Lay of the Land
“The song 'Don’t Worry Be Happy' could be the national anthem so aptly does it capture the pervasive attitude of the islands.”
Fiji consists of 333 islands spread out over 20,000 square miles in the South Pacific. The largest island is Viti Levu, which contains the capital of Suva on its eastern side and Nadi (pronounced Nandi) on its western side. Home to the international airport, Nadi is the tourist hub where flights from Asia, America and Australia and New Zealand land and where domestic flights come and go. The top resorts such as Laucala and Royal Davui all operate their own air service in and out of Nadi with flight times between 35 and 50 minutes.
When to Go
The best time to go is in Fijian winter (May through September) when the air is cooler (average temperatures average 84 f or 29 c), and there is less precipitation. November through April is cyclone season, when the temperatures are warmest (average temperature 88 degrees farenheit or 31 degrees celcius), and there is a higher chance of rain. Even in supposed dry months, it can rain for a full day, so insiders recommend a stay of at least five or six days. “It is rare to have more than two days of rain,” they say, “so if you are here for at least five days you will have mostly sunny days.” Another tip: When the sun shines, don’t waste the chance to get out and enjoy it because rain can come in quickly and last. Honeymooners who spent their first two days of sun sleeping in their villa and had nothing but rain the rest of their stay, learned the hard way. Snorkeling in gray weather compared to on a sunny day is like black-and-white film compared to Technicolor.
The only way to arrive direct from the US into Fiji is via the Fijian national carrier, Fiji Airways. Flight time from Los Angeles is just under eleven hours, with flights leaving close to midnight and arriving a day later (you cross the international date line so you miss one day) at 5:10 am. The more comfortable way to fly is via Auckland on Air New Zealand, which does have very good first and business service. The flight from LA to Auckland is thirteen hours and Auckland to Nadi is about three hours and fifteen minutes so you do have to pay with time for the increased comfort.
Though Fiji is a tropical island and one where days may be spent in the sea and on the sand, the local people are modest so covering up, especially when visiting a village, is expected. Cover-ups and shirts should be worn in restaurants and off the beaches, as bikinis and bare chests are not considered polite attire. You will notice that local men wear sarongs as covering knees and shoulders is respectful. Shoes are customarily removed before entering houses as well, which is why you may see sandals lined up outside of doorways and people walking barefoot inside. Even at the most exclusive resorts in Fiji, few dress formally even for dinner; you will not need a jacket and tie.