The Fiji Islands: Visiting the South Pacific

The Fiji Islands in the South Pacific

In November 2010, Tourism Fiji invited me and several other bloggers to come to visit Fiji and write about the amazing places to stay and sights to see in this South Pacific island nation. It was an incredible trip - one I will remember for the rest of my life.

In addition to writing about my experiences in Fiji on my blog, I was able to take hundreds of photographs. Besides writing, my passion is amateur photography. From village kava ceremonies to sunrises along white beaches, tropical flowers, palm trees and friendly Fijian people. I covered it all!

Come along with me to the Fiji islands in the South Pacific. But be forewarned... you might not want to leave. I know I sure didn't!

All photographs in this hub are the property of Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to use.

Palms trees sway on the Fiji Islands
Palms trees sway on the Fiji Islands | Source
Red hibiscus flower in Fiji
Red hibiscus flower in Fiji | Source

About the Fiji Islands

The Republic of Fiji is comprised of 333 islands, only about 100 of which are inhabited. The main island is Viti Levu. To the north is Vanau Levu, and to the south is Kadavu.

Fiji was once known as the Cannibal Islands because of the warring nature of Fijian tribes and their barbaric practices that ceased just a little over 100 years ago when missionaries converted villagers to Christianity.

Today, Fiji is a tropical paradise, located in the South Pacific. The volcanic-created islands are east of Australia and Northeast of New Zealand. West of Samoa, Tahiti and the Cook Islands. South of Vanatu and the Solomon Islands.

Fiji was a British colony from 1874 until 1970 when it finally obtained independence. You'll see the Union Jack in the corner of the Fiji flag.

Settlers have made the Fiji Islands home since at least 3500 B.C. Today about 900,000 people call Fiji home.

Although the International Airport is located in Nadi, Suva is the capital city, located to the southeast on Viti Levu. You’ll find ample tourist amenities, including popular restaurants (the Hard Rock Café), banks, etc. Two major ports are Suva and Loutoka (both on the main island of Viti Levu).

Popular tourist destinations include the Mamanucas (classic tropical island paradise with clear waters, white sand beaches, palm trees) and the Yasawas (virtually untouched islands), as well as the Ladavu and the Lau group.

Along the Sigatoka River in Fiji
Along the Sigatoka River in Fiji | Source

The Fiji Islands

Children in a Fijian village watch us walk by
Children in a Fijian village watch us walk by | Source

Fiji Travel, Time and Weather

Most people arrive in Fiji via International air travel. The airport is located in Nadi, on the main island. From Los Angeles, the direct flight takes approximately 10 hours. Arriving from Australia or New Zealand is a quick 3-4 hour flight.

Traveling between the Fiji islands is by domestic flight, ferries or boats.

Cruise ships make port calls in several popular locations in Fiji. South Pacific cruises range in length from 5 days to a month, depending on the city from which you depart.

Fiji is located south of the equator and west of the International Date Line. When its Monday morning in Fiji, it is Sunday morning on the West Coast of North America.

The climate in Fiji is warm year-round. Technically, winter in Fiji is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there is not really a "winter" in the Fiji Islands. Temperatures are a comfortable 75-85 F (around 28-32 C) year-round. The rainy season lasts from November until April.

Fijian women sell their wares at a resort
Fijian women sell their wares at a resort | Source

What do People Eat in Fiji?

Let me just tell you - I ate very well in Fiji! Every morning, I enjoyed coffee, fruit, and toast with New Zealand butter. Homemade jams and jellies are also delicious.  Locally raised eggs are often included with breakfast.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant in Fiji. Lush, warm tropical rains encourage ample vegetation, and many villagers sell their home-grown mangoes and papayas at road-side stands. Root vegetables are popular, as well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, fish and other seafood is a staple in Fijian diets. Seaweed is also incorporated into meals. If you are not eating fish, dinners often include roasted pig or chicken. Rice and noodles are served on the side. Indian culinary influences are found, too, with delicious curries.

If you get the chance to visit a Fijian village (highly recommended, by the way), try food cooked in Fijian earth oven, called a "lovo." And be sure to take part in a kava ceremony! Fiji's National Drink is kava (also known as yaqona), made from the powdered root of a pepper plant mixed with water, served in a coconut shell cup called a bilo.

Before you consume kava, clap 1-2 times with cupped hands, drink it in one gulp and then clap 3 more times. It is a relaxant.

Village feast in Fiji
Village feast in Fiji | Source

Fiji Kava Ceremony

Drinking kava at a welcoming ceremony
Drinking kava at a welcoming ceremony | Source
Fijian boys on their way to church
Fijian boys on their way to church | Source

Visiting Fijian Villages

One of the most popular tourist activities is to visit a Fijian village. Villagers are very open and welcoming of visitors, but you do need to be respectful of local customs.

Women should dress in comfortable, but modest resort wear. Cover shoulders and knees, and wear a sulus (wrapped sarong skirt) before entering village boundaries. No mini skirts, swimsuit tops or revealing tank tops!

When entering a village, you are not permitted to wear hats or sunglasses - it is disrespectful to the village chief. Bags should be carried in your hands, and not slung over your shoulder. When entering a community room, shoes must be removed. Men and boys enter first, females second.

You will see both women and men in sulus, the sarong-like wrap around. Men also wear bula shirts.

When I was in Fiji, I went to church on Sunday morning (conducted in the villagers' native dialect), went swimming in a waterfall within a local village, and also attended a kava ceremony, feast and dancing. Everyone was so welcoming! After a short time, I didn't even feel like a visitor...

A Fijian boy stands in a doorway
A Fijian boy stands in a doorway | Source
Fishing boat outside a Fijian village
Fishing boat outside a Fijian village | Source
Torch lighting in Fiji
Torch lighting in Fiji | Source
Young Fijians after church
Young Fijians after church | Source

Tips for Traveling to the Fiji Islands

On the main island in Fiji, you will likely have both cell phone and wireless service. Check in advance by calling the resort and your phone provider. Its easy to purchase cell phones and sim cards locally.

That said, I spent part of my time at Matava Fiji's Premier Eco Resort on the island of Kadavu, which was not served by wireless. Your best bet may be just to plan on unplugging during your vacation. Consider yourself lucky (or maybe not) if you have coverage!

Currency in Fiji is the Fijian Dollar which, at the time of this publication is worth about .55 USD. Most items are relatively inexpensive, but some resorts tend to add a bit of a premium on goods like lotions, sunglasses and converters. Be advised that if you plan on using a credit card, you may pay a 3-5% surcharge. Traveler's checks and cash are your best option.

Getting around Fiji is easy via taxis, buses and limousines. There are also ferries, boats and seaplanes to get you between the islands. Vehicles drive on the left side of the road. It is a luxury to own a car in Fiji, so many locals use other transportation options to get around.

English is spoken throughout Fiji, although locals also have their own dialects of Fijian, which vary from village to village. All school children must pass English or they fail their exams! You'll hear greetings of "Bula" (hello) and "Vinaka" (thank you). Several Fijians I met also taught me how to say good morning and goodbye.

More than 85% of the land in Fiji is owned by local villages. Although people in the villages may appear poor, they are not wanting. Villages are self-sustaining from a food and economic standpoint. Children are happy and healthy, attending schools and church on a regular basis. Everyone in the villages helps each other out - community is quite strong there!

In Fiji, the major export is sugar cane. The economy is largely based on agriculture and forestry, with tourism a major contribution, as well.

Watching dancing in a Fijian village
Watching dancing in a Fijian village | Source
Villagers in Fiji prepare for a dancing celebration
Villagers in Fiji prepare for a dancing celebration | Source

The Story of Tabu

Fiji Trivia

  1. Castaway and both Blue Lagoon movies were filmed on Fijian islands.
  2. Tipping is generally discouraged in Fiji, unless you’ve had really outstanding service. Monies go into resort employees' Christmas fund
  3. Travelers are required to pay a departure tax before leaving Fiji (check to see if your flight has included the charge in your airfare).
  4. There is a 12.5% Government Value Added Tax applies to goods and services. If you are staying in a hotel or resort, there is a 5% Hotel Turnover Tax.
  5. The time in Fiji is 12 hours ahead of GMT.

Healthy and happy in Fiji
Healthy and happy in Fiji | Source
Outside Naveyago Village in Fiji
Outside Naveyago Village in Fiji | Source
Girl in Fiji
Girl in Fiji | Source

Things to do in Fiji

  • Snorkling
  • Deep sea diving
  • Bird watching
  • Sea kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Golfing
  • Surfing
  • Visit a Fijian village and attend a kava ceremony
  • Sailing
  • Dance the Tuiboto – the Fijian version of the Conga
  • Attend a Meke – dancing Fijian performers in traditional dress
  • Watch firewalking

At a kava ceremony in Fiji
At a kava ceremony in Fiji | Source
The coral coast in Fiji
The coral coast in Fiji | Source
Fijian boy looks out the doorway
Fijian boy looks out the doorway | Source

Fijians are the World's Friendlist People

Fijians have been named the "World's Friendliest People," for the past 5 years running, and there is definitely truth behind this honor. While researching my trip to Fiji, I read that the locals were especially nice. "Oh sure," I thought to myself, "of course they are going to say that."

But my experience was eye-opening in that the Fijians were even nicer, more open and relaxed than I could have expected. Everyone greeted me with an exuberant, "Bula!" which means "hello" in Fijian. Facial expressions were relaxed and open - truly genuine!

From airport staff to taxi drivers, hotel employees to fishing boat operators, everyone in Fiji appears to be happy. If you need assistance, just ask. You will soon have someone adjusting the temperature in your hotel room, lending you a hand as you walk up slippery rocks to a waterfall, or pointing out clown fish in the coral reefs.

Who wouldn't want to visit in a country inhabited by the world's friendliest people? Especially when its located in the lush tropics, with sandy beaches and amazing coral reefs?!

Fijian elder
Fijian elder | Source
Warm and welcoming Fijians
Warm and welcoming Fijians | Source
Walking through a Fijian village
Walking through a Fijian village | Source

Would You Visit Fiji?

See results without voting

Comments 39 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Bula, Steph. Seems like you had the trip of a lifetime in an island paradise. I've never traveled further than Hawaii in the south Pacific but perhaps one day I'll get to Fiji, and then I'll tell them you sent me.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Bula! You crack me up! From Hawaii to Fiji is only 5 hours. But even the 10 hour flight from LAX was do-able and definitely worth it. By all means, tell them I sent you to Fiji. LOL!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Steph, this is a great hub covering your time in Fiji! It makes me want to go there, and drink some of their Kava and see the sites. Interesting bit of history too and how things change over time in different cultures (like warring and cannibalism). I am glad you did this hub, and how interesting that only about a third of the islands are inhabited. Thanks for sharing!


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 6 years ago from london

What a wonderful place to be, and you certainly know to present it so real and close, Stephanie. I love Mauritius island, but will add Fiji islands to my which list for my next long houl travel for sure.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks oceansnsunsets - I actually learned quite a bit about the cannibal history while on a river safari (our guides in Fiji were so knowledgeable). Worth an entire hub in itself!

Hope you get to go to Fiji sometime! Cheers, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Solarshingles, I did so love your hub on Mauritius Island. I think you would also enjoy visiting Fiji one day. Best to you, Steph


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee

voted up & beautiful! Reminds me of Guam, somewhat NNW of Figi, just 800 north of the equator. Your pix and descriptions of the people brought back memories. Would love to visit, but since I never will I feel I've been there through your hub.

blessings...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Samsons - Fiji is amazing. I'm sure that Guam is nice too. I love the idea of visiting many of the South Pacific Islands. If I won the lottery, I would travel all over the world. So much beauty and things to learn!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

So what is the cost of living there? How much do you need per moth to live the village life ? :-)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

To live in Fiji, I would say is about $500-1000 USD per month, depending on the property at which you are staying. Food and other amenities are fairly inexpensive. Long term, you will need a visa, as well as a passport.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

I always had such good interactions with people in Hawaii, and I hear the same about people from most of the South Pacific Islands. There is just something about island life that is special, and I think you did a great job of describing the unique aspects of Fiji. I really would love to visit Fiji one day.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

There are a lot of similarities between Hawaii and the South Pacific Islands, but in Fiji, they seem less "Westernized" than in Hawaii. Island life is very special, and I think you would love it SweetiePie!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

This sounds and looks like a perfect place to visit. I loved the descriptions and photos. You are so lucky to have been able to visit. I would like to do it in the future but don't think I can actually wear a skirt. But I do have a couple of nice Hawaiian shirts.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

LOL Steveo - men visiting Fiji don't have to wear one of the skirts, but you'd be surprised how many of the local men do wear them. Bring the Hawaiian shirts though! :)


Francis G 6 years ago

Enjoyed reading the Hub. It does make we want to go visit sometime when the opportunity comes along. Your words, photos and videos gave me a feel for what a visit would be like!


john27 profile image

john27 6 years ago

lovely place nice view posting

page. I like it good job!!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Fiji is a lovely place. So many options on things to do and see that any traveler can make their own paradise. Cheers, Steph


Karrak profile image

Karrak 6 years ago from Michigan

Amazing pictures! I'd love to visit Fiji; it's definitely on my list of places I'd like to go.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Great pictures, Steph - beautiful place and looks like wonderfully interesting and lovely people to meet.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Karrak and Audrey - I was quite fortunate to be able to travel to Fiji and research/write articles. Lovely people and amazing scenery!


HOSPITALITY GURU profile image

HOSPITALITY GURU 6 years ago from Canberra, Australia

OH MY.... the food looks and sounds wonderful. All those fresh and fantastic island flavours. Jealous... that's what I am! :) Was the Kava nice? Spicy? What were the flavors like? Was it watery?


DavidLivingston 6 years ago

Seems like a light way to live but still naturally fun and interesting.


SJerZGirl 5 years ago

What a fantastic opportunity you had! I love looking at the photos, the clean air and water and the colorful surroundings. Maybe some day I can go.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Hospitality Guru - the kava was strong and a little watery (I had it twice), but very enjoyable. You just have to try it when you are there. The food was incredible. Delicious, fresh and flavorful! Cheers, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi SJerZGirl,

I'm not kidding - AirPacific is having a sale right now from LAX to Nadi, Fiji. Purchase airfare before the middle of January 2010 and travel before mid-June this year and its buy one, get one airline ticket half price. You could go to Fiji! :)


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

I want to go there! I want to go there! nice, informative, pictorial hub, cheers Steph. Its refreshing to see places that are different and exciting, you feel you want to explore the world. Was just woundering would you look at my two Sri Lanka pieces on my hubs. I went there a while ago and I was simply dazzled with the place. Thanks, Marwan


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Marwan - you would love Fiji! I cannot wait to go back. I'll go read your hubs on Sri Lanka. I bet that is another fascinating travel destination.


timonweller profile image

timonweller 5 years ago

Nice pictures of Fiji, looks like a lovely place to visit. I want to go there as well.


Ercolano profile image

Ercolano 5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

Didn't get to Fiji yet, so this was very interesting for me. Gorgeous photographs, especially of the locals, and highly artistic too. Certainly shows island life. Very well done.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Ercolano - you have been so many places. I hope you get to see Fiji in person one day. I really enjoyed visiting and taking the photographs! Best, Steph


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

This is a great Hub, you have given the information on Fiji in details. Thanks.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

I'm so glad I found this Hub. Truly amazing (both Fiji and the great photographs). I've never been there but you've given me the itch. Thanks for the tour.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks suziecat! Fiji was an incredible experience. Such a fun place to take photographs, too. Hope you get there someday. Best, Steph


Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 4 years ago from USA

Wow how love those Fiji photos are, It looks a really nice place to go. Thanks for sharing those photos here.


Kalmiya profile image

Kalmiya 3 years ago from North America

What an amazing opportunity for you to travel to Fiji! It sounds like you had an amazing visit. Thanks for all the wonderful photos for those like me who love to travel but may not get that far afield.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 3 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Kalmiya,

Traveling to Fiji was a once in a lifetime opportunity - definitely!


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

Amazing hub, Steph! What a beautiful place and an exciting trip. Your pictures are also stunning. I will now add Fiji to the places I want to visit. My list is getting longer and longer. lol Voted up, beautiful and shared.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 3 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Gail! I would love to return to Fiji one day with my husband and/or my entire family. Cheers to you, Steph


islandgirl33 profile image

islandgirl33 3 years ago

Fiji is on my list of future travel destinations and I really look forward to it.

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