Visitors Guide B

BABYSITTING

Resorts can arrange babysitting (as can word of mouth). The Fijian women have something that attracts children and children attract the women. You’ll see bonding in minutes and will know your kiddies are safe. And you’ll pay a fraction of what you do at home (around F$5 an hour).

BAINIMARAMA

Commander Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is most commonly known as Frank Bainimarama and occasionally by the chiefly title, Ratu. He is a naval officer and politician who has been Prime Minister of Fiji since the overthrow of Laisenia Qarase in December 2006. He is also the Commander of the military and that’s how he got the top job. It’s more complicated than this but basically he observed that the country was becoming a basket case under the elected politicians and seized power. Legal advice in 2009 said that he did this illegally so he sacked the lawyers. Following the 2014 elections, his FijiFirst party formed government, probably as a reward for being rather adept at steering a rudderless ship. Politics never seems to get in the way of tourism.

BANKS/BANKING HOURS

The Reserve Bank of Fiji issues currency and The National Bank was formerly a government owned commercial bank. The National Bank was owned by the government until politicians and the Fijian chiefs siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars through bad loans and other devices during the 1990s, leaving Fiji’s taxpayers holding the bag. Sound familiar? The Colonial Insurance company eventually picked up the pieces and now operates the Colonial National Bank as a commercial operation.

Normal banking hours are from 9:30am to 3:00pm Monday to Thursday and extended to 4:00pm on Friday. Banks close on public holidays.

ANZ operates a 24-hour service at Nadi International Airport’s arrival concourse. ANZ offers counter banking and ATM services in Suva, Nausori, Nadi, Lautoka, Labasa and Savusavu, while Colonial National Bank and Westpac have EFTPOS services in Suva, Nausori, Sigatoka, Nadi, and Lautoka.

BEACHCOMBER ISLAND

Established in the 1960’s Beachcomber Island has gained an international reputation as the quintessential backpackers party island where young travellers sleep in large coed dormitories and gorge at self-service buffets. The island advertises itself as perfect for the young and young at heart – which means it is a party island. Watersports may be pushed to the limit during the day and the drinking and dancing know no bounds at night. Bungalows are also available on Beachcomber Island for those who crave a little privacy, and there are special discounts for families with small children. Beachcomber is sister resort to Anchorage Fiji on the mainland and makes for an easy combination if flight arrival/departures don’t connect with launch transfers to the island.

Contact us regarding Beachcomber Island

BEACHES

To be honest, if it’s a fine, white, soft sand beach you want, Australians and New Zealanders will find better at home. There are some lovely beaches though, but expect a bit of coral – and, without the coral, you wouldn’t have the wonders waiting for you once you venture into the warm waters with the snorkel or dive gear. That said, there’s something magical about swimming in the Blue Lagoon or off Natadola Beach, and you won’t need to contend with the wall to wall highrise hotels you’ll find at Surfers Paradise. In Fiji, the only hotels taller than a coconut tree are in the capital Suva.

The photo is a coconut palm on the beach at Tokoriki Island Resort. Now, what you do is walk up the trunk and have someone take a photo with the camera turned on an angle so it looks like you have shimmied up a straight… what?  Ohhh, don’t tell me other people have thought of that…???

BEDARRA BEACH INN

The ‘Beach’ bit in the name is a kind of long bow – you can see the water across the road from the inn but the beach is not one that would make it onto a postcard. Having said that, it is easy to recommend Bedarra. It is a short stroll from the more upmarket and much more expensive Outrigger Reef Fiji. The rooms at Bedarra are very clean and comfy, the staff super-friendly and the meals tasty and reaonably priced. It is perfect for making the holiday dollar stretch without ‘roughing it’ and it can suit some people who have been invited to a wedding at the Outrigger but would like to keep a lid on the budget.

Contact us regarding Bedarra Inn

BEER

The local beer, Fiji Bitter, locally known as a “Fiji Baby” is a nice ale. It’s a lightish beer, which somehow suits the tropics. Try one – if you don’t like it, pay a bit more for an imported beer.

BEQA

Beqa (pron Benga) is a hilly island off the south coast of Viti Levu and is the original home of most of the traditional Fijian firewalkers (some also hail from nearby Yanuca Island). The pagan rituals which once impelled the firewalkers are no longer practiced on Beqa, and the only place you’ll see firewalking displays these days is at the resort hotels of Nadi and the Coral Coast.

Beqa has a couple of dive resorts, but it should be noted that the prime reefs featured in the dive magazines are far to the west of Beqa and almost as close to Pacific Harbour where less expensive accommodation can be found if on a budget.

Lalati Resort & Spa is a very, very nice resort on Beqa Lagoon and not super-expensive for what you get. Lovely location, very laid back and very romantic. Also a lovely spot for a wedding. More on Lalati here.

BILO

Bilo is the Fijian word for “cup”, specifically the bowl or shell you will use to drink kava from. It’s usually formed from a dry coconut shell split in two, and you’re supposed to hold it with two hands. Back in the cannibal days, warrior chiefs used the upper portion of the skull of one of their foes as a bilo.

BLUE LAGOON CRUISES

These cruises take you to the bays and coral cays of the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands. There are three classes of cruise ships to choose from from budget to luxury. Cruising is limited to around 4 hours per day, so a lot of time is spent on shore visiting native villages, snorkelling reefs and walking the white sands of beautiful beaches. Romantic weddings can be arranged (usually the last day, aboard ship or on Blue Lagoon’s own tropical island, Nanuya Lai Lai). Blue Lagoon Cruises was founded by Captain Trevor Withers in 1950. Veteran passengers may recall traveling on the Salamanda, which was scuttled after being taken out of service and now serves as a Mamanuca dive site. The current fleet is sleak and luxurious, designed for romantic couples wanting to live the dream. Blue Lagoon has a strong competitor in the form of Australian-owned Captain Cook Cruises, which uses larger ships and caters to a more party-loving clientele.

BOTANICAL GARDENS

The Thurston Botanical Gardens in Suva are an appropriate legacy of the days when Britain ruled the Pacific’s waves. The vegetation is lush, but few of the plants are labeled. Admission is free, so just enjoy the flora without giving it a name. You can always spend the Fiji dollars you save on a long neck bottle of Fiji Bitter at the colonial-style Suva Lawn Bowling Club across the street. Lautoka has a much younger botanical garden near the hospital and is worth a stop if you’re in the area.

BULA

This is the famous Fijian greeting and the warmest and most genuine of welcomes. You will hear it everywhere from arrival at Customs to, well, everywhere you go really.  You will also find yourself replying “Bula” without a second thought in no time.

The more formal greeting is “ni sa bula” – sort of the difference between “hello” and “g’day”.

Once the family and I made up a game – to get from the bure to the breakfast table without hearing “bula” – we decided the only way to do that would be to tunnel there and, even then, chances would be you’d meet some flashing white teeth smiling in the dark. (See Language)

The official major annual tourism event for resorts and travel wholesalers is the Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE).

BURES

Bures are traditional thatched cottages (and similar resort style accommodation) – in other parts of the Pacific they are called fales or fares. The closest we have is “bungalow”. Shoes must be left outside the bure and it’s respectful to stoop slightly as you walk over the mats laid out inside. Furniture is scarce to non-existent inside a real Fijian bure, and you’ll be proclaiming your status as tourist if you ask someone to bring you a chair.

BUSINESS HOURS

Business hours in Fiji hold few surprises, so long as you’re prepared for the slow pace. The coconut will fall when it is ripe.

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