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FIJI


SELECT YOUR DISCOVERY

Fiji officially the Republic of Fiji is an island country in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 2,000 km northeast of New Zealand. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and Tuvalu to the north.

Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The farthest island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 860,000. The capital, Suva on Viti Levu, serves as Fiji's principal cruise port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres like Nadi (tourism) or Lautoka (sugar cane industry). Viti Levu's interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.

Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific due to an abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources. Today, the main sources of foreign exchange are its tourist industry and sugar exports. The country's currency is the Fijian dollar. Fiji's local government, in the form of city and town councils, is supervised by the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development.

HISTORY & CULTURE

The first settlements in Fiji were started by voyaging traders and settlers from the west about 5000 years ago. Lapita pottery shards have been found at numerous excavations around the country. Aspects of Fijian culture are similar to the Melanesian culture of the western Pacific but have a stronger connection to the older Polynesian cultures. Trade between Fiji and neighboring archipelagos long before European contact is testified by the canoes made from native Fijian trees found in Tonga and Tongan words being part of the language of the Lau group of islands. Pots made in Fiji have been found in Samoa and even the Marquesas Islands.

Across 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) from east to west, Fiji has been a nation of many languages. Fiji's history was one of a settlement but also of mobility. Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes were quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent. Europeans settled on the islands permanently beginning in the 19th century. The first European settlers to Fiji were beachcombers, missionaries, whalers, and those engaged in the then booming sandalwood and bêche-de-mer trade.

The British subjugated the islands as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract laborers to work on the sugar plantations as the first governor of Fiji, Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, adopted a policy disallowing the use of native labor or any interference in their culture or way of life. The population in 1942 was approximately 210,000 of whom 94,000 were Indians, 102,000 native Fijians, 2,000 Chinese and 5,000 Europeans. The high proportion of Indians in Fiji continues today.

The British granted Fiji independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 precipitated by a growing perception that the government was dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw both the Fijian monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive president and the name of the country changed from Dominion of Fiji to the Republic of Fiji and then in 1997 to Republic of the Fiji Islands. The two coups and the accompanying civil unrest contributed to heavy Indo-Fijian emigration; the resulting population loss resulted in economic difficulties and ensured that Melanesians became the majority.

In 1990, the new constitution institutionalized ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. Since then there has been a various coup as different factions have attempted to seize power.  In 1987, 1992, 2,000, 2006 and 2009. Frank Bainimarama the former nation's top military commander, became prime minister under a "New Order" in 2007 and imposed a "Public Emergency Regulation" limiting internal travel and allowing press censorship.  He has been reappointed unopposed by the President every year since.

TYPES OF DIVING

In Fiji, you can dive all year round. Visibility is best from July until December when the water is coolest at 22-25 degrees. Summer in Fiji is from November to April, this is the rainy season with water temperatures of 28-30 degrees. The waters are rich in plankton which attracts big fish like whales and manta rays at this time of year.

WHAT TO SEE DIVING

There are many islands offering great diving and have conditions to suit everyone. Here are some of the most visited islands and some of the sites and what to see.

BEQA LAGOON

Lying just south of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji is Beqa Lagoon. Consisting of over 100 square miles of clear water surrounded by 30 kilometers of barrier reef. There are plenty of pinnacles, bommies and even a wreck or two. The dive sites of Beqa are quite varied and play host to numerous fish as well as sharks and octopus. Huge fans and healthy soft corals are on display but if you’re looking for adventure, shark encounter dives are a must!

Caesar’s Rock -This site has been called “The Mecca of Pacific Diving”. From a coral lined tunnel that runs along at a depth of 15 metres to longnose hawkfish and schools of tuna, this sure is one of the top Beqa dive sites.

Carpet Cove - Descending onto the site of “Ika 2” a Japanese fishing boat, you will get to see this wreck covered in sponges and soft coral. Enjoy the plentiful brilliant purple queens, red and black anemonefish and varied scorpion leaffish.

Shark Encounter - Dive Operators have developed a site called “Sharks Reef” where you can see 8 species of shark during one dive. Sharks such as Silver Tip, Nurse, Lemon, Tiger, Grey Reef regularly cruise this area.

KADAVU ISLAND

Diving in Kadavu is all about The Great Astrolabe Reef, the 4th largest barrier reef in the world. Boasting pristine hard corals and a tremendous variety of marine life. Catering for all levels of divers from beginner to experienced and dive sites that vary in depths, currents and visibility ranging from 20 – 100 m. It’s no wonder the Great Astrolabe Reef has been rated as one of the world’s premier diving locations in the world.

Naiqoro Passage - This passage is a recognised marine sanctuary and part of the Great Astrolabe Reef. A kilometre and a half drift dive with non-stop walls abounding in pelagic and reef fish, sharks and coral gardens.

Manta Ray Reef - Primarily a feeding area for Manta Rays, the reef is outstanding in its quality and diversity of fish life. A 40 minute boat ride from the resort and you will get to see mantas on about 80% of all dives.

Nacomoto Passage - Includes Eagle Rock named after the school of Eagle Rays that glide around the bommie at the mouth of this passage and Nacomoto Wall, home to one of the biggest cabbage coral patches a diver is ever likely to encounter.

RAKIRAKI

Located on the northern tip of Fiji’s main Island Viti Levu, Rakiraki offers top quality diving with a variety of marine life and fascinating shipwrecks. Dive sites of Rakiraki suit both the beginner and experienced diver. Local sites offer a wide range of variation from tunnels, swim-throughs and canyons to life-filled walls, reef flats and impressive pinnacles.

Neptunes Wedding Chapel - A shallow dive to a maximum depth of 16m with an abundance of coral. This site is made up of four coral heads with tunnels and a large cave. Prolific in Moray Eels and Giant Clams.

Breathtaker - A deep reef where you are almost certain to encounter sharks including blacktip, grey reef sharks and whalers. Schools of Barracuda, Spanish Mackerel, Trevally, Skipjack and Amberjack are seen here roaming the coral heads with the sharks.

Amazing Maze - The outer reef surrounding Nananu-I-Ra Island featuring channels, swimthroughs and canyons to explore. Good buoyancy is needed to control movement rather than depth concerns as this site bottoms out at around only 20m.

TAVEUNI

Diving Taveuni is where you witness the excellent soft coral blooms and plenty of pelagic fish species. You can also expect to see Barracudas, reef Sharks and Manta Rays.Rainbow Reef is one of Fiji’s best-loved dive sites found in the Somosomo Strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu. The name derived by the display of colour and fascinating marine life to explore.

The Great White Wall - A dramatic site only dived at the right current and tidal changes. Starting at a depth of about 15m and continuing to over 60m, you’ll encounter colourful sponges and crinoids, lionfish and morays as well as soldierfish, squirrelfish and fairy basslets.

Annie’s Bommies - Is a continuation of the wonderland known as the Rainbow Reef. Investigate the nooks and crannies, weave in and out of the bommies and keep your eye open for leopard sharks resting on the bottom or blue-spotted rays.

Cabbage Patch - This vast field of cabbage coral stretches well beyond the area of sight. Be on the lookout for unicornfish, arc-eye hawkfish, Achilles tangs and scalefin anthias to name a few. 

 OTHER DIVE SITES

Namena Marine Reserve is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Fiji Islands with very deep drop-offs where you find the entrance to the North Save-a-Tack Passage. Magic Mound is home to white tips and keep an eye out for barracuda and tuna at North Save a Tack. On its opposite site south you'll find bommies (seamounts) called Chimneys, Magic Mountain, Pirates Den and many more. This is a perfect Liveaboard destination because land-based dive operators cannot guarantee a visit to this pristine dive site due to weather conditions and other factors.

Makongi Island 

At Coral Gardens there are more bommies with turtles, white tips, muray eels and sometimes nurse sharks. The passage to the inner reef is Makongi Channel, usually this makes a great drift dive. At the entrance of Makongi Channel you find White Rock with its white top. Here you find white tips, eagle rays, manta rays, eels, hard and soft corals.

Rustic Arch -  there are beautiful hard and soft corals, sea anemones, moray eels, white tips and an in-house living Napoleon wrasse.

Gau island

Koro Gardens consists of one large bommie covered by hard corals which attracts many reef fish with maximum depths varying from 45 feet to 95 feet.

Shark Fin Point -  a spectacular dive site where you can see large schools of about 500 barracudas, eagle rays, many white tips, lots of grey reef sharks, lobsters, eels, and by times a whale shark. In case of strong currents it makes a great drift dive.

Wakaya island 

Gem Stone is a wall dive where manta rays can be seen together with hammerhead sharks and white tips. Light fish make your night dive here one to remember!

Wakaya Pass - a wall dive with 140 feet down to the bottom. Along the wall you may see blue ribbon eels, white tips, nurse sharks, and hammerhead sharks along with manta rays, marble rays, turtles, eagle rays and barracudas.

DIVE CONDITIONS

In Fiji, you can dive all year round. Visibility is best from July until December when the water is coolest at 22-25 degrees. Summer in Fiji is from November to April, this is the rainy season with water temperatures of 28-30 degrees. The waters are rich in plankton which attracts big fish like whales and manta rays.

WEATHER

Fiji has a warm tropical climate perfect for beachside holidays and is a key reason Fiji has a reputation as one of the worlds most sought after holiday destinations. The best months for holidaying in regards to Fiji weather is late March through to early December.

WATER TEMPERATURE

July until December when the water is coolest at 22-25 degrees. Summer in Fiji is from November to April, this is the rainy season with water temperatures of 28-30 degrees.

AIR TEMPERATURE

Maximum temperatures in Fiji rarely move out of the 31C to 26C (87 - 78F) range all year round. A cooling trade wind blows from the east south-east for most of the year. It usually drops to a whisper in the evening and picks up again by mid-morning.

RAIN FALL

Fiji does have a wet season. The wet season is normally from November to April and results from the southerly movements of the South Pacific Convergence Zone. The wet season is characterised by heavy, brief local showers and contributes most of Fiji's annual rainfall. Annual rainfall on the main islands is between 2000mm and 3000mm on the coast and low lying areas, and up to 6000mm in the mountains.

Typically the smaller islands in Fiji receive less rainfall than the main Island with various amounts according to their location and size, ranging from 1500mm to 3500mm. Cyclones do occur in Fiji and are normally confined to wet season.

HOW TO GET THERE

The gateway to Fiji is by way of Nadi International Airport.  The main airlines are Air New Zealand, Qantas, Fiji Airlines and Cathay Pacific.  There are daily flights from Australia and New Zealand to Fiji and traveling from further afield such as Hong Kong or Los Anglos are mostly routed through Auckland or Sydney with either Qantas or Air NZ. Fiji Airline runs flights from Australia, New Zealand and America on weekly schedules to Nausori Airport near Suva. Most diving packages depart from Suva.  There are many daily flights from Nandi to Suva on local airlines.

VISA CONDITIONS

Neither possession of a visa or meeting the basic requirements from exempt visa countries guarantees admission into Fiji. Immigration officials make the final determination upon entry into Fiji.Nationals of most countries are NOT required to obtain a visa before entering Fiji as visitors however, they need to ensure that the following conditions are met: A passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Fiji; Return or Outbound tickets;Confirmation of accommodation for duration of your visit.

Citizens of these countries are not required to obtain a Fiji visa when traveling to Fiji. However, these travelers will still need the relevant permits depending on the nature of their travel.

Visa is a pre-entry authority issued to a noncitizen passport holder from nonvisa exempted countries that authorizes the passport holder, to travel from his/her country or any destination country outside of Fiji to Fiji’s borders. A visa does not give automatic entry rights into Fiji for the holder. All Visa applications are considered on merit and on a case by case basis. Visa may be granted to a noncitizen if for visiting friends/families, for holiday, business purposes, transit purposes for more than three hours or for joining a vessel as crew or passenger. Visa may also be granted to a representative of a foreign government and his/her relative.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

The local time is 12 hours ahead of UTC (GMT)

The local currency is the Fijian Dollar (FJD). Visitors are advised to make any currency exchange at the airport, prior to leaving the terminal building.

Languages spoken in Fiji are Fijian and Hindi but everyone is united by English.

Electricity current in Fiji is 240 volts AC 50 Hz with three-pin power points - the same as in Australia and New Zealand.

There are several marine park fees. Also on most liveaboard vessels merchandise, services, and alcoholic beverages need to be paid on board. These can be paid in different currencies and by credit card. Keep in mind, however, using your credit card, an extra fee of mostly 3- 4% on top of your bill. Also, some fees will be subject to Fiji Government Taxes: a VAT of 9%, Services Turnover Tax of 10% and Environmental Levy of 6% - a total of 25% extra on the bill.

Concerning vaccinations visitors should consult with their doctor 8 weeks ahead.

Use “Share taxis” – As the name suggests, these taxis will pick up as many passengers as possible and charge usually the same as a bus fare, which is a good option for longer journeys.

Snack stands – The cheapest food in Fiji is found on the snack stands dotting the roads. You can pick up curry or fish and chips for as little as 2 FJD.

BYO Everything – If you are going to the outer islands, bring as much as possible. Things are about 50% cheaper on the main island so save money and buy water, snacks, and alcohol ahead of time.

GALLERY