Gap Year Programs in Fiji
Fiji has something to offer for everyone, no matter what the budget, in Fiji you’ll be able to find accommodation and activities to suit your needs. The Fijian people are diverse and are well known for their hospitality. The Fiji islands boast many excellent spots for scuba diving and snorkeling. These sites are some of the best in the world. Many travelers visit Fiji for it’s gorgeous beaches and beautiful cliff sides. Fiji isn’t just surfing and rock climbing, but also offers a rich history of Polynesian and Indian customs. Take your gap year in Fiji, learn new skills, and experience new cultures while getting tan on some of the world’s most pristine islands.
Photo Credits: Christian Haugen.
Volunteering in Fiji is a great way to give back while enjoying one of the most beautiful places in the world. Many volunteer projects in Fiji are based around education, healthcare and community support. The Fijian people will greet you with open arms. Most volunteer programs in Fiji avoid the tourist areas and are based around Nadi. Unfortunately, while the tourist industry has brought a large sum of money to the island, very little of that money has gone to the native population, but rather pushed natives into more impoverished areas.
Fiji is home to stunning islands (over 300 to be precise), but only 100 of these are inhabited. The Fijian Islands are mountainous and fruity, home to a vast range of delicious subtropical fruits. Volunteers in Fiji will be exposed to a wonderful lifestyle with a mix of cost-effective, multi-cultural and stimulating living. The preservation of these islands if of top priority to the native population and to the Fijian government. Volunteer opportunities with conservation organizations are prevalent and rewarding. Fiji is also in need of English teachers and social workers.
With so many incredible islands how can one choose?! The main island Viti Levu - Fijian for 'big Fiji' is home of Suva, the capital of Fiji. Suva is located on the topical (wetter) side of Viti Levu and is the perfect spot for exploring the tropical wildlife and diving by coral reefs. Nadi on the opposite (drier) side of the island, is close to some of the best vacation spots in Fiji. The Mamanuca Islands are very popular. Their romantic appeal is not only for honeymooners, but they're also the perfect destination for backpackers, rock climbers, and snorklers. Fiji’s outer islands have sandy coves and rainforest highlands. It’s amazing to think of how many different landscapes can be seen in such a small location. Fiji is truly a world of its own.
Fiji is not a large-scale business hub, but there are plenty of internships with programs in cultural Ecology, wildlife restoration, and agricultural business. An international internship is a perfect addition to a gap year or a college career. Other internship opportunities include marine biology, conservation, education, and tourism. The great thing about taking a gap year in Fiji is that the internships are often customizable and available throughout the country, so you’re not isolated on one island for an entire year. Many internships will allow you the free time to explore the nightlife of Suva and island hop, allowing you to learn many different cultural traditions while also gaining the confidence and self-motivation of having international work experience. You’ll make life-long friends while contributing to meaningful projects!
Planning Your Trip
Cost of Living in Fiji
The cost of living is always relative to the lifestyle of the gapper. Nevertheless, prices have decreased across the board in Fiji. Practically speaking, the cost of living depends on where on the islands you choose to visit or live. To simulate a high-flying, New York City-like lifestyle you might head to Suva, Fiji’s capital, but be prepared to spend upwards to $6,000 USD a month. Alternately, you can live in smaller towns of Viti Levu or on one of the more remote islands. While doing this will greatly decrease your expenses, you’ll have to get used to part-time electricity and a less luxurious accommodations. Nevertheless, a gapper can live comfortably on $1,000 USD a month.
Culture and Etiquette in Fiji
It is customary when visiting a village to present a gift. The presentation is attended by some of the older men who will grant you respect. After receiving a gift, the occasion will quickly turn into a social occasion where you be welcomed by warm hearts. Be prepared to answer a million questions!
It is important to dress modestly. Do not wear a hat in a village as it is considered an insult to a chief. Do not wear shoes into people's houses, because it’s viewed as disrespectful of their home. Also, it is considered an insult to touch someone's head. While Fijians are known as some of the friendliest people in the world, your respect for their customs and traditions is very important and should be considered at all times. Villagers will almost always ask you to eat with them or share whatever they have, so don’t be too modest in Fiji, it’s considered disrespectful to refuse gratitude.
Health & Safety
Traces of the Zika virus have been found in Fiji. To learn more about Zika and how to avoid getting infected, read the Washington Post's article on Zika precautions.
Exercise caution when traveling to or within Fiji. Currently, the political situation is unpredictable, and the rule of law has deteriorated since the December 2006 military coup. While the locals are very hospitable, the government has a growing anti-U.S rhetoric. Citizens and visitors should remain cautious and alert in public places near military activities. You should avoid demonstrations, even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly.
While Fiji does not suffer from widespread disease, it’s important that all travelers be well prepared and have received the proper vaccinations. Travelers should bring bottled water with them at all times. Fiji does not have the same strict regulations on sanitation as the U.S. and European countries. In tourist areas, crime rates are low, but visitors are easy prey for con artists. If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!