One of the golden rules of independent travel is the more you spend, the less you experience. The expensive hotels are good to see for sightseeing attractions, entertainment, and watering holes, but unless you are a millionaire, sleep elsewhere. If you are on a budget, avoid pre-paying hotel accommodations as any room you can book from home on a toll-free number is overpriced. If however, you expect to spend most of your time in a first-class hotel, you’ll benefit from the bulk rate as opposed to the much higher rack rate.
Keep in mind that budget hotels in the South Pacific can be a lot more basic than what is referred to as budget accommodations in the states. Do you like housekeeping, window screens, etc., consider medium-priced hotels if it is your first time in the area. If you like bed and breakfasts and are okay with your host family’s meal plan of vegetables and fish, consider giving them a try.
If you are invited to stay at a local family’s home, please remember to follow these etiquette rules:
- If staying in Fiji, present your host with a bundle of kava roots.
- If staying in areas with a natural flow of visitors, the host is used to receiving money – a minimum of $20 per day.
- Other etiquette gifts include –
- Sneakers and canvas shoes
- Blue jeans
- Tee shirts
- Sports balls – soccer, basketball, volleyball
- Flashlights and batteries
- Sheath knives
- Dog collars
- A large jar of instant coffee
- Marbles and balloons for the kids – not candy which will attract ants
- If going to a really remote atoll, take along enough food for your entire visit and gifts. Do not assume you can get something at the village trade markets.
- When you return home, remember to mail photos back to your host family.
If you cannot afford to stay at a host family’s place, consider camping. Camping is allowed in Tahiti, Fiji, and New Caledonia. The only place camping is forbidden is Cooks Island. If you do decide to camp,
- Get the permission of the land owner
- Look for a place that is swept by the trade winds
- Ensure your tent is waterproof and mosquito proof
- Never camp under a coconut tree
- If you hear of a hurricane warning, break camp and take cover.
Cite for September Posts: Stanley, D., South Pacific Handbook.