How to Travel Kadavu on a Budget
This remote island spanning some 57km/35miles from east to west and about 100km/62miles from Viti Levu is certainly an off-the-beaten-track destination in Fiji. While that usually means a cheap adventure for backpackers in Fiji (see the Yasawa Islands, Taveuni and Lomaiviti Islands), Kadavu provides much fewer budget offerings due to its remoteness. Nevertheless, you might just think that the exceptional Great Astrolabe Reef with amazing underwater wildlife (including manta rays), the myriad of hiking trails in forests where there are birds you’ll only on this island, and the 75 coastal villages with some unique traditions are worth paying the extra dough. We’ll guide you through how you can keep as close to your budget as possible with this guide to Kadavu on a budget.
5 Tips for Visiting Kadavu on a Budget
- Due to the remoteness of the resorts on Kadavu, accommodation rates include all meals – providing better value for money than at first glance
- Remember that Kadavu’s resorts also have an exciting array of complimentary activities to take advantage of
- Look for cheap and authentic homestays on Airbnb – and don’t forget your FREE $50 Airbnb Credit on us!
- The adventurous and long ferry crossing from Viti Levu is the cheapest way to get to Kadavu, but consider your resort boat transfer cost (free-FJ$70 per person depending on resort)
- Kadavu is also a popular destination on the agenda for study and adventure programs with Tamarillo Active Travel, aimed at students and providing budget accommodations from villages to campsites.
How to Get to Kadavu on a Budget
Kadavu is located about 100km/62 miles south of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. While there are flights to Kadavu from Viti Levu, the cheapest option for travelling across the Kadavu Passage is via ferry, which arrives on Kadavu at Vunisea. There is budget accommodation and homestays in Vunisea or Kadavu’s resorts will provide transport to transfer you from Vunisea.
Ferry to Kadavu
Providing a cheap but time-consuming passage to Kadavu, ferries from Viti Levu depart from Walu Bay in Suva. With a 7-hour journey, sharing the passage with livestock and cargo, this is definitely an “adventurous” option to make the journey to Kadavu. Check prices at How Much Do Water Taxis & Ferries Cost in Fiji?, while more details on ferry operators and schedules can be found in How to Take the Ferry to the Lomaiviti Islands.
For more information on alternative ways to get to Kadavu, see 5 Ways to Get to Kadavu.
Free and Cheap Activities on Kadavu
Organised activities are almost exclusively available at the resorts or on the Lau & Kadavu Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Otherwise, being able to communicate well with the locals will be advantageous for budget travellers here where they are often friendly enough to show you their village and the best walks, fishing and snorkelling spots around.
Witness a Turtle Calling Ceremony or Walk to a Waterfall from Namuana Village
Kadavu has its own distinct culture, especially in the village of Namuana near Vunisea. The village on the pretty Namalata Bay performs an occasional turtle calling ceremony where it’s said that two maidens are lost at sea and are only summoned to the surface if the local women chant. If a turtle doesn’t appear from the calling, it means that a rivalling village is present. If you don’t manage to catch a turtle calling ceremony, then at least you can walk a 20-minute trail to the top of a hill behind the village, offering amazing views. The trail continues to Waikana Falls which is a pretty photo opportunity and refreshing swimming hole.
Snorkel and Kayak From Your Resort
Stay at any one of the resorts on Kadavu and you’ll have complimentary access to non-motorised watersports equipment, including snorkel gear and kayaks. The best time for snorkelling and kayaking off the coast of Kadavu is in the morning when the sea conditions are usually at their calmest. Some of the best resorts for snorkelling on the beach include Matava Resort, Oneta Resort, Kokomo Island and Matana Beach Resort. Boat trips to the outer reefs are always worth trying, with prices usually being around FJ$50 per person.
Hike From Matana Resort to Papageno Resort
Kadavu is full of hiking trails, as they often are the only ways to get from village to village. One of the longest popular trails is the 10km (6-mile) mission from Matana Beach Resort to Papageno Resort. After taking a 10-minute walk from Matana Resort to the beautiful cove of One Mile Beach, you can follow the trail along the northern coastline past Naivakarauniniu Village and eventually to Papageno Resort.
If the lush forests, waterfalls and pristine beaches haven’t amazed you then maybe Kadavu’s island wildlife will. Watching the colourful array of birds is just another free activity here on the island where some bird species are only found in this part of Fiji. Look out for the Kadavu fantail, Kadavu honeyeater, velvet dove, and our favourite, the Kadavu shining parrot! On top of that, it’s also possible to see a whole array of bird species found in Fiji, from the Fiji goshawk to the collared lory. While most resorts will be able to point you in the right direction for birdwatching, Matava Resort and Matana Beach Resort are blessed with birds regularly seen within the grounds of the resort.
For more ideas see our 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Kadavu.
Budget Dining on Kadavu
With most locals engaged more in subsistence farming to provide for their villages, you won’t find many independent restaurants on Kadavu aside from a couple of takeaways in Vunisea… Which are only likely to be open when a flight is scheduled for arrival. Because the cost of food is a major factor in your budget, we’ll lay out what to expect.
Resort Meals on Kadavu
When staying in Kadavu, the food provided by your resort will almost always be your only choice of meals. When looking at resort room rates, know that all of the resorts on Kadavu include meals in their rates, often leading to good-value-for-money when it comes to food. Apart from the high-end resorts, meals are shared “family style” usually at a long table with other guests. Private dining may be available at an added cost. Food is typically Fijian with tropical root crops like taro, hearty fruit like breadfruit, and fresh seafood. Some Western and Asian favourites also find themselves on the menu some evenings of the week.
Note that the Biana Bayview BnB only includes breakfast in the rates (but that is reflective in the price).
Homestay Meals on Kadavu
Homestays on Kadavu will also have meals included in the rate (yes, even when the rates are FJ$35-$120 per night). Note that you will not get a choice on meals, so must be willing to try the real Fijian cuisine – bones and all!