10 Tips for Travelling Fiji on a Budget
Fiji can be a very expensive country to travel, but as I found out, it is possible to travel cheaply! After managing to explore Fiji for myself without breaking the bank, I’m sharing my top 10 tips for travelling Fiji on a budget so you can do the same!
Fiji is not a cheap destination to travel. In fact, it is surprisingly expensive with lots of prices being similar to those in New Zealand or Australia! However, there are a few tips that I discovered on my recent trip to Fiji that will help you save some money while in Fiji. If you’re smart and careful, you can still see and do all of the best things to do in Fiji without breaking the bank!
These tips are things I wish I would’ve known before my trip to Fiji! So here we go, my top 10 tips for travelling Fiji on a budget!
1. Sleep on the main island of Viti Levu
Fiji is an island nation composed of over 300 islands! The largest island or as many call is the “main island”, Viti Levu, is where the international airports are and the majority of main facilities.
Although staying a few nights on one of the many tiny remote islands in Fiji is tempting, if you are travelling Fiji on a budget then this might be something you need to give a miss.
First of all, the ferries to get to the islands are very expensive and cost from $100-200 FJN each way!
Also, the hotels on the remote islands are more expensive than the ones on Viti Levu. Not to mention, because of their isolated location, food and drink prices are also inflated.
If you book your accommodation on Viti Levu in Fiji, then you’ll have access to local restaurants and grocery stores. You can also do a day trip out to a remote island for as little as $100 FJN including activities and transport! Visiting these remote islands on a day trip as opposed to spending a few nights is a huge budget-saver and definitely an important option to consider if you’re travelling Fiji on a budget!
Hot tip: If you decide to spend a couple of nights on one of the remote islands around Fiji, beware of costly food and beverage packages! Many of the island hotels make you purchase their food package as there is nowhere else to buy food around – and it isn’t cheap! Before booking, be sure to find out if a food package is mandatory as they can cost around $135 USD per person per day on top of the hotel cost!
2. Pay with cash
In Fiji, cash speaks! Credit card and EFTPOS machines are frequent but they often incur a 3-5% charge.
When at local shops it’s also easier to negotiate prices with cash as the locals prefer to take cash.
My best advice is to bring FJD cash with you (exchange your money at home before leaving or at the airport) or to exchange some when you arrive. Alternatively, you can withdraw some cash at ATMs but this also has a surcharge and they are not always readily available.
Arriving to Fiji with cash is often an underestimated tip, but if I had been prepared I would’ve saved hundreds on credit card surcharges and ATM fees!
3. Take local transport
Taxis are pricey in Fiji! Yellow taxis start at $5 FJN and the meter goes up very quickly. The less official taxis are a little bit cheaper and fares are negotiated as a set price. However, they are still extremely expensive in comparison to local transport.
The local buses in Fiji cost only a couple of dollars and go all around the island of Viti Levu! I got all the way from Nadi Airport to Pacific Harbour (a 3.5-hour ride) for only $12 FJN!
Do be aware though, the local buses can be slow and often run late. They do have a schedule but don’t seem to follow it very well. You know how it is, “Fiji time” is a real thing!
I also must give you the heads up that the local buses don’t have air conditioning and can be very full. Try and get a window seat if you can, and also be prepared for a sweaty ride.
Other than that, the local buses are safe and the best option for travelling around Fiji on a budget. Plus, the locals are very friendly and I actually met a couple of very friendly people while on local buses!
4. Shop at local markets and grocery stores
Buying snacks, water, and alcohol at the local grocery stores will save you a ton! Hotels and small grocery stores in tourist areas overcharge for these items.
Also, if your hotel has a kettle and a refrigerator then you can buy some fruit and other food items that are easy to make. I often ate instant oatmeal in my hotel room for breakfast using just the kettle. I also brought fresh fruit from the markets that made a perfect snack! Instant noodle cups are also a good idea.
5. Bring alcohol and food with you
If you’re coming for a short holiday and have room in your suitcase then it is worth stocking up at home before coming to Fiji.
Buying some duty-free alcohol in your departure airport is a fantastic idea to save some serious money! For instances, I bought a 1-liter bottle of vodka at the Auckland airport for $32 NZD. In Fiji, the same bottle cost $189 FJN (about $130 NZD)! Alcohol is very expensive in Fiji because it is so heavily taxed. So if you want to drink, bring some with you!
Other luxury grocery items in Fiji can also be pricey. Some of the food items I brought with me included chocolate, chips, and other pre-packaged snacks like crackers. Bringing these types of things won;t save you as much as alcohol, but it is still helpful when your travelling Fiji on a very tight budget!
6. Take advantage of free events
Many bars, restaurants, and hotels have free entertainment in the evenings. You can watch traditional dancers, singers, or even try “Kava” (traditional Fijian drink) for free! If you are really lucky, you might even be able to catch a fire dance performance for free!
In Nadi, there is a beach called Wailoaloa Beach that is lined with affordable hotels and hostels. In the evenings, this area becomes very lively and there is always some sort of entertainment happening. It is a great area to stay in Fiji for a few nights if you ask me!
Lots of larger resorts also offer nightly entertainment for their guests. Just be sure to ask reception about their entertainment schedule when you arrive to avoid missing out.
Hotel recommendation: Wailoaloa Beach is the perfect place to stay in Fiji if you’re on a budget. As I said, there is lots of free entertainment and affordable hotels and restaurants. The Smugglers Cove is where I stayed and I loved it! But if you want something even cheaper, then Bamboo Backpackers is the place for you!
7. Travel with friends
Traveling in a group will also help you travel Fiji on a budget. You will be able to share hotel rooms, taxis, and negotiate better tour deals! When booking tours or buying items at souvenir shops always ask for a discount if you buy multiple!
If you’re a solo traveler looking to meet others to travel within Fiji, check out the Fiji Backpacker Group on Facebook. Here, you can meet other budget travelers and even share some costs as needed!
8. Drink minimally
Like I said before, alcohol is very expensive in Fiji. It is almost all imported and there is a high tax on it. At the grocery store expect to pay $3 FJN for a beer or local cooler. Expect to pay around $20 FJN for wine or $100 FJN or more for spirits!
In bars and restaurants, drinks can easily cost upwards of $10 FJN with cocktails costing $20 FJN or more! The cheapest drink I found at a bar was $6 FJN for a Fiji Gold beer.
Bring your alcohol with you or just keep the drinking to a minimum to save your wallet!
Budget-saving tip: If you do want to have a few drinks out, make sure to go during happy hour! Almost all bars in Fiji offer a daily happy hour around 4 or 5pm. You’ll find heavily discounted beers and cocktails during this time of day!
9. Use the website “Book Me”
The website “Book Me” is popular in New Zealand, but it is also getting very popular in Fiji! I bought a day trip to a remote island (Robinson Crusoe) with transport included for 50% off the normal price on Book Me!
There are tons of tour deals on this website and even some restaurants. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to book any excursions or tours while in Fiji.
10. Make use of your negotiation skills
Negotiating is considered a talent in Fiji. Bartering on the price of something before purchasing is considered normal. So, to save yourself some money while traveling Fiji on a budget, be sure to always negotiate on a price before paying!
In markets, at roadside vendors, with taxi drivers, and even when booking tour packages it is okay to try and barter yourself a better deal. In fact, most of time it is expected that you will do so.
Places like grocery stores or hotels have set prices though and you shouldn’t try and negotiate there.
Before you go…
Yes, Fiji is expensive. But what you need to understand is that their economy relies on tourism and the prices really help them out. Many of the prices are geared towards wealthy tourists, not budget travelers so you must be smart to travel cheaply in Fiji!
While the prices in Fiji can be frustrating, if you prepare properly and make the right choices you will be able to travel Fiji on a budget and still have a fantastic time!
June 1, 2020