Yes, it can be done! Fiji is considered a honeymoon destination by us Europeans, a once in a lifetime experience, however, it can be done on a shoestring. My partner and I did just that, we needed to do a visa run for Australia and after three trips to Bali I was itching for a new adventure. Flights to Fiji were cheap at only 400AUD return per person from Sydney so it seemed like the perfect option.
After much research, I figured out that the best thing to do was choose an island which had backpacker accommodation – yes it does exist, right next to these stunning resorts! We opted for Bounty Island although there are many to choose from such as Beachcomber Island and the Mamanuca Islands Group. I liked the look of Bounty with it’s stretching beaches and uninhabited demeanour. The resort takes up a third of the island and the rest is open for exploration.
There are many companies that can take you to the islands, unfortunately, unlike Indonesia and Thailand, you cannot employ local fishermen to take you at a cheaper cost as the government forbids it. I went with South Sea Cruises who charged about 128AUD return per person, they allow you to take alcohol on board to Bounty Island unlike other companies, which saved us money as we always rack up a healthy bar tab. Cheaper transfers are available from as low as 90AUD return if you book when you arrive in Fiji. What I loved about South Sea Cruises was that on our return we went around the islands to pick up/drop off passengers which gave us our own little island sightseeing cruise.
Tap water is safe to drink and after a few irregular toilet encounters your body adjusts, it beats buying Fiji Water every five minutes (the humidity can be 98%, mmm sweaty). Also go to the local supermarket, not the one at the wharf – it’s very expensive, and stock up on snacks and noodles before you head to the islands to save on food costs. Bear in mind that Bounty Island has a set meal policy and you have to eat at their restaurant.
There are a lot of cheap accommodation options in Nadi (mostly New Town) although the beach is not postcard style. We stayed at Tropic of Capricorn one night and then Beach Escape Hostel for four nights (we had to extend our trip for visa reasons). Both come highly recommended with friendly staff and good food, there is also a supermarket and bus nearby. You really get to know the locals and before you know it you will be drinking Kava together.
Take a one dollar bus to Nadi town from New Town and explore the local culture, on the ride back the bus even drives on the beach briefly! Beware of scams and don’t talk to people especially when you get off the bus as there are a lot of scouts around that will lie to you. Do not get into a car with anyone who claims to be a guide and do not buy drugs. These were all tips from our new found local friends at Beach Escape and some experiences that we encountered ourselves.
The bus to Lautoka costs a bit extra but this town is a lot less touristy, we did not see anyone other than Fijian people. Explore the markets (get your cheap Kava here) and chat with the tradespeople. The ride there and back offers a great opportunity to see the countryside and wave to all the locals, Bula!
If you have a bit of extra cash you can also visit the Sleeping Giant Gardens and the Mud baths as well as other tours however these were not within our budget.
I would love to hear your money saving tips about Fiji, I hope to head back here one day when I have more cash but for now, the activities we did were more than enough to satisfy my need to explore. I hope you enjoyed reading, make sure you check out my post about Bounty Island for more on this beautiful location.
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