When you think of pristine waters and white sand beaches, Fiji is probably one of the first destinations that come to mind and rightfully so. It seems to be one of those places though that backpackers sometimes avoid because they think it might be expensive. In reality, it’s not too bad but you definitely have to be a bit more budget conscious while planning a trip there. Why? Fiji is a collection of 333 islands…and you won’t want to stay on just one island the entire time! Which means lots of boat rides. Which isn’t cheap. It’s arguably one of the most expensive things in Fiji.
When we first planned our trip to Fiji it was sort of on a whim (rough life right?). Our adventures in New Zealand were coming to an end and we wanted to visit one more place before hopping on a flight back home to Canada. Using our googling skills we picked the cheapest place to fly to from Wellington, which just happened to be Fiji. So we packed up our backpacks and prepared for a relaxing beachside vacation.
We ended up spending around $420CAD per person (in November 2015) for an eight-day stay. That breaks down to around $52 per day! This does not include our flights, we actually had enough travel points saved up on our credit cards to pay for our flights so those were free. Travel credit cards for the win! Also keep in mind this was not traveling in complete luxury, so be prepared for mediocre food but an epic experience.
What did $52 a day get us? Accommodation in both Nadi and Mana Island, transportation to and from the airport and the islands, a half day snorkeling trip, and all of our food! Not bad right?
The real question and the reason you came to this article is, how did we do it? Well, let’s get down to business and look at How to visit Fiji for $52 a day and what it gets you.
If you follow our travels you probably know that we usually take the hostel route, it’s cheap and an awesome way to meet people. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel you can find our Ultimate Hostel Guide here.
Naturally, when we planned our (very) last minute trip to Fiji the first thing we looked for was a hostel. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before we have a guide for what to look out for here. In Fiji, they are certainly not in short supply! We stayed in two hostels, one in Nadi and one on Mana Island. Our Nadi hostel was Bamboo Backpackers. The hostel was located right on the beach, had a nice little restaurant, and the private rooms were great. We stayed in a private room and paid the slightly higher cost for one main reason, the dorm rooms have like 18 beds in one room. It’s also right beside the one bathroom almost everyone staying in the resort uses. So people were constantly going in and out of the room.
Not our style at all.
We had two different private rooms, one when we arrived in Fiji and one upon our departure. Both private rooms were great, clean, and simple. One had an ensuite and one didn’t We much preferred having that en-suite though and the cost was barely noticeable. So if you stay at Bamboo and are going as a couple, we recommend getting a private room.
Our hostel on Mana Island was Ratukini Backpackers and Dive Resort. This little island and hostel came with the most beautiful view. On Mana Island, we decided to go the dorm route, with air conditioning of course. There’s no way we could sleep in Fijian heat! However, we arrived we got INCREDIBLY lucky and they had overbooked the air-conditioned dorm room (which only had five beds). We then got UPGRADED to a fully private bungalow in the back of the resort where it was quiet and a mango tree adorned our doorstep. For the majority of our stay on Mana Island, we stayed in this private room, before being transferred for two nights to the dorm. While we loved the private space, the dorm was equally as charming.
We paid a flat rate to stay at Mana Island. This flat rate included our accommodation, transport, a half day snorkeling trip, and all of our food while we were on the island. It was booked directly through the Ratukini. To top it all off, they had nightly games and shows to keep you entertained when the sunset!
Being a collection of islands there are really only two ways to get around, boat and plane. Most people aren’t going to take water planes everywhere for cost reasons, so boats are the go to. This is arguably one of the most expensive things about visiting Fiji. Mainly due to the cost of fuel in Fiji. Everything has to be imported to the island so that increases the cost of a lot if not all of their items. There is a list of prices for transfers through a company called South Sea Cruises website, which will give you an idea of boat transfer pricing. If you did take a look at that page you’ll see prices are not cheap. Which is why you should try and find accommodation with transportation included. Package and save!
Half Day Snorkeling Trip
Fiji is world renowned for its spectacularly clear water, which makes it a top destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. So when we booked our trip we knew that we wanted to take advantage of that.
But snorkeling tours on average cost around $120USD ($145CAD). And that’s INSANE. The tours cost an arm and a leg mainly because they usually come with a cruise and maybe even a lunch. Still, if you’re trying to backpack in Fiji you probably don’t want to be spending that much. So we saved money and got a package that included it! Sure we didn’t get to that little sandbar in the middle of the ocean on a fancy yacht, but that didn’t matter. And yes…we had a scary drowning incident (which you can read about here) but that also didn’t take away from our day.
If you’re wondering…yes we got sunburned. We recommend some sunscreen.
Fijian Food and Drink
Part of the reason we love traveling so much is different cultures foods! I mean who doesn’t love to eat? If you say no you are probably lying. Being an island it should be obvious that there are fish dishes everywhere. Bamboo Backpackers in Nadi has a restaurant attached to the main part of the hostel. The food at the backpackers isn’t included in your stay you will have to pay for that separately (if you stay there specifically of course). But the prices for food in Fiji are extremely reasonable so don’t worry too much about that. We also found the portion sizes were pretty good too. We could share one dish and be full.
If you love beer, then Fiji’s got the goods. They have two well-known beers that are made from Fijian water. Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold. Since we aren’t really beer connoisseur you can find a really good review of the two beers here. Their other famous and more traditional drink is Kava. However, a lot of people say it doesn’t taste that great but is still a Fiji must-do. Kava is usually consumed ceremonially or socially.