Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands in the South Pacific. With its beautiful landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons, Fiji is definitely a dream destination. Most people go there to relax on white sandy beaches or dive among the beautiful coral reef. Nadi is Fiji’s second largest town and is actually a quite interesting place to visit if you want to have a glimpse of what Fijian’s life looks like. Read on for tips on where to stay, eat and the best things to do in Nadi.
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How to get to Nadi
New Zealand and Australia both have direct flights to Nadi from many cities. The flight prices vary on the season and on where you go from.
Flights from New Zealand
You can fly direct to Nadi from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch with Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand. There are daily direct flights to Nadi from Auckland, and the fares are usually relatively affordable. Air New Zealand also flies non-stop from Wellington to Fiji between June and October and from Christchurch to Fiji between May and October.
Flights from Australia
Many Australians go to Fiji on holidays, so it’s easier to get there from Australia than from New Zealand. There are many flights from big Australian cities going to Nadi all year round. Here is a list of the cities and airlines that go to Nadi:
Adelaide: Fiji Airways (Twice weekly)
Brisbane: Fiji Airways (5 flights a week), Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia
Melbourne: Fiji Airways (Daily), Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia
Sydney: Fiji Airways (Daily to Nadi), Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia
Where to stay in Nadi
Most hotels and resorts in Nadi are located on Wailoaloa beach. This is where you will find the best entertainment, a gorgeous beach and fellow travelers like you. The center of Nadi is only 15 minutes drive from Wailoaloa beach and can be reached easily by bus. Below, you’ll find three hotel recommendations in Nadi.
Tropic Of Capricorn
We stayed at the Tropic Of Capricorn which we absolutely loved. The budget-friendly hotel is located right on Wailoaloa beach. You can choose to stay in a dorm, double or triple room. We stayed in a double room with private bathroom and also a double room with shared bathroom. We loved both and were amazed by the friendliness of the staff, the beautiful pool, and the amazing beach view. They also offer massages by the pool, which is quite nice. They have a restaurant which offers delicious Fijian food as well as continental options. Every evening you’ll be entertained by a guitar player and singer, and you can also drink kava with the locals and other guests.
Bamboo Backpackers is next door to the Tropic of Capricorn, and it’s the backpackers favorite choice. This affordable hostel offers live music every night, and weekly fire dancing shows to keep you entertained. Enjoy playing beach volley, drinking at the bar and let the tour desk book your day trips. Bamboo is the best option for solo travelers and friends looking to have some fun in Nadi.
Smugglers Cove Beach Resort
This hotel located on Wailoaloa beach is another great option for budget travelers and couples. With its nightly entertainment, including Polynesian and Fijian ‘Hulas’ and knife and fire dancing shows, you won’t be bored at the Smugglers Cove Beach Resort. This hotel also has a dive shop on-site that offers scuba diving packages and dive trips for those who want to enjoy the beautiful coral reef.
Where to eat in Nadi
If you go to Nadi’s town center you will be able to eat from a local restaurant, by that I mean eat where the locals go – not some made-for-tourists restaurant. You will find a lot of Indian and Asian food at a very cheap price. We went a few times to Parisha’s restaurant which is located in front of the market (and it’s delicious!). She serves Indian food and you can enjoy a meal for as low as $4. Try the Samosa’s, they are yummy and only $1 each! You will find more touristy restaurants that propose continental food at Wailoaloa beach where you can eat and enjoy the sunset at the beach. The price of meals is higher, usually starting at $15.
How to get around Nadi
The best way to get around Nadi as a tourist is to take the bus. Fijian buses are usually old, loud, and slow, and honestly taking the bus in Fiji is actually an experience in itself. If you stay in one of the resorts near the beach, chances are you will end up taking the local bus to go to Nadi town. The bus runs every 30 minutes and costs only $1.11. You can’t pay cash on the bus, you must have a Vodafone travel card of $5 or $10. You can buy one from the Vodafone booth at the main bus station. Another option is to buy the card directly from the bus driver, or you can ask your hotel if they sell it. If you don’t fancy the bus, you can take a taxi which is obviously more expensive. They usually charge $1 per kilometer.
Useful tips for traveling Fiji
Language: The main official language of Fiji is Fijian, but everybody speaks English too. So you won’t have to worry about being understood in Fiji.
Currency: The currency of Fiji is the Fijian dollar. Don’t try to get Fijian dollars before you get to Fiji, as you will lose a lot of money changing Australian dollars, New Zealand dollars, or United States dollars to Fijian dollars in your home country. The best way to get Fijian dollars is to travel with a bank card that has no transaction fees and withdraw cash from the ATM when you get to the airport in Nadi.
Safety: Nadi, and Fiji in general, is a very safe place for travelers. But like everywhere else in the world, it can be dangerous if you don’t use common sense. Fijian people are overall very friendly, relaxed and always happy.
Weather: Fiji is quite hot all year long with average temperatures of 25°C (77°F). However, the country has a storm season from November to April, so it’s not the best time to visit as you will get a lot of rain. The peak season is between July and September when the weather is sunny and dry.
Food: You’ll find a lot of Indian food in Fiji. Fijian cuisine is mostly made of local tropical fruits and vegetables. It’s easy to find vegetarian food (thanks to the Indian influences) in Nadi. If you go on the islands, it can become a little bit trickier as the locals rely a lot on fish to feed themselves. Unless you go to resorts, where obviously, they will have vegetarian/vegan food but it’ll be costly!
How expensive is Nadi
Well, not as expensive as you think! Depending on what you do, traveling Fiji can be quite cheap. My boyfriend and I spent 3 weeks traveling Fiji, and we were on a daily budget of $35 USD each. So it is quite comparable to Southeast Asia. In Nadi, you can eat for $5 or $6, sleep in a nice hotel for $20 and relax at the beach for free, what more could you ask for?
If you go on the islands though, the prices go up. The boats to go to the Yasawa Islands and the Mamanucas are quite pricey. Once you’re on the islands, there won’t be much choice in terms of restaurants, so food will also be more expensive.
Now that you know everything about going to Fiji, let’s have a look at what to do in Nadi.
8 amazing things you must do in Nadi, Fiji
There are a lot of amazing things to do in Nadi, and the city can easily keep you busy for at least 3 days. Most of the activities on this list are free as well, which is perfect for budget travelers like you and me! So here it goes.
1. Go to the food market
Nadi’s food market is a fantastic place to get cheap fruits and vegetables. You’ll find mostly local foods like bananas, papayas, mangos, tomatoes… you can get a banana bunch for as low as $2. This market is located right next to the main bus station and is open from Monday to Saturday until 12pm. After 12pm, some of the locals keep selling their stuff outside the market stalls. You can also see and buy Kava at this market, the traditional Fijian drink.
2. Visit the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple
The Sri Livia temple is a Hindu temple located right in Nadi’s city center. It’s a colorful temple with beautiful paintings on the ceiling and sculptures on top. The entry fee is $5 for foreigners, and you will be asked to cover your knees and shoulders and to take your shoes off. Don’t worry, if you don’t have anything to cover yourself up, the reception will lend you a sari. The temple is open every day from 6am until 7 or 8pm depending on the day. It was originally built by the bridge at the town’s entrance but was later on demolished. They rebuilt the temple on Queen’s Road 24 years ago.
3. Drink Kava with the locals
Kava is Fiji’s traditional drink and is made with the root of the Kava plant. It’s mixed with water and has an earthy flavor. We stayed at the Tropic Of Capricorn Hotel and we could enjoy Kava drinking together with some music in a chill atmosphere. If you are staying in a different hotel – like Bamboo’s Backpackers – you can still join the fun at the tropic every evening from 7pm. Even if Kava doesn’t taste great, it’s still a good experience to enjoy it with the locals. And remember, no Kava, no Fiji!
4. Enjoy a lazy afternoon on Wailoaloa beach
Wailoaloa is Nadi’s main beach. The beach is one kilometer long and this is where most hotels and resorts are located. Trust me, enjoying a relaxing afternoon sunbathing at the beach is a fantastic way to spend a day. You can also try horse riding on this beach. The sunset is really pretty from Wailoaloa, so don’t forget to bring your picnic!
5. Relax at the Sabeto Mud Pools and Hot Springs
Mud pools are really popular in Nadi, and the Sabeto Mud Pools and Hot Springs is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day. Located 30 minutes from Nadi’s center, the mud pools are a wonderful experience to have in Nadi. First, cover yourself in mud and then let it dry in the sun. Next, wash off the mud in the hot springs. You’ll love the therapeutic benefits of this amazing experience and you’ll leave refreshed and rejuvenated. The Sabeto Mud Pools and Hot Springs also offers massages. The entrance fee is $30 per person.
6. Explore the garden of the Sleeping Giant
The garden of the Sleeping Giant is definitely Nadi’s most famous park. With its beautiful native plants, spectacular orchids, and stunning lily ponds, this garden is a wonderful spot to spend a day wandering in nature. If you’re interested in discovering the fauna and flora of the Pacific, then I definitely recommend you visit this incredible place. It’s also a great place for taking photos. The entry fee of the garden is $18 per person, and it’s located outside of Nadi’s center so you’ll have to take a taxi to get there.
7. Visit fancy Denarau
Denarau is probably the most expensive suburb of Nadi as it is where all the resorts are, and it’s the port from which you can take a boat to go to the Yasawa Islands. The port has a retail center where you can buy souvenirs from Fiji, eat and drink. We enjoyed shopping at the mall, and later on, went to the long (empty) beach. You will definitely see more tourists than locals in Denarau, and it’s not the best place to go if you’re looking for an authentic Fijian experience as it was clearly built for tourism. The easiest way to get there is to take the bus from Nadi’s town center for only $1.
8. Take a stroll at the handicraft market
The handicraft market of Nadi is right in the city center. You will find handmade Fijian art and sculptures, necklaces, pareos and so on. This is a great place to buy souvenirs for your family and friends. Everything that’s sold at the market is relatively cheap, but in Fiji, it’s common to negotiate the prices.
If you are going to Fiji, spend some time in Nadi before heading to the islands. Nadi is a beautiful city totally worth visiting, and the friendliness of the locals will amaze you. Check out the official website of Fiji for more info on the islands and destinations. I hope you found this post helpful, let me know in the comments below if you went to Nadi and what you did!
Please note: All prices in this post are in Fijian Dollars.
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