Visitors Guide A
It is wise (and usually much better value) to book accommodation with an airfare before arriving in Fiji as part of an overall package, especially for travellers from Australia and New Zealand. Booking direct with an accommodation property may actually be more expensive and you don’t get the security and back up from the Travel Compensation Fund if anything goes pear-shaped.
Every year Small Guide Travel is represented at the annual BFTE (Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange) and, apart from inspecting the resorts, it allows us to negotiate the best possible accommodation rates with the properties we choose to represent.
A thumbnail guide to each of these resorts accommodation is provided under the individual property listing.
- Nadi, Denarau & Natadola: Tokatoka Resort Hotel, Raffles Gateway Hotel, Sonaisali Island Resort, Sheraton Fiji, Sheraton Villas, Westin, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Radisson Blu Resort, Sonasaili Island Resort, Intercontinetal Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.
- Coral Coast: Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort, Hideaway Resort, Outrigger Reef Fiji, Naviti Resort, Bedarra Beach Inn, The Warwick Fiji
- North of Nadi and North Coast: Anchorage Fiji Beach Resort, First Landing Beach Resort, Rakiraki Hotel
- Suva and islands: Holiday Inn Suva and Toberua Island Resort
- Mamanuca Islands: Malolo Island, Navini Island Resort, Mana Island Resort, Tadrai Island Resort, Beachcomber Resort, Castaway Island, Matamanoa Island Resort, Tokoriki Island Resort, Treasure Island Resort, Musket Cove, and Plantation Island Resort
- Yasawa Islands: Yasawa Island Resort, Navutu Star Fiji Boutique Resort and Octopus Island Resort
- Other regions: Royal Davui Island Resort, Vatulele Island Resort, Lalati Resort & Spa, Uprising Beach Resort, The Pearl, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, Namale Resort, Wakaya Club, Qamea Beach Resort, Taveuni Island Resort, Koro Sun Rainforest Resort & Spa, Matangi Private Island Resort, Vomo Island Resort and Blue Lagoon Cruises
Sad to say, HIV and AIDS have reached these idyllic shores, and an extensive menu of other sexually transmitted diseases has been served up in Fiji since the days of the early whalers and sandlewood traders. That needn’t worry the faithful or chaste, but the occasionally naughty should know that a thin layer of rubber may be the only thing between them and serious complications.
Prophylactics designed to minimize these risks aren’t readily available from vending machines in Fiji, and pharmacies close early in the islands, so please plan ahead. As Condoman proclaims in a popular local comic strip, “Don’t be shame, be game, protect yourself!” and the Australian ad campaign – “if it’s not on, it’s not on.”
For international flights, see Air Pacific, Virgin Australia and Qantas. Air Fiji and Sun Air island hop around Fiji each and every day. Air Fiji’s network revolves around Suva while Sun Air fans out from Nadi. Pocket-sized Twin Otters and Islanders are used on many services, and you might even be invited to sit up front with the captain if you play your cards right! Seating is first come, first served, and passengers are often asked to swap seats with persons of greater or lesser girth if it’s considered necessary to balance the plane. On check-in you will be weighed along with your luggage. The aircraft cruise at low altitude, and on a sunny day, you’ll get some excellent views of the coral reefs from the air. On the flight from Suva to Nadi, it’s important that the pilot remembers that he’s headed west and not east as there are mountains a thousand metres high to cross.
Nadi International Airport will probably be your first stop in Fiji, and you’ll find good facilities there, including a 24-hour left luggage office, the Republic of Cappuccino internet cafe, and even a full service post office. If the airport restaurants seem a little pricey, look for the Fijian ladies under a awning just outside the airport gate selling tasty Indian rotis and orange cordial at a super price. In fact, these women probably hail from nearby villages that claim ownership of the runways themselves, which were built around the time of the Second World War on land that historically belongs to them. Unlike Nadi, which hosted Australian and American bombers during the war, Suva’s airport was built by the New Zealanders as a fighter strip. Savusavu Airport on Vanua Levu and Matei Airport at the north end of Taveuni are the other airstrips most often seen by visitors. On Taveuni, your plane will touch down just as you think it’s about to go nose first into the lagoon. Kadavu Airport is similar. And if you really do want a plane that lands on water, Turtle Airways has a fleet of Cessna floatplanes.
Air Pacific was founded in 1951 by an Australian named Harold Gatty, who became an aviation superstar in 1931 by flying around the world in eight days with American Willy Post. Jules Verne must have turned green with envy. Gatty’s operation was originally known as Fiji Airways, but 1972 the airline’s marketing whiz kids realized they’d be able to spread their wings with a more generic brand. Air Pacific now serves a mixed bag of destinations, including Apia, Auckland, Brisbane, Honiara, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Port Vila, Sydney, Tokyo, Tongatapu, and Vancouver. Qantas owns 46.5 percent of Air Pacific, so don’t be surprised if you’re ushered onto an Air Pacific plane when you thought you’d booked on Qantas. In fact, the big red kangaroo hasn’t landed in Fiji for years. (Visit www.airpacific.com for flight schedules)
Brewed by the Australian brewer Carlton, part of the notorious Fosters group, Fiji Bitter has a remarkably satisfying bite in this heat and you’ll have few complaints about the price. Unfortunately, Carlton’s brewery is Suva is almost as well guarded as the nearby Suva gaol, so if you’re considering trying to talk yourself into some free samples on the pretext of joining a factory tour, head for Lautoka instead where government-owned South Pacific Distilleries has been known to accommodate serious connoisseurs. This worthy establishment produces the excellent local Bounty Rum. The raw material, molasses, is a by-product of the milling process at the Lautoka Sugar Mill just down the road, and the distillery turns out great quantities of whisky, vodka, and gin as well as the proverbial rum. You can buy imported beers, spirits and Australian and New Zealand wines but because of freight they are expensive. (see Duty Free)
ANCHORAGE FIJI BEACH RESORT
Anchorage Fiji is a unique little accommodation option just north of Nadi.
It’s 15 minutes from the aiport so makes for a more ‘fijian’ experience for a first or last night stay if the arrival and departure times don’t suit transfers to one of the island resorts. It is located on a hillside on seven landscaped acres with its own private palm-fringed beach. There’s a large beachside swimming pool with swim up bar and open-air dining. It is also near historic Viseisi village, where the first Fijians settled.
There’s a range of accommodatuion (Garden and Ocean View) and some of the villas have spas.
Like the Polynesians, the Fijians were and are lovers of elaborate ceremonies, especially the kava ceremony, and a massive wooden kava bowl (tanoa) makes an impressive souvenir (and an excellent salad bowl back home). Smaller tanoas are handy for serving peanuts and the like. Woodcarvings anyone? Recommended are the fearsome Fijian war clubs and cannibal forks which you can buy in most craft outlets and markets around Fiji. For obvious reasons, these items are not available in the duty free shops at Nadi Airport and cannot be carried aboard the plane in your hand luggage.
What not to buy in Fiji (if looking for traditional) are the masks and tikis, which are made exclusively for sale to tourists and have no basis in Fijian culture.
Something lighter? Tapa cloth made from the pounded bark of the paper mulberry tree is always a great purchase. You can buy great sheets of the stuff capable of covering an entire wall or smaller pieces painted with the figures of turtles and the like.
Do not buy conch shells for environmental reasons and beware the carved boat vendors at the Suva markets – they have serious patter and attitude – they’ll have your name on the side of a carved boat and you feeling guilty and/or uncomfortable before you can say “haggle”. To remove any guilt, tell him that he has spelt your name incorrectly and the old name will disappear in the swipe of the knife and he’ll start on another version. If enough people react like this he may have to resort to selling hand-carved toothpicks.
AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINES
Some of the outer islands are still without ATMS, and none are available at outer island resorts.
There are two ATMs at Nadi Airport. One is next to the baggage carousel before customs and another just outside the arrivals door. These electronic advances mean there’s no need to change currency into Fijian dollars before leaving home (where the exchange rate will be lousy) and that traveller’s cheques are going the way of the dodo.