© All Rights Reserved Double-D
They used to practice cannibalism and, more recently, they've been embroiled in bitter ethnic tension, but Fijians are a friendly people. Seriously. Missionary influence has seen the tide of popular opinion turn man-eating; and while the problems between the Indian and native Fijian communities are deep and far from being sorted out, they don't really tend to affect visitors.
Fiji is a fascinating destination. Fijians are Melanesians, but their islands were invaded by Polynesians from Samoa and Tonga. Upon European discovery, matters were complicated further, as the British turned it into a colony and brought in thousands of Indians to work on plantations. Fijian cuisine represents the diversity of modern Fiji's demographic makeup, with flavours from India and Europe mixed with the local dishes. This unique cultural fusion gives Fiji an edge over other South Pacific destinations, while it still has all the usual attractions of a tropical island.
Western contact with Fiji was first recorded in 1643, when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited looking for the Great Southern Continent. It wasn't until the 19th century that Europeans settled the islands permanently, bringing them under British control in 1874.
In 1970 Fiji gained independence although democratic rule has been a somewhat testing experience for Fijians. Several military coups have been staged in the country, primarily because of Indo-Fijian domination of the political landscape. The coups have encouraged large scale emigration among the Indian population. The Fijian Constitution underwent several changes, first institutionalising etchnic Fijian domination of the political system and then reversing it again. In 1997, Mahendra Chaudry, a Fijian Indian came to power before being toppled in another coup instigated by George Speight. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power, putting an end to the coup. In 2001, fresh elections were held which were won by Fijian interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's party. The military didn't fully withdraw from the political landscape and came back into the fray when in 2005, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to provide amnesty for the perpetrators of the 2000 coup. Commodore Bainimarama objected heavily to this proposal, causing great tension between the military and government. Eventually, in 2006, Bainimarama orchestrated a coup of his own, overthrowing the Qarase government. Bainimarama restored executive power to President Iloho, who the next day named Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister.
Fiji is an island nation in the Pacific consisting of roughly 300 islands accounting for 18,272 km² of earth's surface. The two largest islands are Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, both mountainous volcanic islands with peaks up to 1,300 metres in their center. Heavy rainfall is experienced on the southeastern, windward side, resulting in dense tropical forests in those parts.
The other smaller islands only cover 2.5% of the total land area, but are home to roughly 16% of the population. Taveuni and Kadavu are the third and fourth largest islands. Other island groups are the Mamanuca Group, the Yasawa Group, the Lomaiviti Group and the remote Lau Group. Fiji's old capital, Levuka, lies on Ovalau, a rugged island some 20 kilometres off the east coast of Viti Levu.
Two major islands dominate Fiji;
Other islands and island groups are:
Fiji's reefs and warm waters provide a great opportunity for keen divers. The Great Astrolabe Reef and Rainbow Reef are two of the most famous reefs in the archipelago. First-timers can take the chance to get certified PADI training at any number of dive centres throughout the country. For those preferring shallower waters, there are snorkelling possibilities in abundance.
The Mamanuca Group and adjacent Yasawa Group of islands lie just off the coast of Viti Levu. Pick one of the numerous resorts, big, small, eco-friendly or ultra-luxurious and unwind on a white sandy beach. Stay the night at an island resort or, if you would rather stay on the mainland, it is also possible to take day cruises to islands in both the Mamanucas and the Yasawas.
Suva's Fiji Museum houses an extensive collection of Fijian artefacts. The museum's collection was founded in 1904 and originally displayed in the town hall. The current building was constructed in 1955.
Fiji enjoys a mild tropical climate with year-round temperatures around 25 °C with a generally high humidity. Average highs range from around 26 °C in July and August to around 30 °C from Decembert to April. Lows are between 20 °C and 23 °C. May to October is Fiji's dry season, also known as the "Fiji Winter". The weather is slightly cooler and less rainfall and humidity make it a good time of the year to visit. From December to April, Fiji gets a lot of rain and many places get up to 3,000 mm or more a year!
The main international airport in Fiji is Nadi International Airport (NAN). It is the main hub of Fiji Airways, and also services Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Air Fiji flights, amongst others. There are connections to New Zealand, Australia, Los Angeles, South Korea and other Pacific destinations.
The official website for both airports is Airports Fiji Limited.
Fiji - Tuvalu vv
The MVs Nivaga II and Manu Folau, both government-owned cargo/passenger ships, travel to between Tuvalu and Suva, Fiji, every three months or so and the takes about four days. One-way fares are A$73/316 for deck/double cabin, with meals. Pacific Agencies ([email protected]) is the agent for the MV Nivaga II and Manu Folau in Suva, the Marine Services Office in Funafuti.
The cargo boat Nei Matagare makes trips roughly once a month between Tuvalu and Fiji and you might find a berth on this boat as well. Williams & Goslings are its Suva agents.
Fiji doesn't have any other regular passenger services. You might be able to find a ride on a yacht though or find accommodation on a cargoship. It's advised to book well in advance though if you want to go to or leave Fiji this way.
Fiji Airways run a range of domestic routes. Locations covered as of March 2013 are Cicia, Kadavu, Labasa, Lakeba, Nadi, Rotuma, Savusavu, Suva, Taveuni, Vanuabalavu.
Island Hoppers can transfer you to and from your island resort in style by helicopter.
If you're looking to explore Viti Levu, hiring a car can be a good option. Remember to drive on the left in Fiji. There's a mostly sealed road in good enough condition that leads around the island. Otherwise, taxis are plentiful around the major centres.
Good bus networks operate on the larger islands. When out of town, you can often hail down a bus whenever you see it. Express buses operate between the major centres, while local buses will seemingly stop at every village on the way. Bus travel is an affordable and pleasant way of getting around Fiji and a good way to meet some local people.
Travelling between the Fiji islands by boat is an inexpensive and generally reliable means of getting around. For some of the backpacker resorts, it can be the only practical option. The most significant scheduled ferry routes operate between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Ovalau and Kadavu and between Vanua Levu and Tavaeuni. The service between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu is the most frequent, as it connects the two major islands. Conditions on board the ferries are usually ok, with deck-travel the norm. Cabins are also available if you prefer more privacy. The main connections between the Fiji islands include the folllowing listed below:
Nationals from the following countries are granted a visa for free, valid for 4 months, extendable up to 6 months:
Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Germany, Micronesia, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Vatican City, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Ireland, Marshall Islands, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
See also Money Matters
The currency used is the Fiji Dollar (F$) but banks and airports use the abbreviation FID. Notes come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 and the coins used are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1.
In Fiji, tipping is virtually non-existent. This includes no tipping to taxis, hotels, bellpersons, restaurants, etc.
English is an official language and is the language of instruction in education, and is spoken by most in Nadi, Suva and any other major tourist area. On a few of the less touristy islands, English may be spoken with some difficulty. Fijian or Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) is spoken by most adults and children, and learning even a few key phrases will help you gain the respect of the locals.
Fish and Chips are usually a safe bet, and are widely available. Many cafes serve Chinese food of some sort along with Indian and sometimes Fiji-style fish, lamb, or pork dishes.
Local delicacies include fresh tropical fruits (they can be found at the farmer's market in any town when in season), paulsami (baked taro leaves marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk often with some meat or fish filling and a bit of onion or garlic), kokoda (fish or other seafood marinated in lemon and coconut milk), and anything cooked in a lovo or pit oven. A great deal of food is cooked in coconut milk.
A customary dish in Fiji includes a starch, relishes and drink. Starches common in Fijian meals include taro, yams, sweet potatoes, or manioc but can include breadfruit, bananas, and nuts. The relishes include meat, fish, seafood, and vegetables. Drinks include coconut milk but water is most prevalent.
Fiji is well set-up for travellers and provides a great variety of accommodation options, ranging from eco-lodges to high-class resorts or even private islands for the ultra-rich. For those seeking a more cultural experience, it is possible to arrange an overnight stay in one of the villages. Don't expect luxuries like hot water or flushing toilets; this option is for those prepared to rough it a little.
Having a drink of Kava while in Fiji is part of the experience for most backpackers. It is a mildly intoxicating drink that relaxes, without disrupting mental clarity. Drinking Kava is very much a social thing, particularly among young men in Fiji. It bears a considerable resemblance to dirty dishwater and tastes a bit like it as well. It is usually drunk from a half coconut shell (bilo) while sitting around in a circle.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Fiji. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Fiji) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Fiji. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when travelling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid. Vaccination against hepatitis B is also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccinations, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
Travelers have been victims of violent crime, particularly in Suva. Travelers have reported the regularity of petty robberies, muggings, and also home-invasions/rape, etc. Still, if you use the normal precautions and try to avoid quiet places after dark, you should be fine.
Internet cafes are available in cities and towns and popular tourist areas and more and more places have (free) wifi nowadays. Sometimes you need to pay a fee or usage is for a limited amount of time or customers only.
See also International Telephone Calls
The international phone code for Fiji is 679. Emergency numbers include 917 for the police and 911 for ambulance and fire department.
You will find payphones in all post office branches as well as in the booths situated on streets throughout the country. They only accept Fiji Telecom phone cards which can be purchased in post offices and many shops and come in denominations up to F$50. A digital display will tell you how much money you have left on your card at all times. You can also use a TeleCard which is a pre-paid calling card that can be used from any telephone in Fiji, not just pay phones.
Calling is done by calling the card's issue center, entering the code (found on the card) and entering the destination number. To call outside Fiji, dial 05 first, then the country code and phone number. Foreign calls start at about F$0.50 a minute, but are usually around F$1 or more for European destinations for example.
Avoid high roamaing charges with your phone and turn your data services for outside your home country off at all times. Instead buy a local SIM card (you have to have an unlocked phone of course). There are a few mobile phone companies operating on the island (Vodafone, Digicel). A sim-card is inexpensive, but you need to register your sim to keep it active and to get access to data. Buying a sim-card gives access to cheap data-packages for easy internet access using your phone as a hot-spot.
Post Fiji offers services in the country and to other countries. It's fairly reliable, not expensive, but it can take a while for letters or postcards to arrive at your destination. All major towns have post offices which are operated by Fiji Post. There is also a branch at Nadj International Airport. Connections are pretty quick, particularly with North America, but if you use surface mail, your letter could take over two months to reach its destination. Post offices are open between 8.00and 4.00pm from Monday to Friday. For sending packages overseas, you might better use international courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, as they offer fast, competitively priced and reliable services.
Ask stevieh a question about Fiji
How to shave and cut your face in a humid climate.
Ask hovavzir a question about Fiji
well i have been in fiji for 2 month in 2003,
i can halp to find a place to stay for the first night or the rest of your stey ,
i can halp with the place that you mast see or you can skip,
well almost enything
Ask mista2kool a question about Fiji
Did the most touristy and least touristy things in Fiji over a 2 weeks period. Visited the entire main island thoroughly.
Ask livvy a question about Fiji
General travel inculding island hopping
Ask MamaMarnie a question about Fiji
Fiji is awesome fun, but most people only go for a week or 2 so it is good to know what to do before you get there so you maximise your time on the islands chilling out..cause that is what fiji is all about....and the most freindly locals ever....If you are heading over i can let you know what to do and how much it will cost.
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License