Fiji consists of over 300 islands and is located about 4 hours flight time from the east coast of Australia. The two main islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Suva, the capital of Fiji, is located on Viti Levu.
Fiji has two major airports, one at Suva and the other at Nadi. It is at Nadi that most tourists arrive. Just to the north is the port town of Lautoka which is the gateway to many of Fiji's island resorts while just south of Nadi is Denarau Island which connects to the Mamanuca Island group of family resorts.
The Fiji population (around 800,000) is made up of 48% Fijians, 41% of Indian descent with the remainder being of Asian, European and Polynesian descent.
The most outstanding memory you will take away from a trip to Fiji is the warmth and genuine friendliness of the Fijian people. They are reputed to be among the friendliest people in the world. The main language spoken in Fiji is English, but all locals speak either the Fijian language or Hindustani as well.
Economy: Fiji's economy includes tourism, mining, fishing, clothing, sugar and timber.
Language: English is the official language in Fiji. Most indigenous Fijians are multilingual.
Religion: 54% Christian, 40% Hindu
Currency: Fiji dollar - F$ Notes: $50, $20, $10, $5, $2. Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1.
Departure Tax: Fiji $30 per adult, kids under 12 are exempt.
Flying Times To Nadi: Sydney - 4 hours, Melbourne 5 hours, Brisbane 3.4 hours.
Passports: All visitors to Fiji must have a valid passport with at least 3 months validity beyond the date of departure.
Health: Most resorts provide a doctor on the premises at certain hours or at least on call.
Climate: Fiji enjoys an ideal tropical climate making it the perfect holiday destination all year round. Maximum summer temperatures average 31 degrees with a minimum of 22 degrees. The winter average maximum is 29 degrees with a minimum of 19 degrees. November to April are the warm wetter months with May to October being the dryer cooler months. The Fiji hurricane season is from January to March.
Arriving: Nadi airport has been renovated over the past couple of years. The main difference is that the long wait to get through Fiji customs can now be enjoyed in air-conditioned comfort.
When you arrive at Nadi you still step straight into the humid Fijian sun on your way into the customs area. So you need to dress appropriately, or at least be able to strip off a few layers of
clothes on arrival. Leave some room to store your jumpers and jackets - an empty backpack or bag would be ideal. Take some bottled water in your carry on luggage. There’s no where to get drinks until
you pass through Fiji customs and sometimes this can take a while. Bottled water is available at most duty free shops prior to departure.
Once you’ve collected your bags and pass through immigration you get a last chance at picking up some duty free goods. You’ve probably stocked up on most things by this time, however if you grab a couple of 6 packs of beer and some soft drink you’ll be well ahead of the prices that you will be paying at any of the resorts (with the exception of the all inclusive at the Naviti). You’re then back into the heat and humidity as a Fijian band welcomes you. Your tour operator will be waiting for you and will direct you to your bus.
Departing: Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Once you arrive you need to queue for a while to get through the check-in desks but then you move into the air conditioned departure lounge. There is a good selection of duty free stores available as well as coffee shops and food options. .
Fiji Airways flies regularly to Fiji from Sydney,
Melbourne and Brisbane. Virgin and Jetstar also fly regularly to Fiji from Australia. The arrival and departure times of your flight will dictate where you spend your first and last night in
Fiji. Resorts in and around Nadi and Denarau Island are quickly accessible by bus or private car. Some of the Coral Coast resorts are up to two hours by bus from the airport. Depending on your
arrival time it may be easier to spend your first night in Nadi and connect to the resort the next morning. Connection to most of the island resorts is by boat. If you arrive in the afternoon or at
night you will need to spend your first night in Nadi. Other types of connections include a light plane, sea plane or helicopter. These only travel during daylight hours so you will need to arrive well
before sunset to avoid a stopover. For your return flight the same rules apply.
From one of the further Coral Coast resorts you will need to leave four hours prior to your flights departure time. From the islands you can connect by plane, however you need to factor in your check in time (two hours before the flight). We have connected by light plane from Plantation Island to a 10am international flight, but you may not be able to do this for anything earlier. Also, the plane is very small - we were on 6 seater - and although the views are spectacular from only a couple of hundred metres above the water, if you're not too keen on flying it may not be for you. At least it's over in 10 minutes.
Connection to Fiji Coral Coast resorts like the Naviti and the Warwick can take up to two hours by coach. A lot of the time is spent stopping at every other resort along the way, dropping other holiday makers off. Check with your travel agent if an express bus is available or consider booking private transport for the trip. The cost isn't too much more than the bus and is well worth it. If you are staying at the Naviti with their all inclusive package, it may work out much cheaper to spend the first night in Nadi. That way you don’t pay for a full days food and drink and only get a late dinner.
There is no malaria in Fiji but there are plenty of other diseases to avoid. Diarrhoea is common and is caused by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Avoid fruit and vegetables that are not washed in safe water. Thoroughly cooked food is usually safe as long as it has not been left standing or has been re-heated. Stick to the major resorts and popular and busy restaurants. The water in Fijis major towns, mainland hotels and resorts is generally safe to drink. However outside these areas be wary especially on island resorts. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks. Take care that bottled water that you buy is properly sealed and not just re-filled from a tap. Milk should also be used with caution as it is often
Hepatitis A is spread by poor sanitation, contaminated water, shellfish or food sold by handlers with poor hygiene. Taking care of what you eat and drink will help avoid it. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood. Avoid body piercing. Typhoid fever is also spread through contact with contaminated food or water. Dengue fever, although rare, can be dangerous for the elderly and small children and is spread by mosquitoes. Take care to avoid mosquito bites, especially during the day.
Hospitals are located in Suva, Sigatoka, Lautoka, Savusavu and Nadi. Most towns have a government clinic with a district nurse. Private medical services are also available and major resorts normally offer some type of medical support. Check with your travel agent what type of support each resort offers. Medical services for the traveller can be costly so travel health insurance is recommended.
Most family resorts in Fiji provide children's meals. Generally the quality of food in Fiji is very good and the cost reasonable. Some of the Fiji resorts web sites detail what food is available and how much it costs. Try to avoid eating outside the main resorts
(unless it is a well known and popular restaurant). Some resorts have meal plans available and some offer free children's meals.
Water in Fiji is generally safe to drink (mainland resorts only), however all resorts stock plenty of bottled water. Most island resorts will provide safe alternative drinking water, but from experience I would recommend you drink bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks.
If you arrive at your resort very late at night or in the early hours of the morning, there may be nowhere to buy anything. If you are not sure whether it is safe to drink the local water you may not have a choice. It's a good idea to pack some larger bottles of water in your luggage or buy some at the duty free when you arrive.
A tough choice for families travelling to Fiji. They both have their good and bad points. It comes down to the type of holiday you are after. We've visited a few of both and would always pick an island first - but this depends on your own personal preferences. Hopefully this list of advantages and disadvantages will help:
* The resort is normally close to the airport. Overnight stays at an airport hotel are not required.
* You can travel around the mainland, go shopping at the major towns, buy cheap supplies from supermarkets, go to tourist attractions.
* Resorts have land based activities like golf courses etc.
* Meal quality and choice tend to be much better because of the islands remoteness.
* Food and drinks tend to be a bit cheaper because they don’t need to be transported.
* Air conditioning is standard and electricity much more reliable.
* Water is treated town water.
* If you don’t like the food at the resort you can dine elsewhere.
* You can still take a day trip to an island.
* The beaches haven’t got the golden sand and the clear water.
* Water based activities are limited.
* Some resorts located two hours by bus from Nadi.
* The number one advantage is the white sandy beaches and the crystal clear ocean waters.
* At most resorts you can snorkel and swim directly in front of your bure.
* From our experiences, the weather seems to be much better on the islands.
* Much better water based activities like parasailing, banana boats, jet skis etc.
* Much less formal atmosphere.
* You can connect quickly to the resort by seaplane or helicopter.
* Boat ride to the island much more relaxing than a bus ride to a mainland resort.
* You are trapped. You need to pay the food, drink and activity prices set by the resort and these tend to be higher than the mainland because of extra transport costs.
* Less choice on menu’s.
* No golf courses (with the exception of Plantation)
* There’s sand everywhere.
* Not all resorts offer air-conditioning. Power supply may sometimes be unreliable.
* Water may not be safe to drink. Most islands (except Treasure) have their own water supply, usually catchment tanks.
* You may need to spend at least one night on the mainland (either the first night, the last night, or both).
There are endless activities available for families in Fiji. Here is a list of the most popular ones:
Fiji Museum Suva
Set in the heart of Suva's historical Thurston Gardens, the Fiji Museum is unrivaled in the islands for the extent of its collection of anthropological and historical material.
Sigatoka River Safari
A half-day eco/cultural adventure into the heart & soul of Fiji, aboard a custom-built safari jet boats.
The Garden Of The Sleeping Giant
Located 10 minutes from Nadi and features 29 hectares of beautiful gardens and showcases Fijis native plants. Includes a jungle walk through a native forest.
Hot Springs and Mud Baths
Fiji’s hidden hot springs gem is believed by locals to have healing properties. Irrespective of its claims, the three pools, warm mud baths and lush natural backdrop combine to make a seriously relaxing experience.
Orchid Island Cultural Centre
A fascinating showcase of Fijian flora, fauna, crafts, customs and ancient rituals. Located 10km from Suva.
Colo-i-Suva Forest National Park
Around 20 minutes from Suva heading on the back road to Nausori is Fiji’s Colo-i-Suva Forest National Park.Established in 1872, Colo-i-Suva is a two and a half square kilometres of verdant rain-forests renowned for tropical flora and birds. There are about four and a half kilometres of natural trails ploughing through the forests and natural water bodies to swim in.
Duty free shopping in Fiji is similar to Australia so you won't get any great deals. The clothing industry in Fiji is big so there is plenty of good quality clothing available at cheap prices.
Unfortunately, your shopping experience in Fiji is not always a pleasant one. In Nadi the streets are very narrow, with plenty of traffic whizzing by, so you need to keep a good hold of the kids. Some shopkeepers can get very aggressive, almost to the point of dragging you into their shops. If its a hot day the kids will become bored and frustrated quickly. Sigatoka is a little better for shopping, however avoid the market area. Ideally it would be better to leave the kids behind (if you can).
While you are shopping in Nadi or Sigatoka, make sure you visit a supermarket and pick up some supplies for your holiday. Things like chips, soft drink, bottled water, beer etc are much cheaper than you will pay at your resort.
Also resort handicraft stores are very expensive. Even if you leave your purchases to the airport prior to departure, you'll probably be better off.
English is the official language of Fiji, although Fijian and Hindustani are also widely used. It's a good idea to learn some of the Fijian language before you arrive. Some of the more common
Fijian words and phrases are:
Bula (boo-lah) - hello, welcome.
Vinaka (vee-na-ka) - thank you.
Yadra (yahn-dra) - good morning.
Moce (mo'-they) - good bye.
Yalo vinaka (yah-law vee-na-ka) - please.
Vosota Sara (voh-soh-ta sarah) - sorry.
Io (ee-awe) - yes
Sega (seng-ah) - no