I’ve done so much traveling during my exchange semester in Sydney, I did not really find the time to post about all the amazing places I have visited and experienced. But this has got to change now. Let me start off with one of my highlights.
Here is my Fiji Travel Guide for Broke Exchange Students.
When you happen to be on the other side of the world, you should definitely exploit the fact that you are much closer now to certain places – So I decided to take the 300€ flight from Sydney to Nadi, an amazingly cheap deal considering you would probably pay more than 2000€ flying there from Europe. But to be honest, I only knew the Fiji Islands from the movie The Truman Show, in which the main character so desperately wants to go to this remote and beautiful place. So… I kinda wanted the same thing. I teamed up with two other exchange students and we decided to just go, knowing we would try to spend the least possible.
In Fiji you don’t book an accommodation – you book islands
When visiting Fiji, you do not go prepared; you go with the flow. We had nothing planned for our trip, we only got some advice from a couple of people who already went there. The only thing we had booked was the flight and our first stay at the hostel in Nadi, the main city in the west. The reason was that we wanted to be spontaneous and get the best offers from the locals. Highly recommended to us was the Bamboo Hostel, which was full of students and young people from all over the world, where we stayed in a 32-bedroom (!!!) for like 12€/night. Sounds horrible, but the hostel had an amazing fireshow, pretty good food and most importantly, really cool people.
So on the first day we sat together with the local travel booker from the hostel and made up a plan for the next 5 days. The woman told us that in Fiji you don’t book an accommodation – you book islands. A little geography lesson for you: The Fiji Islands are, as the name implies, a collection of many little island groups. Each island has a maximum capacity for carrying people, which is why you kinda “book the island”. Also, each island is rated with stars, like a hotel.
When the Cheapest Islands still feel like Paradise
One island group is called the Mamanuca Islands and known to be the backpacker islands, since it is one of the cheapest options – perfect for us broke students. After calculating through all options, we decided to spend two nights in Beachcomber Island and another two on Bounty Island before a last night back on the mainland. Booking an island you basically get everything inclusive: the transfer to the island on a boat and back, the accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, towels and an amazing entertainment slash getting to know the great, great Fijians living on the island. Let me give you some more info about those islands – I know this is what you are waiting for.
- Beachcomber Island had a capacity of like 40 people and was somewhat mid-priced within the Mamanuca Islands.. You sleep in a super cool wooden shack, sunlight enters the room in the morning and fans create a light, fresh breeze. Waking up in a bunk bed could never be more relaxing I think. Beachcomber is so tiny, you can walk around it in 15min. The sand is white and soft and snorkeling is also possible. They say it’s the party island, however when we were there it was pretty empty – we did not mind though. The funny local DJane still played her songs every night and it was fun listening. It was definitely my favorite island.
- Bounty Island: This island was a little bit more expensive than Beachcomper. The reason we decided to go there was probably that we were thinking we are going to the island which is always shown in the Bounty Chocolate ad. Well, that was not quite the case, but it was still a really amazing island.
- Nadi: Beaches at the mainland are not that great, but there are a bunch of other activities you can do, like visiting temples and markets, hiking or going to their famous mud pools. We decided not to book any activity (you know… broke-student-life) but we took a bus into the city and discovered the main road with its shops and a nice Buddhist temple.
They say Fijians are the happiest people on earth
Yes the beaches are great, the water is extremely clear and the sun is just perfect – but one thing that fascinated me the most were the Fijians themselves. I have never ever met such nice people. The moment you enter Fiji, a group of Fijians already stands at the airport, sings and plays the guitar. And you know what? It does not seem like a tourist thing – I truly believe they loved that they were making music and with that, other people happy. This was also the case when we went into the city and met real locals in their daily life. They were always so friendly, helping out when we looked clueless, with a constant smile on their face. I don’t know why they are so happy, but maybe the more appropriate question would be why are we not happy most of the time. A little sidenote – you find people of all believes in Fiji living side by side in harmony. Muslims, Christians, Hindus… It was really nice to observe that.
So, when going to Fiji, be open and get in touch with the locals. Have a Kava (You know when you get there!!) and sing with them in front of a bonfire. It makes you reflect so much about yourself and the way we live our life. What does matter, what doesn’t matter. I remember the calm nights on the island, talking for hours with my friends about life and the future, looking at the bright stars.
Fiji is more than just a pretty place – it’s a little escape from the life you know.
Watch my Travel Video: