Last Updated on March 26, 2020 by Travels with Kids
If you are going to Fiji for the first time, here is a very truthful list of things to know before traveling to Fiji. These are useful if traveling to Fiji with kids or without kids. We pride ourselves on our honesty; we find that glowing reviews of places sometimes don’t give a totally rounded view. That’s why you will find that our World of Travels with Kids is not wholly filled with positive reviews. We tell it as we see it, with some little Aussie bluntness thrown in! Oops! Fiji is a resort-oriented holiday and it depends on who you are, but that is one of the bad things about Fiji.
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Things To Know Before Traveling To Fiji
Once I have visited any destination I always think “Gee I wish I had of known …”. Therefore here we cover things to know before traveling to Fiji, including costs, where to stay, bargaining, and much more. We hope you find these honest thoughts and ideas about traveling to Fiji with Kids useful! If there was something that particularly struck you about your experience in Fiji, please drop us a line in the comments below!
Costs – Is Fiji Expensive For Tourists
I think that everyone wants to know how expensive it is to go to Fiji. Let me start by saying that Fiji is not an Asian destination; it is a South Pacific island.
Fiji had us a bit confounded. Isolated resorts mean you pay for transport (not cheap). Plus, a lack of mid-range hotels (with decent pools) located in the towns made it hard to escape the resort-style of accommodation and associated price tag.
We have always found all around the world, that with a lot of research and some travel hacks, there are ways to avoid high prices. Fiji was a hard place to travel to on a budget.
So, the answer is, Yes, Fiji is expensive for tourists. However, Fiji is a tropical island paradise and when you think about it, that shouldn’t come cheap!
Resorts Or Hotels – Where To Stay In Fiji With Kids
If you love resorts then Fiji is going to be your type of holiday. However, if you prefer more independent travel then you will understand why we wanted to get to know Fiji without staying in resorts only.
It seemed there was a massive gap in the Fiji accommodation offerings. There were no mid-range hotels with pools. When traveling with our kids we consider a pool a “must-have”… especially in a hot country like Fiji.
In the end, we “did our best” and ended up at resorts for 4 out of our 5 hotels. We specifically focused on self-catering and independent style of accommodation.
If you are interested in the best family resorts Fiji then please take a look at our information on the best family resorts in Fiji.
Bargaining & Souvenir Shopping
All across the island of Vitu Levu and in the Mamanuca Islands – the souvenirs are the same. Whether they are offered in a traditional village or at a resort shop, they are the same! We learned the hard way that souvenirs in the traditional villages had inflated prices, about double what you would pay in the “official’ tourist shops like Tappoo or Jacks. We were able to negotiate with the ladies in the villages but still ended up with a $10FJ (USD) necklace that seemed too expensive.
If traveling to Fiji with Kids, it is not the place that they will learn bargaining skills!
We found that Fiji operated on a fixed price system. Certainly, when we were initially booking our hotels they weren’t interested in offering any cheaper prices. In the end, we booked through a travel agent because she was able to get much better prices than we could directly. Plus, she also got perks like free kid’s meals, free kids club, and even resort credits. All around Fiji, there seemed to be little if any negotiation on prices; we understood by the end of the trip that package deals with flights, accommodation, and meals are the norm. You will definitely get the best deals by looking for specials on packages instead of trying to book everything individually.
When discovered that writing to hotels directly did not result in any savings and that sometimes booking.com had much cheaper prices than the hotels direct. We ended up talking to Anita Burgess from Burgess Travellers. As a mother and frequent traveler, Anita was very respectful of our ideas while gently suggesting some helpful alternatives! Best email to use is firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting Around In Fiji
There are three main ways you get around in Fiji – public transport, private transfers or taxis and renting a car in Fiji. Again, you need to understand that this is a Pacific Island and it is not like Asia where public transportation is plentiful.
When traveling with kids, we have found that private transfers are often the fastest and cost-effective considering you have to pay for 4 seats on a bus.
When looking for private transfers, the resort reception staff got out a price list. We shopped around with taxi drivers and there didn’t seem to be a lot of variation from the list price. However, we did negotiate for $10 here and there, but it wasn’t substantial. We opted to get taxi drivers and have them take us to several places; we saved quite a bit on the tour prices by doing this.
If you want to take public transport there seems to be a well-established and clear bus system with timetables. The buses are lots of fun for kids, with open sides where the fragrant smells of Fiji are just delightful. The only problem is that as there are not a lot of locals in Fiji the buses don’t run that frequently. (In fact, they were infrequent). This made public transport inconvenient to use.
For a couple of our longer trips (Nadi to Suva for example), we used the services of Fiji Babies who provided a car seat in the car hire. If you are considering Fiji with kids, or Fiji with a toddler then you have to read our full Fiji for families information.
Numerous times it was suggested that renting a car in Fiji would be the best way to get around independently. We spoke to a couple of other families who had done it and they said that the traffic was minimal and it was not hard to get around. For example, when traveling from Nadi to Suva there is only one real road.
However, even if renting a car in Fiji gives you flexibility by far the best insight we had into Fijian life was through our drivers
If you’ve read point #1 is Fiji expensive for tourists, then you will know that we found that it was on the pricey side. If you’ve read #4 Negotiation, you will know that there is little negotiation in prices in Fiji. This means that the Fiji tours we encountered weren’t that flexible or adaptable. This was our experience; other people may have different Fiji stories to tell.
There are a couple of tour companies set up in the resorts, notably Rosie’s Holidays. It seemed that their tours were around $500FJ ($345 AUD/$225 USD) for a full day for a family of 4. Activities that we had been keen on doing, like zip-lining, was going to end up costing around $200 FJ per person; we simply didn’t have that kind of budget. So, unfortunately, we didn’t spend a lot of time doing Fiji tours.
We support the Fijian traditional ways of inviting people into the village and their land. We found ourselves paying around $100 FJ in half-day activities when we did DIY. We don’t mind paying directly to the local people and like the way that they control tourism in each village (assuming that it goes to help the people). However, it makes for a more expensive holiday.
Things To Know Before Travelling To Fiji: Food
We were so excited to be going to Fiji to enjoy fresh fish, tastes of the Pacific, and especially some good, authentic Indian food! We stayed at 5 places during our stay, and 2 of them offered ONLY Western Style food, apart from a once a week buffet featuring Fijian food. The other 3 offered a few traditional Fijian dishes and a limited number of Indian meals (Butter Chicken). We can only suppose that the offerings are so restricted because they haven’t had the demand for a wider variety of foods in the past.
We didn’t eat much authentic Fijian food and not much authentic Indian food. This was one of the bad things about Fiji!
Language Is Not An Issue When Travelling To Fiji With Kids
Fijians speak excellent English! Whether they are Fijian, Indian, or a mix of both, their English is more than fluent. This means that it’s really easy to communicate and get around if you are traveling independently. This makes it an easy first-time international holiday destination, and one of the reasons Fiji with kids is so easy.
Plus, they have the most beautiful, ebullient greeting! Bula!
You will most definitely learn BULA – the traditional word of greeting or hello while you are in Fiji! It’s a wonderfully ebullient, bright, and fantastic word. We also learned our numbers and a couple of other words of thanks, like Vinaka.
Culture – How Much Did We Experience Fijian Culture
Those Fijians we did end up meeting, other than the bright friendly staff at the resorts, were the drivers of cars.
We had some of the most interesting political conversations that we have ever had with the taxi drivers in Fiji. They seem well versed in both matters of independence, and constitutional law. I guess you would if your country has had 4 coups (de etat) in the past 30 years and you just got your independence back!
Religion was also a topic that people were happy to talk about but more in the sense of how it separates out the different cultures rather than how it shapes individuals.
In the street and shops (away from touristy areas) people seemed a little curious but happy to help and genuinely friendly.
What To Know About Fiji Sustainability & Responsible Tourism
True environmental sustainability is difficult to assess as a tourist. When we started researching our trip to Fiji we looked for “eco” lodges and the like, but found them very expensive or possibly very rough. Most of the hotels we stayed in had some kind of environmental policy in their hotel guide, which was pleasing to see.
Responsible tourism was an area that we struggled with. Australians, Chinese, and Indians largely owned the resorts; being leased from the traditional owners. There is lease income to the villages where the resorts are located. Over and over again people told us that they were happy for this foreign ownership as long as the local Fijian people got employment from it. The figures vary, but apparently, tourism represents 60% of the local income. Wages were low at about 150 FJD (about AUD 103 or USD 67) for a week. Which is about $3 FJ per hour for a 48-hour workweek.
Many well-meaning tourists bring school supplies and give them to the teachers during a school visit. The supplies seem to be appreciated by the school principals (I talked to 2 of them about it) but best practice sustainable development principles would say that this is not a good form of contribution. This is because it is not sustainable, reliable, or consistent and creates a hand out mentality among the people.
On the plus side, strong traditional village structures mean that some funds paid do go to the village elders.
What Is The Currency In Fiji
The currency if Fiji is the Fijian dollar. Currently, 1 Fijian dollar is the equivalent of .45 USD or .69 AUD. You can exchange your money before leaving or once you are in Fiji. Additionally, you can use your ATM card or credit card at most resorts.
What Is The Weather Like In Fiji
Fiji is a South Pacific archipelago nation and is truly a year-round destination. It is said that Fiji has two main seasons, the “wet season (January to March)” and the “dry season”. Even during the “wet season” showers are short-lived and the day is mostly sunny. The hottest months in Fiji are between November and April. The average temperature in Fiji is 25 Celcius or 77 Fahrenheit.
The temperatures all year round are pleasant and the water is always warm and clear. Because of the warm water and the great climate, Fiji is an amazing snorkeling and scuba diving destination.
Things To Know Before Travelling To Fiji – The Verdict
We hope that you have found our experiences traveling to Fiji with kids to be illuminating. We have traveled to many places around the world and found Fiji to be completely unique and different than we expected. Yes, there are some bad things about Fiji but they are far outweighed by the good. Oh, and did I mention it is a totally gorgeous tropical paradise?
Our Accommodations In Fiji And Other Fiji Information
If you are traveling to or thinking about booking a Fiji family holiday, please check out our other posts about Fiji. These include our Fiji accommodation recommendations and other useful Fiji information and tips.
If you are traveling to Fiji or thinking about traveling to Fiji for a family holiday, our post Tips For The Best Fiji Family Holidays is a must-read.
Our family has traveled both to Fiji and Bali. Find out which we prefer in Fiji Vs Bali For A Family Holiday. This post contains many tips and pro’s and con’s of Fiji Vs Bali as a family holiday destination.
Going to Nadi, Fiji? Give Things To Do In Nadi Fiji a read for all the top things to do in Nadi.
Going to Suva, Fiji? Give Things To Do In Suva Fiji a read for all the top things to do in Suva.
Top Things To Do in Fiji For Kids is a great resource for all things Fiji with kids. Read our practical advice on the top things to do in Fiji with children.
Whether you are traveling to Fiji as a family, couple, or solo give our post – Best Fiji Hotels For Families a read. Not only are these Fiji resorts and hotels great for families, but information on each Fiji accommodation is useful for all travelers.
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