Bula Vinaka Everyone, Bula Vinaka! (A warm Hello from us in Fiji style). We would like to share our 10-day Itinerary from Fiji, hope you’ll visit these beautiful set of islands.
Currency: Fijian Dollar
Population: ~ 900,000
Short-cut to our Fiji Itinerary
If you are in a hurry, here is the summary of our trip and our recommendations:
- Spend no more than 2 days on the island of Viti Levu, the water is not clear, it’s more touristy. But if you want to be closer to the civilization then this is the place to be
- Stay at the private island resorts at the Mamacuna or Yasawa group of islands. You will find exclusive resorts offering over the water rooms (starting at ~USD 1000+ per day) or major hotel chains, Hilton, IHG, SPG, also have their hotels spread across different islands.
- Fiji being one of the favorite travel destinations for couples and water sports lovers can be a little pricey. Budget accordingly, here is the breakdown of our trip:
- Flights (round trip from SFO): ~USD 1300; Used Merrill Lynch points to get free flights
- Hilton Beach Resort & Spa, Nadi: ~USD 350+ per night; Used 180,000 Hilton points for 3 free nights (plus upgraded to the Penthouse ~USD 800 per night)
- Sheraton Tokoriki Island Resort: ~USD 500+ per night; Used 28,000 SPG points for 2 free nights (plus upgraded to the adult only Oceanview room ~USD 1000 per night)
- Captain Cook 4 Day Cruise ~USD 1400 per person
- Food & Drinks:
- Nadi/Port Denarau: Average meal cost for 2 ~USD 30-40 without alcohol/drinks. Cocktails are ~USD 10
- Nadi resorts: Average meal cost for 2 ~USD 70 without alcohol/drinks. Cocktails are ~USD 15
- Private Island resorts: Average meal cost for 2 ~USD 100 without/drinks. Cocktails are ~USD 18-20
- Water Sports:
- Snorkel: Free at resorts; Equipment available for free
- Scuba Diving ~USD 250 for PADI Beginner diver with pool learning sessions
- Jet Ski ~USD 200 for 2 people
- If you want to explore the real Fiji and make friends from different part of the world, we recommend taking the 4-day cruise to the Yasawa or Mamanuca Islands
- Carry your DSLR, GoPro, and Drone (take approval from Fiji Air Authority, let me know if you have questions on this)
Why Fiji Islands
Before our wedding in December 2017, Malvika and I (Kartik) did research extensively about our honeymoon destination. We came down to a short list of these:
- Fiji Islands
- New Zealand (Kartik wants to settle here and graze sheep when he turns 50!)
- St. Kitts
- Switzerland (Clichéd)
But then after much discussion and following our love for beaches, sand & pineapple we decided to spend 2.5 weeks of our Honeymoon vacation at Fiji + New Zealand. [ACTION ITEM @ KARTIK] We will link our NZ 5-day North Island road trip itinerary here.
When To Visit / Weather in Fiji
The best time to visit Fiji Islands is between July-September. Due to temperatures between mid 60’s to 80’s these months expect a lot of tourists and soaring high prices for accommodations.
We recommend traveling in the shoulder seasons of October to get great deals and avoid family tourists (especially if you are going on your Honeymoon!).
Fiji being a popular tourist destination, most of the major commercial airlines fly to the 2 big Islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Fiji Airways have started direct flights from major international airports like San Francisco (10.5hrs), Los Angeles (10.5hrs), Australia (it’s a big country depends where you flying from but an average of 5-6 hrs) and New Zealand (Auckland =4 hrs & South Island = no direct flight). Flights between islands are also available via domestic carriers and are not that expensive.
We flew SFO – NADI via Fiji Airways and the round trip (Economy) cost us ~$1300 USD per person. We used our Merrill Lynch points to avail free tickets.
While searching for hotels at Nadi and other islands here are a few we considered staying at:
- DoubleTree Resort, Sonaisali Island
- Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
- Sheraton Denarau Villas
- Sheraton Fiji Resort
- Westin Denarau Island
Visa & Currency conversion
Fiji welcomes visitors and to facilitate easy entry, everything has been done to make the process as pleasant as possible. A valid passport for at least six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay and a ticket for return or onward travel to another country, which he/she is authorized to enter, is required. Entry visas are granted on arrival for a stay of 4 months or less for nationals of these countries: http://www.fiji.travel/information/getting-fiji/passports-and-visas
Nationals of other countries require pre-arranged visas, which can be applied for at the nearest Fiji High Commission in their respective country. Visas may be extended for up to six months on application to the Department of Immigration in Suva, Lautoka or Nadi. It is necessary to have an onward or return ticket and sufficient funds. Those wishing to stay more than six months should consult the Department of Immigration or see the Immigration website www.immigration.gov.fj
We didn’t get our currency converted from USD to Fijian Dollars as we had credit cards with No Foreign transaction fees with us, highly recommend one. One thing to note, everywhere in Fiji whether you are at your resort or a small shop in the market if you use your credit card there is a 2.5%/3% surcharge that is billed to you. So you might be better off converting your local currency into Fijian dollars if you have a no foreign transaction fee card otherwise you could be paying additional ~6% (3 for credit card + 2.5% surcharge) for every transaction. The only caveat with the paper currency is that it’s really hard to figure out how much do you actually need, and if you have access left at the end of your trip then the only option is to convert them back and lose on exchange value or spend it on gifts for family/friends. Another option is to use your ATM card to withdraw local currency.
If you were planning to do International Roaming, just don’t burn your cash! As soon as you walk out of the airport, you will find shops from vendors like Vodafone & Digicel offering 1 day / 1 GB SIM cards for free! But since you will be at the island for more than that I highly recommend the 7 Day 4GB (3G) pack that would cost you around ~ USD 20.
OUR FIJI ITINERARY
Early morning arrival at Nadi International Airport.
Transfer to hotel by cab booked by the hotel ~USD 21 (one way). If you don’t have it booked with the hotel there are a lot of cab services at the airport.
Hotel: Hilton Beach Resort & Spa, Nadi, Denarau Island, Nadi, FJ
T: 679 6756800
Room Type: Upgraded to Adults only Beachview Penthouse, initially booked standard Beachview room. Thanks, Hilton!
Cost: ~ USD 400 a night plus taxes. We used 180,000 Hilton points to get this for free.
Perks: Hilton HHonors Gold member benefits + Welcome Champagne bottle and cake!
After our 10.5 hr long flight, we were given early check-in to our Penthouse. After freshening up, we went to grab breakfast at the Adult only restaurant at the property, KORO. We were served with a lavish selection of continental and Fijian flavor food at the resto, not to forget mentioning the great hospitality of the staff.
COCKTAILS, POOL, CARDIO
After snoozing and resetting for a few hours, Malvika and I hit the huge infinity pool situated next to the restaurant, NUKU. You can spend hours lazying at the pool beds sipping uniquely crafted cocktails with a good selection of quick bites. Average drink costs around USD 15, comparable to a dive bar at San Francisco ?
TASTE OF FIJI
We decided to experience Fiji’s culture the Fijian way. Hilton Nadi offers once a week program where local villagers come to the property and perform their rituals, dance, and songs. It’s an experience one should definitely have also the location is perfect your table is set on the beach with the sunset as the backdrop. Food is (Vegetarian also) is prepared by the Fijian way of cooking it under the earth (called Lovo) to give it a distinct taste.
END OF DAY
We ended our day sipping wine and getting lost in conversations under the stars.
We set this day to explore the nearby port that boasts of good restaurants and shopping.
We loved Koro’s selection and decided to go there again. All I can say is that we had to skip our lunch due to the amount we stuffed.
There are multiple ways to travel within Port Denarau, it’s very much walkable or can be easily accessible by taxi (~ USD 4 one way). We recommend taking the Bula Bus, costs ~ USD 4 per person for unlimited trips for a day. Bula bus is like the Red Bus or any other hop-on-and-hop-off bus with a fixed route. The advantage of this bus is that it takes your around the whole Port Denarau so that you can see the other resorts, and can grab food/drinks at their pool/restaurants.
It’s exactly how to expect a touristy port to be with souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants and spa shops (and of course docked boats, yachts and cruise ships). We bought this wooden Fijian warrior face for the memorial. We recommend you buy these things for sure from the shops at the port:
- SPF 30+ body spray/lotion
- Mosquito repellent spray
- Alcohol if you plan to enjoy it at your room
HARD ROCK CAFE
We spent our evening at the American cafe as they had great live music playing. The band was playing classics which Malvika loves, we enjoyed our time with drinks (happy hour until 7 pm) and food and called it a day after that.
Today was the day when we were planning to go to one of the most popular in the middle of the ocean restaurant ‘Cloud 9’ but due to bad weather and thunderstorms, our trip was canceled. See the photo below and you’ll know why we were disappointed. But we highly recommend to visit this amazing place, it costs ~USD 115 per person including 2-way boat transfer and ~ USD 30 per person food credit. There are a bunch of water activities that you can do that the property. Visit www.cloud9.com.fj for more details.
After breakfast, the weather opened up and the forecast did not have any thunderstorms or rains for the day. We decided to utilize this time and try our hand with the Jet Ski. We used on property service provided by DSDS that included a 1.5 hr trip including a couple of snorkeling opportunities. There was a gradual learning curve with the machine as initially, we thought that we would topple but as time went by we were riding the ski like a pro!
LUNCH & POOL
We had Indian Chicken tikka masala lunch at Hilton’s NUKU restaurant and post that relaxed by the pool.
While riding the BULA bus we had gone to check out the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa. Malvika is really fond of Pan Asian cuisine so we decided to have our dinner at Zing restaurant that had some amazing Indo-Chinese dishes. To Malvika’s surprise I had called the restaurant and told her that we are at Fiji to celebrate our Honeymoon and since we are a Gold member with SPG they surprised us with a decorated special seating table and sang traditional Fijian love songs. Amazing hospitality.
Cost of Dinner for 2: ~ USD 100
BREAKFAST & CHECKOUT
This was the end of our stay on the Fijian land and it was time to explore the blue-green clean waters of the South Pacific. We had breakfast at our usual favorite Hilton Nadi’s restaurant, KORO and then initiated our checkout process.
CAPTAIN COOK – 4 DAY YASAWA ISLAND CRUISE
Room Type: Ocean Stateroom, Double occupancy
Cost: ~ USD 1450 per person inclusive of all food except drinks
Ship Name: Reef Endeavour
CHECK-IN & START SAIL
1:00 PM – Boarding started at Port Denarau with luggage check-in. We were welcomed on the cruise with garlands and songs. Once we settled down we were served a light buffet lunch at the deck of the ship and we were briefed with compulsory safety rules.
3:30 PM – TIVUA ISLAND
This was the first stop of our cruise journey, we docked at one of the private island, Tivua Island (part of the Mamanuca group of Island). The Island was beautiful with white sand and crystal clear water, we spotted baby manta rays and reef sharks while doing snorkeling.
6:30 PM onwards – We started our evening with listening Fijian songs with pre-dinner cocktails and canapes. At sharp 7:30 pm we were all guided to Captain’s Welcome Dinner at Captain Cook Saloon. It was a fixed course menu with a great selection of meat and vegetarian dishes and exotic desserts!
Post dinner Malvika and I spent time sitting on the cruise deck with a glass of wine enjoying being in the middle of nowhere with hundreds to starts shining brightly in the clear sky.
Since we had loads to cover every day, the activities started early in the day. Our breakfast was served between 7:30 am – 9:00 am which was followed up by the beach activity. Passengers were given an option to either take the dedicated snorkeling trip or just visit the beach and sunbathe if one wanted to relax. Today we were exploring the Brothers Beach.
Since Fiji is known for its corals, we highly recommend snorkeling but if you are scared to get into the water the cruise also offers a glass bottom boat tour.
We visited the village of Gunu to meet the locals and enjoy the Lovo feast (Fijian dinner cooked in an earth oven) & the Meke a celebration of song & dance performed by the villagers. You can also shop at the shell and handicraft market.
We returned to a sumptuous dessert buffet with entertainment and crew enjoying the Kava (more on this to follow).
Hikers at the cruise had an early start to the day, 5:45 am to be precise as they walked up the Mount Tamasua with the elevation of 763ft. The walk was an hour long and can be considered medium to hard. If you are planning to join this, don’t forget to take bottled water, sun hat and camera!
Those who decided to skip the hike started their day with the buffet breakfast followed by a beach visit to the famous Blue Lagoon Beach. The movie Blue Lagoon was shot at this very beach! We couldn’t spend a lot of time at this crystal clear water beach as the tide started becoming low so we moved to the nearby School beach.
After spending time at the beach, those interested in doing snorkeling were taken to the area with beautiful corals and people wanted to stay dry enjoyed the glass-bottom boat ride.
After the exciting morning session, Malvika and I grabbed lunch and decided to get closer to the corals by doing scuba dive. Malvika was the experienced one as she had dived twice at Thailand last year but for me, it was a little scary. We practiced for a couple of hours at the cruise’s pool and learned all the signals and how to use the scuba equipment. Since we are not PADI certified (yet) our dive was supposed to be 10 meters deep with a dedicated dive instructor.
We took our dedicated boat to the location where we were supposed to dive, I bet my heart was racing! And then we were asked to enter the water and we went down slowly. After a few minutes, all the nerves were gone and we were lost in the beautiful world of corals and fishes. We stayed inside for about 40 minutes and those were one of the most cherished moments of our life! We highly recommend that you must dive at least once during your Fiji trip.
After completing our dive, we were taken to swim in the cave of Sawa-I-Lau. The ancient limestone formations, carved by constant wave action are hidden within an attractive little island.
Our dinner was served at the Captain Cook Saloon, where the night was kicked off with Fiji Olympic Crab Race. Fellow passengers placed their bet on the crabs hoping the one they bought will win the race. After having the awesome desserts and wine we called it a night.
This day we had started our return towards the Nadi port, on our way we stopped at the Yaqeta Island and Drawaq Island. These were the best locations for snorkeling as these areas are marine protected. We enjoyed the best sea life and corals at these two locations. We recommend taking a GoPro with you everytime you go out in the water, you never know what you’ll see.
After having our breakfast, we started with our checkout activities. All the crew had gathered at the pool deck and as people started coming down with their luggage, they started singing farewell Fijian songs. We highly recommend you take the 4-Day Yasawa Island or 7 Day Yasawa/Mamanuca Island cruise with Captain Cook. By the end of the trip, you will definitely make many new friends from different part of the world and gain at least a few pounds, thanks to their delicious desserts!
Once checked out of the Captain Cruise boat at Port Denarau, we checked in with South Sea Cruises’ Catamaran which would take us on an hours journey to our next destination, Tokoriki Island.
Hotel: Sheraton Tokoriko Island Resort & Spa (Category 5)
T: +679 666 7707
Room Type: Upgraded to Adults only Beachview Suite
Cost: ~ USD 400 a night plus taxes. We used 180,000 Hilton points to get this for free.
Perks: SPG GOLD benefits + Welcome Champagne bottle and cake! Thank you, SPG.
Tokoriki Island is part of the Mamanuca group of Island and is famous for its crystal clear water and luxurious, extremely hospitable resorts. Since we are Starwood Preferred Gold members, we decided to pick the Sheraton Tokoriki Island Resort & SPA (Category 5 property).
By the time we checked in to our room, which had an amazing view of the water and a private plunge pool, we were really hungry. The options for food are limited as you are on an Island and will have to pick from the 2 restaurants on the property. We decided to eat at Waitui House which was serving continental food for lunch.
Cost for two: ~USD 60 (without Alcohol)
After taking the afternoon nap, we chilled at the infinity pool and enjoyed the happy hours with tropical cocktails and we followed it up with an early dinner.
Post breakfast, we started exploring the resort and were lost in some great views from the property! We decided to take a dip and snorkel in the waters of Tokoriki, so we grabbed our gear and jumped in the water. We saw a gazillion fishes, we think they were migrating to someplace so they were traveling in a group, it was a spectacular view! After our dive, we chilled at the pool for a while and then attended the Fijian cultural show (similar to the one we saw at Taste of Fiji at Hilton, Nadi). It was time to take Malvika for a romantic dinner at the Reef restaurant where a guitarist was planing love songs at our table! Wine, dine and we called it a night.
Cost for two: ~ USD 150 (with alcohol)
It was time to capture all the memories of the past 10 days and pack our bags to our next destination, New Zealand (6 Day North Island Itinerary post coming soon). We checked out from our hotel and took the South Sea Cruises Catamaran back to Port Denarau. From the port, we straight away headed to Nadi International airport and after giving our luggage, we relaxed at the Fiji Airways Priority Pass lounge until our next flight was scheduled to depart.
These 10 days at Fiji were absolutely magical, please let us know if you liked our post or if you have any questions do reach out to us.
M & K