Is it Safe to Hitchhike in Fiji?
Hitchhiking is a fun and popular way for backpackers to travel a country. Getting around somewhere for free and meeting interesting locals? Why not?! Well, like anywhere in the world, hitchhiking in Fiji has a small but potentially serious risk. What’s more, hitchhiking as we know it is not particularly common in Fiji. Instead, if you stick your thumb out on the side of the road, chances are, you’ll be picked up by one of Fiji’s “carrier vans” where it is customary to pay around the same as a bus fare to the driver. Learn more about hitchhiking in Fiji in the guide below.
The Pros and Cons of Hitching in Fiji
Like all ways of getting around, there are pros and cons of hitching a ride.
The Pros of Hitchhiking
- It’s free (or you can offer to contribute a small amount for gas)
- You will likely meet some interesting people
- It’s more eco-friendly than using a vehicle all to yourself
- It’s an adventure!
The Cons of Hitchhiking
- It can be time-consuming trying to get a lift
- There is an element of risk
- You are more likely to be picked up by a carrier van and will need to pay the bus fare, so it might make more sense to just take the bus
- Hitchhiking is only likely to be successful around Fiji’s towns in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni
- Someone else is in charge – so you can’t spontaneously stop for photos, for example
- You have far less flexibility than having your own rental car.
For more about safety in Fiji, check out How to Stay Safe in Fiji.
Is it Safe to Hitchhike in Fiji?
There’s no sugar-coating it: when you’re hitchhiking anywhere in the world, you’re taking a risk as you don’t know who you could end up in a vehicle with. While some people have a positive experience of hitchhiking in Fiji, there have been occasional instances of hitchhikers being mugged in Suva and Nadi. If you are going to do hitchhiking, be sure to be savvy about it by following the following tips…
Hitchhiking Safety Tips
- Never hitchhike alone
- Don’t hitchhike at night
- Engage in conversation before getting in the car, allowing time for your instinct to determine whether you should wait for the next car or not
- Don’t accept a lift if you get bad vibes from the driver
- If you start to feel uncomfortable, come up with an excuse to be dropped off immediately. Saying that you’re going to be sick is a good one
- Take a picture of the vehicle registration before you get in (ask first and only get in if they accept) and message it to a trusted contact. Even if you have no network to send the picture, it’s more to show the drive how cautious you’re being
- Have a “Plan B” – if you are unsuccessful at hitchhiking, have an accommodation option or alternative transport. See our guide to Public Transport in Fiji for ideas.
Hitchhiking and Carrier Vans
Hitchhiking, i.e. getting picked up by a member of the public, is not extremely common in Fiji. Instead, you’re more likely to be picked up by a carrier van. Carrier vans are open-backed pick-up trucks usually with a tarpaulin cover over the back and wooden benches running along each side. It is customary to pay the price of the relevant bus fare to the driver. This is by no means expensive when you consider bus fares being FJ$2-$4 within towns and around FJ$26 to go from Nadi all way across the island to Suva. And yes, there are plenty of carrier vans going between Nadi and Suva along the Queens Road each day.
Learn more about carrier vans in our guide to Minivans & Carrier Vans in Fiji, as well as the guide to The Guide to Commuting in Fiji. Plus, you might be interested in the costs of transport in How Much Does it Cost to Travel Fiji by Bus?