Unless you are staying in a resort that offers free airport transfers, then you are going to need some form of transportation.
One thing you can say about Fiji, they have plenty of buses! They don't always run on time, although I have found them to be reasonably good in that respect. And the prices....cheap!
There are two types of buses running, the express, and local. The express buses have windows, air conditioning, and stop only at the designated bus stops (whereas the local buses stop anywhere and everywhere, constantly).
There is an express bus leaving from the domestic terminal at Nadi airport every few hours, which goes to Suva. The distance from Nadi to Suva is around 200kms, and a fare will cost you about $$22-25 (Fijian dollars).
Coral Sun Express run a twice daily bus service from Nadi airport to Suva, and vice versa. You can find details of timetable, prices, and stops on the transport from Nadi airport page. You will also find details and pricing for private airport transfers on that page.
Cheap fares, grinding gears, uncomfortable seats, and canvas roll down windows in case of rain. Yes, the local buses are an experience!
These will stop almost anywhere, not just designated bus stops. And because of that, a jouney of any distance becomes a marathon. If you're not in a hurry, then this can be a fun way to get around.
Any self respecting travel website will advise you not to use these. They are not registered people carriers, most of their vehicles are in a poor condition, and who knows if your travel insurance would cover you travelling in one of these?
But the fact is, the whole Fijian rural way of life would grind to a halt without these carriers, so the police seem to turn a blind eye to them.
Almost always run by Fijian Indians, they charge the same fare as a local bus so it's very cheap. And the local population rely on these carriers to get to work, transport goods to and from the markets, and get to the more remote areas where bus service is unreliable.
If you wanted to flag down one of these carriers, then you use your hand to indicate that you want a ride. In Fiji, the way to flag down a ride is to put your arm out horizontal to the ground, and use you hand to signal, exactly the same way that you would motion somebody to sit down. You will find any number of these carriers at bus depots, markets, and any other places that local gather.
A little more expensive than catching a taxi, but you will be greeted as you come out of customs, and get treated like a V.I.P. We know of one service that we can recommend... check them out on our transport from Nadi airport page.
If your budget extends to a rental car, then great, it's the easiest way to get round without having to rely on buses or taxis. However, be aware that car rental is not cheap in Fiji. You will struggle to find anything for much less than $100 a day, and most companies also insist that you pay extra insurance on top of that. So a week will cost somewhere close to $800, maybe more. As a price comparison, you can get a car rental from Auckland International Airport from as little as $25 a day, with unlimited milage.
However, the higher rental prices are understandable, when you see the cost of purchasing a 2nd hand vehicle in Fiji. For a reasonably modest Toyota Corolla, that you would buy in NZ for $1,500, expect to pay perhaps four times that price in Fiji. So rentals will naturally reflect the higher prices.
You can either book ahead of time (recommended) or take a chance on something being available when you arrive. There are the usual rental company booths in Nadi airport, but it could be a long process trying to get a car at short notice. The only thing that happens quickly in Fiji is getting out the Kava bowl!
If you are a nervous driver, then perhaps consider using public transport instead. The roads in Fiji are in poor repair, other drivers seem to flaunt the road rules with reckless abandon, and there is the ever present dangers of wandering stock (very common) and sump ripping speed humps in every village (even more common). Your insurance will not cover damage done on these humps, so do take extra care going over them. And do I really need to remind you not to park your car underneath a coconut tree?
The national open road speed limit is 80kph (50mph) and at times that can seem excessively high! Once you have driven from Nadi to Suva, you will see why the limit is unlikely to be raised anytime soon. The state of the roads make exceeding the limits a dangerous affair.
The cost of a taxi fare doubled, starting from the beginning of November, 2011. However, even with that 100% increase, fares are still cheap in comparison to NZ, Aust, and the USA. With a flagfall of only fj$1.50 (fj$5 from an airport), and 10c per 100 meters (that's fj$1.60 per mile) even a full fare is very affordable.
However, taxi drivers are more than happy to negotiate a lower fare - so don't be afraid to ask for a firm price before you start your journey. As an example, if you want to travel Nadi to Suva (or Suva-Nadi) most taxi drivers will quote you around fj$200. But I always tell them my budget is fj$150, and if the can't do the trip for that price, then I will find somebody that will. And yes, they always agree to that price.
If you are travelling to the Mamanuca or Yasawa islands, then you will probably use either the South Seas or Yasawa Flyer, which both depart from Denerau each morning from 8.30am. Check out our page on the Yasawa Flyer for more details.We have current price lists for both the Yasawa Flyer and Tiger IV (goes to Mamanuca islands). If you are looking for a cheaper way to get to the Mamanucas, then you can catch the Mana Flyer speedboat for only fj$75 one way.
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Local buses are a cheap and fun way to get around Fiji. If you miss a bus, don't worry, there will be another very soon. Fares are so low, you will only ever need loose change.
Hint: If you have a choice of seats, then don't sit at the back on the drivers side. The exhaust exits in that area, and as the bus is constantly starting and stopping, you will spend much of your trip breathing in diesel fumes!
Express bus is the cheap and easy way to move around the main island of Viti Levu. If you are travelling over any distance, they are preferable to the local bus option. Nadi to Suva will cost around fj$16-22 (depending on which company you use).
Disclaimer: As previously noted, no travel website would recommend using these as a form of transport. However, the fact is, they do exist in very high numbers, and I doubt that they will be going away anytime soon. But use at your own risk! I have personally used them many times, and found it to be a cheap and fun way to get around. But if you do the same, then you need to be aware that safety standards are not high, and your insurance may not cover you in the result of an accident.
The local carriers often drive old Mazda or Toyota wellside utes, with a canvas cover over the back. They are very easy to recognize, the image above shows two of them in the riverside town of Navua.
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