Sea Fiji Travel - Your Fiji Experts

Frequently Asked Questions    


Is Fiji Safe?

What do I absolutely need to bring?

What should I pack to wear?

What else should I bring?

Are there any extra charges for anything?

What are the check-in policies and baggage allowances for travel to Fiji?

Can I store baggage at the Nadi airport?

What is Fiji's currency and how about exchanging money and making payments?

What's the weather like?

Will I need a power converter?

Do I need a travel visa?

Do I need any shots?

What do I need to do to go diving?

What kind of rental dive gear is available?

Is there a recompression chamber?

What language is spoken in Fiji?

Should I tip?

What forms of payment are taken in Fiji?

Is it OK to bring gifts?

What should I know about visiting a village?

What's Kava?

 

Other Travel Tips

 

Useful Links

 

A Brief History of Fiji

 

Fiji Books and Music



Fiji is very safe for tourists who follow common sense practices. That said, keep in mind that there is some crime, mostly in the larger cities. Resorts are generally very safe and many provide night watchmen to patrol their properties and be available in case of any guest emergencies. Discuss any concerns you might have about the local area with the resort staff prior to leaving the resort grounds. Check any travel advisories posted by your home country prior to travel. The U.S. Dept. of State's recommendations can be found by clicking Travel to Fiji. For health safety issues, click here.


Necessities- Be sure that you have these things in your possession when you leave for the airport!


What are the check in policies and baggage allowance on international and inter-island flights? Different airlines and even classes of ticket have their own policies and restrictions. Be sure and check with your carrier to verify the baggage restrictions for your ticket. You can check policies for Fiji Airways and Fiji Link flights here:

~Fiji Airways check-in policy

~Fiji Airways International / Domestic baggage policy

 


Excess luggage may be stored at the Nadi airport. At the far end of the domestic terminal there is a secure Storage Facility "Left Luggage" office operated by airport security. Oversize items (bikes, surfboards, etc) cost F$14.20 per item per day, suitcases or backpacks are F$9.50 per item per day, and day bags or small hand luggage run F$7.10 per item per day. Prices may change without notice.


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We find that most people over pack, and most resorts offer laundry services. Shorts and T-shirts or beachwear will probably be your principal attire. A formal event might mean wearing 'crisp casual' clothing, or maybe more tailored 'safari' type attire. Our motto is 'don't pack more than you can carry by yourself all at once'. When you take into consideration that the inter-island flights have weight limits of 15kg (about 33 pounds) per person for your checked luggage, it helps to leave out the unnecessary items. Dress is casual, with loose fitting open neck shirts for men, and "island style" dresses or shorts and blouses for women. Swimsuits bikinis (etc.) and other brief attire is acceptable on the beach and around the pool at resorts and on dive boats, but is generally frowned upon in villages and other public places. Short shorts, and halter or tank tops for women should also be avoided outside of resort environments. When visiting villages, women should cover their shoulders and shorts should cover the knees. More tailored "Safari" clothes are good for more formal occasions. Bring a sweater for cool evenings. A sulu (sarong or pareo) is the one indispensable article of clothing for both men and women in Fiji. Bring one if you have it, or they are available everywhere in Fiji. Ask a staff member how to tie it (men do it differently than women).

Here are the basics:

Shorts (1-3 pair) Board shorts, cargo shorts, quick dry or surf shorts all work well. Make one pair a little nicer for wearing in the evenings.

T-shirts (1-2 shirts) The quick dry water sports shirts are good

Swim attire

Footwear Sandals (Teva style), water shoes / booties, Crocs and quick dry trail runners are all good. Flip flops are OK for resort areas, but you might want something more secure for hiking.

A light sweater, long sleeve shirt or light fleece for cool evenings.

Lightweight rain jacket


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Some items can be expensive to acquire while in Fiji:

Sunscreen (make sure it is a high SP factor, and also safe for the reefs)

Bug spray (DEET is best).

Band-aids, antibacterial cream, prescription medications

Snorkel or dive equipment (resorts typically have gear for rent, but there are few shops that sell them)

Laptop or tablet

Camera / charger / extra memory cards

Gifts for schools / villages

Empty zip-lock bags (wet swimsuits, etc)

Flashlight / extra batteries

Reef shoes


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Please be aware that due to the global increases in the price of fuel, resorts may charge a fuel surcharge. This is applied at the resort for activities that include transportation or motorized water sports, and is not collected as part of your holiday package rates. Other charges you may encounter are fees for diving in Marine Parks or Reserves, special dive trips or sites not included in your package rates, equipment rental, entrance fees for off-site attractions or activities, and transportation fees. Some resorts include meals, and others don't. Alcoholic beverages, and other beverages not included with meals are generally additional. Make sure that you are fully aware of what is included (and excluded) in your holiday package before purchasing.


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Residents of the U.S. and Canada visiting Fiji must have a current passport, valid for at least 6 months past your date of entry. Visas are granted upon arrival in Nadi for up to 30 days, and may be extended for up to six months. Citizens of other countries should check with the Fiji Embassy nearest them for information on entry. There is a list of visa exempted countries at:
~Fiji visa info


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Fijians speak English as a primary language, and it is taught in schools. However, Fijian, Indian, and some Chinese dialects are also spoken. Most hotel staff are fluent in English. Learning a few words of Fijian is fun, and appreciated by the locals, too.


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Normal banking hours are 9:30-3:00 Monday through Thursday, and 9:30-4:00 on Friday. Although U.S. currency can be exchanged at most resorts, the exchange rate is usually better from the bank. The ANZ Bank in the Nadi airport (with service windows to the right of the baggage claim area or just to the left after exiting the Customs Hall) is open after all flight arrivals for currency exchange, and is usually the best place to exchange funds. Resorts, businesses and many street vendors will accept American currency and travelers checks as well as Fijian currency, but you should expect to pay a slightly higher conversion rate than at the bank. Credit cards are generally accepted (with Visa and MasterCard being the most commonly accepted), although a surcharge of up to 5% is sometimes added. Credit card companies will also sometimes add an additional fee for processing charges in foreign currencies. The Fijian Dollar is the basic unit of currency, and banknotes are available in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. Coins have denominations of 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, and $2. The exchange rate for the Fijian Dollar is very favorable to the US Dollar, making travel to Fiji even more desirable. Some great deals exist - take a look at our Specials page.


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Weather in Fiji is South Sea tropical with two notable seasons: a dry season from June through October (corresponding to southern hemisphere winter) and a wet season from November through April (summer). The dry season is mild, with temperatures usually reaching an average maximum of 84 degrees F (29 C). The wet season can be hot and humid, with average temperatures reaching a maximum of 88 degrees F (31 C). Average water temperatures typically range from about 77 F (25 C) in the winter months to 81 F (27 C) in the summer, but can vary by a few degrees depending on latitude. For additional detail:
~Fiji weather detail.


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Standard electricity in Fiji is 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. An adapter (with the Australian style angled, flat, 2 pins) is required to operate U.S. appliances. Australian-style adapterMost modern electronics (computers, cameras, battery chargers, etc.) will accept voltage inputs from 110v to 240v, so a transformer is not necessary. These can typically be purchased in local shops or the duty free stores located in the baggage collection area of the Nadi airport. Note: Transformers only convert the voltage, not the frequency. The difference in cycles may cause the motor in a 60 Hz appliance to operate slightly slower when used on 50 Hz electricity. This cycle difference will cause electric clocks and timing circuits to keep incorrect time: American clocks operating on Fijian current will lose around 10 minutes every hour when used in Fiji. However, most modern electronic equipment like battery chargers, computers, printers, stereos, DVD players, etc. are usually not affected by the difference in cycles and adjust themselves accordingly to the slower cycles. In case you forget to check what the local voltage and frequency is, here's a trick. Take a look at an ordinary light bulb - you can read the voltage and frequency on either the glass or metal base!


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Fiji is free of major tropical diseases, including malaria (though Dengue Fever is a potential problem, especially away from resort areas). While the Aedes mosquitoes that are able to spread the Zika virus is not normally found in Fiji, there have been some cases reported and it is on the CDC Caution List (click here for more info). The water in cities, towns and at hotels and resorts is usually safe to drink out of the tap, but it is always a good idea to confirm this with the hotel or resort before drinking if you are uncertain. There is a western style medical system with hospitals located in major cities and medical centres in the rural areas. However, as is common in many third world areas the facilities and level of care is far less sophisticated than in the U.S. People with special needs should verify that appropriate service will be available prior to traveling. It is also wise to advise your own insurance company that you will be traveling abroad, and verify the coverage available to you while out of the country. Additional travel insurance can be purchased for the duration of your trip to cover medical, baggage, trip cancellation or interruption, and other potential problems, and is recommended. For information concerning possible dangers at international destinations, contact the Travel Advisory Section of the U.S. State Dept., 202-647-5225. For medical information, contact the Centers for Disease Control, 404-332-4559. The Fijian government does not require resorts to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act, and most resorts do not have handicap or semi-handicap facilities.


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Anyone with a valid Certification card can dive in Fiji. Use of Nitrox requires a special certification. Non-divers can take full certification courses at most resorts for basic scuba diving, or advanced courses to further their knowledge and skills. Course completions, or referral courses, can be arranged at most resorts as well. PADI and SSI are the predominate certification agencies in Fiji. These courses result in full lifetime certifications that are globally recognized. If you earn your certification here, it will most likely be with one of these agencies. For guests who just want to try it out, ask your resort about Discover Diving courses. They allow you to make closely supervised dives with that resort or dive operator, but are only valid during your current stay at that resort.


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Most resorts have snorkeling equipment for rent or loan, but we recommend bringing your own. You never know whether a rental mask will fit well, and what kind of shape it will be in. If you have your own you know how it fits and can use it at any time. Dive operators in Fiji use American equipment almost exclusively in their rental programs, and the vast majority is fairly new and well maintained. Wetsuits take a beating though, and again due to fit issues we recommend that you bring your own. Many divers weigh the inconvenience of bringing their gear against the daily cost and other drawbacks of renting, but the additional baggage charges on some carriers go a long way towards offsetting rental charges. Tanks, weights and belts are always provided by the dive operator. Mask, Fins (and booties), BCD, Regulator, Dive computer, and wet suits can all be rented. You will see some people diving in shorts and a T-shirt and others in a full 5mm with hood, both on the same dive. Your own comfort level depends on metabolism, water temperature, how many dives you've done that day and that week, and many other factors. You'll find that you tend to get colder toward the end of each dive, more so on repetitive dives, and further along during your trip after having done multiple dive days. We recommend taking a shorty or skin and a 3/5mm full wetsuit, to cover most conditions. A lightweight diving hood is a good addition in case you get just a little cold.


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There is a Recompression Chamber in Fiji, located in Suva. It is available on a 24 hour basis, staffed with trained medical personnel and technicians, and serves much of the South Pacific.


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Tipping is not customary in Fiji and we don't encourage individual gratuities. Fijians are helpful and friendly by nature and don't expect tips for their services. However, since they do make such a positive impression on guests, it is common to want to do something in return. Our recommended answer is to contribute to the Staff Christmas Fund maintained by the resort. Contributions are distributed to the entire staff during the Holidays. Ask the front desk or Resort Manager the best way to make a contribution to the resort staff, or villages, etc. The amount of your contribution is personal based on the experience you had during your stay, but gifts from F$10 to F$100 per person are common (but not mandatory) for a 7 night stay at a resort. (Tipping at some hotels and restaurants is becoming more common in Nadi and Suva, but still not customary.) We discourage tipping as it has the potential to alter the values of the Fijian people, and could eventually fundamentally change one of the very reasons that draws us to Fiji in the first place.


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M
any people ask what they can bring to give the local Fijians as gifts. Fijians don't travel much, so postcards from where you live are always a big hit. School supplies are always welcome (pens, pencils, colored pencils, school bags, etc.). Other school items are chalk, flash cards and even fun stickers. Lightly used adult and children's clothing including children's rain boots and raincoats are appreciated. For giving to a village, solar-powered flashlights and radios, biodegradable hand and laundry soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes and reading glasses as well as simple medical supplies (band-aids, large bandages, gauze dressing, tape, anti-bacterial ointment, etc.). Other fun gifts are Frisbees, yo-yo's, goofy sunglasses, and kid's card games. Cash donations to the village are also welcomed (we would suggest F$5-10 per visiting group), and presenting it to the village chief would be best (as opposed to individuals). Check with your resort or guide as to the most appropriate way of presenting your gifts. Please refrain from giving candy, gum or other sweets; they may be a big hit, but are typically not part of the local diet and can cause problems.


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Village visits are a wonderful insight into Fijian's daily life. Since Fiji's culture revolves around the village as a family, it is important to observe a few simple customs. First, don't enter a village without being invited. It is common (and expected) to present a gift of waka (the more potent part of the kava plant) to the Turaga ni Koro (village headman, pronounced Too-ranga nee koro) when you arrive. If you are visiting with a resort or tour guide, they will take care of this. Fijians are very modest, and while they might not correct you for the following transgressions, they would definitely be offended. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and no halter or crop tops or short shorts. A sulu is appropriate dress for both men and women. Sulus are the traditional dress of Fiji (men tie their sulu off to the side, and women tie theirs in front). Hats and sunglasses should not be worn within the village (considered an insult), and shoes should be taken off before entering a bure, or sitting on a woven mat. Touching anyone on the head, including children, is also considered an insult.


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Kava, or yaqona (pronounced: yang gona) is a pepper plant grown in the western Pacific. The roots of the plant are dried and pounded into powder, then prepared in a large bowl (called a tanoa) with collected rain water to produce a drink with mild sedative, anesthetic and euphoric properties. This has been used for centuries for ceremonial purposes, and you will no doubt encounter it while visiting Fiji. Don't let its appearance (looks like dirty dishwater) or taste (again, dishwater), or the fact that it is served in a half coconut shell (called a bilo) that is shared by everyone put you off of at least trying it. And by the way, it's customary to drink it all in one go. It won't kill you and you'll also be showing respect to your hosts and their customs. (Tip: ask for a 'low tide' serving to start). Some of your best memories of your trip may be while sitting around the tanoa bowl!


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~Travel Tips~


It is a good idea to have copies of everything from passports to travel documents and emergency contacts, and make sure that everyone traveling together has all of the copies. Even though electronic tickets don't require hard copies, it is a good idea to bring your eticket receipts. We recommend storing copies of all your important documents in a plastic sleeve or holder in a safe place in your luggage in case of loss of the originals. Also place your contact information inside each of your bags (as well as outside luggage tags –including your carryon bags) so that if they are lost there is still a chance they might be returned to you.


Although the desire to check your bags through LAX to Fiji is compelling, we suggest that you collect them in Los Angeles and recheck them with your international carrier. That way you are at least assured that they are in the possession of the correct carrier (and that they have made it at least as far as you have). Unfortunately, the frequency of lost luggage is increasing and anything you can do to ensure that your bags make it to your destination helps. Nothing gets your trip off to a bad start more than missing one or more pieces of luggage when you arrive.

 

Pack a change of clothes and a swimsuit in your carryon, in the event that your bags are lost or delayed. On the inter-island flights when the flight is full, luggage sometimes is sent up on a following flight.

 

Travel insurance is highly recommended. Many airline fares and resorts do not offer refunds.


Fijians are very open to having their pictures taken, but it is still best to ask permission first. The children (and even adults) like to see their images in digital cameras, so be sure to offer whenever possible. Bring photos of your home and yourselves, too, since most Fijians don't get to travel much, and many have never even been traveling around Fiji. They are always curious about where their guests come from, and they love to see and hear about your family. If you have a Polaroid and can still get film for it, taking your picture with them and leaving it so that they can remember you is very much appreciated.


Since many villages don't have good access to shops, the items below are always greatly appreciated. New or gently used items should be given to the village Chief, who will redistribute them among the villagers.

Gently used clothing and toy items

Fijians love to read but books, magazines, and comic books are difficult to get in remote areas.

Medical supplies - any basic items like band-aids, ace bandages, gauze, betadine, antibacterial ointments, decongestants, plus OTC pain remedies like ibuprofen and naproxen.

School supplies - pencils, pens paper, journals, art supplies, chalk, etc.

Reading glasses

Clothing Especially baby clothes and outgrown children's clothes, but everything up to adult shorts and shirts are also appreciated, including lightweight jackets.

Footwear - flip flops, running shoes, athletic footwear (Rugby and soccer are both popular).

 

Fijians drive on the left side of the road. Your own valid license is all that is required. Rental cars are available on Viti Levu, and by arrangement in some of the outer islands.


Passengers originating in or transiting through the United States should visit the web site of the Transportation Security Administration at www.tsatraveltips.us. Here you will find information on prohibited and acceptable items for both carry on and checked baggage, as well as other important information on insuring the smoothest passage through security checkpoints with the least amount of delay.


Due to the early arrival and late departure of flights into and out of Fiji, there are frequently extended waiting times in Nadi (especially at the end of your trip). Resort check out times are in the morning so that rooms can be prepared for incoming guests, and that often means that outgoing guests must vacate. Sometimes it is possible to check out and still stay at the resort until later in the afternoon, but those arrangements must be made at the resort. If you would like to guarantee that you have a place to stay during these times, we can arrange for a day room either at the resort or at another hotel near the airport (at an additional expense). Alternately, we can suggest several other options for inexpensive activities that would be more fun than just waiting at the airport. Contact us for additional information.


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