traditional village in fiji at nacula

In this Article by South Pacific travel expert Ian Osborn
Visiting a Fijian Village —  Accommodations —  Sights & Attractions —  Fijian Culture

Fijian culture is very rich in traditional beliefs and many aspects of life today are as they were a hundred years ago.

Visiting a Fijian Village

Visiting a traditional Fijian Village is a very humbling experience and can be experienced throughout Fiji. Village tours can be organised by resorts, usually visiting the local village where many of the resort staff come from. Naturally, the outer islands have more authentic villages being further from the urban centres and having exposure to fewer tourists. Despite this, some of the most traditional regions and remotest villages can be found on the main island of Viti Levu, deep in the interior. Bukuya and Navala inland from Nadi are two very picturesque villages to visit (both accessible on day tours from Nadi), whilst the densely forested regions of Namosi and Naitasiri inland from Suva teem with life and can be accessed on 4WD tours from Suva or on river tours from Pacific Harbour.

Find out more about Fijian villages and visiting as a tourist

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Accommodation for a Fijian Cultural Holidays

The following accommodation are our favourite places to stay for interaction with the local Fijian community:

picture of Yasawa Island Resort beach
Yasawa Island Resort Fiji offers luxurious accommodation and service in one of the most splendid beach settings in Fiji. Isolated, traditional, great for exploring and scuba diving, this is the ultimate pampered small resort beach holiday in Fiji. Yasawa Island offers one of the most secluded honeymoon bures in Fiji.
picture of Lalati Resort beach
Lalati Resort is location on the west coast of Beqa Island and is ideal for a honeymoon, adventure and scuba diving. Set at the foot of tropical mountains with forest tracks and facing a deeply indented bay ideal for kayaking, Lalati offers just ten traditional style bures.
Matava Hideaway, Kadavu F$ 670 - 790 per couple inc. meals get hotels best rate quote
picture of Matava Hideaway beach
Matava is a small eco hideaway on the south east coast of Kadavu, ideal for scuba diving enthusiasts or nature lovers looking for a secluded location. Accommodation is in traditional bures set on hill with fine ocean views but the property does not have a beach.
Long Beach Resort, Yasawas F$ 250 - 290 per couple / $ 105 dorm inc. meals get hotels best rate quote
picture of Long Beach Resort beach
Long Beach is a small friendly backpacker resort set on the point of a glorious white sandy beach overlooking a turquoise lagoon towards the rolling hills of neighbouring islands. This is a great place to settle down with a book, take in the tranquillity and perhaps engage in a few light activities like snorkelling or walking to a nearby village.

Fijian Cultural Sites & Attractionss

The following accommodation are our favourite places to stay for interaction with the local Fijian community:

Sigatoka Sandunes National Park, Coral Coast

This 4-mile stretch of large windswept sand dunes along the coast is a protected environment administered by the National Trust of Fiji. The park has a very informative visitor centre about the ancient inhabitants and ecology of the region. Pottery sherd from the Lapita Era (1000 years ago), buried in time by drifting sands, can be found scattered amongst the sand dunes and several archaeological excavations have revealed ancient fishing settlements. There are several official trails to explore the sand dunes which often expose these ancient pottery shards.

Tavuni Hill Fort, Coral Coast

Important archaeological sight with preserved foundations, ceremonial sites and killing stones. A visitor centre and guided tours provide a detailed insight into how life used to be in Fiji's past. Tavuni is set on the peak of a fortified hill overlooking the rich farming area of the Sigatoka River Valley. A tar-sealed road follows the river from Sigatoka Town making it easy to get to from the resorts along the Coral Coast. The road continues beyond Tavuni alongside the river and through traditional villages right into the interior. Local buses leave from Sigatoka Town and it is easy to get off en-route and explore the surrounding hills.

Rock Paintings

Ancient rock paintings can be seen on Vatulele in the Southern Islands. There are two separate sites. One is 20 meters up on a cliff face and depicts human-like figures and hand impressions. The other, at the opening to an inland cave, shows numerous hand impressions. Unfortunately they are quite difficult to get to unless staying at the beautiful and justifiably expensive resort on the island.

There are also rock paintings in the caves on Sawa-i-Lau in the Yasawa Group.

Levuka, The Old Capital

The Old Capital of Levuka on Ovalau is a charming colonial town which lost its power almost 100 years ago and has since still in time. Most buildings are well preserved and there are several historical sights including a monument where King Cakabau signed Fiji over to the Queen Victoria in 1874. Fiji's oldest hotel, the Royal is located in Levuka along with several churches built in the mid 1800's. There are also several home-stays available in Levuka.

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Cultural Centre, Pacific Harbour

There's a Cultural Centre at Pacific Harbour which offers theatrical displays of Fiji's past and present culture but it is too commercialised to be of much interest to discerning travellers. Another commercial presentation of a mock Fijian village is offered by the Ka Levu Cultural Centre near Sigatoka where an impressive re-constructed Fijian temple is the highlight.

Fiji Museum, Suva

Located in the heart of Suva's botanical gardens, the Fiji Museum holds a remarkable collection which includes archaeological material dating back 3,500 years and cultural objects representing both Fiji's indigenous inhabitants and other communities that have settled in the island group over the past 100 years.

A Brief about Fijian Culture

Fijians claim rights mostly via their father's village (the yavusa) and are granted land to build a house and farm a small plantation. Land can be sub-leased (mostly to Indian sugar cane farmers, industries and tourist resorts) under the discretion of the village elders and the money used for village improvements, schools and social functions like weddings and funerals. Fund raising is an important part of the communal lifestyle of the village environment and many villages have communal land for growing yaqona and root crops to be used for village functions.

Yaqona or Kava

Yaqona is the traditional drink of Fiji and serves as a ceremonial and social mediator between parties. Yaqona ceremonies are performed at all social and cultural events from village fund-raising to Weddings. Participants sit in a circle on the floor facing the tanoa, a large hand-carved wooden bowl used for mixing the drink. Participants drink the brown liquid from a small half coconut shell of mixed Yaqona, one at a time, amidst chanting and hand-clapping. The taste is quite unusual to the western palette and leaves a slight numbing effect on the tongue. Drunk in volume, Yaqona causes lethargy and a slight loss of co-ordination, or, as the Fijians like to put it, relaxation. Guests are also welcomed to a village through the Sevusevu Ceremony whereby the guest presents Yaqona roots to the village headman or chief as a sign of respect after which the chief and guest sit down together and share the Yaqona drink. This is a great way to get to know the people.

The Meke (Fijian Dance)

The Meke, or traditional dance, is a very popular show performed at most holiday resorts and on special occasions in the villages or town parks. The dances can involve both powerful actions and more graceful movements. Mekes tell the stories of ancient legends and in particular the victories in war. Accompanying chants, hand-clapping and drum beating enhances the spectacle.

Firewalking

Fijian fire-walking is unique to the island of Beqa in the Southern Islands and this is the only place you will see it as a genuine ceremony. The ceremony requires performers to observe strict traditional protocol before they can walk barefoot on extremely hot stones. The only realistic chance to see fire-walking is either at the Cultural Centre at Pacific Harbour which hosts several fire-walking performances each week or at a few of the larger resorts along the Coral Coast in Viti Levu.