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Experience Fiji like a Local

Posted by Mae Demdam on 04/06/2015
Fiji Beach

For island lovers and tropical vacation enthusiasts, Fiji is probably at or near the top of the list of best places to visit.  With lush greenery, clear sparkling water and soft white sand, it’s an idyllic location that truly helps even the most tightly wound individuals relax and escape reality.  While an exclusive resort complete with luxury amenities such as InterContinental Fiji may be what you’re looking for regarding accommodations, those with adventurous spirits will want to spend some time experiencing Fiji like a local.  It’s the whole “when in Rome” notion that you haven’t fully experienced a place until you participate like a local within the community culture.

WHAT TO EAT

Lovo – To understand Lovo, think of the American style hog roast.  Considered a “feast cooked in the earth” lovo is just that, a large quantity of food such as fish, chicken, pork and taro wrapped inside palm fronds or banana leaves.  The bundles are placed over hot rocks in shallow pits then covered with root foods similar to potatoes.  On top of that layer is ‘earth.’  The hot stones cook the food within 2-4 hours.  It’s as much fun to watch the prep as it is to dine on the result.

Kokodo – Kokodo is raw fish typically served with coconut milk.  It’s often mixed with green or red vegetables, onions and spices and served like salad.  Mahi-Mahi is the common fish of choice for this tasty dish. 

Duruka – The unopened flower of a cane shoot, Duruka looks similar to asparagus and is usually cooked in coconut cream.

Nama – Known as sea grapes, Nama is basically a seaweed harvested from shallow waters and served as a green vegetable side or in stew. 

Kava – Kava is the national drink made of pulverized pepper root.  Believed to contain medicinal qualities because it leads to relaxation and a mellow mood, it’s popular among locals in social settings. 

Fiji LagoonImage by risto takala via flickr

WHAT TO EXPERIENCE

Diwali Festival – This public holiday of Hindu origin known as “Festival of Lights” is in honor of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.  A day of colour and celebration among all Fiji’s locals, this festival has become an all-inclusive day of welcoming others into homes for a share in traditional sweets and foods of Diwali. 

The Meke - The Meke is the song and dance of Fiji as performed by an orchestra and dancers in traditional costumes.  Performers embrace this art form as a way to tell stories and pass on island legends.  Learn the history, spirit, love stories and legends of Fiji by watching performances which can vary from graceful moves and soft music to blood-curdling screams and jumps complete with drums and spears. 

Nadi’s Open Air Souvenir Market - Sample the local culture in Nadi by strolling through the open market stalls.  Traditional Fijian crafts such as kava bowls, hand painted saris, various types of jewelry and many foods are sold here.  As a nod to the region’s colorful past, you can still purchase a cannibal fork to enhance your collection of worldwide souvenirs. 

Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple – Learn about Fiji’s Indian and Bengal legacy which includes nearly half the population, by visiting this elaborately painted Hindu temple.  When your tour is over, join a feast of fresh fish curry and spice roti at the Curry House, a favorite for locals and visitors alike. 

FIRE-WALKING – It wouldn’t be right to visit Fiji without witnessing a Fire-walking ceremony.  Beqa has one of the best displays of Firewalking including a detailed back story explaining how and why it’s done.  Don’t miss this experience. 

isolated village in fijiImage by torkn2u via flickr

LOCALS AND VISITORS ALSO ENJOY

Tiko’s Floating Restaurant - For wonderful fresh seafood and the best Kokoda in Suva City Harbour, make a point to eat at Tiko’s at least once.  Follow that with partying the night away in one of Suva’s many nightclubs.  Traps and O’Reilly’s is an excellent starting place. 

As always, spend your days lounging on the soft white sand beaches enjoying the sunshine and tropical breezes. 

Whatever your island dreams include, Fiji won’t disappoint.  You’ll be culturally richer for the experience and long to return.