For those looking to make a lover's escape into a world of crystal clear aqua waters, soft white sand beaches, fragrant tropical flowers and exquisite sun-drenched sanguinity, Fiji offers all that and more. Say 'I Do' to the epitome of island paradise.
Fiji has long been a favourite among island hoppers, beach lovers and those seeking a little peace and quiet among the coconut palms. It has represented Hollywood's vision of the perfect 'deserted island paradise' in films like Castaway and Blue Lagoon, and has been a favourite among brides and grooms as a destination for both weddings and honeymoons for decades.
Ideally located in the South Pacific Ocean about 2000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand's North Island and an easy four hour flight from Australia's East Coast, Fiji is an archipelago made up of more than 330 islands, less than a third of which are permanently inhabited and home to some of the most beautiful resorts in the world. The juxtaposition of the luxurious resorts against the lush rainforests, pristine white sand beaches and rugged mountain terrain is simply amazing, and the rich cultural diversity of the islanders crystallises in many a desire to inhabit the shores permanently. Often considered the hub of the South West Pacific, the Fiji islands stretch midway between Vanuatu and Tonga.
Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are the two major islands, accounting for more than three quarters of the nation's population. Viti Levu is home to the capital and largest city, Suva and the city of Nadi (home to the international airport and a large transient population of foreign tourists, as it's the main port of entry for travelers to Fiji, even though it's on the opposite side of the island to Suva).
Fiji is spread across an area of 194,000 square kilometers, only 10% of which is land. The 180th meridian runs through Taveuni (the third largest island) but the International Date Line is actually bent to ensure that all the islands are within the same time zone.
Fiji is warm throughout most of the year, the tropical marine climate ensuring minimal extremes in temperature. The warmest part of the year is from November to April and the cooler months are from May to October, although temperatures in the cool season still clock in at a very comfortable 22C (72 Fahrenheit). The water temperature is pleasant all year round - typically 25C during the winter months (June, July, August) and 29C during the summer (December, January, and February). Although technically a tropical climate, rainfall is variable: the warmer season tends to experience heavier falls, particularly inland, meaning Fiji is perfect for weddings on the beach all year round.
Fiji has absolutely perfected the island escape. The nation has been in the tourism business for decades and their hop-skip-and-a-jump-from-one-divine-isle-to-another formula is positively spot on. If you're daydreaming of fragrant ocean breezes, warm turquoise water, untouched deserted beaches, fresh fruit, luscious seafood and delicious cocktails with your toes wiggling in alabaster sand, you will not be disappointed.
The sun is warm and welcoming, but never scalding, the people are friendly and fiercely proud of their culture and their home. The service you'll receive is incredible. Everything is done with a smile on the face and a generous, gracious heart. You can't help but smile yourself. The locals who staff the resorts, restaurants, hotels and hideaways effortlessly deliver exquisite five star service. They are attentive, aware and vigilant, without ever making you feel crowded or rushed.
What you'll need
To enter Fiji
Australian residents are not required to obtain a visa before entering Fiji as a visitor. The visa will be issued on arrival in Fiji on the condition that you hold: a passport that is valid for at least six months from the intended date of departure from Fiji, adequate funds to support yourself during your stay and evidence of a return or outbound ticket (sorry to disappoint any aspirations to become a permanent local), as well as a re-entry or entry visa to a country other than their own (for example: permanent residents of Australia must produce a valid re-entry visa for Australia.)
To be married in Fiji
To be legally married in Fiji you must be in Fiji for three working days prior to the intended wedding day, obtain a marriage license from the nearest marriage registry and be able to provide the following documentation:
- Original or certified copies of both of your birth certificates
- A confirmation letter of your current marital status which you can get from the marriage registry where you live, OR a statutory declaration signed by a Justice of the Peace, Notary Public or a Solicitor to prove that you have not previously entered into a marriage
- Consent of your father if you're less than 18 years of age, or your mother if your father is deceased
- A Decree Absolute document, if you have previously been married and divorced
- The names of two witnesses who are over 21 years of age
While you're there
Fiji is famous for its soft coral diving, surfing, parasailing, scuba diving and water sports. You can swim with manta rays and dive with sharks, go horse riding on the shores of this idyllic island paradise, enjoy a trek through the rainforest to a hidden waterfall, take a cruise to some of the lesser-known islands, hike through some of the more untouched mountainous regions, play golf, learn how to walk on hot coals, soak in the famous therapeutic warm mud baths or simply recharge with a day at the spa.
Visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, about half an hour from Nadi. The late Raymond Burr, star of Perry Mason and Ironside, started the garden in 1977 to house his orchid collection and it is now the largest collection in Fiji.
Visit the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple: the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, in Nadi. The Nadi markets also provide a wonderful way to while away an afternoon, shop for fresh fruit and vegetables, luscious fresh flowers, and check out the section completely dedicated to Kava: a local narcotic drink made from the crushed roots of a plant from the pepper family. The drink is said to have psychoactive and healing properties and was the beverage of choice for the royal families of the South Pacific. Take care though, it's also a powerful sedative with anaesthetic properties, so you might find yourself more 'collapsed' than 'relaxed'.
Make sure you stop by the beautiful palm-fringed Natadola Beach: reputed to be one of the best and most beautiful beaches in the world. This picture perfect crescent of powdery sand and azure seas is a mere 36km from Nadi. Just be aware that the surf can be rough at times and keep an eye out for rips.
You'll find plenty of shopping and fine dining in Port Denarau, as well as an opportunity for exhilarating Jet Boat Rides. Denarau Marina is the place to go for day trips to other island groups: most of the boats depart from here.
Whether you're indulging in a local cooking class, having lunch and taking in the panoramic ocean views, walking barefoot on one of the many untouched, uninhabited beaches or simply kicking back by the pool with your new hubby and family, Fiji will stay in your mind and your heart for many years to come. And when your anniversary rolls around? What better way to celebrate than to pop back to your perfect island paradise and leave new footprints in the sand and new memories imprinted on your heart.
For more information visit Tourism Fiji: www.fiji.travel
Currency: Fijian Dollar
Current exchange rate: 1.73 FJD for 1.00 AUD
Official languages: English, Fijian, Fiji Hindi
At time of publishing.