Fiji Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by globetrott
  • Local Customs
    by globetrott
  • Local Customs
    by globetrott

Fiji Local Customs

  • Take off your shoes and hats !

    It might happen, especially on the smaller islands and far away from the larger cities, that you are invited into one of the local huts or into an assembly-hut, like shown in my main picture: It is a matter of politeness to take off your hat, scarf or cap as well and your shoes before you take a seat on the floor like the locals do !And of course...

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  • banana-leaves make great decorations

    This is something that you will see in almost every island of the Fijis: Look at this great way to use Banana-leaves in order to decorate your fences. And all of these works of art will also last for plenty of years, they might loose their bright green color and turn grey, but they will not fall apart. I have bought a very simple bag made of such...

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  • English is spoken everywhere on the...

    Good news for tourists: I am sure you will be glad to learn that english is spoken all over the Fiji-islands and besides Hindustani and Fiji english is also one of the 3 official languages of the Fiji-islands. The Fiji-islands have a total population of a bit more than 800.000 inhabitants, living on various islands with a total size of 18.333 km2,(...

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  • Fiji-Dollars

    Yes, of course the Fiji Islands have also their own currency and it is called the Fiji-Dollar ! In the front of the bills you will see HM Queen Elizabeth II and in the backside you will see some interesting local design !The souvenir-shops in Port Denarau might also accept sometimes australian or US-Dollars, but in places like the post-office you...

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  • A giant beetle lives on the Fiji islands

    This is the largest beetle I have ever seen and it lives only in the Fiji islands: The Xixuthrus Heros or Fijian giant long horned beetle, it is the 2nd largest beetle-species on earth and you will find it only in the Fijis. It has a maximum length of up to 15cm.Unfortunately you will hardly ever see it in its natural surrounding as a lot of them...

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  • The Fiji-kilts

    On the Fiji-islands it is quite hot all year long and that might be a good reason for some men to wear a Fiji-kilt. You will see them mainly in uniforms of policemen and even the armed guards in front of the presidents palace in Suva will wear a Fiji-kilt - see one of them in my main picture here !I took these photos of the policeman with a trick,...

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  • Bula means hello !

    Bula or Bula, Bula ! is the local Fiji expression for "hello, how are you?" and you will hear it all over the Fiji-island and even in the streets of quite a large town of Suva a lot of people will great tourists in the streets.It is always ment in a friendly way and that "Bula, Bula" will come with a smile, and almost never it is just a way to get...

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  • Masi / Barkcloth

    This was another surprise for me in the Fiji-museum in Suva: clothes made of a special material, called Masi or Barkcloth. It is a non-voven product, made by the beating of the inner-bark of the mulberry tree over an anvil to form a compacted web of fibre. The earliest such cloth dates back 3000 years BC and was found in Malaysia. That same type of...

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  • the traditional sailingboats of the...

    You will hardly ever see such ships and canoes in any port of Fiji any more, but you can see them in The Fiji-museum in Suva and this museum is even free of charge for visitors, but you will find a box for donations at the entrance. In my photos you will see the exhibits of the first hall of the Fiji museum: you will see some of the traditional...

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  • Five Fun Fiji Facts

    1. There is an unwritten rule that no building should be taller than a coconut tree, so you will not find any skyscrapers on Fiji.2. Tipping is not required, nor even expected, in Fiji.3. Kava is the national drink of Fiji and a pill form of it is marketed widely in Europe as a "stress buster pill."4. The traditional firewalking ceremony, involving...

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  • Drinking Kava with the locals

    This is a must do as there is a whole ceremony that takes place. Its a lot of fun and you simply cannot leave fiji without having some kava with the locals.A point to note is that there is two types of kava. The packet stuff....and the REAL stuff.The packet stuff is powdered down and I found it nowhere near as strong as kava made and drunk directly...

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  • fire walking

    About 500 years ago, an old man in the village, Dredre (meaning love), told stories to the people but only after they first gave him a gift. Tunaiviqalita, promised to give Dredre a fresh eel as a gift and Dredre agreed to tell him stories once he gave him the eel. Tunaiviqalita followed a small stream near the village in his search for an eel. As...

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  • Kava

    Kava is a local drink made of the root of tree. Nowadays they extract a powder from this root and mix it with water. It is not an alcoholic drink, but depending on how strong it is mixed your thong or lips may feel numb. If visiting a local village, you will probably be offered kava.

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  • Bribes

    Bribing people is a part of the culture in Fiji. Although I don't at all condone this sort of behaviour, it may be handy for you to know if you need to get yourself out of a sticky situation.Eg. If you get pulled over for speeding, you can hand the police officer F$10 and he'll let you go without a fine.

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  • Shopping

    I learned while in Fiji that store owners or tour companies may offer you something for free, they may be very persistant and insist that you take whatever they want to give you. Even if you are not interested they will continue to try to "give" you the item. After you accept the item they will insist you pay for it. We went horseback riding- the...

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  • Village etiquette

    Cities and tourist destinations are not that strict about the rules of behaviour. But when you enter Fijian village, remember that you should stick to the protocole. First of all, don't enter the village without the invitation. Ask someone living there if you can take a walk around or stay. The chief may come to welcome you and you're expected to...

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  • Fiji time

    On our second day in Fiji we decided to catch the bus to go for a day trip. We rushed to the bus stop but found no timetables. So we asked a lady standing next to us, what time is the bus coming. She said: "maybe 11 o'clock, maybe 1 o'clock...."Friends of ours made many Fijieans laugh just because they ran to a bus which was about to leave. Normal...

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  • Kava

    You'll get to drink lots of it in Fiji! This mixture of water and powdered root of some plant (Piper methysicum) makes a national drink for the locals. Kava drinking can rise to a ceremonial act (organized in significant moment of village life) but also plays important role in everyday life. Families or friends get together, sit in a circle with a...

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  • Fiji Time!

    The phrase "relax... it's Fiji Time" is probably one you wil come to hear a lot during a stay in Fiji! The basic concept of "Fiji Time" is that things will happen when everybody is good and ready for them to happen! If somebody says "The snorkelling trip will leave at 10am." then you will probably be lucky if it's left by 10.30am! To most people...

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  • Kava Ceremonies

    Something that should not be missed during a visit to Fiji is participation in a Kava Ceremony, a Fijian tradition that dates back centuries. Kava is the dried root of a pepper plant, which is finely ground and disolved in water in a large bowl made of hardwood known as a tanoa. Before drinking, the grainy bits are drained out with a cloth,...

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  • Kava Ceremony

    Every night at the resort the staff would ask all the guests to sit with them in a circle on the floor for a kava ceremony. They drink a milky, muddy drink from a coconut shell cup and clap their hands afterwards. If you drink enough of it it gets you a bit drunk.

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  • Men in skirts

    Wrap around skirts is a traditional men's wear in Fiji. It is still in use, not only on the outer islands like here, it is also a part of the National Guard uniform. Looks quite comfortable, I wonder why not more men use them!

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  • greeting!

    The Local greeting is BULA! which roughly translates to HEY!. Eveyone says it, a bit like you would smile at people, here you grin and say BULA. people shout it across rooms to you, gets a bit of getting used to.

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  • Fiji time

    Fijians are slow and relaxed people. "Fiji time" means whenever they feel like getting around to it. So you could be waiting for hours for people to show up!! But then you can use it as your excuse for being late too!

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  • Clothing

    When you enter a village it is appropriate not to just enter but ask if you are allowed to enter. Wear a skirt over your knees or a sulu (sarong) and a tshirt covering your shoulders. No sunglasses and no hats and dont wear your bag over your sholder but in your hand.When entering a house always take your flip flops or sandals of and sit on the...

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  • Men hold hands, Kava numbs your brain,...

    When I went to Fiji I noticed the men here tend to hold your hand a lot longer than would be normal back home ...strange at 1st, but I soon got used to it!If you are visiting a Fijian its customary to take along some Kava root so the drink can be prepared by crushing the root and mixing with water (I think). If you drink a lot of this stuff it will...

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  • Dress code

    I've mentioned this elsewhere but it fits into this section too. An important cultural tip for travellers to remember is that in most Fijian villages the dress code is conservative. Women (and often men) are required to have the knees and shoulders covered when in a village. Fijians are very polite, so no one will tell you to cover up, but if you...

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  • Lovo

    Earlier in the day - about 2pm - we had watched the crew burning wood to create the heat for the earth oven, or lovo. The meat is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for several hours in the hot sand.We returned to the beach later in the evening after having been back to the ship to freshen up. Torches were lit on shore and there was a little...

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  • Meke

    Meke is a group performance which mixes singing, chanting and drumming in a very catchy combination . Traditionally it is only performed in a village on special occasions - usually when the village is being visited by someone important (like us). However, meke is much more than a colourful dance, it is a way of keeping alive a culture and for...

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  • Isa Lei

    Fiji's song of farewellIsa, Isa, you are my only treasureMust you leave me, so lonely and foresakenAs the roses will miss the sun at downingEvery moment my heart for you is yearningIsa Lei, the purple shadows fallSad the morrow will dawn upon my sorrowOh! Forget not, when you are far awayPrecious moments beside Nanuya BayIsa, Isa, my heart was...

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  • Yaqona Ceremony

    We have slept through the night and day now dawnsThe sun is high in the heavensGo uproot the yaqona and bring it...Prepare the root and proclaim it!The acclamation rose skywards,Reaching distant lands!Kava (or yaqona), Fiji's national drink, has an important place in all Fijian ceremonies and is used widely as a token of goodwill and respect...

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  • English is the official language

    For English speakers a trip to Fiji is simplified by the fact that English is the official language there. Although Fijian and Hindustani are also spoken there, visitors will have no problem getting around speaking English wherever they go.

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  • Watch your head

    Fijians don't like to have their head touched. they have a big joke about the last guy to touch a Fijian's head was eaten. It was over a 100 years ago though, so its not so bad. If you enter a village you should not have anything on your head, so you should remove your hat, or anything else you might have on your head, to show respect to the...

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  • Bula (Hello)

    The Fijian people are very friendly and laid back. When you arrive you soon learn about Fiji time. It may take a while but you will eventually get what you want - a great way to live!! There is no rush so relax!!

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  • Kava Ceremony

    There is probably going to be a time when you partake in a Kava ceremony (otherwise known as Yaqona). You should sit cross legged facing the chief or village representative. When presented with the bowl, which is made out of half a coconut shell, you should clap once, take the bowl, say "bula", drink the kava all in one go (trying not to pull a...

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  • Shopping - the Fijian way.

    No visit to one of Fiji's main urban areas is complete without a visit to a market. The early morning is the best time to go. On every trip to Fiji, I have been with family and we always stock up on our fruit and veges by shopping in the markets. Good markets are at Nadi (pictured) and Lautoka. Suva's market is slightly different by being larger...

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  • Meke Dance

    Meke is a performance of Fijian dance. They are dressed entirely in national costume of flower leis, grass skirts and tapa cloth. The men often perform warrior dances that tell a story while the women sing songs illustrated by movements and gestures. You can find a Meke ceremony in most resorts, it's made for tourists, but it's so nice and...

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  • Kava Ceremony

    You might be invited to participate in one of the most common ceremonial and social customs in the islands, the Kava Ceremony. Drinking of Kava, is quite common on social occasions. It is regarded in Fiji as "the National Drink". In the past, only chiefs drank it.Kava is made from the bare root of a pepper tree, pounded into a fine powder and then...

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  • Be Nice!!

    Nearly everyone you meet in Fiji will be very friendly, it is part of their culture. You will hear Bula so many times that you never want to hear it again.

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  • FIJI BITTER

    FIJI BITTER or Fiji Gold or Fiji export are about the only beers you find consistantly in the islands, with Fiji Bitter being the most common. Luckily, it is very good beer. Try it!

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  • Dont be offended

    My friend Suli who I stayed with in Kadavu said they had a little culture clash incident one time. He says that when a Fijian meets someone, normally one of the first 3 questions will be "How old are you" It is just what they like to ask, He said they had some ladies get upset one time, so just be prepared.

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  • Lower your Bags

    When entering a chiefly village it is good manners to take you pack off your shoulders and to remove your hat.

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  • Drink Kava like a pro

    Kava the national drink of Fiji is just about everywhere you go, and you won't escape trying it! Some islands have different customs for drinking it., but there is one way that is typical. When the bowl of grog is handed to you, clap 1 time before taking it. Then drink it in one big gulp. Then tilt it to show it is empty, return it to the person...

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  • Lovo Feast

    Lovo is the traditional way of cooking a meal, often in celebration. The preparation consists of digging a hole and preparing a fire within it. They layer in the food such as dalo (their super starchy equivalent to potato), chicken, pork, etc. with onions and spices wrapped in coconut leaves. Then they bury it and dig it up hours later when it's...

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  • A much more detailed description of...

    In accordance with the legendary tradition of the Sawau tribe of the island of Beqa, the firewalking ceremony is still performed on special occasions. The firewalking skill is possessed by the Sawau tribesmen living in the four villages on the windward, or Southern side of the island of Beqa. In special cases, however, members of the other tribes...

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Fiji Local Customs

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