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Fiji: What to know before you go

May 30, 2018 by Emily Houston

After traveling on our Highlights of Australia & New Zealand tour, Project Manager Brittany opted to extend her stay and visit the beautiful country of Fiji. She spent her time in Fiji eating fresh seafood, learning more about Fijian culture, and relaxing on the beach—and now she’s sharing what to expect before setting foot on this slice paradise.

tivua-island-optional-excursion-fiji

Get ready to relax

Fiji perfectly encapsulates the laidback island lifestyle that immediately comes to mind when you think of the South Pacific country. Offered as an extension on many of our tours of Australia and New Zealand, Fiji is the perfect destination to tack onto the end of a trip down under. With ample free time, you’ll be able to explore and enjoy the island no matter what your interests are. “Whether you’re relaxing poolside at your resort on Denarau Island, drinking a piña colada, or taking a trip to the spa, Fiji is a much more relaxed vacation destination,” said Brittany.

The resort also offers water activities like jet skiing and paddle boarding for those wanting to follow their adventurous spirit. Travelers looking for shopping and dining options can head to The Port at Denaru. Reach the port by taking a ride on a local bus, which costs 8 Fijian dollars for a day pass, or walking ten minutes from the resort. There are a variety of shops and restaurants for those interested in picking up some souvenirs or enjoying a meal at a local restaurant.

Pack for summer weather

Warm sunny weather welcomes travelers when they land in Fiji after the three-hour flight from Auckland, New Zealand. Temperatures average in the mid-to-high seventies with some humidity, giving this island a tropical feel year-round.

Items like a towel, bathing suit, and sunscreen are staples when packing for this portion of tour, but Brittany also suggests throwing in some bug spray, a coverup, and a hat. “If you plan on walking from the resort to the port it can get a little buggy so bug spray will help you avoid any bites,” said Brittany. “A light sarong and a hat will help provide additional sun protection.”

Know what to order

It’s no surprise that seafood is a mainstay on the islands. Be sure to try kokoda, which is the Fijian take on ceviche. The traditional South American dish normally has a strong acidic taste due to the citrus juice that coats the fish. Kokoda still has that fresh fish flavor, but instead of using just citrus juice as the base, Fijians add in coconut milk to give the dish a sweet and creamy kick. Brittany suggests heading down to the port and trying it at the Bonefish seafood restaurant.

Not to fret if you’d prefer to spend your days at the resort. The food options at the hotel restaurant are just as delicious and authentic. “In the mornings you can get fresh fruit smoothies made with coconut—a Fijian favorite,” said Brittany. “At night, be sure to try the lovo-style chicken, fish, or pork.” Lovo is a Fijian take on the traditional cooking style called hāngi that’s used by the Māori people in New Zealand. The food is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked inside a manmade hole in the soil. The heat combines with the moisture in the ground to cook the meat with steam, which gives it a rich and delicate taste.

Experience the culture

Fijian people have strong ties to their native roots and there are plenty of ways to learn more about their culture while visiting the country. One essential Fijian tradition is the kava ceremony. Kava, the country’s national drink, is a mixture of herbs and hot water that has an earthy flavor.

While the drink has grown to be more of a social custom, as opposed to a strictly ceremonial ritual, the best way to take part in it is by heading out on the Fiji Village Visit: Indigenous Culture & Traditions excursion. “The excursion is a great way to learn about native Fijian way of life, such as the history of their handicrafts and traditions,” said Brittany. “You even get to stop at a small fruit and vegetable market at the start of the day to try some of the local foods.”

Visit Tivua Island

If you’re looking to spend some time lounging on a secluded white-sand beach or swimming in the sparkling blue water, then taking part in the Tivua Island Sailing & Snorkeling excursion is a must. “At the start of the excursion the locals welcomed us onto a wooden boat with music and a traditional kava ceremony,” said Brittany. “We then sailed for about an hour and a half and passed a bunch of Fijian islands as we made our way to Tivua Island.”

Brittany described the island as being exactly what you picture in your mind when you think of Fiji. “We spent the day lounging in the cabanas that lined the shores of the private island,” said Brittany. “Plus, you can walk around the entire island in eight minutes so it has a very secluded feel.” In addition to soaking up the sun, travelers can snorkel and see the fish from a glass-bottom boat. “I learned that scientists are growing coral to build the country’s marine ecosystem,” said Brittany. “So there are lots of colorful fish to see. I even saw a baby black-tip reef shark.” After experiencing the beauty of the island and enjoying included drinks and a delicious lunch, it’s no surprise that this was Brittany’s favorite day in Fiji.

Eating the food, relaxing on the beaches, enjoying the weather—these experiences have us dreaming of visiting Fiji.


Know before you go
About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal, a carafe of sangria, and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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