Getting around Fiji
Fiji is the perfect holiday spot, with beautiful beaches, great resorts and friendly locals. Although there are plenty of islands to explore and many resorts with their own private islands, they’re further apart than you might expect and getting between them can require some planning. Fiji runs on ‘island time,’ which means things run at a relaxed slow pace and schedules aren’t always adhered to, so always allow a little extra time for delays. When you’re on holiday, what’s the rush?
Download map and apps
English is the official language and people are generally happy to help you, but sometimes it’s easier to have a map or a specific written location so you know exactly where you’re heading. If you’re looking for transfers to certain islands or areas, transport should be organised in advance as there can often be one or two departures per day. It’s worth doing research before you head out, so you have timetables to work with and bookings where necessary.
Download maps for the public transport and tourist spots before you leave, but be careful as some ‘roads’ listed on maps aren’t really what you’d expect! We recommend Maps with Me, which works both offline and online. Google Maps also allows you to save maps to your device so you can access them offline to save on data roaming.
On the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, taxis are by far the most popular transport option and there are plenty around. Because of the relaxed atmosphere of the place, many taxis on Fiji don’t use meters. Although taxis without meters should be avoided, Fiji is an exception and the best way to ensure you get a good fare is to agree on the total with your driver before you start your journey. Taxis in Fiji are generally safe, however, you still need to be aware of those looking to take advantage of tourists and protect yourself from scams.
When travelling via taxi, we recommend you:
- Keep your most valuable possessions with you when you are in a taxi, don’t put them in the boot.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Ask the driver to put your luggage in the boot so that they can’t drive away with your stuff, leaving you behind. Watch your bags go in and make sure the boot is securely closed before you get in the vehicle.
- Make sure you get out of the taxi after the driver and via the door furthest away from the street. When doing this, leave your door open, which stops the driver from taking off before you unload all of your bags.
Boats and ferries
Many of Fiji’s islands are accessible by charter boat, ferry or water taxi. There are multiple service providers available at varying price options, with regular ferry services linking Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Tavenui, Ovalau and Kadavu. If your resort is on an island, the best option is to contact them for recommendations on transport to and from the resort. Many resorts even have their own boat shuttles and can organise for pickup and drop off directly to the resort.
If you’re planning to reach your destination by boat, it’s important to organise this in advance. Many of the islands only have one ferry departure and one ferry arrival each day, so you’ll need to organise your itinerary around this. Due to Fiji’s ‘island time,’ it’s also common for timetables to change or boats to be running late, so be patient! Many of the outer islands can take up to five or six hours to reach by boat, so ensure you’re aware of the expected duration, and pack food and warm clothing accordingly.
When travelling via ferry or water taxi, it’s important to keep your safety in mind. We recommend you:
- Always wear a lifejacket, or be aware of where to get one if you need it.
- Watch the safety briefing and know where the exits are in case of an emergency.
- Check the forecast. If the weather looks doubtful or the forecast isn’t good, consider postponing your journey.
- If the boat is overcrowded or you don’t feel safe, wait for another boat or arrange alternative transport.
Driving and rental vehicles
If you plan on renting a car, make sure:
- You’re familiar with and obey the local driving laws
- You hire the vehicle from a licensed rental vehicle agency
- You comply with the terms of the rental vehicle agreement
- You drive on a formed or paved roadway or carpark
While renting a car is the easiest and most convenient way to explore Fiji’s main islands, road quality can be dubious, so keep your eyes peeled. Traffic in Fiji isn’t typically very heavy, but the roads are notoriously uneven and often with bad potholes, so a four-wheel drive vehicle is worth considering. Other hazards you may encounter are animals and pedestrians in the road, as many villagers use the roads as a walking track also.
If you’re planning on driving, ensure you have an existing licence. Most English-speaking foreign licences are accepted, but it’s worth doing your research before you go to just to be sure. If in doubt, you can get an International Drivers Permit before you leave home.
It’s always important to use your common sense. If you’re in a taxi, put your seat belt on. We’d rather see a claim for bruised ribs than have to arrange specialist medical care for head injuries or worse.
Drive in daylight
Avoid driving at night or at dusk. Street lighting is limited and many vehicles don’t have proper lighting. Combine this with roads that can be potholed or uneven, locals and animals walking on the road, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!
Check for damage
When hiring a car, always ensure you check the whole vehicle over and take five minutes at the beginning to photograph any damage it may already have. Do the same at the end and make sure it is inspected while you wait.
Fiji is a beautiful, tropical island and it’s considered generally safe. However, always be careful when walking around and avoid walking on the roads at any time, unless you are crossing. You may see locals walking along the roads, but don’t follow suit as tourists have been known to have accidents doing this. A few other things to ensure your safety when walking around the island:
- Stay away from poorly lit streets or areas where there are not many other people.
- Try not to walk around alone, especially at night. If you’re in a group, don’t get isolated and stick to public areas where there are others around whenever possible.
- Keep an eye on your valuables and keep them concealed whenever possible.
- Keep an eye out for uncovered drains or man holes.
We see plenty of claims for lost items that have been accidentally left behind in taxis or on public transport. A good way to avoid this is to always check your seat whenever you get out of your taxi, or off the bus or ferry. Five minutes before you disembark, do a check for all your important items – keys, wallet, passport, phone – to make sure they’re all where they should be.
Water damage seems to be a common problem with travellers in Fiji! From GoPros to phones, electronic devices getting dropped or splashed is a recurring claim. If you’re taking a boat to your hotel, ensure you keep all your electronic devices in a waterproof bag or tucked well away out of the reach of large waves. It might be tempting to take that on-board selfie, but it’s not worth damaging your property for.
The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.
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