Last Updated on March 9, 2020 by Travels with Kids
So, which is the best destination with kids: Fiji vs Bali? It’s a valid question and one that I explored before we booked our family holiday to Fiji. We love Bali, and we love Asia but we’d never been to a Pacific island before. We had no idea what to expect out of a Fiji family holiday
I Googled and tried to find the answer to Fiji or Bali for a family holiday. I also looked for “what are the differences: Fiji or Bali”. However, I couldn’t find anything that honestly explained the differences between these two tropical destinations. So, I decided to answer the question myself.
Take a look from our perspective so you can be well prepared if you’re planning for either Fiji or Bali. Or if you love one place, this gives you an idea if you will love the other.
Important Note: We haven’t been to other Pacific islands like Vanuatu, or the Cook Islands which are high on our agenda for the near future. So, this post could get updated when we have later visited other Pacific islands. So here goes: Fiji vs Bali.
This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.
Fiji Or Bali For A Family Holiday
Accessibility From Australia
For West Australians, Bali’s a four-hour flight, and for those from the Eastern States, it’s around six hours from Melbourne or Sydney. For West Australians, Fiji is ten hours plus via Sydney, but just four hours direct from Sydney or Melbourne. So, similar, depending on where you live in Australia both Bali and Fiji are comparable in flying time.
The Winner: Absolutely Tied
Range Of Accommodation
Bali has an amazing range of accommodations from simple places that are very budget-friendly right through to five-star resorts like the St Regis. If you are interested – check out our favorite Bali family-friendly hotels that we have stayed in.
In short, Bali has something for everyone and you can find whatever style of accommodation you want. On the other hand; Fiji is largely resort-based and that means there were very few hotels in towns or accessible places. Compared to Asia this was a surprise
In Fiji, we stayed in just one hotel which was the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. For the rest of our Fiji holiday with kids, we stayed in resorts. Many of the resorts (particularly island resorts) have included obligatory meal plans in children over 4 years of age. If you are used to Asia and popping down the street for a meal of your choice then this will seem both limiting and expensive.
We like the flexibility of eating what we want when we want. For this reason, we chose the First Landing Resort Nadi as it was one of the only places that allowed self-catering in the Nadi area.
If you are comparing Bali vs Fiji, Bali certainly has a much better range of accommodation for all budgets and tastes.
The Winner: Bali
Transport Options In Bali Vs Fiji
If you are so inclined, when you arrive in Bali you can jump in a taxi and go where you like. In Bali local transport is plentiful and roads crisscross the island. Yes, Bali is an island, albeit a big one. Traveling with kids in Bali we often found that hiring a private car is not that much more expensive than 4 seats on a bus, plus you have the freedom to stop where you like. Due to the competition in the Bali tourism industry, private cars are reasonably priced.
We took our own car seats to Bali and this worked out as the most affordable option for us. Sure they were quite bulky to lug through the airports but as soon as you get them to the hotel we put them in the luggage storage.
In Fiji, the main island is Vitu Levu, but there are many other places to visit that are only accessible by boat. There are not that many taxis around Fiji, and when we did take transport into Lautoka, the city near the First Landing Resort there was about one bus every couple of hours. Meaning you didn’t want to miss the bus. We had to plan our shopping trips on the local bus carefully – a feeling that you don’t get in Bali. Private drivers were not that easy to encounter in Fiji, and you ended up using the resort drivers – again a more expensive option.
If you want to get out to the Fiji Island resorts then you need to take a boat. There are a number of different boat companies.
The Winner: Bali
Eating out – Fiji vs Bali
Both Bali and Fiji are extremely good at dealing with catering to the Western palate. By that, I mean that for kids there are plenty of french fries (chips), chicken nuggets and spaghetti bolognese. Expect the things that your children will be familiar with.
One of the things we were most excited about for our Fijian trip was their Indian heritage. We imagined we would be eating delicious Indian food the whole time. We were really surprised that most of the resorts didn’t offer many Indian dishes, and those that did didn’t taste particularly authentic. I found it humorous on Mana Island I asked one of the managers about why they didn’t offer more Indian food and they responded surprised, “Oh we don’t have Indian food but we have a Japanese restaurant”.
Most menus seemed to have a couple of typical Fijian dishes that were fish-based. However, overall we were disappointed that there were only a couple of Fijian meals on most menus. The exception was our first resort in Fiji, the First Landing Resort.
So Fiji has a rich cultural tradition, but in summary, the food on offer for Western tourists was disappointing and largely “Westernised”. On the other hand in Bali, there are lots of options for both local Balinese and Indonesian food and it is not hard to pop down the street to enjoy a Warung Meal.
The Winner: Bali
Which Is The Most Kid-Friendly Fiji Or Bali
Both Fiji and Bali are amazingly friendly places to visit for the foreign visitor. In Fiji wherever you go you are greeted with a great big BULA and the local people are genuinely kind and loving to children. Although we have found in our travels that people all around the world that love children.
- In general, the waiter will make “special” fast food for tired kids.
- People will fondly ask their age.
- Some will squeeze their cheeks.
So people all around the world love kids and the Fijians certainly love the children. However, we didn’t feel that it was a great deal more than any other place. But the promotion and all the advertising really makes you think that they definitely have a special spot for the kids in there in their culture; to be honest we weren’t THAT blown away. Yes, they loved the kids but not excessively so.
In Bali, they also loved the children. Truly and deeply with a soft graceful nature they clearly loved the kids. In Bali, they especially loved my toddler son. My daughter wasn’t the star-like she had been in other countries, but the little boy, he was loved. Actually, he was very uncomfortable with all the attention he got. People were wanting to pick him up and cuddle because he was a little boy.
The Winner: Fiji or Bali with kids makes a lot of sense and we gave them a tie for this one.
Best Island Paradise, Fiji Vs Bali
If you are researching Bali vs Fiji then you are interested in visiting a beautiful tropical paradise, right?
Fiji is a Pacific Island and it really truly does have white sand, palm-fringed beaches, and turquoise waters. It is stunning and fits our idea of what an island paradise is like! We were also lucky that the beaches we visited were cleaned and free of rubbish; it was truly a beautiful experience.
Bali, on the other hand, doesn’t have as many nice beaches. They are busy with people, rubbish and not as white or pristine. Kuta is Bali’s most famous beach and we are not huge fans. We didn’t let our kids swim at Tuban (the next beach along) when we were there. We enjoyed Bali’s black sand beaches on the North of the Island at Lovina. However, they were not your classic white sand beaches.
One thing worth remembering: while the Fiji islands are truly stunning, some of Fiji’s main beaches on Vitu Levu are not quite as spectacular, especially those on the Coral Coast. We often see GREAT offers and deals for the Coral Coast… but it is worth remembering that these are not as much an island paradise as the different island chains. Do your research and make sure that the area of the Coral Coast you are staying at meets your idea of tropical island paradise. We stayed at The Warrick on the Coral Coast and were very happy with their little man-made area.
The Winner: Fiji
Ambiance & Environment
Fiji definitely meets the definition of a tropical island paradise. The cities are not large and there is not the bustling traffic feel that you get when you are on Bali. Between the very small cities of Nadi and Suva, well, there are just small hamlets that are cute and while seeming poor, they aren’t overly dirty.
On the other hand, Bali is gridlocked with traffic and pollution. A short drive to Ubud made famous by [easyazon_link identifier=”0143038419″ locale=”US” tag=”world06006-20″]Eat, Pray, Love[/easyazon_link] takes a whopping hour for a short drive. There is development everywhere and as you drive along you can smell fires as people burn their household waste. Also, there are often beach cleanups in Bali because there is so much marine debris in the water.
There are a lot of scams in Bali. There are sometimes thefts from tourists, pickpocketing right through to full-scale assault, and not to mention the sale of drugs to young foreigners. Fiji felt safer and much, much more laid back. Not to say that there probably isn’t petty theft, it just felt safer.
The Winner: Fiji
Culture – Fiji vs Bali
Anyone who’s been to Bali instantly notices the many offerings on footpaths, on little temples, and in entrancingly mystical nooks and crannies. If you are even slightly mystical then within a day you fall in love with the gentle and graceful Balinese people who are so willing and open to share their culture. With wafting incense on the breeze and temples at every turn, the culture of Bali absolutely captivated us.
It was harder for us to see the culture of Fiji, to be honest. Sure, there are of course drumming and dancing sessions every night. However, I am doubtful as to how many of them were authentic Fijian. Every resort has a flame lighting ceremony and there are also very many island dance nights that you can encounter. A few resorts offer fire walking by bringing people from the firewalking island. We don’t consider any of these shows as not natural encounters with the Fijian culture.
They are performances that are provided for the tourists and the discerning tourists will find that off-putting. We went to a church service and we did mingle with the Fijians. We adored their beautiful singing but we didn’t have that amazing sense of culture that you have in Bali. Also, we visited a village and they welcomed us with a Kava drinking ceremony. However, again a sense of culture was not as tangible as it is in Fiji.
The other totally fascinating thing about Fiji is their Indian culture which came from the indentured Indians that came to work in Fiji in the late 1900s and decided to stay. Indian culture is fascinating and colorful. Yet the Indian culture also is not that evident in Fiji because of the conflict between Indians and the Fijians.
For us, some of the best experiences of the culture (and local politics) were through our conversations with taxi drivers. We had Fijians, Indians, and even those that were a mix of both races. If you like politics we absolutely encourage you to discuss Fijian politics with your taxi driver.
The Winner: Bali
As an Asian country with a range of budget options, Bali is much more affordable than Fiji. If you want to save money it is easy to do in Bali. If you are comparing a similar experience (say Western-style 4-star resorts, with Kids club, and resort-style food) then the prices are quite similar. It will then depend on how much you paid for airfares!
The Winner: Bali (somewhat)
The Verdict Fiji vs Bali
In the end, I don’t think that it is fair to compare Fiji vs Bali. They are apples and oranges, one is a Pacific Island and one is an Asian island. I’ve called it a draw; or more to the point think that you have to really visit both to be able to decide which one suits you best.
I’ve got both the Cook Islands and Vanuatu firmly on my bucket list for the next few years. Which one we will go to next will largely depend on our frequent flier points, and what kind of deals we find when we are there! It will be extremely interesting to see how they compare as kid-friendly Pacific destinations compared to Fiji.
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