Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Fiji Islands

     So this past summer in the blazing Arizona heat I decided last minute I needed an island getaway, Fiji was always on my list of places to go, but the flight alone I had seen for over $2,000. However, this was one of those cases in booking a cheap flight where last minute was actually cheaper! Make no mistake though, flying to Fiji unless you are on a free flight is never going to be very "cheap" from the states. After working a lot of overtime I booked traveling Tuesday to a Thursday for $1300.00, I threw in New Zealand for an extra $300, if I had booked it linear, going from USA to Fiji, to New Zealand and back to the states, it would have been $9,000! How'd I keep it under $2,000? 2 round trips, I booked seperately. One round trip ticket to Fiji from USA, and one roundtrip ticket to New Zealand from Fiji. So I had to go through Fiji customs twice but it really wasn't too bad.


     Google some resorts in Fiji you will find the prices can be up to $1,000/night!!! So how do you go on a budget traveler's salary... Two ways, one research or two, hostels. My first night in Fiji which I was only staying the night was at Smugglers Cove, it is extremely likely if you are staying in hostels you will stay at Smugglers, it's conveinenient to the airport and since there are not many boats to "island hop", most people opt to stay in Nadi the first day anyway so you don't miss your boat. I decided to be adventerous/cheap and stay in the "Pirates dorm", 50 beds!!! Well guess what, probably was the wrong bet, when I got there I was upgraded for free because uhhh.... well lets just say the pirates dorm had a little bed bug problem. Nothing against Smugglers by the way, great dorm! It was just a bad day. On my return from New Zealand I stayed at Smugglers again, this time in a 4 bedroom dorm for an extra $7, very nice and in a modern building, right on the beach, but the beaches on Nadi are nothing compared to the other islands, I went the hostel route the rest of the time, more out of social purposes since I was solo than anything else, you can certainly find good deals on hotels, by booking direct with the site, although always use the travel search engines first for good measure! And ps, many solo travelers at all the places I stayed in Fiji.

Crystal blue waters, white sands... what else do you need!?
You'll see this friendly greeting on every island you hit!

    Once it's time to island hop shop around, I stayed at the Blue Lagoon Nacula soley because I was interested in exploring the caves which I ended up not doing anyway. Fiji is such an incredible place and you will never look or think about islands the same again! It is made up of over 330 islands! So unless you are staying long, don't plan on hitting all of them! I did 3 islands in 7 or so days, including Nadi.

Tips for Fiji:

-The Yasawaa flyer is your boat. It is the main artery of Fiji transport unless you hired a private boat or have the money to fly around the islands. The boats are modern with on board bar, snacks, and toilets, which you may need as some of the main tourist islands are 5 hours out from the mainland!

-Every island seems the same, but every island is different. With it's own little flavor or catch. I went to Bounty Island which takes about 20 minutes to walk around the whole island. Beach Comber is good for party goers, and Nacula is good for everyone!

-Make sure you don't book diving before flying! I screwed this up and couldn't do my first dive :-(

-If you play an instrument you can fit in your bag, bring it, I jammed out with the Fiji guys with my harmonica, it was a good bonding experience and got me street credit to play their guitars too since mine obviously can't fit in my bag. It's a very musical part of the world and the beats/style are fairly easy to keep up with.

-Make me jealous and dive with the sharks! There is a shark dive Fiji, this is not for the girly men when you are in a cage, this is the real deal no cage shark dive! Not sure how many people have been eaten this year.

-Island's costs are relatively priced well. I heard a lot about Fiji being expensive. Everything was moderately priced, considering the location on the most beautiful beaches in the world, it was actually probably priced cheap!

-If you are staying on an island overnight, it's pretty damn safe (besides Nadi)! The islands are isolated, no cars, no other people coming in the middle of the night etc. As always excercise caution as you are in a foreign country, but you definitely won't feel in danger as you leave the bar to walk to your bungalow (but if you drank too much don't blame me that you woke up with 2nd degree sunburn because I said it was safe and you couldn't handle your booze.).

-People there will trust you. When people found out I was coming to be back to Fiji they wanted to give me cash to bring them back some stuff from New Zealand, it's a real different breed of amazing people down there and a lot of them have not been exposed to some of the bad things in the world, I had to explain to a guy by smugglers what a T Shirt I was wearing was about (9/11 memorial shirt).

-Activities will be your standard beach activities, night snorkeling or diving highly recommneded if your resort offers it. Take advantage of free kayaking or free snorkeling as well as several resorts!

-If you are coming from the States, you will be flying the red eye from LAX and the red eye out of Fiji, do not make enemies! Everyone you see on the plane, except flight staff, you will be bumping into the whole time you are in Fiji! I made friends with a great couple and their kids from the Bay Area, we ran into each other constantly and ended up at the same hotel for my last two nights, small world, they are also related to a guy I work with somehow. You'll also likely see the same people island hopping if you are there long enough.

-Splurge on the food! You'll get some souveniers but they are pretty cheap, so eat good!

-Take lots of pictures!!! These are amongst the most beautiful beaches in the world!

Choose the continent!!!!


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