5 things i wish i knew before going to fiji

By , Travel Insights Editor Home > travel-safety > Fiji > kava, travel-tips, 5-things

Fiji has had a long-standing reputation as a South Pacific tropical paradise. Travelers have been visiting the tiny archipelago for decades now to kick back oceanside and enjoy the azure waters. While there's been some political unrest in recent years, it's done little to deter travelers keen to soak up the island lifestyle and maybe sip a little kava while they're at it.

Here are a five things to know to make your Fijian adventure unforgetable.

1. On the subject of kava

Kava (also called yaqona, or grog) is a non-alcoholic, non-narcotic beverage made from the ground root of the pepper plant. Far from being spicy, though, the drink actually numbs the lips and tongue slightly for a few moments. Not to worry, though--this effect is short-lived and subtle. It takes a lot to have any effect on the average person, but after several cups, you may begin to feel slightly more relaxed than you were (if that's possible in a tropical paradise like Fiji). Kava contains massive amounts of vitamin B, a natural muscle relaxant and anti-depressant. Drink enough, and you'll start to feel aggressions and tensions melt away (again, assuming you had any to start with). Too much, and you'll find yourself too, well, groggy to do much of anything. If this happens, relax (you won't have a choice). It won't last long.

-Nicole Clausing, freelance writer (courtesy of Travelocity.com)

WorldNomads: Fiji's drinking water is of mixed quality; fine in some locations, not so good in others. So, ask your host to make your kava from the ubiquitious bottled Fiji Water, just to be on the safe side.

2. Flower power

If you‘re a flower lover then a tour of the Garden of the Sleeping Giants is a must. Located in the Gorgeous Sabeto Valley, the Garden of the Sleeping Giants is where you‘ll find the largest collection of orchids in all of Fiji.

-Courtesy of Canuck Abroad

3. Don't forget your wallet

Many of the shops in Nadi are run by villagers from the mountains who will invite you in for kava. We had a welcome ceremony especially for us and spent an hour joking and drinking kava on a mat in a Nadi store. But of course, after much hospitality, you SHOULD buy something from the store to help support the village. Just realize that some of the prices and items are much more expensive than the souvenirs you can get at "Jack's" down the street.

-"pporto" at Virtual Tourist

4. Airport agent alert

The agents can be of a great help, but take everything they say with a pinch of salt! Our agent Fili promised us that our room at Mereani's shared a bathroom with only one other room, and that the rate was 60 Fiji dollars for the two of us. What we paid was 70 plus tax, and we shared two showers and two toilets with 20 other people... Make sure to have all agreements written down and signed, with all prices including taxes. But be prepared for surprises anyway!

-"Rusket" at Virtual Tourist

5. Taxi tip

If getting a taxi, be prepared to heckle everyone walking past to get in the taxi too... because no one is setting off until it‘s full.

-Courtesy of i-to-i

WorldNomads: One final tip of our own - Fiji is warm all year, but check your travel dates, cyclones at certain times of the year can take the edge of that relaxing beach holiday.

Want to know more? Ask a question and find out what other travellers say at Answers.

Have you been to Fiji? What do you wish you had known before you went?


  • PhilSylvester said

    Thanks for the feedback Matt. Which parts in particular are "fucking shit"? Any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated and we can improve the piece.
    Whether or not I have been to Fiji is irrelevant for this article because it quotes others who do regularly as part of their business, so your "I suspecting" am not right.

  • Anonuser said

    I really do think it is a little naive for someone to write an article on Fiji considering they have never been there.

    I've never heckled cabs for a lift and never had a problem if I did get in one.

    By saying the village shops are more expensive you are being a complete fucking tight arse. Considering the hospitality of the fijian people and what they offer to you, as a vistor to their land, the least you can do is purchase some souvenirs to take home and give as gifts - the same way you are gifted on almost daily by the beautiful fijians. It's the Bula spirit.

    Everything else is spot on though, Kava is awesome don't be afraid of it.

    My final tip would be, Don't be that one fucking loser who demands the world. You are holidaying in a developing country have a bit of respect and if you have a problem bring it up politely and I can promise you it will be solved - all in time - fiji time.

  • PhilSylvester said

    all the people quoted in the article have been to Fiji.... the quotes are about their experiences. It takes all sorts, eh?
    Personally my only experience of cabs there are from airport to accom' (or marina) so I haven't experienced the same as i-to-i, perhaps it happens in Suva or Nadi central areas. But I did have a driver try to charge me extra for the "guided tour" he gave (announcing landmarks as we drove!) Nice try.

  • Aaron said

    As someone that is going to Fiji in a weeks time I hoped this article might at least give the slightest shred of useful information! The only thing that might help is taking what agents say with a pinch of salt, however this should hardly be a surprising statement for anyone that has been on ANY holiday before!

  • Vikki green said

    I'm going back to fiji for the seventh time in august .. leaving behind all the complexities of a developed culture and landing in a place where life unfolds in its own time .. surrounded by flowers , bare feet .. and warmth.. Paradise. So the plumbing ain't modern, and there's bugs and lizards in the room.. So what! Just be sure to leave all your expectations behind and soak in the beauty...

  • Laxton Smith said

    I'm 76 have been to Fiji 45 times sinçe 1962 I have never been ripped off or mugged Stay at budget hotels Start at Cathay Lautoka work my way around Island by Taxi bargin for fares .
    Stay at Townhouse apartments Suva Crows nest on coral coast end up at Nadi Bay Resort in Nadi. I usually stay about 30 days Buy your beer at a supermarket Its a wonderful holiday Laxton Smith NZ 2015

  • Brian said

    My wife and I are at Fiji now. Yes we are saying inupmarked accommodation on Denarue. Yesterday caught the yellow bus into Nadi, as soon as we got off they were on to us. A Fiji man doing small talk and asking about us then magically another islander was there and the first one disappeared, guess it was the change over of areas for unaware tourists. We said all we wanted wascommunity. fresh fruit and vegetables, he said he would show us the best place. He took us to a souvenir shop instead, had to Kava ceremony and then were given gifts. Told to look around but then pressured into taking items handed to us. As
    We went to pay charged us a lotmorehad to argue the cost. Then "accidentally" gave us $50 less change while another person tried to distract us. Sorted that out then they demanded $50 gift to them for the Kava and ne necklace they supposedly " gave us" wife felt uneasy so paid and we left. Dont get caught out by these rip off artists pretending to be working for the poor fiji commu

  • Amanda said

    This is pretty spot on. I've been here for about 3 months and will stay 4 more. Cabbies rip me off constantly, and I do get harassed a lot for money by souvenir shops. In Nadi it's worse than in other places. I've been to about 3 villages, and 3 different islands. My rule is to double everything in regards to price, double everything in regards to time, and don't have high expectations of your accommodations if you're not staying in a resort. Follow these rules and you won't get stressed out. Coming from a different part of the world, the "Fiji Time" can be frustrating, especially when you have limited time to do things. Other than that it's cool. Kava is nice, but too much gives you scaly skin, which requires kani lotion ;)

  • hannah said

    we have been planning to go to fiji since i was 7 and i'm 13 now!We are going to Fiji,but i don't know how much were going to spend that is what I'm worried about.Because there are 4 people going and I'm trying to do all of the math and it is just too hard.Please help me out!thanks!!!

  • Kevin watson said

    Just read all the comments,
    We are also here in Denarau as I write this and were also accosted by one islander asking too many questions and being too familiar then pop another turns up and as you say they have like a very strange semi civil turf war over the steering of the money for lack of a better wording .

    We too were also steered to the local upstairs village souvenir shop and rewarded with a cava drink all nicely scrunched up by one of the islanders own not so sterile hands, I thought what the hell is in that drink? they were welcoming me with and glared at the wife and said YOU are not drinking that I don't know what's in it and I to felt a little uneasy about this new forced situation we had unwittingly found ourselves in, trying not to offend I begrudgingly drank the WELCOME TO FIJI cava? And then we were told the children made the gifts blah blah.

    Not liking to be hearded anywhere the wife and I pointedly said. See you jokers later and bought nothing from these con artists.

    There is simply only one local town market and a shopping centre across the road from it so that's what you do simply go to those two after you've looked around ON YOUR OWN at all the same Chinese and Indian shops .

    If anyone tries to escort you anywhere tell them you are NOT interest thanks mate 😎

    Hope this helps. Oh the Fiji gold beer is not gold like we know in Aus it's actually full strength and you should grap a couple of cartons from the supermarket one today and one a few days time.

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Author: Phil Sylvester

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