If you’re planning a trip to Fiji, congratulations, it could be among the best times of your life. If this is your first time visiting the white sand beaches in the midst of a tropical paradise, there are a few things that you need to know before you go. Part of the excitement is moving beyond the boundaries of the resort to mingle with the locals and to see a few attractions and get in on the amazing culture. In order to make the most of your vacation, here are 10 ways to get the most out of your time in the islands.
Understand Fiji Time
The term “Fiji Time” is a very real thing in the islands. By understanding this in advance, you will save yourself a little confusion or frustration. In Fiji, things can come up, just like anywhere else in the world. Not everything goes according to plan and there are likely to be delays that set you back on your hard core itinerary. You’ll be ahead of the game if you plan to scale back on the urgency scale and realize that things are laid back in Fiji and there is no big hurry to get things done most of the time. If you booked a tour or activity at 9 am, don’t be surprised if it’s closer to 10 when things really start to roll. The amount of fun and enjoyment you have is all in the attitude. It’s best to go there with the knowledge that you’re going to shift into a lower gear and take things as they come with no big worries. The Fijians will help you to slow down and relax whether you like it or not.
When you’re in Fiji, you absolutely must go to Taveuni. On this lush and beautiful island there is a location that lets you put a foot in one time zone, and your other in a different one. How many people can say that they were standing in two time zones simultaneously? Besides achieving this amazing feat, while you’re there you can explore the beauty of the “Garden Island” and visit a breathtaking waterfall and even slide down it into the pristine waters below with some degree of safety.
Prepare for an emotional arrival and departure
As if the excitement of landing in Fiji isn’t an experience in itself, when you arrive at the airport, you will be greeted by the friendly locals who are happy to have you visit. Get ready for smiles and nods in addition to walking bands playing ukulele and guitar when you make your way through immigration. It’s no different when you make your departure. The people of Fiji know how to treat their guests so be prepared for a good time from the moment that your feet hit the ground until you depart to go back home.
Gender words can be confusing
Get ready for a bit of a culture shock, but it’s not a bad thing. In Fiji, there are no words to describe gender differences, he and she are pronouns that are fairly useless. The natives may call a woman he or a man a she, but don’t correct them. In this paradise, male and female are considered to be “the same but different.” If it’s tough to wrap your mind around it, that’s okay, just realize before you arrive that things are going to be a little different and in order to maximize your time in the islands, it’s good to realize that there are going to be differences in language, communications and also in world perspective. It’s all a part of the charm and ambiance of the Fijian experience, so immerse yourself.
Children are welcome and celebrated
If you’re planning a trip to Fiji, don’t hesitate to take the children. They’ll be well treated as Fijians love children immensely. In fact, you may notice that many of the locals act like big kids in their approach to everyday things. They know how to enjoy every day and see it with a special kind of humor that in Western society is more of what the children do than the adults. The many resorts in Fiji cater to kids and have some of the most amazing nannies on staff for their kids’ clubs.
Getting directions can be confusing
It’s a good idea to do a little research before you go to Fiji on how to get around. If you ask a local for directions, the answer is likely to be extremely vague and largely unhelpful. The answers are usually something like, Yea, go down there a ways and it’s on the other side of the thing.” Distance and time are ambiguities in the area. Getting a straight and to the point answer can take a while. Sure, they know where to go, but telling a tourist is totally different and it might be good to have a tour guide or a map.
Traditional ceremonies are a must
When you’re in Fiji, you’ll be invited and welcome to take part in their traditional ceremonies. Here’s an advance warning though, the traditional kava ceremony is an important social and cultural custom. It involves drinking a beverage that is brewed from the bare root of a pepper tree. You’re supposed to gulp down the concoction in one attempt, then clap three times. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe and the only sensation that kava will cause is a mild tingle in the mouth. It’s the taste of muddy dish water that is the worst part of the experience.
Don’t miss out on the ‘real’ Fiji
You’ll kick yourself if you don’t take the time to venture off of the established tourist itinerary to discover thee real culture and people of these islands. The resorts and local amenities are nice, but there is so much more to Fiji. The island of Rabi is volcanic, small villages can be found on some of the outer islands with people still maintaining a traditional lifestyle that is worth finding out about and interacting with. Learn about the real Fiji for an experience you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
Obey the laws and avoid problems
Familiarize yourself with the local customs and laws to make the most of your time in Fiji. For example, the speed limit is 80 KMH. If you rent a car it will be amazing, but if you get caught breaking the speed limit, you will be fined. It may seem like there are few restrictions, but this can be deceiving. You should also expect to have the locals pull out in front of you suddenly on the roads. It happens a lot so if you go with an attitude that prepares you for the unexpected, you’ll have a better time and less chance of an accident or a fine. Hey, it’s their island and they do what they feel like at the time.
Sunday is the day for church
Fiji islanders take Sundays very seriously. It’s the day when most dress in their very finest and go to church. This means that most of the businesses are closed or at least will run on limited hours. Knowing this helps you to plan your trip with this in mind. It’s not the best day of the week to plan for a shopping trip. One benefit of going to Fiji during a religious holiday is that you’ll find plenty of festivities and celebrations, but Sunday is a day that is usually reserved for religious observances. It’s a good time to bring out your conservative clothing