When travelling to Fiji you’ll most likely be landing in Nadi. Nadi sits 8kms from the airport and about half that from the beach.
Nadi has a population of approximately 55,000, this comprises mainly of Fijians and Indian-Fijians. The Indian culture has heavily influenced the way of life in the capital to the point where there are Indian streets for Indian cuisine and Fijian streets for Fijian cuisine.
Landing in Nadi was pretty awesome. We were greeted at the airport by a bunch of guys in flowered shirts playing guitars and ukulele’s, singing us into Fiji. Our accomodation had set up a shuttle for us which made it a really smooth journey. This seems to be a standard for all resorts in Nadi.
Whilst having a wonder around the local area (Smuglers Cove) and checking other hostels that we had seen on booking.com we noticed some smoke puffing into the air. Upon further investigation we discovered a traditional cooking pit, a Fijian Lovo. This is a hole dug in the ground and layered with hot rocks, then food wrapped in banana leaves and finally covered with dirt. Its then left there to cook for a few hours producing a mouthwatering feed.
We took at taxi from our accommodation in Nadi to the centre of town and were offered about 5 different prices in the space of two minutes. So we got our bartering heads on and got ourselves a reasonable price which should be a max of $10 FJD if staying in Nadi.
Once we arrived in town we were greeted with the hustle and bustle of a fruit and vegetable market. This place is used by the locals and is great because you can get fresh food for a fraction of its usual price. Whilst here we didn’t see another backpacker or tourist – Not a single one. This was somewhat disconcerting and speaks volumes about the appeal of Nadi.
The town was busy, full of taxis and busses but there were not too many people trying to force you to buy from their shop. Everything’s one price here – and its expensive. For what seems like a poor country, the prices of food and meals are what you could expect to pay back home if not more, anything imported (coke etc) will be more expensive for sure.
Whilst in town we got talking to a nice Fijian guy who took us to his shop. We all sat down on a 6ft x 4ft mat and partook in a traditional Kava ceremony. This consisted of clapping, giving thanks and of course drinking Kava.
Kava is a root found only in the South Pacific islands. From a root its mashed, smacked and whacked into a powder, from here it is prepared as you would a tea with the end result being a bowl of cloudy water. The Kava water doesn’t taste of anything much but it’ll effect you unlike water will. It’ll relax you, your tongue will feel a little tingly and numb after one or two cups but that’s as far as we got. You have to drink a lot for it to have any significant impact and even then it will just make you sleepy and your face a little numb. There’s not much too it, for us it was an awesome cultural experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Fijian culture.
This guy taught us about Fijian traditions and made us feel like family – You will find that the locals are extremely proud of their culture and want you to learn and gain as much from them as you can.
As for the rest of Nadi, it’s simply not a nice place. It’s got cheap accommodation and for good reason. There is not a lot to do for tourists, the sea is polluted so you cannot go for a swim. In addition to this we were warned by the staff at our hostel to keep your valuables close at all times. Nadi isn’t somewhere you want to be wondering around at night.
It has a good purpose however, you can stock up on supplies before going on day trips or to the islands. We have used it make our transition over to the islands less hectic – this is a layover location.