Most people picture Fiji as an elite travel destination only possible for those who want to stay at fancy resorts and spend copious amounts of money. But in reality, Fiji is one of the most backpacker friendly countries I’ve ever visited! One of the most popular spots for backpackers to travel to in fiji is the Yasawa Islands (and for good reason), but there are tons other backpacking options in Fiji too. I ended up spending my week on the islands, and if you’re planning on doing the same than this post will likely be helpful for you!
I chose the easiest way to go to the Yasawa Islands by booking a package with Awesome Adventures Fiji. The only other ways I’ve read of getting to the Islands and staying on them is by booking a flight and staying at a specific resort. Now this option is definitely NOT the backpacking friendly one, and is definitely for those who are coming to fiii as an elite travel destination and staying at fancy resorts. If you want to island hop and stay on multiple islands and stay in dorms than from my research your only option is to book with Awesome Adventures Fiji. However, their booking process and all the ways you can do so is a little confusing but I’ll try to explain it as easily as possible.
First of all, they offer different “coconut levels” i.e. “stars” of resorts that you can chose from. One coconut is what I chose, it’s the cheapest and your meals are included. Two coconuts, apparently, is nicer but you need to add mandatory meal plans onto it. I’ve heard from people who stayed at 2 coconut resorts that overall – they were very similar. However, I have heard of a few really nice ones.. so my advice would be that if you’re doing this as a type of celebration and are willing to spend the money go for it with the 2 coconuts. If not, just stick with the 1 coconut and you won’t be missing out.
You can then chose to do a package or book resorts and boat transfers separately. Now here’s the confusing part about the packages/doing it separately. If you book packages you have to chose which coconut level you want. If you do it separately, I’m 99% sure you can mix and match resorts adding in additional meal plan costs for the 2 coconut ones. Now, if you’re only going to 2 resorts it would be best to just book separately. I knew a girl who spent 4 nights at 2 different resorts and she paid just a little more than I did for my 6 night package – but I went to 4 different resorts. It’ll depend on how many islands you want to go to. NOTE: each island has 1 or 2 resorts that are quite isolated so when I talk about resorts/islands I’m using them interchangeably.
This is another confusing part. Online it has itineraries laid out for you. For instance, if you take a look on the website, you’ll notice that for the ‘coconut cruiser’ choice it will give you 2 options for resorts and tell you specifically how many nights you’ll be staying there. When you go to book online it doesn’t actually let you chose which resort out of the two options it gave you. When I saw this I was extremely confused.. thinking which island would they send me to and would I even have a say in it? Because I was confused about this (and you may be too) I decided not to book online and just to book at the Hostel in Nadi I was staying at the night before I went. It turns out you truly do not need to book the tour in advance. I know.. it’s weird.
So you’ve paid for the package but how do you book resorts? You can do it a few different ways. At your hostel, when you book the package you can look at all the 1 coconut resorts (or whatever coconut you chose) and chose which resorts you want to stay at and for how long. Then the hostel can call the resorts and book those nights straight away. You could ask them for recommendations depending on what you’re interested in doing. My only advice would be to either start from the South and go North or do the opposite. NOTE: Fijians are very laid back. So if you’re a structured person try to chill out a little bit and know that it will all work out in the end.
Alternatively, you can do what I did, and what quite a few people do. I got my hostel to book my first and last night and was told I could book the rest of my nights when I got on the boat. If you’ve purchased a package, when you get to the port you’ll be given your “Bula Pass” and tickets, and you’ll hop on the boat. At this point some people still don’t know which resort they are staying at. I know, it’s a little last minute haha. On the boat there will be a “travel desk”, and you literally go talk to them and they can book your stays as you go. So I waited until this point to book the rest of my resorts, and the lady who was working called the resorts from the boat and organized the rest of my stays for me. You don’t have to stay at the resorts that it says on the website, you can pick from any of the 1 coconut resorts.
Okay so what the hell is a Bula Pass?
If you are booking a package like I did then this ‘bula pass’ will be included in the package. Essentially it is a transfer from island to island on the boat and will be valid for as long as your package lasts. So for those people who book separately or chose to pay as they go they can purchase one or two or three week Bula passes or just transfers between islands and then pay for the resorts separately too. This is confusing and probably way more costly too. Unless of course you’re only going to two resorts in which case you’d only need the transfer to get from the mainland to the resorts and in between the two islands then just get the bula pass.
In conclusion to this confusing situation, backpacking the Yasawa islands are magical and wonderful and it will be a phenomenal experience. My advice would be to try to be as laid back as possible and know that it will work it and you will have a wonderful experience.
NOTE: The resorts cook your meals at specific times there are not grocery stores or other places to get or buy food. It’s not a restaurant and you can’t just order something from the resort.
ALSO NOTE: There is limited electricity and no wifi on most of the islands. There is however wifi on the boat if you need to check anything. Enjoy being off the grid and present with other likeminded amazing travellers.
ALSO ALSO NOTE: There is a lot of advice to bring water bottles and alcohol to the islands from the mainland as they are more expensive on the islands. If you can do this, great, if not water and booze is not excessively expensive and you won’t kill your budget buying them on the islands.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate for a second to ask!