Viseisei, oldest settlement of Fiji

Fijian villages are stunning and they have so much character. Viseisei is one of those villages that are beautiful and have so much history. On my last day in Fiji, I had asked my taxi driver to take me to a tribal village where I could meet locals and understand the local culture. And he had taken me to Viseisei to take a village tour and meet the local Fijians.

Did you know that only local Fijians are allowed to own land in Fiji? Others including the Fiji Indians are required to lease the land to build houses and other buildings. Generally the lease is for 99 years.

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About Viseisei

Viseisei is a village on the west coast of Viti Levu island in Fiji. It is the oldest settlement in Fiji and is believed that the first settlers of Fiji laid foundation around two millenniums ago. The village is one of the places where one can see the locals and understand the Fijian culture and traditions.

The best time to visit Viseisei is between the months of May and September as the weather is dry and sunny. The wet season is between October and April and the country does face some cyclones during the period. However, months of October and November are offseason and the cost of traveling is less when compared to the peak season.

How to get to Viseisei?

Driving

Viseisei is around 20 kilometres from Nadi and by road, the journey takes around 25 minutes. The route is along the coast and in between some amazing green lush fields.

Public transportation

Unfortunately, there is no public transportation. If you do not have your own car, then you can take a taxi to the village. It is best to talk to the staff at your hotel or resort so they can arrange for a reliable and safe taxi.

Things to do in Viseisei

Hot springs mud pool

A unique and fun activity to do on your way to Viseisei is heading to the hot springs mud pool. It is believed to be therapeutic and relaxing to spend time taking bath in the mud pool. The hot springs mud pool is a bit of detour but it is totally worth doing this fun activity.

Garden of Sleeping Giant

Fiji’s largest orchid collection is at the Garden of Sleeping Giant. It is estimated that there are more than 2000 varieties of orchids in the garden. The garden is at the base of a mountain that looks like a giant sleeping, and hence has the name Sleeping giant mountain. It is open everyday for visitors and has an entrance fee.

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

Meet the locals

Listen to the locals talk about the history and folklore of the village. Fiji has had a history of cannibalism and it is really fascinating hearing those stories from the past. One of the locals showed me a place where the human skulls were decorated during the cannibalism days and it was absolutely an amazing story to hear, especially from a local Fijian.

Respect the local culture and wear clothing that covers shoulders, arms and knees. Also, do not wear a hat or a cap while visiting a village in Fiji.

Vuda point marina

Vuda point marina is a commercial marina complex and a main hub where all the yachts operate. It is a beautiful place to see the marina and the yachts. There is also a Vuda lookout point that provides panoramic views of Yasawa islands.

Fiji - Vadu lookout

Village tour

A village tour to see how the locals live in Viseisei is a must. The tour guide takes the visitors through the village by showing the local church, school and the chief home. Some of the famous people in Fiji are from Viseisei village.

You can stay at Viseisei with the locals as there are homestays available. At homestays, you get to experience how local Fijians live and eat their local cuisine. However, be careful if you do plan to stay at one of these homestays. Read reviews online before planning on staying at the villages.

Fiji Cannibalism

Safety for solo female travelers

I had an issue when I visited Viseisei. The woman/ tour guide for the village tour cornered us in the local church and demanded us to pay her money before she could let us out. It was scary as there was no one else around in the church except for my mother, me and her. I decided to pay her some money so we could get out of the situation. This is one of the unfortunate memories I have about Fiji.

I highly recommend visiting the villages with someone you know, in a group or with a tour agency. The locals do expect money as gratuity from the tourists and because of that sometimes these are the situations one face while traveling. In my case, I had to pay USD 60. So, be cautious and know your surroundings at all times. Having said this, I never had any other issues when I was in Fiji and all the other people I came across were very friendly and amazing. Fiji is such a beautiful country and has so many things to offer. And hence, I would not say that Fiji is unsafe because I had one such incident.

Closing Notes

Even though I did have an unfortunate experience, I still feel Viseisei must be on your list when you are in Fiji. The village is very pretty and the stories associated with the village are interesting. If you can stay at the village for a night or two, then that will surely be an experience to remember.

Have you visited any of the Fijian villages? Let me know in the comments below.

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