FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
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Fijian drivers have their own rhythm, and road signs are often disregarded. So be aware of what's going on around you.
A valid driver's license from an English-speaking country or an international driving permit is needed to drive in Fiji, both of which need to be obtained in your home country before traveling to Fiji. The minimum driving age is 21, regardless of what it is in your home country. Roads are a mixture of paved and unpaved; the majority are two lanes, but locals often disregard this when overtaking other vehicles.
On Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, petrol stations (as they're called) are easy to find and are competitively priced. However, once you start driving out of the city, petrol stations are few and far between. Plan ahead and make sure you have a full tank before heading out to explore, especially if you are heading into the island's interior or highlands.
Petrol is sold by liters, and the cost can range widely from $1.50 per liter in the major cities to $12 per liter in the outer islands. Cash is usually the only payment accepted, and most stations are self-service, although the attendants are usually happy to come out for a chat and help if business is quiet.
Parking tends to be ad hoc: on the street, where you can find it, but don't park in front of an entrance or block anyone in. Parking fines tend to be around $2, and towing tends to be on Fiji Time: you should have time to return to your car if you've made a mistake, but asking the locals or nearby shops/hotels will save you the worry.
Renting a car can be expensive in Fiji, but if you're staying on one of the main islands—Viti Levu and Vanua Levu have 90% of Fiji's roads—it can be an efficient means of exploration, especially if you're traveling in a group or with your family. The rule of thumb is the longer the hire, the cheaper the rate. Daily rates for a week or more start around $75 per day (excluding tax); expect to use a credit card to pay the deposit. Nadi International Airport on Viti Levu is the easiest place to rent cars, although most companies have desks at major resorts/hotels or in town. Delivery and collection are often included in the price of the rental car, so make certain you ask.
Avis (672–2233 Nadi Airport; 347–8963 Suva's Nausori Airport; 800/331–1084 in U.S. www.avis.com.fj.)
Budget (672–2735 Nadi Airport; 331–5899 in Suva; 800/472–3325 in U.S. www.budget.com.fj.)
Europcar (Lot 5, Karsanji Rd., Vatuwaqa, in Suva. 672–5957 Nadi Airport; 337–2050 Suva. www.europcarasia.com.)
Hertz (672–3466 Nadi; 338–0981 Suva; 800/654–3001 in U.S. www.hertzfiji.net.)
Khans (672–3506 Nadi Airport; 338–5033 Suva. www.khansrental.com.fj.)
National Car Rental (877/222–9058. www.nationalcar.com.)
Insurance is added to the daily rental rate, and it's necessary, as is personal accident insurance. But car theft (which isn't common in Fiji, but can occur, especially around the major cities) isn't usually covered by insurance, and neither is windshield or underbody damage. Also, many rental agencies will not insure their cars to be driven on unpaved roads in Fiji, which most travelers will find limiting. Make certain you have a clear understanding with the rental car company of what you can and can't do before setting off.
Discuss with the rental car agency what to do in the case of an emergency, as this sometimes differs between companies. Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and what it doesn't, and it's a good rule of thumb to let someone at your accommodation know where you are heading and when you plan to return. If you find yourself stranded, hail a bus or speak to the locals, who may have some helpful advice about finding your way to a phone or a bus stop. Keep emergency numbers (car rental agency and your accommodation) with you, just in case. Hitching is common in Fiji, but it's never a safe option, and muggings do happen.
Generally speaking, most of Viti Levu's perimeter road is paved. The more you venture into the interior, the more likely you are to be traveling on dirt roads. Often a 4WD is the only safe way to travel. (Vanua Levu is the same, only no paved roads.)
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, although many locals ignore this, especially when overtaking other vehicles or speeding around bends. Fijian drivers have their own rules of the road, stopping frequently and without warning, speeding, and passing around blind corners. Seat belts are required by law, and the average speed limit is 80 kph, which drops to 20 kph in the villages. Pay attention to the speed limit, especially in villages, where children and dogs are often found close to the road. Also watch for sugar trains, which are not only slow-moving, but they have the right of way. Signs are in English and easy to understand, although roads aren't always well-marked.