Fiji Ferry Advice: Things You Need to Know About Taking a Ferry in Fiji
Fiji is not a place where you’ll want to stick to just one island. It’s a stunning archipelago with unique landscapes, cultures and accommodations to be found from island to island. Of course, this involves some overwater travel where one of your options for such travel is via the ferries. From fast catamarans to bobbing cargo ships, there is a range of experiences when it comes to taking the ferry in Fiji. With that in mind, we’ve put together a bunch of Fiji ferry tips to make smoother sailing of your Fiji trip planning.
1. The Ferries in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands Greatly Differ from the Ferries Elsewhere in Fiji
First things first, the ferries found servicing the tourist hotspots of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are greatly different from the ferries that are mostly used by locals servicing Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu and the Lomaiviti Islands. Ferries in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands are high-speed modern catamarans going from one resort to the next. Fiji’s other ferries going to the less-visited islands are slower older ships carrying cargo, vehicles and passengers. They have limited seating, floor space where the locals spread out for the night (or day), and sometimes include a canteen and sleeper cabins.
2. All Ferry Tickets in Fiji are One-Way Tickets but Island-hopping Passes are Available in the Mamanuca/Yasawa Islands
Whether you’re using a ferry for a resort transfer in the Mamanuca Islands or travelling across the Somosomo Strait between Vanua Levu and Taveuni, the tickets you will purchase are for one-way trips only. You will have to purchase separate tickets for the journey back. However, there are hop-on hop-off ferry passes available with Awesome Adventures (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) to travel to as many islands as you want within a selected number of days. Find out more in What are the Ferry Passes to Travel Around Fiji?
3. Ferry Journeys Include Bus Travel Too
The catamaran ferries of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands include a courtesy coach from Nadi to get to Port Denarau, which needs to be booked in advance. The ferries to elsewhere in Fiji, however, require bus travel to get to the ferry wharves that are located outside of Fiji’s major towns – this is included in the ferry ticket price. For instance, if you take a ferry from Suva to Savusavu, this will include a bus from Suva to Natovi Wharf then the ferry crossing to Nabouwalu Wharf where you’ll then get another bus to Savusavu.
4. Ferries Stick to “Loose” Schedules
Many factors, from the weather to how long it takes to board cargo, vehicles, etc. can affect the schedule of ferries in Fiji. For ferries in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, it’s a good idea to be ready for the ferry at least 30 minutes before departure but be prepared for some waiting around. For ferries elsewhere in Fiji, we recommend double-checking ferry schedules on your chosen ferry company’s Facebook Page as well as calling the ticket office for the latest departure time.
5. Ferry Crossings Can Get Rough
Many of the ferry crossings are over unsheltered waters, often with some rough sea conditions. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to have some seasickness remedies handy or to consider taking a flight instead if you have a weak stomach.
6. Ferry Journeys to Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu are Long
While the ferry from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu are extremely cheap compared to flights, they are long! We’re talking up to 12 hours for some sailings, so if you’re on limited time in Fiji, taking the ferry to these islands is likely not the best option. Check out the ferry durations in How to Take the Ferry to Kadavu, How to Take the Ferry to Taveuni and How to Take the Ferry to Vanua Levu.
7. Listen Carefully to the Stop Announcements
While you won’t have much trouble knowing where you’re going on the longer ferry journeys in Fiji, the ferries in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands have A LOT of stops. Sometimes it is hard to hear the announcements through the speakers on the Mamanuca and Yasawa Island ferries, so we recommend making a note of which stop number your stop is and keeping count throughout the journey. You can always check with the staff what stop you’re at too. For more tips on the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, check out How to Take the Ferry to the Mamanuca Islands and How to Take the Ferry to the Yasawa Islands.
8. You Need to Report to the Ferry/Bus 30 Minutes Before Departure
There is a bit of a check-in process for the ferries in Fiji, especially if you have luggage to check-in. For this reason, you need to report to the check-in counter, if taking a Mamanuca or Yasawa ferry, or the bus station at least 30 minutes before departure time.
9. Ferries Have the Same Baggage Allowance at Most Airlines
The baggage allowance for ferries is typically up to 7kg (15lbs) for a carry-on bag and either up to 20kg (44lb) or 25kg (50lb) for your main luggage. There are usually additional fees for surfboards or other watersports equipment.
10. It’s Better to Buy Ferry Tickets Before Departure
Although some ferries allow you to purchase tickets as you’re boarding or taking the bus, we recommend buying from a ticket office (or online, which you can do for the Mamanuca/Yasawa ferries). Purchasing a ferry ticket from a ticket office means that you’ll get the most up-to-date departure time on your ticket.