Countdown to Travel - Fiji
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Countdown to Travel - Fiji

Fijians are welcoming visitors with open arms this summer as the nation relaunches its tourism industry. The nation relies on tourism for its economic welfare, but that certainly isn’t the only reason Fijians have been eager to reopen their borders. They’ve missed the days when they could personally share their culture, scenery, foods, and more.

Rustic Pathways students will see that when they journey to the country for three different programs this summer – Intro to Community Service in Fiji, Big Fiji Explorer, and Sun, Sand, and International Service.

Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

Here are some highlights they’ll experience during their days in Fiji:

Views You Don’t Want to Miss

The coastline is a great place to pull out a camera. The views are postcard perfect with white sand beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees and mountains in the background. Students adding on the tropical island trip will also get to view some of the smaller islands in the nation. This includes places like the Yasawa Islands that have dramatic mountain peaks and tranquil bays.

A Unique Moment

Fiji is one of the few places in the world where adventure enthusiasts can try sand dune surfing. Students like to run up and down the sand dunes and get one of the iconic sand leaping shots while in this area. Along the way, they’ll learn about the local ecosystem and why the Sigatoka Sand Dunes are a National Heritage site.

sandunes in Fiji with Rustic Pathways

Service Highlight

Working alongside local Fijians is a highlight of service projects in the country, along with being able to see the impact of the work. Kylie Deverick, who traveled with Rustic Pathways to Fiji in 2018, gave an example of a project that touched her. She wrote:

“One afternoon we took a small bus and rode through hilly dirt roads to a small, one-room house belonging to a 77-year-old woman named Tai. I will never forget her smile as she watched us repaint her tarnished walls and begin building a new toilet at the side of her home. She had been walking across the road to another house to use the restroom for months! Seeing how happy of a woman she was despite her living situation was very humbling, and I think the world would be a much better place if we all could be as positive as she was.”

Tai’s house in Fiji, Photo: Kylie Deverick

Cultural Immersion

Shortly after arriving in Fiji, students are welcomed during a kava ceremony. They’ll don a new sulu, which is a traditional sarong or skirt and then sit in a kava circle. During this ritual, the root kava, which has a unique taste, is ground to make a shared drink.

Amanda Nitzken-fiji

Photo: Amanda Nitzken

In addition to this ceremony, students will have the opportunity to experience other cultural highlights, such as indigenous fire dance performances.

fire dance Fiji

Copyright: Rustic Pathways

Food You’ll Want to Try

Many students enjoy the fresh smoothies and fruit in Fiji, such as mango, guava, pineapple, passionfruit, and jackfruit. In addition to that, students will want to try babakau. It’s sometimes considered a pancake and sometimes a donut, but regardless, babakau is generally made from a fried combination of flour, yeast, and lots of sugar.

Get to know your fellow travelers over traditional Fijian meals. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

Important Thing to Pack

Students will need culturally appropriate clothes that keep in mind the conservative norms in the country. This means items like long shorts and shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders. While picking clothing like this, it’s best to have lightweight options since the weather is tropical.

Copyright: © 2016 Rustic Pathways

Animals You May See

In the water, students can search for Fijian turtles and tropical fish. There are more than a thousand different types of tropical fish, so there are plenty of opportunities.

On land, teens can look up to search for a Fiji Woodswallow, which is a cute and acrobatic bird. It has a blue bill with a black tip, a white underside, and dark plumage.

Fiji Woodswallow

Photo by: Aviceda, CC License

Why the Trip is Special

Rustic Pathways has been sending students to Fiji for many years, so there are lots of stories about why the trip is special for teens. Here are just a few of those thoughts:

“I have never felt closer to a culture than on my Rustic trips. Living with locals in Fiji and having native guides allowed me a greater insight into their culture than I could have ever gained by being a tourist.”

-Abigail Evangelista, Spring to Fiji 2019

“As cliche as it sounds, my experience in Fiji is simply indescribable. Of course, I’m able to describe the stunning scenery that surrounds the Eco-Lodge along with the hilarious moments made with friends. But I’m unable to fully put into words the happiness I felt while staring at the stars laughing with the friends who quickly became my family.”

-Charlotte Maracina, Sun, Sand, and Service, Fiji 2017

Photo: Charlotte Maracina

“In summer 2015, I traveled to Fiji for another 18 days. We started on an island I believe is called SomoSomo, where we participated in the laying of concrete to expand the local school. We proceeded to an area called Nasivikoso, the Nasouri Highlands, where we hiked, jumped off waterfalls, camped under the stars, and dove headfirst into the flourishing culture. The program ended with surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and some of us even skydived over the crystal-clear blue waters filled with scattered, endless reefs.”

-Leelee Caudill, Fiji 2015

Photo: Leelee Caudill

“The places we traveled and the service we performed in several villages were simply incredible. From the beaches to the mountains and through the jungles, the Southeast Pacific Ocean was life-changing… This trip changed who I am. We got to witness villages firsthand and see how people lived. I grew up in a very healthy and stable home, so I never fathomed the type of struggle that people experience.”

-Ryan Barish, Big Fiji Explorer 2018

These are just a few tidbits about traveling to Fiji. To read more about the Fiji programs as you prepare for summer, you can view these articles:

Island Adventure: Why Students Thrive During the Big Fiji Explorer Program

Finally! Much-Needed Service Travel Returns to Fiji in 2022

5 Innovative Ideas Rustic Students Have Pitched to Combat Climate Change Problems in Fiji

The Best Three Programs for Foodies

Top Four Programs for Thrill Seekers 

The Three Best Programs for First-Time Travelers

#FolkloreThursday: Island Myths and Legends That Have Shaped Local Cultures

If you have any questions about upcoming travel, please feel free to contact one of our global travel advisors. We look forward to seeing you soon!

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer

Mary is a Content Writer at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.