Cautionary Notes on Food and Drink in Fiji
Food and Drink Avoidance 1: Drinking the Tap Water in Fiji
After residing in Fiji for eight years, I’ve found that drinking tap water can be a hit-or-miss experience. My stomach, even after all this time, hasn’t fully acclimated to it. The water quality tends to fluctuate, and, for instance, over the last few days in January 2024, the tap water has had a light brown coloration.
Visitor Advisory 1: Fresh fruit Juice vendors, If you frequent markets or use public transport stopping at main hubs like Suva, Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, and Raikiraki, be cautious. During these breaks, you’ll often spot a vendor behind a fresh fruit dispenser with pre-filled plastic bottles ready for purchase. The vendor may rinse these bottles/cups from the tap or slightly dilute the beverage, as fresh fruit can be potent. It’s not worth the risk of ruining your day with a stomach upset, so stick to bottled water and soft drinks for safety.
Visitor Advisory 2: For individuals with highly sensitive stomachs, it’s worth noting that fruits and vegetable skins are washed with regular tap water. While this won’t affect 99.9999999 percent of you, we believe it’s better to provide this advice for those with extreme sensitivities. For added safety, consider packing a LifeStraw, ensuring a reliable source of clean water during your travels.” A delightful alternative is to opt for fresh coconut water, enjoying it straight from the coconut itself, this is more refreshing and full of goodness. Also most resorts have water filtering systems, so feel free to fill your personal bottle there; just inquire in advance. Fiji has three main water companies (Fiji Water, Via Wai Water and Island Chill), with Fiji Water being the most expensive. You can find a comprehensive list of Fijian-made soft drinks in this article: 4 Non-Alcoholic Refreshing Fijian Beverages.
Food and Drink Avoidance 2: Market Stalls that do not display the Price
Short and simple: when visiting the main markets or satellite markets around the country, only buy from vendors who clearly label their prices. When we first arrived in Fiji, we strolled through the entire market, comparing prices from different vendors. Navigating the markets is like wandering through rabbit warrens with a life of their own. We backtracked to the vendors the ones we remembered the locations to make our purchases. Generally, prices are similar; the variables are the quality of produce and the more essential factor—interaction with the market stall vendor. They share years of knowledge and tips, creating a memorable experience.
Visitor Advisory 3: Only buy from market vendors who have priced their produce. Like everywhere in the world, there are opportunists. I want you to avoid them and experience the natural warmth of hardworking villagers who come weekly to sell their produce from the villages.
IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: For more information on the general market etiquette to follow, be sure to check out the following article – Main Food Markets | Satellite Markets
Cautionary Notes on Transport in Fiji
Transport Avoidance 1: Mini Vans in Fiji
“While I generally caution against this mode of transport during holidays, it remains a convenient and cost-effective means of swiftly navigating the main islands. One piece of advice: if you have substantial luggage or a large rucksack stored on the roof or in the back luggage bay, always inform the driver upon disembarking. Wait for a verbal acknowledgment, as they often have their attention occupied with various tasks. (Basically, do not let the sliding door close behind you before you open the boot of the vehicle.) Take note of the registration number or phone number of the operator, especially if you are departing from one of the main depots. This will help you immensely and will avoid the stress and turmoil the following traveler experienced.”
FJ Experience 1 : Short Story of a fortunate Traveller My wife had an interesting encounter on her way back from Suva City to Lautoka. Spotting a hitchhiker on the roadside with a thumb out and waving his arm up and down, she decided to pull over and inquire about his destination. He explained that he had just exited a minivan, and the driver had sped off before he could retrieve his rucksack containing all his possessions. Distressed and concerned, my wife, staying within the speed limits, headed towards Sigatoka town—the next usual stop for a short break and leg-stretching opportunity.
Unfortunately, they missed the minivan there, leading to a moment of despair echoing from the depths of the hitchhiker’s stomach. Undeterred, they grabbed a few drinks and continued, hopeful to catch up in Nadi, a good 80 kilometers away. To cut the story short, they reached the pick-up and drop-off base for the minivans behind the main bus station in Nadi town. The hitchhiker ran around, understandably disoriented in an unfamiliar environment, searching for the driver. My wife, sitting in the car, called the operator, inquiring about the driver’s whereabouts and estimated arrival time.
A few moments later, the van maneuvered into the unpaved parking lot, with most passengers disembarking. My wife, smoking a cigarette, waited until the majority had left, approached the sizable Fijian driver, and demanded an explanation for having the hitchhiker’s rucksack in the back of the van. Shocked, he quickly checked, and there it was. My wife picked it up, waited for the disheartened traveler to reappear, and when he finally did, she called out, ‘I have your stuff.’ Initially thinking she meant a jacket and a small pouch he had left behind, he was taken aback when she clarified it was his rucksack.
Expressing shock and gratitude, he thanked her profusely for her assistance, even offering some form of financial recompense, which she politely declined. She advised him to have a great rest of his holiday and to be more cautious next time. The encounter ended with a mix of relief, gratitude, and a reminder to be vigilant in unfamiliar situations.
IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: For more information on the Mini Buses and Carriers in Fiji, be sure to check out the following article – Transport: Viti Mini (Mini Buses) And Carriers
Transport Avoidance 2: Illegal Taxi Cab Operators in Fiji
Always opt for registered taxis, preferably recommended by your hotel, people you trust, or established taxi companies, rather than individuals operating a single taxi. Recognize registered taxis by their ‘LT Goldfinch’ yellow registration numbers.
Visitor Advisory 4: We recommend sitting in the front of the taxi alongside the driver if you’re alone. Upon exiting, check the seats for any items that may have fallen out of your pockets. Once the taxi pulls away, any lost items are likely gone for good. Always collect the taxi driver’s name and number for your records. If you sit in the back and lose something from your pockets, the taxi driver cannot be held accountable, as the next customer could easily pick up the item without their notice.
Visitor Advisory 5: We personally rely on two reputable taxi companies that consistently serve us well. Building a relationship with them not only ensures reliable service but also provides valuable local information and tips.
IN DEPTH SUPPORTING ARTICLE: For more information and detailed guidance on the best practices for taxi usage and rentals, be sure to check out the following article – Fiji Taxis and Fares