You've been offered the job of a lifetime working in Fiji, and as dreadful as it sounds to escape to a tropical paradise (I'm joking!).. you've decided to pack up the family and all your worldly possessions to move to Fiji. But... you've never even set foot in the tropical island!
Where is this tropical paradise you've only seen on television advertisements offering endless pink sunsets whilst gorgeous sun-kissed lovers look lovingly into eachother's eyes and sip a perfectly poured cocktail in an infinity pool overlooking the pacific ocean?
Sorry friend, but your dreams are about to be shattered. Why? Well, because that's an instagrammer's life, and sadly unlikely to be a daily occurrence if you are moving to Fiji to work. Don't get me wrong, you will have amazing moments and see amazing sunsets, but those infinity pools aren't likely to be on your daily to do list - even if you are managing a resort! (We've been there, done that, and had those dreams shattered, LOL).
If you've never stepped foot in the country, or only been there on a Fijian resort holiday, here is some information to help you know a bit more about your new island home.
The Islands of Fiji
Fiji is spread over a huge area of the Pacific, covering around 1.3 million square kilometres. The South Pacific archipelago with over three hundred islands lies around 2000 kilometres east of Australia. The two main islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
The largest island, and where you will fly into is called Viti Levu. Home to the Nadi International Airport, it is about 10,389 square kilometres in size, which is roughly 4,011 square miles for those who follow the imperial system. It is comparable in size with the Big Island of Hawaii.
Viti Levu is home to about 70% of Fiji's population. The capital city is Suva, but interestingly only since 1882 when it was officially changed from the then capital, Levuka - a town on the eastern coast of the Fijian island of Ovalau. Other towns to note in Viti Levu are Nadi, Sigatoka, Ra, Rakiraki, and Lautoka. There is one main highway around the perimeter of the island. Driving Suva to Suva right around the island in one go (no stops) would take you roughly 8 hours.
The second largest island is around half the size of Viti Levu, at approximately 5,587 square kilometres (2,157 square miles). It is about 50km wide and 180km long.
Vanua Levu's main population centres are the towns of Labasa and Savusavu. You may have heard of Savusavu as it is popular with tourists, especially those who enjoy yachting and diving.
Food and Drink
You will find all cuisines in Fiji these days, especially in the bigger cities of Nadi and Suva. Traditional Fijian cuisine consists of lots of fresh seasonal produce and freshly caught fish, with coconut and chilli used to flavour and mix. Influenced from the indo-Fijian population are yummy curries and "indian sweeties" which are often sold out of little carts on the streets. The fruit and vege markets are fun and inexpensive places to shop. Suva city has a large market, and lots of smaller roadside markets dotted around the city.
The national drink is Yaqona (or more commonly known as Kava). Drinking sessions are traditionally all-male affairs with a single glass or cup passed around in rotation with the contents swallowed in one gulp. Instead of 'cheers!', you will say 'Bula!'. More women are getting involved as time passes.
Fiji has a warm tropical climate. Dry season is between May and October with temperatures ranging between 25 degrees celcius in the day, and around 19-20 degrees celcius at night. The wet season is normally between November and April with brief, but heavy showers. Except if you're in Suva, where it rains throughout the whole year on and off most days.
Under the 1997 constitution (un-revoked by the 2013 constitution) are three official languages of Fiji. These are English, Fijian and Hindi. Across the different areas of Fiji, you will find variances in the Fijian language with each provence having it's own dialect. Most people you will come across speak English and will understand what you are trying to say.
Getting around the main island
Driving is easy in Fiji and the roads are much improved from days gone by - less potholes by far. The maximum national speed limit is 80km per hour. You can drive in Fiji on your international licence when you arrive but make sure to have it swapped over within a couple of months of arriving as an expat in Fiji as long as you normally drive with the driver sitting on the right side of the vehicle and the vehicle being driven on the left side of the road. Public transport is fairly accessible, especially in Suva, and it's affordable and quite fun to ride on. Taxis are plentiful in the towns.
Fiji will observe 11 public holidays in 2018, including all the normal ones you would likely observe in your country, such as Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Additionally, as an expat living in Fiji, you will get a day off for National Sports and Wellness Day held on 29th June; Diwali held 7th November and Constitution Day on 7th September. You will also enjoy a great celebration on Fiji Day - held each year on 10th October - which celebrates the anniversary of independence in 1970.
Enjoy living in Fiji my friend, and please take the time to share your stories about life in Fiji with me. Right now I'm about to head out to the Commonwealth Games (tonight we are watching the Men's hockey with Pakistan vs Wales and South Africa vs Scotland) which are being held in the Gold Coast, Australia at the moment - hoping to catch up soon with my friends from the Fiji Women's Rugby 7s team, and if so, will keep you in the loop.
Until next time, SJ x
SJ here - did you enjoy reading this post? Or find it helpful? If so, I would appreciate it so much if you could share it on your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest by clicking one of the buttons just below this... And even better - please leave me a comment below - I love love love reading your comments and knowing your thoughts about this topic. Or you could Email Me if you prefer. Vinaka Vakalevu - Thank you! And thanks for stopping by my Blog xx