Fiji

In the center of the Pacific Ocean, Fiji is the perfect destination to escape your daily routine between the turquoise waters, white sand beach and green jungle. As a volunteer and simple tourist, feel free to share your experiences and adventures during your trip to Fiji. If you are looking for more information about the unlimited opportunity to volunteer aboard, you will find all the verified programs right here.

Global Vision International (GVI)

On the first day we were met by the GVI staff members and treated to a delicious breakfast of local fruits. Before long, we were on our way across the lush, green island to the small village of Silana. Our arrival was eagerly anticipated by the other GVI volunteers, who welcomed us with smiles and lunch!
Our first Sunday was spent in church and getting to know our Fijian families. A traditional Fijian meal was prepared and we were supplied with pillows and told to ‘take a nap’ for the afternoon, happily following the local custom that no work can be done on a Sunday.
The following weeks involved getting to know our class at school. The level of spoken and written English varied dramatically throughout the class but all the children were keen to learn and practice, particularly if that involved gossiping about other class members or volunteers! I was struck by the enthusiasm of the children in my class – something that I never experienced whilst I was at school. They had dreams of being doctors or teachers in order to help out their community, but most of all, they wanted to travel.
My experience in Silana was one of the most treasured moments of my life. The village was so welcoming, always ready to teach you Fijian or inviting you into their house for dinner. The evenings were spent drinking kava in the community hall or watching exceptional performances of the Meke – a traditional Fijian dance.
Almost as soon as we arrived it was time to leave. The morning came for us to leave and the women of the village came to say goodbye in the traditional way – through song. By the time the stunning harmonies of Isa Lei had come to an end there wasn’t a dry eye getting in the van to leave.
I know I speak for all the volunteers when I say that being in Silana was a truly special experience and that we would all do anything to go back. Four weeks was definitely not long enough and I would thoroughly recommend this program to anyone and everyone!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Oct 10, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
8

Global Vision International (GVI)

I spent one month volunteering in Fiji this year on the 'Community development expedition' I made some great friends and experienced the real Fiji whilst living there, but it wasn't all so great. For a start, the staff were rude, unfriendly and never had anything nice to say, they talked rudely about other volunteers to me and some things I heard actually shocked me. I had a staff member say about another volunteer "oh it's him, he never does anything, he is just a spoilt brat", I wouldn't expect to hear that from really anyone let alone a fully grown person. The staff are very separate from the volunteers and there isn't really a sense of community on base at all, after project the evenings were long and boring, with no organised activities most of the time. Staff didn't really interact with volunteers at all, unless it was to say something bad at the debriefing over dinner, or to moan about something someone has done wrong, which instead of talking to them quietly about they named and shamed. Really, I found all the staff unpleasant, and most of the time they acted like they had been burdened with their jobs when the reality is they had chosen to live there.
Next up was the support I received beforehand, which was next to nothing. I paid my full amount and then heard nothing, I didn't receive any emails until the week before I arrived in Fiji, even though I had emailed the country manager countless times asking for information. The information I did receive happened to be out of date and almost entirely wrong. I received the wrong starter pack, telling me that I was to be placed in a school and receive teacher training, I didn't receive anything about the work I would actually be doing (which involved working in the local villages, and some construction and almost no teaching at all). I had a long list of items I had to somehow purchase one week before being in Fiji even though I was already travelling which wasn't ideal, on top of this half the things on the list were unneeded which I realised when I arrived at base, if I had known before I could have saved myself the 100 odd dollars that I had wasted. There were forms that I hadn't filled in, and forms that I had filled in that weren't needed at all, another waste of time, overall the whole before process was disorganised and most of it was a massive waste of my time.
Now for conditions on base, which were absolutely disgusting. The first bure I slept in had a pair of bunks completely infested with bed bugs, so badly that you could actually see them in the nets. Unfortunately for my two friends that had arrived there the same day as I, that was the bunk that they chose. After a few days sleeping in it they had been bitten all over, from their feet to their faces, the staff provided no help what so ever for at least a week after this started. One member of staff told me this had happened to the person sleeping in that bed before them, then when that quote was brought up the story suddenly changed and he never said that. Staff passed the bites off as other things, insect bites, a rash... When the staff finally decided to listen they didn't really do much, they changed the mattresses and got them new bedding which didn't work, the bed bugs got so bad that they ended up in my two friends backpacks and in their other clothes. By the time they finally listened my friends had been completely attacked by bed bugs, had an infested rucksack and were completely paranoid about every bed on base. They had the gruelling process of having to try kill the bed bugs by boiling all of their clothes, this isn't easy to do when the only source of boiling water is a small kettle and there are no chemical products, they boiled their clothes and backpack about 2 times, then moved into their new room. The staff didn't provide any new bedding for them and offered no help in a problem that could have been avoided, the only thing the staff did do was tell one off for not having her shoulders covered, even though every item of clothing she owned was soaking wet on a washing line. The actual state of the beds and bures wasn't great either, the mattresses and pillows provided were disgusting, I have travelled for 6 months and these are easily the worst beds I came across in all my different forms of accommodation, which was funny considering this was the place I had paid to stay and work the longest. The mattresses were old and thin, I could feel the planks of wood through them and woke up with pins and needles and a dead body every morning from sleeping on them, and the pillows were a different level, they absolutely stunk, until I got into town I slept without one as it felt more hygienic, what annoyed me more is that I could have brought these items with me and spent money on them instead of all the money I wasted on pointless equipment. When working in the kitchen it never really felt hygienic, I used to wash all the cutlery and plates before using it, just to make sure. I saw rats in the cupboards that we ate from and the table surfaces that we worked in, there were also cockroaches and all other sorts of creepy crawlies, I know that this can't be avoided but it just felt unhygienic finding them in the cupboards and tubs that they shouldn't be able to access.
For me, one of the worst things I saw in all my time on base was the way that the animals were treated. I know that stray dogs are common in Fiji and can be considered a pest by locals, but when I see this extended to the western staff that work there it really bothered me. I saw staff full on kick dogs, to hurt them, and the worst part of all is that they encouraged others to do it, if you were seen so much as smiling at a dog you would be publicly named and shamed and told not to. Yes, you can't encourage the stray dogs, there are a lot of them and they are pests, but no way should you be kicking and encouraging cruelty on these animals when really all they are doing is hanging around waiting for some food. Almost everyone volunteering on base had pet dogs back home or had a liking towards dogs, for most of us our natural reaction was to "aww" at these dogs, especially when we saw the tiny puppies, and to show them a bit of affection, and to be told off and publicly shunned for doing so is wrong.There are ways to deter the dogs without using violence, for most dogs just a shoo and clapping hands scared them off, one tiny little dog that was known around base was the one that aggravated volunteers most, I saw her get kicked so hard at one point she actually rolled over and cried. There were rumours on base that GVI actually had local children to drown the new pups, which probably is common in the local communities and arguably kinder, but not at all something that GVI, AS A CHARITY ORGANISATION WHICH HELPS ANIMALS, should be encouraging. They also have base chickens, but the cage and conditions they were kept in was despicable. There were days that they didn't get fed or watered and they were hardly ever cleaned, the cage that they lived in was absolutely tiny, even though all the other chickens were free roaming. They also kept pigs, the pigs were in a tiny box container, not big enough for one let alone four, with a floor made entirely of concrete, with no mud for them to dig around or roll in. The way I saw animals, mainly the dogs, in my short four weeks there angered me the most about the whole project, I can deal with crappy beds and crappy food, but not with people abusing animals right in front of my eyes, and then encouraging other volunteers and local children to do so.
My overall experience with GVI, well the volunteering perspective, was good, I made some friends that will last a lifetime, experienced the real Fiji, saw some absolutely amazing sites and had my own Fijian family whom I loved spending time with, the work I done in the day was rewarding and I am happy I got to do that. However, after my experience on base and with the rather horrid staff I can say I would never volunteer with GVI again and next time will try a different company. I would 100% recommend volunteering, it's super fun and the most rewarding thing that I have ever done, especially in Fiji, but would not recommend this particular project on this base, unless the entire staff team was changed. I can't help thinking that my experience could have been so much better if there was a friendlier team of staff and a better atmosphere on base.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Sep 15, 2015
Overall:
4
Support:
2
Value:
3

Frontier

Program:
Location: Fiji
Posted: Sep 9, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
6

Comments

The frontier fiji project has been an amazing experience. I have currently been here for 8 weeks and am absolutely gutted to be leaving. When arriving the project coordinators were extremely friendly and helpful, as were the home stay family. For anyone thinking about doing this trip i would definitely advise using the home stay family instead of a hostel and you really get to learn about fijian culture at its best! Frontier could be more affordable and suggest less than I needed for the trip so would definitely take more than suggested. Overall fiji has been amazing my healthcare project was well organized and exactly as said on the internet and i have met some of the best people.

Projects Abroad

I had my first experience with Projects Abroad in June 2015, and it won't be my last! I chose to volunteer with the Shark Conservation project in Pacific Harbour, Fiji for three weeks. I had such a great experience that I almost extended my trip one more week. This was my first trip outside of the U.S. so I wasn't sure what to expect, but the staff and other volunteers were very welcoming and I slipped into the routine in no time. The staff was friendly and very knowledgeable. I extremely enjoyed the presentations they each gave about sharks, tagging, macrolife, and mangroves. They were all very involved, really care about the work they are doing, and are excited to share it with the volunteers. Every day the schedule was posted for the next day so I was never confused about what I would be doing for the day. There was also a whole bookshelf full of study aids and also information packets which explained how to do each job. They held weekly meetings to discuss any changes and to give volunteers an opportunity to make suggestions.
All in all I thought the project was organized an run very well. I learned so much from the experience, and the work that they are doing there is really making a difference. Helping out the villages and spending time with the people there was such a valuable experience. I highly recommend this program!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Aug 8, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Before arriving in Beqa I was nervous about being away by myself, however after meeting the staff and the other volunteers I felt at home right from the start, and they couldn't have made settling in easier. Although the camp was basic, it wasn't as basic as I was expecting, it did have a source of running water and a basic kitchen, along with I proper-ish toilet. The location of the project gives volunteers the opportunity to see a very different culture, where peoples lives are not focussed on working, but for doing jobs for each other. Camp itself is well run with a rota ensuring camp is clean and people are fed, although initially the thought of cooking for so many people seemed daunting, advice and suggestions are always at hand from ARO's and other volunteers who are happy to help. During the project I was involved with mapping the cove for where mangroves were present, and then started trying to establish what fish were present in the mangroves. Most mornings I went out with the marine conservationists where I was able to snorkel above them, as the water was so clear there is no shortage of things to see. While on camp I was able to learn the names of some of the fish present at the dive sights, this made it very rewarding when I found I was able to name a lot of the fish I saw. I had an amazing time on Beqa and would recommend it to anyone wanting to travel abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jul 26, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
8

Frontier

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Fiji taking part in the Shark Conservation Programme. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but everything has worked out really well! The camp is great and less basic than I thought it would be (although not on the beach which is what I, and other volunteers, had envisaged!). I have 2 days left on Beqa however wish I was staying longer! I would highly recommend anyone thinking of applying to the Shark/Marine project in Fiji to come for at least 1 month minimum! I have done almost everything I have wanted to do whilst being here, besides being able to complete fish surveys myself, however I have gained lots of knowledge on how to complete fish surveys and enjoyed being a physical surveyor. Despite not being a fish surveyor myself I learned lots of new species and was able to identify most of them whilst diving. As my project was Shark Conservation I loved diving and seeing sharks almost every dive! And thoroughly enjoyed the shark presentations given to me by one of the ARO's (Katy, shark enthusiast, who taught me loads!). In all honesty she has made the shark project so great, and without her I am not sure the new volunteers will gain as much from the project as I have. I have been slightly disappointed with the amount of shark activities actually included in the project. I did an amazing shark dive with the local resort (saw a 5m tiger shark - wow!!!) however was disappointed to find out it was not included in the project and I had to pay extra to do it. The Shark Conservation project is more expensive than the Marine Conservation one however I do not feel this is completely justified as the only difference in the projects is the shark presentations and the shark tagging. I am disappointed it is only in my last week I will be able to go out on the shark tagging boat as I thought this would be a major part of my project. I will probably not be able to tag the sharks myself due to lack of experience (which could have been avoided by me going out earlier in my month on Beqa!) which again is disappointing. I am also slightly irritated by the fact one of the Marine volunteers is going to take part in the shark tagging, as I feel it should be something project specific, especially as I am paying more for the Shark project. I really enjoyed interacting with the local villages and the school in Ravi Ravi! I feel the presentations we did to a class at the school could be arranged more often as the pupils gained a lot from it, as did us volunteers! Camp life is great with lots of diving and time in the afternoons/evenings to explore the local beaches/chill out/play card games/do whatever you want! The rota system works really well, with everyone doing their part to keep the camp running! The presentations that started in my second week have been great! I have learnt a lot from them and the staff and will go away with more knowledge of the Marine world than I came with, especially about sharks and the importance of their conservation! (Thanks Katy!) The original organisation of my project was quite difficult to organise, with communication with the London office being hard and being told different things by different members of staff. During my interview I was told the only dive gear I would need would be a wetsuit and dive computer, however once I paid for the project a much longer kit list came through! I found this very cheeky as the extra kit not mentioned in my interview was very expensive! This should definitely be mentioned in the interview as it may change whether people can afford the project or not. Mala and his family (the family who own the land our camp is based on) have added a lot to my experience on Beqa. They have been extremely welcoming and have given us new opportunities to do whilst on Beqa, such as going to the sandbar for the day! Allie the dive officer is great and made completing my advanced PADI very fun and easy! She runs the diving side of the projects so well, ensuring everyone gets lots of diving in each week, whilst making sure everyone is comfortable and safe. Julie, the PI, is great too. She made sure I felt welcome and settled in okay! The AROs are also great, basically all the staff are fab and add to the whole experience! It is a shame some aspects of the project are limited by budgets (such as the food accessible on the resupply and being able to go out in the boat for fundives in spare time because of the cost of fuel) since all the volunteers are paying a large sum of money to be here! Overall I have got a lot from my time on the project and would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of signing up!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jul 20, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
5

Frontier

Before coming to Fiji communication with London HQ was slightly challenging as responses were very slow. Some specifics were also sent rather late, and as i was already in New Zealand there was very little I could do to make adjustments. On arriving in Fiji the entire process of getting to Beqa Island was smoother and easier than i could have imagined thanks to Brittany's guidance. On arriving, whilst the camp was further from the beach than expected, I immediately felt welcome and everyone was very welcoming. The food was better than expected and the diving so spectacular. My confidence in the water has grown immensely along with my love for the ocean. There have been some frustrating days due to rain, and the amount of free time was definitely not clearly shown in advertising. There has also been some confusion over where exactly money goes, and also as to the exact scientific direction of the project, but the awesome staff Allie and Julia have done their best to clear these issues up. Overall an amazing experience if you love the sea and are after some isolation.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jul 14, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
7

Comments

Dear Steve, It is a shame that it rained quite a bit in Fiji whilst you were there, they have been having some unusual rains over the last couple of months but we are now getting much more sun! This project has undergone some exciting new developments over the last 4-5 months as we have refocused our scientific direction to increase our impact on the local ecosystems and communities. Our activities have increased 10 fold, with volunteers involved in studies on coral nurseries, habitat mapping, snorkel surveys, invasive species removal, mangrove studies, shark studies, more focus on commercial species and education sessions within the community, we have also increased non research activities to involve lots of interaction and activities with the local community and extra ways to increase your dive skills. We now have that excellent balance of being on the go and time to relax in the sun! Best Wishes, Jenna Griffiths

Frontier

Having spent the last couple of months on this project I can honestly say it has been one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. The location of the project is fantastic, a remote Fijian Island covered in rainforest and surrounded by beautiful beaches and mangrove forests, the chance to mix with the locals and get a real feel for Fijian culture. The camp life is basic but is a welcome relief from city life and is what traveling and project work like this is all about. Getting to eat local food direct from the land was fantastic and being able to cook as a group was great and a real bonding activity. The people you live with on this camp become your best friends and you get to experience so much together.

The project itself if fantastic, the team are working really hard to survey the reefs in the area to see how healthy they are and are working with loads of important scientists and the local community to actually put their findings to good use. Diving on the reefs and helping to collect this data was so rewarding, knowing you're contributing to such a great cause. The actual diving was amazing, the water is so clear, the coral was so colourful and covered the sea floor and the fish were out of this world, 1000's of them, all different colours, shapes and sizes! Learning to dive in on the project was great and I cant wait to carry it on when I get back home. We also saw many sharks and even a turtle on the project and got the chance to collect data to help in their conservation, the great Fiji shark count was also going on while I was there and our sightings of the sharks were going towards this project as well.

I can't recommend this project enough and look forward to coming back again soon! If you want to experience real Fijian culture, dive some of the mot amazing sites in Fiji, make friends for life and contribute to a project that is really helping marine life and the environment then you should chose this one!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jul 5, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I spent 8 weeks on the beautiful Beqa Island where I was given the opportunity to improve both my diving and survey methodology skills. I plan on studying to become a marine biologist this autumn, and consequently I loved being given the opportunity as an intern to create my own invertebrate survey which has now become a regular part of surveying. I also thoroughly enjoyed helping to collect information about mangroves in the area which we used to make a series of blogs and an accompanying video about Frontiers collaboration with WWF. Doing these things helped to feel like I was really able to make a difference. I loved spending time with our resident Fijian family, it gave the kind of cultural experience you wouldn't get through a package tour company. I also surprisingly enjoyed living a more basic life. Having limited luxuries made them feel so much more valuable when I got back to the mainland.

I would reccomend people bring a solar panel, as i liked to have some sort of contact with the outside world, and electricity is very hard to come by. The staff were great and did their best when power was limited. The three AROs deserve special mention for helping me learn all the fish species, reassuring me when I thought my diving was rubbish and generally keeping morale up with extra activities such as movies. Their planned trip to the gorgeous sandbar was also a highlight of my visit.

My only complaint worth mentioning is there is still a slightly neglected feel to the project. At times I felt like london wasn't interested in us. If a bit of money could be freed up to help with things like proper chairs (lugging tanks up and down a hill kills your back) and making said hill safe to navigate after rainy weather (an urgent problem), instead of putting extra costs on those of us who already paid a lot to be there, then I think morale at camp could be sky high.

That said, I truly enjoyed my time on the project and after only one day from camp I find I miss nearly everything about it (especially the people). I would definitely recommend to others, and would definitely return to Beqa if I ever have money again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jun 27, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
6
Value:
8

Comments

Laura, It is great to hear that you had such a good time on the project. During your stay, Fiji experienced some particularly bad weather that was unusual and unexpected, which made the paths a little difficult to walk on. I want to assure you that the team in London are aware of the issue and are working with field staff to make this path safer through creating more steps and adding sandbags to the path. The chairs we use on camp are made from fallen tree stumps and we feel this adds to our sustainable approach on camp, whilst also being durable and longwearing, other chairs do not last very long on island style camps such as ours. There are plenty of places to relax on camp from our comfy mattresses to our outdoor areas. The team in London are in contact with the staff in the field on a daily basis and provide full support in terms of logistics and research, also recently conducting a 6 weeks visit to the project to further support the project, staff and volunteers. We would like to thank you for your recommendation of our project and wish you all the best in your future career.

Projects Abroad

The Fiji Shark Conservation project was the most amazing experience I have ever had. When I arrived in Fiji I felt instantly welcome and at home. The volunteers are extremely friendly and helpful and the staff are too! The staff explain all tasks thoroughly and explain the reasons behind performing the task and how it contributes to the overall project as well. The staff made me feel comfortable asking questions and were extremely knowledgeable on all parts of the project.

Since I had just learned to dive I wasn't completely comfortable with all aspects of diving under the water just yet, but the staff helped me on my first few survey dives and I learned to be completely self sufficient under the water (although you will always have a dive buddy).

The accommodation was homey and a nice place to hang out with other volunteers after a long day of work or diving. The other volunteers were always so friendly and it was nice to just relax and get to know each other at the end of the day.

Overall, my Projects Abroad experience - from sending my application to staying in Fiji and then to returning home - was great. The staff were helpful every step along the way and the volunteers were very supportive too. I would recommend this project to anyone passionate about ocean conservation and helping save our planet.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Fiji
Posted: Jun 23, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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