Fiji

Most crime takes place in Suva and Nadi away from the resort areas. The best advice is to stick to hotel grounds after dark, and to use extreme caution in Suva, Nadi and other urbanised areas after nightfall. Travelers have been victims of violent crime, particularly in Suva. Travelers have reported the regularity of petty robberies, muggings, and also home-invasions/rape, etc. You will notice the predominance of bars on most peoples' homes. Economic and ethnic strife has led to a low-level hum of violent crime. Some resorts and hotels have more extensive security measures than others which should be taken into account.

Muggings are often carried out by large groups of men so being in a group won't necessarily be a deterrent. Police forces sometimes have difficulties responding to crime, potentially for reasons as mundane as being unable to pay for petrol.

Fijian culture encourages sharing and sometimes small things like shoes will be "borrowed". Often by speaking with the village chief it can be arranged to get things returned.

Also, be aware that homosexual sex may be a crime in Fiji. While Fiji claims to welcome gay travelers, there has been a recent case where a visitor to the country was initially jailed for 2 years for paying a local for homosexual sex. He was later freed on appeal.

Fiji is still run by a military government, following a coup in December 2006. Although its effect has not been prominent in the resort areas of Nadi, it has led to economic decline, and a decrease in the rule of law. Journalists may be blacklisted for political reasons. Those whose employment involves reporting controversial political activities should take extra care to ensure that their visas are in order before visiting Fiji.

Fiji is relatively free of disease compared to most of the tropics. Avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and even elephantiasis by covering up thoroughly or using repellents while outdoors at dawn or dusk. Local water is generally safe, though filtering or boiling is advisable when unsure. Urban tap water is treated and nearly always safe. When exceptions occasionally arise, there are public warnings or radio and print media warnings. Contaminated food is uncommon, though on occasion, mature reef fish can contain mild neurotoxins they accumulate in their bodies from freshwater algaes that wash into the ocean. The effects of such "fish-poisoning" are usually intense for only a day or two, but tingling lips and unusual sensitivities to hot and cold can linger for a long time.

Drownings are common, and automobile and other motor vehicle accidents often involving animals or pedestrians are very common. Local emergency medical care is very good on the basics in urban areas. Expect long waits in government-run clinics and hospitals. Treatment for serious conditions often requires an evacuation to New Zealand or Australia. Even the most basic medical care is usually not available outside of urban areas.

Fiji, like most of the South Pacific, can have intense solar radiation that can cause severe skin-burns in a short amount of time. Be sure to use hats, sunglasses and liberal amounts of high-SPF value sunblock on ALL exposed skin including ears, noses and tops-of-feet when out in the sun. On top of that tropical boils are a common inconvenience in Fiji, this can be avoided by giving those sweaty sections of the body a soapy scrub more than once a day.

All other foreign nationals who are not from the countries and territories listed above need to obtain a visa in advance at a Fiji embassy, high commission or consulate. An application for a single entry visa costs 96 Fiji dollars and a multiple entry visa 190 Fiji dollars. Applicants need to produce the following as part of the visa application process:

Completed application form (http://www.immigration.go...)

Two coloured passport size photographs

A valid passport/travel document

If the applicant is married, a letter of consent from the spouse.

If the applicant is employed, a letter from the employer to indicate the authorized leave duration approved for the applicant.

If a Fiji citizen or a Fiji based company/organization [local sponsor] is sponsoring the applicant for the duration of the period applied for, a letter from the local sponsor to indicate the undertaking.

A copy of the travel itinerary.

If the applicant is traveling on to a third country from Fiji, a copy of the approved visa to the next country of destination after Fiji.

Visa applications can be lodged at Fiji overseas missions in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Click here for the list of Fiji overseas missions on the Fiji Government Online Portal.

More information about the visa requirements for Fiji are available at the website of the Department of Immigration.

languages

English is an official language and is the language of instruction in education, and is spoken by most in Nadi, Suva and any other major tourist area. On a few of the less touristy islands, English may be spoken with some difficulty. Fijian or Hindustani Hindi/Urdu is spoken by most adults and children, and learning even a few key phrases will help you gain the respect of the locals.

tourism

Tourism is the backbone of the Fijian economy. Overall, Fiji can be classed as a mid-range priced destination and so most of Fiji's accommodation falls into this range. However, world class luxury resorts residing on isolated islands attracts the rich and famous. Fiji can also be done on a budget, but it is advisable to plan ahead. Budget resorts offer equally beautiful views compared to their wealthier cousins, and Fiji's internet accessibility is improving which increasingly aids travelers.

Australians account for half of all visitors, followed by tourists from New Zealand and the U.S.. 75% of visitors to Fiji come for a holiday/vacation. The popular areas to visit are the Nadi region due to Nadi International Airport, Mamanuca Islands, the Coral Coast, and Denarau Island.

contact

Public phones are numerous and usually easy to find look around shops. All phones are prepaid - you must first purchase scrape-off code card F$5, F$10 or more nominals. Calling is done by calling card issuer center, entering the code found on the card and entering the destination number. Foreign call to Europe is approx. F$1 per minute. If you are coming to Fiji from Bosnia and Herzegovina note that there is not a telecommunications agreement between the two countries at present, which means calling landlines or mobiles between the two countries is not possible as discovered from a recent trip by a Bosnian tourist.

holidaying

A honeymoon in Fiji is very popular as is romantic getaways in general. In August 2013, five couples entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the "Highest Altitude Wedding on an Aeroplane" when they married at 41,000 feet on a Fiji Airways flight from Auckland to Nadi (http://www.fijiairways.co...). Adults-only and couples-only resorts exist to cater specifically for this market (http://www.impulsefiji.co...). These typically are smaller resorts in isolated islands/areas which adds to the whole romantic vibe.

There are also family friendly resorts which have kids facilities including kids clubs which can ease the pressure of parents looking after their children whilst getting a chance to relax themselves. Some resorts even have a nanny service for the youngest ones.

Budget minded travellers can also find good deals in great locations. The beautiful Mamanuca and Yasawa Island chains offer a variety of island budget resorts. Access to these islands are via Port Denarau on Denarau Island using a ferry service that stops on various islands as it loops its way around. Denarau Island is just 20 minutes from Nadi International Airport. Another option is the Coral Coast on the southern coast of the main island, Viti Levu. Transport can be sought when disembarking off the plane at Nadi International Airport.

respect

Fiji, like many Pacific Island states, has a strong Christian moral society; having been colonised and converted to Christianity by missionaries during the 19th century. Do not be surprised if shops and other businesses are closed on Sunday. The Sabbath starts at 6PM the day before, and some businesses celebrate the Sabbath on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. Many Indians are Hindu or Muslim.

Also, dress modestly and appropriately. While Fiji is a tropical country, beach-wear should be confined to the beach. Take your cues from the locals as to what they consider appropriate dress for the occasion. When visiting towns and villages, you should be sure to cover your shoulders and wear shorts or sulus sarongs that cover your knees both genders. This is especially true for visiting a church, although locals will often lend you a sulu for a church visit. You should take off your hat when visiting villages or homes.

Words and phrases

words and phrases
Bula!

A general greeting, pronounced mboo-lah.

words and phrases
Vinaka

"Please" or "thank you", pronounced vee-nah-kah.

words and phrases
Moce

"Goodbye", pronounced mow-they.