Where is Fiji?
Fiji is an island country about 1,100 miles off the coast of New Zealand.
Flying to Fiji
There are two airports in Fiji, Nadi and Suva, but only Nadi is international. Nadi serves as a home base for people traveling to the northern islands and Suva to the Southeastern islands.
Getting to Other Islands
We were first time island vacationers so when we booked our hotel on Mantaray Island we booked it for the nights we wanted to stay and assumed we would figure out the ferry transfers later. A couple months later we noticed on the hotel website that the only ferry leaves the main island at 8:30am daily and our flight wasn’t getting in until the afternoon. So we ended up having to change our reservation and book a hotel in Nadi for the first night.
SO learn from our mistake and check the ferry transfer times if you are booking a hotel off the main island. The ferry that we took leaves from Port Denarau and goes to all the islands in the Yasawa group and then turns around and heads back. Which meant when you leave the island on the ferry you don’t get back to Nadi until 5:45pm. Also, another thing to consider is intentionally scheduling a night in your arrival town. Our flight was delayed three hours and there were some very unhappy customers who in return missed their island transfer. Having a night in Nadi or Suva would give you a buffer in case anything were to happen.
Where to Stay
Although it might not sound like it but we did do some research before we took this trip. One thing that we decided very quickly was that we did not want to stay on the main island, and I am so glad that we chose not to. Nadi is not a very big place and unless you are staying at a large all inclusive resort there is not much to do besides take day trips to other islands.
We did some research on the different groups of islands and what they each offered. We decided to stay in the Yasawas but do your own reading and figure out what area sounds the most appealing to you. 🙂
There are all sorts of different resorts for all types of travelers and budgets. There are low budget backpacker type accommodations with dorm like facilities, fancy all inclusive type resorts and lots that fall somewhere in between.
We chose Mantaray Island Resort because it was one of those middle options and from what I have read those tend to be pretty similar in what they offer. There were backpackers, families, couples and older travelers all staying there. There were several different accommodation options from dorm facilities, private rooms with shared bathrooms, jungle bures (like a bunglalo) or beachfront villas with living rooms.
Our bure was right on end the beach and had a hammock and lounging furniture. It was very clean and well taken care of. We loved it.
Mantaray Island had an assortment of activities going on daily. I made the joke that it felt like summer camp. I assume most islands have similar options as well.
Snorkeling around the reefs is fantastic, just outside of our bure we could hop into the water and see all types of coral and sea life. Snorkel hire for the week was only $20FJD (about $10USD).
There are also a multitude of diving trips that are offered and depending on the length of your stay there are opportunities to get your certification while your on vacation.
Kayaking was available free of charge and a fun way to explore the nearby smaller islands.
Stand up paddle boarding (with or without lessons) is also offered at an extra charge.
Fishing trips were also offered at a very good price. Of course if you are like me and prefer to lay on the beach and enjoy a good book that is always an option. 🙂
All of the resorts that our ferry went to had some type of a meal plan. Obviously once you are on an island you aren’t going to be trying out restaurants unless they are at the resort. A lot of the hotels have a daily fee per guest for meals. This is how it was at Mantaray Island. Our breakfast was a buffet every morning, lunch you ordered form a set menu and dinner was either a four course meal where you chose from a short list of mains or a buffet depending on the day of the week. The food was fresh, delicious and there was a variety to choose from. I booked our hotel throughout hotels.com and didn’t know the cost of the meal plan until later, so that’s another thing to look for when booking your stay.
If you are using a Nadi as your home base or just staying overnight before or after a flight, here are my tips.
Decide what type of accommodation you want- on the way in I knew we were only going to be at the hotel 12 hours (most of them sleeping) so we booked at a popular, low budget backpacker type hotel. We had our own room and bathroom but as they always say “you get what you pay for” and the quality was mediocre. There’s not too much selection for restaurants in the town so we ate at the hotel restaurants, which was also mediocre.
When we realized we needed to find a hotel in Nadi for our last night (once we were already on the ferry and saw the timetable, oops) we decided to try somewhere else. Since it was so last minute I was able to book a nicer hotel for 40%. We stayed at the Tokatoka Resort Hotel and really enjoyed it. When we checked in, we were automatically upgraded free of charge to a suite. The grounds are very well kept and would be an ideal place for families to stay as they have a large swimming pool with a water slide. It is literally right across the street from the airport so you won’t be in danger of missing your flight.
The resort staff was very helpful and set us up to go out to the hot springs and mud bath before our flight. It was quiet an experience and definitely a fun way to spend a couple hours. Other activities in Nadi are the Sleeping Giant Gardens (where the hot springs are located), zip lining or village tours.
For lunch we took our cab driver’s recommendation and went to Tu’s Place for some local cuisine. If you aren’t in a hurry (our food took over 45 minutes because there was one large party) it’s definitely worth a visit. It is owned by a Kiwi and a Fijian so it has local specialties and a few things you will recognize.
One last tip, don’t forget to pick up some cash. For only $5USD an hour the drivers will wait on you at your destinations. You will especially need this if you go to the hot springs because there aren’t cabs frequenting the garden.
I hope you find this guide useful. If you have been to Fiji, let me know if I missed anything!