What to Shop for in Fiji

Black Pearls
••• Photo Courtesy of uk.france.fr. Black Pearls

A visit to Fiji, as with an island nation in the South Pacific, is a major investment in both time and money, so there's a good chance you'll want to bring home a few souvenirs to remember the amazing places you stayed and the things you did.

But before you start browsing Fiji's boutiques, shops, and markets there are a few things you should know. Keep in mind that it's okay to bargain in the markets, but not too aggressively.

Just don't accept the first or even the second offered price. Chances are you'll come home with some excellent deals.

Sulus (Sarongs)

Like their neighbors in Tahiti, Fijians are fond of brightly colored cotton sarongs, which they call sulus. You can usually find a good selection at your resort and in the crafts markets in places like Nadi.

Wooden Handicrafts

Fijian wood carvings, for sale at local markets in Nadi and at gift shops in many resorts, range from giant kava bowls (tanoa), which make great fruit or salad bowls, and pretty wooden boxes to cannibal forks, which make great conversation pieces.

Before you buy wood items, make sure it has been treated properly by looking to see if there's a shimmer in the wood. This prevents rotting and damage to the item. Also, keep in mind that in some countries—like Australia—customs will not allow you to bring wood items, so check to see what gifts would be prohibited from buying.

Tapa Cloth

Made from the pounded bark of the paper mulberry tree, this thick cloth, also called masi cloth, is stenciled or stamped with ancient symbols (turtles and flowers are popular motifs), and they make distinctive and authentic wall hangings. You can also purchase tapa cloth handbags, picture frames, boxes, and even some clothing.

Lali (Fijian Drum)

Fijians are known for their drumming, which plays a significant role in many of the traditional rituals and ceremonies. You can buy locally-made drums of all sizes at most crafts markets and souvenir shops.

Island Music

Fijians are renowned for their love of singing—almost all resorts send you off with the staff gathered to sing "Isa Lei," the country's traditional farewell song. If you love the clear, harmonious voices of Fiji, purchase a CD to listen to back home and feel transported back to your idyllic South Pacific hideaway.

Black Pearls

While mainly farmed and sold in Tahiti, black pearls are also available in Fiji. You'll find them sold as necklaces, rings, and bracelets in the boutiques at most resorts, as well as at select jewelry shops and boutiques in Nadi, Lautoka, and Savusavu.

Spices and Food Stalls

In many of the markets, you'll find local purveyors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and spices. Produce items are safe to eat—just do a routine check for blemishes and bruises before buying.

Fiji Bitter T-Shirts

The local beer is called Fiji Bitter and many a visitor who takes a liking to it while in Fiji ends up heading home with a T-shirt decorated with the logo.