The Ultimate Fiji Travel Guide ~ Part 1

The Ultimate Fiji Travel Guide ~ Part 1

Fiji is known for its beautiful beaches but there is more to Fiji than frolicking on the beach and taking in the myriad moods of the sea.

 

The town of Nadi, located on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu, is where the international airport is located and is the transit point for all travelling to Fiji ~ all tourists pass through here as they commence their Fijian escapades.

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Points To Note Before Visiting Fiji

1. As I’ve already mentioned, the first thing that will cross your mind when you think of Fiji are the golden sandy beaches, but then, Fiji will surprise you with its mountainous backdrop, waterfalls, and scenic beauty. The main island of Viti Levu, the capital city and the largest island of the over 330 Fiji islands, takes your attention away from the beaches and pulls down a unique curtain of pastoral charm that will ignite your curiosity to explore the place and discover its hidden treasures.

2. Fiji is known for its friendly people who are simple, warm, and welcoming. They will pep you up with their joie de vivre and enthusiasm to sing and dance bringing alive the stories, history, and legends that makes these islands what they are. In my opinion we can all do with a few more welcoming attitudes and laughter to get us through our daily struggle {to make everything seem boundless and enjoyable}, wouldn’t you agree?

3. The best time to visit Fiji? May to September is the dry season or “winter”. When I say winter, I mean winter in the loosest sense possible. It rarely drops below 18ºC at the coldest time of year.

4. Indian Nationals do not require a visa to Fiji. Visa will be issued upon arrival at the airport or port of entry. Remember to get your travel health insurance before you travel to Fiji so that your trip is safe.

5. A prepaid Fijian SIM card is the best option to stay connected during your stay in Fiji. Available at Nadi International Airport, you can get a local number and avail the option of getting a 1 GB internet package on your smart phone by paying $5.

6. Make sure you have cash with you or get it in Nadi or on the main island because most of the smaller islands do not have ATMs, and card readers are not very popular either.

7. Island life can be a different experience. Local buses in Fiji are cheap but do not expect them to have air conditioning, they ply with open windows. Coaches are available for long distance travels. Although cabs are not too expensive, in case you are planning to cab it, be careful because there a lot of fake taxi drivers around.

There are ferries that will take you if you plan to visit other islands in the archipelago such as Malolo Cat, Yasawa Flyer, South Sea Cruises, Ratu Kini cruises, Mamanuca Express, and Mana Flyer.

8. It is better to be a bit conservative in your choice of clothes as that makes it easier to merge with the locals while you are not visiting tourist places.

9. A sunscreen and insect repellent are a must while travelling in Fiji. If you intend to spend a lot of time either swimming, snorkelling, or diving make sure the products you use are reef safe so that the exotic sea creatures and marine life do not get harmed by the chemicals from your skincare.

10. Fiji is of course famous for Fiji Water! But, it’s probably the most expensive bottled water you can find. There are more affordable options available though they might not be as striking as the Fiji Water bottle. These are all healthy, safe, and of good quality even though they do not have that international brand tag.

11. You cannot leave Fiji without picking up a souvenir, as they serve as reminders of the wonderful memories you had while visiting the beautiful country. I would say support the local Fijians wherever you can when it comes to buying souvenirs. If you are in Nadi, they have this wholesale bead and jewellery shop behind Jacks and Prouds where you can get bracelets, necklaces, and bags for a bargain.

And if you’re a fan of Pure Fiji beauty products, then stock up in Fiji! They have some exotic fragrances and my personal favourite is their latest, Coconut Lime Blossom. It is exquisite!

12. A trip to Fiji is incomplete without being offered Kava {their national drink} to taste. This beverage made out of Kava roots is served in social gatherings and ceremonies within the local Fijian tribes. Many hotels serve Kava as well but what makes it memorable is the ceremony attached to it ~ there is a unique way of having it ~ clap three times and drink the contents offered in a single gulp and then clap three more times to show your appreciation for the drink. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the taste very much, but the whole experience is a must!

13. It is always important to stay safe while travelling and I would ask you to not walk around {alone} too late at night unless you are in a resort. Your handbags and purses should be kept closed and hold them close to your body.

All in all Fiji is tourist friendly and you can hear the locals greeting you with Bula! which is the local salutation. So be ready to flash your pearly whites while on your trip with a wave and a Bula!

 

 

Always explore and discover a place like a local. You might be deprived of a true Fijian experience if you opt to go directly to the resort from the airport, or choose to spend all of your time within the confines of your luxurious resort. Vikram and I went around Nadi town and drank in the sights, sounds, culture, customs, food, and essence of the place! Let me take you to experience the magic of this land, from mud baths to its kava drink, here are the not-to-be-missed things to do in Nadi and in Fiji. So, without further ado, here’s my Ultimate Fiji Travel Guide!

Take a drive around the main island of Viti Levu in a rental car to experience the real Fiji ~ its magic and enchantment, and get to know the local Fijians better.

 

A Beautiful & Spiritual Place ~ Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

I have always discovered my spiritual side while travelling and our trip to Fiji was no different. And visiting the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple set on the edge of the Nadi River in Fiji {dedicated to Lord Murugan, the God of Nature} was special that way.

Not many people are aware of Fiji’s Indian culture and heritage, and if you’re looking for cultural things to do in Nadi then visit the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere. It is believed that eight craftsmen were brought from India to build this impressive temple which has three parts ~ the first dedicated to Lord Murugan, the second is the Ganesha Temple, and the third is the Meenakshi and Siva temple.

Built in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is very colourful and has impressive architectural work and wooden carvings of deities. Vikram and I strolled through the temple area breathing in the calmness and tranquillity of the place. You can pick up a spot to meditate, contemplate, or sit and admire this stamp of Indian culture and heritage in Fiji.

Details: You’ll need to adhere to a modest dress code: men are not allowed to enter in shorts and women are expected to cover their shoulders and not wear short skirts. Sarongs are available at the venue should you need it. And you cannot wear shoes inside the temple.

Photography is allowed in the temple grounds but not inside the temple. There is an entry fee of 5 FJD for tourists or if you enter as a pilgrimage with flowers and fruits then it is free.

The temple is at the opposite end of Nadi town from the Denarau side and it is only a 15 minute walk across town to reach the temple. You can take any local bus to reach the temple and it is walking distance from the terminal where the local bus drops you off.

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In Tandem With A Healthy Earth ~ Garden of the Sleeping Giant

One of the must-do activities in Nadi is a visit to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant created by Raymond Burr. Spread out on 20 hectares, this exquisite place is home to a large collection of mesmerizing Asian orchids and Cattleya hybrids. There is something very unique and special about the charm and beauty of orchids and they have always held a special place in my heart from the time I could remember.  The fragility and delicate beauty of these flowers have always ignited fantastical illusions in me.

The Garden on the whole is enchanting with manicured lawns and pathways. The little wooden bridges that run over the lily ponds brought alive Monet’s famous painting ‘The Water Lily Pond’. Then there are flowers creeping and crawling on wooden archways and lending their splendid hues, adding a dash of colour to them.  There are trees, trees, and more trees that try to reach up to the skies and do their bit to add life and radiance to the lush stillness of the surroundings.

You need a couple of hours to languidly saunter and take in the beauty of this Garden and enjoy the plant life and its vibrant colours. I came out filled with profound respect and love for nature that has given Planet Earth its life and vitality.

Details: The Garden of the Sleeping Giant is on Wailoko Road, 6.5 kms north of Nadi airport and it is not far from any Nadi hotel. Any cab driver can take you there. If you are planning to take a bus, there are four buses daily from the Lautoka Nadi bus station to Wailoko Road. You can get off at the end of Wailoko Road and walk from there.

The Gardens are open from 9 am – 5 pm, Mondays to Saturdays and Sundays 9 am to 12 pm. The entry fee is ~ Adult: 18 FJD with a complimentary drink after a guided tour. Children (6-15): 9 FJD and Families: 45 FJD.

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Get Ready To Be Dirty! Sabeto Hot Springs Mud Baths

This is a memorable experience of a lifetime ~ I promise you! You feel like you have been taken back in time to those days when playing in the mud was fun ~ i.e. feeling squishy earth beneath your feet and jumping on it ~ and covering ourselves head to toe with beautifying mud was the best game we ever played! The Mud Bath brought back memories of childhood and Vikram and I cherished our muddy experience that day!

On, and the grey mud is not the usual dirty, brown gritty mud you get to see after a downpour but is therapeutic with healing properties, more like the mud/clay masks that are slathered on during a facial.

Post the mud pit, Vikram and I immersed in two hot pools and we could feel the toxins being washed away and our muscles beginning to relax in the 40º pool. The mud bath and the geothermal pool certainly had their effects; our skin felt supple and smooth. All in all, it was an invigorating and rejuvenating experience.

Hot springs might sound like an odd activity to do on a tropical island, but the Sabeto Hot Springs are a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, making it as much a social experience as it is a relaxing retreat.

Details: You need swimwear to enter the muddy pool so make sure that you carry one. The entry fee is 30 FJD per adult and 15 FJD per child. You can either drive yourself if you have a vehicle or taxis will take you to the Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Bath. You can also catch a local bus from behind the Nadi market which will take you to the entrance.

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The ‘Heap’ at Namaka Market

Produce markets in the South Pacific are a colourful and communal affair and are not to be missed. The Namaka Market and Nadi Market are the best markets in Nadi and what is special about these markets is that they serve as a window into an important part of the daily lives of local Fijians.

The many colours and varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables gave a sort of whimsical vibe to the mundane and routine ingredients of daily life as I walked through the rows of the market. We saw bananas, papayas, pineapples, jackfruit, green coconuts, cabbage, the smaller lady fingers {lingli marama}, and everything seemed to be sold in a ‘heap’.

Visiting here is a good way to experience the sights, sounds and aroma ~ enjoying your journey by engaging all your senses. The locals are tourist friendly and it is easy to strike up a conversation with the stallholders and get chatting about their farming and life, while shopping.

Details: I would suggest that you be there early morning so that you get to see a good selection of fresh produce.

The market is right across the Nadi bus terminal and if you are coming from Denarau you can take the yellow Westbus which stops at the Nadi Bus Depot. The fare is 1 FJD and if you are staying in a resort you can ask at the reception or the concierge to give you directions to the bus stop.

The market is open from 7 am to 6 pm daily. Sundays are holidays.

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Culinary Heritage of Fijian Delicacies and Cuisine

Being an archipelago, the sea influences and plays an important part in Fijian cuisine. And although Fiji may be best known for its seafood, the diversity of food here is larger than most places in the world, and there are a delectable variety of dishes to choose from.

We had an authentic Fijian experience while dining at Tu’s Place, a Polynesian restaurant. The food was excellent and we were told that the chefs only use local ingredients and flavours to create tasty authentic dishes.

Most Fijian delicacies are made with the freshest seafood and a mix of vegetables. I would recommend you try the traditional and popular kokoda where raw fish is marinated in lemon juice and served with coconut milk. For dessert, relish on vakalavalava {baked cassava pudding}. Oh, and the chefs at this popular restaurant aren’t shy when it comes to portion control!

What I noticed in Fiji was that no matter which restaurant we chose to dine at, the interaction of staff with customers and the hospitality was commendable ~ we were always made to feel welcome. You really are well taken care of and for travellers like me that makes all the difference.

Details: Tu’s is located in the shopping area at Queens Road, Martintar and is halfway between Nadi Airport and Nadi Town. It is about a 20 FJD ride each way from Denarau.

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The Exquisite Sunsets of Wailoaloa Beach

If you are looking for a conventional Fijian beach with white sand, then you are in for a surprise. The sand of Wailoaloa Beach is darker tilting more towards a shade of grey and you would not want to swim because the water does not look inviting. But what is breathtaking here is the gorgeous sunset ~ the sun sets right over the water, leaving it in fiery shades of orange, yellow, and red and you can see these hues lingering and kissing the sand.

The resorts here are fun and they organize a number of activities such as day trips to the islands and diving excursions. There is also horse riding on the beach at sunset and the fire dancers later in the night will leave you enthralled.

Details: Wialoala Beach is in Nadi and is located midway between the airport and Denarau. The beach front is 15 minutes away from the Nadi International Airport and stretches for 3km in the heart of Nadi Bay.

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End note: It is such a wonderful feeling soaking in the essence of the place and exploring the diverse attractions apart from the beaches Fiji is known for. Whether it was the orchid garden or the mud bath or visiting the farmer’s market or watching the spectacular sunsets, Fiji left us spellbound!

 

Stay tuned for part 2 which covers our adventure activities, cruises, and much more!!

Have you been to Fiji or are you planning a trip to Fiji in 2019? What inspired you to visit Fiji?

 

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

56 Comments

  • These photos are simply INSANE!! I have always wanted to visit Fiji and you have done such a great job capturing and sharing it, Tanya! Definitely makes me want to visit soon!

  • Awesome tips. We will be in Fiji this summer, so thank you for your tip on sim cards. I was hoping I didn’t have to wait until I got hotel wifi to start posting stunning Fiji photos. 🙂

  • I’m sold. Fiji sounds like the perfect location for me! I could spend my entire day on those beaches. I figure somebody would have to drag me away from the water to motivate me to go inland!! Haha!!

    • Haha indeed, I know what you mean ~ I could still happily spend all day relaxing on the shorelines and snorkelling too! Particularly when we visited the smaller islands ~ I didn’t want to leave!

  • WOW – you photos are truly so lovely!! I would LOVE to go to Fiji someday… Some incredible tips that I will remember at whatever point I head out that way.

    • Let me know if you require any further guidance, Prisha! Happy to assist and provide insider tips to any travellers here!

  • Fiji is that dream destination which I am yearning to visit. Its stunning white beaches and turquoise waters are so inviting. Not to mention the warm and friendly Fijians you mention.

  • This is some great information, Tanya! I need to start taking planning a trip there more seriously, as I’d love to visit Fiji before I leave Asia! Thanks for posting!

    • Enjoy Norma! It’s a beautiful place 🙂 There are so many parts of Fiji to explore and new friends in every corner.

  • These are actually the sort of places I want to discover! Furthermore, I love snorkelling!! *added to my bookmarks* 🙂

    • With warm, clear waters and plenty of colourful tropical fish and soft coral, Fiji has some of the best dive spots in the world, Maisie.

  • I’m not too much of a beach person but Fiji has me entranced. Absolutely perfect vacation spot! So pure and unadulterated… must visit soon.

    • That’s alright because there’s plenty to do in Fiji that doesn’t involve beaches, Amaira! The rural landscape is stunning and people often forget about the volcanic make-up of the island. Also it merits visiting just for the Fijian people and their way of life!

  • I sincerely need to state that Fiji isn’t on the highest priority on my list due to budget restraints, but these are great tips! I know there are ways to stay on budget too.

  • You’re awesome, Tanya! Thanks for the tips! We have always fancied Fiji however it would be really expensive!

  • Each conceivable reason would sound great to visit Fiji! And your photographs are incredible ~ I am persuaded!

  • Great tips! I visited Fiji quite a while ago… I wound up staying with Fijians in a mountain town — if you can get an experience like that, you’ll find it’s significantly more memorable than a few days on the beach.

  • This guide is great, Tanya. My husband and I are considering either Fiji or Maldives for our honeymoon. Any insight on which destination you’d choose?

  • Fiji looks incredible! The landscape and culture are two major variables making me want to book a trip there ASAP.

    • Oh the culture is just incredible ~ really fascinating blend of Fijian and Indo-Fijian too. But the Fijians are just so friendly and welcoming! It’s hard not to smile every day, Arunima! 🙂

  • It’s so beautiful there, you are so fortunate to have spent time in this island heaven. Love how clear the water is and your photographs are some of the best I’ve seen.

  • Your post is truly amazing for anyone looking for an amazing vacation to Fiji! Thanks for sharing!! Big Love & Big Support!

  • Hi Tanya, thanks for the tips 🙂 People like you make life significantly easier!! Your trip sounds amazing and I’d love to do something similar. xx

  • Amazing! Fiji reminds me of Hawaii when I used to live there – but it’s surprisingly better! It has been on my bucket list forever, so a debt of gratitude is in order for reminding me. I could sit on those beaches forever I think! Haha!!

    • Yes, I imagine it presumably would be similar to Hawaii but on a significantly smaller scale. The cultural aspect is really delightful too, and the people are just the best!

  • Wow, the landscape and visuals are dazzling. I’ve never considered visiting Fiji, but this is a brilliant post that would make me want to go and explore all those beautiful places.

    • There is so much to do and see in Fiji, Denise. I really do think there is something for everyone here! Hope you make it one day!

  • This looks such a stunning spot on the globe. It’s delightful and amazing. Much obliged Tanya for this prologue to visiting Fiji 🙂

  • 330 islands?! WOW! Looks like such a gorgeous part of the world. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Above all else, you had me from your opening picture! Goodness, the water looks amazing! And I do love all of your photos!

    • Thanks so much, Bhavna! It’s such a wonderful place to be and quite frankly, I’d want to return at the earliest!

  • We loved our time in Fiji despite the fact that it was just a holiday to catch up with friends. We had the best time exploring the islands and snorkelling. It was ideal mix of laid back and so much to do. 🙂

    • Sounds like it was the perfect holiday, Paula! Glad you were able to relax and get out and do a few activities too. Vinaka!

  • Greetings Tanya,

    Thanks for the tips, really helpful!
    If we make a base on Mana Island, is it conceivable to then just do day trips from there to a couple of different islands?

    Thanks in advance!

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