If I say Fiji what comes to mind? Just like that, suddenly, without thinking? When I told my parents and friends that I would be visiting them for about three weeks, almost everyone reacted with amazement and almost disbelief.
Too often I have superficially heard Fiji associated with a place where only the rich and wealthy can afford to set foot, lounging on white beaches where they can sip drinks from coconuts; a place made of resort and breathtaking natural beauty for the use and consumption of tourists.
A place far from reality, magnificent and iridescent. Certainly, it is an earthly paradise, especially from our metropolitan-Western point of view, accustomed to the chaos and pollution of the city. However, what I would like to demonstrate with this trip of mine is that it is always worth investigating beyond appearances, as in everything, even in the way in which one approaches a trip to an unknown country.
Let us never forget that the places we choose for our holidays belong to the people who have lived there for a few millennia: respect and friendliness are a must, because nothing is owed to us!
Towards the 180th meridian
Thinking of flying to Fiji directly from Italy, perhaps spending a couple of weeks there and then returning home, is certainly not the best way to optimize costs. Especially for a backpackerwith relative low budget, a visit to Fiji makes more sense if part of a larger and longer trip. In my case I was coming from Brisbane, where I had spent the last 6 months and just a 3 hour flight away; many young people we met had instead chosen Fiji as a stopover on their travels between Australia and the United States or towards Asia. In short, it is difficult to undertake such a long and expensive journey directly from Europe. So, if you find yourself somewhere between Indochina, Australia and New Zealand, with just 200 euros you can add this fantastic stop to your itinerary!
How to “break the ice”?
Unfortunately, to get an idea of a place we have never been to, we have to rely on someone to tell us about it, and if we don’t know anyone who has been there, the best way to avoid arriving completely unprepared remains Internet. I would also say magazines and television, but in those cases it would be too biased information (adverts from hotel chains or large tour operators).
I would also say the tourist guides, like obviously the Lonley Planet (which I also partly used), the undisputed leader among do-it-yourself travellers. But even in the case of tourist guides, they may be the most prestigious in the world, biased information and omissions are inevitable.
A bit like geographical maps cannot be one hundred percent precise (the sphere – our globe – is not a solid that can be developed on a flat surface), tourist guides also follow equally rigid rules, and we cannot take them at face value.
Today the internet is undoubtedly the greatest resource that a tourist – or traveller, in our case – can have.
Be careful though, if you don’t have a certain amount of dexterity and, let’s face it, nerves of steel in some cases, a simple search on Google can turn into a hell of unstoppable digressions and dead ends, ending up opening dozens and dozens of tabs in the your browser without understanding anything anymore! Although it remains a controversial place and still difficult for many to understand, I can only put it first.
Advice before leaving for Fiji
- Get yourself one travel guide like the Lonely Planet Fiji. It is not important that it is the most updated, the important thing is to get a general idea of the history and geography of the place by identifying the main areas of interest. Without panicking, spend some time doing zapping sui travel blog that the internet can offer, preferably in English, by reading and comparing as many experiences of other “humble” travelers as you can find. I would like to point out some sites that were particularly useful to me: www.fiji.travelwww.fiji-backpacking.com, www.go-fiji.com and obviously www.viaggiare-low-cost.it!
- Write a public post on the site www.couchsurfing.org. Even if you are not interested in the Couch Surfing experience in the strict sense (which I wholeheartedly recommend!), I think it is still worth considering this magnificent platform shared by many interesting and energetic people. Notify the virtual community of your arrival and offer to share part of the journey with someone who has a similar plan to yours: the answers will not be long in coming and your experiences will be enriched. If the idea of traveling alone scares you a little, it’s easy to find travel companions in the area… In practice, the only hours I spent alone were on the plane!
- Reduce baggage to a minimum. The temperature is optimal, always around 28°, and if you don’t plan to participate in any social event there is no need to bring elegant clothes: traveling light is useful and practical. A pair of t-shirts, short and long trousers, a swimsuit and a comfortable pair of shoes are enough. The best season to visit Fiji is and May to September, that is, the “dry” one. Be careful, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t rain, but that it is simply a little less humid: enough to justify a light one choir always in your backpack. Don’t forget a good mosquito repellent and 30+ sunscreen!
What to do when you arrive in Fiji?
The first impact with the place visited necessarily passes through the so-called “gateways” such as stations, ports and airports; not particularly warm and welcoming places by definition. Nonetheless, at Nadi airport there is a cheerful band playing songs to welcome newly disembarked passengers which can’t help but put you in a good mood!
In the small hall of the airport there is a exchange counter Western Union where you can exchange your currency at a convenient rate. Try to get it small denomination banknotes: it is convenient to always have ‘pieces’ of 5 or 10 FJD in your pocket and several coins to pay for buses (local journeys 70c) and taxis. Taxis are very cheap, as long as the meter is on… make sure! Then be prepared to receive ‘eccentric’ offers from taxi drivers, mostly Indians, which you can always politely decline. If you really want to rent a taxi for several hours, you must at least halve the price offered to you: the first rule in Fiji when it comes to purchases is to bargain!
To stay in touch with the outside world and your family you can buy one SIMbut if you can resist the natural urge to be constantly connected to the network for the first few hours after arrival, I highly recommend purchasing one of the Digicel in the city center ($5 SIM + $15 top-up are enough for a few weeks), instead of a Vodafone one at the airport at crazy prices. The telephone network, as well as the data network (3G!), is almost always available in populated areas, but can suddenly disappear if you venture inland.
To find out more about living costs and transportation in Fiji click here.
Now you’re just ready to enjoy your trip, then bula vinaka and happy adventure!
Disclaimer: In this post, some of the links provided are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. However, this does not incur any additional cost to you. The commissions I receive through these affiliate links they help fund and support my blog, thus maintaining its independence and lack of sponsorship. I always strive to provide you with the best information and advice possible, based on my personal experience and research. I would like to underline that your support is essential to keep this blog alive and continue to provide you with quality content. Thank you for your support!