A far-flung exotic destination in the Pacific Ocean, Fiji is the ideal destination for the slightly more adventurous traveller not afraid of venturing a little further afield.
When it comes of exotic island getaways, it does not get more beautiful and secluded than Fiji. Located in the furthest reaches of the Pacific, this picture perfect paradise guarantees a vacation full of relaxation and respite.
Comprised of over 300 islands, this archipelagic destination has miles and miles of unspoiled coastline, trimmed with startlingly vibrant coral reefs that provide for perfect scuba diving and snorkelling adventures.
But it's the people that make Fiji truly magical - their relaxed outlook and friendly cheer would draw even the most hardened of hermits out of their shell and the fascinating blend of Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian, Indian, Chinese and European influences has produced a culture where more definitely is more.
Traditions And Culture
Fiji is a cosmopolitan and heady blend of Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian, Indian, Chinese and European cultural influences.
Fiji's eight thousand year history dates back to ancient settlers from south-east Asia and then Polynesia who despite being skilled craftsman were also bloodthirsty cannibals. The Europeans appeared on the scene in the mid-seventeenth century yet only got acquainted with the local in 1789 after the Mutiny of the Bounty.
But as trade took off, conflict kicked in for decades to come. It was only when the king handed over power to the British in 1874 that the situation calmed down during nearly a century of colonial rule. Fiji finally regained its independence in 1970 but has since been rocked by three coups due to racial tensions.
For almost 50 years, until the military coup of 1987 and the Indian emigration that came after, the indigenous peoples of Fiji actually represented an ethnic minority in their own land. That just goes to show the extent to which the islands are a vibrant mix of multifarious cultures.
Traditional Fijian society is extremely communal and there is a great amount of important placed on the family unit, the village and the land.
Fijians are very proud of their national identity - regardless of what their individual ethnic origin is. Having said that, there is also a sense of loyalty to specific regions where people come from.
The cuisine of Fiji is very diverse, with Indian influences featuring prominently. Tantalising herbs and spices from India are infused with local traditional dishes, making for palette-busting dishes.
Variants of Indian, European and Chinese foods along with more localised dishes are very popular in most of not all households in Fiji.
Recommended In Fiji
The natural beauty of the islands is something that simply must be savoured by all who visit Fiji. Rugged highland interiors give way to cascading waterfalls that plunge through rainforests in well-kept reserves dotted around the islands.
The ever-popular Mamanuca Group and Yasawa group of islands host stunning beaches and reefs whilst those with cash to splash should head to Turtle Island Resort or the Wakaya Club.
Vanua Levu, the second largest island boosts the Rainbow Reef and upmarket resorts whilst Taveuni, the third largest island, offers blackened sand shores alongside the dense greenery of lush rainforest. Most people visit for the beautiful Lavena Coastal Walk, the waterfalls at the Tavoro Forest Park and Preserve and the birdlife.
Fiji is a mecca for water-sports with world-class diving, windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking, snorkelling, surfing and the chance to go white water rafting. For land lovers, there's always golf.
The cosmopolitan capital Suva on Viti Levu has laid claim to the title since 1883 and is credited with being the liveliest city in the South Pacific outside of New Zealand and Australia. It is very much a cultural melting pot with around 90,000 Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Tongans, Samoans, Rotumans, Solomon Islanders, Micronesians and Europeans preserving cultural traditions including turtle calling, the Hindu ritual of firewalking and tapa beating.
The city is also home to one of the biggest and most colourful markets in the South Pacific with a tantalising array of tropical fruits on offer. Cultural sites abound with religious buildings, museums and craft centres capturing the traditions of all things Fijian.
From February to March, those interested in observing the cultural festivals of local islanders should keep an eye out for Holi, the Hindu festival of colours. From March to April, there is also the Hindu festival of Ram Naumi which celebrates the birth of Lord Ram.
Christian festivals are also celebrated throughout the islands including Easter and Christmas and are popular among local Christian residents.
And all that day-time activity will certainly build up an appetite for the local cuisine rich in fish and coconut cream. Alcohol is widely available with many local varieties to sample. Yaqona is Fiji's traditional drink which is sipped from a half coconut shell as part of a ceremony during all cultural and social events. There's usually one every night in the resorts.
Beachcomber is one of the party islands so those looking for some lively nightlife should head there.
Weather In Fiji
The mild climate in Fiji means that it has pleasant, temperate weather all-year round, which makes it a popular escape from winters in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The best time to visit, however, is the dry season or the Fiji winter from May to October. Around this period the island experiences cooler temperatures, less rainfall and humidity and there is a significantly reduced risk of tropical cyclones.
Destination Checklist For Fiji
- Public nudity such as topless sunbathing is frowned upon.
- While homosexual acts are no longer illegal on the island, they should be kept to a private setting.
- English is the official language in Fiji.
- Its international dialling code is +679.
- It is 10 hours ahead of GMT.
- The official currency is the Fijian Dollar.
- Tipping is not expected or even encouraged.