A complete guide to island hopping in Fiji. From accommodation to activities and travel tips, we have it all! Be sure to check out the vlog at the bottom!
Fiji is a country in the South Pacific Ocean made up of over 300 islands, including the Mamanucas and Yasawas, famous for its stunning beaches and second to none hospitality.
Fiji was always a dream holiday for us, but being in New Zealand gave us the perfect opportunity to visit this tropical paradise. Nadi is less than 3 hours from Auckland international and is a common holiday destination for New Zealanders. I suppose it's kind of like Spain for the British, just far more exotic!
In our opinion, an island hopping adventure is the best way to fully experience Fiji. This way you get to see more than just the mainland and get a true feeling for 'Fiji time' and the island life.
Don't worry, it's Fiji time...
There are so many different pre-made itineraries if you go to a travel agent, starting from just day trips, lasting as long as 3 weeks. We chose the Fiji Discovery - 8 nights on the islands and 2 nights in Nadi which we highly recommend. There is also the option to make your own unique adventure via the awesome adventures website, or just book a flight and sort the rest as you go! We would suggest a minimum of 3 nights on the islands. Each island is so different. We didn't want to leave!
The best way to get around the islands is the 'Yasawa Flyer' - a hop on/hop off style ferry that journeys to the top of the islands and returns to the port once a day. If you have a package, this will be included. If not, get your 'bula pass' from the port.
A clean, friendly hotel/hostel about 20 minutes from the airport. It is not in the centre of Nadi, so it is peaceful and relaxing. A great way to start and end your holiday. Good size pool to cool off - you WILL need this in the hot Fiji sun! Free Wi-Fi and breakfast. Comfortable 4 bed dorms or private rooms available.
SOUTH SEA ISLAND
This is the smallest of the Fiji islands, often called the baby of the Mamanucas. It is possible to jog around the entire island in about 3 minutes - we tested it! The great thing about this tiny island is the free use of all water gear, including snorkel/goggles/flippers even boards. They also have a free glass bottom boat ride available for all guests. Only 30 minutes from Port Denerau, the island gets lots of day trippers too.
Optional Activity: Sea Spray Adventure - see below.
WAYA LAILAI ECO HAVEN
This island paradise is a family run resort from the local village. The staff at all the resorts are just fantastic but these guys go above and beyond. Tai Lo gives it that extra personal touch by remembering every guests name. On the Sunday, they have a service for staff members who have to work and we were privileged to be included in this. They will have you up dancing the night away with them! Here, you will also get a lesson in Fijian, and get to try the all famous kava.
Snorkeling with reef sharks
KOROVOU ECO TOUR
This resort has a large open area with some comical staff. The best thing about this place is Abu - the man that is literally everything for that place! He truly is a one man band that went above and beyond to ensure we had a great stay. He is the day time entertainer, activity co-ordinator, tour operator, evening entertainer and lizard man! For those that don't know what a lizard man is - someone that can climb upside-down a coconut tree! He also taught us how to weave the leaves from the coconut trees and taught us about Fijian medicines.
Optional Activity: Snorkeling with manta rays.
Our final stop was, Nabua Lodge. It was also Dan's birthday! And so we celebrated sipping from fresh coconuts on the beach! Nabua Lodge was another family run resort that was super easy to feel at home. The hostel dorm room had separators between each bed which was great for privacy. Not that we needed it, we had the entire room to ourselves!
Snorkeling the Blue Lagoon
Trip to Sawa-I-Lau Caves
Of course, these are just the resorts that we stayed at. There are LOTS more! The package we opted for was the 'simple stays' which included all our food too. We want to stress, these ARE NOT 5* luxury resorts! These are hostels for backpackers with the option for private bures. These resorts are run by the locals on what little they have - the power is shut off during the day to conserve the generators and the rooms do not have air conditioning. Some islands do not have Wi-Fi and if they do, it will be payable and not high speed fibre. They are providing the best they can and when you visit the villages you will understand this. We believe this is a much more authentic way of experiencing Fiji with the locals.
So we opted for the 'Full Monty Add-On' when we booked our package holiday as we were keen to do all the activities possible and wanted as many expenses as possible taken care of. If you are unsure which activities you would like to take part in, don't worry! You can book all activities (subject to availability) at the hostels and pay in cash.
SEASPRAY ADVENTURE - a boat cruise around the Mamanuca Islands. As we sailed through numerous tiny islands - some uninhabited, we were given beers, wines and soft drinks followed by a traditional 'island' lunch midway through the day. One of the stops is Modriki Island which is actually the set for the film Castaway! (Not to be confused with Castaway Island). Some exploring, swimming and snorkeling later, we were off to our next stop where we went to a Fijian village and learn about the traditional Fijian life and take part in their all-famous, Kava ceremony. It is also worth noting that it is true what people say, Kava really does taste like dirty water, however, it makes your lips tingle and gives you a relaxed feeling as if you could go to sleep! For those of you that don't know, Kava is basically the roots of a plant ground into a powder and then water is squeezed through it kind of like tea.
SNORKELING WITH REEF SHARKS
We can not recommend this trip highly enough. There were so many sharks, some even with tiny baby sharks swimming alongside them! These sharks are approximately 5-6ft long. Even though they will swim within touching distance, you must respect them in their natural habitat, and just observe. This, for us was the first time we had seen such marine life in such close proximity and so it is a super special memory for us. Check out our awesome footage on our Fiji Vlog at the bottom of the page or on the videos page.
SNORKELING WITH MANTA RAYS
We were actually super lucky to have seen them as the season is May-October and we visited on 23rd October at the very end of the season. We were told it was a 50:50 chance, and the group the day before had been unsuccessful. Imagine our excitement when not one, but two appeared in the water beneath us! It is unbelievable just how big these creatures are! They are so majestic and we can't recommend this tour enough!
A stunning, crystal clear water, cylinder type limestone cave that has a tunnel of further caves that are sacred to the locals. They believe it is the resting place of Fijian god, Ulutini, and like most places, have a love story that enchants it.
THE BLUE LAGOON
This is home to some of the clearest and bluest waters in all of Fiji. We were even lucky enough to witness an octopus and a clam live in action whilst we were snorkeling! The coral reefs are so colourful and alive with marine life. Thousands of fish swarmed our boat when we arrived, as curious about us, as we were them. We also had a super cool boat driver who and let us stop off at the Blue Lagoon resort to play on their water slide!
Make sure you take some spending money (in cash) to the islands - there are no ATMs or card machines so all payments must be made in cash. About $50 a day is enough.
Water may be easily accessible in other parts of the world, but may not be advised to drink in Fiji - be prepared to buy bottled water at approx. $3-$5.
Make sure you ladies have something to cover your shoulders and knees - when visiting the villages, they are very traditional. Men - remove hats too.
There are different options when you book a package deal. We chose 'Simple Stays' - not as luxurious and run by local families - with this package, all our food was included.
If you choose 'Relaxed Resorts' bare in mind your food bill is on top. Approx $70-$100 a day IN CASH.
If you don't book a package, you can book all the resorts via apps like Hostelworld or you can check availability beforehand and book on the Flyer. Can be LOTS cheaper this way.
A bottle of beer is approx $8
You can also book all activities at each resort (subject to availability) which means you can pick and choose. We booked beforehand the 'Full Monty Add-On' because we wanted to do it all. If you book all separately, the price is not much different.
You haven't been to Fiji if you haven't learned the BULA dance at least twice!
Our time in Fiji was certainly one of the best experiences we have had to date. We would highly recommend Fiji as a travel destination and Awesome Adventures for their truly unforgettable experience. The people really do live up to their expectation of being super friendly and hospitable. Never in our lives have we experienced such joy from people who, in reality, don't have much. Walking around the villages that have so little and yet they are so happy just shows how happiness is not a monetary value. If reading this post hasn't put Fiji on YOUR bucket list, I don't know what will! If you too, would like to book a similar experience, head over to awesomefiji.com or statravel.com or pop in and see your closest travel agent.