5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going To Fiji

Travelers have been visiting the tiny archipelago of Fiji for decades now, to kick back oceanside and enjoy the clear waters and friendly locals.

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While there's been some political unrest in recent years, it's done little to deter travelers who are 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. Drinking Kava in Fiji

"Kava (also known as yaqona, or grog) is a non-alcoholic, non-narcotic beverage made from the ground root of the pepper plant.

Far from being spicy, 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, Travelocity.com

2. A Must See Flower Collection in Fiji

"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."

Canuck Abroad

3. Supporting the Locals in Fiji

"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, Virtual Tourist

4. Airport Agent Alert in Fiji

"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, Virtual Tourist

5. Catching a Taxi in Fiji

"If you're 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."

i-to-i

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

25 Comments

  • matt said

    this article is fucking shit. a complete waste of time.. dude have you ever even been to Fiji? I suspecting not.

  • 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

    Anonuser
    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.

  • Someone who loves Fiji said

    I haven't been yet, but am going next year to stay in the villages.

    I think it's important to know that the Fiji that everyone sees as tourists isn't the real Fiji. It's surprising how many people go but don't realise that Fiji is actually a really poor country.

    The reason that they may say the price is less than it actually is (taxis, souvenir prices), or that certain things are in certain conditions when they are clearly not (referring to the condition of your room) is that in their culture, saying no is very rude and so to them it is better to say yes to you even if it isn't true, than to say no and be very rude. So that is just part of their culture.

    Most of the resorts aren't even owned by the Fijians, so hardly any of that profit goes to them.

    Also, when Fijians say they will be somewhere around a certain time, note that they don't necessarily go off clocks there, especially in the villages. So the times are going to be very vague and flexible.

  • Glynis said

    We went a few years back. The most memorable moment was the trip to a village school on a Sunday. All the school children came in and sang for us. It was lovely. Never ripped off.

  • Joe said

    Went to Fiji last October with 4 buddies, great time. We did something new everyday (expect to spend at least $100 per day if you plan on constantly doing activities). One day we took a kayak river tour to the inner city. Amazing experience. They do however put some pressure for you to buy things, but as you should. Support the people of the country your visiting. Can't comment on the Taxi thing since we were a full car anyway. But you can negotiate. VISIT MANA ISLAND!!!!! And Stay at Pearl Resort on Coral Coast if you're a group of guys. Most other resorts are kind of "honey-moony".

  • John said

    Good comments except for the foul mouth uneducated morons.

  • jones said

    As a country, with regard to living and working in Fiji, it's absolute dog shit with practically no law and order to have any faith in. people behave like animals and sometimes you feel they literally are from a jungle and coming to terms with the reality of existence.

    as far as holidays are concerned, since you are on holiday, you don't have to worry about other aspects beyond a good accommodation and enjoying your time. Any place that is not that dangerous is good for holiday. Fiji is a cheap holiday destination with decent food and not many places to go to. But you can try decent Indian food and there are some nice cinemas and hotels are just about okay (if it's a top one). If you are familiar with Fiji, holiday here will be fine. But it is NO PARADISE. You'd be the greatest idiot to think this shithole called Fiji is paradise.

  • jasman said

    its fake i go to Fiji every year in the summer holidays my whole family lives there its f***ing fake oh and fiji is more than just coconuts,fancy hotels and all the fake stuff you wrote about its all FAKE!!!

  • Al said

    Guys just chill. Why all the hate and name calling. Take a breath. We each have our own opinions and have every right to speak our mind. Unless you all went on holiday together the chances are you had different experiences and met different people. Calm guys... I'm in Namuka Bay right now and I have to say it's not want I expected but I'm loving the experience. Who cares if u get ripped off or not. You're on holiday, your own happiness is the most important. Money can be make back later. Thanks for everyone's comments, and tips. Thanks Phil to share your light for writing this article. I really took a lot in from u guys so thanks for making my trip even more enjoyable:)

  • ABCD said

    Thanks, found this article useful, going to fiji in a couple months, any more tips or follow articles are appreciated. BTW, I like tropical fruits like Mango's I hear they are seasonal, June? I'm going in September where I hear theyre not going to be available, bummer

  • susan said

    My partner and I going Sept 11 - 24. We don't go to resorts, prefer to wander around using local buses. Will we find accommodation? We haven't booked anything ahead except first night in Nadi. Worried now that everything will be booked out in the towns such as Levuka, maybe Savusavu etc. What do you think?

  • Lomalagi said

    I've lived here for twenty years, and suspect many of the negative remarks are from travellers with unrealistic expectations or little experience of travel in developing countries. We welcome everyone who wants to find out more about us, especially if they are open to sharing new experiences. We're not poor, although after Cyclone Winston we are challenged and trust me, we do have law and order. Nadi is unrepresentative of Fiji, as is Denarau...you need to get away from those places to get a true sense of Fiji although some of the islands off the west coast aren't bad if you're seeking a packaged Fiji experience. There will always be those with their hands out, and many of Nadi's mainly Indian shopkeepers tend to watch and pounce. They're not the villagers from the highlands, so don't be fooled. If you want hotels/resorts try the Coral Coast as far as Pacific Harbour - there's heaps to do, and you'll get a better sense of the true friendliness of the Fijian people. Resorts are often on leased land owned by a local clan (mataqali) and many members of the clan work at these resorts, so you can often arrange a village visit through them or through the tour desks who usually work with local villagers to the mutual benefit of all. If you do visit a village, please expect to buy something, because this is one way for the village to generate income. You will be made welcome and will probably be offered kava to drink. These days it's rare for women to be excluded - and in the tourist context unheard of. You should take off your sunnies and hat, wrap yourselves in sulus (sarongs), and be polite. Traditionally Fiji, like all South Pacific islands, is fairly formal, and to experience traditional ceremonies is to glimpse a little of this. Villages away from the tourist routes are far more traditional, and have strict village rules that apply to iTaukei (Fijians) who choose to live there - usually where they were born and brought up. Religions are important here too...Christianity was introduced in the mid-nineteenth century, and with the Indian girmitya came Hindu and Islamic customs and beliefs. We celebrate the important events in the calendars of all these religions. The law is, constitutionally, not linked to any religion, and everyone is free to practice whatever belief they have so long as they don't break the law. One thing you should experience is the joyfulness of Fijians singing at a meke...that's when you'll see the island people at their best.

  • Sweet16 said

    We are going to Fiji for the first time with 2-teenagers. We are very confused about where to stay. We don't want to spend all 5 days on one island. Not sure how easy it is to go from one island to next. Can we stay in one of the resorts and just explore different islands daily? I cannot find any posts on this. Ideally we would like to stay in one resort and move around between the islands if it is easy. If not we can stay 2-days in one resort on the western side and 3-days on the eastern side.
    Shall we skip Nadi, Denarau and Suva? I have not heard anything good about these places?

    Any help is appreciated as we will be there during Christmas.

  • Ram said

    People this days are so angry please calm down and slow down.

  • talei said

    these comments are really sad to read. talking smack about an entire country, our culture, n our people calling them animals. if you don't like the feel of being treated fake don't come to fiji, we r well known for our hospitality n if it's too fake for you go back to sydney. if you r complaining about the prices don't go into the city, you can't expect to be cheap when you're staying in Denarau. and have respect whoever felt the need to say all those negative things your just a bloody swine

  • mike said

    article teaches you shit about fiji

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