Fiji Islands is a Melanesian country in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand and consists of an archipelago that includes 332 islands, a handful of which make up most of the land area, and approximately 110 of which are inhabited amounting to a total land area. Fiji covers a total area of some 194,000 square kilometres of which around 10% is land.
Fiji is the product of volcanic mountains and warm tropical waters. Its majestic and ever-varied coral reefs today draw tourists from around the world. Because of the abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources, Fiji is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific island realm. Today, the main sources of foreign exchange are its tourist industry and sugar exports.
Citizens of most countries are granted visitor permits on arrival that last 4 months.
Regions of Fiji
Fiji can be divided into nine groups of islands:
This is the largest and most important island of the country. It has most inhabitants, is the most economically developed and is home to the capital, Suva.
The second largest island, surrounded by some smaller northern islands.
The third largest island, near Vanua Levu, with the 180th meridian cutting the island in half. It is the exclusive habitat of the Tagimoucia Flower.
This island is south of Viti Levu.
Northwestern island group popular for island-hopping holidays.
A group of tiny islands west of Viti Levu.
The central group of islands between Viti Levu and Lau Group.
Group of many small islands in eastern Fiji.
Remote dependency of Fiji, home to a different Polynesian ethnic group.
The climate in Fiji is tropical marine and warm most of the year round with minimal extremes. The warm season is from November till April and the cooler season May to October. Temperature in the cool season still averages 22 °C (72 °F).
Rainfall is variable, the warmer season experiences heavier rainfall, especially inland. Winds are moderate, though cyclones occur about once a year
Getting into Fiji
Nadi International Airport is Fiji’s main international airport. Suva airport also has some international flights. Air Pacific (Fiji majority owned) flies to Fiji directly from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in the USA, and from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), as well as many other locations. Korean Air has three flights weekly between Nadi and Seoul. Air New Zealand operates flights to Nadi from Auckland, Christchurch, and seasonally from Wellington.
Travel times from Australian cities vary. From Brisbane the flight to Fiji is approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes, from Sydney 4 hours and 30 mins and from Melbourne it is 5 hours and 30 minutes.
You can enter Fiji by boat from Australia through the Australia shore connection.
Getting around Fiji
Fiji has a variety of public transport options, including buses, “share taxis”, and private taxis. Rates are very cheap: F$1-2 from Colo-i-Suva to Suva bus station by bus, F$17 from Nadi bus station to Suva by share-taxi (share-taxi’s are usually white mini-vans that congregate together and set-off when they reach their capacity of 6-8), or approximately F$80 from Suva airport to Sigatoka by private taxi. On the main road circling Viti Levu buses run every half hour and taxis are a substantial proportion of traffic, while on western Taveuni buses make only a few runs per day and very little traffic is present. If taxi has a meter, ask the driver to switch it on – the ride will be lot cheaper than with negotiated price.
The current going rate from resorts on Nadi beach to Nadi downtown is $8 per passenger, and $12 to the airport — you should be able negotiate this price reasonably easily.
While there is rarely much traffic present, most vehicles run on diesel and pollution on major roadways can be severe. A national speed limit of 80 km/h is usually observed; village speed limits are all but entirely ignored, but drivers slow down for several speed humps distributed within each village. Seat belts are advised on taxis but are rarely evident and apparently never used.
Road travel tends to be more dangerous than many people are used to, and many embassies advise their citizens to avoid pretty much any form of road travel. Pot holes, washouts and dilapidated bridges are commonplace. Buses are the best, unless you are truly comfortable and capable of renting and driving a car on your own – most people are not even if they think they are. Avoid travel at night, especially outside of urban areas. Another option is hop-on, hop-off bus passes which allow you to tour Fiji at your own pace for a fixed price. These are a more expensive way to travel but feature inclusions like tours and activities. However, some like Feejee Experience are limited to Viti Levu and trips to Beachcomber island and don’t include the more remote islands.
South Sea Cruises – operates daily inter-island ferry transfers throughout Fiji’s Mamanuca Island resorts. Awesome Adventures Fiji provides daily ferry transfers out to the remote Yasawa Islands. Inter-island ferries are reasonably priced and the larger ones (especially those large enough to accommodate cars and trucks) have a good safety record, though they may be overcrowded at the beginning and end of school holiday periods. Ferries offer two or three classes (depending on the ship). Economy (F$65 pp on Suva-Taveuni route) is the cheapest option, but requires you to sleep on chairs or on the floor. Sleeper (F$104 pp, Suva-Taveuni) is dormitory-like accomodation. Cabin (F$135 pp on MV Suiliven, F$95 pp on SOFE, Suva-Taveuni) is not necessarily the best option, as the space is very limited, cabin can be shared (4 beds) and can have hords of bugs.
Do not attempt to take a car to another island unless you own it or have made clear special arrangements – most rental companies forbid it and they do prosecute tourists who violate this clause in the contract.
Bicycles are becoming more popular in Fiji in recent years for locals and tourists alike. In many ways, Fiji is an ideal place for a rugged bike tour. Cycling is a great way to see Fiji but make sure you carry all your own spares and supplies as bike shops are scarce. It is a good idea to carry plenty of water, a camelbak is great, as it is very hot and humid almost year round.
The main Road around the largest island, Viti Levu, is sealed except for a 40 km section on the eastern side. A sturdy road, touring or hybrid bike is suitable.
Bike rental can be quite expensive comparing to other options: on Taveuni bike for full day costs F$25. With two persons the cost is similiar to renting a car.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant - Nadi, Fiji. Monday to Saturdays – 9 am to 5 pm.. The Garden of the Sleeping Giant was originally the garden of famed actor, Raymond Burr, and is located next to his house. The garden covers 20 hectares and is full of orchids native to Fiji and many flowers. With a beautiful lily pond and many exotic plants, this garden is sure to take your breath away. $10 (USD).
Fiji Museum - PO Box 2023 Govt. Bldgs, Suva, Fiji Islands, ☎ (679) 331 5944/ (679) 331 5043. The Fiji Museum is an excellent place for tourists to understand the historical background of Fiji. With artifacts dating back as far as 3,700 years it provides many exhibits that educate travelers on the nation’s traditions and culture. The museum is located in heart of Suva’s botanical gardens.
Suva Municipal Market – Right in Suva town are these fruit and vegetable markets. Sells all kinds of different tropical fruit and veges. Municipal Handicraft Centre To the left of the fruit and vege markets are the Suva handicraft markets. Rows full of Fijian wooden carvings, straw goods and Fijian handicraft souvenirs. Don’t be afraid to bargain with the shop owners for a better price!
Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji. It rains here a lot, so be prepared and do not wait until it stops raining.
Bouma National Heritage Park – Aimed at conserving the rainforest of Taveuni and the Vanua Bouma (the land, the sea and people of Bouma). The Park was established in 1990 not only to protect the forest but also as a means of generating an income for the four villages whose land is bounded by the park. Technical assistance for the project is provided by the New Zealand Official Development Assistance (Fiji Ecotourism) Programme and the Fiji Native Land Trust Board. For more information you can contact the Tavoro Waterfalls Visitor Centre on +679 888 0390.
Lavena Coastal Walk – Give yourself at least half a day or more to experience Lavena1s wild and scenic coastline and waterfalls. A well formed track takes you from Lavena village along the coast (great for swimming and snorkelling) to an idyllic swimming hole and waterfalls. Allow four hours return to complete the walk which is mostly flat with plenty of places to stop and swim. Walk costs F$15. You have to swim about 100m to the waterfall pit, so take swimming suit and waterproof camera.
Tavoro Waterfalls – Walking, swimming, picnicking and taking in the views – it`s all possible at Tavoro Waterfalls (also known as Bouma Waterfalls). These are the most accessible waterfalls and a classic must do. There are three falls to choose from. The lower waterfall is an easy 15 minute walk, the middle fall is a moderate walk for 45 minutes and the upper fall can be reached in another one hour moderate to challenging walk. At over 30 meters high the lower fall is the most spectecular and has the biggest swimming hole. There are fantastic views on the track from the lower to the middle fall, so don`t miss this one.
Vidawa Rainforest Hike – If you want a challenging full day hike into the heart of the forest, this is it. Knowledgeable local guides will take you to archaeological sites, great view points and into the deep rainforest where you will see the traditional uses of the forest and lots of birds. Cost: F$40 (with guide), booking in advance necessary. Full-day trip is 7km, you need to take some lunch with you (take some more for the guide . You can drink water from the streams, so 1l bottle should be enough for 2 persons. The walk ends at lower Tavoro waterfall.
Waitabu Marine Park – Was established in 1998 in an agreement of over 7 Fijian communities not to fish or anchor in the 1 km of selected fringing reef. Aside from the small tourism business this Marine Protected Area (MPA) has provided for the community of Waitabu, who owns and operates it, it has also provided a first hand example of the power of conservation, generating larger fish catches and increased biodiversity in the surrounding waters.
Site of the international dateline – The 180th meridian is on Taveuni. Well it was once before it was changed so Taveuni would not be bisected into different days.
Qeleni Village – Traditional Fijian Culture can be experienced at Qeleni Village. It is an eco-tourism project in the lower highlands that offers cultural dances and handicrafts for sale. It is located in a beautiful rainforest and gives an insight into the Traditional Fiji.
Warrior Burial Cave/Southcape Blowholes – Created by a lava tube, this cave is about 350 metres long and terminates at the ocean’s edge. In former times, Fijian’s used this site as a secret burial cave for warriors. It is believed that Taveuni’s greatest warriors were buried here to keep their remains hidden from enemies. Most of the large bones were removed in the 1950′s after the cave was discovered.
Waitavala Waterslide. This is a picturesque spot, secluded and fun. Swim in pure refreshing cool waters and slide down the natural slipper dip. To avoid injury at best wait for some locals, they will show you where to start sliding and make sure there is enough water.
Wairiki Mission – The most architecturally interesting edifice on Taveuni. Situated on the edge of a splendid coconut plantation, it is also known as the Taveuni Catholic Church. It is a good example of the British colonial Romanesque architecture. Located on a hill, it overlooks the historic site where Taveuni Warriors turned back thousands of invading Tongans in a battle that was fought in canoes just off the beach. It was this particular battle that turned the tide in a war that had seen Tongans stakes over much of Fiji. The locals celebrated the victory by cooking and eating their enemies with breadfruit.
Des Veaux Peak – Access to this magical place is by hike or four-wheel drive only. It is 1196 metres above sea level and is home to the famous tagimocia flower, a beautiful red bloom with a white centre – it grows nowhere else in the world and is Fiji’s National Flower. Des Veaux Peak, Fiji’s second highest mountain, has spectacular birdlife and flora. Orange breasted Doves, Silktails, ferntails and Parrots are just a few surprises. Lake Tagimocia is perhaps the famous landmark on Taveuni. It is situated in an extinct volcanic crater, at a height of 832 metres; the lake is filled with floating masses of vegetation.
Accomodation in Fiji
Maravu Plantation Resort - Taveuni Island, ☎ +679 3324 303 (Maravu@connect.com.fj, fax: +679 3324 328). Deluxe accommodation in 20 spacious bures with large outdoor bathrooms, secluded veranda, ceiling fans and minibar. The gourmet restaurant by the swimming pool serves exotic dishes and cocktails. From US$190.
The Remote Resort - via Taveuni (www.theremoteresort.com), ☎ +679 8284 002. An all-inclusive luxe castaway experience with dedicated island hosts
Holiday Inn Suva – Victoria Parade, ☎ (679) 330 1600 (fax: (679) 330 0251). checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Approx. $FJ 340.
Raintree Lodge – Princes Road, ☎ (679) 332 0562 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (679) 332 0113).
Tanoa Plaza Suva Hotel (Tanoa Plaza Suva), ☎ (679) 331 2300 (email@example.com, fax: (679) 330 1300), . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Doubles: $FJ 210.
Colonial Lodge - (fax: (679) 330 1300). Big dorm room, but very enjoyable/familiar atmosphere and also some long-term guests. Breakfast included and dinner possible. Definitely a nice place to stay longer and socialize.
5 Princes Hotel – 5 Prince Road (At the beginning of Princes road on the left hand side), ☎ +679 3381575, . in a Suva landmark building. Garden Cottage set in tropical gardens or in a Deluxe Room located in the historical building. All cottages and rooms are airconditioned and fitted with executive style furniture and internet access. Great food, dining on the open air veranda.