Golfing in the pearl of the pacific – Fiji

Is there anything more idyllic than golf on a tropical island? Playing your round whilst overlooking turquoise waters and golden beaches before settling back to a relaxing Mai Tai around the pool. If this sounds like a holiday that suits you, Fiji may offer a relatively easy to organize and cost-effective golf trip.

Golfing in Fiji can be a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to your next tropical golf trip. Just do your research to understand what you have in store.

Is Fiji the right golfing location for you?

It’s important first to understand that golf is not a huge sport in Fiji. Unlike, say, another tropical destination like Hawaii, you will not be swamped by golf opportunities. In fact, there are only six 18 hole courses in total, and realistically 3 (or 4 if money is no object) that travelers will consider. These courses are also not located closely, so you will need to travel to play them all.

My advice to anyone considering Fiji is that if your holiday is all about golf, you may want to consider other options. But if you want golf to be a big part of a larger holiday, keep reading.

Where can you play?

As mentioned above, there are six 18 holes courses in Fiji, but four are worth further review.

  • Laucala Resort – If you want to sample perfection in all aspects of life visit Laucala. A private island located north of the main islands of Fiji Laucala is owned by the founder of Red Bull and no expense has been spared on the resort. The 18 hole course is designed by David McLay Kidd and would rival any tropical course worldwide. Realistically, if this course and price range is an option for you, you probably are not reading this blog. But if you can figure out a way to visit … do it!
  • Denarau Golf and Racket ClubFor the average traveller to Fiji Denerau is more than likely going to be the first course you encounter. Located funnily enough on the tourist island of Denerau (connected by road to the mainland) Denerau is surrounded by the majority of major resorts on the island. Denerau is fairly priced for its location and very flat and playable. Perhaps disappointingly, the course only visits the coast fleetingly at one point and so you could very well be playing on any course anywhere in the world.
  • Natadola Bay Golf ClubLocated 1 hours drive from Denerau (or longer on a bad time. Traffic does not move fast in Fiji) Natadola would be regarded by most as the most famous and best golf course in Fiji. Designed by Vijay Singh, Natadola is both visually spectacular and challenging. Some of the elevation changes built into holes are breathtaking and you spend plenty of time starting at the crystal waters of the pacific. Be warned it can and will blow some nasty gales at Natadola. The winds are not cold but will hurt even the best golfers.
  • The Pearl South Pacific – Located closer to Suva the Pearl would not generally be considered to be at the same standard as Denerau or Natadola, but is completely adequate for those whom golf is not the focus on their trip. Once again expect a decent drive and a golf course perhaps a fraction past it’s best. But nonetheless it is a great value for money location.

Where to base yourself

Assuming Loucala is not an option for you, and it certainly is not for me, I think you have two broad options for golfers wanting to enjoy Fiji.

  1. Stay in Denarau – If you have non golfers in your group, or those that are looking for a very relaxing and easy holiday Denerau offers simplicity on a platter. If you are keen to sample Natadola you can catch a shuttle to the course one day, whilst the rest of your group can soak up the simplicity of Fiji.
  1. Stay on the Coral Coast (ideally close to Natadola) – while on a map the Coral Coast can look small it is actually a pretty spread out area. So ideally get as close to a course as you can. My suggestion is to stay as close as you can to Natadola. The Intercontinental is the major hotel in the area, but if budget is an issue other options such as Yatule are right next door and can enjoy the exact same beach as guests of the more upmarket Intercontinental. I would suggest the Natadola area if golf is more of a focus. You are between the Pearl and Denerau so can sample both those options but focus your time on mastering Natadola

Getting there and getting around

It is almost a certainty you will arrive in Fiji at Nadi International airport. You then face a big decision around renting a car or taking taxis. Unless you feel very resourceful or imagine doing a lot of exploring, take shuttles, or taxis, Fiji roads can be dangerous at times.

The Cost

Like most tropical destinations, costs can vary wildly, depending on what you are looking for. The good news is that golf should not sting you too much, and with a bit of research, accommodation is fair too.

  1. Golf
  • Denerau : $150 Fijian Dollars ($75 USD) which I think is a bit overpriced but reflective of a large captive audience
  • Natadola : $110 Fijian Dollars for all day golf (written during Covid times so expect this to go up with demand increases) which is outstanding value. For a group of 4 rates are currently $65 per player.
  1. Accommodation
  • I would expect to pay $200 to $300 Fijian Dollars for a standard resort room, which may include breakfast.

For the non-golfer?

Fiji has a lot to offer if you want to be an adventurer, or equally, it allows you to do very little if relaxation is important to you. Particularly, if your fellow guests want to plonk themselves on a deckchair next to the pool, they can do this to their heart’s content.

One suggestion I would have is to spend at least some time meeting the locals outside the main resort areas. Whether it be a day cruise out to the islands or a local village tour, Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world.

Bonus Points

Take a lookout for the kids selling you golf balls throughout your Natadola round. I am almost sure they may have been selling me back balls I had only hit out of bounds a minute or two earlier. Great way to save some money on freight costs, however!

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