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9 Surprising Fiji Facts

I’m back!

I went to Fiji not really knowing what to expect, besides plenty of beaches and palm trees. I’d never read much about Fiji, or seen a lot of pictures, I had no idea what made it different from anywhere else in the South Pacific.

Well, this country surprised me in a big way. Not only was it incredibly beautiful, it has a lot of unique quirks that make it so much more than just a beach. I’m going to write plenty of detailed articles later on, but I thought I’d start with a short primer on some of the more surprising things that you probably never knew about Fiji:

1. It’s Made Up of a LOT of Tiny Islands

332 to be exact, not include over 500 tiny islets. These are spread out over 7000 square miles, making Fiji bigger than you’d think. It becomes slightly less daunting when you realize that only 110 islands are inhabitable and 87% of the population lives on the two biggest islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The hideout of the last cannibals was around here

2. They Kind of Used to be Cannibals

Let’s just get that one out of the way right now. It’s 100% true that prior to the 19th century the Fijians practiced human sacrifices as well as cannibalism. According to the Great Wikipedia:

The bodies of enemies slain in battle, or in sacrifice, were piled up and cooked for festivals, such as the installation of chiefs or the launching of a great canoe.

The last man to be cannibalized in Fiji was the Reverend Thomas Baker in 1867. His partially consumed shoes can still be seen in the National Museum. The tribe apologized to the Reverends family in 2003.

Of course once Christianity spread, the practice was abandoned. Fijians are literally some of the nicest, most friendly people I have met anywhere on earth. They stick to fish now.

3. Village Culture is Still the Way of Life

While there are a handful of small cities, most native Fijians still lead a life centered around their village. Community is very important to their culture, and most wealth and resources are divided among the residents of a village. Even most of the resort staff I got to know all go home to their villages in the evening.

Some areas are very poor, without electricity or running water, and some are doing quite a bit better, but the community spirit can be seen everywhere.

Rafters and Rugby Players

4. Literally Everyone Speaks English

This one might surprise you, until you consider the fact that Fiji was an English colony for over a century, up until 1970. All children are taught English starting from first grade, in addition to standard Fijian AND their local dialect (and sometimes Hindi or Chinese as well!).

Other imports from the English include Christianity, fish and chips and a deep passion for rugby.

Ronal, our Indo-Fijian driver

5. Fiji is Pretty Diverse

Ethnic Fijians comprise only 54% of the country’s population. Really. One of the most surprising things I learned about Fiji is that it has a huge Indian population. Brought over as indentured servants by the British in the 1800’s, their descendants make up nearly 40% of the population. This means it’s really easy to find a good samosa.

There are also white Fijians and even Chinese Fijians who have been in the country for generations.

6. The Bottled Water Thing is Real

It really does come from Fiji! In the United States, Fiji Water is one of the priciest, classiest and, well most wasteful water brands. In Fiji they hand it out like candy.

Hotel Farm

7. They are Big on Sustainability

It might be because they live on small islands with limited resources, but Fiji is incredibly conscious about sustainable tourism practices. The villages of course, are almost completely self-sustaining. Many of the resorts also strive for self-sufficiency and many of the tour companies practice responsible tourism. Basically, unlike Thailand or some other places, you don’t have to feel like crap for being a tourist here.

 8. It’s Not Just a Luxury Destination.

Yes Fiji is full of really beautiful luxury resorts (and I saw some great ones) but that’s not the only way to experience lovely Fiji. There are a lot of reasonable, and even budget resorts, hotels and hostels, and I saw quite a few backpackers headed out to the islands.

9. It’s Gorgeous

Well maybe you knew that, but it’s still so true!

So there’s your primer… stay tuned for more!

 

Special thanks to Tourism Fiji for inviting us to Fiji and covering our stay.

All opinions are my own.

51 Responses to 9 Surprising Fiji Facts

  1. Kaylin May 29, 2012 at 9:22 AM #

    Oh Im so jealous! I went to Fiji 3 years ago and my experience wasnt exactly glamorous (it was mostly spent digging in the dirt, pretending I knew how to be an archaeologist, all day 5-6 days a week for a month, on a tiny island halfway to Tonga) but I would LOVE to go back and do more of the sightseeing stuff next time. Its just such an incredibly beautiful country and the people are some of the friendliest Ive ever met anywhere on the world. And I would love to see some of my friends from my tiny island again too!

    • Dee N. Fraser February 2, 2016 at 1:30 PM #

      Bula Kaylin. Thank you for the kind words about my country. Did you stay in The Lau Group? We have many Facebook community groups with lots of photos of our family holidays to villages, swimming in rivers and waterfalls and get-togethers off the beaten tracks and non tourism related. You’re all welcome to stop by. Dee N. Fraser is my profile name. Vinaka

      • pray reh May 24, 2016 at 12:51 PM #

        i appreciate your comment

  2. Christine May 29, 2012 at 9:58 AM #

    Swooning over those last two shots…Fiji is definitely on the list for my next trip down under!

  3. Caroline Eubanks May 29, 2012 at 10:39 AM #

    I’m with Christine! So upset I didn’t get over there while in Australia but there just wasn’t enough time 🙂

  4. Celina Globetrotter May 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM #

    Wow! It’s so beautiful! I hope I will go there one day 🙂

  5. Lauren May 29, 2012 at 12:36 PM #

    I think facts 2, 4 and 5 are especially interesting. It’s crazy how much colonialism shapes a country. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that settling in and spreading ideas through a region changes it, but to go from eating a reverend to practicing Christianity is kind of a big deal. I wonder what Fiji would be like today if it was never colonized…

  6. Cristina (@thetravolution) May 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM #

    Really? A budget destination? Didn’t know that! I was avoiding it from adding to my “list of places to travel” because I thought it was wayy pricey. Thanks for busting this myth!

    • Steph May 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM #

      Either Mike or I will publish some more information about this!

    • Kaylin May 29, 2012 at 11:25 PM #

      It’s a little expensive to get there but once you’re in-country it can be quite cheap. I stayed at an amazing hostel in Nadi that was about $9-10 US per night and it was like being in a resort, (sweet pool and everything; and midway between town and the airport- short bus ride to either) except with dorm rooms. The Fiji dollar is way low on the US dollar and other currencies, almost $2 FD to $1 US, so even though things might be seem expensive, with the exchange rate, you get a great deal. Plus they bargain almost as much as SE Asians do in the markets, so you can find plenty of souvenirs (including the ubiquitous cannibal forks) for a low price. I even got a machete!

    • Amanda May 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM #

      I loved Fiji and I am another one to support that it doesn’t have to be expensive! The scuba diving is absolutely amazing as well!

      One of the most interesting things I learned while in Fiji is that only indingenous Fijians can own land so despite being in Fiji for generations Indo-Fijians still have to lease land to farm, etc. It’s quite understandably a contentious issue and has caused much political unrest. It was something I never would have heard about if i hadn’t visited there.

  7. Efrutik May 29, 2012 at 3:26 PM #

    Great preview of Fiji! I will go someday for sure. Did not know a lot of the facts you listed here. Was wondering why #7 is like that? The water is really so expensive here in US but surprisingly to know that it is not back in Fiji. Hmmm lie and learn. In any case Fiji looks amazing!

    • Steph May 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM #

      I’m guessing b/c if you drink it in Fiji they don’t have to pay to ship it overseas!

  8. John May 29, 2012 at 6:25 PM #

    I can’t wait to hear more about Fiji and see some more beach pictures. I don’t know why, but I’m surprised the water is even available there. I guess I just assumed they made it and put it on a boat without it ever seeing the fiji market.

  9. Lindsey May 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

    Ah man, loving the tropical in that last shot! How long were you there for?

  10. Wez May 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM #

    Loving the fact that you and Mike are both doing series on Fiji, seeing as I’m heading there later this year. Looking forward to more articles and more great photos 😉

  11. Audrey D. May 30, 2012 at 7:07 AM #

    So glad to hear about no 7! This is the kind of paradise that can get destroyed so fast if you don’t take care of it! 🙂 And can’t wait to hear more about “budget” options, I sooo wanna go there right now!

  12. Sky May 30, 2012 at 12:20 PM #

    Great post, I’ve never paid much attention to Fiji or any other countries in the area as I tend to stick more with Latin America but just looking at your pictures makes me want to hop on a plane and head there right now! It seems like there’s a pretty strong culture there, with the communities and everything, which I love…now I really want to go! 🙂

  13. Hilarye May 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

    Wow! Gorgeous! It’s a dream of mine to go to Fiji!

  14. alexis May 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM #

    That’s awesome! I’ve always been curious about going to FIji. The water looks amazingly clear. It surprises me that there are hostels available there. I’m glad to hear that!

  15. Leah May 31, 2012 at 12:42 AM #

    Looks beautiful. Want to go in spring 2013 but looking for reasonable way to get there from Western Canada. Ideas?

    • Steph May 31, 2012 at 9:28 AM #

      Probably the most direct would be to get the cheapest flight you can down to lax. Air Pacific has a direct flight from LA to Nadi.

  16. Ali May 31, 2012 at 5:21 AM #

    I wish I had been able to get to Fiji on my RTW but I couldn’t work out the timing. It looks like an amazing place, and the photos are gorgeous!

  17. Chinye May 31, 2012 at 8:05 AM #

    Pictures make me want to book a trip now. I’m surprised to read Fiji can be somewhat of a budget destination. Can’t wait for you to share more.

  18. Elisa May 31, 2012 at 10:35 AM #

    I visited Fiji when I was studying in Adelaide a few years ago. It really is a paradise. We toured one of the islands where Tom Hanks filmed his movie. The water is great for snorkling too! I have a photo similar to yours and it’s my inspiration when things get too crazy at work. I look at it and take a deep breath!

  19. Michael Figueiredo May 31, 2012 at 9:50 PM #

    I’d love to go to Fiji just for the water! That’s my favorite brand. 🙂

    • Peni January 12, 2013 at 7:55 AM #

      thanks Mic

  20. Audrey | That Backpacker June 1, 2012 at 7:02 AM #

    What an incredible place to visit! Not only does it look breathtaking, but it also sounds like they have quite a fascinating history. I’m looking forward to reading a bit more about your trip! 😀

  21. Chrystal McKay June 1, 2012 at 4:31 PM #

    You’re correct – I did not know most of these facts about Fiji! But I’ve only had one friend visit and the only facts I got out her was “ITS AMAZING”. Its good to have a more diverse range of facts. I look forward to reading more about your Fiji adventures!

  22. Peni January 12, 2013 at 7:53 AM #

    hi everyone I am from Fiji. some other facts to know is that the sun rises in Fiji yeah no joke. that means we are the first to greet the 21st century. also Anaconda part 2 was shot here. and its home to the 3rd largest reef in the world.

  23. Rachel January 13, 2013 at 8:54 AM #

    wow i just came back from fiji I felt very out of my comfort zone but still enjoyed the experience!!!!!!!!!!! alot of things seemed very funny to me I never thought i would see alot of the things i did, like no fences and cows just tied up with a rope by the road, instead of fast food places apart from macdonalds barbiquse cooked on the side of the road, busses all bellowing black smoke, lol they must run them till they dont go anymore. there are plenty of misquetoes round too. Most of the people were very polite greeting everybody Bula, but it was great they could understand english too. Some places we were told not to go by our hotel,because of robbers. we stayed at a budget hotel but it was very adiquite with air conditioning we needed that , and a fan too, clean sheets every day and fresh towels too and an onsuite and an on site restraunt, this was a blue package with virgin pacific.we had a europe car which i wasnt sure if it would make the distance but we drove round the whole island which actually took us alot longer than expeted because it is a very big island. 2 weeks before we were there they had a terible cyclone and alot of damage occured so that meant we couldnt go to alot of places we intended too we went up the nuvua river to a tribal village had lunch and a kava ceromny and met the locals and observed thier customs and tried their food which was cooked in the ground the food was actually really beautiful.and we bought their local handicrafts which were very well made. I would certinly recomend that trip. We also went on the latest of trips just added called salava with stork cruises and the crew all sang and we had a sing along with them that was a fun day.barbicue lunch, snorkeling or diving, glass bottom boat the sea water was really warm i can write some more if anyone is interested this is Jan 7 to 13 2013 im talking about this was supposed to be the rainy season but we only got the odd shower.One very interesting thing was seeing a fijian man climb up the coconut tree and get a coconut down cut it and give us the fresh cocnut milk and then cut the top of another cocnut to make a little spoon so we could scoop the flesh of the coconut out , it was so fresh ive never tasted such a nice cocnut!!!!!!!!! Also I obsbserved quite a few albeno fijians, that was an unusual thing to meet them they look like white people but with fijian features. i talked to one he had to work at night because the sun affected him to much. They dont have many rules there they all bundle into back of utes for transport not many seat belts are used and the pot holes they even warn you about.!!!!!!!!!!!! you have to be very carful at night because all these fijians walk walk walk any time of the day or night they walk on the road side and they just cross the road in frount of you too,

  24. Apikali July 29, 2013 at 11:40 PM #

    Bula everyone,i was reading all your beutiful comments and dreams of one day going to my little island of fiji.Yes we are very friendly and yes fijian people likes to walk walk walk……lol……that is so true rachel.if we don’t have any money for bus fare will g get to our destination by foot . We have to have big signs that saying “BECAREFUL FIJIANS WILL BE CROSSING ANY TIME”…….LOL…..We have mosquitoes it drives me crazy sometimes,when i go back home and got bitten by mosquites i know ok im in fiji……yay……..!!You beautiful people that haven’t been to fiji you definately have to go and experience it on your own to feel and to see the beauty of Fiji.

  25. Paul September 7, 2013 at 1:09 AM #

    I really want to go to Fiji now and maybe we can budget it after all! Great facts! 🙂

  26. Raffaella December 5, 2013 at 1:27 PM #

    Great mix of info – while I’ve always had Fiji on my dream list, I’ll now have to move it up a little.

    • Il-song Park February 13, 2014 at 2:48 AM #

      Dear Ms. Raffaella,
      We all desires some types of fantastic dream-trips. I’d like you not to remove Fiji on your dream list. For all the dark clouds in the sky, bright silver lining always exists on another side. Your dreams come true soon!
      Il-song Park, Phd.

  27. AJ March 9, 2014 at 9:19 AM #

    People seem interested to learn that Fiji can be a relatively cheap place, for those on a tight budget. I know of a hotel in central Nadi that has dorm beds for fj$10 a night… that’s about US$6. So if you stay out of the resorts, then you can live and travel quite cheaply.

    When travelling around, local buses are cheap too, Nadi to Suva (about 120 miles) will cost fj$16, maybe 5-6 bucks more on the air conditioned express buses. And you can eat cheaply as well… if you like fruit then Mangos are a few cents each in season, bananas and coconuts, pawpaws.

    If you hang around the toursim areas of Voral Coast, Yasawa and Mamanuca islands, then prices are high, even for a dorm bed. But get off the beaten trail and you pay “local prices”.

  28. Jeff June 5, 2014 at 8:50 AM #

    Fiji is now an annual pilgrimage for me, and NOT just for surfing. It is one of the easiest long trips one will ever make from the States. It has a great climate year round. I feel welcome and safe there. The Fijiians are just a sweet bunch of folks who welcome you with open arms. And it is for REAL…. I’m leaving on Tuesday and May not come home!

  29. kelsey October 28, 2014 at 9:50 AM #

    This is really interesting. I’m glad i found this. i will be recommending this to more people. thanks

  30. Adish November 1, 2014 at 8:36 AM #

    Fiji….. the way the world should be…!!!

  31. Nina November 2, 2014 at 9:04 PM #

    Bula everyone! Well, I’m actually from Fiji. If you really want an adventure, then hop on the next plane. I’ve been to countries overseas and its not like home. Here its not that populated (we haven’t reached 1 million) and its practically easy to move around. If travelling by bus, you don’t have to pay a ticket first at the bus station and present it to the driver. You just hop on the bus and pay your fare. Oh, and did I mention that almost all local fruits and veggies are organic. yes, organic! 🙂 most of them grow wildly, so you can always go to the market to get nice stuff! Just some tips – If you want adventure/cultural experiences, go to an island. If you want to unwind/relax, try the coral coast. If you want to unwind, hit the clubs, shop and even go island hopping, try Nadi. If you want to go diving, try Beqa – home to the great white sharks! If want to go sailing – go through Denarau Nadi and tour the Mamanucas and even Lau where Mel Gibson recently bought an island. But then again, travelling around Fiji is not restricted to anything. Enjoy! 🙂

  32. Nina November 2, 2014 at 9:08 PM #

    There’s a wide range of deals throughout the year! And our currency is not that strong; so more savings to travel 🙂 Oh and don’t forget, we have a few World Heritage sites.

  33. kingi November 27, 2014 at 7:11 PM #

    pretty cool pictures off views and people

  34. Andy from Panama January 26, 2016 at 10:52 AM #

    Was looking to read about how is it the time change. I notice this is the last country in the world that is 17 hours ahead from USA East coast time. But if you travel a little further then you are in Hawaii time (6 hours behind) .
    Has anyone traveled back and forth to experience time change?..this must be funny

  35. Welli May 16, 2016 at 11:25 PM #

    What makes Fiji attractive from the other Pacific nation as a tourist destination is that it is a multiracial country and yes everyone speaks good English. Ensure you do your medical /travel insurance etc if you plan a trip to Fiji. The Fijj Visitors Bureau is the best place to get all your queries answered. Fiji Airways now flies daily Lax-Fiji (Airbus A330’s) and its network spreads across the Pacific from its Nadi hub if you plan to explore other Pacific countries. Western union has outlets across the islands and international consulates and embassies are all in the main capital , Suva.

  36. Coop May 25, 2016 at 9:02 AM #

    Thank u that helped with my work ( I am in school )

  37. Rick James June 17, 2016 at 7:37 AM #

    To Coop: I hope you do not mean your English school work, because, this whole gramatically- challenged article almost literally realy made my head kinda sorta; exploded, WHO learnt these peoples ( cannibles suposebly who arent or are not existed, anymore)? anyways huh? Borrow me sum of that fiji water and sent it here by way of federal ex. Thnx. P.S. Fu°* up sum commas yeah! Lololol!

  38. Rick James June 17, 2016 at 7:43 AM #

    P.S. To whomever wrote this article: Please go back to English class! I’m sure your country is beautiful, but your english sucks! I do not ever want to go to Fiji and talk to you people! I don’t care how cheap the Fiji brand water is!

    • Steph June 17, 2016 at 11:06 AM #

      Rick, I am the author of this post. I’m American, not Fijian. Your reading comprehension skills clearly need work. I would be offended by your comment but the irony of your racist, poorly spelled comment makes it difficult.

      • Steph June 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM #

        PS: I’m removing the rest of your comments because they are unproductive and rude.

  39. Maina August 21, 2016 at 5:46 PM #

    Bula vnk…Vinaka Steph…for heritage sites…why don’t you try Levuka,Ovalau…The Old Capital of Fiji. We have the Cession Stone when Fiji was Ceeded to Britain… The first Hotel…Royal Hotel n more Historical sites.You either can go there by boat or by plane.Tour around the Island and Epi’s tour which is hiking to Lovoni village.Diving at Leleuvia Island.The best time to go there is Fiji Day.
    Thank you for your comments about my country… Vinaka Vakalevu

  40. Evi Claflin November 25, 2016 at 6:20 PM #

    Yea, ummmm, Rick James, the way you’re commenting and crxp talking about Fiji really shows how low and disgusting you can stoop just to get your way done and it really shows how your parents brought you up. Judging by all the bs you said, it clearly shows that you have never been to Fiji! It is that type of bs comments that make us retaliate in such horrible ways, we are a peace loving and friendly people. Most disagreements are solved within the conflicting parties within a short period of time but to disregard and insult Fiji as a whole is what we can’t just let slip. If you’ve actually been to Fiji, you would never hear us muttering racial slurs at people with different ethnicities.
    I invite you to actually visit Fiji and sew for yourself how we live our daily lives and how we treat visitors/tourists.

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