Viti Levu’s airports at Nadi and Nausori (near Suva) are the main domestic hubs. Other domestic airports include:
- Savusavu and Labasa (Vanua Levu)
- Vunisea (Kadavu)
- Matei (Taveuni)
- Bureta (Ovalau)
- Koro (Lomaiviti)
- Vanuabalavu and Cicia (Northern Lau)
- Lakeba (Southern Lau)
Some other small islands also have airstrips, including Yasawa island and Malololailai and Mana in the Mamanucas; otherwise, chartered seaplanes or helicopters can get you almost everywhere in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Groups.
Airlines in Fiji
Domestic flights are in small, light planes. Some may find them scary, especially if it’s windy or turbulent, but the views of the islands, coral reefs and lagoons are fantastic.
Most flights are turnaround flights that return to Nadi or Suva after unloading and reloading passengers. Some flights only go once a week, so it is advisable to book well in advance to secure a seat.
Arriving before or after your possessions is not an uncommon occurrence. It's a smart policy to take a change of clothes and all your valuables in your carry-on luggage.
Fares vary widely according to destination demand. Sample one-way fares include:
- Nadi–Suva $89
- Nadi–Kadavu $230
- Nadi–Savusavu $320
Charter services are most commonly used by those wishing to maximise their time at island resorts.
Cycling allows you to see the countryside at your own pace and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. It’s a particularly good way to explore Viti Levu, Vanua Levu (the Hibiscus Hwy) and parts of Ovalau and Taveuni.
- With the exception of the Kings and Queens Roads, most roads, especially inland, are rough, hilly and unsealed, so mountain bikes are the best option.
- The best time to go is the drier season (May to October); note that the eastern sides of the larger islands receive higher rainfall.
- Bring your own bike, helmet, waterproof gear, repair kit and all other equipment. It is difficult to get bike parts in Fiji. If you wish to take a bike on a domestic flight, make sure it is demountable.
- Drivers are not used to cyclists, and can be manic in towns or a menace on highways. Avoid riding in the evening when visibility is low. Travel light but carry plenty of water – it can be hot and dusty or humid.
- The cheapest place to store bikes is at backpacker hostels.
- On Viti Levu, bike hire can be arranged through Stinger Bicycle Tours in Nadi.
With the exception of the ferries listed here, often the only means of transport between neighbouring islands is by small local boats or pricey water taxis. These rarely have radio-phones or life jackets. If the weather looks ominous or the boat is overcrowded, consider postponing the trip or opting for a flight.
Regular ferry services link Viti Levu to Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Ovalau and Kadavu. Ferry timetables are notorious for changing frequently, plus boats sometimes leave at odd hours with a lengthy waiting period at stopovers. The worst thing about the longer trips is that the toilets can sometimes become disgusting (take your own toilet paper). There are irregular boats that take passengers from Suva to the Lau Group and Rotuma.
Every day a small flotilla of high-speed catamarans departs Denarau Marina to the resorts on the Mamanuca islands. All boats have a free pick-up and drop-off service between the port and Nadi Hotels. Mana, Malolo and Malololailai all have wharves; at the other islands the arriving catamarans are met by a swarm of resort dinghies that take turns to pull alongside the bigger catamaran and deposit or collect travellers.
Luggage is colour-coded with tags, but it’s a good idea to check that your bags have followed you into the dinghy. In calm weather the transfer of passengers from big boat to little boat goes smoothly, but when there is motion in the ocean, things become interesting.
Suva–Vanua Levu & Taveuni
Two shipping companies, Bligh Water Shipping and Goundar Shipping, connect Suva and Savusavu, often via Koro, Taveuni and/or Ovalau.
It takes around 12 hours to reach Savusavu. For those bound for Labasa, a bus often meets the boats at Savusavu and tickets can be bought in Suva that include the Labasa bus transfer. Sometimes the boats depart from Natovi Landing, a half-hour bus ride north of Suva. Two daily ferries run between Natuvu in Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
Bligh Water Shipping Has regular Natovi–Savusavu departures aboard the MV Westerland in three classes, including super-comfy cabins, double bunks and economy seats. The ferry usually arrives in Savusavu in the wee hours of the morning.
Goundar Shipping The comfortable Lomaiviti Princess departs Suva every Monday and Friday for a 12-hour voyage to Savusavu, and onwards for 2-3 hours to Taveuni. Accommodation ranges from economy seating to first-class cabins; facilities include a theatre room, kids' playground and cafe. A second ferry was due to be added to the route. Also has a branch in Savusavu.
Natovi (Suva)–Ovalau (Levuka)
Suva ferries actually leave from Natovi Landing, which is 90 minutes north of the city, and land at Buresala Landing on Ovalau.
Patterson Brothers Shipping Operates a daily service between Suva and Levuka. Tickets are for a combined bus-ferry through service, with a journey time of around four to five hours.
Viti Levu is connected to Kadavu by only two companies. Both sail out of Suva.
There are very few services to the Lau, Moala and Rotuma Groups. Those that run are slow, uncomfortable and erratic. Many islands only receive one ferry a month, making this an unreliable option for anyone with a fixed timetable.
Goundar Shipping currently visits Vanuabalavu and Cicia in the Lau Group, and Rotuma once a month – call ahead for the schedule. A new ship, the MV Sea Rakino, was coming into service as we went to press, offering a more regular service linking the Lau Group to Suva, with the possibility of a stop at Savusavu and Taveuni.
Yachting is a great way to explore the Fiji archipelago but remember if you wish to visit any place except a port of entry, a cruising permit from the Ministry of Fijian Affairs is required. These are free of charge and usually issued on the spot.
For more information, Yacht Help Fiji has an excellent online guide as well as a base at Port Denarau.
Only one local company so far has taken advantage of Fiji's potential as a cruise destination.
Captain Cook Cruises Offers three to seven night cruises around the Yasawas, a seven-night cruise around Vanua Levu (also taking in Levuka), and an 11-night cruise around Kadavu and the Lau Group. All departures sail from Port Denarau.
Fiji’s larger islands have extensive and inexpensive bus networks. Local buses are cheap and regular and a great way to mix with the locals. While they can be fairly noisy and smoky, they are perfect for the tropics, with unglazed windows and pull-down tarpaulins when it rains.
- There are bus stops but you can hail buses along the road, especially in rural areas. Most drivers prefer to go downhill at the maximum speed their vehicle allows to make up for the excruciatingly slow speed they travel going uphill. It’s a lot like being on a roller coaster, only cheaper.
- Reservations are not necessary for local buses.
- On Viti Levu, there are several companies with comfortable air-conditioned express buses: Pacific Transport, Sunbeam Transport and Coral Sun. Timetables can be checked online.
- Pacific Transport also operates services on Taveuni. Local companies operate buses on Vanua Levu but they can be slow and their timetables are often erratic.
- If you are on a tight schedule or have an appointment, though, it’s a good idea to buy your ticket in advance, especially for bus trips and tours over longer distances (eg Suva to Nadi).
The Feejee Experience
Feejee Experience offers coach transfers with or without accommodation for budget travellers. The transfer-only passes are valid for a year and you can hop on and off anywhere you like along a set route as long as you don’t backtrack. The four-day Hula Loop ($449) starts at Nadi and incorporates stops at Mango Bay, Pacific Harbour and Volivoli Beach. Sandboarding down the Sigatoka Dunes, village visits, the mud pools at Sabeto and snorkelling at Volivoli (Rakiraki) are included, but accommodation and food isn’t. The 11-day Big Kahuna ($799) also includes the Viti Levu circuit plus seven days travel through the Yasawa islands.
The accommodation-inclusive deals cost $279/449/799/854/1399 for 3/4/6/8/10-day packages.
These tours are popular with the 20-something crowd who do not want to use the public buses. Nightly activities are catered to this age group and are very social, fortified with alcohol and lots of fun. Feejee Experience has a stellar reputation and those who sign up for a tour rave about their experiences. Before you book, however, it is worth keeping in mind that a perfectly comfortable Sunbeam Bus will also take you around the island for $38.45.
Car & Motorcycle
About 90% of Fiji’s 5100km of roads, of which about one-fifth are sealed, are on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Both of these islands are fun to explore by car, 4WD or motorcycle.
If you hold a current driving licence from an English-speaking country you are entitled to drive in Fiji. Otherwise you will need an international driving permit, which should be obtained in your home country before travelling.
Petrol stations are common and easy to find on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. They are most prolific and competitive in the cities. Once you get off the beaten track, however, they become fewer and further between. If you plan to do some driving by 4WD into Viti Levu’s interior, you should take a full tank with you. Fuel may be available in village shops, but don’t assume so.
Rental cars are relatively expensive in Fiji. Despite this, it is a good way to explore the larger islands, especially if you can split the cost with others.
Check the rental conditions: some agencies do not allow their cars to be driven on unpaved roads, limiting your ability to explore the highlands. Also check if the agency allows you to take the vehicles on roll-on, roll-off ferries to Vanua Levu, Taveuni or Ovalau, if these are on your itinerary. If you do take a car on to Vanua Levu it’s best to hire a 4WD.
The shorter the hire period, the higher the rate. Delivery and collection are often included in the price. Rates for a week or more with an international company start at around $125 per day, excluding tax, but the same car can cost an extra 50% per day for just one or two days’ hire. Some companies will hire at an hourly rate or per half day, while some have a minimum hire of three days. It’s usual to pay a deposit by credit card. If you don’t have a credit card you’ll need to leave a hefty cash bond.
The minimum-age requirement is 21, or in some cases 25.
Generally, the larger well-known companies have better cars and support but are more expensive. Consider what’s appropriate for you, including how inconvenienced you might be if the car breaks down, what support services are provided, the likely distance to services, cost of insurance, if value-added tax (VAT) is included and the excess or excess-waiver amount. Regardless of where you rent from, check brakes, water and tyre pressure and condition before heading off.
The easiest place to rent vehicles is on Viti Levu. Most rental agencies have offices at Nadi International Airport; the established companies also have offices in other towns and rental desks at larger hotels. Car-rental agencies on Vanua Levu and Taveuni have mostly 4WDs due to the islands’ rough roads.
Although not widely available, motorcycles and scooters are not a bad way to travel in Fiji. Similar traffic rules and rental conditions as mentioned previously for car rental apply to motorcycles and scooters.
Some of the more reputable car-rental agencies on Viti Levu:
Third-party insurance is compulsory. Some car-rental companies include it in their daily rates while others add it at the end (count on $25 to $30 at least). Personal accident insurance is highly recommended if you are not already covered by travel insurance. Renters are liable for the first $500 damage. Common exclusions, or problems that won’t be paid for by the insurance company, include tyre damage, underbody and overhead damage, windscreen damage and theft of the vehicle.
The perimeter of Viti Levu is easy to get to know by car. Both the Queens Road and the Kings Road are fully sealed. It takes about 3½ hours to drive the 200km from Nadi International Airport to Suva (via the Queens Road), depending on how many lorries you get caught behind on the hills. Roads into Viti Levu’s interior are unsealed and a 4WD is generally necessary.
There are unsealed roads around most of Vanua Levu’s perimeter, but there’s a sealed road from Labasa to Savusavu and the first 20km of the Hibiscus Hwy from Savusavu along the scenic coast is also paved. The remainder of the Hibiscus Hwy is quite rough.
Some locals drive with a fairly heavy foot on the accelerator pedal and many ignore the whole idea of sticking to the left-hand side when navigating bends (particularly along the Coral Coast). Local drivers also tend to stop suddenly and to overtake on blind corners, so take care, especially on gravel roads. Buses also stop where and when they please. There are lots of potholes and sometimes the roads are too narrow for two vehicles to pass, so be aware of oncoming traffic.
Watch for sugar trains in the cane-cutting season because they have right of way. Dogs wandering onto the road can be a major hazard so observe the speed-hump-enforced 20km/h rule when driving through villages. Avoid driving at night as there are many pedestrians and wandering animals – especially along the southeast coast of Viti Levu, on Vanua Levu and on Taveuni.
Drive on the left-hand side of the road. The speed limit is 80km/h, which drops to 50km/h in villages. Many villages have speed humps to force drivers to slow down. Seatbelts are compulsory for front-seat passengers.
Hitching is never entirely safe in any country and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk.
Hitching in Fiji, however, is common. Locals do it all the time, especially with carriers. It is customary to pay the equivalent of the relevant bus fare to the driver. Hitchhikers will be safer if they travel in pairs and let someone know where they are planning to go.
Crime is more prevalent around Suva, although there have been cases of hitchhikers being mugged around Nadi.
Many locals drive small trucks (known as carriers) with a tarpaulin-covered frame on the back. These often have passenger seating and some run trips between Nadi and Suva. You can pick one up in Nadi’s main street; they leave when they are full and are quicker and only slightly more expensive than taking the bus.
Minivans are also an increasingly common sight on the road. Popular with locals, they’re also quicker and more expensive than a bus but much cheaper than a taxi. Your ride won’t necessarily be more comfortable, though – it’s generally a sardine-type affair. Minivans plough up and down the Queens Road around Nadi.
You will find taxis on Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Ovalau. The bus stations in the main towns usually have taxi depots and there is often an oversupply of taxis, with drivers competing for business. Most taxi drivers are Indo-Fijians keen to discuss life and local issues. They invariably have relatives in Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
Unlike in Suva, the taxi drivers in Nadi, Lautoka and most rural areas don’t use their meters. First ask locals what an acceptable rate for a particular trip is. If here is no meter, confirm an approximate price with the driver before you agree to travel. Cabs can be shared for long trips. For touring around areas with limited public transport, such as Taveuni, forming a group and negotiating a taxi fee for a half or full day may be an option.
Always ask if the cab is a return taxi (returning to its base). If so, you can expect to pay $1 per person or less, as long as the taxi doesn’t have to go out of its way. To make up for the low fare the driver will usually pick up extra passengers from bus stops. You can usually recognise a return taxi because most have the name of their home depot on the bumper bar.