Dress Code and Etiquette in Fiji

General Rules of Conduct on Your Visit to Fiji

Kava Ceremony in Fiji
••• Kava Ceremonies are a common ritual in Fiji, where local chiefs mix Fiji's "national drink" in a large wooden bowl called a tanoa. Fiji Tourism

The warm and welcoming character of the people of Fiji is one of the top reasons to visit. But Fijians are more traditional and more modest than some of their South Pacific neighbors. As a courtesy to them, here are the basic dress code and etiquette guidelines:

Resort Attire

While at your resort, you can wear whatever you'd wear on a tropical beach vacation. But do refrain from topless or nude sunbathing on your resort's beaches or at the pool, as it is considered offensive.

If you are at a private island resort with secluded bures (bungalows) with private pools and beaches, doff your swimwear with discretion.

Sightseeing Attire

When away from a resort, women should avoid wearing camisoles, tank tops or halter tops that bare their shoulders. Also, both men and women should not wear shorts (or mini skirts for women). The best advice is to carry a sulu (a Fijian sarong) or two to cover bare shoulders or legs.

Do's and Don'ts

• Do not wear hats when visiting a Fijian village and do not touch anyone's head (it is considered a sign or disrespect).

• Do take off your shoes before entering a bure or house.

• If you are invited to a village, do stay with the host who invited you. Don't wander off if invited by another member of the village as this is considered disrespectful to your host.

•A visit to a village, it is a must to take a sevusevu (Sae-vooh Sae-VOOH). This is one of the traditions.

It is the presentation of the yaqona (kava in the Pacific and pharmacological Kavakava) to the chief of the village to enable the visitors to eliminate any bad omen that would emanate from unconsciously violating the traditional taboos in the village through ignorance. Yaqona is a plant that has the power to off-set any evil-related problem.

(Fiji High Commission)

• If offered a bowl of kava to sip during a yaqona ceremony, do try it. It is considered rude not to.

• In the presence of the chiefs, no one is allowed to be standing up or make unnecessary noise accept those who are equally high in status and of course with the exception of the traditional guards dressed like warriors. (Fiji High Commission)

• Do speak softly. Fijians interpret raised voices as expressing anger.

• It is considered taboo to point a finger at someone who is older or of high rank. Once a person does that he/she challenges the Fijian authority in which it allows him/her to state his traditional status and right concerning the ground on which he dared infringed the traditional law. (Fiji High Commission)

• Fijians are known to be exceptionally welcoming and friendly, but if someone turns away when you are photographing them, do respect their wish not to be photographed. Aside from ceremonies and performances, if you want to take a photo of someone, it is considered polite to ask their permission first.

About the Author

Donna Heiderstadt is a New York City-based freelance travel writer and editor who has spent her life pursuing her two main passions: writing and exploring the world.