After frolicking in the most beautiful beaches and swimming along amazing marine animals as you go scuba diving, it’s time to go shopping in Fiji. What good is it vacationing in one of the most exotic places on earth if you don’t have souvenir items to prove it?
When in Fiji, make sure to shop for traditional woven materials, woodcarvings, and masi or tapa cloth. They are easy to find since most shops and local village stores sell them, especially the villages along the Sigatoka River. These easy-to-carry souvenirs are shouting “I’ve been to Fiji” as you get back home with them.
Shops and local markets are full of woven materials such as clothes, baskets, mats, fans, and purses. They are widely bought and used both by locals and tourists primarily because they are made from indigenous materials and with intricate designs. Local artisans make use of the lustrous “kuta”, a native reed that grows originally in Vanua Levu. This is more popularly used in making local purses that are tiny enough to fit easily in anyone’s luggage, the perfect souvenir item. The most popular shop for woven kuta products is Taka’s Gift Shop at Copra Shed Marina.
Just like woven products, woodcarvings are everywhere and of many varieties. Handcrafted by local village artists, the most common carvings are cannibal forks and bowls. The type of fork used by cannibals in the past is intriguing and very popular. It is called “flesh fork”, used to sort out human flesh. They sell for about US$30.00. The woodcarvings go hand-in-hand with porcelain and clay pots. The men typically make the woodcarvings, while the women make the pottery.
Third are the popular masi or tapa cloths and products. The tapa material is made from the inner bark of a mulberry tree that was traditionally used as loin cloth for cultural rituals and rites. It is pounded and flattened into a papyrus-like sheet and printed with ornate Polynesian designs. The most popular tapa pieces are those from Vatulele Island, and the most popular items are tapa purses (US$12) coasters (US$20), and wall hangings. The designs are typically stencils representing a local Fijian village on black or rust-colored background.
Other widely popular souvenir items are black pearls and spices. The pearls are authentic and the best kind, found in the waters of Savusavu Island. They may not be for everyone since they sell from US$400 to US$4,000. Meanwhile, Fijian spices commonly sold in local markets are pepper, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.
Meanwhile, the most well-known shopping area is the town of Nadi, the commercial center of Fiji, and the leading shopping centers are Morris Hedstrom, RB Patel, Nads, Jack’s, New World and Sogo’s. Shopping centers sell all kinds of items that tourists expect to find: clothes, jewelry, souvenir items, cheap electronic gadgets, local food, and fresh fruits. All the items have fixed prices but bargaining is welcomed. There are also duty-free shops, smaller stores, boutiques and internet cafes. Local currency is Fijian dollar (F$ or FJD), which is about 1.75 to a US dollar. And to make sure tourists fully enjoy shopping in Fiji, shops are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.