Apr 5, 2016

Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit the Beautiful Islands of Fiji

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Allow me to mention one thing about Fiji that I am pretty sure you already know - this place is BEAUTIFUL. 

Yes, caps required.

Home to 333 tropical islands, Viti Levu is the largest of them all and it is here where our magical experience began. Before our trip to Fiji, I had seen photos and read all about the pristine Pacific Ocean waters fringed with white sand, snorkelling, blue skies and numerous family-friendly activities.

All very alluring indeed. I expected my family and I would definitely enjoy our time in Fiji - the monkies love beach holidays after all - but I did not expect to fall in love in with this beautiful country.

Because there is simply so much more to Fiji than just... well, Fiji Water. 

So if you are planning a trip to Fiji with the family, here’s everything you need to know before you go to help make your stay an awesome one!


Like Singapore, Fiji enjoys two seasons: warm and warmer.  Fiji offers a sunny, tropical climate with higher humidity and rain between December and April where temperatures register between 22°C to 33°C. Expect cooler months between May and November where temperatures range range from 19°C to 29°C.


Singaporeans visiting Fiji do not require a Visa.


Fiji is ahead of Singapore by 4 hours. 

On a side-note, you will hear the term 'FIJI TIME' a lot when in Fiji. Put this into local context and it essentially means 'own time own target' because in Fiji, nobody is in a hurry so why should you be?


Much like in Singapore, English (together with the common Fijian native language) is taught as a first language in school. Hence, English is spoken fluently and it is the common language of communication.


The exchange rate is approximately S$1 to FJ$1.50. The money changers in Singapore currently do not stock Fijian Dollars so your best bet is to exchange your Singapore Dollars at Nadi Airport, Fiji once you touch down. The money changers at the airport accept Singapore Dollars.

Credit cards are widely accepted, but usually with a 1-2% charge levied. Some resorts have ATMs on-site.


The electric current is 240 volts AC 50Hz. Fiji has three-pin power outlets, which are identical to Australia and New Zealand.


Because one must Instagram and Facebook all the beautiful sights in Fiji, no? We got a data only SIM Card from Digicel at the airport. It costs us FJ$29 (S$20), comes with 4GB data and is valid for 7 days. More than enough for the wifey and I to share for the duration of our trip!


For our trip during the March School Holidays, we had to take a flight to Hong Kong before transferring to a Fiji Airways flight to Nadi Airport in Fiji. In all, it took us a total of 20 hours - 4 hours flight to Hong Kong, 6 hours transit time and 10 hours flight to Fiji.

But come 6 April 2016, you will have it much much much easier. Fiji Airways flies DIRECT from Singapore to Fiji twice weekly in just 10 hours! Paradise has never been more accessible.

The new route will be operated with Fiji Airways' A330 aircraft, featuring both Business and Economy class cabins. Being a full-service carrier, Fiji Airways not only offers baggage allowance of 40kg and 23kg for Business and Economy class respectively but also in-flight meals - something that for some reason, the monkies look forward to very much.

We have no complaints about the in-flight meals served onboard Fiji Airways - pretty decent food fare and polished clean by the monkies!

The seats onboard were comfortable and legroom more than adequate for me. And if you know my size, you will know that is saying a lot!

Granted 10 hours worth of flight time is not exactly going to whiz by in a flash so thankfully, there is FijiTime, Fiji Airways' in-flight personal entertainment to keep the monkies occupied (and my sanity intact).

From Hollywood movies and the latest TV series to over 550 albums, audio books, radio channels, and games, there were plenty of kid-friendly options for the monkies to choose from.

I think they stopped talking to me the moment they took their seats in the plane.

Overall, our both flights to and from Fiji were uneventful - the best scenario a parent can possibly hope for when travelling with children. And I have to give a special mention to the warm and friendly service we experienced onboard as well.


Bula is the common greeting in Fiji, meaning hello or welcome and this is one greeting that you will be hearing and find yourself saying when in Fiji. Truth is, the Fijians are such a friendly and hospitable bunch. 

By the time we reached our first destination from the airport, the monkies were already Bula-ing their heads off to everyone they meet. In fact, that is one aspect that I miss most from our time in Fiji - the friendliness shown to one another despite being strangers.

Other great phrases to know before you go: Vinaka (thank you), Vacava Tiko? (how are you?) and Moce (pronounced as mor-day, which means Goodbye).


There is a good network of buses, carriers (trucks) and ferries for travel within Fiji’s main islands, and taxis are common. Hiring a car is a good way to explore the two largest islands, which contain 90% of Fiji’s roads. Like Singapore, the Fijians drive on the left-hand side of the road. 

For those who like to leave themselves in the convenient and capable hands of shuttle buses and tour guides, Rosie Holidays and Tourist Transport Fiji are both established companies in Fiji and their fleet range from large coaches to smaller vans.


Fijian cuisine consists of plenty of seafood and curries, due to the strong Indian presence in Fiji. However, the spiciness of the curries are pretty mild and the monkies thoroughly enjoyed the Butter Chicken and Masala Fish we tried in Fiji.

But if your kids do not take curries, there is no chance they will starve either. The resorts in Fiji serve Western-friendly meals, including burgers, pizzas and pastas. And believe me when I say some of the servings are pretty huge!

Oh, and do try the fried chicken from Chicken Express too! It was so good that the monkies demanded we have our dinner there again on our last night in Fiji.

One of the uniquely Fijian things to try is lovo, a traditional form of cooking. Simply put, lovo is an underground barbecue in which an entire feast is cooked over hot rocks while buried in earth.

Rocks are first heated which will serve as the base for the lovo. Meat are then tightly wrapped in a weave of palm fronds or banana leaves before being placed in the bottom of the lovo pit lined with hot rocks. Various root crops like cassava and wild yam are added to the top. The entire hole is then filled with earth and left to simmer and cook for two to three hours. And then, the feasting begins!

Another unique Fijian food to try - which Ash ended up loving - is Kokoda (pronounced ‘ko-kon-da’), a traditional dish made from raw fish that is entirely ‘cooked’ by marinating the fish in lemon and lime juice. Add in a marinade of lime juice, chillies, onions, capsicum and coconut milk and it is a fantastically appetizing dish!

Of course, when in Fiji, one should not miss out trying Kava, Fiji's national drink as well. This is a traditional ceremonial drink that, while worth a try, will most likely not leave you wanting more. Because to be honest, it tastes medicinal and looks like muddy water. On top of it all, it has a slight numbing after-effect on the lips. Kudos to the boys though, for taking a leap of faith and having their first taste of kava!

Symbolically, kava is a drink that brings people together and the root of the communal aspect of the Fijian culture. It is also worth mentioning that kava is neither alcoholic nor narcotic.


Why visit Fiji when the sky is just as blue in the Maldives, the sea is just as clear in Phuket and the sand is just as white in Bali?

The short answer: Its people.

Everywhere we go in Fiji, the Fijians never fail to greet us with a loud and warm 'BULA!' You know how we can tell when hospitality staff are trying too hard or putting up a fake front when trying to be friendly? The Fijians are nothing like that, or at least we could feel the genuine warmth be it from in the resorts, on the streets or in the villages. In fact, the friendliness was so infectious that the monkies at times started greeting them 'Bula!' first!

As a parent, I was struck by the awesome care shown towards families with kids. The Fijians LOVE children, and play with them as though they have known them for years.

Clearly, the cultural experiences and friendliness of the locals are what stand Fiji apart from the other beach travel destinations. Perhaps Ale put it the most aptly - "I like the Fiji people because they are so friendly... and they all love to sing!"

Yes, that last bit gets to us emotionally every single time whenever we first step into a resort and leaves one. They burst into a welcome or farewell song depending on the occasion, and that just makes it so hard to say goodbye.


Choosing a hotel in Fiji can be mind-boggling given the wide range of options. There are the familiar resort brands, the boutique hotels and also the many island resorts that dot around the main Viti Levu island.

We spent a total of 6 nights in Fiji - all of which were on Viti Levu - which were spread over 4 hotels. The hotels were located in 2 main parts of the island, Denarau and Coral Coast, which are absolutely perfect for families with children. In addition, we paid site visits to 2 other hotels located along the Coral Coast as well.


Just 20 minutes drive from Nadi airport, Denarau is a gated community housing all the top resorts, a golf course and a new marina. The beaches are nothing spectacular though but it makes a handy base as there are plenty of nearby distractions to keep travellers of all ages amused. The Port Denarau Marina is less than a 5-minute car ride away (FJ$7 cab ride per way) where you can choose from a dozen restaurants and cafés, or stock up on food at the supermarket.

Denarau is also served by the Bula Bus, an open-air vehicle that continually shuttles between the resorts, golf club and Port Denarau Marina. Tickets cost FJ$8 for a one-day unlimited ride pass and kids under 10 go free.

Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

Just 20 minutes drive from Fiji's International Airport at Nadi, five-star Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa is famed for its long, lazy beachfront location, swaying palm trees with views of the Nadi Bay unfolding across 26-acres of lush garden paradise.

Rooms are are neat and smart, with coloured walls for texture and all come with majestic sea views.

We did not stay in one, but its Family Room comes with a separate children's room with its own 2 bunk beds and PlayStation 3 with television!

An indoor and outdoor playground, Children’s Club from ages 3 – 12, a huge array of watersports and a large free-form pool with water slide will keep the kids busy.

Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa

Also a 20-minute drive from Nadi Airport, Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa boasts rooms that offer flexible layouts for families, couples and groups - from luxurious, oversized studios to magnificent five-bedroom villas.

We stayed in a 2-bedroom villa and it definitely offered space and luxury in abundance, with a living area, fully-equipped kitchens and even a washing machine and dryer!

Our room also came with a private beachfront terrace, with our own BBQ! Pity we did not had time to put it to good use.

The IKA Kids Club features a spacious outdoor play area, purpose-built suites for different age groups, and an entertainment room featuring Wii stations, movies and iPads. Aspiring junior chefs will love its dedicated kids' kitchen - complete with cooking classes.

Coral Coast

Some of the best snorkelling in Fiji can be found along the aptly named Coral Coast, an 80km stretch of beaches and bays along the Ocean Road between Nadi and Suva. And compared to Denarau, the water here was clearly erm, clearer here and the monkies had a great time going for reef walks during low tides.

The resorts featured below are located approximately between 90 and 120 minutes from Nadi Airport.

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort

The first thing that struck me about Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort was its staff were all so friendly! Sure, the other staff at the other resorts were hospitable too but I could just feel that extra bit of warmth at every corner we turned at Outrigger.

And the rooms did make me fall in love with the resort more. We had a Plantation Family Bure which consisted of 2 separate rooms joined together by a living room.

Extremely spacious yes, but what I especially loved was the vaulted ceilings within which are lined with hand painted masi bark cloth. Beautiful.

And just plain bumming in our personal hammock on our front porch was a luxury too!

But perhaps the most enticing bit for the monkies was the huge amount of activities for them: kayaking, snorkeling, pool aerobics, pool volleyball, coconut bowling, frog racing (!!!), torch lighting ceremony, kids outdoor movie, fishing, cultural tour, Kula Eco Park Tour, reef walk, hairbraiding, spear throwing, fire walking show. As expected, we didn't manage to try everything.

One of the most appealing features of Outrigger (for parents) is the MeiMei (means 'to take of' in Fijian) nanny service. Kids can also enjoy a full day of supervised activities and tours, ranging from arts and crafts to language classes, all at no extra cost!

And it was precisely thanks to the Kids Club that the wifey and I had the chance to sneak off for a couple's massage at the acclaimed Bebe Spa.

Perched majestically above Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on a plateau known to local villagers as Vakalomalagi Hill – Heavenly Hill and surrounded by lush and undulating landscape, the multi-award winning Bebe Spa is one of the best spa experiences I have ever had. This, coming from a person who is not a huge fan of massages and spas.

I think the coconut milk bath, fruits and champagne after the massage had a part to play too.

But above all (pun intended), the breathtaking altitude of the spa offers the purest ocean views that frankly, I think my photo does not do the view justice.

Oh, and do not miss the buffet dinner feast at Outrigger where kids eat FREE and diners can enjoy a true blue Fijian music and dance show too.

Fiji Hideaway Resort and Spa

We visited the Fiji Hideaway Resort and Spa, a boutique beachfront holiday resort ideally located on the beautiful Coral Coast along a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach, on one of the mornings. The resort features traditional and air-conditioned Fijian bures overlooking the coral lagoon.

There are numerous accommodation options from romantic deluxe ocean view bures to family beachfront villas, with some even boasting an open-air outdoor bathtub!

Fiji Hideaway Resort and Spa has a free activity and entertainment program with activities operating daily that run from morning to night. Professional entertainment is programmed nightly in the theatre restaurant, by the pool or in the Fire Walking Arena.

A unique feature of the resort is guests will be able to experience a mini Fijian village and its tradition within the resort's compounds. Guided tours are conducted for guests where they can learn more about the Fijian culture, the important buildings within a Fijian village and also have a taste of kava.

Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa

As the only resort located on the private Yanuca Island. Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa is as exclusive as it gets. This was another resort we visited... though I secretly wished that we could spend a night here!

For those travelling with kids, go for the Deluxe Ocean Family Room which features one king-size bed and two divans. This layout offers enough room to accommodate up to three adults, or two adults and three children.

Kids will be kept busy at the Little Chief's Club, where activity coordinators entertain children with a variety of fun activities while parents relax. This Kids Club has got to be one of the biggest I have ever seen, with its sprawling outdoor playground catering to all ages.

The Resort is known for the best facilities for children in Fiji, and an extensive range of activities from guided snorkel safaris to parasailing, kayaking, beach volleyball, gold and gamefishing. Or if you prefer, laze or swim in one of three pools (including an adults-only pool) facing the white sandy beach along the lagoon.

But perhaps, the most outstanding and educational aspect of the resort is its Shangri-La Marine Education Centre, a key initiative under the Sanctuary project, Shangri-La's CSR program for resorts. The centre was developed to promote awareness of the regions marine ecosystems, where kids will be able to find out more about the fragile coral reefs and conservation efforts.

Families are also encouraged to participate in activities such as fish house building, coral planting, and nature walks. Yes, we made our very own fish house too which hopefully, will see plenty of inhabitants when it is placed into the ocean!

Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji

Where do I even begin for this resort? Undoutedly, Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji is the BEST resort I have ever stayed in my entire life. Ever.

Located near Pacific Harbour (slightly beyond Coral Coast) - Fiji’s adventure capital known for activities such as shark diving and 4WD treks - the resort is a new all-villa, boutique resort with a private clubhouse that melds contemporary luxury with traditional Fijian design. And it is so huge that each villa comes with your own personal golf buggy!

Equally huge was our Beachfront Grand Pool Villa. Located directly on the sandy beachfront, our villa consists of a main building with a living room, a fully equipped kitchen, a dedicated dining area that opens onto alfresco outdoor space with the master bedroom upstairs.

As for the boys, they got to sleep in a second bedroom which was housed in a separate beach bure!

And yes, this is the bathroom. It's the ultimate luxury, I tell you.

But what tipped the monkies over the craziness scale was this - a separate media room with a huge projection screen, and it came loaded with all the latest movies and cartoons that they can watch.

Okay, so our private pool and Jacuzzi came in a close second too.

Yes, they went berserk alright.

The great thing about the villa is even the outdoor area of our villa feels very secluded and private. We never saw or heard other guests while we were lounging by the pool. And to top it off, we had our little access to the beach via our villa.

No words required, I suppose.

There was absolutely nobody else but us on the beach and the monkies had a great time looking for hermit crabs.

Food-wise, every meal at Nanuku is included in the room price... and it is soooo good! In fact, it is so good that it even has its own Instagram account!

Oh yes, I am missing the pan-fried pork belly already. Sniff.

And if you are a child at Nanuku, chances are you will be in for a treat... simply because children of all ages are welcomed with wide smiles and open arms at the resort. For starters, they get to join in the resort's nightly torch-lighting ceremony, with a straw skirt no less! Well, the boys were asked to remove their tops too but they were a tad shy. Heh.

The resort offers daily kid's care for visiting families with nannies for small children and buddies for older kids. And at Nanuku, the term 'Adventure Club' is used instead of 'Kids Club' because one will not be able to find any air-conditioned room, TV, game consoles or even playgrounds there. Instead, the resort believes in engaging the kids in cultural and nature acitivities, like learning how to open a coconut and grate its flesh!

The monkies also got the chance to go reef walking to look for sea stars, start a bonfire on their own, roast some home-made marshmallows. Yes, they had so much fun that I started to get jealous.

Luckily for me, I was allowed to join in for the cooking session where we got to stuff fresh prawns into Fijian bamboo, top it off with seasoning and cooked them over the bonfire. And the result? The most delicious prawns we have ever chomped on!

We had instances where we were so reluctant to leave a hotel but for Nanuku, it was genuine sadness all around when it was time to check out. As we boarded our waiting van, the Nanuku staff sang a traditional Fijian farewell song and even presented to us a cake for our Wedding Anniversary! It must have been the wind or sand, but my eyes felt a little moist at that moment. 


And so, we have come to the most important aspect of our Fiji holiday: ALL the fun stuff for families to enjoy together in the tropical paradise!

BUT... if you have been following me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you will know that there are plenty of family-friendly activities we enjoyed so I will be dedicating a separate blog post on all of the activities.

READ ALL ABOUT THE FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES HERE: www.cheekiemonkie.net/2016/05/fiji-travel-activities-for-families-kids.html

For us, the most beautiful part of Fiji is not the resorts or the activities, it is the people who had warmed our hearts and inspired the 'BULA' spirit within us. Til now, Ale has been occasionally greeting people with 'Bula!'. That, I feel, is the perfect testimonial for our time in Fiji.

Vinaka, Fiji.

And yes, we will be back.

Fiji Airways flies to Fiji twice weekly direct from Singapore. Return ticket prices start from S$839 for adults and S$529 for children. Sale ends on 15 June 2016. For more information, visit www.fijiairways.com

For more travel ideas and information, visit Tourism Fiji.

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1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review of Fiji... We have lived there for 4.5 years but don't live the 'tourist' lifestyle but love it when someone has a great time in Fiji and then shares that.

We flew on Fiji Airways' second flight to Singapore and have been enjoying your city - a far cry from the quiet city we live in. Pretty sure we will be back as well.

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