Planning a Trip to Fiji? Here are 5 Essential Words To Learn Before You Go

Bula Vinaka! Planning a trip to Fiji? Embracing the warmth of Fijian culture goes beyond watching traditional dances and partaking in traditional kava ceremonies.

Learning some basic Fijian phrases can enrich your travel experience and foster meaningful connections with locals. In this guide, we’ll explore essential phrases to help you interact with Fijians and hopefully help you create lasting connections with them.

The Fijian Language

Fijian (Na vosa vaka-Viti) is an Austronesian language belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian family. It serves as the native language for approximately 350,000–450,000 ethnic Fijians. Fijian, English and Fiji Hindi are the official languages of Fiji.

The roots of the Fijian language trace back around 3500 years ago when the first settlers arrived on the islands. For centuries, Fijian was the sole spoken language in the region. In 1835, Methodist missionaries hailing from Australia commenced efforts to develop a written form of the language. By 1840, they successfully crafted a writing system, publishing various books covering different dialects of Fijian.

Following Fiji’s independence in 1970, Fijian gained prominence in various forms of media, including radio, television, books, and periodicals.

Essential Greetings and Courtesies

While the vast majority of Fijian’s speak English, mastering a few words or phrases sets the tone for respectful interactions throughout your journey:

Bula (m-boo-lah) Hello
When stepping into Fiji, the first word you’ll hear is ‘bula’ meaning ‘hello’ or ‘welcome’. Literally meaning life or good health, this universal greeting embodies the hospitality and warmth of the Fijian people

Vinaka (vi-nah-kah) Thank you
Adding this courtesy to your vocabulary shows appreciation for the Fijian peoples’ kindness.

Kerekere (keh-reh-keh-reh) Please
Meaning please, or to make a special request

Yadra (yahn-dra) Good morning
When greeting the start of a new day

Moce (mo-they) Goodbye
Bid others a polite farewell – or if you’ve form some newfound friendships, you might try “sota tale” (soh-tah-tah-leh) meaning ‘see you soon’!

Basic Conversation Starters

Initiating conversations with locals can deepen your cultural immersion. Simple phrases like Na yacaqu o… (Na ya-tha-ngu oh) meaning ‘My name is’ or O au mai Australia ‘I’m from Australia’ can open doors to friendly exchanges. Don’t hesitate to use these phrases to converse with the locals – Fijian’s are so friendly and appreciate sincere efforts to embrace their language and customs.

Learning basic Fijian phrases transcends linguistic barriers, fostering authentic connections and enriching your travel experience. Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in Fiji’s vibrant culture through language, and let genuine encounters with locals leave an indelible mark on your journey.

As you embark on your adventure, remember that every “Bula” exchanged is an invitation to share in the warmth and hospitality of Fiji.

Vinaka vakalevu for joining us on this linguistic voyage.