THE FIJI ISLANDS
The Republic of the Fiji Islands, is an island nation of about 322 coral and volcanic islands
and over 500 islets in the South Pacific Ocean, 3,000km east of Australia.
The main islands are mountainous with many rivers and streams and the peaks are covered with tropical forests.
Most of the population live on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, with
Viti Levu being home to the capital city of Suva.
Once dubbed The Cannibal Isles, shipwrecked mariners often found themselves on the menu. Nowadays the islanders are renowned for their hospitality and, unsurprisingly, the Fiji Islands have become a favourite destination for a luxury holiday.
When to go
The climate of Fiji is typically tropical.
The temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year but the humidity is high in the months of January, February and March.
Southeast trade winds from May to November bring dry weather. The rainy season runs from December to April and it is during this time that there is a risk of cyclones. These can and do cause considerable damage.
Suva is noted for its considerable rainfall with rain falling on a more or less daily basis.
How to get there
Due to its position, Fiji is a natural hub of communication in the South Pacific. The national airline is Air Pacific which connects the Pacific Island nations to Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
The main airports
are Nadi and Suva on Viti Levu island.
Nadi is where most international flights arrive, while Suva is mainly for internal flights. Flying times to Sydney are approximately four hours and Los Angeles, ten hours.
The "Visit the South Pacific" Air Pass enables you to island hop all over the South Seas using many airline companies (such as Air Caledonie, Air Marshall Islands, Air Nauru, Air Niugini, Air Pacific, Air Vanuatu, Polynesian Airlines, Qantas, Royal Tongan Airlines and Solomon Airlines). This can give you savings of up to 40% on the cost of flights.
Suva and Lautoka (Viti Levu) also have ports. From here there are regular sailings to Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa and Tuvalu. Many cruise ships also call in to Fiji as part of their itinerary.
Where to stay
As you would expect, Fiji boasts all standards of accommodation.
There are a good number of luxury hotels, the majority of which are located on Viti Levu and on its nearby islands. Some islands have become designated resort islands. One such is Robinson Crusoe Island which is well known for being one of two backpacker party islands in Fiji.
Inexpensive smaller hotels are also available throughout all of the Fiji isles. Many offer bed and breakfast and are generally of a good standard. There are also a number of back packer hostels and a youth hostel.
Alternatively, you can experience the local hospitality by renting a bungalow or traditional beach hut. These generally consist of a bedroom and bathroom and meals are served by your host in the main house.
What to see
As a popular tourist destination, Fiji offers a wide range of activities, many of which can be organised through your chosen resort, windsurfing, sailing, waterskiing, fishing. Packages are available to offer a wide range of activities from the sedate to the white knuckle.
The islands around Fiji offer excellent scuba-diving and snorkelling. There are hundreds of dive sites and many operators to choose from. You can swim with the Manta rays and appreciate the beauty of the abundant marine life.
Surfing around Fiji is excellent with a large number of surfing spots. Be aware though that there are dangerous rip tides along the reefs.
For those who prefer to be above water, there are cruises to the different islands to enjoy. Jet boat trips can be made to explore the mangrove lined rivers and rafting (bilibili ride) can be enjoyed along the streams and rivers.
For those who enjoy nature, there are marked nature trails all over the islands. Many organised trips are topped off with a swim in one of the many waterfalls. There are a number of Forest Parks, rainforest parks rich in wildlife, including parrots and turtles.
The traditional Meke is a combination of dance, song and theatre preformed by locals wearing the national costume of flower leis, grass skirts and tapa cloth. The men perform warrior dances and reenact heroic events of the past while the women sing and perform a dance with fans. These are often performed as part of a feast at hotels with visitors being invited to participate in the "tralala" dance.
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Lonely Planet Guide
Justine Vaisutis, Mark Dapin
Price: £8.57 (34% off list price)
Complete, practical country guide for independent travellers. Information on Fiji such as its size, its origins, its indigenous mammals and a guide to Fijian language as well as essentials on how to get around, places to visit and activities, and where to stay.
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Price: £6.59 (34% off list price)
The original guide to this 322-island archipelago is as reliable, unbiased, and crammed with money-saving tips as ever. Veteran South Pacific writer David Stanley updates his classic guide to include candid reviews of island lodgings, restaurants, nightlife and activities ranging from hiking and river running to surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Stanley's fascinating introduction to Fiji's history, customs, and diverse population should be required reading for island visitors. Fiji Handbook is an indispensable guide for anyone interested in exploring the South Pacific's favorite country.
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