FIJI TRAVEL INFORMATION
BEST TIME TO VISIT FIJI
Weather in Fiji
Fiji has a year round tropical climate that has some variation. There are also gentle trade winds that blow from south-east that help you stay cooler. The water temperatures remain a consistent 27C perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving and water sports year round.
Fiji summer is between November to April (wet season). Temperatures will range between 22C and 33C. This time also features the wet season which means brief, heavy showers in the mid afternoon. These showers are localized and occur significantly less on the smaller islands. There can be occasional cyclones during the wet season however these are well forecasted in advance.
Fiji winter is May to October (dry season). Temperatures will range between 19C and 29C with less humidity than during the wet season. There is increased visibility around the reefs during this time because there is no runoff from the rains moving sediment into the waters. The temperature during this time is still warm and pleasant, perfect for water activities with cooler temperatures during the evenings.
When is the best time to visit Fiji?
You can visit Fiji all year round but if you wanted to pick the best time based on the weather then it would be between late March and early December when there is plenty of sunshine and less rain. June and July are peak season with many Australian's and New Zealander's escaping winter. During this time flights and accommodation prices will be at a premium. You can have a quieter, less expensive trip if you try to avoid this time.
Fiji has one main time zone (FJT).
The 180th degree meridian line cuts right through Fiji but the International Date Line has been adjusted to go around it so that all the islands in Fiji can have the same date. Fiji is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and you need to take into account daylight savings during November to February where Fiji moves one hour ahead.
How many hours will I gain or lose traveling to Fiji?
Traveling direct from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas for example you will arrive 2 days later. On your return the USA you arrive the same day that you left Fiji.
TRAVELING IN FIJI
How will I get around in Fiji?
Once you are on an island no transportation is required other than how you get to the island and that is usually by ferry. Most resorts have bike's available if you want to venture away from your accommodation, remember you drive/ride on the left hand side of the road not the right hand side. Getting between islands can be via ferry, private water taxi or helicopter. You can rent a car on the main island however Fijian drivers are unpredictable and it can be disconcerting for a foreign driver.
Do you need a visa to enter Fiji?
US Citizens do not need a visa to enter New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji or French Polynesia.
CUSTOMS & QUARANTINE REGULATIONS
What items can’t I bring into Fiji?
You will fill out a passenger arrival card before you land and it lists all the items that must be declared if you are bringing them into Fiji. Everything you bring with you must be declared whether it is for business or personal use. You must declare medicines (prescription or controlled drugs require a doctors letter stating it is necessary for your physical well-being), agricultural items, food of any kind, plants or parts of plants (dead or alive), Animals (alive or dead) or their products, equipment used with animals, equipment such as camping gear, golf clubs, bikes and biological specimens. If you are importing any vegetable matter, seeds or animal products you need a permit from the Ministry of Agricuture, Fisheries and Forests.
More information can be found at the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service. Please read these rules and regulations carefully so you are not caught unaware upon arrival at a sea or air port. Travelers who incorrectly fill out the arrival card risk an instant fine and serious breaches of the Fiji Biosecurity laws can result in a fine or up to FJ$100 000 or a prison term of up to 5 years.
How much money can I bring into Fiji?
You are required to declare on arrival if you are carrying more than FJ$10,000 in currency.
How much duty free can I bring into Fiji?
A bona fide passenger disembarking in Fiji is entitled to the following duty and VAT free concessions:
Dutiable goods accompanying passengers (other than alcohol and tobacco products) not exceeding F$1,000.00 in value.
Goods that are owned by passengers and not intended as gifts or for sale - personal effects, household effects for returning residents or intending residents, articles taken out of Fiji on departure on which duty and tax have been paid.
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 250grams net weight or
Tobacco not exceeding 250grams net weight or
Any combination of (1) to (3) above, provided the total net weight does not exceed 250grams
Spirituous liquors not exceeding 2.25 litres or
Wines, not exceeding 4.5 litres or
Beer, not exceeding 4.5 litres or
Any combination of the goods in paragraph (5) to (7) above, provided that the combination does not exceed the equivalent quantity under any one paragraph
Other dutiable goods, not exceeding F$1,000.00 in value
*information as per Tourism Fiji
More information can be found at the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service website.
BANKING, MONEY & SHOPPING
What is the currency in Fiji?
Fiji dollars (FJ) is the currency and you will find notes in denominations of F$1, F$2, F$5, F$10, F$20 and F$50. Coins are in amounts of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and one dollar.
What is the currency conversion for USD to FJD?
You can calculate the conversion rate using XE Currency Converter
Should I get money out before I go to Fiji and what is the best way to pay for things?
There is a 24 hour currency exchange service at the arrivals concourse at Nadi Airport and ATMs are located around the country and at larger resorts and hotels so you can get money out when you arrive. It is a good idea to carry change for taxis and small purchases at craft markets for example. Many restaurants, shops and larger hotels take credit cards.
Normal banking hours are 9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday – Friday and 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays at selected areas.
What you need to know about Value Added Tax (VAT).
The Fiji VAT refund scheme allows tourists to claim a refund (subject to certain conditions) of VAT paid on goods purchased in Fiji and taken out of Fiji via Nadi International Airport or Suva Wharf as the final port of departure to a foreign destination.
What are the conditions of the Scheme?
To be eligible for a VAT refund under the Scheme, you must satisfy all the following:
Spend a minimum of F$500 (VAT Inclusive) in any of the approved licensed retailer outlets during your stay in Fiji and take the goods out of Fiji within 2 months from the date of purchase.
Carry the goods with you as check-in baggage or hand luggage.
Purchase the goods from an approved licensed retailer. You must ask the retailer for a refund form and a tax invoice(s) for goods purchased.
So if you are spending over FJD$500 at Jacks, Tapoo etc make sure you ask them for the refund form. The licenced retailer must complete the form and attach receipts.
*information as per Tourism Fiji
Do I tip for services in Fiji?
Tipping is not customary or expected. If you feel that your server, tour guide, or resort staff has gone above and beyond, you can feel free to tip 10-20%, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip.
Can I bargain with retailers and in markets for a better price?
You can bargain in markets and you may have some luck getting prices reduced in some shops.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
What language is spoken in Fiji?
English is the official language but you will find Fijian and Hindustani also widely spoken.
Are there any local customs and traditions that I need to observe while in Fiji?
The Fijian culture is renowned for being relaxed and welcoming, however you need to respect their traditions and customs to be a polite, respectful guest. While in Fiji you will get to experience the traditional Fijian way of life, giving you new insight and understanding of the Fijian culture.
There are a number of customs you need to be mindful of when you visit a village:
If visiting a village on your own, you should first purchase a bundle of unpounded kava which is the traditional gift. When you arrive at the village approach but do not enter immediately. Wait to be greeted and you will be taken to the chief or headman, you can now present your gift. If you are accepted as a visitor you will be assigned a guide and host to stay with you during your visit.
When visiting a local village wear modest clothing, no shorts, and no bare shoulders for women.
Remove your hat, it is considered an insult to the village chief if you do not.
If you are invited into a home, remove your shoes and leave them by the front door.
Don't touch anyone's head, it considered insulting.
Shake hands and it is common to be asked personal questions such as if you are married and how many children you have.
It is customary to ask a visitor to stay or eat with them.
What is kava?
Kava also called yaqona plays an important role in Fiji's culture. It is drunk both ceremonially and on a day-to-day basis. Kava is the root of the yaqona plant. Participants in a kava ceremony will sit in a circle on the floor while the leader mixes up the drink. The root is ground up and then strained to remove chunks into a large wooden communal bowl. Traditionally kava is shared from the communal bowl. Guests clap before and after drinking from the cup, don't sip just swallow it all.
There is a misconception that if you drink kava, you will hallucinate and that it tastes horrible. Kava does not cause you to have visions or go into a trance like state. It will however after approximately one or two cups make your face go numb, the more you have the more relaxed and sleepy you will feel. The actual taste of kava takes a bit of getting used to.
What is the power in Fiji and will I need an adapter?
The voltages is 220 - 240V, AC 50 Hz. It would be wise to pack an adapter to be able to plug in electronics like laptops, ipads, iphones etc. What you need to get is a Type 1 plug like this one at World Standards. It is the same adaptor that would be required for New Zealand and Australia.
What is the emergency number in Fiji?
There is one number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade - 911
What is the mobile coverage like in Fiji?
There is mobile phone coverage across Fiji but can be patchy in more remote areas. For more information on coverage in areas you will be located you can use Open Signal. Most cellphone networks operate internationally, check with your local carrier before you leave home to see what international roaming packages they have to Fiji.
Where can I find WiFi?
Fiji has WiFi/internet connections in most parts. You find all major hotels have internet access and there are internet cafes in major cities and towns. For more information on WiFi coverage in areas you will be located you can use Open Signal.
Can I use a drone in Fiji?
The Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF) requests that you get in contact with them if you are planning on using a drone in Fiji. The activity is regulated and you need appropriate approvals and permissions to fly them regardless of whether you have arrived in Fiji by air or sea, private or commercial means. You can contact the the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji on (679) 672 1555.
WEIRD & INTERESTING FACTS
Facts about Fiji
The first people who arrived on Fiji over 5000 years ago are now called the Lapita people, but were originally called Melanesians and Polynesians.
The first settlements were started by traders and the first Europeans to land and live in Fiji were shipwrecked sailors.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Dutch and British explorers came to Fiji, in 1874 the British took Fiji as a colony and began large scale cultivation of sugar cane in the 1880's.
The sugar cane plantations needed labor so more than 60 000 indented workers were brought in from India. This practice continued ended in 1920.
Fiji was under British rule for 96 years until 1970 when they gained independence.
In 1987 a military dictatorship took over government of Fiji to prevent and Indian-dominated party from controlling the government. Following this coup there were a large number of Fijians of Indian decent that left Fiji. Today the population of Fiji is 40% Indian.
Fiji became a republic in 1987 and was ruled by one military coup after another until 2014 when a democratic election was held.
Fiji is officially called the Republic of Fiji.
Fijians were formidable warriors and known for building the best boats in the Pacific.
Fijians called their home Viti but Tonga used to be called Fisi. Captain James Cooks was the first person to mispronounce the name as Fiji and the name stuck.
Fiji is not one island, it is actually an archipelago of 333 islands and over 500 islets.
Only 110 of Fiji's islands are inhabited.
Sugar exports and tourism are Fiji's main source of foreign exchange. Other exports include clothing, gold, timber and fish. Fiji Water is a well known export of commercially bottled water.
You will hear the word "Bula" everywhere and it means hello.
Fiji is famous for breath taking white sandy beaches, beautiful islands, stunning coral reefs and all year round tropical weather.
Fiji is called the "soft coral capital" of the world with over 4000 square miles of coral reef and over 1000 fish species.
Most tourists to Fiji are from New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
Rubgy Union is the most popular sport in Fiji, other sports played include rugby 7's, rugby league and football (soccer).
Facts about Fijian food
Fijian food is influenced by Indian cuisine and spices. They also eat a lot of local tropical fruits, vegetables, fish and wild pork. A typical meal will include starches such as yams, taro, sweet potatoes and manioc, meat fish, seafood and leafy veggies.
The traditional method of cooking in Fiji is using a lovo which is an in ground pit. Food is wrapped in palm and banana leaves and roasted in the earth pit with hot stones. Meat such as pork, chicken or fish is put in the bottom and then root crops cover the meat. The pit is then filled with dirt and left to cook.
Facts about Fijian Culture
The practice of fire walking originated on the islands about 500 years ago. These days it's usually done as part of a cultural ceremony which is well worth seeing.
Fijians used to eat their enemies and make human sacrifices. This practice used to stop European sailors from going near their coastal waters. The last known person to have been eaten was Thomas Baker a Christian missionary who apparently accidentally touched the head of the village chief which is considered highly insulting and the equivalent to a declaration of war.
Native Fijians are mostly Christian and Indo-Fijians are mostly Hindu.
Villages are mostly self sustaining. There is a chief as a leader. Village households contain large extended families.
Only the village chief is allowed to wear a hat and sunglasses. When you visit please remove yours.
Do not touch anyone head other than your own as it is considered insulting.
Fijians love gift giving and the most the most sought after gift is sperm whale teeth. As a visitor to a Fijian village you are expected to present gifts of kava to the village chief. That is a lot easier to find than a sperm whale tooth!
You must clap before and after drinking kava (yaquona) the national and traditional drink.
Meke is the term used for traditional Fijian dance.