Just the name of this South Pacific nation evokes blissful tropical vibes. For cruises departing Australia, Fiji is a fantastic destination and well worth a few extra days at sea to get there. From city breaks to castaway islands, there is a port for every type of cruiser to enjoy - and a whole lot of palm trees and white beaches mixed in.
If you have a cruise to Fiji on the horizon, have a read of this guide to the basics and find out what to expect when you step onshore in this fantastic country of gorgeous isles, friendly people and sunshine.
Far from a single landmass, Fiji is an archipelago with three hundred plus islands, of which more than half are uninhabited. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are the two biggest isles, home to the bigger cities and towns like Suva, Nadi and Savusavu. The smaller ones offer a slower pace, friendly villages and uncrowded beaches, making them idyllic and scenic cruise destinations. The volcanic origins of Fiji’s lands mean that cruisers will encounter steep verdant hills, cliffs dropping into turquoise waters, tall peaks and other stunning landscapes, all providing an amazing backdrop for all kinds of activities, adventures and relaxing days onshore. In fact, a Fiji location made it on to our list of top ten scenic ports in the South Pacific!
Suva is one of Fiji’s primary cruise ports, the capital and biggest city. Here, cruise passengers can discover the culture of the island nation, whether by a self-guided wander around the streets or with a more focused tour to visit the historical and cultural hotspots, like the Thurston Gardens, Museum of Fiji, nearby Nailiili Church, firewalking displays and plenty more. Lovely Lautoka also offers an authentic taste of Fiji life, while Port Denarau is the gateway to Nadi, Fiji’s much more touristy city. Port Denarau’s busy marina sees many tours departing to offshore adventures and islets, a great choice and an idyllic way to spend your time here.
The smaller isles are where cruisers can encounter that amazing tropical paradise feeling. Dravuni Island is a popular stop on the itineraries of big ships, where you can walk trails through the green volcanic peaks and enjoy snorkelling and other watersports off the beautiful beaches. Smaller Fiji-focused ships tend to explore the smaller island chains like the Sacred Islands, where you can really get up close and personal with village life - traditional meals, singing, storytelling and some amazing water-based activities like diving in places that few people will ever see. Read our review of a small-ship Fiji cruise to find out more about the amazing things you might see and do.
If you have a meal onshore in any of Fiji’s cities, you will be spoilt for choice, with many small cafes and restaurants offering affordable food. Travel guides recommend ordering off menus rather than choosing from display cases to ensure freshness! Fiji’s cuisine is a mix of Polynesian-style dishes with a lot of root vegetables, coconut, tropical fruits and meat, and adaptations of Indian specialties thanks to the large Indian population.
The Kava drink, made from the root of the pepper plant, is very popular here amongst locals and tourists alike. While you can drink it in bars, the best way to experience Kava is to take a tour which includes a traditional Kava ceremony. Visitors to Fiji also enjoy the local beers - primarily, Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold. Crack a cold one in a bar and relax!
Small-ship cruises to the island chains - and some day tours from the main centres - will often include a traditional village meal like a Lovo. This is the Fijian version of the Polynesian method of underground cooking. Fish, chicken, pork and root vegetables are cooked in the ground oven wrapped in tinfoil, while the star of the show is the “palusami”: onions, salt, thick coconut cream and corned beef wrapped in taro leaves and put in the ground.
Fijian Dollars (FJD) are used throughout Fiji, and they are usually equal to around 60 Australian cents. They are easily attainable in port cities, and also readily available from Australian currency exchanges before departure. Tipping is not customary, but appreciated. Watch out for aggressive selling from market stall holders!
The typical tropical weather in Fiji means it is warm all year round, with only slight temperature variations. The dry, cooler season from May to October is considered the best time to go, but if you don’t mind some sporadic rain showers to cool you off from the scorching heat, November to April is a good choice.
There are three official languages in Fiji: Fijian, English and Hindi. In major tourists areas, and places that are used to cruise ship visits, travellers can generally communicate in English with little trouble. Useful and friendly phrases include: “Bula” (general greeting), “Vinaka” (please or thank you) and “Moce” (goodbye). Like most other Polynesian nations, Fiji has quite a conservative culture, so if you are heading out from the more touristy areas, we recommend covering up a little. Public displays of affection are considered inappropriate, and it is rude to touch a person’s head.
One interesting aspect of Fijian culture is the strong Fijian-Indian presence, which came about as a result of indentured labour from the Indian subcontinent by British colonial rulers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, there is a distinct population of Fijians with Indian descent, and a Fiji Hindi culture that adds a little more spice to the island nation. Cruisers interested in this aspect of Fiji can visit temples like the famously colourful Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple in Nadi, and also learn a bit about the history of the labourers and later immigrants at the Fiji Museum.
Discover more about this stunning island nation with a cruise to Fiji.