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FIJI – WHEELCHAIR ACCESS TALES

Seeing Braeden’s reaction to the first warm Bula greeting at Nadi Airport I knew we’d made the right decision to holiday in Fiji. Being such a social guy, it was clear Braeden had found his tribe. Throughout our time in Fiji he revelled in the attention and the warm embrace of the Fijian people. Fiji’s wheelchair access is not easy but what the country lacks in accessible infrastructure, its people make up for with an inclusive attitude and muscle power.

Fiji wheelchair access

Before kids, Hubby and I were regular visitors to Fiji. We loved the relaxed pace and Hubby enjoyed scuba diving in the pristine underwater wonderland. Accessibility and concerns about health care were the main barriers to us not returning when Braeden was younger. But earlier this year we were chatting about a potential holiday and Amelia suggested Fiji. It appealed to all of us but much research was needed to ensure the holiday would work.

Accommodation was a challenge. Travelling in school holidays over the Easter break meant it was expensive and finding spacious two bedroom accommodation with a kitchenette was a tall order. We found a hotel which ticked most of the boxes, but the cost was $900 per night. That wasn’t in the budget, so we looked further afield to AirBnB. We eventually found an apartment which looked ideal at a cost of just under $1400 for our week’s stay. As we had already planned on hiring a car, the location of the apartment, about 30 minutes north of Nadi, wasn’t an issue. Finding and booking the AirBnB apartment was the difference between the holiday going ahead or not, so we decided to give it a go.

Fiji wheelchair accessible

When I started researching activities I found a distinct lack of wheelchair accessible options but as I contacted the different tour operators I discovered a willingness to assist us. I received encouraging responses including, “If you have any other option of how we could assist you to make it work then that would be great as we would really love for everyone to come and have a great time” and another, “sure we can do something for your son.”

We were encouraged by the willingness of the tour operators to find solutions but I knew it would take ingenuity to come up with a way for us to all enjoy Fiji. We packed a few items we thought may help including a luggage strap, non slip matting and other straps we thought may secure BJ on some of the activities we fancied trying.

Fiji wheelchair accessible

We rely so heavily on Braeden’s Sandcruiser beach wheelchair to access the beach, we were worried about how we’d access the beach in Fiji. Heading to a destination where most people go to relax and laze on the beach we were conscious we needed assistance to get across the sand.  Braeden’s off-road tyres would help but we needed more. We chatted to Leon from Mogo Wheelchairs and he kindly allowed us to trial a FreeWheel for the trip (see photo above of the attachment at the front of the Braeden’s wheelchair). You can read our FreeWheel review here.

Our first day in Fiji was spent visiting a couple of the tour operators with our ideas for making the experiences work. Although we lost the first day doing this it was worth it. The forward planning helped make the rest of the week a great success with Braeden able to participate in some unique adventures. I’ll be sharing more on those activities soon.

Go Dirty Fiji - accessible Fiji - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

We headed out quad biking which was truly a highlight of our stay. Read more about how we made that work here.

Ecotrax Fiji - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

One of our favourite experiences was riding along an old plantation railway track to the beach with the team from Ecotrax. Their staff went above and beyond what we expected to make this happen for our family Read our full review.

Fiji delivered a diverse range of experiences for our whole family and I’m so pleased we didn’t let the challenges get in the way of us giving it a go. Amelia rates Fiji as her favourite holiday of all time and knowing that makes me even happier. The sense of joy and satisfaction at achieving this holiday is immense. And while I was always dedicated to Braeden’s therapies, it’s now that I see the amazing life all the hard work has delivered him. Therapy isn’t just about milestones, it’s about quality of life and after he’s put in the hard yards, I’m thrilled to see Braeden living large.

Fiji wheelchair access

Read about our day at MalaMala Beach Resort

PS. If you’re a chocoholic, take some with you. Prices in the supermarkets in Fiji are outrageous! It’s a good place for a chocolate dextox.

 




8 thoughts on “FIJI – WHEELCHAIR ACCESS TALES”

  1. Would love to Read more about your fiji adventure. I married a fijian & 4 yrs ago he broke hIs neck & became a quadriplegic. After 9 months pLanning, We travelLed to fiji last april & stayed at radisson Blu, denarau. We had a 2 room suiTe with kitchette.

    Reply
  2. Hi, I’d love to hear more about your Fiji experience, in particular can you advise where you hired the wheelchair accessible vehicle from please? Many thanks, Penny

    Reply
  3. Hi, can you let me know how the Nadi International Airport was? My husband is in a power chair & has no mobility. He must remain in his wheelchair. Were thinking of going to Sydney but the flight has a layover in Nadi airport.

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    • Hi Andrea

      Nadi Airport is modern and we found staff accommodating of my son who is a wheelchair user. It is a small airport compared to Sydney and others but the staff are great. We had no problems but I will say my son uses a manual chair. I suggest you speak to the airline about how they can accommodate your husband just to be sure.

      Julie

      Reply
  4. My Fijian husband is C4 complete usually in a powerchair, but used a manual chair to travel to Fiji. Nadi International Airport & staff were great & fully accessible. The problems we had were all with Fiji Airways staff from the Medical booking team, right thru to airline stewards not understanding requirements & meeting our needs which we had specified well in advance. There are eagle lifts available at Melbourne & Sydney airports but not in Fiji so manual transfers are required. Fijian staff were very accomodating. We had issues getting through customs with the wheelchair tools(allen keys) which we required to breakdown the wheelchair at the departure gate, despite insisting it would be travelling in the stowage area with the wheelchair.

    Reply

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