10 Things to Know Before Going to Fiji

Your flight and hotel are booked, your bags are packed, and you are ready to go! Before you head out to the beautiful islands of Fiji, it’s important to know a little bit about the culture.  We’ve done the research and gathered 10 helpful tips for you to have the best possible vacation! So read on:

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Photo copyright Duncan Odds

 

  1. Get To and From the Airport

You don’t want to be stranded after your long flight, and if you’re in a pinch there are taxis for hire, but the best course of action is to have a driver waiting for you when you land.  Most hotels, especially those on the outer islands, will offer an airport service. Double check with your travel agent that this has been arranged before you set off on your trip.  

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Photo copyright Roderick Eime

 

  1. Fijians Drive on the Left

This can come as a shock to people who are accustomed to driving on the right side, and it’s all the more reason to hire a driver if this is something you’re not used to. You’ll probably adapt to it quickly enough, but if you’re nervous about the prospect of driving, it’s best to sit back, relax and to hire a local.  

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Photo copyright Kyle Post

 

  1. Forget About Vibrant Nightlife 

Fijians generally go to bed early and wake up with the sun, so if you plan on partying until the sun comes up, you might be on your own. Instead, plan to enjoy your drinks by the pool or on the beautiful beaches by the light of day and save partying for another time.

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Photo copyright Carmen

 

  1. Go Hiking with a Local Guide 

Fiji is full of wonderful natural beauty and hiking is a great way to experience the gorgeous tropical rain-forests. However, it’s important to know that many of the paths aren’t well-maintained and the terrain can be hazardous, so hiring a local guide is going to be the safest and most enjoyable option.  Ask your travel agent for help on finding great deals on local tours.  

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Copyright Pablo Marx

 

  1. Be Mindful of Your Attire in the Local Villages

Sundresses, shorts and tank tops are fine in and around the resorts but if you decide to visit a local village it’s best to dress a little more conservatively in order to show respect. Visitors should plan to remove all hats and sunglasses while in the village and plan to wear clothing that covers both shoulders and knees.  

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Photo copyright Kanaka Rastamon

 

  1. Visit the Outer Islands 

Many people have the impulse to stay on the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu on their trip to Fiji but the real magic is on the outer islands.  Steer clear of the urban areas and opt for a seaplane or speedboat ride to places like the Mamanuca Islands, known for their scuba diving, snorkeling and coral reefs or check out Yasawa, known for its pristine beaches and jungles.  With more than 300 islands, there is no shortage of places to explore. 

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Photo copyright Joyce T

 

  1. Embrace ‘Island Time’

It can be difficult to slow down when you’re used to fast-paced living but that’s why you’re taking a vacation from the hustle and bustle, right? In Fiji, like most of the South Pacific, people live by ‘island time,’ a slowed down, relaxed mentality and they are happier for it. So relax, take a load off and embrace the slow pace living, you might just learn to love it!

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Photo copyright MickiTakesPictures

 

  1. Attend a Kava Ceremony

Kava is a legal and traditional herbal drink made from the ground root of a spicy pepper plant and is used for medicinal and cultural purposes throughout the Pacific. It has relaxing effects similar to alcohol, but without the risk of intoxication or hangover.  In Fiji, a formal kava ceremony will often accompany important social functions, usually involving drinking kava and a ritual presentation of bundled roots as a gift. If you have the opportunity to attend a kava ceremony, I highly recommend it. 

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Photo copyright Melody Tan

 

  1. Respect the Locals

Fijians are some of the most welcoming, friendly people I have ever met, and are quick to greet you with “bula,” (meaning hello) and a huge smile on their faces.  Just know that while they are making sure your vacation goes smoothly, they are often away from their families for weeks at a time. It should go without saying to treat them with the respect deserved to all people, but especially those in the service industries. 

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Photo copyright Timo

 

  1. Watch the Sunrise

Vacations are for sleeping in, right? Yes, but we recommend devoting at least one morning to watch the magnificent light reflecting off the tropical waters. The colors in the sky will make waking up well worth it, just don’t forget to have your camera ready!

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Photo copyright Kyle Post

Keep Garbage Out Of Our Oceans

As a scuba diver, I’m appalled by the amount of trash I see in our oceans. But the bulk of it isn’t on the coral reefs–it’s worse in other places.

Last month, a dead sperm whale in Indonesia was discovered to have over 12 lbs of plastic in its stomach.

There’s a floating garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of Texas!

Boyan Slat from the Ocean Cleanup Project. Photo courtesy USA Today.

Photo courtesy Ocean Cleanup Project.

Luckily there are folks with great ideas and plans for cleaning it up, including The Ocean Cleanup Project.

Snorkel Adventures Destin from Florida has put together this infographic with some simple guidelines–some of which are being implemented by cities today. Some US cities have made the news for their plans to ban plastic straws, and others, including Visual Itineraries’ hometown of Bend, Oregon, have voted to ban plastic bags.

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Snorkeling and Motu Picnic in Moorea

Over spring break 2017, we visited Moorea with our kids, staying at the Intercontinental Moorea Resort (which was fantastic by the way). The video below is from Albert Tours, who operate a snorkel trip to a section of the lagoon maybe 1000 yards from the Intercontinental. In about 5′ of water, literally dozens of blacktip reef sharks swim around you, and a half dozen or so big stingrays will come right up to your chest. What an amazing experience!

After swimming with the sharks and rays, the tour goes to a nearby beach for a picnic and some fun demonstrations of coconut husking etc.

The Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Of all my experiences from living in Taiwan for 9 months, backpacking the Holy Ridge Trail in 5 days was one of the highlights. The Holy Ridge (or “雪山聖稜線” in Chinese) is an awe-inspiring, often razor-thin ridge of mountains in Taiwan’s Shei-pa National Park. It spans from north to south, connecting the famous Snow Mountain (“雪山” / “Xueshan”) all the way to Mt. Dabajian (“大霸尖山” / “Dabajianshan”). At 12,749 ft, Snow Mountain is Taiwan’s most famous mountain and second highest. As we traversed this ridge in an O-shaped loop, our views spanned the mountain range and we summited several peaks along the way and climbed more than a few sketchy scrambles. From sparse, steep rocky bits to lush forest hiking, this trip had some unforgettable views and even better memories. Continue reading

Thailand Photo Journal

What should you do if equipped with just ten days in Thailand? Instead of turning the trip into a frenzied race to see all the most important spots with what little time we had, my favorite travel companion and I decided to pick just one town in the north and south of the country to spend more time in. The result was a lot more relaxing, in-depth, and enjoyable than burning ourselves out and spending more time than we wanted on just getting to different places.

The first stop? Chiang Mai, of course!

Chiang Mai is the rich cultural city in the north of Thailand, famous for its temples.

Chiang Mai is the rich cultural city in the north of Thailand, famous for its temples.

Continue reading

The 5 Lightweight Items We Can’t Travel Without

Packing lighter is no news to backpackers and trekkers who want to ease sprains and strains on their weary muscles. But the ultralight packing trend that the outdoor industry is embracing can be applied to travelers as well – even if your end destination is a resort instead of a tent under the trees. If you have a big trip coming up but are fed up with lugging around those 2 exactly-50-lb suitcases, this article is for you! Not only will international transfers be a breeze, but you also don’t have to break your back stuffing it into the back of a taxi, shuttle, or longtail-boat-transfer-to-tiny-island-resort. Win-win! Leave the packing tips to us, embrace the minimalism, and focus on all the R&R you could want on your actual vacation. Continue reading

Columbia River Gorge: Eagle Creek Trail

Treacherous icicles

Don’t move!

Part 2 of our Columbia River Gorge winter hikes feature is the Eagle Creek trail! This is one of the most popular trails in the gorge due to its close proximity to downtown Portland and relative easiness. The trail gently slopes and you can pick how far you want to go – if you only make it to Punchbowl Falls, you’ll log 3.8 miles round trip. The furthest people tend to hike in a single day trip is Tunnel Falls, which would be a solid 12 miles round trip. You can go a total of 26.5 miles to Wattum lake, which people tend to turn into a multi-day backpacking trip to make it more doable. Any way you slice it, the Eagle Creek trail is a crowd-pleaser with a lot of options. But that being said…it should be noted that you’re not going to get very far on this trail in the dead of winter. Or at least, we didn’t.  Continue reading