Come to know the real culture of the native Fijians who have inhabited these islands for thousands of years and whose cultural traditions and knowledge of the natural world run deep. On this journey, you will be immersed in the rich culture of Fijian villagers and rewarded with a new perspective on life and strong bonds of friendship with the locals you meet along the way. Spend time exploring the tropical beaches that make Fiji famous, then step off the beaten path to immerse yourself in Fijian life and service.
When you arrive in the picturesque Yasawa Islands, you will instantly feel a world away from the life that you know. The shores of this remote island chain will be home to you as you explore the local communities and diverse ecosystems of this incredible island chain. You’ll spend your first days exploring the tropical waters and pristine beaches of Fiji, snorkeling, swimming, and soaking in the sunshine. You will also spend time visiting neighboring villages, teaching school children English, and supporting some of the environmental conservation efforts Rustic Pathways supports here.
Your next stop will be a small mountain farming community on Fiji’s main island, where you’ll join an innovative grassroots development project started by four brothers. Become a part of this community as you assist with harvesting and planting crops that will be sold at the local market. This project generates an income for members of this clan to support basic needs like education for their children. Building friendships, share laughter and learn what it takes to live off the land.
Your second week will be spent in the village of Nasivikoso. You will live in pairs with a host family and gain a deep understanding of life here and the importance of education in this remote area. Your homestay will be balanced with plenty of time at our Highlands Base in the village, where you will share daily meals and activities during your program. In the afternoons spend time helping your new Fijian brothers and sisters with homework or learning how to prepare meals over an open fire with your host mother. Then join your group for evening activities at the Highlands Base, including a traditional dance performance, games, group discussions, and a lot of laughter and fun.
Traditionally, students in this part of Fiji have often had to live away from home in order to get an education because there is no school in the village. Rustic Pathways is working in partnership with the village leaders of Nasivikoso to build an elementary school for their children. Classes are now being held for the first time in the village for first to fourth grades and there is lots more to do. You will focus your energy on contributing to the ongoing construction of the school and education-based projects that provide enrichment and English language support for the students of Nasivikoso. Prepare English grammar lessons, lead art projects, and share in cultural exchange with the students of the new Nasivikoso Village School.
Hike into the mountains to swim under a majestic waterfall, take part in traditional Fijian ceremonies, cool off in pristine rivers, and soak in the night stars that seem more brilliant here than anywhere else on earth.
This program can be easily combined with our Marine Service and Adventure trip. This combination offers an excellent month long program of meaningful cultural and environmental service with the opportunity to visit many of Fiji’s beautiful parts. You can also combine this trip with any of our other great trips in Fiji or Australia.
Welcome to your South Pacific adventure! All of our scheduled group flights to Fiji depart from Los Angeles on Fiji Airways, Fiji's national airline. Your flight will be non-stop to Nadi International Airport and will be escorted by a Rustic Pathways flight leader. The flight will depart LAX in the evening and take about 10 hours. During your flight you can meet other students, get some sleep in preparation for your arrival, relax with a movie or two, and start to settle into the easy-going Fijian way of life.
Today is lost as you cross the international dateline, but don't worry too much – you will get it back on your way home!
Upon clearing customs and immigration, you will be greeted by Rustic Pathways’ Fiji staff. Your flight lands early in the morning and you will start off your day with a tropical breakfast and orientation to the journey that is about to begin. Fiji is made up of more than 300 islands in total but you will spend most of your time on Viti Levu, the largest island. Whilst the islands have been inhabited for thousands of years, European settlement occurred less than 200 years ago. Many ancient Fijian traditions are still intact and regularly practised today and as part of your trip, you’ll learn about these from our local staff and friends.
After breakfast, travel to the breathtaking Yasawa Islands, where you will spend your first three nights in Fiji. Traveling by boat, it will take about three hours to arrive at your destination. Stay right along the beach in an eco-friendly camp that will serve as your base as you explore the beauty of the islands and begin to learn about Fijian culture and life. This afternoon, take a swim in the ocean, enjoy the sunset and settle into Fiji time.
After breakfast this morning, travel by boat to the nearby primary school to have an exchange with local students. The goal of your visit is to provide an opportunity for these Fijian students to build their English language skills and you will take some time to prepare your lessons this morning before you head off. Rustic Pathways works with this school regularly and you will be contributing to an on-going effort to support students in developing English languages skills, which provide a foundation for future careers, possibly in the Fiji’s growing tourism industry.
After lunch back at The Base, head to a nearby village where Rustic Pathways has undertaken a number of community development initiatives. You will have a tour of the village and your immersion in Fijian culture will begin. Share in an afternoon of traditional entertainment and fun with the villagers, an experience you will surely not forget. Visit the women’s shell market where you can purchase some local handicrafts. As the sun sets, head back to The Base for dinner and some time to relax at the end of great day.
Spend a few hours contributing to one of the ongoing community service initiatives Rustic Pathways supports in the village. You may join forces with a local family to upgrade their home, plant mangroves to help restore the marine environment, or join in another service initiative.
After lunch, set off in search of manta rays, stopping on pristine tropical beaches to snorkel along magnificent local reefs. If you have never snorkeled before, staff will show you the ropes. In no time you will be taking in the amazing coral reefs that are always teeming with colorful tropical fish!
Tonight, enjoy a beach bonfire and enjoy some traditional Fijian music under the stars.
Head out to a local reef for some spectacular snorkeling and a chance to learn more about the importance of the marine environment for local livelihoods. Talk with locals to learn how they earn a living from the sea and the steps they are taking to preserve the marine environment for future generations. This will be a fun and educational morning as you learn more about the realities of life in Fiji and have a chance to explore these world-famous tropical waters.
After lunch, board the boat back to the mainland! You will arrive back in time for dinner and will stay in the Nadi area tonight.
This morning you will make a short stop in the town of Nadi to gather any last minute supplies before heading into the mountains of Fiji’s Nausori Highlands region. This area of Fiji has remote villages nestled in mountain valleys where locals live off the land and have strong ties to their traditional culture. The need for service in these remote parts is great, and villagers here will welcome you with big smiles and much generosity. The truck ride to the Highlands normally takes about three hours.
You will settle into the Farm House, part of our Highlands Base, a simple accommodation that sits beside a picturesque river surrounded by lines of tomatoes, long beans, eggplants, and local crops of dalo and cassava. The Farm consists of traditional thatched bures (or huts) for sleeping with mattresses on the floor and walls made of bamboo. There is also a main dining and activity house. The Farm is owned and run by four native Fijian brothers. Rustic Pathways has joined forces with them to support their desire to find a way to earn an income for their family. Join this extended family to support their efforts and learn about life in this incredible place. Receive an overview of all the service projects you will be involved with, and take the chance to get to know the families who live in this farming community. Welcome to the Highlands!
Today it is time to get to work in support of the families trying to develop this farm to support their basic needs. Learn how to water the crops, plant seedlings, and harvest what is ready for sale in the market. Contribute to a special project that helps to expand or strengthen the farm; this could be a new nursery, fences, irrigation pipes, or another project.
While you are at the Farm you will share in the cooking, help collect firewood, and immerse yourself into the rhythms of daily farm life. During down time, go for a hike, take swims in the river, and try and learn some basic Fijian language. As night falls, spend time with villagers as they play guitar and sing traditional songs around the fire.
This morning, say farewell to the Farm and make your way just a short distance down the road to a traditional Fijian village which will be your home for the next several nights. Stay in pairs with host families and immerse yourself in the incredibly warm and caring culture of Fiji’s indigenous people. Share meals and group activities while you are here, while making sure you are spending ample time with your new Fijian family.
When you arrive in the village you will provide your traditional sevusevu to the chief of the village in a very traditional ceremony required of any visitor to the community. This is an amazing cultural experience and also offers a chance to spend time with the elders of this village.
After lunch, jump in to help work on our on-going effort to build a primary school in the village. Rustic Pathways and the villagers of Nasivikoso started building this school in 2012 and are continuing to expand the school facilities to accommodate additional grades and students. Prior to the opening of this school, all children from Nasivikoso had to spend the week away from their families at boarding school in another village. Now, first to fourth grades in Nasivikoso are able to live at home and attend school in their own community. Help build additional classrooms so that fifth to eighth grades can also be accommodated in the new village school.
When work has finished for the day, cool off with a swim in the river and join your group for dinner and activities at the Staff Bure before heading to your host family for the night.
Split your time today between the on-going construction efforts to complete the school facilities and leading a small group tutoring session in reading and other subjects for students. Rustic works to support the educational goals of the dedicated teachers who work at the Nasivikoso School and have partnered to run these small group reading sessions to boost student literacy and English skills. We also work to ensure the school library is top notch so please feel free to bring along some of your favorite early reading books to donate if you like.
In the evening, spend time getting to know your host family and others in the village or enjoy some time with the other Rustic Pathways students in your group.
Get involved in on-going construction efforts at the school before taking an afternoon break for a short hike and refreshing swim to a spectacular waterfall near the village. Local children will be sure to join you for this fun-filled afternoon!
This evening the village will put on a traditional meke dance performance for you in appreciation for your service. Get ready to join the dancing and share in this special time with the village community.
Sunday is a very ceremonial day in the Fijian culture. Fiji’s native people are predominantly Christian and Sundays are observed as a day of rest. Your host family will lend you some traditional Fijian clothing to wear and invite you to join them at church. You will find much of the village gathered together here – elders, parents, teenagers and young children alike – for a morning of singing and respectful thanks for the wonderful environment in which they live. It is impossible to not get caught up in the pure enthusiasm and open delight villagers show towards each other and their surroundings and the incredible singing that is part of the morning service.
After church, villagers always prepare a big Sunday lunch. Enjoy some traditional Fijian fare and some Western favorites as a huge midday meal is prepared for you. Then, join local children for a hike to the neighboring village where students used to study. Get a sense of what the challenges are to getting a good education. In the evening, prepare for your service in the village kindergarten tomorrow.
For the next two days split your time between the on-going construction project and your tutoring work. The pace of life here is relaxed and you will find time pass way too quickly.
On Tuesday evening, share time with your group and village friends at the Staff Bure for a final Fijian farewell ceremony marking your last night in the village. There will be lots of laughter and tears and you will be amazed how quickly you have grown attached to your new friends and family in Nasivikoso.
After service work at the construction site this morning, eat an early lunch and say farewell to Nasivikoso. Goodbyes are never easy and expect to see many of the villagers waving farewell as the truck is loaded for your return to Nadi. You can always come back again next year.
Reach Nadi in the late afternoon and take the chance to get some snacks and check your email if you like. Have dinner in a local restaurant and stay in the Nadi area for your final night. Notice the change as you return to the hustle and bustle of Nadi town from the peace and quiet of the village.Take some time tonight to debrief on your time in the Highlands.
If you are flying back to the U.S. today, you will spend your final day in the town of Nadi shopping for souvenirs and exploring. Or, if you want a chance to soak in some ocean air and island views before you go, you will have the chance for an optional island hopping trip or optional skydive today. After a final meal with your group, you’ll travel to the airport and bid Fiji farewell, for this year at least. A Rustic Pathways Flight Leader will escort you to Los Angeles.
For those students who are continuing to another Rustic Pathways program you will commence your next program this morning.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
You will be traveling to Fiji during the dry season, where the days are generally hot, with some humidity, but rain is not typical. The evenings can cool off significantly in the Highlands region and a heavy sweatshirt can be needed.
If you are connecting to other Rustic Pathways programs, please check each of their packing lists to make sure you bring any special items that might be needed.
Please pack lightly! You must be able to carry and load your own luggage. The baggage limit on Air Pacific is 50lbs, but please also be aware of the baggage restrictions for any domestic connections in the USA. You can find more details on Air Pacific's baggage allowances on their website at http://www.airpacific.com/Flying-With-Us/Baggage-Allowance.
Do not bring your favorite items with you. There is always a chance that you will get a bit dirty while working on your service projects and exploring the islands.
Be sure to wear your Rustic Pathways T-Shirt while you are travelling to Fiji!
A small backpack is the best carry on bag and will be useful throughout your program for day trips.
Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the carry on regulations of the TSA: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm
A medium sized duffel bag, wheeled bag or large backpack is fine. You must be able to carry and load your own luggage.
Biodegradable soap and toiletries are required
Appropriate Dress: Due to cultural rules in Fijian villages, it is customary for females to have their shoulders and knees covered at all times. While you are outside of the village you will be able to wear tank tops and shorts, but for the majority of the program female students will need to wear t-shirts or other sleeved shirts. Women must also wear sulus (sarongs) or a long skirt when in villages and at traditional ceremonies. We will provide the students with a sulu on their arrival, and students typically wear light shorts under their sulus. You may wear a long skirt that covers your knees instead of a sulu. If you have a sarong already at home you may want to bring it along. Please pack with this in mind!
Electricity: There is no electricity in the village. Please make sure you bring a good flashlight (head lights work especially well). Make sure you bring your camera batteries fully charged, and a spare one if you have one, as it may not be possible to recharge these items during your program.
Laundry: You will have the opportunity to wash laundry by hand in the village and your host family will help you to do this if you wish.
In Fiji, it is customary for visitors to present a gift to any village or home they visit. We ask that you bring 3-4 small gifts for host families and friends in the village. We ask that you follow the suggested items listed below, which we have developed in conjunction with villagers based on needs they have identified. We suggest bringing three to five items for your host family, keeping in mind that these gifts are shared with all ages. Gifts can be gently used items that you have at home.
Please keep in mind that small plastic toys and other common American gift items not included here are not as useful to villagers. We encourage you to bring warm clothes, backpacks and other practical items.
You may, in turn, receive a small gift from your Fijian family to help you remember your time in Fiji, so remember to save a little room in your packs for this on the way home!
Many students ask about bringing donations with them and they are always appreciated! If you would like to bring donations, we ask that you follow the list below of suggested items, which has been developed with the local community and schools. We suggest bringing 3-5 items if you wish and encourage you to be mindful of airline baggage allowances.
Please note that it is very costly to ship donations to Fiji after you have traveled (and we don’t encourage it), so we strongly recommend you bring any items you might like to contribute with you when you come.
All programs in Fiji connect easily together. On the final day of each program, participants will go to the airport to connect with the staff, arriving participants, and other connecting participants for their next program. Participants connecting to programs in Australia will depart on the final day of their Fiji program and connect with their next trip as it begins.
US citizens do not need a visa for entry as a tourist into Fiji. On arrival into Fiji, immigration will issue US citizens with a tourist visa for entry into the county. No prior arrangements for US citizens are needed.
A flight leader will accompany participants on the group flight to Fiji from Los Angeles. Participants will meet their flight leader at the departure gate in Los Angeles. Participants joining a program in Fiji from Australia will not be accompanied by a flight leader. Our program staff will greet participants when they arrive at the Nadi Airport in Fiji.
Fiji is 10 hours by air from Los Angeles. Flights from Australia are 3-4 hours.
Yes, the trip length includes international travel to and from the United States.
This program operates on the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu. This program will be traveling from the interior mountain region of Viti Levu to Naviti Island in the Yasawas.
Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 participants. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for participants is potable and safe to drink. We ask participants to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Participants are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Participants will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If participants are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
Fiji operates at 240 V and uses plug I, the same as in Australia and New Zealand. You will just need a plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances.
The weather is an average of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Mornings and evenings tend to be a little cooler so a light jacket is advisable. Rain is not likely but can occur.
While out on the islands participants will be sleeping on a comfortable cot in a large safari tent without electricity a few meters from the beach. Girls and boys will stay in separate tents and enjoy meals in a central kitchen area. There will be cold showers and a low impact compost toilet for use.
The focus of the trip will be in the mountains where participants will be in homestays with local families. Accommodations will be traditional Fijian bures/huts. Each home style will vary but include a mattress, running water and flush toilet. Each homestay will have 2 participants of the same gender. Participants will also spend a night at a farm where they will stay in traditional Fijian bures/huts on a mattress on the ground. There will be little to no accessible electricity while on this portion of the trip.
Participants will also stay at the Eco Lodge where they will have electricity, a hot shower, and common amenities.
Each location has its own resident chef and team of cooking staff. Participants will eat a combination of local Fijian dishes and more western-style dishes. Breakfasts typically include cereal, breads, eggs, crackers, and fruit. Lunches and dinners range from traditional Fijian lovo feasts of chicken, cassava, and dalo (root crops similar to potatoes) to barbeques, pastas, stir fries, curries, salads, and vegetables. Vegetarians can easily be catered for, and most dietary restrictions can be accommodated.
Many of our homestay families in Fiji have been hosting Rustic Pathways participants for years. Homestay families have been interviewed and trained on Rustic Pathways rules and protocols. Our local staff within the community holds homestay families to a high standard of accountability while participants are in the village.
There will be cold showers and a low impact compost toilet for use while in the islands. While staying in the mountains there are bucket showers or river bathing and flush toilets.
Local phone cards typically offer the best rates (about $5 for 15mins) and participants can purchase these when in Fiji. Participants are not allowed to use cell phones during scheduled program activities.
Safe arrival emails will be sent out when participants settle in country. Participants will have the opportunity at least once during the week to check the Internet in town.
Laundry can be washed by hand at any time. It is best to pack without the expectation of doing laundry.
On average, our programs in Fiji are 60% female and 40% male.
This trip will have the opportunity to travel to two different areas of the country. Travel will happen by bus, boat and foot.
Please visit International SOS for an up to date report on current situations regarding visiting Fiji. Staff will alert participants if any changes to safety occur within the country.
This program is very remote and access to healthcare can take several hours depending on conditions. Severe allergies with risk/history of anaphylaxis cannot be accommodated on this trip due to the remote locations visited.
lease consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways' membership.
As a member you will have access to SOS's extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.
While in the islands, participants are 5 hours away by boat from the healthcare in Nadi.
While in the mountains, participants are 3-4 hours away by bus.
For more critical cases participants are an additional 3 hours away from the more advanced private hospital, and 4-hour flight to Western-style in New Zealand or Australia.
This program can cater to most specific diets including but not limited to vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose free, as well as peanut free cooking.
Mosquitos are prevalent in Fiji and participants are expected to bring bug spray. Participants will be provided with a mosquito net over each individual bed.
Personal gifts, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
• Skydiving: Nadi, $300 to $500
• Skydiving Photos: $120-$150
• Horseback Riding: Natadola Beach: $20
• Massage at Natadola: $30
• Scuba Diving: $100-$200 depending on certification level and number of dives.
$250 plus additional for skydiving/scuba diving
Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Up to 45 community service hours will be awarded.
Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. This program will focus on the marine environment and the impacts associated with the South Pacific.
Participants should bring their certification cards and log books if they are certified divers. Though not required, some participants choose to bring their own mask. The Scuba vendor will provide all the gear during the program.
Participants interested in Scuba Diving will have access to intro (no certification required) dives and certified dives. Please bring your certification card if you are a certified diver.
Ages: 14 to 18 years old
Length: 17 days from the USA
Hours: Up to 45 hours awarded
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing.
|Departs Tue||Returns Thu||Availability|
|17 Jun||3 Jul||Unavailable|
|15 Jul||31 Jul||Unavailable|
|29 Jul||14 Aug||Unavailable|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now
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