Currency: Fijian dollar
Population: Approximately 900,000 made up of Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Europeans and other South Pacific islanders
Official languages: English, Fijian, Fiji Hindi
Fiji is a land of blue-green lagoons, lush rainforests, pine forests, mountains and 1666 kilometers of white sandy beaches. There are over 320 tropical islands scattered across 709,660 square kilometers of ocean.
Fiji has tropical weather throughout the year with two seasons. From May to November, the weather is cooler and ranges from 18 degrees to 29 degrees. From December to April, the temperature ranges from 22 degrees to 33 degrees.
Fiji is free from yellow fever, malaria and major tropical diseases. One requires inoculations only if travelling from an infected area. Fiji has an effective medical system in place with government and privately run hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, dental service and pharmacies available.
Fijian, Chinese and Indian styles of cooking are popular in Fiji. Kokoda is considered the national dish and is made of raw fish marinated in coconut cream and lime. Other popular foods are rourou (dalo leaves) with boiled cassava(tapioca) and taro. The national drink is called Kava. It is usually prepared by pounding the roots of the Kava plant and then mixing it with cold water and consumed as soon as possible. It is usually consumed to relax as it has sedating effects. On special occasions a “lovo” is made which involves cooking all the food underground for 2–3 hours. A “lovo” is commonly made during special events such as funerals, weddings, Christmas or birthdays. It is a very healthy meal because no oil is used in cooking and tastes very much like a smoked or BBQ style dinner.
You’ll find many retail outlets here, suitable for traditional tourist shopping-curio and handicraft vendors, indian merchandise and speciality gift stores. Most prices are generally fixed, however a little bit of bargaining always is a part of the experience. So, go ahead and give it a shot! A lot of times, you will be pleasantly surprised!
Phone calls and internet
Fiji’s country code is +679. Fiji is well serviced by local mobile networks including Vodafone Fiji Limited, Digicel and Inkk Mobile. You can also arrange roaming status before travelling here as well as on arrival.
Internet access and email is available in most parts of Fiji and internet cafes are abundant in major cities and towns.
The electric current is 240 volts AC 50Hz. Fiji has three-pin power outlets, identical to Australia and New Zealand. Leading hotels and resorts offer universal outlets for 240v or 11v shavers, hair dryers and other electrical appliances. However, you may want to carry your own universal adapters.
A 9% Government Value Added Tax (VAT) is applicable to all goods and services in Fiji. Visitors staying in hotels and resorts are subject to 10% Hotel Turnover Tax (HTT) and Environment Levy of 6%.
Duty free and custom duty
Every passenger 17 years and over can bring into Fiji the following goods duty and VAT free, provided they are accompanied and not for sale. Cigarettes not exceeding 250 sticks or cigars not exceeding 250gms or tobacco not exceeding 250gms or a combination of all three provided the total net weight does ot exceed 250gms. Spirits up to 2.25liters or wines/beer up to 4.5liters or a combination of both provided it does not exceed the permissible limit.
Fiji is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 6.5hrs ahead of India.
However, from November to February, Fiji moves one hour ahead with its own daylight savings.
Getting a Visa
Getting into Fiji
Fiji may seem far away, nestled in the middle of the South Pacific ocean, however, getting here is fairly easy. Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national carrier has regular, direct flights to and from many international destinations like Los Angeles, Sanfranscisco and Honolulu in United States of America, Hongkong, Singapore and Seoul in the Far East, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand. Nadi International Airport (NAN) is Fiji’s main international airport. Suva airport also has some international flights. Besides, Fiji Airways there are other airlines that have flights into Fiji like Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Pacific Blue, Virgin Australia, Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu, Air Caledonie and others that also fly regularly to Fiji.
Travelling within Fiji
Getting around Fiji is easy and cheap. The domestic airlines offer reliable, comfortable and comprehensive range of schedules to connect from one island to another. There’s a good network of buses that offer cheap, often windowless travel which is a very friendly and true way to enjoy a Fijian experience. Taxis and ferries are available to travel within Fiji’s main islands. Hiring a car is a good way to explore the two largest islands. Besides this, seaplanes and helicopter transfers from island to island are also available. One can also charter a boat or small plane to get between islands. Sea plane options are available straight from Nadi airport to the various islands. Yachting and cruising are also great ways to explore the country.
Fiji is a multi-cultural nation with many religious beliefs. The culture of Fiji is a tapestry of indigenous Fijian, Indian, European, Chinese, and other nationalities. It is important to dress modestly when away from hotels and resorts and particularly when visiting a Fijian village. Avoid wearing a hat in a village as it is considered an insult to the village chief. It is also insulting to touch someone’s head. It’s best to not wear shoes if visiting someone’s house.
Modern Fiji’s national dress is the sulu, which resembles a skirt. It is commonly worn by both men and women.Women usually wear a multi-layered Tapa cloth on formal occasions or may be dressed in a chamba, a sulu with a specially crafted matching top.Fridays are generally “Bula dressing” which is the western equivalent to “casual dressing”. Men wear bula shirts which are tropical colourful shirts.
People in Fiji don’t expect a tip, however you can always offer extra payment for exceptional service if you wish to.
Currency and banking
The Fijian dollar is the basic unit of currency, available in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2. FJD 1 is equivalent to approxmitely INR 30. Normal banking hours are from Mon-Fri: 9:30am to 4:00pm and Sat: 9:00am to 1:00pm at some selected banks. There is a 24 hour currency exchange service at the arrivals concourse at Nadi Airport. ATMs are available around the country and at larger resorts and hotels.
Fiji is very particular in maintaining the eco-system and therefore prohibits the entry of any foreign plant and animal pests and diseases without the permission from the Ministry of agriculture, fisheries and forests. So ensure that you are not carrying any food items that can be restrictive under quarantine.
VAT refund schemes
As a tourist, you can claim VAT spent on purchases above FJD500. In order to claim refund, you need to ensure that you ask for the refund form and tax invoice from the licensed retailer for goods purchased over FJD500. Your purchase needs to be taken out of Fiji within two months as check-in baggage or hand luggage for verification at Nadi International Airport or Suva Wharf as the final port of departure to a foreign destination.
When to visit
The climate of Fiji being tropical, there is only a slight variation of seasonal temperatures, which makes Fiji an all year round destination for all outdoor activities that this country offers, such as scenic boat trips, water sports, hiking, observing wildlife, and surfing, scuba diving etc. Occasionally between November to April, hurricanes can occur, but not always, Peak travel months include Apr–May and Dec–Jan.
Communicating in Fiji
While almost everyone in Fiji speaks English, which is the country’s official language, knowing a few key phrases in the Fijian language is not only polite but will endear you to the already warm and welcoming Fijian people. One word you will hear constantly is the infectious “Bula!” which means “hello” or “welcome.” Below are a few key words that will help you while touring Fiji islands.
|Bye||moce (mo-they)||Excuse me||Tolou (too low)|
|Yes||Io (ee-o)||Thank you||Vinaka (vee-nahka)|
|No||Sega (senga)||House||bure (burey)|
|What is this ?||A cava oqo? (ah thava ongo)||Man||tagane (tahng-ahney)|
|It’s a…||E dua na… (ey do-ah nah…)||Woman||marama (mah-rah-mah)|
|How are you?||Vacava tiko? (vadava teeko)||Coconut||Niu (new)|
|I am fine||Sa bulabula vinaka tiko||Eat||Kana (karna)|
|Village||Koro (ko ro)||Drink||Gunu (goo noo)|
|Shop||Sitoa (seetoah)||Quickly||Vaka totolo (vaka toe-toe-lo)|
|Church||Lotu||Slowly||Vaka malua (vaka mar lua)|
|Toilet||Vale lailai (valey lie lie)||Small||lailai (lie-lie)|
|One||Dua (ndu a)||Big||levu (leyvu)|
|Two||Rua (ru a)||Please help||Kere kere (kay ray kay ray)|
|No worries||Seganaleqa (Senga na lenga)||Sorry||vosota sara|