Fiji is the travel hub for the South Pacific, and a popular stopover on round-the-world tickets. The majority of direct flights arrive from New Zealand, Australia or Los Angeles, and travellers from North America or Europe usually must connect through one of these. Arriving by boat is only possible on a privately chartered yacht, by taking one of the few cruise liners calling in at Lautoka or Suva or by finding passage on a container ship.
If flying from Australia or New Zealand, Fiji’s tourism market, you’re likely to find heavily discounted airfares and package deals, particularly in the low season between January and April. The majority of travel agents focus on the ever-popular resorts in the Mamanucas, the large hotels along the Coral Coast on the main island and the occasional outer-island boutique retreat.
From North America, the UK or continental Europe, options are more limited, although you should find Fiji as a stopover on many round-the-world tickets. The main tour operators in these regions tend to offer only the large international hotels around Nadi as package holidays. Searching for the best-priced flights, or using frequent-flyer points, then booking more desirable accommodation independently is likely to give you the most options at the lowest price.
Flights from the US and Canada
Fiji-bound travellers from North America have two choices for a direct flight to Nadi Airport: Air New Zealand or Fiji Airways. Both have daily flights from Los Angeles, with Fiji Airways also having twice weekly flights from Vancouver via Honolulu. The eleven-hour nonstop flight from Los Angeles costs from US$850 return, or US$1400 from Vancouver.
Flights from the UK and Europe
From the UK, you have the choice of travelling west via North America or east via Asia – it’s 16,000km either way. Fares follow the high and low seasons between Europe and North America or Europe and Australia, with June to August and the Christmas holidays being particularly busy, with fewer discounted deals available.
Air New Zealand (airnz.co.nz) offers a convenient nonstop flight to Fiji via Los Angeles departing daily (except Fri) from Heathrow and costing £1000–1600 – the flight takes 26hr including a four-hour connecting stopover at Los Angeles (unfortunately you have to clear US customs and immigration then re-enter which makes the transit a little frustrating). Air New Zealand also offers a daily eastern route from London Heathrow via Hong Kong and New Zealand, although this journey takes 28hr with two stopovers and costs from £1000.
Some of the cheapest direct flights to Fiji from London are via Seoul with Korean Air (koreanair.com), costing from £750 if booked via an agent, with the outward journey taking 24hr but the return leg requiring an overnight stop in Seoul with hotel and transfers included in the flight price.
Otherwise, your best option is to find a cheap flight on the route between the UK and Australia (costing from £650), and then buy a return flight from either Brisbane or Sydney to Nadi with Virgin Australia, which adds around £300.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
Flights to Fiji are most frequent from Australia and New Zealand and both offer competitively priced deals, with reduced fares on the Internet and special offers bundled with accommodation packages.
Two airlines operate flights from Australia: Virgin Australia (virginaustralia.com) and Fiji Airways (fijiairways.com). Both airlines depart daily from Brisbane and Sydney, taking about 4hr, with deals often available from A$350 return; Fiji Airways also has four flights a week from Melbourne (5hr), costing roughly A$200 more.
The shorter hop (3hr 5min) from New Zealand is generally more expensive, and monopolized by Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand (airnz.co.nz), with daily flights from Auckland starting from NZ$400. There’s also a weekly flight from Christchurch operated by Fiji Airways taking 4hr (from NZ$500).
The most direct route for travellers from South Africa is to fly to Sydney or Auckland and then on to Fiji.
Flights from elsewhere in the Pacific
Flying to Fiji from elsewhere in the South Pacific is not always practical, and often quite expensive, despite Fiji being the main travel hub for the region. Fiji’s national airline, Fiji Airways (330 4388, fijiairways.com), flies to Fiji from: Apia, Samoa (2 weekly; 1hr 5min; F$485 one way); Funafuti, Tuvalu (2 weekly; 2hr 30min; F$780 one way); Honolulu, Hawaii (2 weekly; 8hr; F$865 one way); Christmas Island, Kiribati (1 weekly; 4hr; F$675 one way); Tarawa, Kiribati (2 weekly; 3hr; F$677 one way); Port Vila, Vanuatu (3 weekly; 1hr 30min; F$392 one way); and Nuku‘alofa, Tonga (2 weekly; 1hr 20min; F$350 one way).
Other regional airlines serving Nadi include: Aircalin from Noumea, New Caledonia (aircalin.com; 3 weekly; 2hr; F$750 one way); Air Vanuatu from Port Vila, Vanuatu (airvanuatu.com; 1 weekly; 1hr 40min; F$390 one way); and Solomon Airlines from Honiara, Solomon Islands (flysolomons.com; 2 weekly; 3hr; F$525 one way). There are no direct flights between Fiji and the Cook Islands, Tahiti or Easter Island – the easiest way to get to Fiji from these eastern Polynesian destinations is via Auckland or Los Angeles.
Agents and operators
Beautiful Pacific Fiji 672 2600, US 619 618 0229, UK 020 8123 8622, Australia 02 8005 1232, New Zealand 09 889 0909; beautifulpacific.com. South Pacific travel specialist offering discounted rooms at most beach resorts and adventure retreats.
ebookers UK 0800 082 3000, Republic of Ireland 01 488 3507; ebookers.com, ebookers.ie. Low fares on an extensive selection of scheduled flights and package deals.
Impulse Fiji Fiji 672 0600, US 1-800 953-7595; impulsefiji.com. Postings for last-minute special offers at larger resorts.
North South Travel UK 01245 608 291, northsouthtravel.co.uk. Friendly, competitive travel agency, offering discounted fares worldwide. Profits are used to support projects in the developing world, especially the promotion of sustainable tourism.
Trailfinders UK 0845 058 5858, Republic of Ireland 01 77 7888, Australia 1300 780 212; trailfinders.com. One of the best-informed and most efficient agents for independent travellers.
STA Travel US 1-800 781-4040, UK 0871 2300 040, Australia 134 STA, New Zealand 0800 474 400, SA 0861 781 781; statravel.com. Worldwide specialists in independent travel; also student IDs, travel insurance, car rental and more. Good discounts for students and under-26s.
Getting to Fiji by boat
Although a romantic proposition, arriving in Fiji by boat is tricky unless on a private yacht – it’s a five- to ten-day journey up from New Zealand depending on weather, or at least a month’s sailing across the Pacific from the US west coast. Several large cruise liners visit Fiji but usually spend only a day at port, either at Lautoka, Suva or Savusavu before cruising around the islands, perhaps dropping anchor for snorkelling trips, and then heading back to the open seas.
Finding passage on a container ship was once one of the great adventures of the Pacific, but most companies no longer take passengers due to heightened security concerns. For further information try international shipping agents Andrew Weir (UK 020 7575 6000, awshipmanagement.com) or Pacific Forum Line (NZ 09 356 2333, pacificforumline.com).
If visiting by yacht, Fiji has four ports of entry: Suva (330 2864), Lautoka (666 7734), Levuka (344 0425) and Savusavu (885 0728). Clearance must be requested at least 48 hours before arrival: for the regulations you need to follow go to (www.frca.org.fj/yachts-arrival/). For detailed sailing info, Yacht Help (675 0911, yachthelp.com), based at Port Denarau on Viti Levu publishes the extremely useful and free Fiji Marine Guide; they’ll also try and find a yacht charter if you don’t have your own boat. Otherwise, you may find crew work at one of the marinas and possibly passage on to New Zealand, Australia or California. Most yachts depart Fiji by September or October before the start of the hurricane season and start to arrive again, often having sailed via Tonga or Tahiti, from May to August.
P&O Cruises Australia 13 24 69, New Zealand 0800 951 200; pocruises.com.au. Large passenger cruise ships departing Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland and visiting various ports including Suva, Lautoka and Savusavu as well as Beqa and the Yasawas, usually on twelve-day itineraries.
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