Are you planning your first ever trip to Fiji? Firstly, lucky you. You’re going to have the time of your life. Fiji has a special place in my family’s heart. Secondly, you’re going to love these Fiji travel tips, which are going to make your trip so much smoother and more enjoyable. Read on for my best tips for holidaying in Fiji for the first time…
Fiji Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors
1. Learn a little of the Fijian language
As soon as you land in beautiful Fiji, you’ll be hearing the word, “Bula!” every few minutes. English is spoken all around Fiji, but you’ll also hear the Fijian language being spoke too. Fijians are super friendly, and will happily throw a Bula (hello) your way as they pass you by, every single time they pass you by. Before you arrive in Fiji, it’s nice to learn a few basics to get by during your stay.
Bula = Hello
Vinaka (vee naka) = Thank you
Kere Kere (pronounced ‘kerry’) = Please
Tulou (too low) = Excuse me
2. Know the Fijian Dollar conversion rate
Knowing how much the dollar is worth before you travel is a good idea, so you can compare prices and value when shopping, or considering services. At present AUD$1 = FJD$1.49. If you’re staying in a resort, you often find that menus and prices will show Fijian prices with the Australian value next to it.
3. Book your trip during the ideal time of year
The best time to visit Fiji is from May to September, as this is the best time to visit weather-wise (and makes for a great escape of the cooler months in Australia). Outside of those windows can work too, with visitors raving about having a great trip in October (me! Our honeymoon was in October and it was great weather) and even January. The risk outside May-September is that you might have more showers, or even experience a cyclone, so that’s something to look into.
4. Try the local Fijian cuisine
I can not stress this enough, because it’s so darn delicious; try the local Fijian food. Resorts have delicious food geared towards Aussies, but I dare you to dabble in foods outside of your comfort zone. The Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has a great restaurant called Ivi Restaurant (located adjacent to a 100 year old Ivi tree), and it has the most beautiful authentic Fijian food, including Fijian Kokoda, made from freshly caught local fish. Alternatively, step outside the resorts and seek out little local eateries. The Crab Shack on the Coral Coast has loads of seafood, including mud crab.
5. Don’t jam pack your trip too much
I know the temptation to visit ALL the islands on your first visit is real, but the idea of Fiji is that it’s a slower pace and relaxing… so go at that pace. Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji, is one big island, with beautiful snorkeling and views, so staying put on the main island is a great holiday as is. Doing an island day tour, or breaking up your trip and staying on an island is a fun idea, and a great way to see more, but don’t jam pack it with more than that, you can just return to Fiji and see more next trip.
6. Understand Fiji time
You’ll hear about something called ‘Fiji time’ during your stay, and it just means that things will take as long they take. If something is said to start at 6pm, it will likely actually start on Fiji Time, meaning it will be a little later than you thought. As you start to relax and unwind, you’ll end up on Fiji time too. Just be sure to be ready for any tours or appointments on real time, because you don’t want to miss out.
7. Let the Fijians dote over your kids
Fijians love kids, especially squishy little babies. You’ll find at many resorts that they’ll have kids club that can entertain the kids, and give them the best holiday. Alternatively you can hire a nanny (in the Outrigger Resort this is called a Meimei service). This is around AUD$250 for four days, and that is more one on one care, especially if you have younger children. They’ll still hang out in the Kids Club, but they’ll have specialised care for babies and kids with higher needs.
8. Carry cash on you
While many resorts will be cashless and prefer for you to charge to your room, or have you pay by card, if you want to shop with locals, especially for crafts, hair braiding, and massages, it’s best to carry cash. You can get cash out at the airport, or alternatively the resort ATMs often have good exchange rates and are reliable.
9. BYO reef shoes
With Fiji being one big island, surrounded by loads of small islands, you’re going to find yourself on the beach at some point. The sand can often have a lot of coral (especially on the Coral Coast – it’s in the name!), which isn’t very comfortable to walk on. Resorts will often provide reef shoes, but if you have your own, bring them along, as well as your own snorkeling gear.
10. Pack sea sickness tablets
Do you know what comes with visiting islands? Boat rides! For some that might mean sea sickness. On our first trip, our honeymoon, we stayed on Matamonoa Island. We traveled from one big boat, to a smaller boat, to another smaller boat, and ended up in a smaller boat still. While the waters were calm, it can really depend on the day, so being prepared never hurt.
11. Bring your own snacks
This is the most resounding feedback I’ve heard from fellow travelers and perhaps the most important of my Fiji travel tips, bring your own snacks. Fiji is no Bali, you’re not going to get a meal for $2.50 like we do in Bali, so if you have kids who like to snack or even if you want to have a few nibbles on your balcony, or beach side in your Bure, you’ll probably want to bring your snacks and bits. We bought two packets of chips on our first day and they came to the grand total of FJD$26. Even in supermarkets outside your resort, you’ll pay much higher than Australian prices. Before you arrive, throw some snacks in your suitcase, especially if you have hungry kids.
12. Be prepared to get involved
This surprised me on our first visit; Fijians love when travelers get involved. You’re going to hear them ask you to join them in loads of activities through your stay. They’ll ask you to dance, play, join in, explore and even just chat. While it might be confronting at first, let loose and join in. You’ll have a blast. Fijians are the most beautiful people!
13. Bring gifts for the locals
While tips are always the best gifts for the team working at resorts, because they’re such hard, enthusiastic workers, it’s also a great idea to pack useful gifts for locals, especially if you do a Local Village Tour. Leading up to your trip collect stationery supplies to gift to local students, to help them thrive in their school environment. It’s not suggested to bring sweet treats to Fijians (because dental care is expensive), but I do know that many love a packet of Tim Tams or two.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these Fiji travel tips, and most of all, have an amazing time on your holiday! 🌴
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