Fijians are among the friendliest people in the world, they are polite, humble, and most are religious and modest people. Protocol is always respected and from a young age children learn the importance of respect for elders and the chiefly system and respect within the village. For you, village protocol will be important on your village visits and this includes dress, alcohol and respecting the land and waters of the village that owns them.
The main languages spoken in Fiji are Bauan: one of the many Fijian dialects, Hindustani and English. Most people will speak English, although less so in remote areas of Fiji, however you should be fine wherever you may travel and will be able to be understood.
In a village, women should dress modestly; wear a long skirt or a sulu (lavalava) if possible, tied around the waist with shorts underneath. Cover shoulders (no sleeveless tops), chest and knees, and all in between! Men should wear tee shirts and light long trousers or a Fijian sulu over shorts. In the cities and resorts, of course women are free to dress as they please as Fijians are used to tourists especially in Nadi , however, overly revealing attire is still not accepted.
If swimming near a village, women should not wear a swimsuit, go topless or nude bathing. It is respectful to swim in a tee shirt and shorts.
Fijian Protocol / When in a Fijian village…
In a Fijian village there are certain things you can do and cannot do. We always say that if a stranger knocked on your door and said can I see your house and garden you would be a little surprised! So, one has to respect their culture, tradition and privacy.
When entering a bure (Fijian house), shoes are left at the door, hats and sunglasses taken off, and you may often sit on the floor, try to sit cross-legged, and you should be aware that your bare feet should not be touching anyone, or near anyone’s head as this is very impolite. In a village, alcohol is also definitely not welcomed, and even if requested, you should not give alcohol as gifts.
As always, just remember that Fiji is a religious country and with that as guidance, you will be well received wherever you venture.
Dos and Donts
- If you would like to, do try and donate some school supplies, or simple medical supplies and maybe some used clothing, but it’s not advisable to give food;
- Do try and stay away from villages on a Sunday (unless you wish to go to church) and do not Jet Ski in front of a village if you are anchored very close. Your spokesman will advise; and
- Do be on time if a meke is organized for you.
- Invite any one aboard your vessel;
- Give alcohol to anyone;
- Do not go topless or nude bathing in front of a village; and
Sometimes you may be asked for petrol or diesel and that is at your discretion. If you oblige and are near other villages you may find that you are suddenly inundated with many punts! Outboard fuel is like gold!
We have never had any problems with theft or intruders at night. However, we have always maintained a night watch and covered all our dive gear at nights to avoid temptation!