When dreaming of a Fiji vacation, the image in most travelers’ minds is one of palm-thatched resorts on beaches of the softest sand and a gently lapping turquoise sea. It looks like a picture of exclusive luxury, but this South Pacific nation is a surprisingly accessible destination for those without movie-star bank balances. With 333 islands, there’s something for everyone, so here’s the lowdown on how to enjoy the best of Fiji without spending a fortune.
Choosing a resort
Whether you’re looking for relaxation, romance or rollicking adventure, there are plenty of resorts offering affordable accommodation. Many even have a range of options on the price scale, sometimes with a couple of basic rooms alongside more expensive private beachside cottages.
It’s also possible to save money in Fiji on those little extras that you might expect to have to pay for elsewhere. Family-friendly resorts offer complimentary or low-cost kids’ clubs to keep little ones occupied throughout the day and into the evening. Meanwhile, many resorts include equipment rental in their packages – for example kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkels are often available to use free of charge. Check with your resort in advance.
Viti Levu and Nadi
Almost all visitors to Fiji start their trip at Nadi International Airport, on the western coast of the country’s largest island, Viti Levu. Approximately the same size as the Big Island of Hawai’i, the island offers Fiji’s widest array of resorts and experiences for all kinds of travelers.
And while Viti Levu offers so much, don’t rush out of Nadi. This affordable and colorful town is bursting with places to visit like the local handicraft market, colorful Hindu temple and a growing number of hip eateries. Nearby Wailoaloa Beach is a great place to take in one of Fiji’s famous sunsets, enjoy a casual dinner and even join in a game of rugby with some locals.
Just a 20-minute, taxi ride south of Nadi Airport lies the man-made island of Denarau, home to many international brand resorts, an 18-hole golf course and the Port Denarau marina complex with restaurants and shops catering to all tastes and budgets. Many day-trippers on excursions from the port use the market, deli and wine shop here for provisions.
Even though Denarau is well known for its luxury resorts, not all will break the bank. The Radisson Blu and Wyndham Resort are both popular with families, while the apartment-style The Terraces and The Palms at Port Denarau are perfect bases for exploring the outer islands.
The southern coast of Viti Levu is one of Fiji’s most popular places to stay; pristine, white sand beaches, gentle waves and accessible coral reefs have lured visitors – especially families – to the Coral Coast for decades. Just a 1- to 2-hour drive from Nadi Airport, the region is also easy to reach. And it’s not just the beaches that tempt – the area is also known for tons of activities like the Sigatoka River Safari and Eco-Trax electric bike excursion.
Some of the Coral Coasts’ smaller resorts offer great value and experience for travelers. Check out the 36-room Yatule Resort on Natadola Beach, one of Fiji’s finest, or really get away at Likuri Island Resort. It’s a 10-minute boat ride off the mainland, but it feels like a world away.
The Mamanuca Islands
Just off the west coast of Viti Levu and easily reached by regular ferry service from Port Denarau, the 20 or so Mamanuca Islands are a popular destination for those looking to chill out, surf and sail. For those staying on Viti Levu, many of islands offer day trip experiences; the music-filled journey to Tivua Island on an old sailing ship is one of the most popular.
Want to spend more time in the Mamanucas? Check in for a few nights at the affordable Treasure Island Resort and take part in their turtle conservation program, or book a group of friends into Musket Cove and Marina- a perfect spot for surfing Cloudbreak, Fiji’s most iconic surf spot.
The Yasawa Islands
Farther north than the Mamanucas, the Yasawa Islands are more remote and isolated; the 2-4 hour ferry ride from Denarau (for those who can’t afford a seaplane) has kept many tourists away. Famous for their long, white sand beaches, today the islands are dotted with small, casual beachfront resorts where relaxation is paramount.
Looking for some action in the Yasawas? Visit the moss-covered chambers of the sacred Sawa-i-Lau caves, or, between June and September, swim with the manta rays on their migration through the islands. There are plenty of budget-friendly places to stay up here: Barefoot Manta and Blue Lagoon Beach Resort offer a range of options for travelers.