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Fiji

Getting there & away

Centrally situated in the South Pacific, Fiji is one of the main airline hubs of the Pacific region (Hawaii is the other). Many travellers visit Fiji on round-the-world (RTW) tickets or on a stopover between North America and Australia or New Zealand. Most agents will allow those visiting Fiji on a package deal to extend their stay on either side of the accommodation package.

Flights and tours can be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel_services.

Travel documents

Tickets

It is always worth putting aside a few hours to research the current travel market. Talk to recent travellers, look at advertisements in newspapers and magazines, search the Internet and watch for special offers. Airlines are useful for supplying information on routes and timetables; however, except at times of airline ticketing wars, they usually do not supply the cheapest tickets. For straightforward return tickets, online booking agencies tend to offer the best deals.

High-season travel to Fiji is between April and October as well as the peak Christmas and New Year period. Airfares peak between April and June and in December and January. If you book well enough in advance, however, it's possible to escape the seasonal price variations.

Fijian departure tax is $30, payable at the airport before passing through immigration. This situation is likely to change, though, and the tax may be incorporated into your ticket by the time you read this.

Recommended websites for bookings:

Cheap Flights (www.cheapflights.com) Informative site with specials, airline information and flight searches from the USA and other regions.

Cheapest Flights (www.cheapestflights.co.uk) Cheap worldwide flights from the UK.

Expedia(www.expedia.msn.com) Mainly US-related travel site.

Flight Centre International (www.flightcentre.com) Respected operator with sites for Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and Canada.

Opodo (www.opodo.com) Reliable company specialising in fares from Europe.

Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) Excellent site for web-only fares.

STA (www.statravel.com) Prominent in international student travel, but you don't have to be a student; site linked to STA sites worldwide.

Travel.com (www.travel.com.au) Good site for Australian travellers.

Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) A US site that allows you to search fares (in US dollars) to/from practically anywhere.

Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) Good site for flights from the USA.

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Sea

Travelling to Fiji by sea is difficult unless you're on a cruise ship or yacht.

Cargo boats

Few of the shipping companies will take passengers on cargo ships and those that do will usually charge hefty rates. It is virtually impossible to leave Fiji by cargo ship unless passage has been prearranged. A useful American company is Freighter World Cruises (800 531-7774; www.freighterworld.com), which can organise travel on a freighter ship around the South Pacific. You could also try asking your local shipping agents, or go to the docks and personally approach the captains.

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Entering the destination

Entering the country

Make sure you have a valid passport and, if necessary, an appropriate visa on arrival in Fiji. Immigration procedures are straightforward and it's highly unlikely that travellers will experience difficulty.

In general, visitors do not need to show immunisation cards on entry, although it's always wise to check with your local authorities before leaving in case this changes.

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Air

Airports & airlines

Most visitors to Fiji arrive at Nadi International Airport, situated 9km north of central Nadi. A few international flights land at Nausori airport near Suva.

On arrival you will be greeted by a sea of smiling faces and guitar serenading. Most of these people will be representing local accommodation or the many travel agencies in the airport.

Nadi International Airport has a 24-hour ANZ bank with currency exchange. There are many travel agencies, airline offices and car-rental offices in the arrivals area, as well as a post office, cafeteria, restaurant, duty-free shop, newsagency and luggage storage area. Luggage storage costs $3 to $6 per day.

Nausori International Airport, about 23km northeast of downtown Suva, hosts Air Fiji flights to Tuvalu, and Air Pacific and Qantas flights direct to and from Sydney. Air Pacific also flies to New Zealand. Otherwise the airport is mostly used for domestic flights.

The following international airlines fly to and from Fiji. Phone numbers are those in Fiji unless otherwise stated.

Air Fiji (airline code PC; 672 2521, 331 3666; www.airfiji.com.fj/index.cfm; hub Nausori & Nadi, Fiji)

Air Nauru (airline code ON; 672 2795, 331 2377/3731; www.airnauru.com.au; hub Nauru)

Air New Zealand (airline code NZ; 331 3100; www.airnz.co.nz; hub Auckland, New Zealand)

Air Pacific (airline code FJ; 672 0888, 330 4388; www.airpacific.com.fj; airline hub Nadi, Fiji)

Air Vanuatu (airline code NF; 672 2521, 331 3666/3055; www.airvanuatu.com; hub Port Vila, Vanuatu)

Aircalin (airline code SB; 672 2145; www.aircalin.nc; hub Noumea, New Caledonia)

Freedom Air (airline code SJ; 0800 600 500; www.freedomair.co.nz; hub Auckland, New Zealand)

Korean Air (airline code KE; 672 1043; www.koreanair.com.au; hub Seoul, Korea)

Pacific Blue (Virgin Blue International; www.flypacificblue.com; hub Brisbane, Australia)

Polynesian Airlines (airline code PH; 672 3822; www.polynesianairlines.com; hub Samoa)

Qantas Airways (airline code QF; 672 2880, 331 3888/1833; www.qantas.com.au; hub Sydney, Australia)

Royal Tongan Airlines (airline code WR; 672 4355; rtafiji@connect.com.fj; hub Apia, Tonga)

Solomon Airlines (airline code IE; 672 2831; www.solomonairlines.com.au; hub Honiara, Solomon Islands)

United Airlines (airline code UA; in Australia 131 777; www.united.com; hub Chicago, USA)

Asia

There are direct flights to Nadi from Japan and South Korea. Low-/high-season return airfares from Tokyo to Nadi are around ¥118, 300/414, 000 (US$1000/3500); from Seoul to Nadi they are about US$1700/2700. Fares are most expensive between December and January, and June and July.

Most flights to/from Southeast Asia go via Australia or New Zealand. Return airfares from Hong Kong to Nadi are around US$1400/2700 for low/high season. Most countries offer fairly competitive deals - Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong are good places to shop around for discount tickets.

Recommended agencies in Japan:

No 1 Travel (03-3205 6073; www.no1-travel.com)

STA Travel (03-5391 2922; www.statravel.co.jp)

Australia

Qantas, Air Pacific and Pacific Blue operate between Australia and Fiji. Qantas planes don't actually fly to Fiji but the airline sells tickets and code shares seats on Air Pacific flights. The flight time is about 4/4½ hours from Sydney/Melbourne.

Fares from Sydney or Brisbane are typically A$550/800 return for low/high season. Flights from Melbourne cost A$100 to A$150 more. The further in advance you book the cheaper your ticket is likely to be.

Agencies in Australia with specialist Fiji knowledge:

Essence Tours (07-3245 7815; info@essencetours.com.au)

Fiji & Pacific Specialist Holidays (02-9080 1600; www.pacificholidays.com.au)

Hideaway Holidays (02-8799 2500; www.hideawayholidays.com.au)

South Pacific Holidays (1300 997 287; www.tropicalfiji.com)

Talpacific Holidays (1300 137 727; www.talpacific.com)

Canada

Fiji is a popular stopover between Canada and Australia or New Zealand, and for those on RTW tickets. Air Pacific flies between Vancouver and Nadi; fares start at around C$2300 from June to November, peaking at around C$2700 between November and February. Fares from Ottawa or Toronto are C$100 to C$150 more; these generally fly via Chicago and LA.

Toronto's Globe & Mail, the Montreal Gazette, the Toronto Sun and the Vancouver Sun are good places to look for cheap fares.

Canadian-based travel agencies:

Pacesetter Travel (1800 387-8827, 604-687-3083; www.pacesettertravel.com)

Travel CUTS (866-246-9762; www.travelcuts.com) Canada's national student travel agency with offices in all major cities.

Continental Europe

Generally there is not much variation in airfares for departures from the main European cities, but deals can be had, so shop around. Expect to pay around €1400/2000 for low/high season.

Useful agencies:

Adventure Travel (www.adventure-holidays.com) German agency specialising in South Pacific travel.

BarronTravel (020-625 8600; www.barron.nl) Dutch agency operating 3 Oceans Travel, which specialises in the South Pacific.

OTU Voyages (08 20 81 78 17, 01 44 41 38 50; www.otu.fr) French network of student-travel agencies; supplies discount tickets to travellers of all ages.

Nouvelles Frontières (08 25 00 07 47; www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr)

Voyageurs du Monde (www.vdm.com)

Wereldcontact (0343-530 530; www.wereldcontact.nl) Dutch agency.

New Zealand

Air Pacific flies from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to both Suva and Nadi. Air New Zealand also flies between Nadi and Auckland and has shared services on the other routes. Freedom Air flies from Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North and Hamilton to Nadi. From Auckland to Fiji (three hours) costs about NZ$460/730 for low/high season. Flights from Wellington and Christchurch tend to cost around NZ$200 extra with the bigger airlines, but Freedom Air offers some serious bargains on their lesser-flown routes.

Good booking agencies:

Air New Zealand (0800 737 000; www.airnewzealand.co.nz)

Flight Centre (www.flightcentre.co.nz)

Go Holidays (0800 464 646; www.goholidays.co.nz) South Pacific specialists for accommodation and packages.

House of Travel (www.houseoftravel.co.nz) Nationwide travel agency.

STA (www.statravel.co.nz)

Talpacific Holidays (09-914 8728; www.travelarrange.co.nz) South Pacific specialists.

Travel Online (0800 000 747, 09-920 6000; www.travelonline.co.nz)

Zuji (www.zuji.co.nz) Online booking service.

UK & Ireland

London is the travel discount capital of Europe. Airline ticket discounters are known as bucket shops in the UK, and many advertise in the travel pages of the weekend broadsheets, such as the Independent on Saturday and the Sunday Times. Also check the travel section the free magazine TNT. A return ticket from London to Nadi costs about £850/1100 in low/high season. Some agencies to check out:

Bridge the World (0870 444 7474)

Ebookers (0870 814 0000; www.ebookers.com)

Trailfinders (0845 058 5858; www.trailfinders.co.uk)

Travel Bag (0870 814 4441; www.travelbag.co.uk)

USA

Fiji is a major stopover between the west coast of the USA and Australia or New Zealand. Fiji is about six/12 hours from Hawaii/west-coast USA. Fares from the USA vary greatly depending on season and ticket restrictions. Los Angeles to Nadi with Air New Zealand is about US$920/1300 for low/high season.

The following agents specialise in travel to Fiji and the South Pacific:

All Travel (800 300-4567, 310-312-3368; www.all-travel.com)

Fiji Travels (www.fijitravels.com)

Golden Fish Travels (877-255-7438; goldenfishtravels.com/fiji.html)

South Pacific Direct (www.southpacificdirect.com)

Sunspots International (800 334-5623, 503-666-3893; www.sunspotsintl.com)

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