In the 2014 budget, Fiji's government announced a funding injection into the backpacker market. Though the budget doesn't give many specifics, it does look promising for the smaller backpacker establishments.
In 2014, we will also introduce a number of incentives to help develop the lucrative backpacking market in Fiji. We will implement an income tax exemption for locally owned backpacker operations with an annual sales turnover of less than $1 million.
What this means for you, is that as time goes by, there should be more small backpacker establishments opening, and upgraded facilities to existing properties. Backpacking has long been a tradition around the world, and Fiji has lagged behind somewhat in catering to this market... while dorm accommodation is readily available, it's not quite so rosy for those that wish to go camping.
Here's the thing with camping in Fiji. Unlike many countries, all land in Fiji is owned by somebody... so you won't find public camping areas where you can just pitch a tent. This means if you do want to camp, you have to use a camp site at one of the resorts or lodges, and not all of them offer the facilities to do that.
However, that has been gradually changing over the past few years, and it's now more commonplace to see a lodge advertising their camping areas. But (and there always seems to be a but), these camp sites are often almost as expensive as a cheap bure or dorm, which defeats the purpose, in our opinion.
And unfortunately, doing a search on Google doesn't really give you much information as to what places do or don't allow camping.
We have noticed that some of the more remote and harder to reach places are more inclined to offer camping. For example, Taveuni island, which in our opinion is one of the more beautiful islands in Fiji. It does take quite a bit of effort to get there, but they seem to cater to backpackers and campers a lot better than the more popular southern areas of Fiji.
While camping choices are rather limited in Fiji at the moment (but we think this is going to change), dorm accommodation is not only cheap, but very easy to find. Not every resort offers dorms, but as Fiji moves to expand the backpacker segment of the tourism market, it is going to get even cheaper, and with more properties catering for the budget traveler. Good news eh?
There is a bit of a trendy marketing phrase in use at the moment... "flashpacker". For those unfamiliar with the term, it basically means backpackers who want a little more comfort and facilities. We aren't sure that the term will ever become particularly popular... same with the rather ugly word "glamping" (combination of glamorous and camping).
Plenty or lovely island retreats here, with lots of dorm accommodation. Here's an example of getting out to the Mamanucas on the cheap. Take Bounty Island as an example. Full rate for dorm beds is fj$69pp. However, they run specials during off peak times, so you can often get cheaper rates than that. Currently (June 2014) the rate is fj$42pp, though prices fluctuate, depending on what booking agent you choose..
So, 4 nights at Bounty island will cost $168pp for the accommodation. Many of the islands have a compulsory meal plan (no self catering), and Bounty is no exception. This will cost an additional fj$75pp a day. That brings the total to fj$468 for 4 nights meals and accommodation (if you want to convert to your local currency, we have a converter on this page).
Now to get there... the cheapest way is to take the Mana Flyer, which departs each morning from Wailoaloa beach, Nadi. Cost for that is fj$75pp each way, so that's another fj$150 to your total. Which now comes to fj$618.
On our previous page, backpacking in the Yasawas, we looked at how to spend 5 days/4 nights on the islands with a total budget of fj$1000 for everything. We want to do the same thing here. So far, we have spent a little over 600, leaving nearly 400 for drinks, activities etc.
So... we book the accommodation ourselves, and organize the trip to the island ourselves, have we saved any money?
Booking the package of 5 days/4 nights with the traditional booking agents will cost fj$780, compared to fj$618 if you decide to book accommodation and transfers separately. That is a saving of fj$162... enough extend your stay another night and still have change left over. Alternatively, you can buy yourself ten fancy cocktails!
We hope this has given you some ideas as to how to save money if you want to backpack around the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands. In fact, you can save another 5% plus get a free nights accommodation in Nadi, by < a href="pvv-tours-nadi.html">booking your island trip with P.V.V Tours (travel agency and booking agent for AwesomeFiji, based in Nadi).