FACT FILE Capital: Suva Population: 903,207 (2014) Religion: Christian, Hindu, Muslim Official Language(s): English, Fijian, Fiji Hindu Time zone: 2hrs in front of EST. FJT (UTC+12) or FJST (UTC+13) Landmass: 330 islands covering 18,300 square kilometers Currency: Fijian Dollar Emergency Number: 911
Paradise in the Pacific.
Fiji is the idyllic South Pacific paradise, renowned for its picturesque beaches and sparkling azure waters, pristine rainforests and some of the friendliest locals you're ever likely to meet. Fiji has a lively multicultural community with its blend of Pacific, Indian, Asian and European influences. Apart from island-hopping from one stunning beach to another, Fiji is an enjoyable place to soak up unique islander culture, visit remote mountain villages and to explore the fascinating history of its small but bustling cities.
FOOD & DRINK
European, Chinese, Indian, and of course, local Fijian food are easily found at Fijian restaurants. Typical Fijian fare consists mainly of seafood, meat and fresh, tropical fruit. National specialties include:
Kokoda - Fresh, raw fish that is "cooked" by spending hours in lime juice acid. It is then mixed with coconut milk, tomato, chillies and other such ingredients to form a soup-like entree.
Lovo - A traditional Fijian feast cooked in an underground oven.
Make sure you try foods made from local ingredients like coconut, fish, rice, taro, sweet potatoes, cassava and breadfruit. They are the most typical and sustainable food sources.
Kava - this is a cultural drink, tasted as part of local rituals, although not suitable for kids! It has a numbing effect on the mouth and resembles something like dirty water, but it is a great honour to partake in.
Note: Most resort restaurants will have a kids' menu, as well as culinary theme nights, poolside barbecues, buffet feasts and Fiji's famous lovo - an underground oven filled with hot rocks and a variety of meats and seafood wrapped in banana leaves.
SHOPPING Fiji keeps its islander feel when it comes to shops. While you are able to find international fashion brands and major shopping centres, even major cities are brimming with local handicrafts, markets and traditional art and jewellery. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
The main island, Viti Levu, is the place to find "western-style" shopping experiences:
Mid City Mall, Suva
Port Denarau Shopping Centre
If headed to Suva, other places for shopping include:
Suva Curio & Handicraft Centre
Suva Municipal Market - for fresh fish, fruit and vegetables
On all of Fiji's islands you'll be able to uncover local villages, most of which will make their own goods and handicrafts. Interesting mementos include pottery, tapa (bark) cloth, woven baskets, woodcarvings, facemasks, grass skirts and silver jewellery. Bargaining is not usually partaken in, however acceptable at some markets. It is best to judge each situation individually.
While most Fijian resorts lure guests out onto the water with snorkelling and non-motorised water sports, Adrenalin Fiji on Denarau Island takes the octane up a level with surfing, diving, cruising, fishing and even flying. Try your hand at sailing a Hobie cat, cruising along on an aqua trike or wakeboarding across the waves. There is also parasailing, boat charters, jet skiing, windsurfing, a water park and more, with something to thrill everyone.
May to November is the cool season. Average temperatures are between 19-26 degrees.
December to May is the hot season. Average temperatures are between 24-31 degrees.
It is recommended you go in the cool season. It's less humid and less prone to rain, storms and monsoon conditions.
WHAT TO WEAR
Fiji is warm all year round so unless you plan to go trekking through the mountains in the cooler months, stick to light layers.
If you leave the resort to check out local villages, be considerate. To avoid offending locals wear skirts and shorts that cover the knees, and keep your swimmers for the resort pools and beaches.
Wrapping yourself in a Sulu (the Fijian equivalent of a sarong, worn by both men and women) is the best way to cover up when heading back from the beach.
Rain gear is probably a good idea during the warm, wetter months (November to April), and of course, sunscreen, hats, swimming and snorkelling gear are a must.
Take your hat off if you are invited into a local village.
In Fijian culture it is considered an insult to touch someone's head.
Remove shoes before entering someone's home.
If you are offered Kava - accept it!
Basic phrases: English > Fijian > Pronunciation
Ni Sa Bula
Nee sar bula
Sa more there
Va le lie lie
Du a ta le
Tipping A smile and a 'vinaka' (the Fijian word for thank you) is the only tip expected by the locals.
Electricity Electricity is 240 AC voltage, the same as Australia, so you will not need a converter.
Have plenty of water on hand to avoid dehydration.
Wash any fruits you buy at the markets thoroughly.
Ask your GP about health requirements. Fiji is free of malaria and yellow fever.
Tap water is safe in Nadi, Suva and in most resorts. Use bottled water on more remote islands.
Passport and Visa Requirements Visitors must possess a valid passport with a validity of 6 months. Australian passport holders are granted a free tourist visa on arrival, valid for up to 4 months.
Fiji General Information
Major airport: Nadi.It has duty-free shops, a cafe and restaurant as well as an ATM and an ANZ bank.
Airlines: Flights to Fiji from the east coast of Australia are relatively fast. Fiji Airways is their national provider, while other carriers like VirginAustralia, Jetstar, Qantas, AirNewZealand, AirNiugini and Aircalin all fly between Australia and Nadi. There is also the smaller Nausori Airport near the country capital, Suva.
From Brisbane - 3.5 hours
From Sydney - 4 hours
From Melbourne - 5 hours
Fiji, being comprised of over 332 islands - 110 of which are permanently inhabited - means that you will most likely require transfers or some other form of transport in order to sightsee or reach your accommodation.
Transfers Resorts on the main island, which encompasses the popular Coral Coast and Denarau Island regions, will often arrange transfer services from the airport. Organise this prior to your departure - they may require an extra fee. If this is not an option, there are plenty of taxis always on hand, while families who want to travel like the locals can arrange to catch a coach bus that travels via the Coral Coast from Nadi to Suva.
Nadi is also the airport for connecting flights to the smaller islands. Almost all resorts on smaller islands will have someone waiting at the airport to collect you.
GETTING AROUND FOR FAMILIES Getting around Fiji is easy and fairly inexpensive. All the island groups can be accessed either by plane or ferry. Buses are a cheap and efficient means of getting around the larger islands, and a great way to meet some of the locals. You can also hire a car on Viti Levu or Vanua Levu if you hold an Australian driver's licence and a self-driving tour can be a great way for families to explore some of the less-visited regions. Car hire companies operating in Fiji include: