Regular contributors, and IQPlanner favourites, Lights, Camera, Backpack, a.k.a. Flic and Nick, write about their excellent adventure to the pacific island country of Fiji.
This is the first in a series of 4 pieces on Fiji, so be sure to plug in for the next post! You can find out more about this blogging duo, and see what’s new with them by checking out their IQPlanner profile.
When planning a trip to somewhere as far away as Fiji, it’s easy to blow a lot of money. That said, it's possible to visit this beautiful country while on a budget.
The less money you spend, the longer you can stay. From our experience, 2 weeks is simply not long enough to explore this amazing country. This first article tells you everything you need to know about where to stay on the island, and which resort will best suit your budget and needs.
Where to stay
Staying on the mainland is definitely more budget friendly, but it’s not the Fiji you see on postcards.
For a glimpse of these places, you need to head to Pacific Harbour. From here, you can do some white water rafting on the Upper Navua River.
For the braver explorers, schedule a shark dive off Beqa Island, and maybe stay a night in Nadi. Whatever you do, just make sure you catch the morning boat from Port Denarau and get out to the Mamanucas and Yasawas islands as quickly as possible!
Bamboo Backpackers is a hostel located on the mainland in Nadi, and should be the first stop for budget travellers when arriving in Fiji. They offer cheap dorms, reasonably priced private rooms as well as free airport transfers.
The place is great for finding your feet before heading out to the other islands. There’s a friendly crowd, delicious food (we can recommend the Pho) and cheap beer. What more could you want?
Bounty Island Resort
By far our favourite islands were the Mamanucas, which is lucky, considering it’s where Bounty Island Resort is located! It wasn’t difficult to fall into the routine of watching the sunrise, kayaking around the island, feeding the turtles, snorkelling and eating way too much!
The tap water is completely safe to drink, plus you can rent water sports equipment for free. The staff are friendly and welcoming. Expect to be serenaded on arrival, departure and at every meal with traditional Fijian folk songs as well as a few modern covers.
You can find the Naqalia Lodge on the Yasawa Islands, and it’s more of a home stay than a resort. The private bures are perfect for the budget-conscious traveller, with a small dorm available, with cold water showers and clean toilets.
Guests are able to refill their water bottles from the tap in the bar, and there’s never a shortage of local favourite beverage, kava.
Take note: there aren’t any activities on Sunday, except a trip to the local church where you can watch the local choir sing their hearts out. Meals are eaten as a family, so make sure you're on time!
Mantaray Island Resort
The Mantaray Island Resort, also located on the Yasawa Islands, is a must if you plan to swim with the famous manta rays. The resort caters to families as well as backpackers, who can meet and engage with fellow travelers in its 30-bed dorm!
Mantaray Island boasts an incredible protected marine area just off the shore, and some of the best snorkelling in Fiji. Guests can also take part in a free hike, or other activities of their choice, but at a cost.
The restaurant serves up a huge variety of food, and all delicious for a daily charge. It may be slightly over budget for most backpackers, so consider it a stop place for a little bit of luxury.
If you have any reservations about the Mantaray Island Resort, there’s another alternative, and it’s just around the corner!
Barefoot Manta is more suited to backpackers, plus you’ll find a friendly crowd and not to mention the extremely welcoming staff. It’s the place where we shared half a bottle of rum around a bonfire with some awesome fellow travelers!
The resort is perfect for watching the sun rise in the morning, and the sun set outside of the pricier luxury bures, but this beach is still only 1 minute walk from the bar.
Even if you miss the manta rays, you’ll still leave with good memories.
All photos, aside from the cover picture, courtesy of Lights, Camera, Backpack.