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Enjoy island paradise and rural mountain living on this immersive program. Begin your trip by heading up to the mountain village of Nasivikoso where you will live in pairs with a Fijian host family and spend your days working on building a classroom for the village school. Rustic Pathways has been working in this village for many years and has very close ties with the community. After your hard work is finished you will head out to the islands for three days of swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beaches of Kuata Island.  Expect a rustic and highly immersive, rewarding experience!

Program Profile

Country
Fiji Islands
Community Service Component
Advanced
Community Service Focus
Education, Infrastructure
Get to Know
The People
Lifestyle
Live Like a Local
Travel Component
Moderate Travel Involved

2015 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 16 July 1 Available
June 30 July 15 Very Limited
July 14 July 29 Limited
July 28 August 12 Available

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Depart the U.S.

    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.

  • Day 2

    In Transit

    Today is lost as you cross the international dateline, but don’t worry too much – you will get it back on your way home!

  • Day 3

    Bula Vinaka and Welcome to Fiji!

    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. While 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 practiced today and as part of your trip, you’ll learn about these from our local staff and friends.

    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 Nasivikoso village and meet your host family. 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 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 ongoing 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.

  • Day 4

    School Construction and Tutoring

    Split your time today between the ongoing 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.

  • Day 5

    School Construction and Waterfall Hike

    Get involved in ongoing 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.

  • Day 6

    A Day of Celebration and Feasting

    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.

  • Day 7 - 8

    School Construction and Tutoring

    For the next two days split your time between the ongoing construction project and your tutoring work. The pace of life here is relaxed and you will find time passes 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.

  • Day 9

    Farming and Friends

    Today you will move down the road to the next chapter of your trip. 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.

  • Day 10 - 11

    Service at the Farm

    Over the next two days you will 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 agricultural 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.

  • Day 12

    Farewell

    After a last morning of relaxing by the river and packing up, eat an early lunch and say farewell to the Highlands region of Fiji. 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 as you begin to repack your bags to head out to the islands tomorrow morning. 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.

  • Day 13

    Out to the Islands

    This morning after an early breakfast, you’ll head out to the breathtaking Yasawa island chain for some rest, relaxation, and well-deserved island time! 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.

  • Day 14

    Snorkeling, Scuba, and Sun

    This morning after breakfast and a good night’s rest, you’ll have the opportunity to go scuba diving (optional). Fiji’s world-renown coral reefs are some of the most stunning, so if you have any interest in seeing the reef from a fish’s perspective, you are welcome to give it a try. Whether or not you are a certified diver or if this will be your first time, the dive instructors will make you feel at home under water. If you choose to not do an optional scuba dive, spend the morning snorkeling and relaxing in the sun. Perhaps you will choose to challenge the local team to a game of beach volleyball or horseshoe!

    In the afternoon after a delicious lunch, you’ll head back out on the water to look for the majestic and gentle giants of the sea world: manta rays! Snorkel alongside manta rays and take in their incredible underwater grace. Rustic Pathways staff will educate you on the interesting migration patterns of the manta rays as you witness them on the move throughout the Yasawa islands. Head back to The Base for a dinner under the stars and unwind beside a bonfire after a great day.

  • Day 15

    Snorkeling Adventure and Return to the Mainland

    After breakfast this morning, travel by boat to the nearby colorful reefs for some spectacular snorkeling and a chance to learn 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.

    You’ll soon be packing your bags after lunch getting ready to take the catamaran boat back to the mainland of Viti Levu. You will arrive back in time for dinner and will stay in the Nadi area tonight.

  • Day 16

    Return to the U.S.

    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 the following morning.

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

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.

For more information, email fiji@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • All programs in Fiji connect easily together. On the final day of each program, participants will spend Wednesday night supervised by Rustic Pathways staff before beginning their next trip early on Thursday morning. 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 in dorm rooms with standard bunk beds with electricity a few meters from the beach. Girls and boys will stay in separate rooms and enjoy meals in a central kitchen area. There will be cold showers and flush toilets available.

    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
    • Fijian Massage: $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 various education and infrastructure initiatives.

  • 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.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

A school backpack or similar sized bag is ideal.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Outlet power converter
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothes

  • Socks (6-8)
  • Underwear (10-12)
  • Base layers/long underwear
  • Pants/capris (2-3)
  • Long shorts (must be knee length)
  • Long skirt (2-3)
  • Tank Tops (3-5)
  • T-shirts (6-8)
  • Long sleeved shirt (2-3)
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (1-2)
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Rain jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Work gloves

Toiletries

(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Miscellaneous

  • Sleeping bag (35 degrees and up)
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Any relevant Scuba Diving certifications
  • Small backpack or overnight bag

Important Reminders

  • Visas for students traveling on U.S. passports to Fiji and New Zealand will be issued upon arrival. Make sure you check that you are in Fiji on “Holiday” when you fill out the customs and immigration form on the plane.
  • Leggings DO NOT count as long shorts. Long shorts must be loose fitting, like basketball shorts, or cargo shorts.
  • You will be receiving a “sulu,” a traditional Fijian sarong, when you arrive!