It's been almost a year since my husband and I got married and it's been almost a year since we decided on where we'd go for our honeymoon.
Yup, like many lovebirds weighed down by the stress of ensuring their big day goes off without a hitch, deciding where to go for our honeymoon was one of the last things on our minds. But we got there in the end, and by sharing our decision making process here, hopefully you will too.
We're Stef and D, a pair of married jetsetters. Together, we've visited over 50 countries - though we're determined to see even more. All while working full time and paying off a mortgage. We count our dollars at home and away and are here to share our tips on how you can travel on budget.
You might already be at the "here or there?" stage, but if not a good place to start is by putting some honeymoon destination requirements to paper.
Ours were that it had to be somewhere neither of us had been before, it wouldn't be for longer than five days and we were happy to treat ourselves to 5-star resort accommodation.
That brought us to the luxurious South Pacific region at which point we tossed islands around (not literally) until we were down to two: Fiji or Hawaii.
From there we went granular, comparing elements like airlines, flight time, on-ground costs, resort offerings and tourist attractions in the ultimate battle of the islands. You can spoil the surprise for yourself below or go in unbiased by skipping to our breakdown instead:
If the main image wasn't a dead giveaway, we went to Fiji. Ultimately what swayed us this way was time. As we only wanted to go on honeymoon for five days, the shorter flight and limited activities on the islands (it's basically snorkelling, diving, beach combing and relaxing) meant we could do it all in under a week.
From Sydney, budget airline Jetstar flies to Fiji and Hawaii for around $500 return while full-service airlines Qantas, Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways (to Fiji only) and Hawaiian Airlines (to Honolulu only) can get you to both at around $650 to $700 return.
That put these two in the same price pool.
Spoiler alert! We wound up booking with Fiji Airways as it includes checked luggage and in-flight meals both ways. As a bonus, Fiji Airways codeshares with Qantas so we collected 900 frequent flyer points each and 20 status credits from it. You can read my full flight review here.
From Sydney you can get to Fiji in under four hours flying direct. To get to Hawaii it's closer to 9.5 hours.
While you can fly to Hawaii overnight to wake up fresh on the islands, what we liked about the flight to Fiji was we could fly out mid-morning and arrive just after midday, perfectly timed for check-in and to have a cruisy afternoon start.
With our limited time in mind, Fiji was now officially winning.
Both Fiji and Hawaii also resort island destinations so on-ground costs were bound to be inflated. However according to Budget Your Trip Fiji was cheaper with an estimated daily budget of $197 per day per person. In Honolulu, the estimated daily budget was $277 per person.
More positives for Fiji.
I think it's safe to say you'll not fall short of enviable beachside resorts in Fiji or Hawaii.
Fiji's main resort area is Denarau Island. This is connected to the main island of Viti Levu by bridge and is serviced by Bula Bus. This is a free service that runs on a loop, visiting the main resorts and the port area. FYI most resorts have their own private beachfront areas as a bonus as well as adult's only areas.
Hawaii's popular resort area is on the main island of Oahu in the city of Honolulu. It's a 15-minute drive from Honolulu Airport and features properties that spill out onto the famous Waikiki Beach. The resort area is also a stone's throw from the main shopping strip.
Honestly, there's not much of a difference between the two. However, Honolulu is a much larger metropolis and mecca for shopping fiends.
Hawaii was starting to sound a lot more interesting.
Tourist attractions and activities
Both destinations have more than a handful of activities to keep someone like me, who literally hates sitting on the beach for more than 30 minutes, entertained.
Hawaii has hiking trails, history museums, water activities, shopping centres and island hopping in spades. Island hopping requires pre-planning though as ferry routes are limited and the alternative is internal flights. That meant booking multiple flights and hotels and packing and unpacking throughout our trip.
Fiji has a more limited set of attractions. Most revolve around water activities such as snorkelling, kayaking and jet boating. Hikes are few and far between and island hopping required booking a day tour or picking a dedicated group of islands and coordinating ferry times accordingly. Its islands are more on the relaxing side of things, offering beaches, diving opportunities and massages, though not much else.
Hands down Hawaii has more to offer.
Fiji or Hawaii for a honeymoon: The verdict
I think it's pretty obvious that we went to Fiji. But which should you go to?
Hate to say it, but ultimately it's up to you and your preferences. I personally found Fiji relaxing and peaceful. It runs on island time and has enough water sports to keep me from going stir crazy over the five days – just. The resort (The Sofitel Fiji) was heavenly and has an adults-only section which we upgraded ourselves to which gave us access to the adults-only pool (worth it), happy hour drinks and canapés daily.
Had we wanted an extended trip, to shop until we dropped or sightsee and hike our first days of marriage away, Hawaii would have won. It offers more in the way of activities and scenery, but with a 9.5-hour flight and more activities per island, it’s a paradise I'd prefer to spend at least a week in.
How much did we spend?
We booked our holiday package through TravelOnline for $2,649 per person. Tacking on an upgrade to the adults-only section, meals and two day trips our total damage was ~$6,000. Or $600 per person, per day.
That's not to say your bill will come up as steep. Because we went in with a "splurge" mentality we ate lavishly, dining at the hotel and at the port on seafood, and our day trips were booked through the hotel tour desk.
If you're running a tighter budget you can easily pare down costs by flying on a budget airline, staying in Nadi instead of the resort area, eating locally and pre-booking day trips through sites like Viator or Klook where you can compare options and cost.
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Thomas Cook Magazine, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping readers stretch their dollars while on holiday.
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