With more than 300 islands distributed in the South Pacific, Fiji is perfectly located on the 180 degrees’ longitude line, also known as the 180th meridian where the beginning of each day occurs. And if you are wondering about it, yes it’s awesome! We visited Taveuni and ticked off “time travel” out of our bucket list!
But Fiji isn’t only about the turquoise water and palm fringed beaches, there is much more to it. More than you could even begin to think of. Its people, the local customs and culture is really what makes Fiji so special. Fiji is a place often dreamed of by many couples looking for the perfect Honeymoon holiday, or maybe travellers just wanting to have a taste of Fiji while backpacking Australia or New Zealand. Fiji is such an unexpected surprise. We were lucky to have been able to live on the main island, also known as Viti Levu, with the Deaf Community and get to know the ins and outs of this incredible island and most of all living with Fijians.
The opportunity to stay for 2.5 months in Fiji was amazing and we wish we could have stayed much, much longer. We volunteered at the Gospel Deaf School; stayed in a village; slid down a natural water slide carved into the rocks; witnessed Firewalking; watched Meke Dance; swam with sharks and manta rays; lived with the locals; visited Fji’s biggest waterfall; watched stunning sunrises and sunsets; enjoyed some “Fiji Time” and most of all, met wonderful people, whom welcomed us with open arms. These people, now friends, taught us their ways and made us feel part of their family.
Ultimately, we are so fond of the country that we really want to encourage other travellers to stay a little longer in the main island and explore it fully. So don’t be too hasty for the paradisiac islands and enjoy the Fijian hospitality.
Asenaca’s family, Taveuni
The Ultimate Travel Guide to Fiji
Fiji is one of the most multi-cultural countries in the Pacific; everywhere you turn you see East Indians, Melanesians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Chinese and European. With such a rich variety of cultures, no wonder Fiji is so welcoming to everyone who passes by.
Bula or Bula Vinaka (happiness and good health) used as a warm greeting meaning – you will hear at every turn, emphasizing the friendly outgoing nature of the Fijian people.
Fiji Islands Map
Photo Credit: Ezilon
Travel Guide Fiji
General information about Fiji
The Food: a variety of Indian and Chinese food can be found everywhere. Fiji’s famous dish, the lovo is cooked on special occasions, such as family gatherings or birthdays. This is an underground oven of heated rocks used for cooking meats and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves. It’s delicious!
Social Kava Drinking: clap once when accepting the bowl, then take it in both hands and say “Bula” just before drinking it. Then clap three times after handing the empty bowl. Out of respect you must accept the first bowl, and if you wish to decline the second, please do it respectfully. About the taste? Erm…not the best to be honest. And it leaves a numbing sensation in your mouth. The locals love it, some of them live on it. For tourists is just a bit of fun while socialising. Everyone should at least try it once.
The Dress Code: around Suva, Nadi and Lautoka there is more flexibility, as you will see girls wearing shorts, dresses and tank tops, although when in villages or remote islands women should wear a sulu wrapped around to cover their legs in respect of the culture. Thomas and I enjoyed wearing the traditional clothes, because not only did it ensure we were 100% part of the culture but everyone really appreciated our effort.
The Pronunciation: Fijian pronounce ‘mb’ as b, ‘nd’ as d and ‘ng’ as g. For example, Nadi is Nandi, Sigatoka is Singatoka, Samabula is Samambula.
It’s a lot of fun learning it, give it a go!
Leona’s house, Suva
If you can stay in a village as this is the most direct way to meet fellow Fijians and learn about their culture, customs and lifestyle. “Village Life” is wonderful and will make you appreciate what you have back home.
The Indo Fijians
It’s no exaggeration to say that in some parts of Fiji it looks like you have landed in India. The people that we met were descended from 5th & 6th generations of laboring Indians that arrived in Fiji more than a century ago.
Fiji Travel Tips
- Plan ahead of time – Transport services do not run on time
- Accept that everything you buy will be more expensive – Tourists are usually asked double the price
- Unplug from Social Media – The internet is very slow and expensive
- Be aware of touts – Make sure taxis have a meter
- It’s hot and very humid! Expect cold showers when staying in budget accommodation.
- If the A/C is on, it will be freezing – When getting on a Coach bring a jacket.
- Don’t be a tourist, mingle with the locals – As expected, food is more expensive in touristic areas
- Accept their culture – If you hear a “psst” or “kissing your teeth” noise, don’t be offended. The gesture is often used to tell the bus/taxi driver to stop or to call someone you know.
The Best Time to Visit Fiji
The Weather: it’s hot and humid, regardless the season. Around 31c (88F) during the Summer months, November to April, and 29c (84F) during the Winter months, May to October. We stayed from end of March to the beginning of May. As it was the beginning of the high season, there weren’t many tourists around.
Transportation in Fiji
Transportation prices in Fiji are a little dubious, as often people charge what they feel like. We found that buses are actually more accurate, taxis will depend on the distances and with coaches you have to be careful not be scammed.
Bus Fares – FJD$0.70/ USD$0.35/GBP£0.25
Taxi Fares – During the day start at FJD$1.50/ USD$0.70/GBP£0.55
At night taxi fares start at FJD$2/ USD$0.90/GBP£0.70
Suva to Pacific Harbour – FJD$4/USD$2/GBP£1.50
Pacific Harbour to Sigatoka – FJD$5/ USD$2.50/GBP£1.50
Suva to Nadi – It varies but people should never buy a ticket for more than FJD$17/ USD$8/GBP£6
*prices shown are according to our visit in 2015
Fiji Points of Interest
- See the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple
- Visit Port Denarau Shopping Centre & Marina. Get the yellow “Dollar Bus” from Nadi for $1 and watch the Daily Performances. Kava ceremony at 6.00pm & Meke Dance at 6.30pm. On Saturdays there is a Firewalking show. Also, Port Denarau is the point of departure to Fiji’s Mamanuca & Yasawa Islands.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, Nadi
- See the Vuda Point Marina
- Visit the Saturday Market
- Eat at the Blue Ginger Café
- Explore the Sand Dunes, where 300 years ago the Lapita People arrived in Fiji. Planting your own tree is also possible, but booking in advance is required.
Sand Dunes, Sigatoka
- Stay at the Arts Village. During Low Season rooms are at FJD$35/USD$16/GBP£13 per night/per person.
- Watch Meke Dancing & Firewalk Show. Check for low season, sometimes the show does not go ahead if there isn’t enough people, 8 people minimum.
Note: It’s good entertainment. There is a brief story about Firewalking, Meke and Village Life. BUT don’t expect real firewalking, hot stones only.
Meke Dance, Pacific Harbour
- Explore the Yasawa Islands on a budget. The best way to travel around the islands is buying a “Bula Pass” from Awesome Adventures. But if like us you just want a sneak peak of the islands, just buy a return ticket.
- Hike Colo-i-Suva Forest Park
- Explore Suva like a local. Stay for a few nights, enjoy the Fijian hospitality and get to know the locals.
- Don’t rule out a visit to “Fiji’s Garden Island”. Read our Taveuni Island Travel Guide.
Accommodation in Fiji
We deliberately left “accommodation” out of the article because apart from the Yasawa Islands and one night at the Arts Village we didn’t pay for accommodation. During our stay we volunteered at the Gospel Deaf School in Suva, where accommodation and food was provided and were lucky to have met so many people from the Deaf Community whom were willing to let us stay with them.
When looking for accommodation in Fiji, we strongly recommend booking with Airbnb. It’s safe, affordable and clean. Use our discount code and get $25/£30 off your own booking.
Before arriving in Fiji, we didn’t have expectations. We were delighted for the opportunity to volunteer with Deaf children but little did we know we would end up staying for two and half months.
This country touched our hearts; it’s just one of those places that sucks you in, that makes you forget about time. The relaxed pace of life is striking, and we really forgot about time, week days and weekends. It was all about friends, family, food and enjoying life. Here people think little of social media, tv, or going out. It’s all about happiness and living each day as it comes. These people live for their loved ones.
Our visit wasn’t about relaxing on a hammock (which there is nothing wrong with!) We actually had a few evenings enjoying the sunset and sunrise while in the Yasawa Islands and Taveuni but Fiji was more of an unexpected journey.
These people are real, beautiful, kind and the warm welcome full of smiles was enough to leave us enchanted by this little gem in the South Pacific.
Pack your bags and go! We can reassure you the hardest part is to leave.
Further reading: Lonely Planet Fiji (Travel Guide) is a complete and all-inclusive guide for those wanting to experience and explore Fiji. We strongly recommend reading this guide as it helped us planning our own trip. Happy Travels!
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Thank-You for Reading
We are Thomas and Telma – the writers, photographers, videographers and founders of Blank Canvas Voyage.
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