One thing to know before you book that plane ticket is that Fiji is rather expensive. In fact, I think due to the high number of imported products from Australia and New Zealand, a lot of the Pacific Islands are. Unfortunately we failed to do any research into this and ended up being those people with a ticket booked, yet no real plan of how we were going to explore this tiny country; everything we looked at was just so expensive.
After a lot of panic stricken research and some Facebook messages to acquaintances who had recently visited, we decided to purchase a package trip with a company called Awesome Adventures Fiji, who it seems have monopolised a large proportion of the eastern islands. Although this package was still quite expensive, we actually ended up spending a lot less than some of the people we met along the way who were travelling around independently.
We chose the ‘Tropical Island Explorer’ package, which consisted of 11 days of island hopping visiting 6 different resorts and included all transfers, food, accommodation and activities. This was really useful as once the balance for this was settled, only drinks and snacks needed to be paid for. The experience ended up being extremely cost effective and allowed us to see so much more of the Fijian islands than some other people that we have met during our trip.
Here is a brief overview of what our itinerary consisted of and the experiences we had during the two weeks:
Day 1 & 2 – Bounty Island Resort, Bounty Island.
We were picked up at 7.15am from our hostel by an Awesome Adventures transfer bus, which took us to Denarau Port & Marina (a great place for an evening meal). Here we checked in and boarded the Yasawa Flyer, which would take us to our first island. The Yasawa Flyer is the only public catamaran that serves the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands daily (even the locals used this as a means of transport to and from the mainland) and because of this they are able to charge a premium for the service. Due to the number of drop offs and pick ups, the journey is slow – a journey that would take an hour by motorboat will take around double the time on the Yasawa Flyer.
Bounty Island is part of the Mamanuca Islands, a tiny group of gorgeous sand islands which are just 45 minutes from Nadi Bay. Bounty itself consists of 46 acres of dense forest and takes around 30 minutes to stroll its circumference. There is one small resort that takes up one side of the island and it is here that we spent our first two nights.
We were greeted on arrival with a welcome song from the staff (a regular occurrence throughout Fiji) and were welcomed into the resort where we spent two blissfully relaxing days lying on the bright white sand and swimming in the clear shallows, where an abundance of fish could be seen swimming around you. In the evenings we wandered to the other side of the island and watched the sunset and ate a beautiful three course meal. If this is what was waiting for us over the next 9 days, we would be very happy.
Day 2 & 3 – Naqalia Lodge, Wayalailai Island.
The majority of our time was spent within the Yasawa islands group, and this was where we headed next; namely to the island of Wayalailai and the family run resort of Naqalia Lodge. We were welcomed with the most enthusiastic singing we heard in the whole of Fiji and were immediately hugged and kissed by the local people, before being lead by the hand up from the beach for a welcome drink. While here we were made to feel like part of the family, joining them for games and kava ceremonies every evening. We were treated to some once in a lifetime activities including snorkelling with reef sharks and a challenging but ‘oh so worth it’ summit walk to watch the sunset from the highest point of the island. Two days here was nowhere near enough and we left with a huge feeling of sadness.
Day 4 & 5 – White Sandy Beach
The most beautiful beach setting but the most disappointing resort is how I would explain White Sandy Beach. This was the one place that I was left feeling hungry after nearly every meal and the huts weren’t in the best condition. However we did experience a traditional Fijian dinner here which included Sea Grapes (little green balls that look like tiny grapes and taste like pickles) and where invited to their local church service on a Sunday morning. The beach was also beautiful.
There is another resort on the same beach that was a little more well-kept so I would advice you try and stay there instead if you had the choice!
During these two days we went on a great snorkelling trip to a reef site, where we saw so much wildlife including Jelly Fish, Starfish, Clown Fish and Parrot Fish. We were due to swim with Manta rays while we were here but unfortunately they hadn’t been seen for months.
Day 6 & 7 – Nabua Lodge
By this point in our trip we had met quite a few others who were also going onto Nabua Lodge with us, making it the most fun we had in Fiji. There was a cute local tearoom that served cake everyday between 3 & 5pm, the bures were spacious and the food was so yummy! During our two days here we went on a caving trip, which included a second chamber that could only be accessed by swimming through an underwater passage. Although I wouldn’t have paid for this in its own right, as it was included in our package it was a fun way to spend a morning.
Day 8 & 9: Gold Coast Resort
While this was the most basic accommodation we had throughout the entire trip, it was also one of my favourite resorts. There was no electricity and the only source of light we had was a solar lamp and any torches that we had with us. The bures were traditional and had been built by the villagers, who owned and ran the resort. The food here was amazing and plentiful, with fresh fish and chicken as well as copious amounts of noodles (my favourite). Just a short walk away from Blue Lagoon beach; a stunning stretch of white sand with bright blue water, the resort was one of only two hotels on the island. We went on a snorkelling trip to the Blue Lagoon where fish were so close to you, it was hard to see anything else! Matt then played rugby on the beach with the local young men with a coconut while I sunbathed.
My favourite part of this hotel however was the resort’s dog ‘Romeo’ (typical me), this dog accompanied us on our snorkelling trip, on our walks to and from the Blue Lagoon, lay with us on the beach and even slept outside our hut at night. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to leave an animal as he watched us depart on our boat at the end of the two days.
Day 10 & 11: Beachcomber
We had a four and a half hour journey back to the Mamanuca islands where we would stay at Beachcomber, a large resort which takes up the entirety of a tiny sand island. The sea was so rough that staff were handing out sick bags and as someone who suffers from seasickness, it was the journey from hell. When we finally arrived at the hotel, the room was swaying in front of my eyes and I felt as though I was still on the boat – that evening I was severely ill because of the rough journey and as a result we did not get to go on the boat tour that was booked for our last day. This was such a shame because our companions had given amazing reviews! I think if I ever return to Fiji I will definitely invest in some good motion sickness tablets!
Dependent on popularity, package and resort rating, the islands and resorts you visit may vary from the itinerary above. It is also possible to plan a more flexible itinerary with the Yasawa Flyer’s ‘Bula Pass’. If you are looking to visit Fiji on a budget, this package may be perfect for you!