If you are going anywhere in Fiji or the South Pacific, there is a good chance that you will need to fly in and out of Nadi International Airport just outside of Nadi, Fiji.
Currently, they serve as far as Los Angeles, Hong Kong and South Korea directly and about anywhere on the globe indirectly. I personally have taken the Hong Kong leg and it is not bad. I also have flown to and from Samoa several times. More on that later.
The good news is that you can get a link to Fiji pretty much daily; the bad news is there is not much competition and no major airlines like United, Delta, or American Airlines service Fiji anymore. United Airlines used to but they killed it due to financial reasons. Welcome to the South Pacific.
If you are coming from the mainland United States, your best option is to fly to Hawaii and then take Fiji Airways from there. At least you cut the price is about half. Your other option is if you find a very cheap flight to Auckland or Sydney but don’t count on that.
What is Nadi International Airport like?
It is called the regional hub but that is a serious over reach in reality. It is more like a regional airport in most developed nations. The small Chattanooga, Tennessee airport is about the same size that does not handle any jets.
When you land, you will go through Immigration and Customs like you would anywhere in the world. They will ask you pretty standard questions beside one that many find a little odd.
Ministry of Customs in Fiji is very touchy about sugar, pineapples and coconuts. They call it bio-security. In fact, they are so touchy that KFC left the market! Anyways, they will not allow any sugar, pineapples or coconuts that are not from Fiji to come into the country. Leave your Pineapples at home, people!
Once you clear all that, you will go through some open doors and there will be a salesperson for every package known to man and every major hotel. You can book them or head right for the side door to get away from the airport as fast as you can.
When you leave Fiji from Nadi International Airport, you will go to the other wing of the terminal that has a large International Departure check-in area. If you keep going to the end of that, you will see a small domestic departure area as they use much smaller planes to get around the Fiji Islands.
One good thing about the terminal that I remember is that is open around the clock so if you have a silly departure like 5:05am; you can spend the night there. You will get one crazy departure at some point in the South Pacific too!
Getting away from Nadi International Airport?
There is several ways to get from the airport and the good new is all of them are pretty cheap. Yes, taxi cabs are pretty cheap in Fiji.
Let’s talk about them. You can get the cab right at the arrivals. Most of them are just regular drivers from Nadi and they should use the meter. It should four to five Fijian dollars to the Nadi Town. If one gives you problem, ask the guy next to him for a better fare.
If that is not what you are looking for, you can walk about 500 meters to the main road. It is actually that close. Once you are there, you are away from the airport. The first option would be a local bus that would cost about $1.15 in local currency to get to the town. There are also small minivan that take people on the small route as the bus for about the same price.
If you are going to the Coral Coast, Pacific Harbour or the capital city of Suva; there is new air conditioned buses that run from Lautoka to downtown Suva about once an hour during the daytime. There is also vans right around the clock. The fare from the airport to Suva is roughly $17. They also made a food stop in Sigatoka.
The final option, one that I have never done, is to rent a car in Nadi for traveling around Fiji. I just do not see the need. Public transportation is pretty good.
My experince using Nadi’s Airport
I have flown to and from Apia, Samoa; Nukuʻalofa, Tonga; Honiara, Solomon Islands; and Hong Kong in China. All of these flights was using the old Air Pacific that is now Fiji Airways.
I can’t say it was that much different anywhere else in the world to be honest. Walk down the walkway onto the plane, taxi and take off. Nadi International Airport is pretty modern for most purposes.
The only thing that I will say is if you are making that Hong Kong, China or Los Angeles, California flight; make sure you eat good before coming to the airport. Food options are limited and you have a very long haul ahead of you before you see non-flight food again.
One other thing is during the dozen or so times that I used the airport, I never had an issue with checking in. It was always very quickly and they process the people as fast as they can. I do not see any need to arrival four hours before departure. This is not LAX here or JFK in New York. This is Fiji!
I can not report on flights within Fiji because I always used local transport or ferries everywhere I went. However, if you have flown domestic within the country, please let me know your experience. I am sure others would like to hear your story.