December 8, 2022
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Staying Healthy in Fiji

Home » Planning your Trip » Staying Healthy in Fiji

Staying healthy in Fiji need not be something to worry about. However, for those new to the tropics, it’s good to be aware of wellness issues. For example the intensity of the sun is going to be very different nearer the equator than in more temperate zones. If you’re not acclimated or don’t cover up properly there could be problems.

Covid Information for Fiji Travel

Please produce proof of the following at the airport before your departure for Fiji:

1) Vaccinations
Travellers (16yrs+) must produce a digital/paper certification of full-vaccination at least 14 days before travel.

For countries that do not offer vaccinations for those below 18years, unvaccinated travelers who are 16-17years old can apply for a special exemption at covidexemption@gmail.com

Fiji currently recognizes AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Nuvaxovid (Novavax), Coronavac (Sinovac), Covishield, BBIBP-CorV (Sinopharm), Covaxin and Sputnik V. vaccines only.
Please note that fully-vaccinated means that you have received the recommended number of initial doses (usually 2) of a vaccine that Fiji recognises. Vaccine booster shots are considered as additional protection to full-vaccination. Travellers can be accompanied by their unvaccinated children.

2) Travel Insurance
For travelers entering Fiji for a holiday: medical travel insurance, with international coverage that covers COVID-19 before travelling.  If you don’t you can also purchase COVID-19 medical travel insurance here.
3) Pre-booked in-country RAT

All travelers (12 years+) must take a pre-booked Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) anytime within 72 hours of arrival in Fiji, at their hotel or nearby testing facility. Book here.
This test must also be taken by travelers transiting Fiji for more than 48 hours
TIP: We recommend that you test at home prior to coming to Fiji (especially if you have symptoms) to ensure you’re COVID free before you board the plane. Then on arrival in Fiji, simply take your prepaid in-country test, then enjoy the rest of your trip!
If you have had COVID within 30 days of travel to Fiji and have a fit to fly certificate from a medical practitioner, the in-country RAT does not apply.

If you are here for a holiday, the government  would like you to stay at a CFC certified accommodation and using CFC certified transfers wherever possible. (Not obligatory).

For travelers (12yrs+): Take a mandatory RAT anytime within 72 hours of arrival in Fiji, at their hotel or nearby testing facility. If you entered Fiji with a fit to fly certificate from a medical practitioner, you will not need to take the in-country RAT.

Within this time you can travel around Fiji. This means that you can enjoy your hotel’s facilities, tourism experiences and restaurants, book a daytrip adventure or transit to a hotel on another island. CFC approved businesses may ask for proof of vaccination.

LEAVING FIJI

Depending on your country’s entry requirements, you will need to record a negative test result to return home.

If you test positive on a RAT during your stay in Fiji, you will be required to undergo 7 days of isolation. Should your home country or insurance provider require a PCR confirmation, this can be facilitated by your hotel at your cost. Your primary/close contacts will not need to quarantine and can access Safe Travel Areas provided they monitor their symptoms.

In Fiji, costs for a RAT test starts from $30FJD but some countries require a PCR test which starts from $200 FJD.

If you intend to stay with family or friends in Fiji, you may need to book your required tests to return home at locations outside a hotel.

The Fiji government has provided an extensive FAQ page with answers for

Healthy – Wellness Tips When Visiting Fiji

Care in what you eat and drink is the most important health rule. Stomach upsets are the most likely travel-health problem, but the majority of these upsets will be relatively minor. Don’t become paranoid, trying the local food is part of the experience of travel after all.

For Fiji Travelers the most basic rule of thumb is be very careful about drinking water in villages. If in doubt, boil it or treat it with water purification tablets. Generally tap water is safe outside of village scenarios but if in doubt, bottled water is also available everywhere.

Green Coconuts-- you'll stay healhy in Fij by drinking it
Coconut water is always safe to drink (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Salads and fruit should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Thoroughly cooked food is safest, but not if it has been left to cool or if it has been reheated. Take great care with shellfish or fish and avoid undercooked meat. If a place looks clean and well run and the vendor also looks clean and healthy then the food is probably safe. In general, places that are packed with travellers or locals will be fine, empty restaurants are questionable.

In hot climates make sure you drink enough, don’t rely on feeling thirsty to indicate when you should drink. Not needing to urinate or very dark yellow urine is a danger sign. Always carry a water bottle with you on long trips. Excessive sweating can lead to loss of salt and therefore muscle cramping. Readers should note, however, that in Fiji (and most of the Pacific island nations), there’s no need to consider adding salt to your food, as there is enough salt in the local diet.

Image of a traditional village--drink bottled water when you visit to stay healthy
Probably not a good idea to drink water in a village setting. (Courtesy Stefan Cabaniuk)

Many health problems can be avoided by taking care of yourself. Avoid excessive sun and always wear a hat as well as sunscreen. Sunburn is all too easy to get. I even got a nasty dose the last time I was in Fiji. (Nobody’s fault but my own.)

Wash your hands frequently, it’s quite easy to contaminate your own food. Avoid climatic extremes, keep out of the sun when it’s hot, dress health warmly if it’s cold. Avoid potential diseases by dressing sensibly. You can get worm infections through bare feet or dangerous coral cuts by walking over coral without shoes. You can avoid insect bites by covering bare skin when insects are around, by screening windows or beds or by using insect repellents.

If you are going to take a dip in the sea look first to see if others are doing the same. There may be strong currents or water pollution that is not readily apparent. Seek local advice, if you’re told a swimming area is unsafe. In situations were there is no information, discretion is the better part of valor.

Venomous Creatures

The sea snake will generally leave you alone -- but keep a healthy distance
The Sea Krait, a native of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia is often seen in Fiji. Its venomous but rarely bites.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Snake bites are virtually unknown in Fiji. Highly-venomous black and white banded sea snakes, which are often found along Fiji’s shores or swimming in lagoons do not bite, unless severely provoked. In the evenings sea snakes will venture on land and I have even observed them come into my room. Despite their disturbing appearance, these creatures are docile and I have seen Fijians pick them up and handle them (though this is rare). For cultural reasons (perhaps through superstition) Fijians will never purposefully kill, much less touch, these serpents.

The bolo, another venomous species, is so rare that even herpetologists cannot find it, and it’s not aggressive anyway. Pacific boas are the most common land snakes (on the islands where they haven’t been exterminated by mongoose) but are not venomous or aggressive. If you are lucky enough to see a boa (usually in a tree), enjoy the sight.

Certain cone-shell creatures found in Australia and the Pacific can give a dangerous or even fatal sting. There are various fish and other sea creatures which can give dangerous stings, bites or be dangerous if you eat them. Again taking local advice is the best suggestion. Reef walkers might consider asking locals about the presence of stone fish. Also, many sea creatures are endangered and should not be harvested for ecological reasons (doing so is sometimes also against the law).

Respecting the Sea

Snorkeler in Fiji --
Respecting the sea is a key to staying healthy in Fiji (Courtesy Beqa Lagoon Resort)

As a general rule, inexperienced snorkelers and swimmers should be extremely careful about plunging into areas of the sea with strong currents. There are no warning signs in Fiji for areas with dangerous currents or for hazardous swimming areas; every year novices drown. If you have the least hesitation about swimming or snorkeling, ask about local conditions before you get your feet wet. (See also Diving & Snorkeling later in this chapter.)

Women Travelers on staying healthy in Fiji

Fiji is still a terrific place for solo women travelers; rape is rare in Fiji. However, taking precautions is prudent, especially if you are by yourself late at night in Suva. Women should also understand that when a man asks you out, chances are he expects more than a good-night kiss – even on the first date. Likewise, an invitation to a midnight stroll on the beach implies more than gazing at the stars and holding hands.

In the same vein, women should realize that though bikini tops and lots of exposed skin may be the norm on the streets of Waikiki, in Fiji, anywhere except on the beach or in resort areas it is not the norm. Women wearing (what locals would construe as) overly ‘sexy’ clothing may as well wear a flashing green light.

Mother and Daughter on Beach with Reptile - Health Tips
Don’t try this on vacation in Fiji with a sea snake

Should a solo woman traveler accept an invitation from a family to stay with them? More often than not it will be a great experience, especially in a village setting. However, one solo woman traveller, Lucy Kunkel of Ithica, New York, remarks that in the more well traveled areas of Viti Levu, ‘perhaps families were not as innocent as they once were’. Her experience on several occasions was that invitations ‘carried strings’. In one instance after accepting an invitation to stay at a family home she was immediately shuttled to a store and given a laundry list of what to purchase. Her conclusion:

This happens, I’m sure, because travelers have taken advantage of them in the past, but I felt very uncomfortable, and don’t recommend solo females accept any such offers. This is also because of the rude way a woman traveling alone is treated. Wear a wedding ring and make up stories…it saves a lot of hassles.

Finally, I’ve had letters from several women, including a Peace Corps volunteer with years of experience, who suggest that I bring up the subject of ‘peeping toms’. My Peace Corps reader tells me that this behavior is relatively common throughout the South Pacific. Without probing the socio-cultural aspects of this practice or judging whether or not it is innocuous behavior, just be forewarned that ‘they’ are out there, and visitors are fair game.

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