GVI: Volunteer in Fiji

Video and Photos

Caqalai
Caqalai
Fun Dive!
Fun Dive!
Fun dive
Fun dive
GVI: Volunteer in Fiji
GVI: Volunteer in Fiji

About

Fiji is a country of over 300 islands. With clear-water beaches, green forest landscapes, and island-lined mountain ranges, it is a destination with vast natural resources. However, climate change and anthropogenic threats are negatively impacting the local biodiversity.

This is a great opportunity to join collaborative efforts to reach long-term sustainable objectives in a variety of GVI run programs. You could assist in community development, education, marine and environmental conservation, or women’s empowerment. Each program measures its impact against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and GVI places emphasis on ethical volunteering that empowers all communities, partners, and participants involved.

Highlights
  • Experience life in a country made up of over 300 islands. Gain an understanding of the culture, linguistics, and biodiversity of Fiji.
  • Contribute to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, by assisting in a projects’ short, mid, or long-term objective.
  • Meet people from other parts of the world, make friends, and connect with local communities.
  • Learn valuable skills in conservation, community development, and teaching, working alongside trained field experts.
  • Travel to different islands, enjoy traditional Fiji cuisine, beachfronts, and panoramic views from mountain sides.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 18 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 18
Default avatar
Asha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Silana, Fiji

GVI Silana village, Dawasamu was one of the most eye opening experiences i have possibly ever had...as cheesy as it sounds. It was a refreshing feeling being around people who arn't consumed by technology. Their days consist of human interactions and connecting with each other and themselves through nature with use of their five senses. It was beautiful to see kids who arnt dependant on ipads and iphones and can just BE. You can have nothing in this world but have so much in many other ways and be absolutely happy! As much as i was making a difference for these amazing cheeky kids, they taught me so much more, i am so so thankful for the time that i got in the village and with the people i met that I'll never forget. apart of me will forever stay in Silana. Vinaka vakalevu, sota tale.

What was your funniest moment?
when it was our group A to cook in the kitchen on base and whenever you would cook there were these small lizards that sat on the roof and one fell onto Grace and it was crawling on the top of her head as she was screaming at me to get it off. its defiantly the people you meet that make it worth while!
Read my full story
Danielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exactly as I hoped!

This program was one of the best choices I've made. I worked in Community Development in Fiji and this covered a wide range of jobs. For the most part I was helping develop the door to door recycling information package, which explained what to recycle and what was safe to burn. I also spent time working in the community garden, and a few days doing physical work (clearing out a lot, transporting sand bags, etc.). I also even taught in the mothers and babies clinic for a few days. There were a lot of amazing aspects to this placement and aside from the undeniable and direct positive impact that it has on the community, my favorite part was the diversity of tasks. GVI did an amazing job of tailoring what volunteers do to their strong suits and skills. I honestly cannot think of a better way for a young person to spend their time. Travel with an open mind (as these are simpler living conditions than what you're used to), and I can guarantee you'll have an experience you will never forget. I can't wait for my next project!

Default avatar
Pauline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine conservation on Caqalai - go there!

I‘ve been participating in this project for two months and I enjoyed every single day! The island where the project is located is very small but a real paradise. The dive sites around it are very beautiful as well; during the project you will have plenty of time to see how great they are because there is at least one dive per day for everybody!. I‘m very glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of the GVI community and the great important work they are doing. And I’m especially grateful for all the amazing people I met there and who made my experience a very funny, unique and unforgettable one. Sometimes, it can be a long day on base but the knowing that you are actually making a difference is worth every effort!
I can only recommend this project to everybody who likes to dive (or is interested to learn it as I did) and want’s to save the world (or at least a very beautiful part of it😉)

Default avatar
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best experience of my life so far!

I went to Caqalai, Fiji, last February on the marine conservation project, I was previously only an open water diver so in the first week I did advanced open-water training, and also did the Reef Research diver qualification which was really fun, before I progressed onto doing surveys of the invertebrate species on Caqalai's reefs. The diving was out of this world and I experienced so many things I would never have done otherwise.
The community on the Island was also great. Living on a small island with a group of people is immersive to say the least, so we all bonded incredibly quickly and I made friends for life. I also met loads of people at various stages in their studies of environmental or marine sciences which was really helpful for helping me to decide on what I wanted to study this year and I got tons of advice on how to make the most of my degree after volunteering and how to stay involved back home.

I would recommend this project to anyone!

What would you improve about this program?
More people to join! The program can only be as successful as its volunteers so if more likeminded people sign up and share their ideas, more positive changes can happen for both the reefs and communities in Fiji. The project is quite small and it would be incredible if it could get enough volunteers to grow and develop more.
Default avatar
Gina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with GVI

I loved my experience volunteering with GVI last March. The program I helped was called Women's Empowerment and was really interesting and fulfilling. While I was there I met so many amazing people and the staff were really helpful and friendly. The local community were so welcoming and experiencing their culture and way of life was refreshing. I highly recommend volunteering with GVI and I will definitely be volunteering with them again in future.

Anthony
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Conservation - Volunteer Overseas

If you’re looking for a way to get overseas, I would highly recommend GVI. I have just finished my 6 months on there Marine Conservation Dive Master Internship on Caqalai Island, Fiji and loved every second of it! The field staff are incredible and life away from the hustle and bustle is amazing! GVI gives you the opportunity to be part of something bigger while meeting new people, learning about the marine environment and SCUBA diving/ snorkelling everyday. What more could you want?

Default avatar
Sorcha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Conservation in Fiji

I spent two months on the tiny island of Caqalai in Fiji during my gap year. I had never scuba dived before and was super nervous to be living away from home for the first time on my own. The country of Fiji is the most welcoming place I've ever been, everywhere you go people say 'bula' meaning hello.

I lived on a remote island in the middle of the south pacific with about 20 other volunteers and about 10 staff members. A normal day consisted of duties at 6:30am, breakfast at 7, kit up for dives at 8 and then the day would begin. Diving twice a day most days and then duties again at 5 and dinner at 7. Island life was so much fun and so rewarding the more experience you gained. I began science training and lectures in the first week and also completed my Open Water. Living standards are very basic on the island but you quickly get used to this. Cooking and cleaning in a team make you appreciate the little things in life more and no hot water becomes a luxury.

At weekends we would travel to the capital city of Suva, climb mountains, eat good food and see cool places. The island next to Caqalai was a peaceful haven where we also spent weekends. You can stay on base at weekends and relax and trust me time flies by!

I came away from this program with much more understanding and insight into environmental issues and I have learned so much about sea life forms I never knew existed. Two months was certainly not enough and I would have loved to have done the internship where you stay on the island for 3 months then on a placement for another 3 months in Fiji. I made amazing friends and have such good memories of my experience. I would recommend this program to every body on their gap year who is looking for something new and exciting to do.

What would you improve about this program?
It needs more advertisement, when I was choosing which marine program to do I found barely any reviews for this specific program which made me hesitant to book it- I was so impressed and it was so much better than I expected!
Div
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Never thought I would want to spend my life in a village, but I do now.

If you asked me at the start of 2016, 'would I settle for cold, limited showers every day' I would have said no. If you asked me at the start of 2016, 'could I live in village-like conditions and adapt to their everyday lifestyle', I probably would have said no. What a change! If you ask me that now? Yes. Beyond yes. I would do it any day. I miss it, every single minute of the day. The children, the families, the village women and the men, they all make life worth living. They prove to you the true definition of happiness and I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to experience that. GVI provides full opportunity for you to live like the village people do, and have an insight of what their lives have been in comparison to what their lives are and will be. The change is significant and there are so many things that have already changed since I finished with GVI. It's revolving so quickly. It has been over 6 months now, and I hold onto my experience like it was yesterday. GVI provide you with a family which helps you more than you will know. It is daunting at first, but all families I have met within the village are so welcoming and make your experience a whole lot better. Recently, (after I finished with GVI) I went back to Silana (the village), and stayed with my family for a couple of weeks. They will never forget you, and they sure will love you no matter what. One of the village men said 'why did you come back?', I said 'I had to, Silana stole a piece of my heart' and he said 'vinaka vakalevu (thank you), because you make us feel like we have something special, and you give us a reason to smile'.They don't need much to be happy, and GVI succeeds in brightening every day of their lives. GVI is a great organisation where I met at least 6 long life friends. I have already, and will travel with them in the future. They provide extremely great security and there are rules in place that really do work best with the conditions. Meals are provided and duties/chores are fairly spread among the volunteers. There is a rotating roster for cleaning, cooking and other duties needed. The living conditions are obviously not the best, but they are more than what you need, perfectly suited to your program and probably as good as you will get it in comparison to any other organisation, considering the location and condition you choose to live in. The community vibe within the village is amazing. Schooling hours are 8:30am - 2:00pm usually depending on your grade as timetables vary. You are not told before you get there that you may be running lessons or a whole class on your own, sometimes you will have a partner. This seems scary at first, but it works out fine. Probably better than with someone, as you get to bond with the kids so much! There is constant on-the-job support and in-country support. You will have a team leader who is there to help you teach at first if you do not feel confident enough. Subjects taught include literacy mainly, sport, music, art and some other subjects may be included depending on your grade. After school you are entitled to free time. This can be used to spend time with you family, or catch a taxi from the local village into Korovou town to by some food/recharge or any essentials. On the weekends you are also entitled to sign out of the base and do whatever you please to. There are buckets to use to wash your clothes in the village, so bring washing powder or soap if you please, although on the weekends most places you visit will have a Laundry, which costs usually $4FJD (approximately) per kg of washing. Having weekends to yourself was great as it gave time for us volunteers to bond and explore Fiji! Or a couple of weekends I stayed at my families house and did so many activities with them. The community even invited us to a Fijian wedding one weekend, which was unique and wonderful! I have been to Fiji 4 times now, and it will probably never end. The Dawasamu District has stolen my heart. My appreciation for everything has increased majorly, being just the scent of my clothes after being washed by a machine, and a working fan in Summer. I will forever hold on to all the memories made with GVI and I can highly recommend it. It was the best experience I have ever had yet.

Default avatar
Rachael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience

You will not regret choosing to volunteer with GVi in Fiji- you learn to dive and discover the amazing underwater world which never ceases to amaze regardless of how many dives you will do or have previously done elsewhere- it is beautiful. The fact that you get to survey sites to indicate the reefs health and contribute your part after being taught many new skills all while having an awesome experience, is incredible. No words can describe the experience you will have but it is also what you put into it. Have an open mind and you will be blown away. Not only do you get to be in an incredibly beautiful country but you get to immerse yourself into the beautiful Fijian culture and meet so many warm and welcoming people- they become your family and you will always be welcomed back. The only warning I can give you is you will be so sad to leave and you will miss it every day- but bring on the return trip!

Default avatar
natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Paradise

Something changed within me when I arrived on the island and was greeted by the staff and local families of Nanuya Lailai. It was one of those few and far in between instances when I undoubtedly knew I chose the right path. From the moment we set foot on camp, the staff was completely engaged and caring, as were all my fellow volunteers. The locals were so thankful for our support and not only welcomed us, but treated each and every one of us like family. Every day was filled with adventure; and every night, I fell asleep satisfied. My fiancee, who travelled along, returned home changed people and have since decided that volunteering is something that will be a permanent part of our lives. The thought of travelling across the world may sound as intimidating as exciting, but GVI keeps you safe and is with you every step of the way. Just bring the bug spray and dive in; you won't regret it!

Default avatar
Emily
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fiji Construction Project

On a day to day basis we travelled by boat to villages where we installed guttering and water tanks. Highlights included the amazing weather (when it wasnt raining or cyclones weren't a threat!), the chance to learn to scuba dive and the amazing people, both volunteers and locals, that I met along the way.

Default avatar
tmac42
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience!!

I decided to accompany my fiance to Fiji for the education program. Little did I know how much it would change my life. After living in Fiji for over a month I realized just how easy my life was compared to the Fijian people's. They truly do not have anything they do not need and are surprisingly the most welcoming, polite and friendly people I've ever met. Once I returned home I made a decision that I was going to come as close to living like their life style as I possibly could. 1 week after my arrival back home I had sold half of my wardrobe and nearly all of my possessions. Being around these people enlightened me on how beautiful life truly is and how much more complicated it gets when you surround yourself with things you do not need.

Default avatar
JamesTes
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best time i've had since I started travelling

Overall it was a fantastic program. GVI ran the whole thing really and made sure that you had a great time whilst volunteering. The days would vary depending on what field you were working in. Construction was my personal favorite and consisted of hard work and lots of determination to get the job done but once you've finished its a great feeling. The training was short and sweet meaning that you weren't sat around listening and watching for days on end which was exactly what I wanted. Education was the other area I worked in and that was equally good. I knew I wanted to do some teaching when I left to start traveling and this is the place to do it! The kids are so eager to learn and love the volunteers that go into the schools. Overall the work side was just unforgettable and most definitely worth the money.

If you do this course make sure you go to the caves, it was a fantastic experience and definitely a highlight. The social side is another highlight as you are usually with around 24 or so others and the staff. We had a great group of people and everyone got on really well. Their are places to go on the weekend like coral view resort for a good night so it definitely ticks all the boxes.

Can't praise GVI enough and this program is a must do.

Default avatar
kpavlik
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hugely beneficial to the community.. but I hope you're not squeamish!

Overall, I had a fantastic trip. I made a lot of new friends from all over the world because there were always new volunteers arriving, and at any given time there were about 20 of us on base. The staff members, Tamu, Thom, Lauren, and Dan were incredibly helpful, and were always making sure you were doing well emotionally and physically, took care to make sure your paperwork and visa details were sorted out, were always eager for suggestions and looking for ways to improve the base, and were genuinely fun to have around as well!
The actual volunteer work was super rewarding, the construction portion of the expedition having more instant gratification that the childcare portion (not that you didn’t have as equally large impact on the community because of your efforts!) because the installation of the water tanks is a measurable job - once the tank is installed, that village will have 5-10,000 more liters of water than they had previously. You could always see the gratitude of the villagers as well - they always made us lunch when we were working and thanked us profusely. We've even seen the chiefs get emotional when the tanks arrive, and remark at how their village will no longer go thirsty. For the education project, it’s hard to measure your success, but you can see easily the joy the volunteers bring to the kids and to the teachers too! you really get out of it what you put into it... the days are long (8:00-3:00)and hot with lots of energetic children, so it’s easy to get tired, lethargic, frustrated, and even bored if you aren't prepared for the day. You need to plan a lot of lessons or projects to make things exciting for the kids and for yourself! They don't need to be elaborate by any means, crafts or games or something academic, but something to keep you going for 6 hours of school (1hr lunch break). The language difference can also be hard - English is their third language, and it’s easy to forget that when you are trying to teach. However, the kids are eager and are so much fun. They love all kinds of sports and the fun ideas and things that people from the modern world can bring to them. They are also incredibly musically talented! What GVI brings to the school is invaluable. The school's resources are so limited, and only a handful of the teachers there are competent at their jobs. When we are able to bring in stuff for the kids to learn with, they will have access to materials and knowledge that would have been previously impossible. Without the volunteers, kids would never get one-on-one attention that is necessary for some students' learning. Even the standard first-aid kit we bring to school every day is a huge help to them (the kids have open-wounds of all varieties along with other ailments pretty often and their medical center is severely lacking). Also, who better to learn English from than English speakers! (Although not all the volunteers were native English speakers!). I made some really great relationships with my students and some other kids at Ratu Meli, and I miss them so much.
The conditions at base are decent... it depends how you look at it. During my stay, some people remarked at how great the living space was, while others were disgusted by the conditions. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went, and I was pleasantly surprised by some aspects and unimpressed by others. You have to realize that you are in the middle of nowhere really, and only so much can be done to make your stay comfortable. The dorms are all bunk beds and hold 10-12 people in each one. There is not a lot of space, so finding room for your belongings can be a challenge. Often the dorms will be extensively sandy and also very hot – ventilation is not great in there. My bunk seemed to always feel damp because of the humidity too… pretty gross feeling. The mattresses are pretty thin too... try and snag a spare one and double up to make sleeping comfortable!! Sand will become a part of your life, as it is in everything, on everything, all the time. The staff members do their best to create cleaning schedules so that the chores are being done fairly by everyone. Bugs and creatures will become commonplace to you. I can’t say how many times saw toads crouched on the ground, a gecko perched on the wall, a cockroach scurrying around, a rat dart out the door, or a giant spider lurking in the corner. Not only are these creatures common, but black flies, mosquitos, and sand fleas are also abundant. (Better or worse depending on when you go, the mosquitos got progressively horrible when I was there (sept-december) BRING A MOSQUITO NET!). There are also a couple friendly dogs on base, Mattie and Junior. You will become used to turning on the sink or shower tap and not being surprised if no water comes out… If the water has not been pumped or is on a shortage, the sink and shower won’t work, the toilet won’t flush. This sucks because you don’t know when it’s going to happen... you could be in the middle of brushing your teeth and then realize there’s no water to rinse with!
You will be excited to see fresh vegetables for dinner, and it will be normal to have some form of pasta 5+ times a week. The staff does their best to order food requested by the volunteers (but they can only get so much!), and provide fresh fruit and veg when they can. Breakfast is always porridge, so if you don’t like it I would recommend bringing granola bars or something else to keep your belly full. Even if we have bread to make toast, it has to be rationed, so usually only 1pc per person. Most of the food is canned, and it is cooked by the volunteers who are put into cooking teams of 3 people per team. Teams are responsible for cooking a meal for all of base, and doing the dishes. We only had meat for really special occasions, otherwise you will be eating canned corned beef (I was not a fan) or canned tuna (BRING BEEF JERKY!).
You will be lucky to use the internet once in a month, unless you bring your own laptop and Vodafone internet dongle – this is what the staff members use, and they will sometimes let you use their internet if it’s urgent or you ask nicely. Bringing an unlocked cellphone and getting a Fijian SIM card is a good idea – you can get a SIM card for free or for like $5, and the credit is also cheap and goes pretty far if you’re just texting. Incoming calls are always free. You can also buy a phone here for $30 FJD or so. However, getting credit isn’t always easy… you have to wait until someone has access to where they are sold (a resort, the ferry). Since there isn’t much other way of keeping in touch with those back home, a cell phone is a good idea. There is electricity from 7-10pm every night, make sure you have the Fiji-compatible plug adaptor.
You will likely have some form of gastro-intestinal problems due to the change in diet and water (BRING PEPTO-BISMOL TABLETS AND TUMS). Bring your own first-aid kit – go to your doctor and see what they recommend you bring. Definitely bring something to help itchy bites.
You may or may not get thoroughly soaked on the boat ride to the school (BRING A WATERPROOF JACKET AND CAMERA CASE!) because Ratu, the driver, is a little crazy.
There are a few locals that live on the GVI property (their family owns the land that GVI leases) and you will see them around frequently. The ladies provide all sorts of services for a small fee: Lice (pronounced Lee-day) will do a large load of your laundry for $20 FJD, she sells cigarettes, cookies, and chips for a modest price, and she sometimes will bake the volunteers a batch of bubbacao (Fijian donuts!) for breakfast, just because! Terri, the other Fijian mother, is equally lovely and gives excellent massages for $20 FJD – about 45 minutes, and will teach you some basic Fijian language if you ask! (The most important words you will learn are “Kua!” (Don’t/stop), “Nalengoo!” (That’s mine!), and “Lamai!” (Come here)... not that my spelling is correct though!). Their children are always running around base as well, they love to play with you, anything from cards to volleyball to swimming! However, make sure you keep your belongings in places where they aren’t accessible by the kids! Two of my pairs of sunglasses got broken by them because I left them out on the table, packs of cards are never full, and one time the kids managed to sneak in the dorm and eat my entire bag of dried mango!
When you aren’t working, you have plenty of free time. After arriving home in the early afternoon, you have the rest of the day to do whatever: swim in the sea, read, sunbathe, nap, play sports, go for a hike, drink wine, walk on the beach, visit with other volunteers, plan for your week at the school, do your chores, write in a journal... I loved the freedom the staff members gave you – you didn’t feel like a kid at summer camp. One bonus at base was the proximity to some of Fiji’s best resorts. Just on the other side of the island was the Nanuya Island Resort, which was too pricey for us to want to stay the night there, but offered a great lunch menu when we wanted to treat ourselves to a good meal (and a good hike across the island!). You can also make a weekend trip to Blue Lagoon Resort, Oarsman’s Bay Lodge, or Coral View Resort for really cheap. 3 meals are always included with the price, and very affordable. Blue Lagoon is the nicest in my opinion (they had the best food selection, and the dorm was air conditioned), and a night there (including the food!) was only $60 CDN/USD. Staying at Coral View is even cheaper – about $30 CDN/USD per night! Every other weekend or so some volunteers would go to the resort for the night (the transportation costs about $10 FJD pp), and it was a great chance to get to know everyone, have a good meal, let loose, and have a comfortable bed!
The entire experience was eye opening. I made incredible relationships, had a chance to see what life is like on the other side of the world, made a real difference in the lives of the children at Ratu Meli school, all the while enjoying the beautiful Yasawas Islands.

Default avatar
Amy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Time of my life!

This construction project was more than I anticipated. Nothing will beat the feeling of working hard to build the rainwater collection system in the heat, when you're already tired, and then coming back the next day to realize it rained overnight and your determination in building the system helped to collect hundreds of liters of rainwater. It rains so little in the Yasawas that every drop of rain collected is a chance to make the coming months in the village more stable. I loved the instant gratification of seeing the systems built and working. In combination with the amazing staff and other great volunteers you work side by side with, this experience is unforgettable.

Location

Location:
Fiji
Currency:
Fijian Dollar
Weather:
Jan-Mar
88 F / 73 F
Apr-Jun
88 F / 68 F
Jul-Sep
86 F / 75 F
Oct-Dec
88 F / 70 F
Airports:
Nadi International Airport
( NAN )
Nausori International
( SUV )

If you love being outdoors and in the water, Fiji will be your new favorite place. Whether you are an adrenaline junky and want parasailing or shark feeding; or you just want to relax and snorkel in the pristine water, Fiji caters all travel styles.

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About GVI

Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in various countries around the world, each manned by our own staff and aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), as well as the objectives of local partners. We welcome participants...