A Greener Getaway in Fiji

Palms on Denarau Island, Nadi Bay, Fiji. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Oliver.By Emily Kennedy

Travel won’t get greener without us, and in the South Pacific, green travel is all the more important to protect the delicate ecosystems that tourists come for. But due to their remote nature, South Pacific destinations, like Fiji, can be difficult to experience without making some carbon footprints along the way. Well, some accommodation providers in Fiji are helping travellers decrease their footprint a shoe size or two and better yet, they're making conservation initiatives a part of the paradise package. Here’s how you can get there, and stay there, greener.

Getting There Greener
No form of travel has a worse environmental impact per traveller than flying. I personally never felt too guilty about flying until I read that when jet fuel is burnt, it releases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, sulphate, heat and soot and it does this at high altitude, where the impact is much greater. Not to mention airlines are moving rather slowly towards cleaner-burning biofuels and although carbon-offset programs are better than nothing, they aren’t really a solution to the source of the problem. Are you feeling pretty bad now too? Good. Since the reality is most people fly into the tropics, here’s how you can practice greener travel:

How will you be flying today?
For long-haul flights, take the extra step when researching your itinerary and pay attention to what type of aircraft you’ll be flying. Airbus’ A380 is one of the most fuel efficient commercial planes in the sky today. Unfortunately, there are no airlines that fly A380s direct to Fiji, but if you're doing a route with stop-overs, keep in mind that the more airlines see customers inquiring and choosing fuel-efficient planes, the more likely they’ll invest in them for future fleets.

I'm on a Boat!
Once you’re in the islands, take a boat to the outer ones. Island-hopping via boat is not only cheaper and greener, it enhances the island experience to travel as the locals do.

Ride the Bus
If you’re exploring the larger islands of Viti Levu or Vanua Levu, travel by bus. It's an economical alternative to flying, offering comfortable seats, air conditioning, frequent service and a great view. For example, you can travel between Nadi and Suva on the "local bus" for just $8 FJD, and many "local buses" are larger than the tourist coach buses (which are still only $17 FJD)! For more information about coach services, visit your hotel’s tour desk, or contact Tourist Transport Fiji.

 Fiji's rainforest along the Coral Coast. Image courtesy of Emily Kennedy.
Ride the bus and enjoy scenic views.

One Vacation, One Destination
Practice one vacation, one destination. Too often travellers try to pack in several stops all in one trip. I promise you, if you stay at one resort or on one island for your entire vacation, you’ll not only decrease your environmental impact, but you’ll get to know that area better, allowing you to really experience its interesting places. And without the hassle of checking out and checking in, packing and unpacking between stops, you’ll have more time to really kick back and relax, which is why you went in the first place!

Staying Greener

There are a quite a few unsung heroes in their efforts to be more environmentally and socially responsible in the tourism industry. Here are a few that Jasons recommends to help you have an extra feel-good holiday:

Adventure Resort
On my recent trip to Fiji, I had the pleasure of staying at the Waidroka Bay Surf and Dive resort, located on a secluded edge of the Coral Coast rainforest. If you’re not quick enough to snatch one of their 12 suites, that’s OK: Waidroka welcomes guests from other resorts to take part in their dive, surf and fishing trips.

Of course being a dive and surf resort, their interest in marine conservation should be no surprise. Waidroka sits on the lip of a marine park and in addition to helping the park replace mooring lines (which help ensure boats don’t drop anchor on the park's coral), Waidroka takes careful measures to ensure upkeep on their channel passes environmental impact assessments. Waidroka goes even one step further and keeps up a good relationship with the nearby village, most recently donating funds to build a kitchen.

 The channel to Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Oliver.
 Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort goes the extra mile to ensure upkeep on the Bay's channel is both environmentally and socially responsible.

But my favourite thing about Waidroka is its proximity to the Waidroka Creek, where the resort gets all of its water. So not only are you drinking some of the purest water around, you’re also helping to reduce waste from single-use plastics like bottled water, promoted at so many other resorts in Fiji!

The Sofitel in Nadi is well-known for it's five-star status, but humble about its environmental commitment by comparison. It may surprise you to learn it's been accredited by the Earth Check organisation for adhering to some of the highest levels of sustainability and social responsibility. The resort has a full-time recycling team to sort hotel and guest waste, it participates in Earth Hour (although, hopefully that's not the only thing that gets you official accreditation) and every evening, staff exchange extra lights around the resort for candles and torches.

 'Please recycle' say the local beer cans. Photo courtesy of Emily Kennedy.'
 The Sofitel in Nadi has a dedicated recycling team.

"Conservation Tourism"
There is an increasing number of resorts in Fiji involved in what I'd call "conservation tourism." Treasure Island, for example, has a Hawksbill sea turtle breeding and research programme on-site and three resident turtle curators. If you visit at the right time of year, you might even be able to release the turtles yourself and have one of the turtles named after you!

If you're travelling to the Mamanuca islands, get in touch with the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) for friendly advice on sustainability activities. MES is a local NGO in part supported and funded by the resorts with donations and contributions coming from their guests. Coral planting and clam restoration are a couple of their largest projects, helping to regenerate and sustain the Mamanucas' delicate coral reefs. Malolo Island Resort and Castaway Island Resort are just a couple of partners in the program where guests can learn more and get involved in the society's initiatives like coral planting.

 Coral planting with guests at Castaway Island Resort. Image courtesy of Betani Salusalu.
  Guests can take part in conservation activities like coral planting
at Castaway Island Resort.

In Fiji, and many Pacific island countries, tourism is a central industry. Tourism has the potential to bring huge social, environmental and economic benefits, however, without responsible travellers, tourism can cause harm to the islands' ecosystems and societies. So in planning your next vacation to Fiji or any of the Pacific islands, practice responsible tourism. To learn more about what makes a responsible traveller, visit www.responsibletourism.org.nz.

 Sunset view from Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort. Image courtesy of Emily Kennedy.
  Visitors can help preserve paradise for another day by practising responsible tourism.

What are your favourite tips for eco-tourism in Fiji? Has this article given you some great green getaway ideas?