Money & costs
Although cheaper than many Pacific countries, Fiji doesn't provide travellers with the same value as, say, Southeast Asia. Many backpackers are surprised to discover that Fiji is not a US$20-a-day destination.
Regardless of your budget, accommodation will easily be your greatest expense. Restaurants, transport and shops can be extremely good value, particularly in more remote areas; however, anything geared for tourists is far more expensive. On average, budget travellers can expect to pay about $60 to $90 per day for food, transport and accommodation. If you stay in dorms and dine on corned beef, you can do it for a little less. Island-hopping is generally fairly pricey: if you're planning to move around a lot, expenses will go up. It's good to plan your route to avoid backtracking.
Solo midrange travellers can expect to pay around $180 per day, and couples can expect to pay around $120 per person per day. These costs are based on transport, comfortable accommodation and eating out three times a day. Abundant self-catering options enable travellers in this price bracket to reduce their overall costs significantly; shopping at local markets for fruit and veggies is cheap. Families benefit the most from self-contained units as children are often charged either heavily discounted rates or nothing at all. Other tips to reduce daily costs include always looking for a 'return' boat, on its way back to base, and asking for walk-in rates at hotels - they can be a fraction of the advertised rate.
Resorts usually include all meals and plenty of activities in their tariffs, and hover around $200 to $300 per night for a single or double room, and $300 to $400 for a family. They can be especially good value for the latter, particularly as many offer free kids clubs. Moreover, some of the activities kids most enjoy, such as swimming, are free. Top-end options can cost anywhere up to $2000 a night for accommodation, food, alcohol and activities.
Most budget and midrange accommodation includes Fiji's 12.5% VAT (value-added tax) in the advertised rates, but this is not always the case with top-end options, so check before you book. All rates quoted here are peak season rates, which tend to be 10% to 20% higher than low season rates.
The local currency is the Fiji dollar ($); it's fairly stable relative to Australian and New Zealand dollars. See inside front cover for exchange rates. All prices quoted herein are in Fiji dollars unless otherwise specified.
The dollar is broken down into 100 cents. Bank notes come in denominations of $50, $20, $10, $5 and $2. There are coins to the value of $1, $0.50, $0.20, $0.10, $0.05, $0.02 and $0.01. Even though Fiji is now a republic, notes and coins still have a picture of England's Queen Elizabeth II on one side.
It's good to have a few options for accessing money - take a credit card, a debit card, some travellers cheques and a small amount of foreign currency. The best currencies to carry are Australian, New Zealand or US dollars, which can be exchanged at all banks.
Before you head out to remote parts of Fiji, check in the appropriate chapter to make sure you can access money, exchange currency or change travellers cheques.
ATMs are common in major urban areas and most accept the main international debit cards including Cirrus and Maestro. The ANZ bank has an ATM at Nadi International Airport and you'll find more in town at Nadi and Suva. There's also one in Savusavu, but have a backup plan (such as travellers cheques) in case it's out of order. Although they are more commonplace, you won't find ATMs in remote areas, so plan ahead.
Restaurants, shops, midrange to top-end hotels, car-rental agencies, tour and travel agents will usually accept all major credit cards. Visa, Amex and MasterCard are widely used. Some resorts charge an additional 5% for payment by credit card. Cash advances are available through credit cards at most banks in larger towns.
You can change travellers cheques in most banks and exchange bureaus, and at larger hotels and duty-free shops. It's a good idea to take travellers cheques in both small and large denominations to avoid being stuck with lots of cash when leaving.
The 24-hour ANZ bank at Nadi International Airport charges $2 on each transaction. Other banks and exchange bureaus don't normally charge a fee.