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Fiji and American Samoa for Dummies
Old 12-05-2014, 09:03 AM   #1
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Fiji and American Samoa for Dummies

Hi all,

Looking for a quick assessment of Fiji and American Samoa as on-your-owns, particular with regard to driving around both.

I am putting together a trip to visit American Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand, and we can either do it entirely on our own, or hop on a 28 day cruise that visits all three.

I've been to New Zealand before, and know already that it's tourist friendly and easy to do as an on-our-own. I'm guessing the same is true of Fiji, but not entirely sure about American Samoa. (I should probably add that our primary purpose for visiting American Samoa is to hike American Samoa National Park on Pago Pago. We have a lifetime goal to get to all of 59 of our current US National Parks)

So, my question is not 'what is there to do' (plenty of info on that on the internet), but rather whether both Fiji and American Samoa are as welcoming and easy for tourists to navigate as New Zealand is.

In which case, we'll probably skip the cruise and do the whole trip ourselves by plane/car/hotel.
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Old 12-05-2014, 09:12 AM   #2
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We were 2 weeks in Fiji in June, but mainly on liveaboard diveboat. Just a few days in rural/outlying area of Viti Levu in a tiny seaside B&B, but was very friendly and easy to navigate. We had no car. To visit nearest town (say 15 miles away?), we'd just stand by road and wait for a ride (usually via toyota minibus, but sometimes private car). Just ask for the price before getting in--and it was always affordable. Enjoyed wandering the town and particularly the local [farmers'] market.

We will return for a longer "on land" visit once we are retired.

Air is easy. Direct from LAX. Easy connections to NZ as well.
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:25 PM   #3
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We have been to FIJI several times & plan to visit again soon...

We are avid scuba divers & there is some great diving there, but it is not all in one place, so we stay in different islands and resorts.

The most impressive thing about FIJI are the people (natives). If you go there, make sure to visit the small villages or a "resort" staffed by the natives. They are beautiful souls with a very different value system than our own. The villages can be quite primitive, more than you might imagine.

Driving around - there are very few paved roads. There is one that does a big loop around the main island that is well worth traveling.

There are several resorts that have a multitude of activities both land an boat. My favorite is Beqa Lagoon Resort - a small island close to the main land - firewalkers, water falls, surfing, diving, beachy. Good food. No cars no roads. Travel by boat or hike to the 2 small villages nearby.

You can also cruise the Yasawa Islands which are near Nadi, where the Airport is located. This is where the movie "Blue Lagoon" was filmed.

Happy Trails!
BULA BULA!

PS: Always check reviews on where you decide to stay. On some of the more remote islands, we have heard tell of a lack of fresh food and tourists "forced" to live on a wine only diet, LOL!
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredAndFree View Post
Hi all,

Looking for a quick assessment of Fiji and American Samoa as on-your-owns, particular with regard to driving around both.

I am putting together a trip to visit American Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand, and we can either do it entirely on our own, or hop on a 28 day cruise that visits all three.

I've been to New Zealand before, and know already that it's tourist friendly and easy to do as an on-our-own. I'm guessing the same is true of Fiji, but not entirely sure about American Samoa. (I should probably add that our primary purpose for visiting American Samoa is to hike American Samoa National Park on Pago Pago. We have a lifetime goal to get to all of 59 of our current US National Parks)

So, my question is not 'what is there to do' (plenty of info on that on the internet), but rather whether both Fiji and American Samoa are as welcoming and easy for tourists to navigate as New Zealand is.

In which case, we'll probably skip the cruise and do the whole trip ourselves by plane/car/hotel.
I had a stop off in Fiji in January 2007 after a month-long trip to NZ. My girlfriend at the time was looking at flight schedules on Orbitz, and somehow she found an itinerary on the return flight that had a 28 hour layover in Fiji for the same price as a 4 hour layover - so we figured we'd do a 1 day stopover in Fiji! (it was on the Fijian airline Fiji Airways, formerly Air Pacific). We stayed in a hostel on the main Fiji island. Was kind of grungy. We booked a day-long trip on a boat with a bunch of other tourists that stopped off at an island for a few hours, with a lunch at the island. It was pretty fun.

It was slightly nerve-racking when we heard that there was a military coup on the island just about 60 days before we were going to be there, but we researched and found out that military coups are somewhat common in Fiji. We saw a few people with machine guns at various points on the main road in Fiji, but nothing that really made us nervous, or gave much indication that there was anything to fear. Might check the current political climate, and be aware that even if something did happen politically, it's not too uncommon, and not necessarily cause for alarm.

We just took a taxi from the airport to the hostel and back. Didn't really explore around much, but it seemed the little time we spent on the roads appeared to be fairly easy.

I'll definitely be back to explore more of the main and surrounding islands. But if you're also going to NZ, I'd plan on as much time in NZ as possible. And if you're evaluating a cruise vs driving on your own, with just 28 days, you could really multiply your "awesomeness" factory by a large amount with flying around and driving to give you a ton more time to experience the awesomeness that NZ has to offer. We spent a month in NZ, and it was barely enough to spend 2 days in each city as we drove around the entire North and South Islands. There was a previous thread a few months ago about NZ, and I posted a summary there of our itinerary and places we went. Feel free to PM me for more suggestions/info on NZ.

NZ is easy to get around on your own - and for me, driving on the left side of the road wasn't as daunting as I feared (just make sure your rental car is guaranteed to be an automatic if it's an issue for you-manual rental cars are more common outside of the US).
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:04 PM   #5
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Great info so far, thanks all. We've been to a good number of third world and developing countries, we've driven on the left side of the road, we're both very adept driving cars with manual transmissions, we've visited countries that seem to have frequent, but fairly benign uprisings (Thailand comes most recently to mind), and popped into others a bit less benign (Myanmar, and Egypt pre-Arab spring), so Fiji and Am Samoa still seem pretty relaxed by comparison.

What I'm getting at this point regarding Fiji is stay and move, but possibly consider doing so without driving . . . Check!

What I'm getting with regard to New Zealand is to definitely rent a car, move around, and stay as long as possible . . . Also check!

Verdict is still out on American Samoa, so hopefully someone here has visited in the not too distant past.
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Old 12-05-2014, 02:10 PM   #6
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I was in American Samoa a few times but it was back in the '70s. It shouldn't be a problem to drive around there. There should also be buses that can get you any where you want to go. Both Fijians and Samoans are extremely friendly. Talofa.
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