WHEN TO GO
Fiji has a tropical climate year-round without great extremes of heat or cold. The summer season (DecemberMarch) has the most rain and greatest chance of cyclones, however. The most pleasant period to visit is from May to October, when the temperature hovers around 78 degrees.
HOW TO GET THERE
Most international flights arrive and depart from Nadi International Airport, seven miles from Nadi Town on the west side of the main island of Viti Levu. A few flights within the Pacific region also use Nausori Airport, 12 miles from the capital of Suva. Domestic flights use both airports.
Fiji Visitors Bureau
Suite 107, Colonial Plaza
Buses serve the main towns and villages on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Among the major lines: Fiji Express runs air-conditioned buses between Suva (331-2287) and Nadi (672-2811/672-2821). Sunset Express runs buses (without air-conditioning) between Lautoka, Suva, Nadi, Nadi Airport, and Sigatoka (Suva: 338-2811, Nadi: 672-0266, Lautoka: 666-8276).
Taxis are also plentiful in the main towns of Nadi, Suva, and Savusavu using a meter system and are available in the smaller towns using a fixed price (check with a few locals to make sure you don't get taken for a ride).
There are several domestic airlines connecting the islands. Air Wakaya flies to the Wakaya Club (book through the Club). Turtle Airways (672-1888, www.turtleairways.com) operates seaplanes and can be chartered to any of the islands. Air Fiji offers scheduled service throughout the islands (from Suva: 331-3666/3055, from Nadi: 672-2521/672-3189, www.airfiji.com.fj). Sun Air does too (www.fiji.to, 800-672-5725). In addition, Island Hoppers (672-0410, www.helicopters.com.fj) operates helicopters between Nadi and the Mamanuca islands; and Pacific Island Seaplanes (672-5644, www.fijiseaplanes.com) can be chartered to fly to any of the islands. Ferries also connect several of the major islands. South Sea Cruises (675-0500, www.ssc.com.fj) operates fast catamarans between Denarau Marina, near Nadi, and the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups. Beachcomber Island Resort & Cruises (666-1500, www.beachcomberfiji.com) serves the same area from Lautoka, north of Nadi, and from Suva to Savusavu on Vanua Levu.
Rental cars are available at the international airports and major resorts, and driving is on the left side of the road (a leftover from Fiji's days as a British colony, which officially ended in 1970).
NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: Suva
Area: 7,050 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 679
Electricity: 240V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Nov 22, 2011:
1 Fiji Dollars = $0.54 US Calculate Other Amounts
Fiji does not require a visa for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a four-month stay.
GOOD TO KNOW
International cuisine is available at restaurants throughout Fiji, but the locals pretty much only cook Fijian and Indian. Often hotels will treat guests to the traditional Fijian lovo feast of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, all slow-cooked in underground pits on the beach. Many hotels will do this one night per week, but unless it's a big occasion, they serve fiery Indian curries or Fijian delicacies using fish, coconut, taro, and cassava. For a new experience, try duruka (Fiji asparagus) cooked in coconut cream. Or, for the ultimate Fiji meal, spend a day spearfishing and enjoy your catch with miti, a thick coconut cream, onion, chili, and lemon sauce that accompanies just about anything from the sea. To wash it all down, try some of the potent South Pacific cocktails. If you are lucky enough to spend time in a native village, don't turn down an offer of kava. This ancient ceremonial beverage, once prepared by virgins, is an herbal remedy that relaxes and revives the senses and is becoming increasingly popular as a social drink.
Local crafts, still occasionally made in traditional villages, are the real deals on this island paradise. A kava bowl carved from wood or coconut is a favorite semifunctional memento. Other crafts, including filigree jewelry and woven mats, are all worthy of a once-over. And be sure not to pass up the abundant cultured pearls—in many colors—found at shops throughout the island. Of course, if you can't find anything else, there's always the duty-free shops selling the usual assortment of cameras, jewelry, booze, and perfume.
Like French Polynesia, Fijian hospitality industry does not encourage tipping, though you may make a contribution to an employee's "Christmas Gift" in appreciation of excellent service. Unlike French Polynesia, Fiji assesses a VAT tax of 12.5 percent on most goods and services, which they do not refund for tourists.
Did You Know?
Hairdressing was once an important art form and status symbol in Fiji. Important men would dye their hair and coax it into bizarre shapes up to six feet across.
January: 1, New Year's Day
May: National Youth Day; 30, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day
June: First Monday after June 8, Queen's Birthday
October: 10, Fiji Day
December: 25, Christmas Day; 26, Boxing Day
Spring: Holi; Ram Naumi; Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter
Summer: Queen's Birthday