Etiquette

Customs of the Country

Fijians are laid-back about time and expect the same from their visitors. Getting upset over delays will get you nowhere.

Public drunkenness and public displays of affection are offensive. If you're traveling with a partner, keep the touchy-feely displays to a minimum, especially if you're gay. Attitudes are changing, but slowly.

Never touch a Fijian's head or hair, as the head is considered sacred.

Fijians are curious and ask many questions. It's proper etiquette to ask questions in return.Due to the ethno-political situation in Fiji, political discussions can get heated, even if you're only asking someone's opinion.

A village experience is unique and shouldn't be passed by, but make certain you follow a few simple rules. Always be invited into a village. If you show up unannounced, ask the first person you see whether you're allowed to visit their village. As a guest, you'll most likely be invited into the villagers' homes. It's proper to bring a sevusevu (gift), which will be presented to the chief; yaqona root is a good gift.

Always accept food, even if the family seems poor; it's rude to refuse. It's also rude to camp outside if you've been offered a place to sleep—your host family will think their bure isn't good enough.

Remove your shoes before entering someone's home and do not wear a hat or sunglasses during a visit to a village.

Dress appropriately, even in resorts, as displaying too much skin is offensive, simply wear a sarong over swimwear. Avoid showing off expensive or favorite items. The custom of kerekere (shared property) means that if you're asked for something, it's polite to hand it over; you can usually get out of it by explaining you can't do without it. Conversely, be careful of openly admiring something that belongs to a Fijian as they will feel obligated to give it to you.

Greetings

Bula (hello) and Yadra (good morning) are words you'll hear frequently, and repeating them back is a proper response. You may also hear Kaise (how are you?) or Namaste (formal greeting) in Fiji-Hindi, to which Tik (fine) or Namaste, respectively, are the polite returns. However, avoid any hugging or handshakes unless initiated by the other person.

Language

Fiji has two main languages: Fijian and Fiji-Hindi. English is also widely spoken and most signs, forms, and menus are in English, even in the outer islands. Also, Fijians rarely refer to the compass when discussing directions. Words like "north" and "south" are replaced by more practical references, like "seaside," "inland," or "this side," which makes perfect sense, especially if you happen to have a map handy.

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