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Fiji versus the QLD Coast, are they comparable?


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#1 Peanut

Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:01 PM

I'm interested in some opinions here.  We live in Brisbane so have been to both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts regularly.  Beautiful beaches, huge choice of accommodation and restaurants, lots of visitors in the school holdays, tropical storms etc.  Seems Fiji is just the same!

I've never been to Fiji but see it regularly come up here in the EB travel forum and have heard lots of Aussie's travel there.  I would like to plan a family holiday there (kids are 5 and 7) but I'm wondering how it compares to the Coasts here in QLD, apart from having to factor in flights and possible transfers of course.  

Are the resorts over there worth the cost of flights?  How do you choose a specific resort?  I've noticed that many people in this forum mention the same resorts (Shangri-La, Plantation etc), is that because they really are the best ones for families?  How has the last cyclone (Evan??) impacted on the environment and costs, is it any cheaper?

I will do my own research too but I am interested in your opinions ladies!  original.gif

#2 Peanut

Posted 17 January 2013 - 05:22 PM

No opinions?  sad.gif

#3 Mianta

Posted 17 January 2013 - 05:32 PM

Well it is a tropical island, so I guess it's a bit like the climate of tropical QLD but it is also kind of third world compared to the QLD coast. The restaurants and bars are mainly on the resorts, which can be quite luxurious, but the real Fiji is filled with shanty towns, traditional Fijian villages, poverty and a landscape that is a lot less developed than QLD.

The people are very friendly and welcoming. Despite, the coup from a few years ago and cyclone damage, which happens yearly, Fiji is still a fairly popular destination for Australians.

I have been there three times. I love it.

#4 Peanut

Posted 17 January 2013 - 05:56 PM

It really does look beautiful and I've certainly read that the people are lovely, particularly with children.  So its worth paying for airfares for the cultural experience then?

I guess thats my point, I'm interested in it but could I get a similar resort experience here in QLD minus the airfares (and minus the cultural experience)?

I should probably explain further:  I'm interested in taking the kids to Fiji but a friend of mine mentioned that you could get a better deal staying in a resort here in QLD as you wouldn't need to factor in flights.  I'm curious to see if others agree.

Edited by Peanut, 17 January 2013 - 05:59 PM.


#5 Jjbeanz

Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:02 PM

I think it is worth it as if you stay out on the islands the water is stunning, I'm not a fan of the mainland. The Fijians are lovely and great with kids. Plantation is on the cheaper side but the kids had a ball

#6 Nataliah

Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

Do NOT book a resort on Denauru Island.  It's not a real island, its man-made reclaimed mangrove, so the 'beaches' are dirt, not sand.  Depending on your budget the Intercontinental was beautiful or go to one of the real islands.  I can't specifically recommend an island one though as we went to a kid-free resort.

I would say the main difference to a QLD holiday is that Fiji is all about the resort.  There's not a huge amount of independent things to do outside the resort, often they are reasonably isolated from each other and not necessarily in or close to a 'town'.  There's no theme parks or attractions like QLD.  It's not a bad thing, they seem to have great kids clubs with lots of stuff for the kids.  It can be expensive because you don't really have the option to just duck out and get something cheap to eat, you have to eat at the resort.

#7 Isadora

Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:12 PM

We have been to Fiji twice with friends and the kids had a ball. You can't really compare it to the Gold Coast - yes you may get a nice resort without the airfare but for me it is about the travel experience, a different culture and letting my kids see the world. They loved visiting a village and playing with Fijian kids even with no common language. Was a big learning experience for them to see how others live.

I know what I would choose in a heartbeat. We felt instantly relaxed and on holiday on Fiji time original.gif


#8 tle

Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:20 PM

I think it really depends what type of holiday you are after. We went to Fiji last year and just got back from the gold coast last week.

We stayed on Treasure Island in Fiji which was great with kids. They had a good kids club which meant DH and I had time to spend alone which was nice. It's a very relaxing holiday in the sense that there really isn't much to do but laze around and swim. There's no TV and only limited internet access. There isn't the touristy type things like you find in QLD. We did a day tour to show the kids the difference between our cultures but I felt really uncomfortable on that because everywhere we went people expected us to pay again despite the tour already costing us $800 (2 adults & 5 kids) and supposedly including donations to the various villages etc. I also found shopping very strange. The second we entered a store (every store) someone would follow you everywhere standing about a foot away. I felt like they thought we were going to steal from them but apparently they were just trying to provide assistance in case we couldn't find what we were looking.

#9 Peanut

Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:51 PM

We went on a very hectic (but fantastic!) holiday last year to the USA, so if we do a family holiday this year then a "do nothing" holiday appeals!  This is why my friend has suggested to just go to a resort on the coast, as you can do nothing and not pay as much.  However, I'm fascinated by different cultures, which is why going outside of Australia even for a low key holiday sounds interesting.  DH however is leaning towards Hamilton Island.  

QUOTE (Isadora @ 17/01/2013, 06:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We have been to Fiji twice with friends and the kids had a ball. You can't really compare it to the Gold Coast - yes you may get a nice resort without the airfare but for me it is about the travel experience, a different culture and letting my kids see the world. They loved visiting a village and playing with Fijian kids even with no common language. Was a big learning experience for them to see how others live.

I know what I would choose in a heartbeat. We felt instantly relaxed and on holiday on Fiji time original.gif


This is pretty much what I was thinking.  Where did you stay Isadora?



#10 Jo_P

Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

You can't even compare them! I live on the Sunshine Coast and have holidayed in Fiji 6 times. It's all about the culture, the gorgeous Fijian people and the relaxed lifestyle, things really do run on 'Fiji time' and that's just what we love about it. We prefer resorts like Treasure Island where there are no tv's etc and you can walk around the whole island in a half hour casual stroll.


#11 harryboy

Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:24 PM

I think the big bonus with Fiji is the inexpensive baby sitting. You can have family time and then also some alone time. I recall we were paying about $30 per night to get 4 children looked after, which if course, wouldn't happen in Australia. For me the likes of Hamilton Is are quite similar in that it is a resort style holiday with the positives being tv / internet if you want them....but costs a lot more to get the kids looked after.

#12 KT1978

Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

I didn't like denarau much, overpriced with ordinary beaches. Paying $10 for a cocktail when the staff get $20 a week.

I'd recommend staying on an island, I loved plantation, very laid back, good beach, good value.  The other option is a cruise around the manamacas.  Its a small cruise of about 50 people and they stop at lots of little islands Some with no people, some with traditional villages. Very unique experience.

Its probably similar to the Whitsundays in some ways.

I have spent time in nadi, its not nice but its an experience to drive through and go shopping - Sundays are cool with everyone dressed in their best sulas to go to church. Maybe see if there is a rugby match on. But there are some hawkers in the street so be aware.

I didn't like denarau much, overpriced with ordinary beaches. Paying $10 for a cocktail when the staff get $20 a week.

I'd recommend staying on an island, I loved plantation, very laid back, good beach, good value.  The other option is a cruise around the manamacas.  Its a small cruise of about 50 people and they stop at lots of little islands Some with no people, some with traditional villages. Very unique experience.

Its probably similar to the Whitsundays in some ways.

I have spent time in nadi, its not nice but its an experience to drive through and go shopping - Sundays are cool with everyone dressed in their best sulas to go to church. Maybe see if there is a rugby match on. But there are some hawkers in the street so be aware.

#13 Isadora

Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:27 PM

QUOTE (Peanut @ 17/01/2013, 06:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We went on a very hectic (but fantastic!) holiday last year to the USA, so if we do a family holiday this year then a "do nothing" holiday appeals!  This is why my friend has suggested to just go to a resort on the coast, as you can do nothing and not pay as much.  However, I'm fascinated by different cultures, which is why going outside of Australia even for a low key holiday sounds interesting.  DH however is leaning towards Hamilton Island.  



This is pretty much what I was thinking.  Where did you stay Isadora?


We stayed at Shangrila but if we went again I would go to an island.

#14 Peanut

Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:36 PM

Thanks for your comments everyone!  original.gif

#15 *LucyE*

Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:15 AM

We live in SE QLD, regularly weekend on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and we also love Fiji.  Cost isn't that much of a deciding factor for us anymore (yay!), and for us, Fiji is definitely more expensive.  We love it though and it offers us an experience that we can't find in QLD.

Are the resorts over there worth the cost of flights?
Well, we would say yes, because we love the Fijian experience.  We don't just go there for the beach, which when you have grown up with our beaches, some of the Fijian ones can be very disappointing.  The really soft, icing sugar like white sandy beaches are mainly around the Yasawa Islands.  The Mammamuca (sp?) group of islands generally has the coral beaches which although looks pretty from the deck chairs, is sharp and painful to walk on in bare feet.  The benefit though, is that usually there is excellent snorkeling just off the beach.  Around Denaru, it is a black sand which doesn't look appealing but is perfectly fine for the kids to play on.  The Coral Coast is similar to the Mammamuca beaches but the resorts make an effort to sweep up the coral so there are some sandy beaches.

What we love about Fiji are the people.  They are the friendliest group of people that we've ever met.  They adore children and the relaxed tropical vibe means we all relax quickly.  We enjoy swimming in the ocean which are nothing like our surf beaches.  Most islands are protected by reefs so the water near the beach is generally calm and WARM.  It can be a 35C day in Brisbane and the water on the coast will still be refreshing.  On a 25C day in Fiji, the water can be bath like.  DH enjoys golf, I enjoy the spa and our kids roam the resort with their nannies.  We have relaxed lunches together, spend some time swimming together and then the kids have an early dinner and DH and I get to have a grown up's meal together.  

In theory, it is possible to do this at resorts on the Gold or Sunny Coasts but we find that the 5 star ones are generally not as family friendly.  It's also busy and buzzy unlike being on a remote Fijian island with limited guests.  The whole atmosphere is just slower and more relaxed.

Fijian being fairly isolated, and predominantly sandy islands, doesn't have much in the way of high quality fresh produce.  So they have to import much of the food that tourists are accustomed to, which means higher costs.  Fiji is not known for good food.  I have had limited positive experiences with food in the chain resorts.  Generally, I would say it is overpriced and ordinary BUT I admit to being a food snob.  Some people like the sheer quantities of the buffets, I would prefer less of a higher quality.

How do you choose a specific resort? I've noticed that many people in this forum mention the same resorts (Shangri-La, Plantation etc), is that because they really are the best ones for families?
I suggest you do it carefully biggrin.gif

We've stayed at the Shangri-La for a wedding and I would never go back.  For that sort of mass market experience, you are better off staying at Denerau and saving yourself over an hour worth of travel time each way from the airport.  The problem with some of the foreign chains coming in, is that they are expecting the Fijians to work in a manner they are not accustomed to.  You end up with a situation where the service is average and instead of the happy staff that makes the place, you have stressed out, grumpy staff.  Then being surrounded by Australian and NZ tourists, well, you may as well just holiday on the Gold Coast and save yourself the airfares.  The only place I would stay at on Denerau, is the Westin which is closed due to cyclone damaged.  

I strongly suggest an outer island to get the real Fiji experience but I wouldn't bother with the boat transfer, and invest in the air transfers where possible.  It just saves so much time and hassle.

Have a think about what your family wants from a holiday and find the place to suit.  Obviously lots of families like the Shangri La but as I mentioned, we don't.  Different strokes for different folks and all that.  The only thing I would avoid with an outer island is to find one big enough so that you don't end up feeling claustrophobic on your tiny resort.

How has the last cyclone (Evan??) impacted on the environment and costs, is it any cheaper?
The western islands and around Nadi is where the bulk of the cyclone damage occurred this time.  They will generally repair fairly quickly and be up and running again soon.   Cyclones happen on a regular basis over there so they are accustomed to it somewhat.

I have rarely found costs to be discounted due to cyclone damage.  I have never heard of discounts offered due to being caught in a cyclone or needing to evacuate.  I strongly suggest a good travel insurance policy if you do plan on going.

#16 Peanut

Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:51 AM

Excellent post *LucyE*, thank you very much!

#17 littlemumma

Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

We use to go to the Gold Coast for holidays every year without fail as we love it and still do, however, the last two years we have been to Fiji and Vanuatu and to be honest, I don't think they compare to the Gold Coast at all, completely different.

What makes these places are the amazing people, their culture, their kindness, how much they love your children.

We stayed on the Coral Coast at the Outrigger in Fiji and it was amazing. We got the all inclusive deal for food and it was simply amazing. The staff wait on you hand and food, you don't even make your beds, they do everything for you. Every day is a buffet breakfast, lunch is brought to you by the pool and dinner you can choose from different restaurants. They have entertainment at night, fire shows and by the pool movies. Outrigger also has an amazing, simply amazing Spa....and not to mention the wonderful kids club. Also re flights, you need to look for deals ie: our kids only flew for $300 each and when we went to Vanuatu they flew for $199 each, very cheap.

Vanuatu is very similar to Fiji as in the people are very similar probably a bit more reserved. We stayed at Holiday Inn and again got all inclusive with food, just wonderful. Kids loved going out on the catamarans and canoes and things and they also have kids club and at the food set up was very similar.

If you want a very relaxing holiday I would go to Fiji or Vanuatu.

#18 Peanut

Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:03 PM

Thanks for your suggestions, littlemumma.  I'll take a look at Vanuatu too.

#19 littlemumma

Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

We booked both holidays through holidayspecialists.com.au they seem to get good deals for the Pacific. We are looking to go to either again this year probably end of August...I think the deals usually come out in Feb/March.

We are also going to have a week on the Gold Coast to at the end of the year, its been two years and we miss it.

#20 EBeditor

Posted 19 January 2013 - 10:01 PM

Mana island in Fiji has beautiful white sandy beaches and great snorkelling right off the beach, as do a few of the other Mamanuca islands we saw. The Denarau resorts have good restaurants and facilities and can help break up your trip.

It's a cliche but the Fijian culture is very kid friendly and most resorts have good kids' clubs and lots of babysitters.

It really depends on what you want from your holiday.


#21 Peanut

Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:00 AM

Thanks EbEditor.  Looking for a relaxed holiday but we always seem to have trouble "doing nothing"!




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