While English is one of the official languages of Fiji, it pays to know a few local phrases if you are travelling to this archipelago. Expect to greet and thank people in Fijian rather than English – and if you can manage a few extra phrases, Fijians will be thrilled with your ability to converse in their native tongue.
Bula is the most common word you’ll hear right across Fiji and it is used to greet people or say hello. When you say bula to someone, you are actually wishing them life.
Ni sa bula is used as either a more formal greeting or as a welcome. This greeting extends on bula and wishes a person good health and happiness.
Vinaka is the second most common Fijian word you can expect to hear. It means thank you. Fijians are very friendly and helpful, so remember to say vinaka after being served any food, drinks or if someone offers you help. Sometimes it is shortened to what sounds like ‘naka’.
If you are extra grateful for someone’s help or actions, you can use vinaka vaka levu to say thank you very much. Restaurant staff may use vinaka vaka levu to thank you for dining with them, as do retail staff when you have made a purchase.
Moce means goodbye. The ‘c’ in Fijian is pronounced ‘th’ so the correct way to pronounce the Fijian word for goodbye is ‘mothay’.
While bula can work at any time of day, yadra is the official Fijian way to greet someone in the morning.
Fijians are very courteous so it’s important to use proper manners. Kerekere means please.
Vacava tiko? I am good thank you! This phrase means how are you? Remember, the c in Fijian is pronounced with a ‘th’. You can simply respond with tiko.
Here’s one for the lovebirds. Au domoni iko means I love you, in a romantic settingThe other version is aulomani iko which would be used to express love for family or other close relations.
Io means yes. It is pronounced ‘ee-oh’.
Sega is no.
Sega na leqa is the Fijian equivalent of ‘hakuna matata’ – it means no worries! The q in Fijian is pronounced as ‘ng’ so leqa is said ‘lenga’. One of the English catchphrases in Fiji is ‘no hurry, no worry’. After all, you’re on island time in Fiji.
Sota tale is not a formal goodbye, instead it means see you later.
Dabe ira is an instruction and means sit down, while tucake is stand up.
If you hear lako mai ke or just lako mai – it means come here! Someone is calling you over.
You’ll hear mai kana when you are being called for a meal. It means come and eat.
Wondering why someone has said something? Use baleta to ask why.
You may here this phrase just before you leave Fiji. Vainui vinaka e nomu volau is a wish for travellers to have a safe journey, like the Fijian version of bon voyage.
While tourists can easily get around speaking only English, do remember bula and vinaka and expect to use them throughout your stay.