Traveling to Fiji is one of the best experiences for nature enthusiasts. The country is home to an archipelago of over 300 breathtaking islands in the Melanesia region. The white sandy beaches, plenty of sunshine, vibrant coral reefs, and friendly locals make Fiji an exciting place to visit.
Fijians’ easy-going and friendly culture makes this country generally safe for visitors. However, like traveling anywhere else, common sense and standard precautions can help you safely explore Fiji.
By understanding the dos and don’ts in Fiji, you can blend well with the locals and other visitors. Read on to learn about the various travel tips and safety concerns that we think every traveler must know!
Is Fiji Safe to Visit?
Fiji is a safe place for any tourist, thanks to the peaceful and welcoming locals. However, visiting some places in the urban areas might expose you to petty crimes like theft and violent assault.
Before leaving your hotel room, research to identify areas you should keep off. Avoid downtown sections if you visit urban areas at night. Pickpockets, muggers, and scammers target urban tourist areas in Suva and Nadi.
ATM skimming in urban areas and tourist areas is rampant. Solo female travelers might experience violent assault, including sexual assault. Females are also likely to attract whistles and stares from some Fijian men.
Some petty thieves may also attempt to break into hotel rooms to steal tourists’ valuables. Be cautious about natural disasters, health risks, and road conditions. Fiji experiences cyclones from November to April.
These cyclones may result in flooding on the Coral Coast and downtown Nadi. Earthquakes and tsunamis might also occur, but you’ll always get a warning in advance. Roads in Fiji can be unreliable as some are in poor condition and lack signage.
Crime in Fiji
According to the Fiji Police Force, the overall crime rate decreased by 6% from January to October 2022. There has been a tremendous decline in the crime rate in the last five years, making the country a safe place to visit.
However, the noticeable wealth gap in Fiji compels some locals to turn to petty crime. The best way to keep off pickpockets, robbers, and assaulters is to avoid risky areas such as downtown Suva and Nadi. Tourist areas, including beaches, attract petty thieves.
If you visit those areas, avoid walking alone, especially at night. Alternatively, hire a taxi to move you around the street and back to your hotel. Be cautious when dealing with taxi drivers because crime-connections are common.
A local contact can help you identify a trustworthy taxi driver. When en route to tourist destinations, don’t allow the taxi driver to pick up other passengers.
Also, don’t get into a taxi carrying other passengers. Protect your valuables in tourist areas by holding them tight or leaving them in your car. Lock your car’s doors and keep windows up because petty thieves are good at identifying tourist cars.
Keep your valuables out of sight or leave them in your hotel room. Avoid displaying cash, expensive watches, and jewelry in tourist areas. Muggers might be around and might attempt to rob you.
Purse snatching and pickpocketing are petty crimes in urban areas. Be quick to spot suspicious people. If someone tries to rob you, make noise to attract the attention of nearby people.
Theft and sexual assault in hotel rooms are common but often happen in poor standards and insecure hotels. Whether you’re in or out, keep the doors and windows locked. Avoid leaving gadgets, such as laptops, cameras, and phones, where they’re visible from the outside.
You’re never sure who to trust in the hotel, including the hotel staff. To ensure your safety, avoid sharing too much personal information.
Female visitors shouldn’t explore Fiji alone. There are many cases of sexual assaults and harassment directed at female tourists in Fiji. If a man approaches you, be polite and decline their offer. If they attempt to harass you, make noise to alert those nearby.
Before traveling to an area, contact your local guide or ask the hotel staff about the safety of your destination. Some sexual offenders and robbers might hide in deserted or isolated areas, waiting to attack tourists.
ATM skimming and credit card fraud are other crimes you should be wary of when visiting Fiji. Be alert when using your ATMs and protect your PIN. Check your bank statements for fraud if you’re using your cards regularly.
Other petty crimes you should be cautious about are drug and human trafficking. The two crimes result from extensive markets for cocaine, cannabis, sex trafficking, and forced labor. This is why you shouldn’t walk alone or at night in isolated areas or downtown places.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Some neighborhoods of Suva and Nadi experience higher cases of crime, but usually away from resort areas. If you’re exploring Suva, you may want to avoid its downtown areas where robbers, pickpockets, drug traffickers, and assaulters may be in plenty.
You can, however, travel to these places in a group but avoid staying until late at night. Be cautious when visiting the following neighborhoods of Savu:
- Viria West
Poverty in these neighborhoods drives residents to petty crime, drug trafficking, and prostitution. The rates of home robberies, car thefts, vandalism, armed robbery, pickpocketing, and verbal abuse are high.
Whether walking during the day or night, your chances of being a victim of crime are higher. It’s advisable to avoid these places or use a taxi if you must visit them.
If you’re in Nadi or Lautoka, talk to a friendly local to understand spots with high crime rates. The good thing is that most Fijians are friendly and would like to help visitors.
Tourists in Suva can visit Samabula or Lami Town, which are safe places to stay, explore, and party. When in danger, call 917 to report an emergency to Fiji police. You can also visit the nearest police station in Suva or Nadi to report a crime.
Female and LGBTQ+ Travelers’ Safety in Fiji
Fiji is a safe place for women travelers, but it’s essential to observe some safety precautions. If you keep off dangerous neighborhoods and deserted areas, you’ll have a safe vacation in the country. Ensure you’re not traveling alone.
A traveling companion can make you feel safer and avoid the boredom of long journeys. If you’re out at night, be sure you’re in a group and avoid walking down the streets.
Hire a taxi to ferry you to the entertainment areas and return to your hotel room. If you’re alone in Fiji, join other solo female travelers to explore the country’s natural beauty. Be alcohol-smart in a bar to avoid becoming a target of sexual offenders.
Don’t share personal information with strangers, such as where you come from and the hotel you’re staying in. Accepting drinks from strangers might put you at risk of drink-spiking.
Same-sex travelers should feel safe in Fiji because such relationships are legal. However, displaying affection in public can irritate some locals, especially in rural areas. Fijians respect their culture and would prefer tourists to do the same.
Natural Disaster Risks in Fiji
While Fiji enjoys plenty of sunshine, thanks to the tropical maritime climate, the country experiences some seasons of bad weather and natural disasters. From November to April, cyclones are common and tend to impact the country hugely.
Cyclones can be dangerous as they bring heavy rainfall and damaging winds. If you’re in the country during these months, ensure to follow warnings from the weather department website and local TV or radio.
Here are tips to help visitors stay safe when cyclones come:
- Enquire about your hotel’s preparedness for cyclone occurrences.
- Relocate to the main island if you’re staying on an outer island.
- Stay indoors when strong winds begin.
- Stock up on enough food, water, and snacks.
- Charge your devices fully. You might need torches, lanterns, and extra batteries if there’s a power outage.
- Don’t visit the ocean until the storm passes.
Fiji is highly vulnerable to earthquakes that might cause tsunamis. Although tsunamis are rare, they have been recorded in the past. Local radios and TVs will give warnings when an earthquake occurs. Move to higher ground and away from the ocean as soon as they issue a warning.
Health Risks in Fiji
With the vast water bodies in Fiji, there’s a high risk of waterborne diseases such as typhoid, leptospirosis, Zika, and dengue. In January 2022, Fiji’s Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of leptospirosis nationwide.
The ministry recorded 160 cases and five confirmed deaths. Wear footwear to avoid contracting diseases when in flooded rivers or creeks. If you have no business in flooded areas, avoid venturing into them.
You can also use mosquito repellent and mosquito nets if you go camping. Before landing in the country, ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Drink bottled water, but if you only have access to tap water, ensure it’s boiled or treated before drinking.
Avoid using ice cubes and eat freshly-prepared food when in bars or restaurants. Most medical facilities in Fiji lack good services, quality equipment, and drugs.
If you’re in a medical emergency, you’ll need to prove you have medical insurance coverage and pay an up-front deposit. They’ll evacuate you to Australia for medical care for a critical illness or injury.
Road Safety in Fiji
Some safety measures can help you get around the country, whether driving or using Fiji taxis. For example, avoid exceeding 80km (50 miles) per hour when driving on highways.
Fiji roads can be unreliable due to a lack of street lighting and signs. Always be cautious when driving because pedestrians and animals often cross the roads. Carry your driver’s license, wear a seatbelt, and don’t drive at night.
Some drivers in Fiji can be reckless and tend to bend traffic rules. They might pull out suddenly at the front and block your way. Others may try to overtake you, even on busy roads or corners, so always watch out for the unexpected.
If you’re using a taxi, confirm you’re dealing with a licensed driver. Sometimes you may want to travel by boat between islands. Look for a well-maintained boat with safety equipment on board. Similarly, ensure you’re dealing with a licensed operator.
Things to Consider When Visiting Fiji
The following tips and safety concerns will help you get around the country and enjoy your vacation:
- Don’t carry or use illegal drugs: While drug trafficking and use are rampant in the streets of Suva, you shouldn’t trade or use them. If caught, penalties include prison sentences.
- Don’t be drunk and disorderly: Fiji police officers can arrest you for drinking, causing property damage, and assaulting people. They’ll detain or fine you for being drunk and disorderly.
- Prostitution is illegal: Locals will likely ask male tourists if they want to buy prostitutes in the streets. Remember that prostitution in Fiji isn’t allowed and may earn you a jail term or fines.
- Sunday is church day: The population in Fiji consists of 64% Christians, 28% Hindus, and 6% Muslims. Many Christians in the country go to church on Sunday dressed to their best. They close their businesses or open them for a few hours. Do your shopping on weekdays or Saturdays to avoid inconveniences.
- Learn some Fijian Words: Most Fijians speak English but often use words such as ‘bula’ and ‘vunuka.’ ‘Bula’ means welcome, and ‘vunuka’ means thank you. If you’re visiting the villages, learning more Fijian words can come in handy when interacting with the locals.
- Locals Roam around with machetes: You’ll often see locals, especially farmers, including older women carrying machetes. They use machetes as farm tools and mean no harm to anyone.
- Bring a small gift when visiting the villages: Many locals in the villages require visitors to engage in a gift-giving ceremony called ‘sevusevu.’ After providing your gift, they’ll welcome you and allow you to explore the community.
- Don’t join protests and street rallies: Protests and street rallies can sometimes turn violent.
- Wear conservative clothing when outside tourist areas: The dress code in the villages and towns is more conservative. Women should avoid short skirts and shorts. Similarly, men should wear long shorts and avoid singlets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about visiting Fiji:
Are Fiji islands worth visiting?
Fiji’s over 300 islands are diverse and worth exploring. There are white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and turquoise to discover. You’ll also enjoy plenty of water activities, such as scuba diving, boating, snorkeling, fishing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
How many days in Fiji is enough?
Plan a one-week vacation in Fiji to get the best experiences.
What part of Fiji is the best to stay in?
Some of the best Fiji islands include Viti Levu, Yasawas, the Mamanucas, Vanua Levu, Kadavu, and Taveuni. These islands offer more to explore, including waterfalls, jungles, off-the-beaten tracks, traditional villages, white sand, and more.
What’s the best month to visit Fiji?
Fiji enjoys year-round warm weather that’s perfect for various outdoor activities. Visit in October to November if you dislike crowds.
Is Fiji cheap to visit?
Fiji is an expensive island country to explore. If you’re on a budget, you may find it tricky to visit the outer islands and spend days there. Boat rides, food, hotel rooms, and water activities are sometimes notoriously expensive.
So, Is Fiji Safe to Visit?
Fiji is a safe island country, but common sense and standard precautions can help you spend your vacation trouble-free. If you follow the above travel tips and safety concerns in Fiji, you’re less likely to get into trouble. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!