This is number 3 of 4 articles about exploring the tropical island of Fiji on a budget, thanks to one of our favourite blogging couples, Lights, Camera, Backpack.
If you missed the first two articles, you can find them in the IQPlanner 'Holiday listings' magazine archive.
The top tips to remember in Fiji
The popular Bula Pass might not be the cheapest way for you to island hop
The Bula Pass is a pre-paid ticket that lets you island hop on board the Yasawa Flyer boat for the duration of your stay.
We recommend staying on each island for at least 3 nights, so you won’t be using the Yasawa Flyer often. It also might cost less to book each transfer individually.
Some resorts may offer to pick you up in a tender boat for free — if you ask nicely. We didn’t have to pay anything for our transfer between Barefoot Kuata and Naqalia Lodge, or Mantaray Island Resort and Barefoot Manta.
If you’re looking at a pass that includes accommodation, just be aware that most places charge FJD 75 to 95 per person, per day for your meals and this isn’t included in the pass.
Don’t assume there's no medical help in remote places
Flic had an ear infection for 3 days during our stay in the Yasawas before asking to buy some paracetamol from the hotel reception. They promptly took her to the local medical centre, which was only a 5-minute boat ride.
At the time, the centre was temporarily operating from a shipping container because cyclone Winston had taken the roof off the building. Still, the nurse remained cheerful and handed out painkillers and antibiotics like they were smarties!
Don’t trust Fijian hiking advice
We went on a couple of beautiful hikes during our time on the islands, and quickly learned that Fijians give awful hiking advice.
They told us that we would be going on a long, but easy hike, or a tough but short hike, that sandals would be fine and we’d be finished by lunchtime. Each time however, the reality of the situation was completely at odds with their estimations.
We found ourselves scrambling up bare rock faces within 2 minutes of starting, or we found that the hike actually took 2 hours instead of the supposed 20 minutes.
This is not because Fijians want to mess with unsuspecting tourists – it’s just because they’re so good at hiking that they can’t understand why we find it so hard.
While we were doing up our hiking boots, they were taking off their flip-flops because they prefer hiking in bare feet! Out of breath, sweating and complaining, our Fijian guides were running up the steepest part of the trail without breaking a sweat.
Our advice is to always wear hiking boots and always assume you’ll be hiking all day, whatever your guide says.
Take the local busses
The busses on the mainland only seem to cost FJD 1 no matter where you want to go.
They do have a maximum speed of about 3mph and usually no windows, but some busses to have free WiFi.
Go in low season and book a dorm rather than a private room
You can save a lot of money, plus you’re often the only one in the dorm room, so it’s like having a private room for half the price!
Cover photo, and pictures 1 and 3 courtesy of Lights, Camera, Backpack