The blue lagoons and mountain backdrop of its islands make Fiji synonymous with Paradise for many sun-loving travellers. On arriving from a Fiji flight, holidaymakers encounter miles of white-sand beaches bordered by coconut palm trees, blue lagoons that stretch out as far as the eye can see, and colourful reefs that feed any scuba-divers soul. Fiji has a tropical climate, which makes it an excellent year-round destination, especially appealing when the weather is cold here in the UK.
Fiji is made up of 322 islands and is one of the more developed economies of the Pacific islands. The country is highly dependent on tourism for revenue, but unlike some other high-tourist islands, Fiji caters to all budgets. Travellers can book Fiji flights and hotels that range from deluxe five-star resorts to no-frills-added hostels catering to the backpacking generation. But at any type of hotel, the charm of Fiji is the same: a calm and laidback atmosphere, friendly people and an esoteric culture that combines influences from Polynesia, Micronesia, China and Europe.
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Fiji’s warm tropical climate is tempered by trade winds cooling down the islands to a comfortable range. The highs in the summer average a temperature of 31 degrees and the winter is only a bit lower. It rains throughout the year, but April, May, June and October are considered the dry months.
When to fly to Fiji
The weather is good throughout the year, even in the wet season. Peak season is determined more by the departing country. For Fiji flights from Europe, prices tend to rise around the Christmas time.
Discounted rates for hotels can be found in February and March, though this is still a pleasant time to visit.
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Getting around Fiji
The fastest way to travel between the islands is to catch a plane. Domestic Fiji flights are operated by Pacific Sun, a subsidiary of flag carrier Air Pacific.
Ferries and other boats also offer many services between the islands. Travel is slow, but usually relaxing and it’s a great way to the see the country.
To travel within an island, the cheapest option is to take a bus. Roads are often filled with potholes, suspension on the buses is bad and they often have no windows. Unsurprisingly, buses have become known as “rattlers”. You can normally just hail a bus when you see one and it will stop and take you on to the next town. There are no “express” routes, so if you’re travelling a long distance, be prepared to stop everywhere along the way.
Fiji insider information
- With 330 islands, and, of course, the sea surrounding them, the underwater life in Fiji is nothing if not varied. Diving is popular, but snorkelling is also highly rated, even by professional divers. The clear waters and many shallows mean you can see much simply from the surface. Remember to cover up, either with a T-shirt or lots of sunblock: time can disappear while you’re floating around staring at fish and it’s very easy to get burnt.
- The wonderfully named Garden of the Sleeping Giant is located close to Nadi. These landscaped gardens were created by Raymond Burr in the 1970s and are home to an impressive collection of orchids. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, the peaceful gardens are rarely busy and you can spend many hours wandering in the shade.
- The Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi is the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere.
- For a relaxing day trip, head out on a boat and go sailing. Cruises operate to the Yasawa Islands and the Mamanuca Islands. Alternatively, charter your own boat and explore the area.
- Nowadays, thoughts of Fiji evoke a South Pacific paradise of beaches, but once the first association was rather more gruesome. To find out about the country’s cannibalistic past, visit the Fiji Museum in Suva. Located in the idyllic Botanical Gardens, some of the exhibits inside are a little more macabre. The collection includes artifacts from the past 3,700 years related to the islands. The cannibal section includes the forks they used as well as accounts from missionaries about their activities. Perhaps best to visit after lunch…
- A sulu is similar to a sarong: a long piece of material which is wrapped around the waist to form a kind of skirt. They are worn by all Fijians, men and women, for all occasions even business.