Introducing Laura: avid traveller, certified bookworm and first-time writer for STA Travel (she’s also got a love of Fiji that’s bordering on obsessive, like us) so who better to introduce the beaut South Pacific Archipelago? No one, that’s who.
From the sun-soaked shores of the Yasawas to the market mad capital Suva, Fiji is brimming with culture. You may think a few days in paradise means spending big bucks, but this little gem is one of the most affordable countries in Australasia.
Armed with my toolkit of top money-saving tips, you’ll be hopping on the next plane to Nadi before you can say the word Bula!
Markets in Fiji are like no other. Locals line the pavements to sell all kinds of freshly grown produce including: nama (sea grape), cassava, chillies, tomatoes, aubergines, ginger – if they can grow it, you can buy it. Produce is normally presented on small plates or bowls and sold as a bunch, so you really do get value for money.
Of course you can also pick up an abundance of fresh fruit, from bananas and passionfruit to coconut and pineapple for only a few dollars – perfect for a healthy, super cheap snack.
If you’re staying in a homestay or have access to a kitchen, then it’s definitely worth buying some ingredients from the local market and cooking some traditional Fijian dishes yourself or with the help of your Fijian family. A lovo – a traditional cooking method where food is cooked underground – is a must for a truly authentic experience!
Whether you’re travelling for half an hour or half a day, take the bus!
If you’re staying on the mainland, the journey from Nadi airport to Suva is around 16 FJD/£5 and usually takes 4 hours, depending on how many stops there are along the way.
There are tons of buses within the main cities, with most operating without windows, which makes for a cool albeit windy ride! You can expect to pay no more than a couple FJD to get around the city itself, with bus stops on every corner.
Taxis are also cheap and can be flagged down easily in the main cities. If you need to get somewhere quickly opt for a taxi over a bus to avoid all the stops along the way.
You won’t have to go far to understand why Fiji is known as the most beautiful place on earth. From waterfalls in forest parks to the crystal waters of the coral coast, getting lost in nature is the best (and cheapest) way to appreciate Fiji’s natural beauty.
Head to Colo-i-suva forest park, which is a 2.5-sq-km lush rainforest just north of Suva. Home to tropical plants, natural pools and stunning waterfalls (check out Waisila Falls), you can spend the entire day exploring the park for only 5 FJD!
If you‘d rather get off the beaten track, take the bus towards Dakivuna village in Wainibuka. Hidden beneath a bridge on the old Kings Road (1km from Dakivuna) lies a secret little spot known locally as Dorothy’s waterfall. Admission is 1 FJD for locals or 2 FJD for tourists. Climb up the waterfall, swim in the river and snap lots of pictures of the colourful trees and plants. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
If the beach is more your thing, take a trip to the Coral Coast. The 80km stretch of pristine white beaches and turquoise waters between Sigatoka and Suva will give you the Insta shot you’ve been longing for!
Uprising Beach Resort is the place to go for budget accommodation with lots of luxury. The 16-room dorm is spacious and clean with amazing views of the beach and palm trees. A night in the dorm costs as little as FJD 34 /£12.
Indulge in the buffet breakfast then lay round the pool or soak up the sun on the beach. Hire a snorkel and head out into the water then relax at night watching a cultural show. (FYI, ‘Uprising’ is amazing value for money).
Believe it or not, cinemas in Fiji are often the first in the world to premiere new movies. You can catch action, adventure, comedy, Bollywood and romance for as little as 8 – 10 FJD/£3 – £4. Plus, it’s a great place to escape from the heat and enjoy some air-con. Look out for Tuesday saver nights, where tickets are as little as 5 FJD/£2!
If you’re staying in Suva, Village 6 is right in the city centre, a short walk from the bus station. Head further east to Grantham road to Damodar cinemas for a bigger choice of movies and better facilities.
The islands on a budget
Ever dreamt of lounging in a hammock on the beach on one of the Yasawas islands? Us too!
These idyllic islands aren’t just for honeymooners. Most resorts have dorm-style rooms for backpackers, so you can enjoy the luxury of an island resort without the huge price tag. Look out for 3 days/2 night options – an ideal amount of time in paradise without blowing the budget. These packages are also great if you’re short on time but still want to fit Fiji in on your big trip.
Expect to pay a compulsory meal package on every island; there aren’t any shops or restaurants on the islands so you will have to eat in the resort but there’s plenty of options on the menu. It’s worth packing a few snacks and bottles of water if you want to avoid spending money in between meals or would rather save your dollars for a few bottles of Fiji Bitter in the evening.
So once you’ve finished surfing Byron Bay, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef or bungee jumping over Queenstown, book a flight to the friendliest place on earth for a couple days (or a couple of weeks because, you know, Fiji time). It’s currently only £49 extra. How?! Find out (or just lust over more island life inspiration) here.