First time traveling to Fiji? Here are some basic things to know!

November 3, 2011

BULA!!

Thinking of traveling to Fiji? You have no idea what to expect? Or even better, you THINK you know what to expect! I am going to quickly run through much of the basics of Fiji, including types of accommodations, typical clientele, food, culture, experience..... and just where the heck Fiji is.... let’s start with that one.

Fiji is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,300 miles north of New Zealand, or 10,200 miles south, west, of Hawaii. If you are thinking, “that’s the middle of the Ocean”, you’re wrong…. It’s slightly south of the middle of the Ocean.

Now that we all know where Fiji is, lets cover the basics. Currency is the Fijian Dollar, obviously the US Dollars values change regularly, but it’s a very good value, not quite 2 to 1, but close to it. So Fiji is a great place to go when you are on somewhat of a budget, or just really enjoy buying things while you are there. Tipping. Everywhere you read online, everyone you speak with, even people who live or work in Fiji, they all say that you do not need to tip, it is not expected… this is partially true, but let’s be honest. Anywhere, with tourism as the main source of revenue, will be familiar with tipping. And just like most other destinations, Fiji is receiving of tips. Previously tipping was not widely accepted, and some parts of Fiji tipping is not common. But in the main destinations if Fiji, it is common and accepted. So how does this help you? Who to tip, who not to tip, and how much? Think of tipping the same way you would in the US, the only difference is who to tip. Transfer companies, tour operators, these are the most familiar with tipping and will be very accepting of it. At hotels tipping is also accepted, however it’s typically done indirectly. Most hotels will allow you to leave a tip for their staff; any amount is greatly appreciated and will go towards Christmas bonuses, education, etc.

Transportation: From LAX… Big plane, 10 ½ hour flight. As far as getting around the destination itself, it's a grouping of islands…. You will be on a boat, at least most of the time. Unless you plan to stay on the main island of Viti Levu, you will typically end up on a boat sooner or later. Be it as a transfer to your hotel, or on an excursion or activity at the resort. And most of the resorts in Fiji include a “wet Landing” where guests will actually wade ankle deep in water to the sandy beach. Personally I feel this adds to the overall experience in Fiji, but it may not be for everyone. Aside from boats, most of the areas will require an additional flight (in a small plane….like 20 seats and little spiny things called propellers) and van transfers. If you crave those bright blue, clear waters, seclusion, surrounded by lush lands and bright blue sky, you will need to take a small plane followed by land transfer to get there. Though there are some amazing properties on the main island of Viti Levu, most resorts there do not have the beautiful ocean so many clients think of when they picture Fiji. So be prepared for lots of traveling, but I promise, it is worth it!

Culture: The best part of Fiji? The Culture, the people in general are what make the destination so enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, everything about Fiji satisfies, but after a trip to Fiji, when someone asks what the best part of Fiji is, it’s the people. I cannot name another place in the world that you are so welcomed as “family”, treated with respect and a sincere want… no LOVE to help you, to serve you. The Fijian people love their country, and they take pride in the hospitality industry. Every person you pass will shout “BULA” at you. It can actually be pretty humorous watching first time visitors walk pas a large Fijian man who shouts “BULA” making the visitors jump and not know if they should smile or run and hide! Fortunately, the big white smiles that visitors receive are quick to show the love and sincere welcome intentions. Fiji is mostly Christian in religion, and holds strong religious values. Kava is a traditional drink and ceremony that the native Fijians did. It would be difficult to go to Fiji and not experience a traditional Kava ceremony. If given the option, it is a must! And don’t be afraid to try the Kava, it is a unique experience…. just remember, when offered it, ask for a “Tsunami!” you’ll thank me later.

Accommodations: Fiji has many types of accommodations to choose from, ranging from traditional Bure’s, to standard hotel high rises. A Bure is like a fancy hut, or a bungalow if you are familiar with those. Hotel s have the standard star ratings, and there are all types from 1 to 5 stars in Fiji. Plenty of choices for any client, regardless of their needs, so expect the same comforts you would when traveling anywhere.

Food: The one noticeable difference with resorts in Fiji, compared to other resorts in more industrialized destinations, is the food. Fiji offers endless options for fresh sea food, and great spices like curry. But because of its location, it has to import much of its food. Things like Cheese, or other Dairy items, are hard to find, and typically do not meet expectations of clients. In general the food is good, well made, fresh and enjoyable. But there is a difference that clients should be aware of. Though clients will be satisfied, the meals at a 5 star resort in Fiji, compare more to a 3 ½ or 4 star property in Hawaii. Some resorts seem to go above and beyond with their meals, and you can find which hotels those are under my “hotel review” section of the blogs.

Clientele for Fiji: Before I went to Fiji I only saw the destination as a place for Honeymoon couples on a budget. Boy was I wrong! Never would have thought that Fiji is great for Families, but when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only is it good for Families, it specializes in Families! The Fijian people are so loving and caring, that the women working in Children programs, or Child care, treat the children like they are their own. I cannot begin to explain how amazed I was seeing this, and I could not explain. Trust me when I say that Families will be happy in Fiji! Aside from Families, it is great of honeymoons, and yes it is more economical than Tahiti, but it does not sacrifice anything. Fiji is a resort of its own, with an amazing culture, activities, and endless luxuries. Because of this it’s also popular for anniversary couples, repeat guests and even friends. Think of Fiji as the new “IT” destination. It’s growing rapidly and improving daily. Definitely the popular destination to be in today’s world. Don’t question it, just get with the times! Disabled clients may find it difficult or impossible to travel to most of Fiji’s hotels. The only reasonable options are on the main land of Viti Levu, where some of the hotels have handicap accessible rooms. Any other resorts off the main land will require boat transportation, or aircrafts which do not accommodate wheelchairs, or easily accommodate other types of handicap clients.

Experience: Every client who goes can have a different experience, but it’s almost guaranteed they will have one of the most enjoyable, and memorable experiences of their life! Perfect destination for romance, families, scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports of all kinds, hiking and outdoor activities, culture, meeting new people, or just complete relaxation. All in all, for a great value, with an amazing destination and culture, endless luxuries, and simply, a really fun time, Fiji is the perfect place to travel. Beautiful landscaping, great weather with warm sun, turquoise blue waters, amazing world class resorts, friendliest people on the planet. I cannot think of a more perfect place than Fiji.

sota tale (till we meet again)
Steven Perry

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