This week I had an 8 hour layover in Nadi between flights on Fiji Airways. There were quite a few other people on my flights in the same situation. Needless to say, waiting around for 8 hours at Nadi airport didn’t appeal.
My flight from Auckland arrived at 4pm and my departing flight to Hawaii wasn’t till midnight. This is a very awkward time of day, but it’s a common stopover conundrum due to the flight schedules.
Here’s the down low and what I did and some other options.
I went across the street from the airport to the Raffles Gateway hotel. They have a huge pool. They have day rates for their rooms. However, many people come across from the airport to use their pool and have dinner or a snack. They’re happy to give you a towel for the pool and store your luggage while you’re swimming. The hotel has an airport shuttle that meets all flights but you could also just walk across since it’s a less than 5 minute walk. There are 3 other airport hotels also within close proximity.
If you’d like to take yourself off to eat, you can get the public bus into Nadi town for under $1. You’ll need some Fiji currency. There is a public bus stop just outside the hotel. You can wait for the bus, which is frequent during the day but less frequent in the evenings. However, if you sit at the bus stop, you may be approached by a “return taxi” i.e., one that’s returning to it’s base in Nadi.
You should be able to negotiate to take a return taxi for a couple of Fiji dollars per person. The meter rate is only around $8-9 Fiji currency.
I ate at the hotel restaurant (they made me a vegan vegetable curry), however they also gave me some restaurant recommendations: LC restaurant (5 min taxi, Chinese food), Sentai restaurant (Nadi town, Chinese food), Port Denarau complex (20 min taxi, variety of cuisines), Bounty (15 min taxi, steak/grill). For vegetarians, they recommended Indigo Indian vegetarian restaurant in Port Denarau. Vegetarianism is well understood and catered for in Nadi due to the large numbers of people of Indian descent. Vegan will generally need to be explained.
The only negative about a Nadi stopover is lack of free wifi. The Raffles Gateway hotel and the airport terminal both offer paid wifi, based on time connected but it’s not cheap. You can get a day pass for the Fiji Airways lounge which includes wifi from $75 Fiji Dollars (around $40 USD). If you’d rather relax by the pool, then hop across to the hotel. The lounge was very uncrowded and I managed to get an hour and a half of productive work done using their wifi after I’d checked back in for my flight.
The hotel was a really cool water slide, which plenty of adults (including me) were using. They also have pool tables for $2 a game and a tennis court. Racquets and balls can be borrowed from reception.
Technically the transit rule is that you can’t transit within the airport if your transit time is over 5 ½ hours. However the staff on the transit desk said it’s usually fine for a passenger with a longer wait to just transit in the airport rather than enter Fiji. There’s no cost for getting stamped into Fiji and I didn’t have to pay any departure tax (I’m not sure if this was because it was a same day departure).