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The Climate

Although local weather patterns have changed in the past 20 years, making conditions less predictable, local residents recognize a cooler and more comfortable dry season during the austral winter, from June to September. The winter trade wind blows fairly steadily during these months, bringing generally fine tropical weather.

The austral summer from November through April is the warmer and more humid wet season. Low-pressure troughs and tropical depressions can bring several days of rain at a time, but usually heavy rain showers are followed by periods of very intense sunshine. An air-conditioned hotel room or bungalow will feel like heaven during this humid time of year. This is also the season for tropical cyclones (hurricanes), which can be devastating and should never be taken lightly. Fortunately, they usually move fast enough that their major effect on visitors is a day or two of heavy rain and wind. If you're caught in one, the hotel employees are experts on what to do to ensure your safety.

Another factor to consider is the part of an island that you'll visit. Because moist trade winds often blow from the east, the eastern sides of the high, mountainous islands tend to be wetter all year than the western sides. On the southeastern shore of Viti Levu, Suva gets considerably more rain than Nadi, on the island's dryer side. Consequently, most of Fiji's resorts are on the western side of Viti Levu.

Also bear in mind that the higher the altitude, the lower the temperature. If you're going up in the mountains, be prepared for much cooler weather than you'd have on the coast.

Fiji's average high temperatures range from 83°F (28°C) during the austral winter (June-Sept) to 88°F (31°C) during the summer months, which are December through March. Evenings average a warm and comfortable 70°F to 82°F (21°C-28°C) throughout the year.

The Fiji Meteorological Service (www.met.gov.fj) gives the current forecast.

The Busy Season

July and August are the busiest tourist season in Fiji. That's when Australians and New Zealanders visit the islands to escape the cold back home.

There also are busy miniseasons when it is school holiday time in Australia and New Zealand. These periods vary, but in general they are from the end of March through the middle of April, 2 weeks in late May, 2 weeks at the beginning of July, 2 weeks in the middle of September, and from mid-December until mid-January. You can get a list of Australian holidays at www.oztourism.com.au (click on the "Holiday dates" link); for New Zealand holiday schedules go to www.tourism.org.nz (the "Utilities and Holidays" link).

Some hoteliers raise their rates during the busy periods.

From Christmas through the middle of January is a good time to get a hotel reservation, but airline seats can be hard to come by, since thousands of islanders fly home from overseas.

Holidays

All banks, government offices, and most private businesses are closed for New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Monday, Ratu Sukuna Day (May 30 or the Mon closest thereto), the Prophet Mohammed's Birthday (a Mon in mid-July), Fiji Day (the Mon closest to Oct 10), Deepawali (the Indian festival of lights in late Oct or early Nov), Christmas Day, and December 26 (Boxing Day).

Banks take an additional holiday on the first Monday in August, and some businesses also close for various Hindu and Muslim holy days.

And if Fiji wins a seven-man rugby tournament, don't expect anyone to be at work the next day!

When the Moon Is Full

The islands are extraordinarily beautiful anytime, especially so at solstice time in late September and late March, when the sun's rays hit the lagoons at just the right angle to highlight the gorgeous colors in the waters. The play of moonlight on the surface, and the black silhouettes the mountains cast against the sky, are even more magical when the moon is full. Keep that in mind when planning your trip -- especially if it's your honeymoon.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.