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Trip Report Stopover in Fiji

I had a couple of free days before a meeting in Christchurch. Rather than spending them in NZ, a friend recommended using Fiji Airways and using their free stopover at Nadi. I'd only been to Hawaii in the Pacific, so why not--see a new place and get over jetlag there instead of in NZ where I've visited 3 times before. I stopped over on the way to NZ and just transited through airport enroute back to US.

I'm not a beach lover, so one day of swimming and sunning is enough usually for me in Florida or Hawaii. I prefer watching large surf or scenic walks to boating or other water sports. So, a short stay was OK for me. I will just provide some impressions rather than a full trip report.

Nadi airport is tiny. If you are transiting, they put you in a large seating area surrounded by shops, minimal food outlets, and music. If you go down the stairs and behind the escalator following the signs toward the airline lounge, you will find a quiet area with benches with cushions where you can lie down and rest. One woman was doing her yoga. The restrooms down there are cooler and cleaner.
If you are on a short stopover, there is not much nearby the airport to visit.

OK just choosing taxi from airport rank. It was old, but made it to the tourist haven Denarau Island for FJ$20 with driver offering advice to get out of Denarau and spend money in the local economy, a continuing thread I heard from the locals. Hotel booked a private van back to airport for FJ$30 that was cleaner, a/c on etc.

Nadi town is as described--a small working tropical town. So, the main street is packed with people and traffic; tourists are accosted on the sidewalk by vendors trying to entice them into their store (authentic local crafts, lowest prices, etc.). Not scenic. I did enjoy the fruit/vegetable market by the bus station. Grocery prices were similar to convenience store at Denarau marina.

Denarau Island is a manmade oasis away from the reality of the towns and the local people. The hotels along the shore do have some small brown beaches, but I did not swim there so cannot comment. I did walk the shoreline from Hilton to Sheraton two nights and enjoyed the breeze, sunset, and various entertainment. I got some beautiful evening palm tree/ocean photos. You can buy an expensive drink at the pool bar at the Hilton and listen to the music from the dinner show in the openair restaurant for a bit, catch some music other nights at other hotels, free fire show at Sheraton, etc. as part of a walk like I did or settle in for a real show. My hotel said the Weston's show was the most authentic, but I was there on the wrong nights.

The West bus cost FJ$1.15 from Denarau to town-pay driver when get off. I also rode it from the marina to the Hilton and he charged me <$1.
I didn't buy the bula bus $8 day pass. Instead the other times I walked 20 minutes or so to/from marina and beach hotels. Hot, but paved sidewalk entire way.

I stayed at the Terraces by the marina. No beach, small pool, apartments with kitchen and washer/dryer. Great staff. They even let me rest in a 2-bedroom unit from 7am until mid day when my unit was ready (I napped on the couch then went to the pool). Construction in front of hotel is noisy.

I couldn't decide what day trips to take. I could do an afternoon trip only the first day because of not paying an extra night to check into my room with my early morning arrival and it looked light rain was coming. I decided to stay on Denarau, hit the pool, see the marina, then when it started raining (for hours), I went to town, then walked the hotels. It was a good choice considering the rain. If it had stayed nice, a half day trip to Sea Island would have worked. Instead, second day I took the Sea Island trip + ferry ride around to other islands to return at 3pm. So, I got the ferry, lunch with entertainment, semisubmersable ride, short time on beach or snorkeling, and evening back at hotels. I considered the ferry + Seaspray sailing for the long day, but decided I would get bored on boats that long. The guys at the sales counter recommended a close island or the sailing trip. Mana Island looked like it would have been a good destination for day or overnight trip. Pretty and larger.

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