Fiji is an exotic tropical paradise in the South Pacific made up of around 330 islands, nearly two thousand miles (3,219km) east of Australia. Once feared as the haunt of cannibals and fierce warrior tribes, today Fijians are regarded as a supremely friendly and welcoming people who are so relaxed they consider it rude to rush.
The verdant islands of Fiji are famous for their eternal sunshine and their beauty is legendary, with orchids hanging over waterfalls in lush jungle, and palms lining long stretches of beach. Visitors can immerse themselves in offshore activities like swimming with manta rays, snorkelling over coral gardens, scuba diving on the famous Astrolabe Reef, or riding the 'Cloud Breakers', amazing 20ft (6m) waves off Tavarua, an island resort.
Suva is home to more than half of Fiji's population and it is not only the capital of the country, but an important regional centre of the South Pacific. Visitors can eat on a floating fine-dining restaurant, drink at vibrant and quirky bars, shop at the bustling municipal market or explore the Fiji Museum, one of Suva's the many historical and cultural sites. During the day there is as much to do and see as there is at night down Victoria Parade, where the buzzing nightlife keeps the city alive when the sun dives below the horizon. Suva is also a good launching pad for venturing into the surrounding wild areas.
Most visitors will, however, arrive in Nadi, one of the largest towns in Fiji, and the main international port. Tourists can visit the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant in Nadi, or travel to the Sabeto Mountains, Sugar-city Lautoka or Natadola Beach, one of the numerous special sites surrounding the town. Alternatively, they can rest and relax at the Wailoaloa and Newtown beaches and get ready to move onto the next island paradise.
The Fiji archipelago is the transport hub of the South Pacific, so domestic and international flights are continually stopping at Nadi airport, the main international airport. From there it is easy to access the offshore island resorts or the other large islands of Vanua Levu or Taveuni, as well as other destinations in the Pacific.
The weather in Fiji is one of the reasons it is such an attractive beach holiday destination. Fiji enjoys a typical tropical climate, with trade winds blowing across the islands to cool things down during most of the year. Maximum summer temperatures average 88ºF (31ºC), with the winter average not very different at 84ºF (29ºC). Fiji usually experiences its hottest weather between December and April, and its coolest temperatures between May and November.
Rain can be expected at any time of year but the wet season is technically from November to April. The rainy season in Fiji doesn't rule out travel though, as most of the rain comes in brief showers that can even be refreshing in the heat. Fiji does occasionally experience cyclones and these occur during the wet season. The weather in Fiji's smaller islands tends to be milder and they typically receive less rain than the main islands. The driest months are April, May, June and October.
The best time to visit Fiji is any time between late March and early December. June to October, the winter months, can also be a pleasant time to visit as it is still warm but there is less humidity. The sea temperature in Fiji is pleasant year-round.
The Fijian Dollar (FJD) is the unit of currency, with 100 cents to a dollar. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, shops, rental car agencies and travel agents. The best currencies to carry are Australian, New Zealand or US dollars, which can be exchanged at all banks. Most ATMs accept the full range of international credit cards and cash can be exchanged in banks and currency exchange bureaux throughout the islands.
The official languages are English, Fijian and Fijian Hindi, with English as the lingua franca for official affairs and business in the main cities.
Electrical current is 240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs have three oblique flat pins (Plug type I).
US nationals: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
CA nationals: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
AU nationals: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
ZA nationals: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
IR nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Fiji. No visa is required for stays of up to four months; a visitor permit can be obtained on arrival.
All foreign passengers to Fiji must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in the country. A return or onward ticket to a country to which passengers have right of entry is required, as are sufficient funds to cover the period of stay in Fiji and confirmed accommodation. Visitor permits are obtainable on arrival, and are valid for up to four months. Visitors can apply for two-month permit extensions (for an aggregate of six months).
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in Fiji within ten days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. It is highly recommended that travellers' passport have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
No vaccination certificates are required for entry to Fiji, except for a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers entering Fiji within 10 days of having stayed overnight or longer in infected areas. Although they are not required, vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B may be recommended by a doctor for travel to Fiji.
Visitors to Fiji should practice strict food, water and personal hygiene precautions to prevent typhoid as well as other diarrhoeal diseases. A typhoid vaccine is recommended for all travellers to Fiji, except short-term visitors who dine only at major restaurants and hotels, such as cruise passengers. Visitors should drink only bottled water or boil water before drinking if none is available.
The mosquito-borne disease, dengue fever, is a serious risk between November and April. Preventive measures include wearing long-sleeved clothes and using insect repellent at all times. The medical facilities in Fiji are adequate for uncomplicated treatment, but travel insurance with provision for medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand is advised.
Tipping is not encouraged in Fiji but small tips are appreciated for good service. Some resorts operate a staff Christmas fund where tips are shared, instead of tipping staff daily.
Fiji has seen periods of political instability in the past and visitors should avoid public demonstrations, political rallies and large gatherings of people, and stay aware of the political situation when visiting. Most visits to this popular Pacific holiday destination are trouble-free, though.
As in most places around the world, it is unwise to carry large amounts of cash or wear expensive clothes or jewellery when travelling. Pickpockets are active at bus stations and taxi ranks, and women on their own should be cautious. There has been an increase in the number of violent robberies, which have occurred against foreigners, particularly at night and in urban areas.
Visitors should take care when swimming because rip tides along the reefs and river estuaries, sharks and other dangerous wildlife may cause severe harm. They should also be careful on the roads, as reckless driving is common and animals pose a hazard as well, particularly after dark.
Finally, cyclone season is usually from November to April, so travellers should be sure to be up to date with weather warnings at this time of year. It may be best to avoid this season unless going for a specific activity or event.
Visitors to Fiji should be careful not to offend local sensitivities. Wearing bikinis and swimming costumes is acceptable at the resorts, but not when visiting villages or shopping in town. Modesty is a value of the island's cultures, so a sulu (a sarong that can be worn by men and women) is useful as a wrap-around in order to avoid offending locals when wearing shorts or sleeveless tops away from hotels or resorts. Topless bathing and nudity in public is forbidden.
A popular excursion for visitors to Fiji is a visit to one of the traditional villages. Guests in villages should show respect and avoid wearing hats, as they are a sign of disrespect, and remove shoes before entering a house. When visiting a village it is customary to present a gift of kava (the national drink). Avoid overly praising an object, as Fijians will feel obliged to give it as a gift. Pointing is considered rude and touching of another's head is a local taboo, often receiving some shocked stares from the locals.
Fijians are usually either Christian or Hindu and typically conservative. Don't be surprised to find businesses closed on a Sunday. Homosexual acts conducted in private between consenting adults were legalised in 2010. However, radical shifts in leadership may change the status of LGBT rights in the country.
Business is relatively casual in Fiji, and suits are only necessary for very formal meetings. Otherwise, a fairly casual but neat approach to dress is taken. Fijians prefer using first names as opposed to titles. Patience is necessary as meetings rarely start at scheduled times, but as Western business influence has increased in Fiji, this is not always the case anymore. Business hours are generally from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Kava (the national drink) may be presented as a customary offering and alcohol is often consumed at business gatherings.
The international country dialling code for Fiji is +679. The outgoing code is 00(or 05) followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). There are no area codes and all numbers are seven digits. Most hotels have direct dialling facilities. Vodafone Fiji Ltd has active GSM roaming agreements with most international networks. Wifi is increasingly widespread in Nadi and Suva, though hotels may not offer it as standard and will often charge a fee to get online. Wifi is likely to be more expensive or restricted on island resorts.
Travellers to Fiji over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 250g of cigars or 250 cigarettes or a combination of tobacco products not exceeding 250g. Travellers cannot exceed 2.25 litres of spirits, or 4.5 litres of wine or beer, nor any combination exceeding the prescribed limit for any one of these categories. Visitors may bring other permissible items, so long as these items do not exceed the value of FJD 1000 per person.
Bringing firearms and ammunition requires official police permission, as well as meat and dairy products from selected countries. Travellers who have been on a pilgrimage and return to Fiji with Holy Water may have to hand in their Holy Water for up to 21 days in order for it to be certified by health and safety authorities, before it can be returned.
Tourism Fiji, Nadi: +679 672 2433 or https://www.fiji.travel/us/destinations/nadi
Embassy of Fiji, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 466 8320.
Embassy of Fiji, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7584 3661.
High Commission of Fiji, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6260 5115.
Fijian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (also responsible for South Africa): +27 11 557 7305
High Commission of Fiji, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 5401.
United States Embassy, Suva: +679 331 4466.
British High Commission, Suva: +679 322 9100.
Consulate of Canada, Nadi: +679 992 4999.
Australian High Commission, Suva: +679 338 2211.
South African High Commission, Suva: +679 331 1087
Irish Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for Fiji): +61 2 6214 0000
New Zealand High Commission, Suva: +679 331 1422.
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