I Traveled to Fiji As Soon As It Reopened — Here's What It Was Like
At low tide, 333 islands comprise the nation of Fiji. After almost two years, this welcoming South Pacific archipelago is now open for fully vaccinated travelers from select international destinations, known as Fiji's Travel Partner Countries — including the U.S. Citizens of these partner nations do not have to quarantine upon arrival to Fiji. For visitors from non-partner countries, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory. According to the Fiji Times, roughly 95-98% of travelers to Fiji since its Dec. 1 reopening have been from Travel Partner Countries.
Plus, with more than 90% of Fijian adults vaccinated, tourists can feel comfortable heading to paradise since equal access to vaccines should always be considered for pandemic era travel.
"We are just so delighted that Fiji has now opened, and tourists are coming back to Fiji in really strong numbers. Thus far, the carefully thought through and enacted processes put in place, including the CareFiji Commitment, are keeping everyone safe and the process is proceeding smoothly," Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji, told Travel + Leisure.
Fiji Cares Commitment (CFC)
More than 96% of the tourism-focused organizations nationwide are part of the CFC network. This participation ensures that travelers will only interact with vaccinated people at a CFC-certified business, as 100% of employees must be vaccinated to meet these guidelines. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to download the free care FIJI app for contact tracing. When visiting partner businesses, travelers are expected to scan the associated QR code upon entry and exit to ensure timely tracing if needed. A complete list of Fiji Cares partners can be accessed here.
Only fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to enter Fiji. The vaccines accepted for this purpose are Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. For travelers 18 years and older, prepare to produce a digital or paper proof of vaccination from at least two weeks before arrival. Please note, visitors can be accompanied by unvaccinated children. Anyone 12 years of age and older must provide proof of a negative RT-PCR test within three days before departure.
Additionally, travelers should book a confirmed three-night stay with a CFC-certified property before arrival, as well as a secured transport with a CFC-approved company.
Finally, medical travel insurance that includes international coverage for COVID-19 should be procured for travelers on vacation. Many companies offer this type of coverage, though Tourism Fiji recommends Fiji Care.
Fiji Airways is the flagship carrier for the island nation. According to the Tourism Fiji website, the company has been given a Diamond certification from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) for its Travel Ready Program. Diamond is the highest level certification that can be reached via APEX and means Fiji Airways provides hospital-grade safety measures. Additionally, Fiji Airways has earned the SKYTRAX 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating, one of only six airlines to do so worldwide.
From the U.S., Fiji Airways operates two non-stop flights to Nadi International Airport, one from Los Angeles and the other from San Francisco, both clocking in at about 10 hours of flight time. Pro tip: before getting to the airport, print out the trip itinerary, a copy of your vaccination card, transfer to hotel and hotel booking, and negative COVID-19 test results. I rarely print anything out if I can avoid it, but the gate agent asked for each of these items when I was checking in for my flight.
As an additional security measure, within 48 hours of arrival, international visitors must get a negative rapid COVID-19 test. Resorts can arrange this for guests; at my first stop, the hotel manager dictated a time for my test, so I simply waited in an admittedly long line, socially distanced and masked up, of course, for my rapid antigen test. I had my negative results within a few hours, and the hotel handled submitting them to the government. After achieving a negative test, travelers to Fiji can visit non-CFC-certified businesses.
Hotel COVID-19 Policies
I experienced three different accommodations during my visit: the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji, and VOMO Island Fiji. All three are CFC partners and adhere to the strict protocols of that agreement.
At the Marriott, the resort adheres to its parent company's Commitment to Clean, which includes signage encouraging social distancing, enhanced cleaning of public spaces, and occupancy limits. Additionally, buffets have sneeze guards in place and are tended to by staff in PPE. No contact temperature testing is also a regular occurrence on property. I enjoyed my private beach bungalow though this property is notable for its stunning overwater bungalows, a rarity in Fiji. Conveniently, the Fiji Marriot Resort Momi Bay is on the main island of Viti Levu, a less than hour transfer from Nadi International Airport.
Jean-Michel Cousteau is located on the northern island of Savusavu, so it required an additional flight; this property, a sustainability-focused gem, was well worth the extra travel time. Guests can enjoy overnight accommodations in one of 25 individual bures (traditional Fijian thatched roof houses). The main bure provides a communal dining room space, or guests can also opt to use additional private cabanas for mealtime. Visitors are temperature tested each morning using a no-contact thermometer near the wrist.
As a private island resort, Western Fiji's VOMO had the strictest COVID-19 safety measures in place since employees must be tested before accessing the island, and there's a doctor on staff. General manager Justin King added, "[A] doctor on property gives us an extra sense of keeping everyone safe, and it really sets us apart." At press time, only two resorts had employed a full-time physician. In terms of rooms, VOMO Island boasts numerous private villas and multi-room residences for additional built-in distancing.
The new rule for vaccinated travelers to the United States is to receive a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departure. Initially, there was a three-day window to get tested to return stateside; while I was in Fiji, the U.S. government updated this rule to within one day of departure.
I was able to get mine done at my hotel about 12 hours before my flight. In my case, there was a small snafu. A minor spelling error occurred with my name on the test results sheet itself, which my last hotel printed. This traveler had to call and get a new certificate issued due to this issue, due to my nickname (and byline) of Katy versus legal name Katherine being used.
Finally, the CDC reccomends but does not mandate self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and isolating if they occur as well as getting tested three to five days after arrival.
All this is to say that I felt extremely safe during my week exploring Fiji as one of the first visitors from the U.S. since March of 2020. With a thoughtful re-opening approach, highly vaccinated local population, and stringent testing requirements, Fiji is open to tourists. Bula!