What You Need to Know About Driving in Fiji
Renting a car and hitting the road in Fiji is a great way to travel around the country. You’ll experience the ultimate freedom, get to see more of Fiji than the average tourist sees, and enjoy a wealth of experiences and activities along the way. Admittedly, there are mixed stories about driving in Fiji. Some visitors find driving in Fiji a breeze, while others tell stories of being taken aback by livestock trampling the road, people selling bananas in the middle of the highway, unexpected potholes and speedbumps, and other unnerving hazards. Nevertheless, we believe that as long as you’re aware of these hazards, take it easy, stick to the speed limit and know the road rules while driving in Fiji, then driving in Fiji is safe. Get started with planning a safe road trip with this list of safety tips for driving in Fiji.
For more advice for a self-drive tour of Fiji, check out How to Drive in Fiji.
1. Drive On the Left Side of the Road
Unlike most of the world, Fiji is a left drive system similar to the UK, Australia and New Zealand. This stems from its British colony history and remains probably the most obvious sign of British colonisation today (aside from the union jack on the flag). Long story short, make sure to stick to the left side of the road. Don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to this way of driving.
2. Know the Speed Limits
The maximum speed limit you will encounter is 80km/h (50mph) on the main highways outside of the cities. The speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in cities, towns and villages. Finally, the speed limit may be 60km/h (40mph) when approaching a city.
3. Watch Out for Animals on the Road…
There are a lot of animals and people on the roads in Fiji, especially at night, so always be aware of that. In villages, people hang out on the side of the road, usually walking on the side of the road due to the lack of footpaths. It’s not uncommon to see cattle, dogs, goats and even horses taking up the road too.
Livestock like cattle and horses graze on the sides of the road, even wandering across from time to time with little concern for cars. This means that you need to be a little warier about these hazards and slow down when approaching. Dogs are also common on the side of the road, but they tend to move out of the way of cars.
4. … And Watch Out for People on the Road Too
Especially in villages, locals will walk on the road and dangerously close to moving traffic with little concern for cars. Don’t expect people to just move out of the way for traffic, slow down to avoid them with ease.
5. Keep an Eye on Other Drivers
A concern for some visitors to Fiji is how the locals drive. The short way to describe it is: inconsistently! Some locals drive painfully slow while others have a heavy foot on the accelerator. Luckily, the Fijian authorities have had a bit of a crackdown on speeding over the past few years with more speed cameras, speed bumps and police cars parked outside of towns and villages to keep the racers in check.
Other issues visitors have has with local drivers are they sometimes stop suddenly, overtake on blind corners, and don’t always stick to the left side of the road when navigating bends.
For visitor drivers, we just suggest that you be extra switched on when driving (if you’re don’t already do that), be aware of what is happening on the road and drive safely, sticking to the speed limits or slower, so that you have time to respond to things happening on the roads.
6. Be Prepared for Basic Roads
There are no huge American-style highways in Fiji. Most of the roads are two-lane sealed countryside roads. While there are upgrades to the roads regularly to reduce potholes, there are still a lot more potholes than what you might be used to if from a more developed country. Slow down when approaching potholes in order to keep control of the vehicle.
7. Overtake Carefully
Many of the roads in Fiji and winding and only two lanes, so real care needs to be taken when overtaking. Even with the low 80km/h speed limit, many of the locals choose to drive slower, so sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and embrace “Fiji time“, rather than trying to overtake every vehicle you encounter.
8. Be Prepared for Driving on Unsealed Roads
Fiji has around 7,500km (4,660 miles) of roads. Around 1,700km (1,056 miles) of those roads are sealed, but luckily those roads are the roads that most visitors use. The roads in Viti Levu’s coastal towns and villages are sealed, as well as the Queens Road and the Kings Road, which follow the coast between Nadi and Suva. On Vanua Levu, the road between Savusavu and Labasa is also fully sealed, as is some of the Hibiscus Highway following the coast from Savusavu.
That leaves about 5,800km (3,600 miles) of unsealed roads in Fiji, which are trickier to drive for those not used to driving on gravel or dirt roads. Some are gravel roads which are easy to drive as long as you drive slow enough to be in control, while dirt roads are best attempted in a 4WD vehicle.
9. Be Extra Careful When Driving After Dark…
Outside of the main towns, lighting on the roads is extremely limited, making it harder to see the above-mentioned hazards. For this reason, many visitors choose to not drive outside of the towns at night.
10. … And When Driving in Wet Conditions
Being a tropical country, Fiji has rainfall hard and often making it harder to see, the roads more slippery and the depth of potholes harder to judge. Not to mention, the dirt roads become pretty slick after rainfall. Take extra care when driving in wet conditions.
11. Know How to Use Roundabouts
Roundabouts are used in Fiji, which can throw off some of our American friends. When approaching a roundabout, give way to vehicles on the right.
12. Don’t Use Your Phone When Driving
For obvious reasons, such as being extremely distracting, it is illegal to use your phone while driving in Fiji. It’s especially dangerous when the roads are unfamiliar so leave the phone duties to your co-pilot.
13. Wear Your Seat-Belt
Fiji might seem like a relaxed country, but most people agree that it’s just plain dumb to be relaxed on safety. And don’t forget to buckle up the little ones in the back. Most Fiji rental car companies have baby seats to hire so use them.
14. Plan Extra Time
Due to the low speed limits, hazards on the road, some unsealed roads, the scenery and picture stops, and the fact that everyone else on the road is on Fiji time, you will want to plan yourself extra time for any trips you are taking. Always assume the drive will be longer than expected. But hey, taking your time and going with the flow is what a Fiji road trip is all about. Check out The Driving Times in Fiji You Need to Know.
15. Lock It or Lose It
Just like you would at home, lock your car when you leave it unattended. While theft is not common in Fiji, it is going to happen it will happen to the rental car signifying a rich tourist.