time there as the nearest activity could be 1.5 to 2 hours away by a boat ride.
If you are traveling with friends as a group of single people, you have more options. If you are looking to travel on a budget, main island would be the best places to stay in Fiji. You have a range of low key hotels and resorts without the options for water sports and hence cost a lot less than the regular resorts. These are of course three-star hotels that only provide basic amenities. However, if you plan to be outdoors for most of the time, you are better off going with one of these hotels rather than spend a lot of money on an expensive resort. You can always spend the money saved on hotels to visit other Fijian islands or try out other interesting activities like white water rafting and cave tour.
Irrespective of the type of vacation, plan your trip to Fiji at least six to nine months ahead to ensure you get the best island resorts and hotels for the lowest prices. I hope this guide helped you plan your accommodation better and make your Fiji holiday, a trip to remember forever.