How to Travel the Lomaiviti Islands on a Budget
The thing about the Lomaiviti Islands is that it’s almost impossible NOT to travel on a budget! With most accommodations being backpacker or very affordable private rooms, and whatever is not free is extremely cheap thanks to the real local guides who are more passionate about sharing their island than milking tourists, the Lomaiviti Islands is a budget travellers’ dream. Whether you’re a solo traveller, couple or family on a budget, you’ll find the Lomaiviti Islands one of the best-value areas to explore in Fiji. And, yes, there’s oh-so-much to explore in between the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Levuka, the dramatic volcanic crater village of Lovoni, the colourful underwater seascape, and the exciting islands to explore by kayak… We’ll guide you through it all with this guide to the Lomaiviti Islands on a budget.
5 Tips for Visiting the Lomaiviti Islands on a Budget
- The cheapest way to get to the Lomaiviti Islands is by ferry, however, you will need patience
- A good central place to stay is on Ovalau where transport to activities and accommodation are the cheapest
- Meal plans are a sure-fire way to save money on food when eating at the Lomaiviti Island’s budget accommodations
- Self-contained accommodation is readily available around Levuka, so if that’s your choice, buy groceries from the Levuka supermarket to save money on food
- When choosing accommodation, consider the free activities available too to make the best-value decision – we list some of the main free activities in our 10 Free & Cheap Things to do on the Lomaiviti Islands.
How to Get to the Lomaiviti Islands on a Budget
The Lomaiviti Islands are located off the east coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, best accessed from the city of Suva. While flights are available, water transport is the cheapest option for those travelling on a budget.
Lomaiviti Islands by Ferry
The cheapest way to get between Viti Levu and the Lomaiviti Islands is by ferry.
Ovalau – Bus/ferry services with the Patterson Brothers depart daily (but not every Sunday) from Suva at around 3.30pm taking approximately four hours to reach Buresala on Ovalau. Ferry tickets cost around FJ$30 per adult.
Koro – The ferry with Goundar Shipping from Walu Bay in Suva to Koro departs at 6pm on a Monday. There are first-class and economy tickets available for this journey which takes approximately 12 hours, arriving at Koro at 6am on Tuesday morning.
The Lomaiviti Islands’ two backpacker island resorts on Caqalai and Leleuvia each run their own resort transfers. Leleuvia Island Resort’s boat transfer runs between Leleuvia and Bau Landing near Suva, costing around FJ$85-$95 return per adult. For Caqalai Island Resort, a boat transfer runs between Caqalia and Waidalice Bridge (just north of Nausori) costing around FJ$30 one-way per person.
Find out more in 5 Ways to Get to the Lomaiviti Islands.
Free & Cheap Land Activities on the Lomaiviti Islands
Usually, we would start off our budget guides will all the amazing things there are to do in the water, but the historical sites and villages are too intriguing to wait until last. The Lomaiviti Islands, especially Ovalau, are rich in history, so much so that Levuka has enjoyed UNESCO World Heritage status since 2013.
Explore the Historic Town of Levuka
The beautifully preserved Levuka town was once the capital of Fiji boasting over 2,000 European residents and 52 hotels. The town was a bustling metropolis of the South Pacific between 1871 and 1881 before the capital was moved to Suva. The town is home to a lot of Fiji’s “firsts”, including the first hotel, first bank, Methodist church, school and more. A good place to start your exploration of the town is at The Morris Hedstrom building, which was a colonial supermarket now turned the Levuka Community Centre where you can pick up maps to do a self-guided tour of the town, book a guided tour, or check out the relics in the small Levuka Museum – see 5 Fascinating Museums in Fiji. Other historical points of interest in Levuka include the Church of the Sacred Heart built in 1858, the Ovalau Club (1904), the Town Hall (1898) and the Navoka Methodist Church (1862) – the latter three located around Nasau Park.
Soak in the Views from Mission Hill
For excellent views of Levuka and the off-shore islands of Makogai, Batiki and Wakaya, climb the 199 steps leading from the Navoka Methodist Church to Mission Hill. From up here, it’s also possible to spot pilot whales all year round or even humpback whales between May and October. From the top of Mission Hill, you can return a different way to the northern end of Beech Street (main street of Levuka) via the dirt track.
Visit the Historical Crater Village of Lovoni
The village of Lovoni was once home to a feared tribe living in the centre of the impenetrable fort of a volcanic crater. The stories of this tribe, believed to be only village not conquered by Cakobau, the King of Fiji, are best told (in detail) on a tour with Epi’s Midland Tour – a longstanding local tour guide offering affordable tours for around FJ$50. The tour starts with a bumpy ride up the dirt road from Levuka leading to Lovoni where Epi will present a sevuesvu (gift) on your behalf before you eat and drink with Epi’s family in the village. The village is now located along the side of the crater for practical reasons, but still boasts dramatic scenery for a village and an interesting cultural experience.
Free & Cheap Water Activities on the Lomaiviti Islands
If you know anything about Fiji it will be no surprise that the snorkelling and kayaking around the Lomaiviti Islands are excellent. Coral reefs, mangrove forests, a mix of sandy and volcanic rocky coastline, crystal clear waters… It’s always a pleasure to spend some time out on the water in this tropical paradise. Why say no when these activities are free?
Snorkelling in the Lomaiviti Islands
Like in many parts of Fiji, the underwater world of the Lomaiviti Islands is simply breathtaking. Some of the best snorkelling can be found off the coasts of Leleuvia Island Resort with a reef just 10m/33ft away from the beach. At low tide, you can wade out from Caqalai Island Resort to Snake Island which also provides beautiful snorkelling among black-and-white sea snakes (yes, they are venomous, but they don’t tend to attack humans so don’t give them a reason to). Some budget accommodations also offer snorkelling boat trips to take you to outer reefs, for instance at Kauwai Guesthouse snorkelling trips are only around FJ$40. Finally, good snorkelling can be found on Ovalau about 1km past Wagadaci Village at a fringing reef, as well as on the beach at the Ovalau Holiday Resort. You will need to have your own snorkel gear for the last two.
Kayak, SUP & Outrigger Canoes
Getting out on the water is a free activity when staying at budget accommodations, like Caqalai Island Resort, Leleuvia Island Resort and The Baystay. Leleuvia Island Resort has the unique option of paddling out on outrigger canoes, a traditional style of canoe used by Fijians for hundreds of years. An excellent base for kayaking is at Kauwai Guesthouse where you can enjoy half-day paddles through mangrove forests, to Lando Rock, Nukuvula Sandbank, Lando Yalewa (Pirate Island) and over to Moturiki Island.
Trek to the Ovalau Waterslides with Bobo
Staying at Bobo’s Farm is an experience in itself, but an exciting activity which is free for house guests or a small fee for day trippers is the walk to the Na Vu Wai waterfall. Bobo will take you on a 20-minute walk through the rainforest to a fun set of waterslides to play in until your heart’s content! Bobo also offers a number of island hikes, as well as fishing and boat trips, all either free or a very reasonable cost.
Dining on the Lomaiviti Islands on a Budget
The Lomaiviti Islands are among some of the most affordable outer Fiji islands to eat out. While a supermarket is available in Levuka with the self-contained accommodation with kitchens to match (see our 10 Best Accommodation on the Lomaiviti Islands for Foodies), eating at the budget accommodations is an affordable and cultural experience where you’ll get to indulge in authentic cuisine. The town of Levuka also has a small selection of eateries, making another way to enjoy this picturesque town.
The budget accommodation on the Lomaiviti Islands makes eating on the islands an affordable experience. Meals at Bobo’s Farm are often praised, with European, Indian and Fijian dishes costing approximately FJ$15 for lunch and FJ$22 for dinner. Real Fijian and Indo-Fijian food can be enjoyed with an affordable meal plan at Kauwai Guesthouse: around FJ$30 per day for vegetarian and FJ$40 for pescatarian meals. The Bayhouse also has an affordable plan of around FJ$25. The only place where food is going to be a little pricier is on Leleuvia Island with the compulsory meal plan costing FJ$90-$110 per day.
Dining in Levuka
Levuka is the only place on the Lomaiviti Islands where you’ll find independent albeit a small selection of restaurants. The best value can be found at Paak Kum Loong with vegetarian stir-fries starting around FJ$8 to curries and Fijian dishes costing up to FJ$20, as well as Whale’s Tale, with set dinners of around FJ$25.