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Travel Pro Rick Garrett answers FAQ on Planning your Fiji Trip–Part I

Rick Garrett, a long time South Pacific travel planner, stopped by our office once again to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about orchestrating a vacation in Fiji. Rick runs a wholesaler called Travel Pacific and he readily admits that the ease of booking one’s own land and air on the Internet makes many people shy away from working with a travel agent. Despite this, he strongly believes there is still place for a travel planner.  In this two part interview he shares his thoughts on how to plan a vacation in Fiji.  He can be reached at rick.garrett@travpac.com.

Rick Garrett is the founder of Travel Pacific, a travel wholesaler based in California

There are so many reasons why Fiji is probably your best choice for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. For starters Fijians speak the Queen’s English, so you’ll have no trouble being understood, and besides that they are the world’s friendliest people. That’s not just my opinion but the votes of thousands of Conde Nast readers who vote the Fijians as the World’s Friendliest People every year.

Second, the food in Fiji is good to great. Most of the chefs are either Kiwi, Aussie, or US trained. Pacific Rim dining originated in Hawaii but that is the style most chefs in Fiji follow using the freshest ingredients either sourced locally where possible or flown in daily from Australia and New Zealand.  There will always be plenty to choose from on the menu and a few of the hotels include all your meals in their rates. Even if you are a picky eater you’ll be fine there.

Without a doubt the friendliest people

Third, you want to get wet right?  Fiji has amazing snorkeling and even better diving.  And depending on the resort fabulous beaches.  Not only that, but tons of activities are included as well, such as snorkeling gear, kayaks, Hobie Cats, SUP’s, wind surfers, and onto such things like village tours, escorted snorkeling tours, depending on the island waterfall hikes, and even hand line fishing. Looking to get pampered?  Nearly all the resorts have relaxing spas, usually right on the beach or overlooking the ocean, and if you want to catch the big fish, they have that available as well.

Oh, and the most important thing.  Fiji is a great value.

Is it easy to get to?

So easy!  Fiji is just over ten hours from LAX, and not quite 11 hours from SFO, and because the flights depart in the evening both going to Fiji and coming home, you’ll likely sleep most of the way. And on Fiji Air you check your luggage for free (two pieces) and they give you free drinks, and they feed you, and the service is great.  It’s like flying used to be. Air Fiji also partners with American Airlines and can offer one ticket service from most gateways in North America.

When’s the best time to go?

Throughout the tropics, that region defined by 23 degrees above to 23 degrees below the equator, summer is hot and humid and prone to tropical depressions on up to hurricanes (called cyclones or typhoons in the Pacific) so if there is a time to avoid that would be it. But keep in mind that if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are reversed, so when it’s summer here, it’s winter in Fiji, and winter is when the weather is the best. Typically, around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, low humidity, not much rain.  The ocean is clearer since there is little runoff, and you don’t typically have issues with mosquitoes, referred to as mossies in Fiji.  They will still be there, just not in the same abundance.

Food is a great reason to visit Fiji and Chef Mo, at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, is on par with anyone in the country

Monsoon season is December through March; but not everywhere.  Some areas are much more affected than others so while the island of Viti Levu will generally experience torrential Summer rain on and off if you go to one of the little islands to the west in the Mamanucas or Yasawa Island groups, which collectively are in the rain shadow of Viti Levu, it will be hot and somewhat humid, but a lot less so, with very little rain. The northern islands are wetter at any time of the year.

April/May and November, Fall and Spring respectively, are shoulder months. The weather is usually decent to good and the prices are lower.  June/July and September/October get the best weather but the prices are also typically higher. August is usually pretty nice but can experience short periods of cooler weather.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series

Rob Kay

Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award winner Rob Kay wrote the original Lonely Planet Fiji Travel Guide, and is Founder of Fijiguide.com.

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