I don’t even know where to begin with a guide on how to navigate Fiji. It was a truly magical places filled with relaxation, adventure and trying new things. I’ve never been to a place quite like Fiji before and I’m already plotting my next trip back.
To be honest, the trip was a little overwhelming to plan. There are endless options of where to stay and what to do. Fiji is surrounded by hundreds of islands and a lot of which have their own private resorts, leaving us with hundreds of options. I read through multiple blog posts about where to stay, but all of them recommend places that were WAY out of our prices range! I would drool over insta-worthy beaches and over-the-water bungalows until I realized it all cost $1,500+ a night!
After a lot of research and digging through recommendations we finally made some decisions and booked our trip.
Let me start by saying, that if you want to narrow down your options and find the hotel that is right for you, I recommend really thinking about what kind of trip you want. Do you want to lay on the beach all day and live the island life, not to be bothered by anyone? or Would you rather have close access to all the sights worth seeing? or perhaps a little bit of both?
I am going to start off with that type of vacation we were looking for. So, if our style doesn’t suit your fancy, you don’t have to waste your time reading!
We wanted to stay somewhere away from the main city of Nadi which is where the airport is. Ideally, we wanted a beach front property with sandy beaches and opportunities for snorkeling, surfing, and horseback riding. We also decided that we wanted to stay on the main island in order to access the local towns and cities (which didn’t quite work out, but more on that later). We also wanted to experience the local cultures and cuisine. So, if that sounds like a vacation you’re into, keep reading!
We stayed at the InterContinental Fiji in Natadola Beach. It was a truly beautiful beach-front property. We booked a room with a Lagoon view – which I would HIGHLY recommend! The view is just as stunning as the beach-front rooms, but you pay less and there is generally less foot traffic making it feel a bit more private. The outdoor bathtubs were the perfect added touch for a romantic getaway!
You can see a full room tour if you visit my Instagram and go to my “Fiji” story highlight here.
The hotel is nestled into one of the best beaches on the entire island! White sand, reefs to snorkel in, horses running around, tall palm trees, cabanas, and fresh coconuts! Most of the beaches on the main island are rocky and not pleasing to the eye so this was our best option without hoping on a boat and going to another island.
It’s important to keep in mind that most of our trip revolved around the resort and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, we were a bit too far from the local cities to make any day trips. While, the resort can arrange for a car to take you into the cities. At first, we decided it would have been best to do an entire day trip into the city to go site-seeing, but we ultimately decided to save our money and experience the villages right next door instead.
This is where things get a little tricky. As a HUGE foodie, I love to eat while I’m on vacation and I truly look at food as a great way to immerse yourself into a new culture. Fiji isn’t nesicarly known for it’s world-class food, but they do have some pretty fresh sea food and delicious curries.
There were a few blogs that mentioned this, but we truly didn’t realize just how dependent we would be on the resort food during our stay. Anything outside of the hotels 5 restaurants was at least an hour away and with no Ubers or public transportation it made getting around a little more difficult then we anticipated.
The hotel food was pretty sub-par at best. Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the food selections and availability. The resort really caters to tourists and provides family friendly meals like breakfast buffets and burgers. The best food we had on the property was actually at the hotel bar called Kama Lounge.
We tried to be proactive and even stopped at a local market on our way to the resort to grab some snacks and groceries. However, since we landed at 6AM, the only market open had water, canned meat, dried grains, and alcohol (lol!) So we just stocked up on water and booze instead! Which ended up being a great money saver anyways!
The best thing we probably did while experiencing Fiji was befriending a local named, Sully. He took us on a private tour of an island and we ended up hiring him to do a beach side, bonfire dinner on our last night! We ate fresh lobster, tuna, chicken, and loads of fruit! It was not only an amazing experience but, we finally got a chance to experience a little bit of true fujian culture and food.
If you are food lover, like me, I HIGHLY recommend you look at restaurant reviews of your hotel before booking, especially if you are staying on a different island or a more isolated part of the mainland.
Let’s chat about Fiji’s signature drink, Kava. It was something we heard a lot about before visiting and really wanted to give a try while we were on the island because it is such a big part of Fijian culture. Kava is a root powder that is ground up placed in a mess bag, and kneaded into water to create a bitter drink. This drink is meant to have a calming, euphoric effect on your body has helps promote a good night sleep. Some say it’s like a liquor, but I disagree. While yes, is considered a drug but it is very legal to drink and consume, although I suggest you doing your own research before because it can be very damaging to your liver.
We tried to make it a few times and didn’t notice much. But, to be honest I was a little worried about drinking to much so I never really felt the full effects beyond getting really sleepy! If you can I recommend finding a Kava Ceremony so you can experienced the culture and tradition behind how Kava is made and enjoyed!
The island was filled with adventure! Our hotel had rentals available (free of charge for the first hour) – everything from kayaks, surf board, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards, sunset boat tours, fishing lessons, and more. The beach is really private so it was perfect to find your own space to explore. It was also very safe and we were able to leave all of our belongings on our cabana while going out in the water.
There is also a neighboring village and the surrounding village people have tons of entertainment and experiences to offer as well. We were able to get a boat tour to a private island, set up a bonfire dinner, cut open fresh coconuts and go horseback riding!
Sites Worth Seeings
As I mentioned, we weren’t able to escape to the main parts of the island to see any of the main attractions, but here are a few things that are still on my bucket list.
+ The Garden of the Sleeping Giant
+ Snorkeling in the Coral Coast
+ Koroyanitu National Park
The nice part about visiting Fiji is our American dollar is so strong there. The ratio is basically 1:2 – which means we would just divided the costs of everything in half when looking at menus and booking excursions. Like any tropical island, things start to get pricier at the hotels and since you don’t have much access to anything else you are pretty locked in to the price range of your hotel.
Simply put, I would equate to the cost of visiting Fiji to be very similar to the cost of Hawaii. Sure, some people could have done it cheaper and others could have easily splurged way more, but we did what was right for us – didn’t break the bank, but definielty enjoyed ourselves.
The lack of public transportation makes it a bit difficult to navigate around Fiji. It can also take a while to find a cab because typically it requires calling one and arranging a time. I suggest booking all of your major drives ahead of time. We used Fiji Chauffeurs to drive us to and from the airport and scheduled taxis through our hotel for any other driving accommodations.
How to Save your Money
Stop at a local grocery store to pick up water, essentials, and alcohol
After one overpriced glass of wine at dinner, it was nice to come back to the room and continue the vacation buzz at a much cheaper price!
Hire the locals
The locals will give you the same experiences as the hotel, but for half the cost! Plus, it feels a little more adventurous and you get to experience their culture and learn from their people.
Haggle for a good deal
With the exception of the resort prices, pretty much everything is negotiable in Fiji!
Book Your Drivers Ahead of Time
We used (INSERT NAME HERE) to book all of our rides and ended up being cheaper then hailing a taxi. You can also book shared shuttles to save even more!
Don’t book your excursions ahead of time
You’ll save some money if you book independently. Also, if you are able to talk to someone, wether in person or on the phone, you can try to negotiate the offering a bit.