Way back when i was booking flights for my year long move to Melbourne, Australia i realized i was not going to be able to do a direct flight. I could have a stop over in Sydney, or Fiji. Naturally, i chose Fiji. Fiji is known for its picturesque beaches and scenery from water bottles and brochures, but let me say that this is a sheltered view of the country. Fiji is still a second world country, and it is not a resort everywhere thats for sure. It still has some infrastructure problems, government instability, and a mediocre, but improving, human development rating. However, do not dismiss. Fiji is a great place for travelers and backpackers. In Fact, backpackers have the best opportunities in Fiji if theyre willing to branch out of the resort lifestyles.
Heres the deets:
Where to stay: a hostel. Hostels are wicked cheap in Fiji. I paid about 25 USD per night for my own room and bathroom, with shower and toilet and queen size bed. Its really all you need. Certainly its not a five star room but its the basics and its such a steal. If you’re feeling super cheap then you can opt for a bed in the “dorm”, a room with upwards of 24 beds in one giant room with virtually no privacy as low as 10 USD a night depending on which hostel you choose. I stayed at Bamboo Backpackers in Nadi, the second biggest city in Fiji. The website is here: http://bambootravellers.com/
hammocks surround the hostel property, perfect for coffee early morning that costs .50 USD a cup
the view from the pool, as horses constantly trot by
I absolutely recommend this place. There is free wifi, a pool, a wicked helpful staff, a little restaurant right in the hostel which is extremely reasonably priced and trustworthy, as well as free airport pick up. The activities they offer are also unmatchable. If you want to go into Nadi town, they will send a guide with you for free. They have special connections with certain locals who do their own versions of excursions at cheap prices. I did two day trips…
Activities: Through the hostel i booked two day trips. The first one i did was a trip to Cloud 9…in which the name certainly fits. Its a floating two story bar and restaurant in the middle of the ocean, a 45 minute boat ride from Wailoaloa beach. Heres the website: http://www.cloud9.com.fj/
Its seriously incredible. The drinks are expensive and not many options, so i didnt buy but thats no suprise. I did buy pizza, the only food item on the menu because the only cooking appliance is a woodfire stove. It was 10 USD and pretty good. People drive their boats up and attach to the sides, leaving room for mostly twenty somethings to jump off the second floor balcony into the clear blue water.
view from the boat
me and a Fijian photobomber
more ocean and some pictures of Cloud 9
Along with this excursion the boat driver took us to a reef to snorkel which was incredulous. I picked up 5 blue starfish 10 feet deep, and saw heaps of beautiful fishies reserved for dentists and chinese restaurants in the states. After that we went to a coral/sand island, not large enough for any growth.
sand and coral baby island
Overall, this trip went from 930 – 4 or so. I paid 120 Fiji dollars which is equal to 60 USD. Also the best 60 bucks i ever spent.
The second trip i did was the surf trip. I paid the same amount, and the trip lasted 830-2. I got whisked away in a boar from the shore in front of the hostel as i had the day before, and an hour later we arrived at a famous surf spot called Cloud Break. Heres info on its legend: http://www.thebigwaveblog.com/surf-spots/cloudbreak-tavarua-fiji
The instructor was so amazing. He taught me all the motions in the boat, picked out the best board for me (included, btw), and swam along side me as we paddled out to a vicious looking U shaped wave entrapment. He was an amazing teacher and i wish i nabbed his contact info. He was very protective considering i was still considered a beginner, and the water is only 5-7 feet deep with coral below. He was super flexible, understanding, experienced, an all other good things. The Hostel has some seriously good connections.
Food: I cant say much about typical Fijian food because its based on seafood, which i hate. I also never tried Kava, the traditional Fijian drink that “In small doses, its effects include muscle relaxation, sleepiness and feelings of wellbeing” …too scary sounding for this big baby. In downtown Nadi you will find lots of food shops, but its mostly small vendors selling stuff like chicken and fish and vegetables grilled in some sorts. There is also a massive foods market thats mostly fruits and vegetables.
the veggies in the market
four banana pancakes that i have both mornings for breakfast for 4 USD
fresh watermelon for .50 USD outside the market
Culture: The culture here is very strong. Theres a pretty noticeable mix of people, half native fijian, with beautiful milk chocolate skin and straight, shiny black hair, and half indian immigrants. With indian immigrants came hinduism, and many people speak three languages: Fijian, Hindi, and English.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple
The people are known for their universal cultural personality. They are all kind, and will always say “Bula” (hello) if they walk past and most often ask your name and want to know more about you. They pride themselves on the necessity for kindness at all times and it makes any traveler feel comfortable. After the first few hours i knew many people by name and felt comfortable with any question i had.
Weather: Hot. Hotter than hell. Especially when you are in the direct sun. The sun in Fiji is a tantalizing devil. It feels so great to lay in the sun but guess what. There’s a hole in the ozone layer and you will burn, i dont care if you tan or not you WILL BURN. I burned so badly that four days after leaving Fiji i still have sore sunburnt legs. My face has already peeled revealed ugly pink fresh flesh contrasting dried, peeling, leathery tan skin on my forehead. Wear sunscreen and reapply, because Fiji certainly tests any sunscreens claim to be waterproof and long lasting. Also, bring a change of clothes in your carry on because when you get off the plane there is no air conditioning, and it is stuffy and hot.
Overall, If you are going to be anywhere in the Pacific or Australia, take a visit to Fiji. Its unique beauty is unparalleled. I hope you enjoyed!