Welcome to FIJI
Welcome to the land of Bula smiles, coconuts, blue sky, sea, sand and greenery. While the general Fijian community is friendly, welcoming with Bula smiles and very fresh with the green ecosystem there are numerous points that you should be mindful of as you plan your trip to stay with us. The points are below are not to deter you from your visit to our friendly isles but a guide to help you prepare yourself better.
It is important that you read about the entry requirements before entering Fiji. For student visa related matters you will need to contact the International Office mobility officer.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Fiji. You will need to obtain the appropriate visa before entering Fiji.
Local laws and customs
Illegal drugs of any kind in any quantity are forbidden from being brought into the country and a hefty fine (with imprisonment) can apply. Possession of any amount of marijuana carries a mandatory 3 month prison sentence. If you are invited to take part in a kava drinking ceremony, you should be aware of the associated risk of liver toxicity. Topless bathing and nudity in public is forbidden and you must cover your shoulders and knees during kava ceremonies and when in rural villages. Homosexuality was decriminalized in February 2010, but travellers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly when visiting rural and traditional communities.
The major mobile phone carriers in Fiji are Vodafone and Digicel. Inkk is a third mobile carrier. The mobile phone coverage can be found throughout the country with weak or no network in some parts of the country.
You may also opt to get a local student sim with either of the major mobile phone carrier. Sim cards can be purchased upon arrival at the airport or this can be arranged when you attend your orientation at the University. A valid ID card will be required when purchasing your sim card.
There are two main highways on the main island (Viti Levu) of Fiji. These are the Queens highway and the Kings highway. When arriving at the airport you can take a domestic flight to Nausori and a taxi to Suva or you can take a local bus or taxi from the Nadi Airport to Suva. It takes approximately 4.5 – 5 hours by the local bus and 3.5 – 4 hours by taxi from the Nadi Airport to Suva. Before boarding a taxi ensure they are a registered taxi with a yellow number plate and the registration beginning with LT. Airport taxis are yellow in colour and have a higher starting rate when compared to public taxis. Minibus or Minivan is another of transportation in Fiji and one that we do not recommend. Additionally, please note that not all minibus/minivan have a license to operate under the Land Transport Authority (LTA) act.
If you are planning to explore Fiji on your own (or with friends) please take extra precaution when driving or traveling by public transportation.
Hitchhiking is also not recommended as this may hinder your safety. It is very common to find stray animals along the highways as well as pedestrians and road side vendors. While some areas have street lights other areas are poorly lit or have no street lights at all.
Be mindful of the road signs and of your surrounding as some areas have damaged or no road signs. Adverse weather conditions can lead to roads becoming damaged, blocked or washed away. Seek local advice before you set out and keep up to date with the weather forecast and bulletins.
There are numerous water-based activities that you can explore and enjoy with caution. Some of these are; Navua water rafting, Sigatoka River safari, Denarau jet-ski, shark feeding and deep sea diving.
However, some areas are unsafe to swim in therefore it is advisable to consult with the locals and read up about the place before heading out. You must always read and adhere to the warning signs and swim only in approved areas. Do not go out to reefs or engage in water activities alone. Always inform someone of your whereabouts and ensure that the company and equipment you are using are of proper standards and are safe. Ask for license from the company if necessary.
The cyclone weather in Fiji is around November – April but due to current climate change conditions the number and intensity of cyclones has changed as compared to before. During this period there is a greater risk of strong winds, heavy rains, flooding, landslides and road closures. It is advisable to monitor weather updates from the Fiji Meteorological Service and to follow the NaDraki weather updates on Facebook. It is also advised to stay know the nearest evacuation points and stock on the necessary items such as food, candles, matches, torch and drinking water.
Safety and Security
While Fiji is generally a safe and friendly country, petty theft is fairly common. You must always be mindful of your belongings and don’t trust your personal items with strangers. Keep your money and documents in a safe place and always be mindful of your surrounding when moving in crowded areas.
Before you travel, make copies of your passport, travel documents and travelers cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
Take particular care when walking at night in cities and towns and when visiting isolated areas.
After the 2006 military takeover the next general elections took place in Fiji on Sept 17 2014. Fiji is now due for other general elections in 2018. The general political climate has been peaceful in Fiji during this time.
Health centers, hospitals and pharmacies are available in various parts of the country. These are available in close proximities in the urban areas but not so close by in rural communities.
If you have special medications for allergies and medical conditions it is advisable to check if these medications are available in the local pharmacies. Most pharmacies close for business between 9 – 10pm. All students coming to study at the University of the South Pacific are advised to have a comprehensive insurance cover.
Importing or exporting currency
Upon arrival you must declare your currency if it exceeds FJD$10,000.00. This can be declared on your arrival card upon reaching the Nadi International Airport.
All students are advised to handle their money with care. Not all ATMs accept all Credit & Debit cards. Similarly not all companies all accept all Credit & Debit cards. The main Banks in Fiji are; ANZ, Westpac, BSP, Bred Bank, HFC Bank and Bank of Baroda.