Monday, 30 September 2013

The Fiji Islands fun filled Family Getaways

If you are looking for a relaxing and fun family holiday where you are entertained and engaged in heaps of fun activities, then make sure you add Fiji Islands in your list of places to visit.

Banana boat ride, Fiji Islands

Family is extremely important in the Fijian culture, making Fiji one of the most welcoming holiday destinations for families, especially children. Even staff at resorts are delighted to look after children and treat them to an assortment of fun holiday activities.

As a child, there is nothing much more fun than running barefoot on the golden sand, building sand-castles and loads of water activities. Even better as you are safe in the knowledge that they are being taken care of with experienced and loving staff while you get some "me time" enjoying a relaxing massage, stroll on the beach or even a romantic dinner under the stars. You will experience the magic of the friendly island people while your children make friends, sometimes life long ones, at kids clubs found at many good resorts.

Mana Island Resort, Fiji
Mana Island Resort  |  Fiji

Mana Island Resort

This resort is one of my top 5 islands to visit and you may have read about it in my previous post. It is a very laid back island where children under the age of 12 years eat for free. They have a special Mei Mei Center and a Tu Vonu Kids Club. Mei Mei is the Fijian word for baby sitting. Parents can leave children under 3 years for five hours of free babysitting per day, as long you are staying at the resort for more than 5 nights (otherwise normal baby sitting rates apply).

Their Tu Vonu Kids Club is a great club  where parents can leave their children to be looked after by the warm and friendly staff. They have three different sessions open during the day and children get to experience the Fijian culture, nature walks and traditional games. This is followed by farewell souvenir gifts to remind them of their holiday spent at Mana Island Resort. There is also a Environment Day once a month where they learn more about their natural surroundings and participate in either planting trees or planting coral as part of the resorts Coral Regeneration Program.

Inter Continental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji
InterContenental Fiji Resort and Spa  |  Fiji

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa

This is a great hotel with a five star service where you can organise transfers that starts your journey on board a 45-minute transfer from the airport in a V8 Toyota Landcruiser which comes equipped with baby and child car seats. This resort is located on Vitu Levu  at Natadola and is a contemporary Asian inspired resort.  It has many rooms and suites to choose from including beach front, lagoon, pool, the incredible Club bedroom villas or inter connection rooms that are spacious and terrific for families. Planet Trekkers, the resort’s kids club runs three sessions of childcare a day. Children aged 12 and under may eat for free in Sanasana Restaurant at certain times during the day when accompanied by a dining adult so be sure to check the menu times should you visit InterContinental.

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa, Yanuca, Fiji
Children's playground and entertainment zone  |  Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa, Yanuca  |  Fiji

Shangri-La Fijian Resort and Spa

This resort is set on nearly 30 hectares of private island and is accessible to the mainland by a causeway bridge. It is one of the most popular family resorts in Fiji for Australians. It has a Little Chief's Club which comprises of a kids stay and eat free program allowing up to two children per room, aged 12 years and under, to eat for free. My suggestion is to check the restaurant programmes and opening hours as they may change from time to time, depending on season and resort occupancies at the resort.

Malolo Island Resort, Fiji
Malolo Island Resort  |  Fiji

Malolo Island Resort

This resort accommodation includes 45 free-standing, plantation-style and air-conditioned bure (traditional huts) villas or duplexes. These have high vaulted ceilings and traditional Fijian touches. Rooms are spacious and spread out with two pools providing superior comfort and relaxation. Their  fabulous kids club is called Tia's Treehouse which is one of the best designed and well run kid’s clubs in Fiji. It consists of a spacious, open-style bure set into the hillside under a huge, shady flame tree looked. The club and children are well looked after by friendly and experienced local staff. There’s even an old yacht beached on the sand for children explore. The resort has a selection of bars and dining venues where you can enjoy a casual snack by the beach or experience a relaxing dinner amongst the coconut palms. They have also introduced a unique and innovative kids club program, called Yanu Yanu. Children 12 and under can also eat free when booking is make with the Kids Eat Free Package. Make sure to check their package suits your family before booking.

Castaway Island, Fiji
Castaway Island  |  Fiji

Castaway Island

This island is another of my top 5 islands to visit and you may have read about it in my previous post. Castaway offer different meal deal packages through out the year for adults and children, depending on the time of year. Their current offer includes Free meals for your entire stay for bookings throughout the month of February 2014, offering guests all meals FREE for adults and children however conditions do apply. If you planning a trip here, keep an eye out for deals that maybe offered when you travel so check regularly before booking.

The resort has a children's club called Castaway's Kid's Club. The focus for this club is on natural activities like playing traditional Fijian games on the beach, building sandcastles, crafting boats out of coconut husk and leaves and swimming races in the resort's new children's pool. The staff are warm and friendly, and act as pied pipers collecting children and involving them in activities and games. This leaves mums and dads to chill out by the adult's pool, enjoy a cocktail at the Sundowner Bar or a romantic dinner on the beach. Children 10 years and over can learn to dive and accompany parents on various diving trips. Snorkelling trips to the outer reef are also offered or families can simply explore the tropical fish filled waters just offshore.

Please ensure you visit the links below to help you get started on your fun filled family getaway:
 -   Tu Vonu Kids Club at Mana Island Resort
 -   Planet Trekkers at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
 -   Little Chiefs Club at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa
 -   Tia's Treehouse at Mololo Island Resort
 -   Castaway's Kids Club at Castaway Island Resort
Have you stayed at any of these resorts with you children? Please feel free to share your experience below.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Things to do and see around Fiji Islands

Fiji has a fantastic range things to do and see, activities ranging from adventure, exploration or immersing yourself in the Fijian culture. This list below of things to do and see is just a starting point for your dream vacation.

Land Activities

Fire walking ceremony

Vilavilairevo, Fijian for "jumping into the oven", is the practise of fire walking. Legend has it that the practise originated with the people of Beqa Island, who convinced Tui Namoliwai, a spirit god, to allow the Beqa people to forever have the ability to walk on scalding stones. Today, you can watch fire walking ceremonies at resorts throughout Fiji and you can bet that the men doing it hail from Beqa. Many resorts, like Royal Davui Island, which is on of my list of top islands to visit, offer regular fire walking ceremonies.

Hindus in Fiji also have their own fire walking ceremony and this is part of an annual religious festival coinciding with a full moon in July or August usually lasting ten days. Of all of Fiji's cultural rituals, the extraordinary art of fire walking is perhaps the one thing I would not miss out on. Fijians and Hindus perform the ceremonies for completely different reasons.

Fiji Museum

The Fiji Museum tells the history of the archipelago with artefacts that span over 3,700 years. From cannibal forks to shell jewellery and Indian artwork, the items showcased have a long and diverse history.

The museum is locate in the capital city of Suva. Admission is about $16 FJD for adults and $8 FJD for children. The opening hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, and 9:00 to 12:00 pm on Sundays. For more information, visit the Fiji Museum's website.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

The Garden of the Sleeping Giant is located outside the city of Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu. These attractive gardens are a showcase of native plants and Fiji's largest collection of orchids. The highlight here is the garden's collection of vibrant orchids. First planted in 1977 by Canadian actor Raymond Burr, the orchids have thrived in Fiji's tropical climate.  The garden covers an area of 20 hectares and contains over 2,000 different examples of these delicate and exotic flowers including some rare Fijian species.

While you are here another must-do is the "jungle walk," which wanders past a lily pond and through a native rain forest. It is approximately a 15 minute drive north of central Nadi and is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. More information can be found at Garden of the Sleeping Giants website.


Viti Levu, Kadavu (pronounced Kan-da-voo) and Taveuni islands are the best places to see some of Fiji's beautiful species of birds. The larger birds are easily seen on the main islands, while twenty two of the smaller land bird species are endemic. Look out for the red and green Kula Lorikeets which can be seen collecting nectar and pollen in populated areas.

Colo-I-Suva Forest Park (pronounced tholo-ee-soo-va), in the hills north of Suva, is a great place for birdwatchers. This lush rain forest park is a 2.5 square kilometre oasis with vivid and melodic bird life and tropical flora. The 6.5 kilometres of walking trails navigate clear natural pools and gorgeous vistas. Sitting at an altitude of 120 to 180 meters, it is a cool and peaceful place, located 25 minutes drive north of Suva on Princess Road.

The other wildlife sanctuary is Fiji's Kula Eco Park. Situated on the Coral Coast of the main island of Viti Levu, the wildlife sanctuary is a showcase of the furry, the feathered, the aquatic and amphibian in the South Pacific. The majority of the inhabitants of the park are hundreds of species of colourful birds such as parrots and doves in the most amazing primary hues. There's also iguanas, lizards, flying foxes and boa constrictors which you can touch and hold guided by handlers. There are also tropical fish, turtles and soft corals in an aquarium. Time your visit just right and you can also feed the sea turtles by hand at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm or 3:30 pm daily.


Pacific Harbour is a purpose-built visitor destination on the southern coast of Viti Levu, 45 minutes drive from Suva city. The area is fast becoming known as Fiji's adventure playground. Some of the more popular golf courses in Fiji are:

Pearl South Pacific Resort has an 18 hole championship golf course, luxury villas, an arts village and a host of adventure activities.

Sheraton Denarau Golf and Racquet Club is beautifully manicured and challenging course which has a restaurant, bar and golf store.

Novotel Hotel Nadi Executive Golf Course is a 9 hole golf course at Nadi which will test your skills and your patience. Located on a big slope, each hole is a par three.

Shangri-La Fijian Resort Golf Course is a newly recreated course and is the only one in Fiji with Tifton Dwarf grass greens. Shangri-La Fijian Resort has 9 holes in total with five par three holes and four par four holes. Featuring sand traps and 1 hole with a twin water hazard, this course is made for precision more than power.

Natadola (prounced Naa-taan-doe-laa) Bay Championship Golf Course is a 18 hole championship course features gently rolling manicured greens playing into challenging sand traps and bunkers. Seven of the 18 holes play down along the ocean's edge making for a scenic and relaxing golfing experience.

For more information on green fees and other charges, please visit the websites using the links above.

Hot Springs and Mud Baths

Fiji’s hidden hot spring gem is believed by locals to have healing properties. Irrespective of its claims, the three warm mud baths pools and lush natural backdrop combine to make a seriously relaxing experience. There are two hot spring and mud pools available and both are located next to each other. They are known as the Sabeto (pronounced Some-bay-toe) Hot Springs & Mud Pool and the Tifajek Hot Springs & Mud Pool.

Commonly known as the Sabeto Hot Springs or Sabeto Mud Baths, they are located halfway between the major cities of Nadi and Lautoka on the main island of Viti Levu and are approximately 25 minutes drive from Nadi town.

Singatoka Sand Dunes National Park

Sigatoka (pronounced sing-a-toe-ka) Sand Dunes National Park is an amazing natural phenomenon with a rich archaeological history. Located west of the town of Sigatoka on Viti Levu, the impressive dune system covers an area of 650 hectares. The dunes near the shoreline of the Sigatoka River have been forming for millions of years. Windblown and rugged, the sand is grey-brown in colour and covered with vines and shrubs. It is a remarkable park which lead to the discovery of an ancient burial site in the late 1980s. Over 50 individuals have been excavated and their bodies dated back to around 2,600 years ago making it one of the largest burial sites in the South Pacific.

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

A must see for culture lovers, Nadi’s Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple is one the largest Hindu temples in the Southern Hemisphere. Illustrating the architectural diversity for which Fiji is well known, the three-part temple is dedicated to the deity Murugan whose statue was specially carved in India and housed in the main temple. It reflects an architectural style rarely seen outside India, and houses sacred statues designed by craftspeople brought over from India.

Sawailau Caves 

These ancient lime stone caves are situated inside a pretty little island in the Blue Lagoon region. The boat trip up to the caves is worth doing. The scenery will blow you away but then there is also the magical experience of the caves themselves which you do not want to miss out on.

You will be greeted and guided by locals. The first cave is magnificent as light filters through, allowing you to look around in awe. If you are up for a little adventure, I recommend you take the option to enter a secondary cavern. To get there you need to swim through an underwater tunnel.

Sea Activities

With all of the crystal clear waters that surround the islands, there is no shortage of water sports to be found.  Jet ski, scuba diving, game fishing, fast jet boat rides, parasailing, luxury charters, leisure cruising, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, water boarding, kayaking, and much more can be found throughout the Fiji Islands. You can also swim in numerous waterfalls found in the forest, coastal parks and reserves.Visit the Adrenalin Fiji website for more information on activities as they cater for all you adrenaline seekers.

Surfing and Sailing

If you surf, you would have heard of Fiji and some of the legendary breaks such as Swimming Pools, Restaurants and of course Cloud Break. Although there is some surfing off Kadavu, Vanua Levu and Lau Group of islands, by far the most popular and consistent breaks are are found on the reef passes off the southern most islands of the Mamanuca chain which is home to Cloud Break. The other major break, Frigate, fringes a pass on the barrier reef surrounding Beqa Island. To get there you need to travel about two and a half hours east by car from Nadi to Pacific Harbour, where you are approximately 20 minute boat ride from the break.

There are a couple other minor breaks along the Coral Coast, such as Hideaways and beach breaks near the Sigatoka River but nothing close to the magnitude to those mentioned above. Surf Fiji Ltd has skippered and chartered sailing boats throughout Fiji as well as captaining extensive voyages offshore. For more information, have a look at Fiji Surfing Association website. They have a fleet of vessels including a 80 foot sailing boat and fast transit 30 foot catamaran ideal for personalised day trips and group surf trips. Also available are jet skis, paddle boards and various other water craft. Their website Island Surf Fiji and Sail Surf Charters Fiji has more information. Boards and accessories can also be hired at surf shops on the smaller islands if required.

Diving and Snorkelling 

In Fiji you will enjoy some of the best diving locations in the world. The consistently warm sunny climate and crystal clear water create perfect diving conditions. Combined with the abundant, colourful and tropical marine life, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic and memorable diving experience. The best time for diving is between the months of April and October but from early June to late August, the ocean water cools drastically which means you will need thicker wetsuits.

Some of the top dive locations around are:
  1. Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort
  2. Taveuni
  3. Kadavu Island
  4. Vatulele Island
  5. Mamanuca Islands
  6. Makongai Island
Kadavu, the fourth largest island in Fiji, is located south of Suva and surrounded by the world famous Astrolabe Reef. The reef at Kadavu is a prime dive site with drop offs, underwater caves and walls with a rich array of coral and marine life.


Consisting of more than 330 islands, Fiji is fabulous for cruising. Discover uninhabited beaches, tiny atolls and visit traditional villages while soaking up the tropical weather and the beautiful unspoilt environment. Take a day cruise or head out for several days and nights. There are many options to choose from and the best place to start from is the Tourism Fiji website to help you decide.

Game Fishing

Game fishing is amazing in Fiji and a large variety of fish can be found year round. The biggest event is the annual International Game Fishing Tournament held at Pacific Harbour around August. Big game fish are found off southern Viti Levu. Here, tuna and mahimahi run from January to May, and big wahoos in June and July.

Other Activities

Windsurfing in the Mamanuca group of Islands

Ideal water conditions, big waves and a year round breeze makes for great windsurfing experiences . Most resorts in group offer the sport with instructors on hand, however if you are no novice, and keen on something special, look no further than Mamanuca.

Sky Diving

Experience the spectacular beauty of the Fiji Islands from up to 14,000 feet (an approximately 20 minute scenic flight) before jumping out to about seventy seconds of free fall, then 6 to 8 minutes of guiding the parachute before landing beside a beach. If that gives you your kicks, visit the Skydive Fiji website for more information on your fulfilling adrenaline filled experience. 

If you have been to the Fiji Islands and participated is some of these fun activities, please feel free to add your comments and feedback here.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Top 5 Islands in Fiji to visit

Fiji consists of more than 300 islands. There are many things to do and see on the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.  Each island has its own personality, and various accommodation options for travellers. If you would like to get off the beaten track and relax on one of the smaller islands in Fiji, then make sure to visit one of the following islands in your next trip and I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy it.

Fiji Islands Map
Fiji Islands  |  Map  |  Groups of Islands

Mamanuca Group of Islands

The Mamanuca group of islands are a chain of 20 islands off western Viti Levu (near Nadi). It is one of the most established resort areas in Fiji, providing a stunning array of activities for all types of travellers. You are spoilt for choice in this group of Islands and its popularity has been heightened due to filming in the area. Starring in 'Cast Away' and 'Survivor: Fiji' these islands offer various activities like para-sailing, windsurfing, dolphin watching, diving, surfing and just about any other water activity you may wish to pursue.

You can experience famous dives such as the Big W and Gotham City, and if you love surfing, some of the worlds famous surf breaks like Cloudbreak, Desperation and Restaurant are sure to delight. My two personal picks from this group of islands are Mana and Castaway.

Mana Island  |  Fiji

Mana Island

Mana has its own airstrip so getting there is easy. Domestic flights arrive daily from Nadi International Airport and the journey takes about 12 minutes. Alternatively the ferry transfer provides a slower and scenic route.

The Mana Island Resort & Spa is an affordable accommodation choice that is ideal for a wide range of travellers including couples, families and groups. They cater for honeymooners, weddings and those travelling with young children. It has accommodation and facilities suited for most needs. There is also the more modern yet traditional 'bures' (traditional hut) with each having their own ambiance and features to suit different needs from catering for small to large groups.

There are various types of land and aqua activities for you to participate in while your kids can be minded by the friendly staff at the resort. Here they will be learning about the Fijian culture, partake in nature walks and traditional Fijian games hence, making this island very family friendly.

You can access more information through Mana Island Resort and Spas website.

Castaway Island  |  Fiji

Castaway Island

The small and secluded Castaway Island is officially known as Qalito. Please do not confuse this with Monuriki Island, which was the backdrop in the acclaimed Tom Hanks movie Cast Away which is also known as Island of Cast Away. If you want to visit Monuruki Island, staff at Castaway can arrange a trip for you. Access to Castaway Island is a short trip by either helicopter or a boat ride from Denarau or seaplane from Nadi International Airport.

Castaway Island is a popular resort for couples, honeymooners and families and anyone looking for the ultimate island experience. It is blessed with white sandy beaches and tall palm trees with one of the best ocean views in the world. As a private island that has its own resort, you can choose to stay in your own private 'bure' (traditional hut) configured to your needs. This island also offers various activities including island style massages, beach volleyball, walks around the tropical island or even a game of tennis. There are water activities like scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, para-sailing, catamaran sailing, water skiing and diving facilities using their award winning Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Five Star Gold Palm Dive.

They have been awarded Best Overseas Family Resort and Best Overseas Resort, finishing in second place in the 2013 Luxury Travel Mag Gold List Awards including Trip Advisors' Travelers' Family Choice Award 2013.

You can access more information through the Castaway Islands website.

Yasawa Group of islands

The Yasawa group of islands stretches in a long thin chain from Waya Island in the south to Yasawa Island, 80 kilometres to the north. It is less commercialised compared to the Mamanuca group of islands though no less beautiful. There are resorts to suit every budget from basic backpacker to luxury. My personal pick from this group of Islands is Turtle Island.

Turtle Island
Turtle Island  |  Fiji

Turtle Island

Turtle Island is one of the most beautiful resorts you will come across with miles of empty white beaches, acres of lush rain forest, and a horizon of sapphire blue sea that can be seen from every direction. It is about five hundred acre private island of unspoiled tropical beauty that has 14 'bures' (traditional hut). It has also has won the Trip Advisors’ 2013 Certificate of Excellence!

To get to this island you will need to get a 30 minute flight by seaplane from Nadi International Airport. Turtle Island charters transfers for its guests which is usually by seaplane although on occasions this may be by boat. Bear in mind that there may not be a flight leaving Nadi for Turtle Island everyday so it is useful to check departures with the resort prior to booking your accommodation.

Turtle Island is, by design, a private island reserved for couples only but they have listened to their visitors' requests and created specific "family friendly" dates to their monthly booking schedule, making it possible for you to bring the entire family. Family dates only pop up on the calendar two or three times every 12 months, so you will have to book in advance if you want to bring the kids along. You can rent the entire island as well, if you would like. This makes Turtle Island the perfect place not only for your wedding but for corporate events or group gatherings as well.

The biggest positive about staying here is you will get the ultimate pampering, a beach all to yourself and a personal attendant. You do however a limited selection of meals and dinners are communal but guests also have the option to dine alone. There are several secluded island locations such as a secluded beach, mountain top, or on a floating pontoon on the Blue Lagoon to name a few. Six-night stay is a minimum and if all that doesn't bother you then you are in for a great holiday at Turtle Island Resort.

There is a plethora of water and land based activities to do here. Water based activities include swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, wind surfing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, and more. Land based activities include horseback riding, bike riding, walking the islands trails, beach picnics, Fijian kava (traditional drink) ceremonies, garden tours to name a few.

You can access more information through Turtle Island Resort.

Toberua Island
Toberua Island  |  Fiji

Toberua Island, Lomaiviti Group of islands

This island is a private island located in the Lomaiviti Group, east of Viti Levu. To get to this tiny coral atoll, you will need a ten minute vehicle transfer from Nausori Airport to Nakelo Landing, followed by a 30 minute scenic boat ride along the Navaloa River to the Bau Waters where you will arrive at your island destination. It has one resort only so it is advisable to let the Toberua Island Resort know of your arrival so that they can arrange transfers for you as required.

This island is in a region far removed from the more popular and bigger resorts of Fiji and offers guests a quiet, laid-back retreat. Toberua Island Resort consists of 15 bures (traditional hut) all with ocean views, private verandas and hammocks. It is perfect for couples or families alike, there are 3 bure styles to choose from including Deluxe, Tropical and Premium. Free of charge activities include snorkelling, hobie cat, wind surf, kayaks, 9 hole round of golf, volley ball, pool table, table tennis, board games, basket weaving and coconut husking demonstration.

This is an island that I have travelled as a child and I can vividly remember the beautiful white sandy beaches and stunning clear waters. It is one of the islands that would definitely go back for a visit.

You can access more information through Toberua Island Resort.

Royal Davui Island
Royal Davui Island  |  Fiji

Royal Davui Island

Royal Davui Island Resort is a luxury Fijian experience. This exclusive adults only resort is situated in the Beqa Lagoon, off the Southern coast of Viti Levu. With only 16 rooms in total, Royal Davui Island Resort has a maximum 32 guests on the island offering accommodation with views of the stunning Beqa Lagoon. The Beqa Lagoon and nearby Beqa Island are a very special part of Fiji, famous to the Fijians as the home to the fire walkers of Beqa Island. A unique breed of Fijians whom over time have been known for their abilities to walk over fire and hot coals as part of a traditional Fijian ceremony.

This island accommodation is the ultimate romantic getaway, whether it be for your wedding, honeymoon, anniversary, birthday or to share a wonderful Fijian experience with someone special. Each room features a king bed, plunge pools, sun decks, double showers and spa baths. All non-motorised water activities such as snorkeling, hobie cat sailing and kayaking are complimentary. Royal Davui Island Resort does not cater for children under 17 years of age. It is also recognised as one of the best romantic hotels in the world winning Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Award 2013.

You can access more information through Royal Davui Island Resort.

Have you been to any of these islands before? What was your experience? Please feel free to share and comment below.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Shopping in the Fiji Islands

Fiji offers a broad and interesting shopping experience with many items of interest. There are stores for local arts and crafts, books, fresh food markets, sporting equipment and apparel, clothing, food  and beverages, local music including musical instruments, natural beauty products, jewellery, and souvenirs throughout the country.

Opening hours

Fiji's business hours for most stores range from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Monday through to Friday and 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on a Saturday with only a select few local stores remaining open on Sunday.


Morris Hedstrom (MH), RB Patel and New World are the main supermarket chains in Fiji and are situated in all major town offering fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local and imported groceries. Morris Hedstrom (MH) is one of Fiji’s largest wholesale and retail organisation with a chain of supermarkets and variety stores.

Shopping Arcade at Port Denarau  |  Traditional dance on show

Handicraft and Duty Free

Popular tourist boutiques and duty free shops include Jack's of Fiji, Prouds Jewellers and Tappoo. They offer a range of tourist souvenirs and duty free goods. These major stores can be found on Queen's Road in Nadi Town, at Port Denarau, Sigatoka and in shopping arcades of the larger hotels.

Most of Suva city's major tourist stores are located along Victoria Parade and on Cumming Street.  Jack's of Fiji is located on Thomson and Pier streets, opposite the Fiji Visitors Bureau; Prouds, in the Suva Central building on Renwick Road; and Tappoo, which has a large store at the corner of Thomson and Usher streets. Note that Jack's Suva store has a very small handicraft section; here, you will find mostly clothing and accessories. The prices are fixed in these stores. Suva has some fine tropical clothing outlets, several of them on Victoria Parade near the Regal Theatre. The upmarket resort and beachwear specialist Sogo Fiji is on Victoria Parade, opposite the Village 6 Cinema theatre. See here for more information on Suva City.

Handicraft  |  Knives, woven fans and traditional on tapa cloth

A fantastic array of locally made handicrafts that can be found include masi or tapa cloth, woven goods, carvings and pottery. These artifacts represent the Fijian heritage and tradition and occupy a very special part of shopping in Fiji. They are available from some of the larger stores however the higher quality products are usually found in local villages (road side stalls are plentiful) at lower prices.

Woven pieces such as mats, baskets, purses and fans are also popular Fiji souvenirs and are mainly produced using products of the coconut tree and also utilising reeds grown locally.

Bear in mind that not all wood and local material will be properly treated according to the customs regulations of your country of origin. It is always a good idea to check customs rules and regulations prior to purchasing handicraft anywhere in the world.

Fiji shopping is also renowned for its clothing including local sports apparel, "bula" shirts, swimwear as well as a wide range of local fabrics which can tailored to your liking by local tailors. Nadi town is well known as the best place for shopping in Fiji. It is home to many recognised shopping outlets and boutiques. In Nadi town, the upper level of Jack's of Fiji is filled with local clothing and leather apparel. Tappoo carry a broad range of merchandise, including electronics, and sporting goods. Prouds concentrate on perfumes, watches, and jewellery including Fiji's black pearls.

Fiji's Black Pearls

Black Pearls

No Fiji holiday is complete without seeing the nation's famous black pearls. Retailing from FJD $400 to FJD $4,000 these exquisite pearls are found in the waters off Savusavu Bay. These are great ornaments on their own or as part of a jewellery piece. They can be bought from duty free stores at the airport in Nadi and at several tourist shopping areas in both Nadi and Suva. Obviously the better the quality of pearls the more expensive. Size and colour also affects the price.

The pearl farm is located  on the northern island of Vanua Levu in the town of Savusavu and worth a visit. More information can be found on J. Hunter's Fiji Pearls site.

Point to note - haggling is not commonplace and most stores nowadays have fixed prices.

Have you recently been to Fiji? How was your shopping experience there? Please feel free to share and comment below.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

5 Popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine

Fiji is well known for its beautiful beaches and rich culture, but it’s also home to many delicious foods. Read on to learn more about these local delicacies and the why I love Fijian food.

Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji - Fresh food market
Walking through the fruit and vegetable markets in Fiji you will see a large variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, and fresh seafood. Fijian cuisine has a very creative cooking flair and is always cooked with lots of flavour and love.  Modern Fijian cuisine is rather diverse with great influence from the Indian, Chinese and European communities. Make sure you try at least one of my top five recommendations below.

Number 1 popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine

LOVO - a feast fit for a King or Queen

This is a very traditional and popular method of cooking similar to a Maori Hangi. The basic idea is food being cooked in an earth oven. The first step is to make a pit by digging up the earth and placing a layer of heat-resistant stones. A fire is started in the pit and the objective is to make the stones white hot. This indicates that the pit is ready.

The food is prepared prior to this. Marinated chicken, fish, lamb and pork are tightly wrapped in a weave of palm fronds or banana leaves (aluminium foil is also quite commonly available and used nowadays) before being place in the bottom of the lovo pit.  On top usually goes various root crops that take less time to cook which include dalo (the potato like root of the taro plant), cassava (the root of the tapioca plant) and Uvi (wild yam).

The pit is then covered with banana leaves and, if available, sacks or tarpaulin. The freshly dug earth is then used to cover and seal the pit, locking the immense heat and steam inside . Depending on the size of the pit and amount of food, it usually takes between 3 to 4 hours before the meal is ready.

Dishes cooked this way, and also one that is my favourite, is Palusami . It is basically parcels of taro leaves saturated with coconut milk and mixed with onions, tomatoes, chillies, and sometimes corned beef or mutton.

The result is smoked, tender and deliciously juicy meat and well cooked sweet vegetables. It is also a very efficient way to cook a large quantity of food for a lot of guests. For this reason, lovo is now quite popular during family gatherings and public holidays like Christmas.

Number 2 popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine


Another very common and delicious dish is Kokoda pronounced "Core-konda". The main ingredient for this dish is fresh fish (mahi-mahi being one of the popular ones). Added is lime juice, freshly squeezed coconut cream, onions, tomatoes, a little salt and chillies to give a little kick. The fresh fish is filleted, boned and cut into bite size pieces. This is then marinated in freshly squeezed lime juice, diced onions and tomatoes. When the fish has been cooked by the limes acidity, freshly squeezed coconut cream is added  just before serving. Kokoda can be served cold or at room temperature.

Number 3 popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine


Sold at fresh food markets

Also known as sea grapes, Nama is the coolest looking seaweed you will have ever eaten. They are incredibly green and the tiny little beads kind of pop in your mouth. They are sometimes used as a garnish but can also be served in a salad, in coconut milk (a popular theme in Fiji) or raw with some chillies, lime juice, shredded coconut and salt.

Number 4 popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine

 Fiji Indian Curry

Indigo Indian Restaurant -  Port Denarau Marina, Denarau Island, Viti Levu, Fiji

As I mentioned before, the population is is a mix different backgrounds, meaning Indian food is plentiful and popular. Curries, dhal (lentil soup), samosas (curry puffs) and chutneys are all popular and easy to find. Amazing fresh roti (Indian bread, not to be confused with naan) is often seen at breakfast buffets. The road to Nadi is dotted with Indian restaurants which will usually have the above staples.

The Indian food in Fiji uses fresh ingredients from the South Pacific with a blend of spices popular in Indian cuisine such as turmeric, cumin and spicy chillies have also crept into traditional Fijian cooking. Coconut milk or cream which features heavily in Asian style curries is not often used in Fijian Indian curries, giving it a unique flavour (and eliminating Dehli Belly!)

Be sure to try at least one Fiji Indian curry when you visit next. It certainly has a twist compared to the normal curries around the world. I prefer a good chicken (free range), duck, lamb or goat curry when I am in Fiji.

Number 5 popular and delicious traditional Fijian cuisine

Vakalolo - Fijian pudding dessert

Desserts are endless in Fiji, you can have several combinations of fruit salads or pick from the many varieties of cooked desserts. Cassava pudding, or Vakalolo as it is locally known, is one of the most popular desserts in Fiji.  It is made with freshly peeled and grated cassava, shredded coconut, fresh ginger and cloves.

Cloves are toasted in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then crushed. All the ingredients are then mixed together and divided into equal parts. This is then wrapped in banana leaves or greaseproof paper and steamed for about 40 minutes. Once cooked, unwrap and serve immediately or alternatively with coconut cream and sugar syrup.


Have you tasted any of these dishes before? What’s your favourite Fijian food? Let us know in the comments section below.