Yes, you can make the Fiji vacation of your dreams happen in a long weekend.
Some destinations are true bucket-list places, like Bora Bora, Easter Island, or maybe Mount Everest. They’re expensive, far-away places that require at least a few weeks away from work to devote to the destination. And most people would probably agree that Fiji is one of those places.
Except for the fact that there are direct flights from the US to Fiji. And it’s not that far away, at least compared to places like Thailand or Maldives. And perhaps most importantly, you don’t need weeks to take a vacation to Fiji. In fact, you don’t even need one full week.
it’s absolutely possible to plan a vacation to Fiji in a long weekend — four days truly will give you an excellent taste of the island nation. Sure, you’ll certainly want to go back and spend more time on a longer trip, but a quick vacation to Fiji may be a lot more doable than you think. Here are seven things you need to know about planning a short trip to Fiji, along with recommendations and tips for how to make it happen
Take a redeye from SF or LA
This one is probably the hardest to pull off, especially if you live on the East Coast. Most flights into Fiji arrive to Nadi Airport, the largest airport in the country on the main island of Viti Levu. Fiji Airlines is the only airline that offers direct flights to Fiji from the US (from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu). That means you can step on the plane Wednesday night after work, sleep for about 10 hours (from San Francisco), and wake up the following day when you land in sunny Fiji. Considering you’d probably sleep for about 10 hours Wednesday night anyway, you might as well put that time to good use by traveling.
If you don’t live in LA or SF, it’s going to be hard to plan a four-day vacation in Fiji. But what you could do is add it on to a trip you’re already thinking about taking. Fly into LA, spend a few days surfing or hitting the beaches, then head to the airport and go further west for the last four days of your vacation. Yes, it sounds a bit over-the-top, but if you take away one thing from this article, it’s that a short vacation to Fiji actually is fairly doable.
Use “Bula Bids” to fly business class for a fraction of the cost
It goes without saying that cost will limit the ability of some travelers to do this. But you’re going to be able to hit the ground running when you arrive if you sleep on the flight, and flying business class is by far the best way to count on being able to snooze. Not having to take a nap as soon as you arrive will help you get acclimated to the time zone and make the most of your few days on the island.
Fortunately, if you fly Fiji Airlines, it may actually be cheaper to fly in business class than you think. About a week before flights depart, the airline reaches out to anyone who bought an economy seat to offer a chance to participate in an auction for empty business-class seats. Rather than paying the full fare, you can bid on how much you’d be willing to pay for a business-class seat.
If there are 10 unsold business seats, the 10 highest bidders get their offers accepted. It’s risky, but may be a good way to get a first-class ticket for less. It’s called “Bula bidding” and it’s only available from Fiji Airways.
If you don’t win the bidding system, download the Fiji Airlines app and keep an eye on your seat selection. I flew business class one way and economy the other way, but I switched my economy seat at the last second to get an empty row, and slept almost as well across three empty seats as I did in business class.
Stay on Viti Levu
Don’t bother trying to island hop on a four-day vacation to Fiji. Stay on Viti Levu, the main island with the international airport, and explore the beaches nearby. There’s no point in spending more time traveling to smaller islands when Viti Levu itself is already so gorgeous.
Sure, some islands are close (like the Mamanucas, at about 45 minutes from Nadi), but you’re still going to spend precious time traveling to the ferry building, buying tickets, waiting for the ferry, actually traveling, and then trying to get to your hotel. It’s not impossible, but after a long flight, adding on more transportation may feel fairly onerous.
Make your taxi rides into a tour
It may be tempting to book a downtown Nadi hotel so you can get to your room quickly and minimize time spent in transport. But some of the best hotels in Fiji are a little outside the city. Fortunately, if you stop thinking about taxis and start thinking about driving tours, you can make the journey into the destination.
A great option is Rosie Holidays, a woman-owned transportation and tour company that will pick you up at the airport and drive you along the coast to your hotel, with as many sightseeing stops (and facts and stories about Fiji) as you’d like along the way. Since they run both tours and transfers, they can build a tour for you that picks up at the airport and ends at your hotel, stopping anywhere from mud baths to waterfalls to the Cloud 9 floating bar on the way.
If you’re headed in the direction of Pacific Harbour, they can arrange a stop for you at the fascinating Bula Coffee Plantation, where you can take a coffee tour, enjoy a coffee by the beach, and learn all about the various types of coffee trees found across the island (which is crazy, considering most types of coffee are non-native and no one recalls planting them). It’s a good spot for a tasty pick-me-up after a long flight and provides a place to stop (and kayak or hang out on the beach) if you can’t check in to your hotel until the afternoon anyway.
Stay near Pacific Harbour
If you thought sitting on the beach was the only activity available on Viti Levu, think again. You can do whitewater rafting, scuba dive with multiple species of sharks, soak in skin-friendly mud pools, hike, ride rail bikes through the jungle, and a heck of a lot more. Fiji is mountainous and diverse, creating lots of recreational opportunities.
You could stay in Korotogo if you want to pedal rail bikes through the jungle or hike through Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. But otherwise, the average person will want to consider staying near Pacific Harbour. It’s known as Fiji’s “adventure capital” and is just minutes from the Bega Lagoon (famous for shark diving).
But it’s also the pick-up point for whitewater rafting and paddling trips with Rivers Fiji, and since the Navua River meets the ocean in Pacific Harbour, it’s a great spot for sunset happy hour tours and paddleboard rentals. Waterfall ATV tours, fishing charters, scuba diving lessons — they’re all going to meet in Pacific Harbour, so you might as well stay there.
Book a hotel with plenty to do on site
It’s time to consider your hotel’s amenities after you’ve narrowed down what area you want to stay in for your four-day vacation in Fiji. But don’t think your hotel is just a place to lay your head. Book a hotel with entertainment activities on-site so even your downtime at the hotel is exciting.
In Pacific Harbour, The Pearl Fiji is a surprisingly affordable hotel offering everything from river cruises to weaving to raft-building classes, as well as more active adventures like guiding kayaking — plenty to fill up every day of your quick Fiji vacation. It’s also only about a one-minute walk from the scuba diving shops in Pacific Harbour, one of the island’s top dive sites. Try to schedule your trip for the weekly fire walking demonstration, when a mix of hotel staff and area residents explain the history of (and demonstrate) fire walking, a rite of passage in traditional Fijian communities.
Just a few miles away is Nanuku Resort, an ultra-luxurious property so beautiful you may be tempted to never leave, especially once you see your private pool. Fortunately, you don’t have to, with activities like coconut husking, cooking classes, evening traditional dance performances, and beach bonfires available to guests.
Many hotels have dance troupes that perform traditional Fijian dances for diners. Before you write it off, ask the hotel for more details about the dancers. Many of the city’s dance troupes are comprised of local young people, who have day jobs but perform with dance troupes in the evenings to keep their local traditions alive. The troupes can fund themselves and teach younger dancers because they get paid to perform at hotels, so participating in and enjoying the shows can be a great way to help keep the traditions alive.
Let the ocean give your system a jolt
If you’re a certified scuba diver planning on diving, plan it for the afternoon of your first day. Being in the water will wake you up, especially if you decide to dive with sharks (and honestly, can you imagine falling asleep underwater? No.) Aside from the fact that you’ll want to have at least an 18-hour buffer between diving and flying, doing a dive first thing can be a great way to get your adrenaline flowing, help you stay awake, and wear you out enough that you’re ready to sleep at the appropriate (Fijian) time. It also gives you time to rebook a dive for the next day if the weather doesn’t participate or you love it so much that you need to go again.
The closest popular dive site to the airport is in Pacific Harbour, home of the world-famous Beqa Lagoon, known as the only place in the world where you can dive with nine species of shark at once. Highly regarded shops in the area include Beqa Adventure Divers and AquaTrek Fiji, two companies that greatly contributed to the establishment of the Shark Reef National Marine Park.
If you don’t dive, plan an alternate activity to get in the water on your first day to help your body adjust from jet lag. It could be a snorkel tour or a paddleboard session, or ask your tour guide/taxi driver to take you to a lush swimming hole for a morning swim after you land. A good option is Orchid Falls in the Sleeping Giant park, about 30 minutes from Nadi.
Go during the rainy season
Planning a quick vacation in Fiji during the rainy season may seem like a bad idea, but it really depends on what you want to do. If you’re planning to scuba dive or go whitewater rafting, it really doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not. And traveling during the rainy season will mean more last-minute availability at hotels and on tours, fewer cars on the road (which means quicker drives), and generally lower prices on everything from hotels to airfare. And if you like waterfalls, you’ll definitely want to visit during the rainy season as that’s when they’re flowing the most. They can nearly dry up in the aptly named dry season.
If you’re down with a little rain but don’t necessarily feel like driving on muddy roads or trying to map your way across muddy trails, use a guiding company. Talonoa Treks is one of the island’s most sustainable guiding companies and offers custom hikes through small villages to waterfalls, summits, and more. The company works with local villages to secure permission and guides, helping to bring tourist spending to smaller, off-the-beaten-path communities.
If that strikes you as too risky, consider visiting in May, which is usually the end of the rainy season, but just before the summer crowds start to arrive. Late October is also a good time to visit, though it is a tropical island, so there’s a chance of rainy days any time of year.