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smalltowner

South Pacific Currency Questions

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My husband and I are cruising on Regatta from Sydney AU to San Diego from March 1 to April 1.  We have been to many of the ports at some time or other in the past, and we have done many of the activities visitors to these islands usually do, but we just love the relaxed vibe of crossings, so we thought we'd try a Pacific one for a change.  I'm not sure what to do about currency, as we may not even need any, if we decide to just walk around in the small port towns of the islands we will visit.  We will have Australian dollars, as we are spending a couple of weeks in Manly Beach before we embark, and we will take US dollars as well, but I'm not sure if either currency would be acceptable in Fiji or Samoa.  I think Australian dollars are accepted in Vanuatu and American dollars in French Polynesia, but if I'm wrong, please let me know.  If I need local currency in Lautoka or Suva, Fiji, or in Apia, Samoa, will an ATM or currency exchange be available anywhere near where the ship docks, or where a shuttle will deposit us (if there is a shuttle provided)?  If the weather is nice, there are some places outside of town that we might want to taxi to, but we probably need local currency for this.  I'd appreciate some insight from anyone who has cruised to these ports.  Thanks.

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I knew all this when I was planning on going there. French Polynesia I would use XFP, but you can generally get it no problem from an ATM. American Samoa of course uses the American dollar. 

 

The ones in between either use XPF or AU dollars. Can't remember exactly who takes what. 

 

I think Fiji uses AU money, but not sure. Don't remember about Apia either. 

 

Do you have any NZ ports? 

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There were lots of ATMs in Suva when I was last there but the larger stores will take AUD and if I remember correctly also USD.  If you want to buy something in the markets or smaller stores you may find they prefer Fiji$.  

Apia is not part of American Samoa - it's on a different island altogether but it's so long since I was there that I can't remember the currency situation.  I wouldn't be surprised if they accepted AUD and NZD as most tourists to the island are from Australia and NZ and both countries have sizeable populations of expat Samoans but there are ATMs in Apia anyway.  The local currency is Tala. You may find that with more cruise ships returning to Apia they may also accept USD.

BTW Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) is the capital of American Samoa and if you are calling there USD is indeed the currency.

You can also use credit cards in these ports but smaller stores may not accept them. 

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We've been to NZ a couple of times, and loved it, but we don't go there on this cruise.  The ports after Sydney are Brisbane, Vanuatu, Lautoka (Fiji), Suva (Fiji), Pago Pago (American Samoa), Apia (Samoa), Bora Bora, Moorea, Papeete (overnight and halfway point of B2B for us), Rangiroa, Nuku Hiva, Hilo (Big Island), Honolulu and Nawiliwili (Kauai), ending in San Diego.  Lots of sea days of course.  The only places in this itinerary that we have never seen before are Brisbane, Vanuatu, Pago Pago, Apia, Nuku Hiva and Nawiliwili.

 

I'm not really worried about buying stuff in stores; rather I'm imagining arriving in some of these ports and deciding to try to get a taxi tour, but not having the currency they want.  On the other hand, if it's a rainy day, I won't want to do that, so I won't need that currency.  The towns where this may be an issue are the Fiji ports and Apia if there is no ATM near the ship dock in those places.  The easy way is to just go on a shore excursion offered by Oceania, but we've already done a lot of what they offer (visit a school/village, take part in a kava ceremony, etc.), on a previous land trip to Fiji, (on the way to New Zealand), and we don't really want to do it again.

 

When we did a French Polynesia cruise a few years back, I don't even remember if we got XPF.  We were with Paul Gauguin and had everything prebooked through the cruise line, including a pre-cruise hotel and lots of shore excursions.  Mind you, we did do a few excursions with cruise critic organized groups, so maybe XPF were required for those, but we forget these things after a few years!  Anyway, because we did so many excursions before in French Polynesia, I'm pretty relaxed about what to do there this time, but I just wondered if taxi drivers would take USD if we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to get a taxi to a beach or something.

 

Thanks for the input.

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I was in Nawiliwili a few years ago and the port area is fairly secluded and industrial. If you don't have plans there you might consider making them. Kauai is a beautiful island but you definitely need to get away from the port area to see it. 

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There's definitely ATMs right near the port in Suva as it's an easy walk from the ship to town - just a couple of minutes.  (Well, at least that was the case when I was last there).  I'm not sure about the situation in Lautoka as it's years since I was there.  Anyway, most taxi drivers would be happy to drive you to an ATM if you needed cash or you can always ask if they take AUD if you have any left!

 

I'll try and check the location of the port to the town in Lautoka and Apia.  In Vila, Vanuatu it's a bit out of town but there will be gazillions of taxis on offer.

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Thanks for the reminder about Kauai.  I was planning to rent a car there, and I think I need to pre-book.

 

And thanks for the information about Suva.  Lautoka is before Suva on the itinerary, so I guess I will find out there about whether or not they will take AUD.  I plan to get there with AUD to use if it is accepted.  I will just cash them in when I get home to Canada if I still have some.  This will be our 4th visit to OZ, and I would love to just save the AUD for a 5th visit, but 30 hours or more of travel to get there is becoming tougher and tougher all the time.

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I would suggest getting some Fiji Dollars as you have a couple of stops in Fiji, the looks calls do prefer Fiji dollars.   Larger type department stores will welcome Aud, but smaller businesses and cafes prefer local currency.  When we were cruising in FP we had local currency FXP and used that, especially the smaller islands would only take FXP.  

Enjoy this amazing part of the world, have to say our cruise on Marina to FP was one of our all time fav cruises.

enjoy

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I have to agree with Kangakid about Fiji currency. The locals would have to exchange the AUD into local currency and lose part of their profit to exchange rate and fees - not really fair to them.

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Oddly enough our tour operator in Fiji requested AUD dollars. I went back and looked at my email file of that trip to see how we paid for tours there. 

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A little bit more info regarding Lautoka and Apia.

From the dock in Lautoka it's about a 20 minute walk into town although the ship usually has a shuttle service.  There are ATMs in town as well as in some of the larger hotels.  The preferred currency in Lautoka is FJD.  Taxis are non-metered so agree on a price before hopping in.

 

In Apia it's also a 20 minute walk into town.  Also most likely to be a shuttle but there will be lots of taxis.  Retailers are happy to take USD and AUD and there are ATMs in town.  Shops also have EFTPOS facilities and accept credit cards.

 

You could probably get a small amount of FJD in Sydney if you wished.

 

BTW try to get over to Bondi or Bronte when in Sydney and take a walk along the coastal path.  The scenery is lovely (it's where I used to live),  :classic_biggrin: but it's not really suitable if you have mobility issues.

 

I hope you have a great trip.

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4 hours ago, ORV said:

Oddly enough our tour operator in Fiji requested AUD dollars. I went back and looked at my email file of that trip to see how we paid for tours there. 

Just thinking out loud - if the tour operator planned a future trip to Oz, it would have made sense to get AUD to avoid paying conversion fees. The average Fiji vendor may or may not have plans to travel to Oz and thus would prefer local currency to avoid waiting in bank and pay fees (unless they have ways of converting money on the “black” market 🙂)

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Smalltowner- I’m writing this from a cruise in French Polynesia and about paying a taxi driver here.....no USD. XPF only. Always nice to have a little XPF here for unforeseen moments. 

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Petoonya, what are the rates like for a taxi in FP?  In Bora Bora and Moorea we might just want to taxi to a beach, as we've already done 4WD tours there, and snorkel excursions.  Depending on whether the ship tenders in from Opunohu or Cook's Bay in Moorea, we could maybe even walk to a beach. I remember it being really hot and humid for walking though. We have an overnight in Tahiti, and time to get a taxi tour there, which we have not done before.  Any idea how many XPF that might run? 

 

I'm thinking when I order some AUD through the Auto Club, I might get a few XPF and FJD dollars, but trying to figure out how many. 

 

In Fiji, my thoughts were for a taxi to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and back, then walk around the town a bit, as we haven't explored it before.  In Suva, I was thinking of a taxi to the Colo-I-Suva forest park and back.  On our previous trip to Fiji we did spend a day in the town of Suva.

I guess another place to find this out might be on the TA forums.

 

Bronte2, we are staying at Manly Beach for our pre-cruise time, but will make a day trip to Sydney.  In 1994 we were there in your Aussie winter to visit my sister-in-law and her family for 2 weeks, after we did a tour of all the iconic spots such as the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Douglas, Kakadu, Katherine Gorge, Darwin, Uluru, Kangaroo Island.  During our time with our relatives, we went to many spots close to Sydney, such as the Blue Mountains and Bondi Beach.  My husband has some mobility issues now, at almost 75, but we plan to do some hiking around Manly and to snorkel at Shelly Beach.  We still enjoy snorkelling, but have to be in calm water and off a beach, not a boat.  But as long as we can do some things, we're happy!

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FWIW, the private tour operators we are using in Fakarava, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea have all requested cash payment in local or USD.

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Smalltowner - you mentioned going to Colo-I-Suva National Park in your previous post.

 

You might want to do a bit of research here as I don't recall there was much to see at the area that taxis were dropping folks off.  There are lovely fresh water pools with waterfalls BUT it is a hike down to them and definitely not for people with mobility issues.  The track was very narrow with lots of tree roots and it was steeply downhill.  Of course, the return was uphill although on a different track.

There may well be other parts of the National Park worth seeing that doesn't involve a hike but best to check it out rather than be disappointed.

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Thanks, Bronte2.  I have looked into it today, and am wondering if my husband will be able to manage it, especially if it has been raining.  Mud seems to be a factor in descriptions of the trails.  There is a bus that goes there every 20 to 30 minutes for $2 each, and if we did go, I think we'd use the bus rather than a taxi.  If it looks too difficult, we can just have a drink at the restaurant there and take the next bus back to Suva.  I may look more into Nausori, the town the bus is heading for when it goes past the park.  Maybe there's something to see there.  We like going on local buses, just for the experience.

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Update:  Nausori looks like a no-go.  Suva would be better for just looking around.  Our last time in Fiji and Suva was 2005, so we should see some differences.  I remember we really liked the Fiji Museum, so we could go back there.  We never in a million years thought we'd ever return to Fiji, so we tried to see as much as possible in 10 days in 2005.  First we spent a week at a resort near Nadi.  From there, we did numerous excursions: explored Nadi, hiked the Nausori highlands, visited Yavuna village (including lunch with a family, a talk by a village elder and a kava ceremony), took a bus to Suva for a day, got a taxi tour to the Sigatoka sand dunes and the Tavuni Hill Fort, and took a cruise through the Mamanuca Islands.  Then we went to the little island of Nananu-I-Ra, where we spent 3 days snorkelling.  After that, we flew from Nadi to Auckland to spend 2 months in New Zealand, mainly hiking and fishing (my husband).  Those were the days.  He even hiked the Tongariro Crossing.  Time has passed, and we can't do some things we used to love doing, but, hey, here we are returning to Fiji, and we can still walk a few kilometres in a town if nothing else!  I think we'll just decide on the spot about FJD, as it is possible we won't do anything that requires them.

 

I will take some XPF though, along with USD and AUD.  Thanks for all the feedback.

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Smalltowner, 

In BB to go to Matira Beach about 5 miles from the dock for two people is about 2000xpf or $20 each way. About the same in Moorea for beach a little further away. We just got a day pass at the Hilton :Moorea and it was wonderful. Nice beach, pool and luncheon. But in Moorea use Torea Nui Transport- super reliable, best prices, nice people. They can do a tour if you like as well.  Matira Beach in BB is lovely but it was burning hot and humid with little shade. In BB taxi tours run about 10000xpf or $100pp for 3-4 hour tour. Better off just renting an Avis car at dock for around $80. Pre-book and get the best deal.

Edited by Petoonya

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Smalltowner,

Its 1pm on our third day in BB. When I was in Vaitape this morning a taxi driver approached me with an offer to take the two of us to Matira Beach 2000 XPF roundtrip. 

Better than what I said earlier.

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On 12/10/2018 at 4:28 PM, Petoonya said:

Smalltowner,

Its 1pm on our third day in BB. When I was in Vaitape this morning a taxi driver approached me with an offer to take the two of us to Matira Beach 2000 XPF roundtrip. 

Better than what I said earlier.

Can you get XPF at ATM at Pier or on ship?

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Thank you, Peetoonya.  This gives me an idea of costs in French Polynesia.  I am concerned about a beach with no shade, too, so that's good to know about Matira Beach.

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There is a bank/ATM almost immediately across the street from the pier, and ATMs all over Papeete. Infact there were ATMs at just about every port that I could see with maybe the exception of Fakarava, Raiatea and  Rangiroa. I like to have maybe 5000-10000xpf on hand to be comfy and get the rest as I go. No XPF can be obtained onboard. Depending on where you’re staying pre-cruise you can google an ATM map for Papeete. Have fun! I leave FP in 2 days so I’m envious of anyone looking forward to an FP cruise!

Edited by Petoonya

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14 minutes ago, Petoonya said:

There is a bank/ATM almost immediately across the street from the pier, and ATMs all over Papeete. Infact there were ATMs at just about every port that I could see with maybe the exception of Fakarava, Raiatea and  Rangiroa. I like to have maybe 5000-10000xpf on hand to be comfy and get the rest as I go. No XPF can be obtained onboard. Depending on where you’re staying pre-cruise you can google an ATM map for Papeete. Have fun! I leave FP in 2 days so I’m envious of anyone looking forward to an FP cruise!

I hope you have a wonderful time! Our cruise leaves 3 weeks from tomorrow and I'm beyond excited! Safe travels!

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On 15th day of 17 day Windstar FP Cruise and it has been just incredible. Have done O in FP too and it’s just as spectacular. Have a terrific time.

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