South Pacific Islands
Fiji | French Polynesia | Cook Islands
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Fiji local time
Fiji Travel Information
To enter Fiji, you will need a passport valid for at least three months after your scheduled departure date from Fiji. You will also need proof that you have enough money to travel and that you have an onward or return ticket. You do not need a visa if you are a tourist staying less than four months.
Fiji is a very hospitable land of blue-green lagoons, lush rainforests, pine forests, mountains and 1,666 kilometers (1000 miles) of white sand beaches spread over 300 islands scattered across 709,660 square kilometers (200,000 square miles) of ocean. Fiji’s population is approximately 837,000 made up of indigenous Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Europeans and South Pacific Islanders. English is the official language with Fijian and Hindustani also spoken.
We have two seasons: warm and even warmer. It’s a sunny, tropical climate that will wash the winter chills from your bones. That doesn’t mean it never rains here, but you can expect May to November, our cooler months, to range from 19° to 29°c. And from December and April, the temperatures register from 22° to 33°c.
Fiji’s country code is +679. Many hotels and resorts have direct dialing facilities (IDD), and card phones are available in many shops and stores. Look for the Telecom call card signage on display. Fiji is well serviced by local mobile networks including Vodafone Fiji Limited, Digicel and Inkk Mobile. You can also arrange roaming status before traveling here as well as on arrival.
Access to the internet and email is available in most parts of Fiji. In addition to sites at all major hotels, internet cafes are abundant in major cities and towns.
The Fijian dollar is the basic unit of currency, available in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2. Normal banking hours are 9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday – Friday and 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays at selected areas. There is a 24 hour currency exchange service at the arrivals concourse at Nadi Airport. ATMs are located around the country and at larger resorts and hotels.
You’ll find many sophisticated retail outlets here, suitable for traditional tourist shopping. And if you venture a little further, you’ll discover fruit and vegetable markets, overflowing with produce, curio and handicraft vendors, Indian merchandise and specialty gift stores. It’s here that you might find yourself in a bargaining session over price. It’s all part of the experience, so go ahead and enter into the spirit of it.
We don’t encourage tipping, but you may, if you wish, offer extra payment for an outstanding service.
The electric current is 240 volts AC 50Hz. Fiji has three-pin power outlets, which are identical to Australia and New Zealand. Leading hotels and resorts offer universal outlets for 240v or 11v shavers, hair dryers and other electrical appliances. Travelers from US are suggested to bring an electrical adapter.
Population and Language
Fiji’s population is approximately 837,000 made up of indigenous Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Europeans and South Pacific Islanders. English is the official language with Fijian and Hindustani also spoken.
Fiji is blessed with 333 magnificent islands some inhabited, most not. We are a land where there is still room to move. Set in the tropical South Pacific, the Fiji islands are a vision of a tropical island paradise that’s real. White sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, pristine oceans and waterways are waiting to be explored, with things to see and do that appeal to all kinds of travelers. And then there’s our most precious asset, the smiling, generous, relaxed Fijians who greet you with our famous welcome – ‘Bula!’
- The Yasawa Group of islands are more grand in stature than the nearby Mamanucas but are less commercialized, making them popular with backpackers.
- Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island. Less tourist-oriented than Viti Levu, there’s still lots to see and do for the more adventurous traveler.
- Taveuni is known as the Garden Island and is an eco-tourist’s dream with nature reserves harboring an abundance of native plants and wildlife.
- Suva is Fiji’s capital, its largest city and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Oceania.
- The Lau Group, made up of a few small islands in Fiji’s Far East, offer a glimpse of Fiji often not seen by tourists.
- Kadavu is one of the best places to experience true Fijian culture. With just one town and very few roads, you can escape modern life and experience Fiji’s incredible natural beauty.
- Nearly everyone who visits Fiji comes to Nadi. This bustling multi-cultural town is the main hub for international travelers, and offers great places to eat, drink and shop.
- Coral Coast is an 80km (50 mile) stretch of beaches and bays along the Ocean Road between Nadi and Suva.
- Less than an hour’s drive from Suva is Fiji’s adventure capital, the Pacific Harbour.
- The Mamanucas are a chain of 20 islands near Nadi and Denarau. One of the most established resort areas in Fiji, the Mamanucas provide a stunning array of activities for all types of travelers.
French Polynesia – Tahiti, Bora Bora & Moorea
French Polynesia local time
French Polynesia Travel Information
Your passport must be valid for three months beyond the date of departure from French Polynesia. You do not need a visa if you enter on a regular tourist passport and your stay is no more than 90 days every 6 months.
Direct dialing international calls is available in most hotels and phone booths. Phone cards are easily purchased in Tahiti. When calling from the U.S. to Tahiti, dial 011 and then the country code of 689 along with the local number. Your cell phone with U.S. service may not work in Tahiti depending on the type of phone you have and your service provider. There are also rental options.
Upon arrival most visitors exchange some money at the airport or at their hotels. Since most credit cards are readily accepted in all tourist areas, it is not necessary to exchange large amounts. The currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). Tipping is not customary in Polynesian culture and is not expected. However, tipping is welcomed for exemplary service. Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
Hotels use either 110 or 220 volts, depending on the location. A converter/adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers.
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is spoken and understood in tourist areas. Brushing up on a few basic French phrases and learning Tahitian greetings are appreciated.
Cooled by gentle ocean breezes, the climate is ideal. Being tropical but moderate, the climate features sunny, pleasant days and an average yearly air and water temperature of 80∞F. Summer is from November through April, when the climate is slightly warmer and more humid. Winter is from May through October, when the the climate is slightly cooler and dryer.
The three archipelagos most sought by visitors are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha’a; The Tuamotu Atolls or “Tahiti’s Strand of Pearls”, include the atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava; and the Marquesas, or “The Mysterious Islands”. The two other archipelagos, the Austral Islands and the Gambier Islands, lie to the south and the southeast, respectively, of the Society Islands. While very few travelers venture to these remote islands, those that do are not disappointed by the pristine environment.
Cook Islands local time
Cook Islands Travel Information
When you come to the Cook Islands, a valid passport and a return ticket will allow you a stay of up to 31 days. Extensions may be granted on a monthly basis – for up to six months. New Zealand citizens are eligible for a 90 day stay on arrival. For extensions, apply 2 weeks before your permit expires. This does not guarantee admission to the Cook Islands, Immigration officers at a port of entry will have the final determination
A range of medical and dental services are available in Rarotonga which also includes a hospital. Aitutaki and Atiu also have limited medical aid with very small hospitals.
Emergency services operate on Rarotonga and there is an optometrist plus several pharmacies for prescriptions. Physiotherapists are also available for you to take advantage of while in the Cook Islands. Medical and dental services are available and there is a well-equipped hospital with New Zealand trained staff situated in Rarotonga, with a smaller hospital in Aitutaki. There are no venomous snakes and most of the insects are innocuous – but look out for centipedes which do bite. The coral reefs should be treated with caution.
The Cook Islands’ unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar, supplemented by notes and coinage for local use. The unique local coins and notes are not negotiable outside the Cook Islands, but are keenly sought by collectors worldwide. ANZ and Westpac Banks in downtown Avarua are open Mon-Fri from 9am – 3pm. ANZ extends its closing time on Friday’s to 4pm whilst Westpac Bank opens from 9am-12pm on Saturdays. Westpac Bank has an exchange service available at the airport for all international flights; this is located at the International Arrivals Terminal. ATM’s are conveniently located around Rarotonga and Aitutaki and EFTPOS is available at some hotels and stores. Western Union has an office in Avarua offering money exchange and transfers.
The Cook Islands enjoy a pleasantly warm and sunny climate all year round. June to August are the cooler months, whilst November to March marks the warmer season, with occasional tropical showers expected. It is also known as cyclone season – something to be aware of although not necessarily a deterrent as they are not a regular occurrence. The drier months, from April to November, have an average of about 26°C, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 22°C (min) and 30°C (max).
If you are a stamp collector, the colorful Cook Islands stamps are distinctive and sought after by enthusiasts. Mail is available from the Post Office, which opens Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. Telepost, a Telecom outlet located at the CITC Shopping Complex, is open every Saturday 8am – 12 noon. International telephone, mobile telephone, facsimile and internet services (including Broadband) are available through Telecom Cook Islands. Several internet cafes are located on Rarotonga and Aitutaki . WiFi is available at key locations.
The standard left hand rule applies to driving in the Cook Islands. And the maximum speed limit in the main township is 30 km/h and in the villages is 40km/h without a helmet. You must wear a helmet when driving in zones above 40km/h, specifically in the 50km/h speed limit in the less populated areas. It is essential to have a current Drivers Licence. Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK and the EU can now drive in the Cook Islands for up to six months using their overseas license.
Visitors will be allowed to drive only the class of motor vehicle they are entitled to drive in their home country. If visitors hold an overseas driving license for a car only, the license holder will only be permitted to drive a car in the Cook Islands. However, if a visitor wants to ride a scooter or motorbike in the Cook Islands and is not licensed to do so at home, he or she will still have to obtain a Cook Islands Driving License (either Class A covering motorbikes/scooters or Class AB covering both regular vehicles and motorbikes/scooters). This involves a practical test at the Police Headquarters in Avarua and the payment of NZ$20 license fee plus NZ$5 practical fee.
Cook Islands Maori is the local language but everyone also speaks English. Here are a few local words you might like to try during your visit:
- Rarotonga is the hub and the main island of the Cook Islands. It’s 32km wide and is encircled by a “ring” road – Ara Tapu.
- Araura, Ararau, Utataki. Aitutaki, or Honeymoon Island, is the archetypal tropical island and the Eden of the Cooks where peace is paramount.
- Enuamanu – land of the birds. Atiu is a volcanic core bordered by coral and cliff with lush green forests and white crested surf.
- Au’ Au – enchanting Mangaia is the southernmost island of the Cooks – making it the coolest. It is unspoiled and naturally serene.
- Nukuroa – Mitiaro is home to 200 people living a life of the past. With fish skulking around the reefs and cool underground caves and freshwater pools.
- Enua-Iti – Takutea – is a small uninhabited island. Coconut palms cover this tiny coral cay with its pristine unbroken reef.
- Akatokamanava – Mauke – is the exotic garden isle. Fishermen fringe the reef and pockets of golden beaches and secret caves.
- Manuae and its neighboring islet Te Au O Tu is set in a sheer shallow lagoon. Elusive, remote and uninhabited.
- Home Island – Palmerston is a perfect tropical island, strung with tiny islets and sandy cays like a necklace around the vast blue lagoon.