Monday, August 24, 2015

Fiji, food and money

Before arriving in Fiji I kept hearing how friendly the Fijians are.  I wasn't sure what to make of those comments.  But its true, as I walk around town, with very few exceptions, whenever I make eye contact with a local they immediately smile and nod, or smile and say Bula!  (Hello!)  And big smiles, not little smirks or half-assed smiles, but welcoming smiles, "welcome to Fiji!" smiles.  Its really nice.

Another thing I had heard before arriving is that the local food is very good and inexpensive.  This is absolutely true.  There is a large Indian population here and there are very good curry's around.  There is also good Chinese food, 'western' food and semi higher end stuff, although I'm tending toward the low end of the eating out market - inexpensive and delicious.  I haven't cooked a meal for myself since arriving.

Some people cruise and make a point of living as cheaply as they can.  Its true that while cruising you can live on a small fraction of what it takes to live in America (as long as the boat doesn't break down and need a lot of attention).  When cruising you can live inexpensively and also, sometimes, eat very healthy food and be surrounded with astounding beauty and engage in lots of interesting activities.  I say 'sometimes eat healthy' as in some countries it was harder to do that than in others.  Fiji seems to be a country where eating well is going to be easy.

Living cheaply hasn't been a goal for my cruise.  I like to save a penny as much as the next person, but often the penny I save on one thing is spent on a good quality beer, some tasty snack food or some other non-essential purchase.  I rarely eat out at expensive restaurants, rent cars, stay at fancy hotels and I'm not flying around the world while my yacht is safe in some marina - so I save money that way, but I don't mind spending money on things that I enjoy.

That was all a preamble to the start of my trying to pass along how astounded I am at how inexpensive it is here.  I had a friend in Tonga who has spent many cruising seasons in Fiji, and he was constantly complaining about how expensive everything was in Tonga.  I didn't think that it was, Tonga seemed pretty reasonable to me.  Now that I'm in Fiji, I'm starting to understand what he means.

My typical breakfast is the 'full breakfast' at the cafe attached to the marina.  Normally this type of place would be the more expensive option, often you need to leave the marina to find good deals.  Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, sausage, and fried tomatoes for $4.25 USD (all prices will be in $USD, which is roughly $2 Fijian = $1 USD.)  Bottle of water, $1.50 so breakfast is $5.75.

I skip lunch and then have a large dinner.  I normally order two dishes, so at the Chinese restaurant I'll have something like Chicken in Black Bean sauce with rice and a vegetable side dish like Ginger and Onion Fried Eggplant.  Its a lot of food, and very, very tasty.  That comes to $8.  If I add a beer, the total is $10.

There are several places I've been going to for curry, all of them excellent.  At one of my favorites a typical meal is Chicken Curry which comes with a choice of Roti or rice, I'll have Roti.  That comes with a small vegetable side dish, a little dahl soup, mixed pickle and a poppadum.  Then I'll add a vegetable side dish, maybe Stir Fried Vegetable.  Again, a lot of food.  Total?  $8.

Luckness isn't anchored out in Savusavu, you generally rent a mooring here.  (You can anchor, toward the mouth of the creek, but its deep, around 80'.)  Moorings are $6-7/day.

Internet is fast and...inexpensive.  I have a Vodafone wifi dongle which I was using in New Zealand.  Vodafone is a provider in Fiji as well, so my dongle works here.  A new sim card cost me $5.  My first data package was $25 which gave me 5 GB expiring after 30 days.  I burned that up in about a week as I had a lot of downloading to do related to my app.  I recharged it for the same price.  As I plan to leave Savusavu soon I wanted to start with a fresh data plan, 30 more days, so I burned through the rest of my data doing downloads of operating systems and large apps like iPhoto, iMovie, etc.  I was seeing download speeds between 500Kb to 1Mb/sec.  That would be average in America probably, but if you're in the South Pacific that is absolutely top of the line.  Seeing a 1MB/sec download speed made my jaw drop.  After burning through that package I again recharged it.  This time there was a special on, $25 local ($12.50 USD) for 8GB, again expiring in 30 days.  Try matching those prices in the first world countries.

As I'm planning on leaving Savusavu to go cruising I've been buying actual food to provision the boat.  This is closer to what locals would be doing.  The local market is good - large with lots of fresh produce.

15 green peppers = $7.50USD.  3 kilo's of oranges = $1.50 USD

4 kilos of onion = $3.10 USD

2 kilo's of brown rice = $1.10 USD.  Jumbo raisins = $7.50/package
The jumbo raisins aren't inexpensive by any means, but I love those things and was happy to find them.

Living inexpensively but poorly would be unfortunate.  Living well, inexpensively, seems to be easy here.


  1. Wonderful description of your lfestyle. I definitely like reading about food and food availability. That would be my primary concern on a trip! Just slap all your blog posts together and you have a very helpful, detailed crusing guide! Speaking as a sailor, may I just say that your gelcoat looks to be in fabulous shape for cruising the world as you have been?!

    1. Hi Elena. Thanks for your comments re: my blog, I appreciate that. Also thanks for your positive attitude toward my gelcoat - the truth is that the closer you get, the worse it looks. It definitely needs a compounding/polishing job, the gelcoat has been oxidizing on this trip and all I've been doing is slapping on an occasional coat of wax. But the thing is, from further away it looks just fine, so I'm not going to worry about it until I return to the PNW.

  2. Sounds delicious. That would cost a fortune in the US!

    Really enjoying your blog and all your adventures.

    1. Hi Janet. The Savusavu food was delicious! Unfortunately (fortunately?) I've since left Savusavu and am back to my own cooking which is pretty mediocre. I'm anchored in a beautiful spot with beautiful blue water and good swimming, but the food isn't as good anymore!