Take some extra money along to spend on handicrafts, black pearls, and tropical clothing.
Black Pearls: Long the specialty of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, black pearls are now being produced in Fiji, and they are reasonably high-quality. The top farm is J. Hunter Pearls (tel. 885 0821; www.pearlsfiji.com) in Savusavu. The peculiarities of the seawater in Savusavu Bay result in unique yellow pearls known as Fiji Gold. The farm shop is the best place to buy them, but they are available in some hotel boutiques and in the Tappoo department stores in Nadi Town and elsewhere.
Handicrafts: Although many of the items you will see in souvenir shops are actually made in Asia, locally produced handicrafts are some of Fiji's best souvenir buys. The most widespread are hats, mats, and baskets woven of pandanus or other fibers, usually by women who have maintained this ancient art. Before the European traders brought printed cotton, Fijians used tapa, the beaten bark of the paper mulberry tree, known here as masi. The resulting cloth is painted with dyes made from natural substances, usually in geometric designs that have ancestries dating back thousands of years. Tapa is an excellent souvenir because it can be folded and brought back in a suitcase. Woodcarvings are also popular. Spears, war clubs, knives made from sharks' teeth, canoe prows, and cannibal forks are some examples. Many carvings, however, tend to be produced for the tourist trade and often lack the imagery of bygone days, and some are now machine-produced.
Tropical Clothing: Colorful hand-screened, hand-blocked, and hand-dyed fabrics are very popular in the islands for making dresses or the wraparound skirt known as a sulu in Fiji. Heat-sensitive dyes are applied by hand to cotton, which is then laid in the sun for several hours. Flowers, leaves, and other designs are placed on the fabric, and, as the heat of the sun darkens and sets the dyes, the shadows from these objects leave their images behind on the finished product.
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.