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Fiji Etiquette – What You Need To Know

by / Saturday, 31 January 2015 / Published in Fiji History

Fiji is one of the most popular island destinations. It offers great weather all year round and there is so much to explore. If you are planning to visit Fiji, it is important to know what the locals expect of visitors to avoid offending them. Here are some important details about Fiji Etiquette and the island’s culture.

Fijians greet family members by kissing them on one side of the cheek. Acquaintances get a formal handshake as a greeting or way to bid them farewell. Embracing and hugging is not widespread among Fijians and most of them demonstrate affection with a simple pat on the head, cheeks or shoulders. 

Families usually spread out a linen table cloth where meals are served. During traditional ceremonies, chiefs and other leaders eat their meals separately.

Burial grounds are not considered public places and visitors are not allowed to take pictures in the area. 

Finger pointing is considered taboo especially if it is directed at an older person or individual of high rank. 

When staying at a resort, you are allowed to wear any kind of outfit but you should avoid being nude or topless on the beach or pool because it is perceived as offensive. If you are staying in one of the private island resorts that have secluded bungalows with private beaches and pools, you can enjoy being topless and nude sunbathing but you still need to be discrete. 

Fiji EtiquetteWhen you are away from your hotel, ladies are advised to avoid halter tops, camisoles, tank tops and any other clothing that shows their shoulders. Both men and women should not wear shorts when they go sightseeing in the villages. Miniskirts are also considered offensive. To be on the safe side, visitors should carry a sulu, a traditional Fijian outfit to keep their legs covered. 

If you decide to visit a Fijian village, it is polite to carry a gift. The preferred gift is called yaqona also known as kava or kavakava. This plant is used to get rid of bad omens that a visitor may bring to the village when they fail to follow the traditions out of ignorance. It will cost you about $10 to purchase about half a kilogram of this gift. Present your gift to the village head. You will meet several people while presenting your gift. The village head will also invite you to sit and you will answer several questions that may seem personal such as your marital status and number of children. Once the yaqona is received, it is crashed into a powder and mixed with some water. This mixture is then served to the people around. 

Hats are considered disrespectful to the village chef and should be avoided during your visit. When you are invited to one of the homes, remove your shoes before you get in. You should also avoid touching anyone’s head in the village because it is believed to be disrespectful. 

If you are visiting an area with a host, you should stay with them and avoid wandering around. When other villages request you to share a meal or join them, you should always acknowledge your host and let them know you are honored and politely inform them you will visit at another time. It is customary for Fijians to invite people to share meals and other things. 

You have to speak softly when in the company of Fijian villagers. Raising your voice will be perceived as an expression of anger. 

It is important to show respect to everyone you meet but you have to be careful when offering praise. If you demonstrate a lot of interest in a particular item, the Fijians will feel compelled to offer it as a gift even if they need it. 

When you spend time in the village, reward the host by offering a practical gift. You can ask the host about particular things that they might like. If you are staying with a large family during your visit, you can offer to purchase groceries for them.

Fijians tend to be very warm and friendly individuals and some of them are more traditional than others. When you respect their traditions and culture, your visit will be more pleasurable. It will be easier for you to explore the island and its attractions when you follow the traditions.