Fiji is an archipelago in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, consisting of no less than 332 islands and islets. So the title of today’s post, backpacking in Fiji, might sound a little strange. But backpacking on an archipelago is not impossible, and in this case, it is cheaper and a lot more rewarding than booking luxury accommodation and flights. With a small budget you can see great things in Fiji. Only 110 of the islands are inhabited, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t visit the rest (if you are up for a Robinson Crusoe style adventure).
Fiji looks exactly like the depictions of tropical islands that you can see on postcards: rainforests, white beaches, crystal blue water and coconut palm trees. There has been some political tension in the country in the past, and in response to this, cities and resorts that located at some distance from the capital, Suva, lowered their prices in order to keep attracting tourists. This is why the best place to start your journey is in Nadi, on the western side of Viti Levu (the largest island in the archipelago), and not in the capital. Anyway, the country’s largest international airport is located in Nadi, so it’s the most convenient ‘headquarters’ you can find in Fiji.Since Nadi is a transit point, there is not much to see there in terms of attractions, but it offers plenty in the way of transport to other islands and within Viti Levu. If you are planning to explore the island, you can use the local bus service, which is a lot cheaper than a rented car, and sometimes more pleasant. Buses are usually not crowded, they’re open-air, and they allow you to glean some useful information from the locals, who are an exceptionally friendly bunch. If you’d rather drive, there aer several rent-a-car companies on the island, with the price around $100 day for a car. In any case, if you’d like to see what life in Fiji really is like, yo should check out the small towns off the beaten track, where commercialism hasn’t left it’s mark yet. A cheap and convenient way to visit islands is by bike – most sizable cities will have a rent-a-bike point.
When you’re ready to go island-hopping, just take a ferry, they are reasonably cheap and usually safe. A word of warning – don’t try to take your rented car off the island where you rented it, this is illegal in Fiji! The Yasawa Islands, a cluster of 30 small islands, are popular among island-hoppers, and you will find lots of cultural and natural sights scattered around them. Other island groups, such as Mamanuca or Lau can be reached by catamarans (which are rather expensive) and water-taxis, which are quite affordable especially if you find a group of people who are heading the same way as you.
Staying safe in Fiji is usually not a problem, but if you are backpacking on your own, it might be a good idea not to wander to streets alone at night. In larger cities like Suva and Nadi (which are the very places where the crime rates are the highest) you will definitely find larger groups of tourists that you can tag along with. In any case, in general there is not reason to worry. Visiting in Fiji can be a wonderful experience, especially if you take the less beaten track.