How should I prepare for a trip to Fiji?
December 22, 2003 7:31 AM   Subscribe

A week from today I depart for Fiji. Advice sought.

I'll be there just under two weeks. I've already made reservations at a hostel for the first four nights ($14 US a night! (which is why I'm not going to Japan)) in the main port of call, Nadi. What do we do after that?

I also have logistical questions like what's the currency? How prevalant is American Express acceptance? Any input is valued.
posted by o2b to Travel & Transportation around Fiji (9 answers total)
1 US Dollar = 1.73581 Fijian Dollar.

I think some of your questions may be answerable via this site.
posted by biffa at 7:46 AM on December 22, 2003

Well, it's been 30+ years since I was in Fiji, but I would highly recommend snorkeling along the coral reefs.

You should be able find some answers to your logistical questions here.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2003

Or here. It would never occur to me to decide to go to a foreign destination for two weeks without even looking at a travel book or site, but I guess I lack that joyous anarchic je ne sais quoi. If I were you, I'd at least pick up the Lonely Planet guide; they tend to be pretty reliable.
posted by languagehat at 8:35 AM on December 22, 2003

o2b: make sure to get off the main island, which is overridden by tourist traps and pretty much a let-down. Be prepared that the local economy isn't wonderful, so tourists are viewed as walking dollar signs.

When I was there about 8 years ago, my favorite hostel on the main island was on the less traveled south side and I believe it was called the Beachhouse. It was the same price as the rest but the facilities were much cleaner and cozier and it was a real treat after some of the others. Nana-nui-ra (not sure I've gotten the name right) was a neat little island with gorgeous snorkeling/diving (freak-out experience detailed here notwithstanding).

Seriously, everyone I've met who's been to Fiji agree - spend as little time as possible on the main island. The beaches and dives and reefs and locals are all better on the smaller islands. And always check out the Lonely Planet for great local travel tips.
posted by widdershins at 8:41 AM on December 22, 2003

Another good site. Lucky bastard.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2003

Response by poster: thanks, my immediate needs are filled. The lonely planet pages I printed out are going to be very helpful. I'd still love to hear stories/suggestions.

The reason this is so slap dash is that I'm meeting my sister there (who is traveling around the world) and wasn't sure where or when it would be until recently. I'm also slightly less concerned than normal because she's actually been there before.
posted by o2b at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2003

Bula vinaka, beachside!
posted by kindall at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2003

I'd say four days in Nadi are 3 days too long. Not much there.

My favorite place of many in Fiji is on Taveuni, the third biggest island. The diving and snorkelling is spectacular, the tourist rarely go there in any number, but there is infrastructure.

Bill Madden is (if he's still alive - he was pretty old when I met him) a truly great Fijian guy who runs a campground/bure place on the beach on the northern end, a km or two south of the airport. He was perhaps the most welcoming of the literally dozens of incredibly kind people we met in our three months last time I was there, and showed us all around the mountains, and demonstrated his ability to call dolphins (no kidding) and took us to his home for a meal and was just generally the sweetest man ever. We stayed (at about $3 a night as I recall) for a few weeks with him, and got to know Taveuni fairly well.

Audrey and Margaret, two expat ladies with houses in the area, who have accommodation that's more upscale (and Audrey does coffee and cake on her veranda) are real sweethearts too. There are other expats in the area, too.

Don't miss the old capital Levuka, on the island of Ovalau. Stay at the Royal Hotel, which will take you back to the 1800's, and play snooker on the same table where Kipling, amongst others, played.

I'm hesitant to talk about going inland to the more isolated villages, as it's something that always seemed exploitative to me, kinda. If someone does invite you, take gifts for the kids and the adults (kava goes over well, always).

Speaking of kava, do try it. It's one of my favorite (very mild, legal) drugs of all time.

I love Fiji with a love deep and true, for all its problems, mostly for the people. Spend as much time as you can talking and hanging out with Fijians, away from resorts, and your trip will be fantastic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:31 PM on December 22, 2003

Also, if you do go to Taveuni, be aware that if you do it overland/overwater, it will be an adventure (or was, 10 years back) that will take about 3 days, probably. If you're not up for an adventure, or your time is limited, fly. That can be an adventure too, but not as grueling.

Still, if you have time and energy, boat/bus is definitely the way to go. That's how you meet folks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:34 PM on December 22, 2003

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