Saturday, 17 June 2017

FIJI: Visiting Fiji Is Exciting Because Of Unspoiled Beauty And Tranquility

Fiji lies at the crossroads of the South Pacific and is an important regional hub. It is situated in the heart of the South Pacific and comprises 333 islands of unspoiled beauty and tranquility. The islands are mountainous and are covered with unique tropical forests.

Fiji is surrounded by a coral reef, shallow lagoons and steep drop-offsfeaturing a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, over 1,200 species of fish,and a dozen species of whales and dolphins.

Due to this extraordinary maritime environment, the country is considered one of the world’s best diving destinations.

Fiji also offers a host of other activities, among them snorkeling excursions over shallow reefs, jet boating and white water rafting thrills, trekking in the tropical rainforests, cave tours, fishing, kayaking expeditions, and surfing or swimming in the crystal clear waters of a rushing river.

The people of Fiji are famous for their friendliness and most of the country is still very much untouched by the outside world.

Life has changed very little for centuries. Today, much of the traditional Fijian culture is still intact and the Fijians have managed to keep their old lifestyle and customs.

Dining in Fiji offers a multiethnic culinary experience. Whether eating at a hotel, island resort, or in town, visitors will find a palate painted by flavors from India, China, Korea, Japan, Italy and the best of Europe as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific waters.

Fiji offers a variety of accommodation, from luxury resorts and hotels to backpacker hostels. Travel around Fiji is easy by domestic airline, seaplane, helicopter, catamaran, hired car/limousine, chauffeur driven car, taxi, bus, air conditioned coach, inter-island shipping, yachts, cruise charters, outboard boat (fibre), hired scooter, motorbike or bicycle.

When you make a river trip, you might end up on a ‚Äòbilibili’ or bamboo raft!

Fiji’s two International airports are Nadi, on the western side and Nausori on the east coast of Viti Levu near Suva.

Most international flights arrive and depart from Nadi, with direct flights to the USA and Canada. Fiji’s national airline, Air Pacific, provides service to Honolulu and Los Angeles.

Air Pacific offers five non-stops and Air New Zealand has one out of Los Angeles. Flight time from LA to Fiji is 10 hrs. Fiji can also be reached through New Zealand and Australia.

Fiji is a nature lover’s delight. The country’s islands offer an unspoiled, unique natural environment of extreme beauty and tranquility, comprising 333 islands setup in a horseshoe configuration.

The largest island is Viti Levu, which hosts the capital city of Suva and two international airports, and is home to nearly three quarters of the population. Adjacent islands are Vanua Levu in the west, Taveuni in the North, and the Lau Group east of Viti Levu.

Most of the islands are volcanic but none of Fiji’s volcanoes are presently active, though there are a few small hot springs.

The islands are mountainous and covered with unique tropical forests. There are large areas of hardwood trees including Sandalwood, Mahogany, Vesi (Intsia Bijuga) and Kauri. Fiji is home to more than 2,000 indigenous plant species, many of which have medicinal uses. Mangroves cover large portions of Fiji’s coastal regions and are rich in bird and sea-life.

Because of the mountainous nature of the islands, there are numerous streams and waterfalls. One of the most famous is the sacred Bouma Falls on the Island of Taveuni, which was where the movie “Return to the Blue Lagoon” was filmed.

There are more than 100 species of birds in Fiji, especially on Viti Levu around the rainforests along Colo-i-Suva, the coral coast and Pacific Harbor. Kadavu has a number of musk parrots as well as unique species of fantails and honeyeaters and there are several small islands with nature reserves protecting the unique birds.

Small islands such as Mabua-i-Lau,Vatu-i-Ra and Moody’s Namena-Lala are also popular sea bird sanctuaries. It is also home to 5 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species and 3 kinds of sea snakes.

Fiji has a few endemic animals including the unique banded iguana, which is indigenous only on Yaduataba Island off Vanua Levu. Banded iguanas change color to regulate their internal heat, much like their close relative the South American iguana.

The Fiji archipelago is surrounded by a coral reef, shallow lagoons and steep drop-offs featuring a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, over 1,200 species of fish, and a dozen species of whales and dolphins.

Fiji, a migratory pathway and breeding ground for whales, Fiji’s EEZ became a whaling sanctuary in 2003. Astrolabe Reef on Kadavu is well known for its excellent hard and soft corals. Moon Reef shaped like a half crested moon lies in the north easterlies off the Coast of Dawasamu, Tailevu has spinner dolphins all year round and vibrant marine life for snorkelling.

The Lomaiviti Seascape is one of Fiji’s most protected reefs and coastline’s marine heritage. More soft corals can be found along the north and south coast and there are exciting caves and deep drop-offs on the western tip of Kadavu.

People have been drawn to Fiji since what seems like the beginning of time. Captain William Bligh was the first European to sail through the islands of Fiji in the 17th century, and for a while Fiji was known as Bligh Island. Abel Tasman also visited the islands in an attempt to find the Great Southern Continent in 1643, but the very first inhabitants of Fiji arrived from South East Asia long before the famous captain of the HMS Bounty.

Evidence shows, that Fiji was settled before or around 1,000 BC. In the 19th century, the first Europeans came to the islands to settle there permanently and in 1874, the islands came under British control as a colony. Only since 1970 has Fiji been an independent country.

Fiji’s rich cultural heritage is composed of a number of diverse elements that represent the way of life of the indigenous Fijian people who for the past 190 years have made Fiji their home. Today, Fiji has a population by ethnicity of approximately 858,030 mostly made of indigenous Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Europeans and South Pacific Islanders.

The indentured labourers was brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century. The three official languages are English, which was introduced by the former British colonial rulers, Bau Fijian, spoken by ethnic Fijians, and Hindustani, the main language spoken by Indo-Fijians.

Fiji is still very much untouched by the outside world, and in many of the islands life has changed very little for centuries. Today, much of the traditional Fijian culture is still intact and the Fijians have managed to keep their old lifestyle and customs.

Many Fijians still live in small villages and bures, traditional Fijian housing. The village chief occupies the most dominant structure, often high peaked and set back from the others, on the village green. People dress in traditional garb; and it’s not just for show; it is their daily wear.

An important factor of daily Fijian life is the church; most Fijians are either Methodists, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Baptist or Pentecostal.

Fijians are famous for their friendliness. Locals hail visitors on the streets of Nadi and Suva, they invite them to their native villages, and they welcome them to their churches where song and music are the center of attention.

Highlights of the Fijian event calendar are the Hibiscus Festival in Suva (August), the Sugar Festival in Lautoka (July or September), the Bula Festival in Nadi (July), and the Back to Levuka Festival in October.

There are quite a number of recognized sporting events from January to December in Fiji such as Rugby 7’s/15’s and the Deans Trophy, Battle of the Giants (Soccer), Volleyball, South Pacific Bowling Carnival in June, Championship Golf/Surfing & Hobie Cat Events, Netball, Hockey, Fiji Swims, Yacht Regattas, the Bilibili and Horse Races.

In addition to being one of the world’s best diving destinations, Fiji also offers a wide variety of other outdoor activities. Visitors can swim with huge harmless manta rays, snorkel over giant rainbow gardens of soft coral, kayak along the shores, or scuba dive in some of the best sports on earth.

Trekking excursions and cave tours are just a few activities offered on various islands.

A great way to explore the beauty of this country is on a helicopter flying over the islands and the stunning reefs. A more relaxed way to explorer the waters of Fiji offers a half-day or full day islands cruise.

A highway around Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, connects all the major cities and settlements, all of them with colorful markets, shops, cafes, restaurants, night clubs, and attractions. Along the Coral Coast from Nadi to Pacific Harbor the road meanders through spectacular scenery including Fijian villages, sugar cane fields, Carribean pine plantations, coral lagoons, and beaches.

Pacific Harbor was developed as a complete visitor destination with its own shopping centre, Cultural Centre (Arts Village), 18-hole championship golf course and inland waterway where owners of luxury villas moor their pleasure crafts. The nearby island of Beqa (pronounced Bennga), home of the legendary firewalkers, is a world-famous diving location and also have resorts.

Diving, fishing, sailing, golf, tennis, horse riding, surfing, jet skiing, white water river/rafting tours, zip lining, guided terra treks trips & walks, sea kayaking, village visit and a host of other activities awaits the visitor.

The two major cities on Viti Levu are Nadi and Suva. Suva, the capital of Fiji, with its mixture of colonial era architecture and modern skyscrapers, is a perfect combination of the ancient and the modern world.

Guided tours of the capital usually include the Government House, the Fiji Museum, Albert Park, the Botanical Gardens, the University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay, the Fijian Handicraft Centre, the Moslem mosque, the Hindu Temple, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the main shopping district.

The colorful marketplace of Nadi, the gateway city located only a few minutes drive from the airport, features yaqona stalls, homemade souvenirs, and a wealth of local culture. Fiji’s largest Hindu temple is also located in Nadi.

Nearby is Denarau Island with its luxurious resorts, championship golf course and Port Denarau Marina a getaway to cruises, a one stop shop, land based and water based activities.

From Nadi, it’s just a quick hop to the islands of the Mamanuca Group, the country’s largest resort area. Set among deep blue waters and fringed with coral reefs of turquoise and pastel green, the Mamanuca Islands and the islands of the Yasawa Group offer visitors some of Fiji’s most outstanding island beauty.

A visit to a traditional Fijian village is a must in order to understand the rich culture of this magnificent country.

Lautoka & Rakiraki

This is in the heart of Fiji’s sugar belt with thousands of small holdings cultivating sugar-cane for the mills located in Lautoka, Ba & Rakiraki. The coastline faces Bligh Water and the Yasawa islands shimmering on the horizon. As well as the production of sugar, the area also has Fiji’s goldmine at Vatukoula and green gold in the form of extensive mature plantations of Carribean pine trees, Teak Plantations, other subsistence cropping and Bee hiving.

It is also home to Sugar Exports, Pine and tropic wood products, South Pacific Distillery Ltd for your Bounty Fiji Rum, Filming Locations, International Entry Ports for yachts & cruiseliner, Yaqara Cattle Ranch, Fiji Water, Fishing, spectacular Diving, Wind/Kite surfing, cruises, snorkeling, Horse Race, village visit, guided tours and a range of accommodation to choose from, the most affordable, mid range, deluxe to the most luxury.

Kadavu – Fiji’s fourth-largest island lies some 50 miles (80 km) south of Viti Levu. It’s a typical Fijian island with small villages, low hills, and wonderful beaches. Divers are particularly fascinated by the 31 miles-long (50 km) Astrolabe Reef and surfers rave about Kadavu’s waves.

The Northern Islands – Fiji’s second and third largest islands, Vanua Levu and Taveuni, as well as the smaller islands of Laucala, Qamea, Matangi, Namenalala, Nukubati and Kaimbu constitute this section and are also home to more than a dozen resorts.

Taveuni known as The Garden Island, offers scenic beauty, good birdwatching, world class diving and an amazing underwater habitat including the 19 mile long rainbow reef, impenetrable rainforest, magnificent waterfalls and unhurried pace of life.

Accommodation:

Fiji offers a wide range of accommodation, from 5-star luxury resorts to budget hotels and backpacker hostels. Many resorts feature bure, thatched roof villas constructed in the style of a traditional Fijian village accommodation.

The Mamanuca Group of islands is the country’s largest resort area, and parts of the South Coast also host a series of larger hotels. The Yasawa Islands mainly offer either basic backpacker resorts or a number of 5-star deluxe properties.

Currency

The currency in Fiji is the Fijian dollar. All banks and most hotels exchange foreign notes and travellers cheques. Hotels, restaurants, shops, rental car agencies, cruises and travel agents welcome major credit cards.

American Express, Diners Club, Visa, JCB International and Mastercard, are represented in Suva.

Electricity

The electrical current in Fiji is 240 volts with three pin power outlets identical to Australia and New Zealand. Leading hotels and resorts offer universal outlets for 240v or 110v shavers, hair dryers, etc.

Communication & Internet

Most hotels have direct dialing facilities. The international country IDD code for Fiji is 679. There are no area codes. Thus, when dialling any part of Fiji from overseas the procedure would be: access code (679) plus the Fiji subscriber number.

Telecom Fiji Ltd provide local telephone services while Fiji International Telecommunications Ltd provides international services. Services include and domestic direct dialing, and facsimile services. We also have mobile network that is serviced by Digicel and Vodafone.

There are more than 1,500 public phone booths (Drua) around the country that can be used by purchasing a TeleCard. TeleCards can also be used on any land line phone to make calls. Mobile phones work in most locations in Fiji.

Most hotels and resorts are equipped with Internet services, and private Internet cafes can be found in most towns and cities. I-Surf Prepaid Internet Kiosks are now available around the Nadi International Airport and users can purchase prepaid Internet access cards from selected outlets around the airport complex.

Duty Free

The following items can be brought to Fiji: 250 cigarettes, up to 2.25 liters (approx.76 ounces) of wine, and not more than 4.5 liters (approx. 1.1 gallons) of beer.

Dress

Dress is casual and informal throughout the islands. Visitors should bring a light tropical wardrobe including golf shirts, short sleeve shirts, T-shirts, shorts and slacks for evenings. For women, summer dresses and lightweight skirts, slacks and blouses are appropriate. The wrap around sulu (sarong) is Fiji’s most distinctive form of dress for women and men.

Visiting Fiji

Fiji’s two international airports are Nadi, on the western side and Nausori on the east coast of Viti Levu near Suva. Most international flights arrive and depart from Nadi, with direct flights to the USA and Honolulu. Fiji’s national airline, Air Pacific, provides service to Honolulu and Los Angeles.

Air Pacific offers five non-stops and Air New Zealand has one out of Los Angeles. Flight time from LA to Fiji is 10 hrs. Fiji can also be reached through New Zealand and Australia.

Health

Fiji is free from malaria, yellow fever, and major tropical diseases that are endemic to most tropical countries. Yellow fever and cholera vaccinations are required only for those arriving from infected areas.

Hospitals are located in the major centers and there are health centers in rural areas. Hotels and resorts have a qualified nurse on the premises and a doctor on call.

Language

Fiji is an English speaking country.

Tax:

VAT is at 15%.

Service Turnover Tax is at 5%

Time

Fiji is 20 hours ahead of Los Angeles.

Tipping

Tipping is not encouraged in Fiji and it is left to the individual to determine whether to leave a gratuity.

Transportation:

Fiji has bus services, metered taxis, ferries, catamaran, speed boat charters, sea plane and helicopter services, rental cars/scooters are available, and two domestic airlines (Pacific Sun and Northern Air) which provide efficient services and make getting around Fiji a breeze.

There are several domestic airports throughout the country. Travel between the two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, is by air and sea.

Visa & Immigration

Visitors must have a passport valid for at least three more months beyond the intended period of stay and a valid return ticket. Entry visas are granted on arrival for a stay of 4 months or less for nationals of United States and Canada.

Visitors to Fiji are required to pay $150 departure tax in Fijian currency following check-in.

Weather

Fiji enjoys an ideal South Sea tropical climate. It is thus a perfect holiday destination, especially for those trying to escape the severe

Northern Hemisphere winters average 31 degrees Celsius (88 F)

Maximum summer temperatures and the mean minimum is 22 Degrees Celsius (72 F)

The winter average maximum is 29 C (84 F) and the mean minimum is 19 C (66 F).

These are much cooler in the uplands of the interior of the large islands. A cooling trade winds blows from the east south-east of most of the year. It usually drops to a whisper in the evening and picks up again by mid-morning.

Fiji has a climate ideally suited for the outdoors, the beach and surf, for light cotton dresses, barbecues and water sports.

Weddings And Honeymoons

Fiji is one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations in the world. It is an idyllic and relaxing tropical paradise, a haven for the about-to-be weds, newly weds, and the romantic at heart. Getting hitched in Fijihas become quite a trend.

Many resorts, hotels, and even cruises offer fabulous wedding and honeymoon packages to suit every couple’s needs. Choices range from luxurious private hideaways to more modest options.

There is huge variety of romantic wedding locations such as cliff tops, cascading waterfalls, rainforest clearings, and sandy white beaches. Even a unique underwater ceremony can be arranged for those who love the magical maritime life.

Remote settings such as a private beach ensure complete privacy. Quaint wedding chapels and churches provide the perfect ambiance for a more formal wedding in tropical surroundings. Fijian choirs and warrior escorts offer a unique element that can not be found anywhere else in the world.

Overseas visitors intending to get married in Fiji are required to obtain and sign a marriage license at the marriage registry at least 3 working days prior to their marriage ceremony.

It is important that the couple comply with the required formal paperwork including:

- Original birth certificates for both the bride and the groom

- Passport with valid legal status of applicants

- Divorce papers (If divorce granted in the last 5 years – please
confirm current marital status)

- Death certificate of deceased former spouse

A certificate of Single Status or certificate of no Legal Impediment must be produced ONLY IF:

- Marriage between a Fiji citizen and a foreign citizen

- Marriage by former citizens of Fiji

- Marriage between foreign citizens residing in Fiji

- Marriage applicants from Japan must produce the koseki-shouhon to
certify their personal details.

Special arrangements can also be arranged to suit your travel plans.

Shopping:

Fiji shops and markets offer unique cultural, historical artifacts & handicrafts and has some sophisticated retail outlets suitable for tourists & residents shopping. Shopping is fun and educational in the major cities, towns and resorts where there is an array of retail choices from affordable fashion to souvenirs and local crafts to designer brand merchandise.

Some village markets also sell handicrafts such as Fijian inspired designer T-shirts, carved tanoa bowls from which the national drink yaqona (kava) is mixed and served, Fijian replica war clubs, “cannibal forks,” and Fijian combs. Handicraft such as woven baskets and mats, masi (tapa cloth), carved wood animals, and pottery items are best sellers.

And, for international fashion buffs, the ubiquitous sulu for men and women is Fiji’s all-purpose, one-size-fits-all garment. Women wear them 100 different ways from a beachside wrap to an evening dress while men in business and government wear them as a day skirt.

Food:

Dining in Fiji offers a multiethnic culinary experience. Whether dining at a hotel, island resort, or “in town”, visitors will find a palate painted by flavors from India, China, Korea, Japan, Italy and the best of Europe as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific waters.

Restaurants offer a great variety, from five-star international to 24-hour air-conditioned coffee shops. Traditional Fijian dishes, steaks, and local seafood can be found in many restaurants. One of the most popular traditional Fijian dishes is Kokoda in which fresh fish or lobster is marinated in lime juice, coconut cream with a hint of chili.

Tropical fruits are abundant and delicious. Succullent pineapple, mouth watering watermelons, kavika and mango, passionfruit and guavas are great delights. Also an integral part of the cuisine is palusami, corned beef or without, chopped onions wrapped in taro (dalo) leaves and cooked in coconut cream (lolo).

Most hotels and resorts also offer specific culinary themed nights, magiti (Fijian feasts), beach or poolside BBQs, as well as Fiji’s best known and pervasive outdoor cooking experience-the lovo. A lovo is an underground oven of heated rocks where a variety of foods wrapped in banana leaves are cooked and has that sensational aroma & taste.