IN A COCONUT SHELL
Fiji is a country that consists of 333 islands. The biggest island is referred to by the locals as “the mainland.” The mainland has the international airport in Nadi [west coast] and the capital city of Suva [east coast]… and that’s about it. There’s really nothing on the mainland for visitors – when people think of “Fiji,” they most likely have an image in their mind that resembles one of the outer islands.
The Currency. The Fijian Dollar [FJD] which is about FJ$1=US$.67
Driving. In Fiji, driving is done on the left side of the road. Chances are you won’t be driving anyway because once you’re off the main island and at a nice beach, there are no cars.
ISLANDS AND BEACHES
The Islands. Most likely, if you fly into Fiji, you’ll fly into the Nadi International Airport which is located on the mainland… don’t stay on the mainland. Rather, get yourself to the other islands where you can enjoy everything Fiji has to offer!
Beaches. The most beautiful pictures you ever see of a beach were probably taken somewhere in Fiji – the beaches are absolutely indescribable.
One of my favorite things about island-life, is the unless supply of fresh coconuts. Grab your machete, climb a tree, and have at it! Or just find some on the ground (which is what I did).
Eat them! Drink the milk and eat the meat. YUM!!! And some people swear this is one of the healthiest things you can possibly eat and drink. I’m sold.
Make Jewelry! Old coconuts (ones that are already dry and dark brown) are perfect to turn into jewelry. The place where I stayed had some tools, so I was able to cut it and sand it into an awesome bracelet (it’s big, so I wear it as an arm band). The boys had fun making pendants for surfer necklaces.
SCUBA DIVE & SNORKEL
I’ve been scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (supposed to be the most amazing underwater scenery in the world – can even be seen from space), but honestly, I enjoyed snorkeling in Fiji a lot more than scuba diving in Australia. The colors, fish (see below), coral, sand, weather, etc. is SO incredible, there’s really nothing like it (that I’ve seen, yet)!
I didn’t have a waterproof camera on this trip, so I didn’t get any action shots (unfortunately, because there were little sharks all around the edge of the reef that we were “chasing”). Nevertheless, if you’re staying at a resort/hostel, ask if they can take you borrow a spear gun. They let us borrow a few and even took us out on the boat (so that we didn’t have to swim). We caught a TON of beautiful fish, and about an hour later, had them for dinner (can’t get any fresher than that)!
DRINK SOME KAVA
Of course I visited the local school on the island. They were more than welcoming to all tourists to come into the classroom! The kids like practicing their English with visitors :)
If you’d like to visit a school, I would first check with your hostel for which time is best and perhaps even set up a time. Or drop by the school to ask when you should come back.
The school that I visited preferred visitors around 10:30 and 14:30 but other times were OK if you wanted to see something specific [like the Fijian lesson or history lesson].
Once you’re on one of the other islands other than the mainland, most people take day trips from which ever island they chose. Day trips are excursions that you book through wherever you’re staying and include snorkeling, scuba diving [if you’re certified], visiting even smaller and more remote islands, fishing, bonfires and camping on sandbars in the middle of the ocean, etc. etc. etc.! The Day-Trips that I went went on were usually around FJ$70 [about US$39].
There are the typical hostels in Fiji where you just get a bed and have a place to shower; there are ones on the mainland that are really cheap [about US$8 per night] and include free WiFi and breakfast the next morning. One of these cheap hostels with internet and a meal that is also right next to Fiji’s international airport is called Bamboo.
There is also another type of accommodation in Fiji that is like a hostel but a little different – these are often referred to as a “backpack” (“which backpack are you staying in,” “when you leave your backpack, you’ll be right on the beach”)
Backpacks usually run at about FJ$85 [about US$47] for a single person in a room with a few other people. Private rooms are FJ$180 [about US$100] so couples might be interested in this option since it works out to about the same price but with a private toilet, shower, and sink.
The backpacks that I have seen include all meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner… but there are cheaper ones that include just breakfast.
MUST-KNOW FIJIAN WORDS
Hello = Bula*
Thank you = Vinaka
*When a local says “Bula” to you, you MUST say “Bula” back. If you just smile or say hello or anything else that is perfectly acceptable in other societies, it is considered to be really disrespectful. Get used to saying “Bula” when you visit Fiji because you’ll be saying it every minute while walking around.
DID YOU KNOW?
The flowers that the girls wear behind their ears aren’t just for decoration! Depending on which ear the flower is behind, tells the girl’s marital status. If the flower is behind the girl’s left ear, the girl is telling everyone that she is available and looking. If the flower is behind the girl’s right ear, then the girl is letting the village know that she is taken.
This is the same in Hawai’i! I thought it was just a fashion statement – so I joined in and started wearing a flower too. This is when I learned that the little flower actually says a lot more than I thought.