Financially-feasible Fiji: How to plan a trip to Fiji without breaking the bank
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I've always considered Fiji to be one of those exotic, once-in-a-lifetime destinations — a place you visit on a honeymoon, or maybe for a special anniversary. And I assumed the cost to visit Fiji, for both flights as well as accommodations, would be commensurately high.
That's why I didn't have Fiji on my radar as a place I'd realistically visit in the near future — that is until a rather spectacular deal popped up: $395 round-trip flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Fiji (NAN). Despite its reputation as a luxury destination, it turns out that Fiji is quite approachable and — dare I say — affordable. That's especially true compared to another South Pacific destination we visited this summer, French Polynesia.
So, if you're interested in planning a trip to Fiji, you don't have to wait for some major milestone to justify the journey to the far-flung collection of tropical isles. Just follow our tips for how to do so without breaking the bank.
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How to save on flights to Fiji
The key way we were able to save on our Fiji trip was by buying flights during an amazing deal. In March, Fiji Airways offered flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Fiji's Nadi International Airport (NAN) for just $395 round-trip.
However, Fiji Airways has a monopoly on nonstop flights between the U.S. and Fiji, and tickets typically aren't as cheap. Right now, the cheapest economy flights that I'm finding between Los Angeles or San Francisco (SFO) and Fiji over the next six months is $847 round-trip.
If you're flexible on when you visit Fiji, I'd recommend signing up for Scott's Cheap Flights and setting up push notifications for TPG's Alerts Twitter feed. While Fiji deals aren't common, they do pop up from time to time, and you don't want to miss out.
No matter how much you're paying, one way to cut down the airfare cost would be by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit or Citi Prestige® Card airfare credit. We purchased our flights with my Citi Prestige for the travel protection — as it was before Citi cut travel protections on most of its cards. Although my $250 annual travel credit was long gone, these types of statement credits could help you reduce the out-of-pocket cost of your trip.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Another great option would be to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve — either by paying cash and utilizing your $300 annual travel credit or by redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the flights. At a redemption rate of 1.5 cents per point, we could have used just 26,359 points round-trip for the $395 flights we booked. The current $847 round-trip flights would require 56,469 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Related: How to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Other ways you can "erase" the airfare purchase include using points or miles accumulated through the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
Last — but certainly not least — you can use miles to book award flights to Fiji, but award rates aren't cheap either. American Airlines AAdvantage and Alaska Mileage Plan both charge 80,000 miles round-trip for economy flights. At current TPG valuations, that's $1,120 worth of AAdvantage miles or $1,440 in Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Despite the high cost, these redemptions may make sense if you're flying from the U.S. East Coast and cash rates are higher.
Tips for saving at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
- Our room cost: 35,000 Marriott points per night for two nights
- Our food & beverage cost: 412 Fijian dollars ($191)
- How to reduce: Use a free night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card ($125 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- Read the full resort review here
The Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay — where we stayed for our first two nights — is one of four Marriott properties in Fiji that cost 35,000 points per night for a standard night. That's an important level as two credit cards grant an anniversary free night at a hotel costing 35,000 points or less.
If you're planning ahead, a couple could both sign up for the $95 annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card with the current 100,000 welcome bonus for spending $5,000 in the first three months, earn the bonuses and wait to get the anniversary free night. Between the two welcome bonuses and the two anniversary free nights, a couple could compile at least six free nights at one of these four Marriott properties for just the cost of the $95 annual fees.
Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy card is right for you?
Another way to save is to utilize Marriott elite status at this property. As a Marriott Platinum, I opted to get complimentary breakfast for two as a welcome amenity, and we received a 20% discount at on-site restaurants. We also took advantage of the swim-up bar's happy hour to get cocktails for 20 Fijian dollars ($9), and we were invited to a manager reception which included free drinks.
Tips for saving at the InterContinental Fiji Resort
- Our room cost: 848 Fijian dollars ($392) for two nights after InterContinental Ambassador Free Night
- Our food & beverage cost: 764 Fijian dollars ($354)
- How to reduce: We used an InterContinenal Ambassador free night to get one night free — and you can too by paying $200.
- Read the full resort review here
Of the three Fijian resorts we reviewed, the InterContinental is the only one we were most disappointed with. Our experience aside, it's the furthest from the airport and the highest cost of the resorts we visited — even after a free night certificate. However, if you're too allured by the idea of soaking in a tub on a balcony overlooking the ocean, there are ways of saving on this stay.
The InterContinental Fiji is priced at just 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night. That means that you can get two free nights from the current 80,000 bonus on the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Or, you and your travel companion could each sign up the card to compile enough for four nights.
The IHG Rewards Club Premier — and the no-longer-available IHG Rewards Select card — also come with an annual free night that you can use at the InterContinental Fiji. The anniversary free night that comes with these cards are capped at properties costing 40,000 points or less, and the InterContinental Fiji is right at that limit.
Related: The best hotel credit cards
You can also get a free weekend night by signing up for InterContinental Ambassador. For $200 you can get this elite-like status for a year which comes with perks for paid stays at InterContinental properties like guaranteed late checkout, guaranteed room upgrade (on paid nights), $20 food and beverage credit per stay and a free weekend night. The catch is that you have to book a special Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night rate — which may cost more and/or provide fewer perks than similar rates.
Thanks to the InterContinental Ambassador, we received a two-class upgrade from a Pool View to an Oceanfront View and were able to enjoy the property through a late 4 p.m. checkout. And the free night certificate saved us more than $400 for the second night. Not bad for a perk that comes with a $200 membership fee.
Just note that the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night and award nights don't come with free breakfast and food prices are very expensive at the resort. So, you can bring your food (i.e. dehydrated meals, ramen packs, shelf-stable foods) to cover a few meals if you want to cut down on costs.
The resort doesn't have any resort fees or destination fees. However, you'll be charged a 3.5% fee for using a credit card to pay your bill for any expenses you incur onsite.
Tips for saving at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji
- Our room cost: 669 Fijian dollars ($310) for two nights -- before the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card resort credit ($450 annual fee, see rates and fees)
- Our food & beverage cost: 270 Fijian dollars ($125)
- How to reduce: apply for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card and use your resort credit for the stay while getting perks like free breakfast and an upgraded room
- Read the full review here
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Don't let the DoubleTree brand name fool you. This Fijian resort was a gem and we'd absolutely stay at the DoubleTree again for a relaxing stay in Fiji. The resort is located not too far from the airport, meaning that taxi fees will be less than other resorts. But, it's far enough away from the airport to feel secluded. The fact that the resort is on its own island — requiring a short, free boat transfer from the mainland — certainly helps.
Catering to less-splurgy tourists, the DoubleTree had reasonable food and drink prices on site. But, you could cut this cost even more by bringing some of your own food and/or by having at least Hilton Gold status to get free breakfast — which you can just from being a The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmember ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees).
The best way of maximizing your experience here is to apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. While the $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) may not sound budget-friendly, the Aspire card comes with a slew of perks that easily justify this fee, especially at this property.
Related: How to choose the best Hilton credit card for you
First, the card comes with an annual $250 statement credit for use at Hilton resorts. I had already used part of my resort credit earlier in the year, but — if I still had the full credit — this credit would've covered most of our already reasonable $310 room cost for two nights.
But also, the card grants top-tier Hilton Diamond status. This status got us an upgrade from the standard hotel rooms to a beachfront premium-view "bure" villa.
Plus we got free breakfast for two — which provided considerable savings — and 34x points per dollar spent at the hotel (10x base + 10x elite bonus + 14x card earnings).
(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.)The welcome bonus on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is currently 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. Since you'll earn at least 3x points per dollar spent, that'll net you over 162,000 points. The DoubleTree Fiji generally costs 40,000 points per night and elites get the fifth night free on awards. So, you'll be able to book five nights at this Fijian resort from just this one intro bonus. Then, you can use the $250 resort statement credit toward food and drinks on site.
Ground transportation in Fiji
The last major cost to factor into your budgeting for a trip to Fiji is ground transportation. While most resorts offer airport transfers, we found these rates to be excessive. Instead, we found it was cheaper to just negotiate with drivers at the airport.
Our first stop of the three resorts we reviewed in Fiji was the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay. There was a shuttle driver for the resort at the airport that quoted us 60 Fijian dollars ($28) per person for a ride to the resort. That was slightly more than the 100 Fijian dollars ($46) that the hotel's website quoted for a taxi between the airport and the resort, so we haggled with a couple of drivers until one offered 60 Fijian dollars ($28) and we accepted.
Upon dropping us off at Marriott Momi Bay, the driver made sure to give us his contact information. He warned us that taxis would be expensive if arranged through the resorts, and he was right. Each resort had set prices for taxi pickups from the resort that weren't cheap. We used hotel-arranged taxis for the rest of the trip for the sake of the reviews, but we surely could have saved money by reaching out to the same driver.
However, the downside of using taxi drivers is that they only accept cash. So, you're going to forgo earning points/miles or using a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to wipe out the expense.
I always figured visiting Fiji would be a budget-busting bucket-list trip, but there are numerous ways to cut down on your out-of-pocket costs — from booking a great flight deal to leveraging credit card benefits.
If you really wanted to maximize a trip, you could:
- Use the current 150,000-point Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card welcome bonus — plus the spending to get that bonus — to earn enough points for a free fifth-night award stay at the DoubleTree Fiji while using the $250 annual resort credit to cover food and drink.
- Apply for the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card with the 80,000-point sign-up bonus to get two nights free at the InterContinental Fiji, potentially waiting a year until the anniversary free night posts to get a third night free. If you're traveling with a companion, both travelers could sign up for the card to get a total of six free nights.
- Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card with the 100,000-point welcome bonus to get two nights free at the Marriott Fiji Momi Bay — or one of three other Marriott properties in Fiji that cost 35,000 points per night. If you wait a year, you'll also get a free night that's also good at one of these properties. Again, a couple in two-player mode could compile six free nights from both applying for this card, meeting the minimum spending and paying a couple of $95 annual fees.
That's a lot of ways to get free nights in Fiji for the cost of credit card annual fees! And by combining a flight deal with credit card travel or airfare credits — or using points/miles to book flights — you can cut down your out-of-pocket costs to just the cost of taxis, activities, food and drink.
For the rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, please click here.
For the rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, please click here.
For the rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.