10 Traditional Souvenirs to Buy in Fiji

Fijian Coconut Shells | © Arnie Papp / Flickr
Fijian Coconut Shells | © Arnie Papp / Flickr
Photo of Juliette Sivertsen
16 January 2017

Fiji’s souvenir shops offer an interesting insight into the local culture. From traditional island-style products to more unconventional concepts, it’s not hard to bring a little piece of Fiji back home. Continue the island vibes year-round with these 10 traditional souvenirs to buy in Fiji.

Cannibal forks and figures

Fiji’s cannibalistic past is no secret – in fact, there are mementos of this morbid history in nearly every souvenir shop in Fiji. Handcrafted wooden cannibal forks with four prongs on the end come in all sorts of sizes and tiny cannibal figures made from polished coconut shells adorn the shop shelves.

Cannibal Fork in Fiji | © Juliette Sivertsen

Kava products

It isn’t a traditional Fijian ceremony unless kava is involved. Made from the ground yaqona root, drinking kava is a way of life for many Fijians. The powder is strained through a cloth and mixed with water into a muddy looking substance before being shared around to drink. It is a relaxant and can have a tingling or numbing effect on those who drink it. It is completely legal and there are no restrictions to purchasing packets of kava powder or other kava-related products.

Preparing Kava | © Dave Lonsdale / Flickr

Coconut shells

Hand in hand with the kava, polished coconut shells are widely available at local markets and souvenir shops. Fijians use them for serving kava although travellers may wish to use them for more decorative purposes back home, if drinking kava is not high on the priority list.

Pouring kava into coconut shells | © Arnie Papp / Flickr

Fiji pearls

Fiji’s pearls are said to be some of the rarest in the word due to their unique colours, including chocolate brown. J Hunter Pearls in Savusavu offers snorkel tours of the pearl farms and the opportunity to purchase different grades of pearls, starting at $50FJD and rising well into the thousands for a single pearl.

Fiji Pearls | © Juliette Sivertsen / Supplied

Bula shirt

A Bula shirt is to Fiji what a Hawaiian shirt is to…well, Hawaii. Worn by many Fijians as their working uniform, a Bula shirt is a short-sleeved buttoned shirt typically with frangipani or other flower patterns.

A Fijian woman wearing a traditional ‘Bula Shirt’ | © Yuko Hara / Flickr

Turtle carvings

Turtles feature on a wide range of traditional Fijian souvenirs. They’re said to be tokens of good luck. Turtles used to be widely consumed across the Fiji Islands due to their significance in the local culture. However, the Fiji Fisheries Act now prohibits the killing of sea turtles. Turtle-shaped wooden souvenirs are still widely available such as bowls, turtle paintings, turtle carvings and many other items.

Turtle Souvenir in Fiji | © Juliette Sivertsen

Tapa painting

These paintings are on a cloth which is made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. The dyes used are all made from natural products such as terracotta clay. The paintings in souvenir shops are usually created as a map of the Fiji Islands, or artworks of turtles.

Wedding Tapa | Courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Pure Fiji products

Buy local and stock up on Pure Fiji beauty products in the Fiji Islands. Choose uniquely island fragrances such as noni, coconut, mango, guava and frangipani. Alternatively, you can purchase products from Pure Fiji’s other line, Reniu.

Pure Fiji beauty products | © Juliette Sivertsen

Mako mask

These hand carved masks were once made to represent different gods or deities, as well as concepts such as happiness, strength or prosperity. Many have turtles carved or painted on them, reflecting the importance of this sea creature in the Fijian culture.

Fijian Mako Masks | © Juliette Sivertsen

Lali drum

The Lali drum is another key part of the Fijian culture and is used as a form of communication. The sound of the drum was often used to announce important events in villages. It is made from a hollowed log of wood, which is beaten with another stick to make the sound. You might struggle to take home a full-size drum but there are plenty of smaller and more decorative versions to pack into the luggage as souvenirs.

Fijian Lali Drums | © Lin Padgham / Flickr

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