Island time in Suva

Last updated 05:00 23/06/2013
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Make a splash: Tourists should try to meet the locals.

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For Suzanne Mace , Fiji living is about the climate and the people.

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For Suzanne Mace , Fiji living is about the climate and the people.

Why did you move to Suva?

Mainly for work reasons but also for the lifestyle and to give our children the experience of living in a different country.

What do you do there?

My husband works for ANZ Bank's Pacific headquarters and I work part-time as a consultant for a local law firm.

What do you like or dislike about life in Fiji?

It's hard not to fall in love with the warm climate and the beautiful Fijian people. People are very friendly and we have been made to feel so welcome. Experiencing both the indigenous-Fijian culture and the Indo-Fijian culture has been amazing for my family and is something I will never forget. I dislike the rainy season, it breeds mosquitoes in their thousands. Dealing with "Fiji time" can be a bit frustrating at times, but I have learnt to live with it. I'm also not a fan of the geckos here; I don't think I ever will be!

How does the cost of living compare to New Zealand?

Consumer goods, food and alcohol imported from overseas are expensive but locally grown food and local products are cheap. Electricity, cars and petrol are expensive, as is rent in Suva. Activities like tennis, golf and swimming lessons are very cheap compared to New Zealand.

What do you do on weekends?

We try to get away every few weeks to different places around Fiji for the weekend. Suva is pretty quiet on Sundays as nearly all of the shops are closed and most people go to church. We get out for walks and bike rides along the waterfront or swim in the pool. If it's raining then sometimes we go to see a movie which is cheap at FJ$7 (NZ$4.70).

What do you think of the food?

I am enjoying the abundance and low prices of all the tropical fruits. Kokoda (fish marinated in coconut cream) and lovo are delicious, and I was lucky enough to eat fresh yellow fin tuna, caught by my husband, a few weeks ago off the coast of Suva. The local curries are fantastic, too.

What's the best way to get around?

If you don't have access to a car then buses and taxis are cheap to use. If you are staying in the city centre then walking is the best way to get around as the shops and markets are all central.

What's the shopping like?

Suva has a great local produce market and handicraft market. The city also has two small shopping malls but the range of goods is not huge and if it's imported it's usually expensive. Suva has some very talented local designers, tailors, artists, artisan food producers and cabinet-makers who make high-quality products at very reasonable prices.

What's the nightlife like?

Suva has a surprisingly varied selection of restaurants and bars considering its size. We've had great meals at Indian, Japanese, Chinese and other local restaurants in the city. There are also a couple of great bars that frequently have local bands playing, and any night out when you're a parent is a good night.

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What is your favourite part of Suva?

The waterfront. It is a great place to walk or exercise, have a picnic or just sit and watch a sunset. I also love the golf course; it's an oasis in the city.

What time of year is best to visit?

In the dry season, April to October, as there is less rain and the humidity is lower, but the temperatures are still pleasant for visitors escaping a New Zealand winter.

What's your must-do thing for visitors?

Visit the Suva Market and the Pure Fiji factory, or play a game of golf at the Fiji Golf Club in Suva. The Fiji Museum in Suva is also well worth a look. I would also recommend going for a walk around central Suva, you'll be surprised at how pretty some of the early architecture is.

What are your top tips for tourists?

Get off the beaten track. Fiji isn't all about white sandy beaches and cocktails. If you get the chance, visit a local village and meet the locals. The Suva Expats Facebook page is a good source of information about Suva and its surrounds.

How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?

There is a direct three-hour flight from Suva to Auckland twice a week, otherwise via Nadi. It's also very easy for our family and friends to visit us.

If you know an expat who wants to share the inside knowledge on their home away from home, email escape@star-times.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

- Sunday Star Times

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