Fiji

 Fijian dancers  Underwater view

Why Fiji?                                                                             Click here to view video

Most who visit Fiji want little more than a white-sand beach, a cloudless sky and the opportunity to fall into a sun-induced coma under a palm tree. On this score, Fiji doesn't disappoint. The Mamanuca and Yasawa islands arc north like a stingray's tail from the body of Viti Levu and are Fiji's movie stars, dangled in front of the world as idyllic South Sea Edens – their reefs and cobalt blue waters providing cinematic eye candy for films such as Tom Hanks' Cast Away and Brooke Shields' vehicle to stardom, The Blue Lagoon. Fiji has been in the tourism business for decades and the Nadi and Denarau island-hopping-escape itinerary has proven to be a winning formula. Those that arrive with notions of cocktails on alabaster beaches are seldom disappointed. The underwater scenery is spectacular and some of the finest, and most accessible, dives in the Pacific can be found here. Its reputation as the 'soft coral capital of the world' is well justified and with the opening of the country's first overwater bungalow resort on Malolo, Fiji remains flushed with sunburnt tourists despite the 2006 coup.

Northwest of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, is the Yasawa Group, a chain of volcanic islands set to rival the better-known Mamanucas in the popularity stakes. A daily catamaran threads its way from one bay to the next, dropping off and picking up travellers as it goes. The Yasawas are sparsely populated and the rainless dry spells that once made life so difficult for villagers is proving to be their greatest asset now. Local communities, inspired by the successes achieved further down the line, have opened budget 'resorts' and tout their coral gardens and laid-back charm as 'the real Fiji'.

But the Yasawas and Mamanucas – as lovely as they are – are only part of the equation and there’s more to Fiji than can ever be seen from a beach towel. To get to grips with the national psyche you have to spend time on either of the two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Two-thirds of the population live in urban centres and it is on Viti Levu that you’ll find the country’s two cities: Suva, the capital and Lautoka, a port town reliant on the sugar-cane farms that surround it.
Brimming with colourful attractions, awe-inspiring scenery, friendly people and cultural and sporting activities aplenty, Fiji offers something for everyone. From the wanderlust-suffused traveller to the hedonistic sports junkie, this archipelago at the crossroads of the South Pacific is tourist heaven.

  • When should I travel?
Fiji has a warm tropical climate perfect for beachside holidays. Maximum temperatures rarely move out of the 31°C (88°F) to 26°C (79°F) range all year round. Southeast trade winds from March to November bring dry weather and the rainy season runs from December to April. On average there are 15 cyclones per decade, and two to four actually cause severe damage. They occur from November to April and with greatest frequency in January and February. There is more risk in the outlying northwest island groups. Fiji does have a wet season, which is characterised by heavy, brief local showers and contributes most of the country’s annual rainfall. The wet season is normally from November to April and results from the southerly movements of the South Pacific Convergence Zone. Typically the smaller islands in Fiji receive less rainfall than the main Island with various amounts according to their location and size. Cyclones do occur in Fiji and are normally confined to wet season. The best months for holidaying in regards to Fiji weather is late March through to early December.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Most visits to Fiji are trouble-free, but travellers should take extra care when visiting isolated locations, especially when travelling alone. There is a low threat from terrorism in Fiji. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Tropical cyclones can occur in Fiji from the beginning of November until the end of April. Please listen out for radio/TV announcements and follow the advice/instructions issued by the local authorities. Driving conditions on all roads in flood affected areas can be poor.

  • What money should I take?
The currency is the Fijian Dollar (FJD).  American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted at a number of establishments and can be used in resorts on most islands. Major international cards are accepted at ATMs, which can be found in Nadi, Suva and Savusavu, and although they are cropping up throughout the rest of the islands, these cannot always be relied upon. Traveller's cheques attract a rate slightly higher than cash and are easily changed at banks (for a commission) and private exchange offices (often without commission).

  • What language will they understand?
The principal languages are Fijian and Hindustani. English is widely spoken and is also taught in schools.

  • How about my health?
Healthcare facilities in Fiji urban areas are adequate for routine medical problems. Two major hospitals, the Lautoka Hospital in the western city of Lautoka, and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, provide limited emergency and outpatient services.

  • Public Holidays

2012
01 January New Year's Day
05 February Birth of the Prophet Muhammad
06 April Good Friday
07 April Easter Saturday
09 April Easter Monday
04 May National Youth Day
25 May Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day
14 June Queen's Birthday
11 October Fiji Day
13 November Diwali
25 December Christmas
26 December Boxing Day

2013
01 January New Year's Day
24 January Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
29 March Good Friday
30 March Easter Saturday
01 April Easter Monday
10 June Queen's Birthday
10 October Fiji Day
03 November Diwali (Festival of Lights)
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

  • Do I need a visa?
South African passport holders are granted a visitors visa valid for 4 months on arrival.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
Yellow Fever is required if coming from an infected area.