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How to Make the Most of a Long Layover

Normally I hate a long layover. It doesn’t matter what airport it’s in, there are few things more tedious than wiling away hours on uncomfortable seats, eating terrible food, and wishing more than anything to be tucked into a nice warm bed or taking a hot shower.

For my recent trip to Australia, I didn’t discover until after I had purchased my steal-of-a-deal ticket that I had two long layovers at the Nadi, Fiji airport: one for 15.5 hours, the other for 17.5 hours.

Now I love many things about Fiji – the people, the climate, the beauty – but the airport is definitely not one of them. There is one waiting area surrounded by the ubiquitous duty free and souvenir shops that at best can occupy about an hour of your time. The few places to eat may or may not be open and if you request anything hot, be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes while it is cooked elsewhere and brought bound tightly in plastic wrap by frazzled but smiling women.

It is not the place to spend 17.5 hours.

Thankfully that is not the only option.

When you exit any international flight in Nadi you are greeted by a jolly group of Fijian men in flamboyant shirts singing their hearts out in joyous welcome. At this point you can take a left to transit to your next flight or hang a right and get in line for Customs. Take the right. As the musicians serenade you, make sure you have your passport and Customs card handy. Once your passport is stamped simply pick up your luggage, get some Fiji dollars from the handy bank machine near the luggage carousel, head through Customs and grab a taxi. You’re all set for a mini-Fiji adventure.

Fiji has numerous 3 and 4 star resorts a short taxi ride from the airport. Many of them have day rooms available for a reduced rate. This will allow you full use of a room and the resort facilities (including beaches, swimming pools, and restaurants) during your stay. Since most international flights to Nadi are red-eyes arriving around 5 a.m., the use of a day room is pure bliss, giving you a chance to sleep, shower, eat real food, and explore the beaches and countryside of Fiji before continuing your journey. Make sure you call ahead to specifically reserve a day room since availability is limited.

I stayed at two resorts on my layovers.

The first was Sonaisali Island Resort, about a 30 minute drive from the airport. I stayed in an Oceanview Bure for $252.00 Fiji dollars, which works out to about $138.60 US. The taxi ride from the airport was about $35 Fiji dollars ($20 US) each way. The short boat ride to the island was free and made a crossing every 15 minutes.

View from the front porch of my room at the Sonaisali Island Resort

(it was pouring rain at the time, but you really could see the ocean when it stopped).

The second was The Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa, about a 25 minute drive from the airport. I stayed in a Tropical Garden View Room for $200 Fiji dollars, equaling about $110 US. The taxi ride to and from the airport was also $35 Fiji dollars (about $20 US) each way.

The view from my room at The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa.

Both resorts were beautiful and graciously let me into my room around 7 a.m. (normal check-in time is 10 a.m.) and let me stay until 6 p.m.

Eating out at Fiji resorts is really expensive. I made sure to eat on the airplane beforehand and get a cheap bite at the airport after, only splurging on one good meal.

I settled on breakfast at the Sonaisali Island Resort. For $38 Fiji dollars ($21 US) I had unlimited trips to a buffet breakfast that included fresh fruits, cereals, made-to-order omelets, and a large hot food section with items such as baked tomatoes, baked beans, potato cakes, and ham, plus chutneys, sauces, and lots of juice and coffee. The dining room faces the ocean with beautiful views of the pool, palm trees and rolling waves.

At The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa I opted for lunch, ordering room service for the first time in my life. πŸ™‚ I had succulent ahi tuna with Fijian green beans, rice with crispy shallots, and a smidge of lettuce for around $80 Fiji dollars ($44 US). My dining room was my patio where I could eat in happy solitude with views of the ocean and tropical plants.

The grand total for two full days in Fiji was about $400. That may seem like a lot, but it was worth every penny, worth every restaurant dinner, movie ticket, and shopping trip I gave up in order to save enough. It was much better than two days in an airport, spending nearly $200 on crummy food, feeling exhausted and dirty with nothing to do but wander the same halls for over 30 hours.

Instead I had two glorious days in one of the most beautiful places in the world. In addition to comfy beds, hot showers, delicious food, and first class treatment, I also got to stroll gorgeous beaches, walk through the exquisitely beautiful Fijian countryside, swim in the South Pacific, snooze in a hammock, and meet some of the loveliest people imaginable.

What would be your ideal way to spend a one day layover?

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Travel Blogger Insight: Rambling Tart | Well Designed Journeys - […] You’ve traveled all over the world! Tell us about your favorite destination and what makes it so wonderful. Oh boy, I think it depends on what I hope to experience. If I want pure relaxation, get-away-from-it-all, I’d choose Fiji. It’s so hot and humid you don’t want to do anything but lay down under a palm tree and let the sea breezes cool and relax you. The people are so kind and loving and jolly that a few days there never fails to restore my health and spirits. […]

Corinne @ Gourmantic - Long haul traffic is such a pain but a way of life for us in Australia. I find a stopover, even if it’s overnight, makes the trip more bearable. Yours sounds like you got the best of both worlds πŸ™‚

A Sunny Beach Ramble in Fiji » Rambling Tart - […] just what happened to me on a beautiful layover in Nadi, Fiji on my way back to the US from Australia in January. Stretching luxuriously I made […]

Duchess - lucky duck lol.

Bren Herrera - i would not mind being there right now! What a nice get a way! And, nice to have found your blog!

Sean - Oh the torture, oh the misery. Just arrived this a.m from California red-eye. Had just 40 mins to grab a bite. Some in-terminal “Mexican” place. So sad. A couple sat down next to me as I was leaving, “How’s the food here?” “Not so good, actually not as good as Taco Bell.” Life’s too short

Rosa - A relaxing place! Perfect for napping…



Mia - I actually love a long layover and those flights that have a round about and take 3 times the time , coz there are 3 landings and take offs , i like that πŸ™‚
Coz by the end of the flight u have changed places a dozen times , dont ask how , made frens with the whole crew , and hopped in and out,unofficially and got to visit the cockpit too!
SAme for lonngg layerovers !
Ok fine , i dont travel that muc , so i say this , or maybe i find excitement in this!
U made wonderful the time and thats a stunning beach there!
So muc like Goa , only better!
Infact , i almost thought its one of the resorte’s in Goa:-)
Ur thoughts and adventures are so beautifully put together!

Migrationology - Yes, that’s a layover I would love to take! Did the airline put up for anything or offer you anything for that long of a layover?

A Canadian Foodie - I think that 200 a day for what you did is a BARGAIN! I am green with envy – well – I am HAPPY FOR YOU!
Stunning. Gorgeous. Never seen a beach like that.
One day……

Robin Davis - It’s been too long since I’ve feasted on your words. Thank you for your stories you beautiful lady!

Nicole - Wow, what a great experience. I agree, spending the extra money would be totally worth it.

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures - Hands down best layover EVER!!!!!!

MaryMoh - What a lovely travel post to read! I think if I am in your position, I would like to try all types of unfamiliar food and look at everything if there is a shop πŸ˜€ Glad to know you had lots of fun.

Faith - I’m glad you had such a wonderful time, Krista! This definitely sounds like the ideal way to pass the time during a layover!

inka - That’s a lay over made in heaven. I like to idea of day rooms.

Mary - You’ve shared some wonderful information with us today. I’ve bookmarked this post for reference down the road. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

Jerusha Lofland - Love it! The views alone would be worth the cost.

LindyLouMac - Seems like a good way to have spent your time!

Tweets that mention How to Make the Most of a Long Layover Β» Rambling Tart -- Topsy.com - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Luxury Travel ~ Dora and Krista Bjorn, Krista Bjorn. Krista Bjorn said: {new blog post} How to Make the Most of a Long Layover http://bit.ly/h1sNko #travel #Fiji […]

Karen - Love that! Way to make the best out of something that could have been not so great.

Nicole - I agree, Krista, it’s worth it to splurge on comfort for the tough parts of a trip. Glad you did that! And glad you ordered room service! It’s been a while since I have but it’s another great way to decompress! πŸ™‚

Lael Hazan - Wow! What a place for a layover! I only get long layovers in Atlanta…. Not at all the same. I’m jealous πŸ™‚

Barbara - I have fond memories of a Fiji educational at the Westin when I was a travel agent many years ago. I love how the Fijians serenade you wherever you go.

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