Local Language & Customs

Embrace Fiji Like the Locals Do

 

Fijians are renowned as some of the friendliest people in the world with a reverence for traditional customs. Guests can always expect a warm welcome from the locals, but it’s also handy to know some popular Fijian phrases and general etiquette rules.  Just like any other foreign destination, your respect for their customs and traditions will be wholly appreciated.

Language

Fiji has three official languages: Fijian, English and Hindi. Most locals are bilingual and almost everyone is fluent in English. 

The Fiji alphabet is the same as English, however pronunciation of certain letters is different. Fijian dialects of the language vary greatly wherever you go.


Helpful Fijian Phrases

Show you’re ready to embrace ‘Fiji Time’ and familiarise yourself with a few key Fijian phrases. It’s also a great way to start a conversation with the locals. 
Bula (pronounced boo-la)
Hello or welcome
Ni sa bula or bula vinaka
A very warm hello (or a blessing when sneezing)
O sa lako ki vei?
How are you?
Vinaka
Thank you
Vinaka vakelevu
Thank you very much
Kere kere or yalo vinaka
Please
Tolou (too low) or chillow
Excuse me
Na yacaqu o…
My name is…
Io (ee-oh)
Yes
Sega (senga)
No
Au lako mai <country>
I’m from <country>
A cava ogo? (ah thava ongo)
What is this?
Kana (karna)
Let’s eat!
Kakana
Food
Gunu (goo noo)
Drink
Ni sa moce (nee-sa mo-they)
See you again (Goodbye)
E vica na kena i-sau?
How much is this?
E sega ni macala
I don’t understand
E vein a Vale-lailai
Where’s the toilet?

Local Customs & Etiquette

 
 
Greetings

When in Fiji, you’ll hear ‘bula’ everywhere you turn. This is the most popular greeting, so feel free to exchange pleasantries with locals via this cheerful phrase. 

 
Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Fiji, however any gratuity will be appreciated. Most hotels and resorts have a ‘Staff Christmas Fund’ box for guests to leave donations, as a way to say ‘thank you’ to the entire staff. Similarly, in restaurants, leave money in a jar or box marked Tips instead of on the table. 

 
Shops & Bargaining

Bargaining for price is accepted in markets and many local shops or boutiques but not in larger shopping arcades.

 
Smoking

Smoking is banned on public transport however, it is generally acceptable in public places, unless told otherwise. Certain restaurants and bars may offer smoke-free zones.

 
Fiji Time

When in Fiji, embrace ‘Fiji Time’ and enjoy the relaxed, calmer pace. Things don’t always run on time but when you’re in island paradise, it’s easier to let go of schedules and simply go-with-the-flow.

 
Visiting Villages

It’s important to respect the local customs and traditions of villages, and so certain etiquette rules apply. Always dress conservatively and remove your hat when entering a village or house (only the chief of the village is allowed to wear a hat).

Often, village visits include welcoming ceremonies whereby guests are invited to try the Fijian ceremonial drink, Kava. It’s rude to decline, so embrace the experience. When offered Kava, clap once with cupped hands before taking the bowl. Say ‘bula’ and drink it down in one gulp, before handing the bowl back to the same person who offered it to you. Remember to clap three times afterwards while saying ‘vinaka’ (thanks) to end the ritual.

It’s common courtesy to offer a gift of Kava roots to the chief of the village, which you can find for sale at local markets. However, your travel guide should take care of this on your behalf.

During your village visit, always stay with the assigned host who invited you and refrain from wandering off with another member of the same village, as that’s considered rude and inconsiderate.


Dress Code

 
Resort

At resorts, you can wear anything you’d normally wear on a tropical beach holiday, including bikinis, swimwear, singlets and shorts. However, refrain from being topless or sunbathing in the nude in public spaces, as that’s considered offensive and illegal.

 
Sightseeing & Restaurants 

Local women in Fiji dress modestly and so whilst singlets, shorts and skirts are acceptable when out and about in town, travellers are advised to carry a sarong to cover bare shoulders or legs. If you don’t want to draw unwanted attention, avoid midriffs and short shorts. Most restaurants are quite casual with dress attire although when dining at an upscale eatery, it’s generally expected of men to wear trousers and a collared shirt, and for women to wear trousers, skirts and dresses

 
Villages

Dress codes are the most conservative in villages, whereby both men and women are encouraged to dress modestly. Ensure your shoulders and knees are covered, and remove accessories like hats, shoulder bags and sunglasses. Avoid tank tops and shorts, as well as midriffs and swimwear.


Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do speak softly as Fijians associate raised voices and shouting as expressions of anger.
  • Do remove your shoes before you enter a house.
  • Do admire and praise with caution, as Fijians will feel obliged to give that respective object or item to you as a gift.
  • Don’t take photos of locals without permission.
  • Don’t touch a Fijian’s head, as it’s considered rude.

More Essential Travel Information


Find your flight

Fly to Fiji on the national flag carrier, Fiji Airways. Our modern aircraft are ready to jet you to Nadi, with connections to major destinations across Fiji's islands.
 

SEARCH FLIGHTS