So, for one of my first blog posts I thought I would write about our trip to Fiji because 1- fun, 2 - I get asked a lot about it and 3 - when I was preparing to travel I couldn't find a lot of Aussie Blogs on the subject. Even though I had been to Fiji myself many many years prior and am an experienced traveller this was the first trip I had done abroad with kids and I needed a bit of advice. I found a few great American ones but being a different country and all, they have differing aviation rules and destinations.
If you’re just here for a quick 2 minutes and don’t have time to read the full story then that’s cool, here are your quick essential facts.
1 – Cost – 10k incl. all food and drink
2 – How long did we stay – 9 nights 10 days
3 – Flights – Virgin Aus. non-stop
4 – Accommodations – 5-star award winning family resorts, Radisson Blu Denarau and Malolo Island resort
5 – Transfers – airport – Fiji transfers (car seats provided, safe driving), ferry to islands – South Sea Cruises
6 – Vaccinations required – yes see your doctor
7 – did we get sick – yes
8- did we use kids club – yes and nannies
9 – would we do it again - yes!
The full story
Money Money Money
First up we are gonna wana talk cost. That is the first question I get asked and before you even start planning your trip you’re going to need to work out a budget. Our trip all up inclusive of food, drinks, babysitting, flights, insurance, accommodation, transfers, day trips, and other incidentals (spa treatments, gifts etc.) cost just on 10k for 9 nights in gorgeous Fiji. Now when I tell people that cost I am met with a few surprised expressions. Let me start by saying, Fiji isn’t cheap, it’s nothing like Thailand (also been there, also awesome and it is sa cheap cheap for you but Fiji not so much cheap cheap for you), you pay Aussie prices everywhere you go. If you want a cocktail on an island you will pay about $16 aussie maybe more. It is what it is. Secondly, we did live large (argh where are emoji’s when you need them, insert girl flicking hair emoji here) anyway we were like ‘fuck it we need a break and we want it to be noice’ so we decided to go 5 star all the way baby (fiddy cent would be proud). You could very well do it a lot cheaper than that and on the flip side you could spend a hell of a lot more too! But let’s break it down, 10k divided by 4 people is $2,500 pp for a 9-night holiday in heaven (can ya tell I loved it?) works out to $277 per person per day. Anyway, I don’t think that was too bad for the fun we had.
When to go?
March – May is the most popular time. It sees less rain, although do remember that it is a tropical climate so prepare for a little rain during your stay. We went end of April – start of May and it was a gorgeous 30’c most days and only rained at night and for obvious reasons we avoided the school holiday period.
Where did we stay?
… and would we stay there again you ask. I booked this holiday myself because I don’t mind planning trips, I have planned a few in the past and I had the time to do it… and by that, I mean I was obsessing over trip advisor at night instead of sleeping. I considered nearly every possible place we could stay and in the end, decide on my two resorts because they received glowing reviews on the ever-brutal trip advisor and had won some amazing awards. They are both 5 star resorts too which was important to me for quality of food and safety of the water (because you can’t drink their water but 5 star resorts usually have a top-notch filtration system, I still wouldn’t drink it but trusted it enough for showering the little ones). First stop was Radisson Blu Resort Denarau for one night because often the flights and the ferries out to the islands don’t match up and ours didnt so we stayed at Radisson one night before heading out to Malolo Island for 3 nights. We then came back to Radisson for 6 nights. What you need to know about Fiji is there are a tonne of places you can stay on the mainland and on the islands. You have a few groups of islands (the most popular and closest being the Mamanuca Island Group then the Yasawa Island Group) and a couple of main places people can stay on the mainland (Denarau, Coral Coast, Momi Bay).
We stayed on Denarau island (not really an island, its man-made and off the mainland. It is about half an hour’s drive from Nadi airport). Denarau is a good spot to island hop from as it is less than 5 minutes bus ride to the marina where all the ferries leave from for day trips (we day tripped to South Sea Island). It is home to a couple of convenience stores (TIP - great for bulk buys of bottled water to save money and I even found some aussie frozen veggies!) and a lot of resorts so it is wonderful for options for dining and having a fair few things to do. All the resorts are banked together and you can and are encouraged to walk through them all along the pathways from one to the other. Radisson is right next door to Sheraton Villas which has a few nice restaurants. Being a bigger resort than what the islands offer we could get a self-contained unit at Radisson with a washer, dryer and we sprung for a family suite so my husband and I had our own bedroom. The resort offers plenty of space and a couple of great family pools and has a kid’s club of course (my kids club point will entail this more). My first impression of the Radisson was that it had stunning grounds and there was lots to see and do however both our rooms we stayed in during our 7-night total were damp and smelled musty and in need of some TLC. The resort is showing wear and tear and the is not cleaned very thoroughly which was a letdown being it 5 stars. Now also keep in mind being Australian I feel we are really spoilt in this country with beaches, Denarau beach is not very pretty. The water is not blue and the sand is muddy. It is not an island you picture in your head when picturing Fiji. Also, because the resorts here are much much larger than the islands you find that the Fijian family feel is lost. My most favourite thing about traveling is learning about other cultures and usually chatting to locals. While the staff in these resorts are still gorgeous they just don’t seem as happy as the staff on the islands.
This brings me to my next point where we stayed on the islands. So first and foremost, how to get there. We stayed at Malolo Island and caught the bus (south sea cruises provide the bus to their ferry customers) to the marina and caught our ferry (more of a massive cat than a ferry) to Malolo. The cruise terminal in incredibly busy so prepare for that. We found the ferry ride very safe and the gorgeous staff from south sea made sure we sat in the captain’s lounge as we had small children. What shocked me and what I didn’t realise was the transfer to the smaller boat in the middle of the ocean to get to the island, because the ferry is very large and because the islands all have stunning coral reefs of them the ferry cannot dock up to a lot of them. There are other ferry transfer and taxi services that can avoid this however most tend to be private and therefore are more expensive, Mamanuca express is one of these companies if you would like to consider that.
From the second we arrived on Malolo we felt like we had stepped into paradise and I was immediately sad I could only book 3 nights at this resort (that’s all they had available left waaaaaa! Insert all the crying emoji faces). You are greeted with a gorgeous Fijian welcome song by the staff on the jetty, you hop off the boat and are draped with a handmade shell necklace and ushered up to the reception where you are given delicious welcoming drinks and cool lavender scented towels. From the second we stepped on that jetty it was like we were family, they only asked us our names once and then knew them, the girls were immediately picked up and passed around for cuddles and kisses from staff member to staff member (a little adjustment for all of us but it didn’t take too long, these people have the kindest most gentle souls and would never hurt a child). We had the most amazing time at Malolo, being a smaller resort, we felt right at home, our bure was gorgeous and it was always very clean, it had a hammock out the front and we were right on the beach, literally not even 10 meters out the front door was the coral reef complete with bright coloured fish and blue starfish just there to be picked up.
Now I was a bit paranoid and kept that door locked at all times but miss ‘4-year-old my hobbies include opening locked doors’ got a lecture about opening the door and going out on her own straight up and she was very good once I explained the safety to her. On that note, however as I said every single one of the staff were amazing and would keep an eye out for any stray child, from the grounds keepers to the hotel managers, the chef to the house keepers, just beautiful. We would be eating lunch or dinner with a whingy Indi trying to leave the table and one of the restaurant staff would take her off our hands so we could eat and walk her around the restaurant for ages!
Not only are the staff gorgeous but because everyone staying there is on holiday they are haaaaapy and because the resort is small we got to meet some other lovely families. Our kids made friends fast and we chatted with some other couples too. We didn’t get that at Radisson sadly. I was so sad to leave this place and we will be back! We would stay at Radisson again but not for as long next time, we may even try to get to castaway island for a few nights. Look into that one! Ahhhhmazzzing. My one and only issue with Malolo was that Audrey kept escaping from kid’s club, she got so comfortable so fast that she knew her way around the island and would decide she wanted to come see us and off she would toddle.
This brings me to my next point…
Kids Clubs and Nannies
Did we use them? Well yes but not as much as we thought we would. Kids club at Malolo was better than that at Radisson (Radissons creche area needs a lot of work) however Indiana being under 4 years old was not able to attend kids club without a nanny or a parent and Audrey was clingy to her sister. You see the nannies take them into kid’s club for a bit but when the babes get bored of that they take them out for walks, (TIP - I wish I had packed a cheap $25 pram too so our nanny could have pushed Indi in it and she may have had a nap during the day then, and on another side, note it took both our girls a bit to settle for sleeping and it wasn’t really until day 6 that I got a good night’s sleep). Anyway, my advice for kid’s club is it’ll all depend on your child’s personality and age. Audrey was very timid of kid’s club and the activities and we ended up just booking our gorgeous nannies for both girls when we wanted them. So how did we use the nannies? We would book say for a morning shift and then do lunch with our girls and sometimes we would book them for dinner with her too but usually it was just a morning or afternoon to ourselves for a few hours then we would have our babies back with us. The nannies charge about $9 Fijian and you can room charge or pay them cash, which we preferred to do (TIP – just watch the room charge and make sure you check your bill and get it the night before you check out).
Up in the Air
So, I have written this a little upside down and back to front however if you have made it this far that means you probably will be taking a Fijian holiday and are seriously wondering about that flight. We flew with virgin, they were good enough. We had nonstop flights from Brisbane and the flight time there is 3.5 hours and back 4 hours. Just remover though that is just your flight time, total time at the airport and boarding, disembarking the plane, customs, baggage claim etc will be pretty much an entire day. So even though you may think ‘ah the flights not that long, the kids will manage’ remember all the other stuff you must go through too. So, for some reason I decided to save money on this part of our trip and purchased Indiana an infant ticket under two… biiiiiiig mistake. So, turns out doing 3.5 hours in the air with an 18-month-old on your lap aint so fun. She hated the lap seatbelt and the second I strapped her into it there and back triggered a massive melt down. Furthermore, for safety she had to sit facing forward (so back to my chest, no koala cuddles) which just shitted her off more. So that and the fact she couldn’t freely wander the aisles and we kept running out of chips made for one very angry toddler. We were that family (on the way back even more so) that everyone stares at and some people even offered us help (thank you and bless your cotton socks). I guess the good thing is Fiji is a family destination so there were a lot of other families on the plane who just felt sorry for us instead of being angry with us. The four-year-old was fabulous, she loved the flight, got a little bored towards the end but overall, she was great and just let us deal with her sister (Tip - these days you can download an app for in-flight entertainment and most airlines have their own, Aud’s would have loved this and I wish I was able to download it before we left. I also wish I had remembered to pre download Netflix shows at home on our wifi before we left). Along with phones and iPad (I mean oh no we didn’t give them technology at all ahem ahem) packed both of my girls an activity pack each and here is what each one had in there… make sure you pack enough options for the time to kill while waiting around the airport too so you don’t exhaust you’re in flight supplies.
1 x colouring book each
1 x packet of crayons each
1 x age appropriate puzzle each
2 x reading books
2 x age appropriate small toys
1 x age appropriate activity
Flash Cards/Snap Cards
1 x spare pair of knickers for eldest
1 x cardigan each
1 x pair of socks each
1 x cuddle toy each
Medicines (Tip - Euky rub is meant to help pop ears too)
1 x packet of savoury biscuits or chips each
1 x packet of sweet biscuits (we do love our health food so although there is a lot of packaged stuff here we purchased things like rice crackers etc. I know I’m boring haha)
1 x puree pouches (I love there sometimes even for my four-year-old because they travel well)
1 x packet sultanas
In addition to this we also purchased food from the flight attendants. If you would like more of a meal remover most of these budget airlines charge you extra and you need to book it online before your flight remember that if you have dietary requirement’s especially but the inflight snack food we bought was fine for us.
Also taking food on board the plane most airlines like you to only take on sealed food and you can’t take on unsealed water. I found the airline to be much less strict with kids however as Indiana was still having a bottle I just got a note from my doctor so I could take it on board. No one even bothered checking but I would suggest getting one just in case.
So, you’re still considering it? Here’s what to pack
Ahhhh packing my list was extensive but you know what we were more than prepared. Here’s what I took (Tip- I bought two packets of large zip lock bags and packed a lot into them)
Nappies – 60 for 9 days – more than enough for possible bum explosions brought on by Fiji belly
Wipes – 6 packets
Nappy Rash Cream
Toothbrushes x 4
Toothpaste (adults and kids)
Hairbrush x 2 (one for a backup)
Makeup for mum
Zyrtec (for my girl’s hay fever)
Ondansetron (for Indiana’s Fpies allergies but talk to your doc about maxalon or any anti-nausea tables too)
Nurofen (kids and adults)
Euky Bear Rub (Vicks Etc)
Clothes - Girls
A summer outfit for everyday for both girls + 2 spare sets of summer outfits = 24 summer outfits
2 pairs of togs each
3 pairs of pyjamas each
3 good going out dresses or rompers each
2 pairs of knickers for the big one per day + 3 spares – 23 pairs of knickers
Singlets x 6 (3 each)
A light cardi each
2 pairs of light tights each in case it gets cool = 4 tights (were not needed)
Hats x 2 each = 4 hats
I won’t detail mine and Brett’s clothes packing list but it pretty much mirrors the girls.
Snacks - it looks like a lot but hot damn we could’ve packed more -
Chips and savoury biscuit packets – 20
Sweet biscuits packets – 20
Puree and long-life yogurt pouches – 20
Sultana Packets x 8
Indi’s Milk and bottles!
Cereal Packets x 2 8pks
Toys and Games for the room separate to plane activities -
DVD’s for in room player if streaming is slow on he wifi (and it probably will be)
Keys (or leave with trusted friend/family member)
Register ALL travellers details with ‘smart traveller’
Leave copies of all documents, passports etc with trusted family member
If you have animals organise them care
OMG so I think that’s it. This was huge but I hope I have all your bases covered! Enjoy planning and if you have your own tips, tricks or story to share email me or comment below!