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Book Review: Moon Handbooks: Fiji by David Stanley

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I’m addicted. I pick up one of David Stanley’s latest books, and I can’t put it down. I read, and dream, and plan – but there’s SO MUCH to take in!

Stanley is the author of Moon Handbooks South Pacific, Moon Fiji, and Moon Tahiti, as well as early editions of Moon Handbooks Alaska-Yukon, Moon Handbooks Tonga-Samoa, and Moon Handbooks Micronesia, Lonely Planet’s Eastern Europe on a Shoestring, and more. He’s an extremely well-traveled author, and loves to dig deeply into the culture of wherever he is visiting. Lucky for us readers, he’s a writer with a difference. How? He pays his own way, without fanfare, and avoids the VIP treatment of the tourism industry looking to court (and influence) authors. In this way, he truly experiences a place like a regular traveler – and works hard to share budget travel suggestions and activities. David has been writing about Fiji since 1978 – longer than any other travel writer!

Moon FijiRecently, I’ve been entranced with David’s Fiji. This is a book not only for dreaming, but is a true planning guide, detailing culture, location, accommodations, restaurants, activities, and ALL of the islands in Fiji. Did you know that there are 322 islands in Fiji? No traveler can hope to explore even 1/100th of that. In Fiji, David shares impeccable research on all aspects of travel to Fiji – it’s an extraordinary travel guide.

One of my favorite sections in the book (since I am so very interested in learning about culture) shares the land, flora, and fauna, history and government, economy, people and culture, and arts and entertainment. Another key chapter in the book covers the essentials – covering getting there, getting around (there are several transportation options in Fiji, but as you can guess, many are on water), visas, conduct, accommodations, food and drink, tips for travelers, health and safety, and information and services. This book is packed with photos David took himself, genuine descriptions, and true knowledge that only someone that’s been there frequently can share. What I especially appreciate is the introduction to the people of Fiji – for as we all know, travel is about learning of a place and people and getting to know them deeply.

Specific island sections cover Nadi and the Mamanucas, the Yasawa Islands, Southern Viti Levu, Suva and vicinity, Northern Viti Levu, the Lomaiviti Group, Vanua Levu, Tavenui, and the Lau Group and Rotuma. David also collates some incredible itineraries: the 10 day best of Fiji, island hopper special, Fiji’s finest beaches, the real Fiji, diving and snorkeling in Fiji, for nature lovers, and the life aquatic. There are 53 maps and 170 photos – detailed enough to give you a sense of travel and life in Fiji.

I asked author David Stanley about researching his book, and travel tips, and here’s what he had to say:

This guide is so comprehensive. What were the challenges (and joys) of researching this book?   

DS: Over the past three decades, I’ve really enjoyed researching all nine editions. Fiji is a friendly, inviting country with a great variety of things to see and do. There are always lots of new facilities for me to check out and it’s fun getting back to old haunts. One of the biggest challenges I face on the road is maintaining my anonymity. I always try to experience things the way my readers will, which means freebies and VIP treatment are taboo. It’s often difficult to ask the necessary questions at hotels and restaurants while keeping a low profile. On a small Pacific island, when one person knows you’re researching a guidebook, everybody knows.

What do you recommend travelers do before they head to Fiji?

DS: The most important thing is to allow enough time between flights. Two weeks is the minimum required to get a real feel for Fiji, while a month is not too long. Besides that, there isn’t a lot you need to do beforehand as no visas or vaccinations are required. When packing, try to keep your bag down to 10 kilograms and bring something you can easily carry around. You won’t need a lot of clothing.

 

Warmth, beaches, friendly people, excellent food, and history and culture galore? Time to head to Fiji!

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About Dr. Jessie Voigts

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