Fiji for the family 2 – budgets, booze and bulla buses!

Waking up to the sound of the waves gently breaking, the dappled tropical sunlight peaking through the curtains and hearing the palm trees starting to stir with the morning breeze is one of the things I most treasure about the first morning of your tropical holiday. Of course our first morning in Fiji wasn’t anything like that… it resembled the usual chaos of 2 tiny people thundering their way into our bed, demanding some ‘moo’ and fighting over who would have who’s pillow! However we were in Fiji, we could just here the waves over the boys fighting over cars and we were ready to take on our weeks holiday with gusto!

Our first mission was to source out some breakfast. This is not included but with self catering options available and a store located in the hotel lobby we headed on a mission to locate tucker! It didn’t take us long to discover that things were not ‘slightly overpriced in the hotel shop’, they were ‘unbelievably overpriced!’ And that’s coming from a pretty good spender who usually leaves the idea of a holiday budget in the departure lounge at Sydney airport!

To explain this in more detail a couple of long necks (yes it’s never too early you have to stock up), some bread, eggs, sunscreen both adult and kids, bottles of water, butter, weetbix (a small box) and some milk and tea will set you back close to $100! Yup $100! So it as with remarkable surprise I suddenly regretted some serious packing choices like shampoo and conditioner, sunscreen and toothbrushes for the kids (ok I genuinely forgot those!). Alcohol was a whole other kettle of fish too with the prices at the pool bars peaking those of European resorts and the price of food not far behind!

All was not quite lost when we discovered there was a larger shop at the Port, hopefully slightly more affordable!

So after a quick swim,we purchased our Bulla bus tickets (the local hop on hop off which facilitates all the local resorts and the port area) and we were off to find the next supermarket!

Now let me stop there for a wee second. For those adventuring to Denarau with youngsters may I say go no further than your resort backed up by a few trips on the Bulla bus! This is a two year olds dream adventure! A mid size open shuttle bus with a thatched roof where you can sit on either side and watch the sights go by. With a 5 for 4 days offering we quickly knew this would be the hit of the holiday. As we swung into the driveway to each resort on our way to the port our little men’s eyes were dropping out of their heads with excitement. The buses, the cars, the big and small buses, not to mention the people, the trees and a water park that boast a giant inflatable shark which Harry correctly informed me is ‘Mummy shark’ (that’s baby sharks mum for those playing along at home…the song is in your head now isn’t it!). What an adventure and finally we were at the Port.

A hungry Mum and Dad and some tired kiddies our first aim was to grab some food and then head to the supermarket. There are heaps of dining options at the Port of Denarau and it really is a lovely spot over looking the marina and surrounding areas. Majority of the options are highly priced only a few days later while enjoying some ‘adult time’ did we discover a well priced bakery! However day one we settled on the trusted Hard Rock where we dropped a small fortune on a salad and sandwich and then headed for the shop. Much to our naivety the prices were not much better and another small fortune later and we had a few basics to get through the next day or so and a little disgruntled, head for home.

A little bit of research (and some friendly conversations over the next few days) and we discovered that the experienced travellers to Denarau have already got this down pat…apparently the trick is buy your booze through duty free on the way in and then upon arrival high tail it in a taxi to a supermarket in Nadi where everything is seriously cheap, stock up on supplies and you’re sorted for the week. By the time we became aware of this we were around day 3 into our trip and with kids mainly snacking on small snacks, we cut our losses for this trip and reworked our strategy… but are all clued up for the next time!

I’ll admit I have never been great at budgeting expenses on holidays (ok I’m crap!) but this trip has really highlighted a few things to me. The importance of self-catering holidays for families. I’ve always been a cynic only worrying about one but now with boys who are only going to eat more it’s become really bloody obvious why it’s a fantastic option! (I know right I’m pretty slow on somethings)

We quickly worked out a plan. Pasta, eggs, snags and the like we’re affordable so we stocked up on those for the kids and for our day time food allowing us a small dining budget at night (we mainly shared pizzas salads and Mexican dishes which were really reasonable), and of course allowing a bit extra for our bar budget!

Thank goodness I’d bought all the nappies and wipes that one moment of mum genius certainly paid off!

With the food and booze operation now back under control our days were starting to roll by with so much happiness! Swimming, kayak adventures (the kids loved sitting up front), more swimming and plenty of Bulla bus trips it didn’t take us long to settle into island life!

Late Monday night we were asked to attend a Wyndham resort talk. Straight away we knew this was a sales pitch! Of course we were staying at a time share! Happy to give up an hour of our time for breakfast and a chat we agreed to go on the provision we scored a cheap cruise trip and mum grabbed some extra points!

Of course these things are never what they say…90 minutes later, no breakfast, restless toddlers and continuously saying no to a hard sales pitch that sounded ok if you had a cool 40K to drop right there and then and we finally emerged with our discount island cruise booked for Thursday! But would it live up to our expectations…