The Bus System
For the budget minded traveler there is always the local bus system. You might be surprised to find that buses in Fiji are a pretty efficient way to get around even if they can be a bit warm and crowded at times. We like riding them as it gives us a chance to experience life the way the locals live it.
You can’t pay directly to the bus drive for your fare. You have to purchase bus tickets. The easiest place to get them is at the Vodafone stores. If you are in a place and you need the bus but don’t yet have a ticket the driver will usually give you a one time free pass so that you can get to a place to buy one.
If you are in Port Denarau and you just want to do a little resort hopping we highly recommend the Bula Bus. It’s an open air bus for the tourists and it’s always a fun ride. It costs $8 FJD per day and is a hop on hop off type of thing. We rode it when we met some friends who were staying at the Sheraton Resort and it was a fun change from the regular, large buses that we take into town.
Taxis are everywhere here but you have to be a bit savvy about them. The taxis in Port Denarau, for instance, aren’t metered so you have to negotiate the cost to get where you are going. And, you can’t just call an outside taxi to come pick you up because they are only allowed to bring you in, not take you out. To find a taxi in Port Denarau you need only to walk up to the parking lot just be sure to negotiate with them as we’ve had a couple take advantage of our kind nature.
Taxis most everywhere else are metered so there’s not negotiating and you’ll find they are pretty cost effective. In Vuda we have a favorite taxi driver named Veeru. He works with Abduls Cars and we’ve found him to very, very reasonable. From Vuda to Lautoka he charges $20 FJD each way and $10 FJD per hour to sit and wait on you. Veeru knows all the places cruisers are likely to want to go and is great about helping you find things.
From time to time it’s just easier to rent a car….especially if you are doing some big provisioning runs or want to just take a day to go explore this beautiful country from the land. In Denarau there is an Avis Rent A Car but we’ve never been able to get a car from them as they always seem to be booked. Fortunately for us that has always worked in our favor as Abduls Cars where Veeru works also rents cars and they will deliver them to Port Denarau. The going rate this season is a flat $100 FJD per day…not additional taxes, insurance or delivery fees. When you compute that back into US dollars it’s about $46 USD at current exchange rates so it’s a really good deal and the cars are super clean and not those little tiny cars either. Most are some sort of 4-Door wagon.
There are also several ferry companies that operate out of the port. The Malolo Cat will take you to and from Malolo Lailai which is also known as Plantation Island. That’s where the Musket Cove Resort, Plantation Resort and Lomani Resorts are located. We’ve taken this into the port from the island and it’s a nice 50 minute ride. If you have a Musket Cove Yacht Club card they offer you a 10% discount. These are available to cruisers who are staying in the marina or anchorage for a $10 FJD fee.
Avoiding The Scams
As in any country in the world there are always people out there trying to take advantage of the tourists. Fiji is no different. One of the biggest scams we’ve seen here is in the souvenir markets. Don’t just take someone’s word for it when they tell you it is locally made. We’ve found that most things are not. Most things are plastic junk from China. It’s a shame too because they have the resources and the ability to create beautiful works of art but they choose the shortcut and many, many tourists fall into their trap.
We spent time along the way talking with real Fijian wood carvers to learn how to tell the difference between the real thing and the Chinese knockoffs. It paid off for us when we wanted to buy a kava bowl as well as a few other woodcarvings. The easiest way to tell is by weight. If it feels really light, it probably is not genuine. It’s probably made from some balsa wood in a factory in Asia. The same goes for their wooden jewelry. If you see several pieces that are virtually identical you have to know that they were not handmade. They came from a factory. Oh yes, and all of the items from wooden picture frames to purses that have Fiji written on them came in a container from across the Pacific.
If you don’t care about that and just want something that looks like it came from here then fine but if you want the real deal then you have to be a bit more discriminating. We even found Chinese made sculptures in the famous Jack’s of Fiji stores where they sell carvings, clothes, jewelry and more. They tell you each piece was carved locally but when you see fifty pieces that look exactly alike and then you pick them up and they weight almost nothing, it’s easy to tell they are knockoffs.
The moral of this story is caveat emptor….buyer beware.
Touristy Things To Do
There’s probably a hundred or more different touristy things you can do in the area. There are many, many charter boat opportunities where they take you diving, snorkeling and sailing. They also offer trips out to the islands. We have yet to take do any of these things because, well, we are already visiting these places. That said, we would not miss an opportunity to recommend the Coral Cats. They offer snorkeling, fishing and daysailing adventures aboard their catamarans. One stops by Musket Cove on Malolo Lailai for lunch. And while we’ve not taken this cruise we’ve talked with those who have and they highly recommend it.
So why would we recommend them if we’ve never been on one of their trips? Well, in the three months we spent coming and going from Musket Cove we had the opportunity to meet and interact with the young men who run the catamarans. We’re very impressed with them on multiple levels. Their knowledge of sailing and the local area is excellent. Their outgoing, humourus and wonderful personalities make them a joy to be around. We’ve watched as they hold and entertain babies and young children so their parents can have a peaceful meal. Now that’s service!
One day we even watched one of these fantastic young men teach (with parental approval of course) two little girls how to climb a tree near the beach. Captain Leli, Mac, Sailor and the rest of the guys are truly great guys who do everything they can to show their customers a great time. If we were choosing this type of adventure in the area, Coral Cats would be our choice!
If you are one of the few peole out there who doesn’t really enjoying hanging out on the water there are a host of other tours and attractions to see. There’s the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple located in the city center in Nadi. The Garden of the Sleeping Giant Orchid Farm that was once owned by Raymond Burr where they have thousands of varieties of orchids. You can zipline or take a jungle safari and so much more. Chances are, just like us, you won’t have enough time to do and see everything that interests you. For us, we’re just glad we’ll be back for a few months during next season so we can get a chance to see me.
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THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENT AS OF SEPTEMBER 2022.