The Fijian archipelago is made up of around 333 islands, 100 of which are inhabited. The islands’ pearly white-sand beaches and lush vegetation will likely be the first things to catch your eye, yet beyond these tropical landscapes, Fiji teems with cultural wonders and some of the world’s best diving. Here are some things to know before travelling to Fiji…

Climate & Weather in Fiji

Fiji is blessed with a warm, tropical climate and average temperatures remain fairly consistent throughout the year, sitting around 25°C during the dry season and 26°C in the wet season. Speaking of seasons, Fiji experiences two distinct ones; the dry season runs from May to October, while the wet season falls between November and April. The climate can feel muggy and warm all year-round.

Currency in Fiji

The Fiji Dollar (FJD) is the official currency of Fiji and its symbol is the dollar sign. The Fijian islands accept major credit and debit cards, although ATMs may not be widely available on every island, so it’s worth bringing some cash with you just in case. Bringing an international card is recommended, to avoid transaction fees. Tipping is not customary, nor required, as Fiji is a communal society and everything is shared. Some resorts operate shared tip boxes if you wish to show appreciation for good service, rather than tipping individuals.

Food & Drink in Fiji

Fresh and fragrant are the buzzwords when it comes to Fijian cuisine. Staples include rice, sweet potato, cassava, fish, coconut and taro (a large corn). Fresh fish, lobster, shrimp and meat are also widely available and often cooked in a Lovo (an underground oven, covered with banana leaves). Popular dishes worth sinking your teeth into include fish suruwa (a coconut milk and white fish curry), Kokoda (Fijian-style ceviche) and rourou (stewed taro leaves, flavoured with onions and green chillies). For dessert, purini is a classic Fijian sweet treat, akin to a steamed English pudding (made with coconut milk). Fiji’s national drink is Kava (also known as yaqona), which has a mild relaxing effect. Much more than just a beverage, the plant-based spirit is traditionally used as part of the welcoming ceremony at Fijian villages. Rum made from local sugar cane is often used to wash it down and sweeten the palate, while fresh coconuts are a much-loved soft drink.

Transport in Fiji

Fiji’s expansive road network makes travelling by public bus or taxi a breeze. Local buses operate around towns and cities taking passengers just about anywhere, while express buses run on a schedule between Fiji’s towns and cities. Taxis are affordable and another good way of getting from A to B; just make sure the taxi you’re getting into is a registered one, with a metre and a yellow number plate starting with ‘LT’. Not all minibuses are licensed, so also keep an eye out for a yellow number plate before getting in one. Going between Fiji’s islands is best done by boat, and daily ferry services operate between the tourist destinations of Port Denarau on Viti Levu and the Mamanuca Islands. Private boat transfers and water taxis can also be organised for reaching more remote areas of the archipelago, while domestic flights are available between the most frequented islands.

Etiquette in Fiji

As a fairly conservative society, it’s important to abide by their more modest dress conventions when visiting Fiji. Cover shoulders and knees, especially if visiting villages – both men and women should wear sulus (Fijian sarongs) in this event, as well as remove sunglasses and hats. Bathing topless is strictly prohibited. Locals greet each other with the word ‘bula’ when passing and it’s considered rude to walk past someone without greeting them. However, it’s worth being aware that in larger towns, ‘bula’ can also be used to try and sell you something.

Fiji’s way of life is summed up by the phrase ‘Sega na leqa’, which means ‘no worries’, and locals often operate on a slower schedule than in other countries. Avoid visiting traditional villages on a Sunday, as this is observed as a day of rest for families. Many shops are also closed on Sundays.

Health & Safety in Fiji

Fiji is generally a safe country to travel to and serious crime levels are low, although petty theft does sometimes occur in busy tourist areas. As in any foreign country, remain attentive to your belongings, don’t flaunt any expensive possessions or jewellery, have travel insurance and avoid using your mobile phone in the street. Always keep your passport, travel documents and other valuable items in a safe place and be alert when withdrawing money from cash machines.

Water-based activities are popular in Fiji, however dangerous rip tides can be present along reefs and river estuaries. Pay attention to warning signs and only swim from approved beaches. Only book water-based activities with reputable companies that are fully licensed and insured, and check that all equipment is up-to-date. Road conditions in Fiji are poor in some areas, with a lack of street lighting. Avoid driving out of urban areas after dark, keep your driving licence with you at all times and don’t drive when weather conditions are bad.

Things to Bring to Fiji

High SPF suncream, a sunhat and sunglasses are essentials to avoid getting sunburnt. Bringing insect repellent is advised to avoid being bitten and it’s a good idea to bring enough with you, as it can be expensive to purchase once there. A dry bag is useful, as you’re bound to be spending plenty of time near the water, while a light rain jacket is a must for the rainy season.

Other Things to Know:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity can be poor in some places and a few of the islands are prone to power cuts
  • When visiting small villages, it’s customary to bring a small gift with you
  • Machetes are widespread in Fiji, but don’t be concerned if you see someone carrying one – they’re the tool of choice for farmers who need to cut grass or crack open coconuts
  • Bula (a warm welcome) and Vinaka (thank you) are two words worth knowing before travelling to Fiji
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