Traveling to Fiji can be an exciting prospect, but also a potentially dangerous one. With an unstable political situation, high crime rates, and a variety of local hazards, travelers who are not careful can end up having an extremely un-enjoyable experience or even find themselves in jail. However, learning from other travelers’ mistakes and taking a few simple precautions before booking any flights to Fiji can make your trip as perfect as you’ve always dreamed it would be.
Horror Stories and Lessons Learned
- Surprise Taxi Fare. One recent traveler in Fiji met a seemingly affable, helpful taxi driver who suggested a set price for a specific location. The driver suggested an additional itinerary to which the traveler agreed – without agreeing on an additional cost, beforehand. At the end of the day, the driver demanded an exorbitant amount which was only reduced after a long argument and with the assistance of some helpful locals.
- Lesson Learned: Agree on the price and itinerary before your taxi ride. Additionally, taxi fare can vary depending on where you hail the driver. Fees in front of hotel reception areas are several times what they are just a short walk away at a local taxi stand.
- Sneaky Salesman. While sightseeing, an unsuspecting tourist was approached by a local who seemed friendly. The local asked what the tourist’s name was and immediately carved the name into a wooden sword then demanded payment for it.
- Lesson Learned: Be careful when approached by a local, especially if you are browsing at a market. Additionally, be wary of purchasing exotic shells. Some varieties are endangered or rare and may cost you considerable fines when you try to take them back to your home country.
- Unintended Tour Guides. A pair of travelers found themselves being followed by a sweet and helpful little local boy. The little boy followed the pair everywhere making suggestions along the way. At the end of the day, the boy held out his hand expecting to be paid.
- Lesson Learned: Be wary of locals acting as unofficial tour guides. These guides can be men, women, or children and will be extremely persistent – especially when demanding money for their “services.”
- Dangers for Women. Two women who were planning a horseback ride received a warning from a hostel staff member about rapes occurring during horseback rides through the forest trails. The ladies went ahead with their ride and luckily were safe. However, the male tour guide insisted on sharing a horse with one of the women and insisted on leading the ride through the forest instead of along the beach as the women had requested, which made for an extremely uncomfortable and scary experience.
- Lesson Learned: Female travelers should exercise extreme caution when traveling in Fiji. Travel with a man or in groups if at all possible, and heed all warnings about crime in the area.
- Deadly Snakes. One traveler encountered dozens of black and white snakes while hiking near the water.
- Lesson Learned: When snorkeling or hiking around rocks at low tide, watch out for the snake known as the sea krait. These snakes are extremely deadly, but luckily, are also extremely timid and do not attack unless provoked.
Additional Tips and Precautions
There are several additional things to keep in mind regarding health and safety while visiting Fiji.
- Food and Drink.
- Make sure the foods you eat are fresh, and take extra care with chicken. Storage facilities may not be able to keep chicken at safe temperatures before and after cooking so when in doubt, skip it. Also, chicken dishes are often served in bite-size pieces but the bones have not been removed and present a choking hazard.
- Foodborne, waterborne, and infectious diseases such as measles and mumps, hepatitis, typhoid, tuberculosis, and leptospirosis are common in Fiji. Drink bottled water or boil all drinking water and be sure to avoid ice cubes and all undercooked or raw food. Kava, a popular local drink is sometimes made with local water so take caution when drinking it.
- Travel insurance. Medical facilities are not comprehensive in Fiji and are practically non-existent outside of urban areas. In cases of serious injury or illnesses travelers are usually evacuated to Australia or New Zealand. Consequently, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises travelers, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” Be sure to have comprehensive travel insurance to cover potential medical expenses.
- Health Precautions.
- Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and filariasis are common, so protect yourself by using mosquito-repellant and wearing long-sleeved, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use mosquito netting around sleeping areas if necessary.
- Sunburns can occur in a short period of time, so be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen to any exposed parts of the body including ears, tops of feet, and any exposed parts of your scalp.
By utilizing the above tips and precautions – as well as a generous helping of common sense – an excursion to Fiji can be a safe and enjoyable travel experience.
This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia.