As soon as you get to Nadi airport, you’ll know why Fiji is family holiday heaven. At the queues to go through immigration, you’ll get sent ahead if you have children with you. A great relief!
Fiji is a tropical mecca for families in need of fun, sun and relaxation. The cheerfulness and warmth of the Fijian people perfectly matches its tropical climate too.
But for newbies, planning a first holiday can be a bit daunting. Read these top tips to start you off:
1. Start with the Fiji basics
Fiji is a nation of over 300 islands, which lie 3,000 km north east of Australia. Flying time from Sydney is around four and a half hours.
Fiji’s main island is called Vitu Levu, the capital is Suva. However the main international airport is in the second city, Nadi. The second largest island is called Vanua Levu.
The population of Fiji is pretty small, approximately 880,000 people, the majority being of Fijian heritage. 40% of the population are Indo-Fijians, their ancestors were brought to work on sugar plantations during the period of British colonisation, which only ended in 1970.
Fijian is the national language, however English is spoken universally too.
Power points are exactly the same as in Australia – simple!
2. Weather and when to go
The climate is warm all year round, with an average of 25 degrees C. Fiji tends to be cooler in winter (June to August) and warmer and more humid in summer (December to March).
There can be rain all year round; this is what gives Fiji its lush tropical landscape. Read more info at the Fiji Weather Forecast website.
Peak season in Fiji is the Australian winter as that’s when Aussie families long for a tropical holiday, but it’s also when Fiji is at its most expensive.
Christmas and the first couple of weeks of January are also peak season, as are the Easter and September school holidays. Avoid school holidays if you can, this simple tip will save you a lot of money.
3. Deciding where to go
The first thing you need to think about is where to base yourself, on the mainland or on one of the island resorts. I’ve recently got back from a trip where I enjoyed the best of both worlds.
I stayed at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, which is on the Coral Coast and Castaway Island in the Mamanuca islands. Both of these resorts won awards in the TripAdvisor 2015 Travellers’ Choice Top 10 Hotels for Families – Fiji.
For young children and those who won’t manage a flight followed by a bus trip, chose Denarau where there are many hotels only a 20 minute drive from Nadi airport. If your family can manage the flight and then a one hour 15 minute bus trip then one of the hotels on the Coral Coast is a great choice.
And if you’re not daunted by the thought of a one hour boat trip after your flight then a stay at one of the tropical island paradises in the Mamanuca or Yasawa islands is for you.
4. Bures, rooms and apartments
Many resorts have gorgeous traditional Fijian houses called bures, with high ceilings and thatched roofs. These tend to sleep two adults and two or sometimes three children.
Resort rooms will offer rooms to sleep two adults and two children. Some will have an extra rollaway bed too, do ask.
If that all sounds too crowded or you have more kids, you need to book two rooms or try to find a two or three bedroom apartment (these are available at some resorts in Denarau.)
The Outrigger has family double bures, sleeping six people, and there is one family bure on Castaway Island, which sleeps up to 10 people.
5. Check out the kid’s club options
Most kids clubs in Fiji are free however they don’t take babies or toddlers. Do check at what age kids can go to the free kids clubs, e.g. at the Sheraton in Denarau and at Malolo Island, kids club starts at four years, whereas it starts at three at the Outrigger.
Many resorts have nannies that can look after children younger than kids club age for a relatively cheap hourly rate.
6. Think food – book a meal plan
Food in Fiji tends to be wholesome and fresh, with lots of fish and seafood on offer. Most resorts can offer some sort of a meal plan for a daily fee. For most families this is the most affordable option.
7. Things to learn before you go
Bula! Is the universal greeting, often delivered with great gusto! Whilst we translate it as ‘hello’ the word actually means ‘life.” What a fab greeting.
Vinaka means thank you.
Lots of words are not pronounced as they are spelt e.g. Nadi is actually pronounced ‘Nandi”, the Bebe Spa at the Outrigger where I stayed recently, is pronounced ‘Bembe.”
Fijian dollars generally worth around 60c Australian i.e. $1 AU = $1.6 Fijian. Check www.xe.com for the latest rates.
9. Visas and vaccines
No extra vaccines or medications are required for a trip to Fiji – hooray! Tourist visas are issued on arrival to Australians.
10. What to pack
Take light clothes, and plenty of sunscreen. Some long-sleeved shirts and trousers are also wise, as is insect repellent for those balmy evenings.
Fijians tend to be either Christian or Hindu and you will notice that, when out and about, Fijians dress modestly.
So whilst you can wear what you like when in resorts and hotels, it’s always respectful to wear clothes that are not too revealing when away from the resort.
Once you arrive, you can start to plan some excursions to see more of the people, wildlife and culture of the Fijian islands. After a little relax by the pool that is!
Have you been to Fiji on a family holiday? What tips can you share?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Seana Smith has enjoyed two family holidays in Fiji with the four kids. Seana recently travelled to Fiji as a guest of Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort and Castaway Island.