Tips for driving in Fiji
Plus car rental, hiring a taxi or using buses & coaches
If you know anything about Fiji, you may think the best way to get around is by boat. That’s certainly true if you want to see more than one island, but driving in Fiji is a great way to see what the main islands have to offer, especially the Coral Coast, which I will be writing about in my next post.
If you’re considering a road trip in Fiji, you have a few transportation options to choose from depending on which island you’re on, your budget, trip duration, where you plan to drive and how many stops you plan to make along the route and how much time you want to spend driving. Of course, you could book a guided tour to save you the hassle of driving and planning your route and experiences on your journey, but if you prefer the freedom of driving, it’s better to be prepared and know what to expect before you go. So below are some useful tips for driving in Fiji, plus a few tips for renting a vehicle, hiring a taxi or using public buses and private coaches.
Did you know, in Fiji they drive on the left hand side of the road?
If you’re from North America or Europe, and you planning on driving in Fiji, you’ll need to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road to what you’re used to. That means sitting in the right seat and changing gears with your left hand. Don’t worry though…the accelerator and brake are the same way round!
If you plan to drive in Fiji, you’ll also need a valid driver’s license from an English speaking country or an international license. As a Canadian (or American or Brit), you’ll be fine with your regular driver’s licence as long as it’s valid.
However, you can only drive a vehicle in the same class as permitted on your licence. That means, even if you learnt to ride a motorcylce on the trail with your dad, unless it’s on your driver’s licence you can’t ride a motorcylce on Fiji’s roads. It also means you may not be permitted to rent an RV if it exceeds a certain weight (Canadian travellers can check restrictions here).
The national speed limit in Fiji is 80 km on open roads, 60 km in marked areas and 20 km when driving through villages. Be careful…Stay within the speed limits! There are several hidden speed traps along the main routes.
Oh…before I forget, if you’re driving in Fiji, watch for the speed humps as you drive through villages which will ensure you keep your speed down. If you don’t, you could damage your rental vehicle, and you know what that means? A hefty repair bill on your credit card!
Main roads are sealed but drive with caution in bad weather (what, Fiji has bad weather?). Don’t forget that pedestrians use roads too, oh, and you’ll often find stray animals wandering on the roads—so watch out for them as well!
One last point. You must wear your seatbelt at all times whilst driving in Fiji (that means passengers too), but coming from Canada, the US or UK, you should be used to doing that already, right?
Car Rental in Fiji
Driving in Fiji is a great option for exploring Fiji’s two largest islands, Viti Levu in the south and Vanua Levu in the north. But you’ll obviously need to rent a vehicle.
Rental cars are available at Nadi International Airport, as well as at most towns and resorts, but it’s a good idea to book in advance if you plan to rent a vehicle, especially in high season. Pick up and drop-offs at airports and major hotels is usually provided.
Car hire is available in several price categories from a number of international rental car companies plus several local agencies. Cars, vans and 4WDs are all available.
Be sure to inspect the vehicle before taking delivery (I always take photos of any bumps and scratches already on the car) and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions in documents before signing. You don’t want any hidden surprises on your credit card!
Petrol (gas) stations can be found in all cities and towns but check before heading to remoter areas. Unless necessary, it is recommended to drive only in daylight hours.
Hiring taxis in Fiji
Hiring a taxi is a great option for exploring Fiji’s smaller islands and, if driving in Fiji seems daunting, hiring a taxi is a great alternative on the larger islands too. Also, it may depend on how much you intend to explore, as it could be cheaper to get a taxi instead of renting a car for your entire stay.
There are plenty of taxis and fares are pretty reasonable. However, you should negotiate the price before heading out on your journey. Urban taxis have meters but taxis in smaller towns and rural areas use a fixed price system. Speak to the hotel staff who will more than likely be able to give you a rough idea of how much your ride will cost. Always confirm with the taxi driver first before getting in.
You can usually find taxis waiting at taxi stands or you can flag one down. If you need a taxi to wait for you, the charge is usually minimal. Make sure you have small coins though, as the taxis carry very little change.
If you’re going on a longer trip, you can even bargain with the driver. Plus, if you let the taxi pick up other passengers along the way, the price will be reduced.
You can even hire some taxis for a half or full day. Just remember to negotiate a price first. Often it will be the same as a day’s rental, but it will save you having to drive (especially if you’re used to driving on the right) and you get a local guide thrown in.
Buses and Coaches in Fiji
Another option for exploring either Viti Levu and Vanua Levu is using public transport. Fiji has a good network of buses for travel on both of the larger islands and ferries connect the two islands.
Public transport is cheap and is a great way to meet and mingle with the locals. There are three categoreis of bus services with corresponding pricing.
Fiji’s famous open window buses regularly service all parts of Fiji and are value-for-money. You can stope wherever you want and you can wave them down to continue your journey or to return back to your resort. However, if you take a bus to a more remote area, check the return schedule so you don’t have to wait around for a bus (or worse, get stuck without a ride).
A couple of bus companies Express and Pacific Transport Ltd., also operate on Viti Levu’s two main roads (Queens Road and Kings Road) and provide a link to all cities. However, unlike public buses, Express only stop at designated areas and towns. You can find more information about buses and their timetables at Airports Fiji.
Another company, Coral Sun, provides air conditioned coaches twice a day between Nadi and Suva, Viti Levu’s main resort towns, along the Coral Coast, stopping at hotels and resorts along the route. A great option if you’re not planning to stop several times along the route, not so great if you are.
Credit: Tourism Fiji’s Matai Travel Specialist course. Visit Tourism Fiji‘s consumer website.
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