Fiji is an awesome place for families to get away, connect and have lots of fun. But beware the pitfalls – here are 11 things NOT to do when in Fiji with your family.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #1: Forget to Slip Slop Slap – Regularly
Many resorts in Fiji contain an array of painfully burnt faces, backs, legs and feet.
Even if you layer sunscreen so thick that you can still see it, sweat and water will quickly wash it away, and you’ll be sorry you spent so much time in the sun. Recovering from a burn, especially for your children, is very painful and has the potential to ruin some — or all — of your holiday.
Choose to stay out of the sun, have rest time or do indoor activities from around 11am-3pm, and swim during the cooler temperatures of the morning and late afternoon onwards. It’s much more pleasant!
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #2: Challenge A Fijian Fisherman To A Fishing Contest
Community announcement for all the fishing mad people who want to head out on handline fishing or game fishing trips, which most resorts offer:
DO NOT challenge a Fijian fisherman to a fishing contest.
Because he will win. And you will lose. Every time.
He will catch the first fish, the biggest fish and most of the fish — no matter how experienced you are.
If he says, ‘Oo, it’s my first time!’ — don’t believe him.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #3: Get Frustrated With Your Baby or Toddler
Humidity will not only knock you about, but your little ones too. Not only do they not understand why they feel the way they do, but they cannot communicate how they feel in words. Babies and toddlers will tell you that they are not coping with clinginess, crankiness and outbursts of behaviour. Depending on the time of year and the time of day, the humidity can be quite high and leave you feeling like you are melting.
This can be helped with lots of water time – cooling off in showers together, a baby bath (some resorts have these to borrow – simply fill up like a paddle pool for play), pool time in shady areas, offer drinks of water regularly to toddlers (breastmilk has enough water for babies) and lots of reassurance. It can be easy to get frustrated when everyone is hot and bothered, but recognise it and work on the solution, not getting upset with your little one, who’s feeling bad enough already.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #4: Over-Schedule Your Day With Activities
Especially when it’s warmer, the last thing you want to do is make your holiday like a business trip, having to be here, there and everywhere at certain times. The kids will feel it, and so will you. Pick one or two activities per day, depending on how long they run for, and plan for plenty of downtime to relax. After all, that’s what you’re all here for, right?!
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #5: Miss Seeing a Sunrise
The sunsets in Fiji are spectacular, but you’ll probably get to see plenty of those. As much as every parent craves a sleep-in, don’t forget about the experience Fiji can offer. Getting up early for a sunrise will be well worth it. Take all the kids out early and it can be quite the bonding moment. The bonus is that it is much cooler than during the day, so you can enjoy the sun coming up without a bead of sweat on your brow. You can watch the fish jump out of the water or have a nice swim in the warm Fijian waters at the same time. It truly needs to be experienced!
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #6: Staying On The Mainland
If you haven’t travelled out to an island in Fiji, you’re missing out.
There are plenty of great resorts on the mainland, but for a truer Fijian experience, head out to an island or two for some of your stay.
There are several ways you can transfer to Fiji’s many islands, to suit a range of budgets — from boats, to planes and even helicopters. Not only will you feel like you’re having a more typical Fijian experience, but you’ll find that many islands are home to some stunning, white sandy beaches, captivating scenic views and clear blue waters that you just can’t find on the mainland.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #7: Resisting ‘Island Time’
The Fijians are amongst the happiest people in the world — in fact, WIN-Gallup reported that 89% of Fijians are happy, placing them right up the top of the world’s happiest countries list. There are many reasons for this, but they are certainly blessed not to have the pressures of modern day life, demanding our time and attention, immediately and with urgency. It’s a more simple and healthy life, where smilies are abundant and family are important.
It can take a couple of days to unwind from life as we know it. At first, everything may feel slow, like it’s taking too long, or that you should hurry here or there. The Fijian’s don’t — and nor should you! They are not slow – we’ve created a life that’s fast, crazy and hectic. So let it all go, drink some Kava (unless pregnant or breastfeeding) and enjoy life as it should be.
Happy mum and dad = happy kids. Anxiety and stress is catchy, so don’t pass it on!
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #8: Not Giving Yourself Time Alone
With many resorts offering babysitting/nanny services for $4-$5 FJD an hour, you’d be crazy not to get help for an hour or two (or more if you wish), so you can have some downtime too. If you prefer not to use babysitters, you can always plan with your partner to have a few hours to yourself each. Go and get a massage, swim in the turquoise blue waters on your own, or walk along the soft sandy beaches and take it all in. You’ll be amazed at just how much more your relaxation level will shoot up a notch. Do it!
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #9: Be Unappreciative of Fijians Who Do Things For You
As you would imagine, the tourism and hospitality industry in Fiji is huge. While it offers the Fijian people a more financial life, it comes at a cost.
Many of those who work in the resorts leave family behind, due to rosters requiring them to work schedules like 12 days on, 3 days off. Some mothers put their babies on formula so and go back to work as soon as they can (after just 6 or so weeks), only to return home to babies who are unsettled to see them come home for a short time before going off again.
Some traditional Fijian islands charge their inhabitants a tax if they go away to work, rather than contribute to the island’s community.
When you come across a Fijian while you are away, always give them a smile and say bula (hello) — if they haven’t beaten you to it — and thank them by saying ‘vinaka’ (pronounced vee-naka) which is Fijian for thank you. They are doing the best they can for their families, just like we are.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #10: Forget To Pack Plenty of Short Dresses, Skirts, and Shorts
The water in Fiji is nothing short of spectacular, and it’s temperature that has zero chill factor. The mix of sapphire and aqua blues are constantly calling you, drawing you in. Even if you’re not a fanatic swimmer like me, the water in Fiji has a huge pull to it. Literally, you’ll be out on a boat and just want to jump in like a crazy mad woman (or man). If you have plenty of short clothing, you can walk into the water at any whim, without worrying about your pants or dress hem getting wet. Especially if you are coming when it’s more humid, you may want to change more often too.
Fiji Family Holiday Tip #11: Miss Out On The Fijian Village Tours
Most resorts offer village trips, where you can go and see a local, traditional Fijian village. Usually it is the village where the island hires some of it’s staff from.
The village tours are informative and educational for both adults and children. They’ll show you how they live every day, and if there is a school on the island, you can see what sort of facilities the schools have, which are very little. If you bring writing books and pencils, you can donate them to the school.
At the end of the village tours, you can buy gifts made by the local women, so the welcomed proceeds go direct to the person who made it, not a business.