By Caitlin Hornik
If you're planning the Fiji vacation of your dreams, here are some helpful tips to consider before you go!
Weather & Clothing
Fiji is a beautiful vacation destination with year-round warm weather, perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, and more! April through November is the dry season, when the temperatures are slightly cooler but still perfect for having fun in the sun! November through April is the wet summer season. If traveling during these months, be sure to pack a raincoat and umbrella!
It is important to note that while beachwear is appropriate for resorts, it is encouraged to dress more conservatively in the towns and villages. Women should keep their shoulders and knees covered, while men should wear shirts and longer shorts. Sunglasses and hats should be removed upon entering a village, out of respect to the Fijian culture. The head is considered to be very sacred and should never be touched without permission.
One of the cultural highlights of your trip is sure to be the singing greetings. Locals gather with ukeleles and sing to visitors as a welcome to their island or resort! There may even be a farewell song, too!
It is also standard for Fijians to head to church on Sundays. This means that many businesses, shops, and even boat services won’t be open. Sundays are considered to be a day of rest in the Fijian culture, so it is important to bear that in mind when planning your trip! Consider it a built-in day for extra relaxation!
Due to the relaxed nature of Fiji, you may not see as many clocks or people wearing watches. The concept of “Fiji Time” is meant to recognize the fact that there is no regimented scheduling here. Shops may or may not open on time, and no one complains! Just go with the island flow.
While most Fijians speak English, there are a handful of local words and phrases that you may hear during your vacation. If you’re wanting to connect with (and impress) the locals, consider saying “Bula” (boo-lah) upon arrival, meaning “hello.” “Vinaka” (vee-naka) means “thank you.” You’ll use both of these phrases often during your trip!
Food and Water
Kava is a traditional Fijian drink made from ground pepper plant. It is a watery, earthy-smelling drink that is not as spicy as you’d think, considering what it’s made from. Locals enjoy a Kava in the same way alcohol is consumed, for relaxation. In terms of food, be sure to eat deep water fish, such as mahi mahi and tuna. Stay away from reef fish, as you can become ill. Water should always be filtered and/or boiled before drinking. Drinking bottled water is an excellent way to ensure that you’ll stay healthily hydrated throughout your vacation.
Medications & Vaccinations
It is essential to pack bug spray, as mosquitoes are very common in Fiji. It is recommended to carry it with you and to reapply throughout the day, especially at night and if near the water. Additional recommended medications include Imodium or Lomotil, an antibiotic, motion sickness medicine, and a general first aid kit.
In addition to normal, routine vaccinations, it is recommended that travelers to Fiji also have Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations. Both of these diseases can be contracted in Fiji through contaminated food or water. The Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended to those who are considering getting a tattoo or piercing during their trip. While not mandatory, these vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of disease during your trip.
The main method of transportation between islands is via boat. On each island, you have the option to take buses, vans, and taxis to get around. If traveling via taxi, be sure to ask for the price beforehand. It’s also important to know that some taxi’s won’t move until they’re full! It is not recommended to rent a car in Fiji due to the unfamiliar driving styles and road rules.
While credit cards are accepted in most major locations, having cash for markets and smaller islands is a great idea. It is easy to convert cash upon arrival in Fiji. ATMs are not commonly found though, so don’t rely on them!
It is quite common to see stray dogs running through the streets of Fiji. They should not be fed and should be left alone. You may hear them barking at night, which is also normal. You may also see horses or cows wandering on the roads. All of these occurrences are normal parts of Fijian life!
If you take refuge from the sun under a palm tree but see coconuts laying on the ground nearby, get up! More people are killed each year from falling coconuts than from shark attacks! You’re better off bringing an umbrella or parasol with you for shade.
You will definitely want to bring an adapter to charge your electronic devices. Sunscreen and bug spray are crucial! Some essentials like antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and sunglasses should always be thrown in your carry on! You’ll want to bring printed copies of all of your travel information-- planes, hotels, transfers, tours, etc. In general, you’ll want to pack light, as some islands impose restrictions on the number of bags allowed as well as the weight of each item.