Travel guide to Fiji

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Blue water and white sandy beaches are among the famous alluring features of Fiji. With its 322 islands sprinkling the middle of the Pacific Ocean, inhabited by a multitude of friendly peoples, Fiji magnetically draws tourists along to enjoy the sun, sea and the amazing natural beauty.

Facts

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Local name
Viti
Capital
Suva
Size
18,270 km2
Principal Languages
English
Principal Religion
Christianity. There are, furthermore, some Hindus and a smaller group of Muslims.
Inhabitants
832,494 (2000)
Government
Republic
Geography
Fiji is spread out across 322 islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean - east of Australia. Many of the small atolls and coral islands are not inhabited. Extinct volcanoes that arise abruptly from the surface of the sea dominate the biggest islands. The islands are lush and green, moistened by the many streams and waterfalls that gush through a landscape filled with mountains and cliffs.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Due to the tropical climate, temperatures are hot year-round. The rainy season lasts from December through to April.

Literature

Lonely Planet Fiji Lonely Planet Diving and Snorkelling

Local conditions

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Currency

Fiji dollar, 1 dollar = 100 cents

Net cafes

Internet cafés can be found in Latouka, Nadi and Suva but apart from these places, the Internet is not very widespread in Fiji. Some of the biggest hotels offer access to the Internet as well.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Fiji, dial the following number: Police, ambulance and fire brigade: (000)

Tipping

Tips are only expected at the most touristy resorts where Western customs are gaining a footing. In most places it is considered rude and condescending to tip.

Timezone

When it is 12:00 in England, it is 23:00 in Fiji

Weight and Measures

Weight: kilos Temperature: degrees Centigrade Distance: kilometres Cubic content: litres

Photography

In all of the smaller villages the most polite thing to do is to ask one of the villagers if he would care to come along on the 'shoot'. In this way you can avoid insulting anyone. Generally speaking it is always a good idea to ask for permission before taking pictures of the locals.

Drinking water

The water in Fiji is heavily chlorinated; something that is not dangerous in itself, but weak stomachs might react to the rough treatment. For the same reason it is recommended to drink only bottled water, at least for the first period of a stay. It is a good idea to be very careful with the water in the small island communities. The best idea is to boil it, in order to make sure that it wont set your stomach off on the wrong track.

Electricity

The power source used in Fiji is: 240 V AC, 50 Hz

Behaviour

In the small villages in the island communities it is expected that tourists do not just come barging in. The tourist office in Fiji recommends that tourists wait around the outskirts of the village until they are contacted by a villager, who will then ask why the tourists have come. Then the traveller will be taken to the village leader - who will examine the person and state whether the visitor is worthy of the village or not. If the visitor is accepted he will be shown to a host, who the traveller can stay with. This hospitality should be awarded with a gift for the host, and payment for room and board. Visitors should dress properly and speak in a low voice. It is important not to praise the possessions of others too much, because they could feel pressured into giving it away to the excessive admirer....

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9:30 to 15:00 (Monday - Thursday) and from 9:30 to 16:00 (Friday) Shops are open from 8:00 to 17:00 (Monday - Friday) and from 8:00 to 13:00 (Saturday). Some shops are closed Wednesday before noon.

Food and drink

The easy conditions for fishing have made an impact on local cuisine, which is also remarkably rich in exotic fruits and vegetables. Bread fruit, tapioka and duruka, which is an asparagus-like vegetable, are among the foods which are eaten. Most of it is prepared with spices and coconut milk - and the locally brewed beer Carrtton is drunk with it. The national drink kava is made from the root of a sort of pepper, and it is enjoyed to mark special occasions.

Disabled travellers

The islands of Fiji are very austere and it is not easy to be reliant on a wheelchair when visiting. Some of the well-established resorts do have facilities - but it is not the norm. The principal rule is to contact those places where you want to go, to at least make sure that your stay will be endurable.

Holidays

New Year's Day: 1 January National Youth Day: 7 March The Prophet's Birthday: 17 July Constitution Day: 28 July Diwali: 31 October Christmas Day: 25 December Movable holidays: Good Friday, March or April Easter Monday; March or April Ratu Sir Lala Sukuma Day, late May Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday, second Saturday in July Part of the public holidays in Fiji is scheduled year by year by the government. For this reason it is wise to consult a local calendar to make sure that the dates are correct.

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

It is illegal to camp without permission but there are some places where it permitted to set up a tent or throw a sleeping bag on the ground. This is possible in Ovalau, at Sigatoka and on Kadavu and Taveuni among other places.

Hotels

The hotels are divided into three categories, which are marked by stars. There are quite a few luxury hotels that lie in connection with the beaches, but there are also a multitude of possibilities to stay at cheap hotels scattered around the small island.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

The local guesthouses are called Budgetels and they are cheap, clean and comfortable.

Hostels

The only place where a hostel can be found is in Suva but there are plenty of possibilities to stay at cheap dormitories on the islands.

Local transport

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Planes

Air Fiji, Air Pacific and Sunflower Air have flights between the biggest islands. It is possible to get a Discover-Fiji ticket, which allows for unlimited travel for 30 days, at Air Fiji.

Bus

Most of the big islands have buses that run from the towns to the surrounding area and vice versa. Sometimes it is a mixed pleasure to ride the buses which are often run down, noisy and without windows. There are luxury buses that run between the biggest towns on the main islands but there is only a very slim chance of meeting the locals on these buses.

Trains

In Viti Levu an old train, which used to be used for carrying sugar cane, is now a passenger train. It runs from Coral Coast to Natadola Beach.

Taxi

Taxis are very cheap and even long rides are affordable. Taxis drive in the towns and cities and the full fare is only paid on the way out due to a special system. So if you find a taxi on its way back you only have to pay part of the fare. To compensate for this condition, the taxis are often full of people when they are going back.

Car rental

It is possible to rent cars in many locations on the islands and most big hotels have a car rental service but the cars can be of a varying standard. It is recommended to test drive a car before accepting to hire it.

Boat or Ferry

Transportation by boat is pretty essential in this area but it can also be a somewhat messy affair. There are ferries between most of the bigger islands, among them Suava and Labasa and to the islands of Ovalau and Koro. Cargo boats conduct some of the transport to the fringe areas of the island. Furthermore it is possible to rent boats in several sizes so you can be the master of which parts of the island kingdom you want to visit.

Special conditions

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A coup d'état in Fiji in the summer 2000 has led to some disturbances, especially in the capital, Suva. Tourists are advised to show great caution and stay in the tourist areas. You are recommended to contact The Foreign Office to be updated on this situation. Trips into the jungle are not recommended since it is likely that guerrillas are using it as a hideout. There is currently a curfew between 22:00 and 5:00 in Suva and other big towns, but by the time you read this the whole situation may have been resolved.

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