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An introduction to Fiji's fascinating culture

 Going on holiday can be far more than a flop and drop experience, and spending a few idle hours shopping at the local markets. The adventure is also a wonderful opportunity to learn about the local traditions and experience a new environment. The Fijian culture is unique, fascinating and an exciting part of being on holiday in Fiji. It's also a great way to broaden your horizons (and those of your kids!) and gain an expanded perception of the world we all live in.

However, it's a good idea to go into your Fijian holiday with an understanding of the basics. This means that when you do arrive, you'll be able to dive right into the local culture without having to worry about making any faux pas.

Make sure to spend some time exploring traditional Fijian culture on your next trip to the islands. Fijian culture is a key part of the country's appeal to travellers.

Fijian culture 101

To give you a solid understanding of the basics of Fijian culture, it's important to understand what makes this part of the world unique. One of the unique characteristics of Fiji is the blend of backgrounds and ethnicities that make up the local population. Most of the culture comes from Melanesian and Polynesian roots, but there's also a strong influence from Chinese, Indian and European settlers, who have all left their mark on the country in one way or another.

Perhaps the most important element of Fijian culture is the importance of family, both in terms of direct relatives and the larger groups that make up a village or clan. Lead by a chief, these tight-knit units are the bedrock of Fijian life, and no trip to the country is complete without experiencing their unique ceremonies, art, religion and, of course, language.

Many resorts offer a variety of cultural activities for guests. If you're hoping to speak a little bit of Fijian on your trip, there are a few basic words and phrases that will come in handy.

EnglishFijianPronunciation
Hello Ni sa bula (or just bula) "Ni sahm boola"
Goodbye Ni sa moce "Ni sa mothey"
Yes Io "Ee-o"
No Seqa "Senga"
Please Yalo vinaka "Yalo vee naka"
Thank you Vinaka "Vee naka"
Eat Kana "Ka na"
Drink Gunu "Goo noo"
Nadi Nadi "Nahn-di"
Make sure to stay at a resort that offers a variety of cultural activities. Many resorts off a variety of cultural activities for guests.

English is also widely spoken, so if you're not sure of your pronunciation you'll always find someone who'll be able to help you if you need assistance. At the same time, the locals will certainly appreciate you using their language, even if it's just to say Bula!

Lastly, if you really want to combine your visit to Fiji with some of the cultural high points within a year, it's a good idea to travel during while one of the many festivals celebrated across the islands is being held. There are plenty to choose from, but it's hard to go past Diwali, the festival of lights, held in November.

Don't leave Fiji without attending a traditional kava ceremony. Kava ceremonies are a vital component of Fijian life.

Must-do cultural activities

In terms of must-do activities, while visiting Fiji, there's no going past a traditional kava ceremony. This national drink is made from the root of a pepper plant and holds enormous importance within Fijian culture as part of a special ceremony.

One of the best ways to experience this critical aspect of Fijian culture is by making sure to stay at a resort that offers village tours, such as Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on the mainland's Coral Coast. During the village tour, you'll not only get to experience a traditional kava ceremony but will also be shown the different facets that make up village life, as well as local forms of entertainment such as dance, singing and fire walking.

Finally, if you'd like a more intensive dive into Fijian culture, the Kalevu Cultural Centre is the place to visit. The centre's hour or half-day tours take you through a number of bures, which are wood and straw huts that might remind you of a cabin. These, along with the vales (family houses), are a huge part of traditional Fijian life and provide the perfect background to learn about Fijian pastimes and artefacts, including everything from pottery and tapa cloth to fearsome warrior weapons. Best of all, the centre is incredibly easy to get to - just 10 minutes from the town of Sigatoka, near the Shangri La Fiji Resort & Spa.

And there you have it! An introduction to Fijian culture that you can build on during your next visit to the islands. To make sure you're in the best location for experiencing all that the islands have to offer, contact Hoot Holidays today.