Approximately six weeks ago, my husband and I decided that it has been too long between Fiji trips and we must head over at our earliest possible opportunity. We had our wedding anniversary coming up and the husband had already booked in holidays, so why not! I jumped online and Expedia had an offer at the Hilton, if you booked accommodation there you got your flights for free! Decision made. Holiday booked. That’s how we roll in this family. We can’t do things a year in advance. We aren’t patient enough.
Now usually, we tell the children of our holiday plans. Because that way we can use it to bribe them. But this time we thought “hey, let’s not tell them until the day!” Secrets aren’t my thing, so it’s been a difficult six weeks for me, but the look on their faces when we told them was so worth the wait! The look on Scarlett’s face was priceless. You can clearly see the moment where she realised that she had no idea what Fiji was. You can watch that video here.
So I’ll break down our Fiji holiday for you. The highs and lows (if any) and what you can learn from us!
We stayed in Denarau. This is our fourth time in Denarau but we haven’t been in five years. When we first stayed in Denarau it was all fairly new, and wasn’t as popular as it is these days. So the prices have gone up significantly! Particularly at the resorts. And that is to be expected really, anywhere you travel. However even at the supermarket everything seems more expensive. The best way to survive the week is to head into Nadi and buy some fresh fruit from the fruit market, save you from buying snacks between meals. We bought a couple of loaves of bread from the bakery (the bakery in Denarau is very reasonably priced!) to make the girls sandwiches. But other than that, we have bought most of our meals at the resort. Because I didn’t come to Fiji to prepare meals and clean the kitchen! I’m here to be fed excessive amounts of food and have someone else make my bed.
The Hilton is lovely, the rooms are spacious, the staff are friendly and they bring me chocolate every night and turn down my bed. Awesome! There’s a kids club and they do lots of kid friendly activities poolside too for those who don’t want to commit to kids club.
At the port there is a supermarket, a Hard Rock Cafe, a bakery (very reasonably priced) a pizza place and a variety or souvenir shops. Things aren’t exactly cheap, but they are cheaper than you’ll get at the resort supermarkets (we paid $2.30FJD for an apple at the resort). If you want souvenir’s I’d suggest jumping into a taxi and heading out to a village and getting some from the village ladies. They have so much to sell (I bought some earrings made from volcanic rock, but they have a huge variety of shells and pearls, as well as t-towels and photo frames) and it feels nicer supporting the local trade as opposed to the bigger shops.
Things to do:
Enjoy your resort! There is so much going on that honestly there is no reason to leave if you don’t want to! Most resorts around Denarau have a chock a block day filled with various activities. From mini Olympics to basket weaving and coconut demonstrations…as well as the good old Kava ceremonies, just to name a few. Sitting poolside and ordering cocktails and food should never be overlooked!
Have a massage! The resorts aren’t cheap and it’s worthwhile shopping around, but it’s a must do. Utilise your kids club and nannying services, we paid $8FJD for a nanny for our baby so we could have a child free dinner one night for our wedding anniversary.
A sunset dinner is a must, and for the best sunset view I would recommend heading down to the Beach Bar at the Wyndham as they have the best view, and they have happy hour from 5pm – 6pm. Bonus!
If you want to venture out I would suggest a trip to the garden of the sleeping Giants. Especially if you appreciate a good Orchid! There are 2000 varieties of Orchid there, and it’s a very pretty place. They also have a zip line, however I can’t say much about that as we didn’t actually go on it. We went as part of a tour that included a village trip and a trip to the Hindu Temple which was also very interesting. It also included a trip to the local fruit markets which was so colourful and fun, Scarlett stocked up on cucumbers and pears which made her super happy! Our tour was called the “Discover Nadi” tour, but to be honest you could probably jump in a cab and ask them to take you to each place for cheaper.
If you’re looking for an island day trip look no further than the Bounty Island day trip by PJS. We have done a few island trips over the years but I have to say this was probably the best one we’ve done. The stand out for this trip was the incredibly friendly and happy staff, they call themselves the “Crazy Crew” and they certainly live up to that name. There is plenty of sing alongs and on the way home they did face painting for the children. To get to the island we were taken on a sailboat which was great because you sit out on the deck on beanbags and it was so lovely and relaxing. It is a slower trip, taking over an hour to get to the island and longer to get home, but it’s so relaxing you don’t really care! Addison and myself fell asleep on the way home, but Michael Scarlett & Evelyn enjoyed the singing and sailing. This was definitely the highlight of our trip.
Sing a long time on the PJS cruise
Imagine a whole bunch of huge jumping castles with inflatable water slides attached to them. That is what The Big Bula Inflatable Waterslide Park is all about. Itis a new attraction since our last Fiji trip five years ago. And if you’re a big fan of OHS then this place is not for you. When we arrived one of the “crew” picked up our baby and took her down one of the slides! From there it was basically do whatever you want. Want to sit the kids on your lap and slide down any of the inflatable slides? Go for it! We ended up spending two days there as Addison (who is 6) loved it! When you go to waterslide parks here in Australia they’re just so strict and often over strict. The relaxed atmosphere here and the crew who spend so much time playing with the kids on the slides make it well worth a trip. And it’s not too pricey. But get your swimmers on too because it’s lots of fun for everyone. You can watch Evelyn braving the waterslide at Big Bula here. I know she cried, but the previous two times she loved it!
When we came to Fiji the first time, a highlight was the Bula Bus. It was a free hop on hop off trolley type bus that went through all the resorts and the golf club. It was a great way to check out the other resorts and restaurants and head into port if you needed to. The last time we went to Fiji the Bula Bus was $2FJD for a day pass. But now, the Bula Bus is $8FJD for an adult and $2FJD for a child for a day pass. A huge price jump! It’s still worth getting a ticket for a day just to do some resort hopping. But if you just want to go to one place, get a taxi, they’re $7FJD for a one way trip anywhere on the island.
Fiji seems very Americanised when it comes to food these days. Lots of burgers, pizzas and cheese drenched foods. The resorts are quite expensive too. The resorts do Fiji nights where they have traditional food and performers do cultural dancing, but bookings are a must.
Two recommendations food wise though are Mamacita’s at the Wyndham which does very nice Mexican food (and dessert…try the churros!) and Bonefish down at Port Denarau which is fairly reasonably priced in comparison to other restaurants. I love The Hard Rock Cafe generally, but I’d say give it a miss here. Fairly poor service, very oily food and extremely overpriced.
While we didn’t get a chance to try it, Neptunes at The Raddison Blu looked fairly popular and it will be on the to do list next time!
Things to remember:
Be diligent with your mosquito repellent, especially at the gardens, islands and villages.
The minimum wage in Fiji is about $2.30 per hour with a 45-48 hour working week. Most workers work six days per week. And while we can say “well their cost of living is lower” and this is to some extent very true, the prices at the supermarkets are not cheaper. So while they don’t expect a tip, it might be nice to offer a tip of the service calls for it.
And finally…just smile and say “Bula!”
We love Fiji, and we will definitely be back, hopefully sooner rather than later!