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Fiji Planning Tips and Fast Facts

Discover Why “Where Happiness Finds You” is the Fijian Mantra

Our Expert Opinion

The underwater world of Fiji is spectacular, and this is one of the best places in the South Pacific for snorkeling and diving. Fiji is vast, and a good itinerary for first timers to sail around Viti Levu and the Mamanuca Islands. May to September is the best time to go.

What is Destination Known For?

Turtle Watching, Shark Swimming, Excellent Water Sports, Volcanic Hikes, Island Hopping, World Class Diving and Beautiful Vistas, Lovely and Welcoming People

Location and Size

With a total land area of 7,054 square miles (18,270 square kilometers), Fiji comprises of around 332 volcanic islands, of which only 110 are inhabited. Established in the South Pacific, Fiji lies 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii and 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) north of New Zealand. Suva is the capital city of the Fiji islands.

History

Although legend has it that Lutunasobasoba, a co-founder of the Fijian race led his people to these islands, experts debunk this theory as one of missionary parentage. Another theory which tells that the first inhabitants of Fiji were the Proto-Polynesians, around 1220 BC, originally from Southeast Asia, is the one accepted by anthropologists. They called this place 'Viti'. A peaceful land surviving on fishing, it was introduced to agriculture around 500 BC with the expansion of the population. But agriculture alone could not arrest the issues of a growing habitat, and the region infamously resorted to feuds and cannibalism.

In 1643, Abel Tasman – a Dutch explorer, became the first European to set foot on the islands. Captain James Cook sailed through the islands in 1774 and mispronounced them as 'Fiji', the name by which the archipelago has since been known. However, Captain William Bligh is credited with the discovery of this place in 1789.

Christian missionaries started arriving in Fiji in 1830s. Tribal chiefs Cakobau and Ma'afu, controlling the west and east of Fiji respectively converted to Christianity; the rest of the country followed suit and tribal warfare and cannibalism was soon wiped out.

In 1868, Cakobau sold the capital Suva to an Australian company and in 1871, he was made the king of Fiji. In 1874, Fiji became a British crown colony. After a

measles epidemic claimed the lives of about one-third of the country's population in 1875-76, a large number of laborers were brought into Fiji in between 1879-1916 to work on its sugar plantations.

 Recruitment of Indian laborers was halted and in 1920, the British Government granted Fijians the right to vote. In 1963, the Fijian Alliance Party (AP) was set up and in 1970, Fiji became an independent nation, with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as the prime minister. Tense moments were witnessed in Fiji's political situation with a series of coups and changes of governments in the early 2000s.

Although military rebellions have marred Fiji's history, that has not deterred the country from emerging as the happiest nation in the world in a poll conducted in 2014. The country is gifted with hushed locations of profound scenic beauty, which continues to entice serenity seekers.

Getting There

By Air: Nadi International Airport (NAN) is the major gateway of Fiji to the world and is well connected with numerous international destinations. Direct flights are available from the USA, Canada, New Zealand & Australia. Several one or two-stop flights are available from the UK and other countries.

Best Time to Go

Fiji remains warm year-round and can be visited at any time of the year. However, the wet season which runs from November to March also witnesses cyclones during this period. May to September are cooler and drier, and thus ideal for sea-sports and other adventures.

Local Customs to Observe

Fijians are warm and hospitable people who are conservative with their dressing. Beachwear and swimsuits are confined to the beach. 'Bula', the local expression for 'Hello' is commonly used as a greeting.

Helpful Fast Facts

Currency: Fijian Dollar (FJD)

Time Zone: Fiji Time Zone (UTC+12:00)

Local language: Fijian, English & Hindi

Population: 895,974 as of March 17, 2016

Airport: Nadi International Airport (NAN)

Entry Requirements: Visas are not required for citizens of the USA, Australia, UK, Canada and other EU countries. Other nationals require a pre-arrival visa. A passport valid for 6 months beyond the duration of stay is required for all tourists. A visitor's permit is normally valid for up to a maximum period of 4 months. All tourists must have an onward or return ticket and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

Departure tax: Fijian $30 (except children under 12)

Legal Drinking Age: 18 years old

Smoking Regulations: Smoking is banned in all enclosed and public places with limited exceptions at pubs, bars and indoor offices.

Staying in touch: The major places have a decent mobile and internet coverage. Communication may be an issue in the interiors. International roaming agreements exist with major mobile service providers.

Medical Information: The Suva Private Hospital is the country's premier medical facility. A few more hospitals including the Lautoka Hospital in Lautoka and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva can take care of a number of medical cases. Facilities are limited in the rural areas and the remote islands.

Public Holidays: New Year Day (Jan 1); Good Friday, Easter Saturday & Monday; Queen's Birthday (June 13); Fiji Day (Oct 10); Diwali; Milad un Nabi; Christmas Day & Boxing Day (Dec 25 & 26 respectively)

Tourist Office: To get more details about the tourist destinations of the country, you can visit http://fiji.travel.

Shopping Information: Top buys in this shoppers' heaven include pearls, polished coconut shells, tapa cloth, sarongs, bongo drums, woodcarvings and woven works. Nadi, Suva and Lautoka are the favorite shopping destinations in all of Fiji and offer a plethora of amazing deals and duty free goods.

Top Ten "Must Do's"

  • Snorkel in Waitab Marine Park on Fiji's Garden Island
  • Explore the untouched places of Yasawa Islands
  • Take a plunge at isolated atolls of Rotuma brimming with barracudas, sea turtles and moray eels
  • Groove to the tunes of Meke
  • Pamper your palette with Paulsami and Lovo
  • Enjoy waterskiing, kayaking and snorkelling at Korovou Bay
  • Scuba Diving at volcanic islands such as Vanua Levu and Taveuni
  • Discover the unspoilt paradise of Savusavu Bay
  • Leverage your water toys at Castaway Island
  • Unwind at Natadola – voted one of the world's top ten beaches

Major Local and Regional Events

  • Bula Festival (July) – A-week-long festival that features food stalls, fun games & contests, themed nights, parades and a lot more
  • Hibiscus Festival (August) – A-nine-day cultural event celebrated in Suva which culminates in an annual beauty pageant where women from around the world compete for the crown of Miss Hibiscus/Hibiscus Queen

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