A common question is why I choose, or how I choose, to be a backpackers in the Fiji Islands for eight months. Why Fiji and not New Zealand or Australia? I am sure New Zealand would be awesome to check out and Australia is amazing from what I hear.
The reason that I came to Fiji the first time was because of mere distance. I was in Apia, Samoa. I needed to get to a country that had decent internet and also was somewhat cheap. I looked New Zealand but prices on flights were to Nadi, Fiji. Almost half of what it was to go to Auckland, New Zealand.
I also found some insanely cheap hostels in Nadi that I knew I would need for a few weeks while I worked for a client. It just worked out for me was the basic bottom line. I could do what I needed to do to fund my travel and still get out and see things at least part of the day. It was a win/win.
What I found in Fiji Islands?
In the eight months I was there, I found three things that I could tell you to enjoy: the people, the culture and the food.
The people of Fiji; the Fijians, the Indians, the Polynesians, and the Chinese are some of the most welcoming people in the world. Some studies say they are the friendliest people in the world. I have found that “bula smile” to be authentic. It is real. The people are real. I really enjoyed Fijian hospitality.
I also found a deep culture in the traditional Fijian villages among the people. They still keep much of the culture that they have had for centuries. It was took to take part in the Fijian villages, or the Fijian earth oven. I spend a weekend in a village where there was a full feast. It was quite the experience.
That leads to me to the Fijian food. There is alot of American food, based on Australian taste, in Fiji but there is also Fijian food. It is what they eat in the village. It is based heavily on what they can grow right there in the villages. It has alot of vegetables and fruits. Many Fijians still cook over open fire. It is very cool to see.
Is backpacking the Fiji Islands for you?
That is really only something you can answer but if you want some real experiences in the Pacific, are on a budget, and have the time; I would suggest keeping Fiji on your list of places to visit. It is worth the journey.
I was able to go around the country and see most of what I wanted to see on less than a $1,000 USD a month. I did it traveling mostly local like the Fijian people would and staying in budget hostels for the most part. It is very practical in the Fiji Islands.
At the end of the day, I had a great time in Fiji and I think you would as well. If you can, make it happen!
Before I say this, I have not been back to Fiji since 2013 but I will just say that the cost of places seems to have seriously rose for hostels and even hotels. Fiji was the cheapest Pacific Island and still is but it is not competitive with places like Vietnam and Cambodia anymore.
With the cost of travel rising, it makes it much more of a challenge because traveling to other countries in the region is several hundred dollars each way. For example, going to Samoa for a week could easily become a thousand dollars.
I would go to Fiji Islands again but that does not mean that it is the smartest plan out there. Just saying.