Fiji travel guide: what you need to know


Best time to go, culture, language, health, safety, laws, scams, emergency contacts and more.

Best time to go

Dry season: May–October

Wet season: November–April

While the cooler dry season is generally considered the best time to go, the rain in the hotter wet season is only sporadic, so Fiji is open for tourism all year round.

  • Average temperatures range from about 26°C in June to about 30°C in January.
  • Climates vary across Fiji, the smaller islands generally get less rainfall than the main island, Viti Levu.
  • Cyclones sometimes hit in the wet season.
  • The water temperature can get a little 'chilly' (24–27°C) between June and September. During the warmer months it rises to about 30°C.
  • Fiji has two distinct surf seasons, with consistent 8–12ft (2.4–3.7m) swells between March and October, and shorter swells in the summer between November and March.
  • The cooler months bring the best scuba diving visibility, along with cooler water temperatures and stronger winds. The seas are generally calmer and warmer in the summer wet season (cyclones permitting), but the visibility isn't as clear. Plankton blooms can attract whales and manta rays in the summer months.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds and higher prices, aim for the shoulder seasons in October or May, avoiding the Australian school holiday period from December to January.
  • Australians make up the majority of Fiji's visitors so expect larger crowds during our school holidays.

Culture

Fijians are extremely friendly, welcoming and easy-going. The country operates on a relaxed 'Fiji time' – meaning you should leave your stress at home and try not to get annoyed when your meal takes a while to reach your table!

  • Family and religion (mainly Christianity and Hinduism) are at the centre of Fijian culture.
  • You should dress conservatively and remove your hat when visiting villages, and remember to remove your shoes if invited to enter people's houses.
  • Public displays of affection (much more than holding hands) are considered inappropriate.
  • Same-sex couples are unlikely to face discrimination, but like heterosexual couples they should avoid making public displays of affection (check our Fiji: accommodation and transport for tips on gay-friendly hotels).
  • It's insulting to touch a person's head, even a child's.
  • Kava is the national drink. It's an 'acquired taste' but locals may be disappointed if you refuse to drink it.
  • Tipping is not customary, however it is appreciated.

Language

Fiji has three official languages: Fijian, English and Hindi.

You may have trouble understanding the Fijian variant of English, nicknamed 'Finglish', however 'our' English is spoken perfectly by people working in the tourism industry.

Fijian is written in the same alphabet as English, so street signs and place names are easy to read, however the pronunciation of some letters is quite different:

  • b is pronounced 'mb', as in member
  • d is pronounced 'nd', as in Monday
  • q is pronounced 'ng', as in 'g' in finger
  • g is pronounced 'ng', as in singer
  • c is pronounced 'th', as in father.

Via fijiguide.com.

Health and safety

  • The tap water in Fiji is considered unsafe. Drink bottled or boiled water, and if you're particularly concerned about stomach upsets, ask for no ice in drinks and avoid salads that may have been rinsed in tap water.
  • To minimise the risk of food poisoning, opt for fresh, fully cooked foods. Unless you're an adventurous eater, think twice about buying fish and meat from roadside markets.
  • Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis are a risk in Fiji. Speak to your doctor about vaccinations.
  • Mosquito-borne illnesses, particularly dengue fever, are prevalent in Fiji. There is no vaccination against dengue fever. Pack repellent (see our mosquito repellent buying guide) and try to minimise mozzie bites.
  • Medical facilities in Fiji are generally not as well equipped as in Australia, particularly on the outlying islands. Hospitals and health clinics may insist on payment of a deposit or proof of travel insurance before agreeing to treat foreigners.
  • There is a private hospital in Suva but tourists who become very sick will likely be medivaced to Australia at their own expense (again, travel insurance!)
  • Fiji experiences cyclones, as well as occasional earthquakes which can trigger tsunami alerts. Make sure you know what the safety procedures are in your hotel or resort.
  • There have been incidents of violent crime and sexual assault against tourists. Exercise caution and avoid walking alone, particularly in urban areas such as downtown Suva at night.
  • For the latest health and safety advice, check smartraveller.gov.au

Do I need vaccinations to travel to Fiji?

Laws, scams and crimes

Laws

  • Fiji's legal drinking age is 18.
  • It is illegal to be under the influence of alcohol at an airport or on a plane (so go easy on the Bloody Marys on your flight).
  • Public nudity is illegal, including swimming/sunbaking topless.
  • Homosexuality has been legal in Fiji since 2010 but is still not widely accepted culturally.
  • Fiji has strict drug laws. Convictions can lead to jail time and hefty fines. Possession of any amount of marijuana carries a minimum three-month sentence.
  • If you are travelling with medications classed in Fiji as controlled drugs .e.g. pethidine, codeine, morphine) you'll need to apply in advance for approval from the Fijian Ministry of Health.

Tip: No matter where you travel, you should carry all medications (even vitamins) in their original packaging, along with their original prescription. It's also a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor explaining what the medications are (using generic names), what they're for and dosage instructions.

For road rules, see Driving in Fiji.

Scams and crimes

  • Theft and assaults are reported by locals and tourists, and female travellers can be subject to sexual harassment.
  • Credit card fraud has also been reported, so be on the lookout for credit card skimming devices when paying with credit cards or withdrawing money from ATMs. 
  • Petty theft such as bag snatching is fairly common. Keep your belongings close, or use the safe at your hotel.
  • 'Tourist information centres' in Nadi are almost all run by commercial travel agents who will only advise you to take tours or stay in hotels that pay commissions.
  • Some masks and tikis sold are unrelated to Fijian culture and are produced only for tourists. If you want to buy souvenirs, do your research on traditional artefacts first.
  • Beware of overly friendly people asking for your name. They'll quickly carve it into a wooden sword then try to sell it to you for an exorbitant price.
  • Think twice about buying sea shells – many are endangered and there's very little chance you'll be able to bring them back into Australia.

Emergency contacts

Some of these numbers may not work if you're calling from an Australian mobile phone. Remember to insert the country code (+679).

  • Police: 917
  • Ambulance: 911
  • Fire: 910
  • Fiji Visitors Bureau: 0800 721 721 (24-hour, toll-free emergency line)

Hospitals

Fiji's health care facilities are not up to the standard of Australia's and there are few private clinics. If you are very ill, you may need to travel to the private hospital in Suva or return to Australia.

MIOT Pacific Hospital - Fiji's largest private hospital
www.miotpacifichospitals.com.fj
+ 679 330 3404

Australian High Commission:
fiji.embassy.gov.au
37 Princes Road, Tamavua, Suva
+679 338 2211

24-hour Australian Consular Emergency Centre: +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia) or SMS +61 421 269 080.

Making a consumer complaint

If you fall victim to theft or any other crime, contact the police (numbers above).

If you have a dispute with a local business or service and you're unable to reach an agreement, you can direct your complaint to the Consumer Council of Fiji and Tourism Fiji. The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association may also be able to help.

If your gripe is with an Australian or international tour operator, airline, or booking site, follow the usual procedures for making a complaint or seeking compensation.

Got a travel tip about Fiji? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Please add a comment below.


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