The joke ‘I’m on Fiji Time’ is one that is used frequently by locals. Fiji time is the laid back approach that means everything moves at a very slow pace. It has its roots in being happy, stress and worry free. When in Fiji, expect delays as people take their time getting to an event, having a long chat or ‘Talanoa’ session with friends when they should be working, taking the scenic route or even sleeping in. It is often used as an excuse or as a way to brush aside any questions regarding the delay. Don’t fight this system, just go with the flow, it will make your trip a lot less stressful!
Transport can be expensive
Airport transfers to hotels, tourist destinations and taxis can be quite expensive if you are a tourist. Unfortunately, the rates are much higher for tourists when compared to local travellers, but these drivers tend to be more reliable and knowledgeable. Boat transfers are also on the expensive side but can be affordable if coupled with day trips and island hopping or tours. Vehicle hire is also quite expensive and because some tourist destinations are located on unmarked and unsealed roads, getting around can be confusing. There is also no reliable GPS service on the islands so unless you have a local guide, it can become very stressful if you get lost. It is best to hire a taxi to get around or catch the local buses if you feel adventurous. If you decide to catch the bus, ask the drivers before hopping on or you may be taken hours inland into rural settlements with dusty roads and endless roads and no taxis in sight to take you back. It is therefore advisable to sign up for tours and day trips or booking transport through your hotel’s reception.
The traditional kava ceremony is held in every indigenous Fijian village that you wish to travel to. It may become quite expensive if you are to travel to a few villages as kava is not a cheap commodity. You may want to visit the village to access the community waterfalls or hiking routes therefore, you will be required to present the chief of the village with kava. A kava ceremony will then be held in your honour to welcome you to the village and you cannot refuse the kava offered to you. It is a sign of great disrespect if you do not accept a bowl of kava and most times, the same bowl is shared among all that are present for the ceremony. Unfortunately, it is a humble tradition and one that invites you to be a part of the entire village, and sharing is often a norm in most parts of Fiji, especially in villages. Clothing such as bikinis, shorts and pants are frowned upon. Carry a sarong with you to wrap around like a traditional sulu (a type of waist wrap around) worn by the Fijian people. Do not wear hats or sunglasses during the ceremony as this is seen as disrespectful too. Travelling to villages with a local guide or a tour company will help you navigate through these traditional expectations.
Being a developing nation, crime still remains a problem in Fiji. Hotel rooms have safes and should be used when leaving the room unattended because although theft at resorts and hotels are very low, other hotel guests and some locals visiting the hotels can be quite opportunistic and pocket your valuables when you are not paying attention. Outside of the tourist locations or when visiting local towns and markets, keep your valuables close to you and do not flaunt cash, phones and cameras. Bag snatchers can sometimes target tourists that are being too carefree and seem like easy targets. Some petty criminals can also lure you into a fake bargain and will offer to take you to a place where they sell something you are looking for, at a cheaper price. If it looks suspicious, do not engage, they may pester, persist and follow you but do not give in and they will go away.
Indians and Minorities
Fiji has a large percentage of Indians in the country, making up more than 40% of the population. They had arrived into the country in the early 1900s as indentured labourers (slaves) to work on sugarcane farms by the British empire. They have assimilated with the locals and over the years have become a part of the country and are now considered Fijians too. Fijian-Indian cuisine is a major part of the country and you can try many different and unique dishes. Chinese populations are a minority but have a large impact on the social fabric of the country. They are known for the hard work and principles and contribute greatly to the farming sector of the country. Many Chinese restaurants offer authentic Chinese food that will have you coming back for more. Europeans and other Pacific Islanders also make up Fiji’s population and add to the multiculturalism and diversity within the country, making it a very welcoming and inclusive society.