Rustic Pathways | Fiji
92% Rating
(46 Reviews)

Rustic Pathways | Fiji

For over 20 years Rustic Pathways has built lasting relationships and genuine friendships with our partner villages. In Fiji, you will have the opportunity to explore the remote beaches and coral reefs in the breathtaking Yasawa Islands, live with a family in the villages of the Highlands, or take part in a unique marine conservation program and SCUBA certification. In these fully immersive programs you will participate in fabulous service initiatives, but there are also programs that are more focused on adventure and exploration.

“The South Pacific has always held a romantic allure of adventure and ancient traditions for many people...Everyone loves the clear, warm waters and tropical islands of Fiji, but for me it’s the people that keep me coming back--their loving attachment to their land, the surrounding ocean, and to each other. Their warmth and exuberant enthusiasm for life are contagious.”
--Evan Wells, Fiji Country Director

Locations
Oceania » Fiji
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
Language
English
Housing
Guesthouse
Host Family
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
Costs vary depending on program. Usually around $1,595 per week, plus international airfare.

Questions & Answers

I used a huge duffel bag, along with a day pack on all of the Rustic trips that I went on. I found that to work very well rather than a suitcase, as a suitcase would be harder to lug around, and duffels are made to carry easily.
I wouldn't consider the experience as a "tour group feel" whatsoever. You get really close with the other travelers, as you spend all day every day with them. There are activities put in place to break some ice and learn names, but after that initial "awkward" stage of not knowing anyone else, you'll find that you bond with the other kids really easily. Everyone in the group doesn't want to "tour"...
Yes! The entire time I never questioned anything that was going on in terms of my safety. When we stayed on SomoSomo island there was a guard who watched our camp site throughout the entire night.
Yes and no. You need a long skirt (not long pants) to go to some villages. Most of the time I was fine in the shorts that are short aside from the villages

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    91%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    89%
  • Value
    88%
  • Safety
    90%

Program Reviews (46)

Emma
Female

Sun Sand and Service

10/10

I went to Fiji on the Sun Sand and service trip and it was my first trip ever out of the country alone. I was really nervous because I didn't know what to expect but Rustic Pathways made it easy to prepare me for my trip from the start. They answered all my questions and provided me with resources to help me feel comfortable. From leaving the US, I instantly felt safe because the rustic leaders were so nice and supportive.
My trip in Fiji was truly life changing and so memorable. It was an unbelievable experience that I am so grateful to have had.
In Fiji, I met so many new people from all over the world and everyone was friendly and welcoming. Even after my trip I am still close with them and continue to stay in contact with them. It's crazy how close we are even after only being together for 2 weeks!
In Fiji, I really felt like I understood and was immersed in the culture as I talked with the locals, taught in schools with kids, and did service work that didn't even seem like work at all! Everything I did was so so fun! The evening programs were also really unique and helped me engage in the Fijian culture while bonding with my new friends I had met there.
Not only were the views incredible and all the unique activities we did, but even the simplest things like the bus rides were where I made the most memories. I felt so comfortable and at home in Fiji as everyone from the staff at the Eco Lodge to the group leaders were like a family to me.
This is experience was the definitely best trip of my life and was really impacted me post-trip. I'm now super eager to travel, help and learn about others in different countries, and get more involved in Rustic! This trip is a must!!
Some advice I would offer to future participants is to make sure you push yourself and go out of your comfort zone to meet people because it is so rewarding. Also, don't be afraid to try new foods and new activities because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you do not want to pass up. Don't be afraid to ask questions and talk with the locals because they truly know the country best and what they have to say is so interesting! Make the most of the time you have in the country and with the people because times flies when you are having fun!!

How can this program be improved?

This program was really amazing the only thing I would change about my trip is that my group was split up during the day to do service. I had bonded with a lot of the people I met at the airport and then they divided our group in half for service projects. So, we were not all able to be with eachother during the day. But overall, I still got really close with the people I met and am so thankful for the being able to experience a service trip like this!!

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Gabby
Female
16 years old
Valdosta, GA
Other

Big Fiji Explorer

10/10

This summer with rustic in Fiji changed my life! It was the best experience! My trip leaders were amazing and I made lifelong friends with everyone on my trip! The itinerary was the perfect balance between not so rustic and 'roughing it' rustic, making the trip super enjoyable. This program in particular was the perfect balance between adventure and service; I recommend this trip to any one that loves people, adventure, and the ocean! I have nothing bad to say about this program or rustic; it's truly a life changing trip every one deserves to experience.

My personal favorites on the trip were Somosomo and Sasa. In Somosomo, the safari tents are fine, but in such a beautiful place I wanted to sleep outside at night, so I brought an eno, and it was so magical sleeping under a million stars right by the ocean. When you take the sunrise hike, don't complain about waking up early, because the hike is one of the best parts of the trip. In Sasa, it's chilly at night, so don't neglect the packing list and make sure to bring a light sweatshirt. Definitely pack less than you need, I know it sounds scary but trust me. Also, for when your in the village and have to cover up, elephant pants are really nice to have because they're lightweight and cute too;).

When your on your trip, take advantage of every opportunity! Live every moment to the fullest because it'll be over before you know it. GO SKYDIVING! GO SCUBA DIVING! GO UPSIDE DOWN ON THE ZIPLINE! I know I would have regretted it if I didn't do everything. Make sure you enjoy every boat ride, you'll miss them; I sure do. Jump off of every big rock you can, never stay in the boat when you can get in the water, and never stand still when you can dance! This trip has inspired me to change the way I look at the world. I'm already trying to convince my parents to let me take a gap year and travel. Adventure and experience is the most valuable thing any young adult can have.

I felt so much life and love on this trip! Thank you Rustic for making these experiences possible for us!

How can this program be improved?

It was perfect!

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Audrey
Female
16 years old
Boston, MA
Other

Big Fiji Explorer

10/10

This summer I went on Big Fiji Explorer. It was my first Rustic Pathways trip, and my first time truly being away from my home for a long period of time. I can not recommend this trip enough. It was the perfect amount of time to see Fiji. We were able to explore so many aspects of the country in just 16 days. We stayed in a variety of accommodations, all of which were different from each other. You were on the move from place to place every few days, however it was exciting to be able to stay in a hotel in the city one night and stay in the mountains the next night. Throughout the 16 days we were there, we participated in so many awesome activities, from zip lining to snorkeling to taking the “leap of faith” at a high ropes course. Each activity we did was always so fun, and it brought us so much closer with our group. One thing I can not commend Rustic Pathways enough for was allowing us to totally immerse yourself in the culture. We always had the opportunity to talk to locals. While on this trip, we visited the village of Somosomo, and this was the most amazing experience of my life and something that I will never forget. At this village we participated in service, and we also got to go to a school to play with the village children and got to take part in a Sunday school service. These kids were so cute, and it was obvious that they all had an impact on all of us. Somosomo was definitely my favorite part of the trip. Overall, this trip was so amazing, and if you are even considering going on it, I would encourage you to! The opportunities we were able to take advantage of were opportunities that you won’t have again. I can’t recommend this trip enough!

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Lucy
Female
17 years old
Westchester, New York
Other

Intro to Community Service

10/10

The Intro to Community Service program was my third program that I had done with Rustic. And like my previous programs, it was an absolutely amazing experience like no other. I got to go step out of my comfort zone and go skydiving, I got to interact with the local community, and I got to have fun while doing service.

First, most of the Fiji groups stay in the Eco Lodge base house. I loved having not only my service group there, but also meeting all the other kids that were on a range of programs. On the first day we all went to the beach to get to know each other and it was like we were already best friends by the end of our time on the beach. There's a huge sense of community and camaraderie with every single person, wether it be a student or a program leader. I think that having people in a base house together, interacting with a bunch of different people, while still doing service with your primary group, is great and I got to be friend with so many people that way.

One thing that I loved was that all groups have a local Fijian person as one of the leaders. This gives you the opportunity to ask them questions and really dive deep into what life is like in Fiji. I honestly learned so much about the customs and different practices that Fiji has from my leader Villie. I also got to know the other local, Fijian program leaders really well, because all of the different programs that are at the base house becomes one big family and community. My Fijian program leader even wrote us a song at the end of our program! I was crying and I loved the song and it definitely came from the heart!

With all the service, you will absolutely be working with the community and kids. On the second day of service, we got to go to the Laloma house, a women's shelter, and cook a meal for the women and children there. We cooked the meal before going with Shilini, one of the base's chefs, so that we could spend as much time with the kids as possible. When we got there, all the kids ran up to us and immediately wanted us to pick them up and play. We all danced, played duck, duck, goose and had a great time before dinner. We then served them dinner, talked with the mothers about their life, served them ice cream, said our goodbyes, and then went back. I usually don't do service with kids when I'm in New York, so I really enjoyed grtting to play and dance with a bunch of kids.

If you like kids, then you'll love to hear that there's a day where my program got to teach a local kindergarten. We spent a long time working on our lesson plans and preparing to teach the kindergartens and then the day came and it was amazing. We worked one on one and with the whole class to teach them our lesson plans. After teaching, we got to play with them outside for recess and the moms even made us lunch. We spent a long time running around and playing with the kids. I loved that day, because teaching the kids and playing with them was so much fun.

Another example of Rustic really engaging the community is when we did service in the Bavu Village. This was personally my favorite day, because of how much my program interacted with the community. We first drove to the village with Rajesh, Shilini's husband and a local carpenter. When we got there, we immediately participated in a welcoming ceremony in our Sulus with the village chief and spokesperson. I've never seen a village chief before, so it was a very cool experience. After the ceremony, we went to work for the day. Throughout the day, we were never working by ourselves, because Rustic really believes in including the village in its service projects. One of the most memorable moments from that day was when I was shoveling cement into the mixer and I looked up and the village spokesperson was shoveling right next to me. We then got into a conversation about the banana tree that was a few feet away from us. I was in awe, because a person that is in such a high position is working right beside me and having a normal conversation.

After we were finished with our service we then got to do a Kid's Club with the children in Bavu. We got to play soccer, rugby (which I found out I'm really bad at), talk to them, sing songs from Moana, and overalls just have a great time. The kid's club sadly came to an end and we then concluded our welcoming ceremony. That day happened to be on of the other student's birthday, so during the last portion of the welcoming ceremony, the women in the village surprised him with a cake, tea, bread, crackers, and a bunch of treats. That's when I really understood how great of a connection Rustic had with the local villages that they work with.

There are so many more examples of the great interactions that Rustic has with the local community. I loved my experience in Fiji and now I see why so many people do a Rustic trip in Fiji. The people were so nice, the service was amazing, and I got to step out of my comfort zone.

Asher
Male

Big Fiji

10/10

On my second Rustic Pathways program, I opted to embark on a longer journey than my first , this time to Fiji. Fiji is thriving with culture, from the guitar players in the airport to the locals in the villages. My first experience of the Fijian lifestyle was my first Kava ceremony in the village of Somo Somo, where we spent the nights sleeping in beachside tents. Kava is a drink extracted from the root of the native Kava plants. Fijians use it to welcome new people into their village and as a beverage similar to alcohol. It is customary for those visiting the different villages in Fiji to greet the village chief with the root of a Kava plant, as we did. The chief instantly ground the root up, mixed it with water, and made a mud colored drink. The locals raised a glass and greeted us with “bula” (welcome). From this point on, I knew my trip would be remarkable. I enjoyed conversations with the locals about their way of life along with visiting the local church. My group and I bonded instantly, leading to an amazing trip. I was able to see both sides of Fiji, the beautiful beaches and also the village life style. Fiji was an amazing cultural experience where I also met life long friends. I have done multiple Rustic Pathway programs and highly suggest that everyone goes on one.

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Isobella
Female
17 years old
Australia
Other

Sun Sand and International Service

10/10

This program is perfect for people wanting to experience the 'real' Fiji but not leave all the comforts of home. Sun, Sand and International Service was a perfect balance of service and activities, letting us experience both the beautiful culture and sights of Fiji all in two weeks. The base house is the center of social interactions, meeting the local staff and making new friends was a highlight for so many of us at the base house. The service we participated in varied daily, all projects being significant in their own way. With the guidance of our amazing program leaders we were able to grasp an understanding of just how valued the tasks such as preparing a meal was to the people we were serving. There were daily activities to be involved in ranging from kayaking and relaxing at the mud pools in the afternoon and bonfires and fire dancers of a night. There was never a boring moment on this trip! The option of side trips added another element of immersion no matter what you chose. From the highlands to the islands weekend trips there was always so much to learn and experience. Personally, the highlands was a weekend of so much growth for me, being out of your comfort zone but still in a safe environment are rare attributes that rustic put together so well.

Overall, sun sand service was the trip of a lifetime and an experience I will never forget. Fiji is home to the most welcoming people I have ever encountered and the environment that the Rustic staff create allows each student to grow in their own way. I got off the plane in Fiji expecting to leave some sort of impact on the places I encountered, instead Fiji left a lasting impact on me.

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Noah
Male
15 years old
United States
Other

Highlands and Islands in Fiji

10/10

I loved this trip because I felt very immersed in Fiji and felt that I saw a side of Fiji that not many people get to see. We stayed in a village with no electricity and in very rural homes. We got to stay with a family and see how these people lived on a day to day basis. In the mornings and afternoons, we would go up to the school and mix cement to build a footpath for the teachers. I liked this work because I could see that I was making a difference to these people and I got an appreciation for how difficult it was to live without being able to just call someone to do a job for you. After we left the village, we went to do service on a farm near a dam. This was another highlight because I got to bond even more with the other people on the trip which was great because I didn't know anybody at the start of the trip. At the dam, we were cutting trees into poles to make a fence for the farm. Finally, we went town and then to one of the smaller islands of Fiji to spend a few days relaxing and hanging out as a group. This is the part that I liked most -- not because we were relaxing, but because I got a chance to hang out with these great friends I made. I also felt like I really connected with my group as a whole to the point that we still talk to each other every day. I strongly encourage you to go on this trip as you will learn about the world and make great friends along the way.

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Charlotte
Female
15 years old
Long Island New York
Other

Vin aka Rustic Pathways!!

10/10

I remember being so nervous before I went on this trip- I had no expectations whatsoever. Right from the start of the trip- at the airport- I knew this trip would be one I'd never forget!! All of the people who went on the Sun, Sand and Service program were so incredibly welcoming and friendly. I'm still talking to my group of girls who I hing out with, and it's almost a month later! All of the program leaders are so friendly and outgoing. They help you feel right at home! I especially loved the local staff! My sister and I ended up becoming so close with them that they bought us necklaces (shoutout to Wani). The staff was so incredible and helped you through every step of the way.
We also did such amazing service!! We volunteered at schools, made a meal for house for women and children and we painted a building that Rustic built for a local school called Ratu Namani. On our off time, we kayaked, went to the mud pools and chilled at the beach. This was the perfect blend of service and leisure and I wish I had the opportunity to repeat this program 5000x more. My sister went from hating people before the trip to becoming a people person afterwards. This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and I would recommend it to everyone! No matter if you are a first time traveller or if you've been all across the globe, you are guaranteed to love the Sun, Sand and service program!

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rachel
Female
17 years old
Florida
Other

Most amazing experience of my life

10/10

This program was absolutely amazing. It's hard to put into words how incredible the people, activities, and locals all were. Between the amazing trip leaders and the other students on my trip, I got to be part of something magical, something unexplainable. On my trip, I did an intense community service program where in the mornings we would go out and do community service, and in the afternoons we would explore Fiji! The bonds I made with the locals and other students on my trip are irreplaceable. I definetly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a life changing experience.

How can this program be improved?

This program was absolutely amazing and I honestly would not change a thing.

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Samantha
Female
16 years old
California
Other

Big Fiji Explorer

7/10

It was a really fun trip! Our troop leaders were amazing; they were so nice and the perfect fit for our group. The kids in my group were all so nice. Our group was special and we all had a great bond. The experience was great! We explored all over the country. It exposed us to different views in Fiji. We got to immerse ourselves in the culture, while going to a few resorts and enjoying the beautiful nature Fiji has to offer, as well as the fun activities (snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking).
I came back home feeling happy that I went on the trip!

How can this program be improved?

It doesn't really follow the itinerary. We could of done more things; I expected us to explore more and do more activities.

headshot of girl in mountains
Cesca
Female

One of the best things I've ever experiened

10/10

This past summer I visited Fiji on the sun, sand, and service program and going on this trip was probably the best decision I have ever made. Before making my decision to travel abroad to Fiji, I had my heart set on Laos. Unfortunately things fell through so my parents had forced me to pick another program. I chose Fiji as the country I wanted to travel to. Flash forward to embarking on my journey, The staff at the airport were super helpful. I did arrive 12 hours early for my flight, but in no time I found another rustic person rocking the green shirt.

Now for my time in Fiji. Fiji is a beautiful place with beautiful people and I hope that one day I can live there and help people with more time. The staff at the base house were great! I loved my program leader so much they became my favorite people ever. I had Sam and Wane. If you don't know if you like service or not, do not stop yourself from choosing this program with heavy hours. The website says 60 hours, but really it feels like 10, because you'll be having so much fun it wont feel long at all. There were only a couple of things I didn't enjoy while at the base. The food. I went in expecting that the food was not going to be like America but some days the food just looked so unappetizing I couldn't eat it, but I'm not saying that all the meals were bad. One day they made spring rolls and I ate so many. Another issue I had was when the water would shut off or we would just run out. The toilets, sinks, and showers wouldn't work all at once and somedays that really stunk. But many of the program leaders at the base say that the water situation never happens so I'm sure it won't happen to you. I stayed at the base house for two weeks and these were the only two things I could find wrong with it. For service in general, I really enjoyed every project I did. You have to be ok with getting dirty. The only thing I didn't like was how they split up the sun sand group into two, but in the end we all bonded and made really strong ties.

If you do choose to go on a weekend side trip I highly recommend Highlands. When visiting the Highlands the culture is extremely different than anything you're probably used too. I really enjoyed immersing myself in a totally different culture.

If you are thinking about going to Fiji in the future with Rustic do not hesitate to choose a base house program. You will meet people from everywhere. Another thing I want to tell you is to read the itinerary for your trip but just know that your trip is going to be very different than what they say on the website. Every day was something new and I loved it. Also the packing list. Follow it or don't. I personally followed it word for word and I felt like I needed more things, so bring whatever you think you will need. I have friends who didn't follow it and some didn't have the right clothes and others did so it's completely a you thing.

One last thing is go in and have fun. Meet new people. Sometimes your not going to like everyone and thats ok but if I were you, just keep it to yourself until the end of your trip. My Rustic trip was amazing and really impacted me.

How can this program be improved?

I really found no faults in this program other than the other students on sun sand not doing service with us or being with us during the day. The only time I saw my other friends on some days would be for breakfast and dinner.

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Bailey
Female
17 years old
New Jersey
Other

Sun sand and international service

9/10

I had the greatest experience on this trip. Every person I met was very nice and friendly. Service activities were for the most part fun. Teaching and playing with the village children was so much fun. Other activities like the greenhouse and chicken coops were less fun but it was still good service. The local staff are the nicest people you will ever meet. They know everyones name and are engaging. Overall, I highly recommend this trip. It is an experience you can't get anywhere else.

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Romy
Female
16 years old
San Francisco
Other

Big Fiji Explorer :)

10/10

I was on the BFE trip in July 2017. It was my first trip with Rustic Pathways, and would definitely recommend this trip to anyone, first timers and alumni! It gave me a true sense of what Fiji really is from the tourist perspective but the local as well.
For the first week we stayed on an island resort, Leleuvia, and villas in Pacific Harbor. Leleuvia was the most "touristy" we got as a trip but that never got to the group and me. We interacted with the locals by playing volleyball, opening coconuts, and talking to them whenever the chance was given. The pacific harbor experience was amazing. Every night we all ate dinner together and our bonds became so strong. Whoever you encounter on the trip, Rustic Pathways student, leader or local, will turn into family within the first few moments of meeting them.
The most memorable part of the trip was the last week, which was spent in villages. The first was Somosomo. It is located among the Yasawa Islands. We all developed a love for all the villagers who welcomed us to their home with open arms. The second village was in the highlands. This was our last destination before the heading home. It was like the locals were part of our group. We loved them as if they were family.
I had heard too that in the past the trips were flip-floped from ours. (Villages at the beginning and Leleuvia at the end). I thought the layout of our itinerary was the perfect way to experience Fiji. We got closer through the trip as we had to live in more and more rustic conditions the longer time we spent in the country.
My group was absolutely amazing along with my local Fijian leader Akuila. The trip as a whole has not only impacted me in an amazing way, but also was incredibly memorable. Thank you Rustic for an amazing two weeks!

How can this program be improved?

Loved my trip so much! No improvements.

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Charlotte
Female
15 years old
New York
Other

Sun, sand and international service

10/10

I went on the sun, sand and service program July 11th- July 26th and it was absolutely amazing! During the trip we volunteered at local schools and taught lessons there. I taught grades 1+2 my first time teaching and although the language Barrier was a little difficult, I had an amazing time teaching! The following week I taught grades 5+6 and that was my favorite! All of the kids were very smart and so much fun to be around! My favorite service that we did was working at the loloma house and serving them meals. We made them meals and them served it to the families and got to talk to the children. It was so much fun! Other service projects we worked on was building bathrooms and painting schools. After service we did fun activities such as kayaking and going to the mud pools. The staff was all very accepting and friendly. It was the locals working at base that made this trip the most memorable for me. Thank you so much rustic for giving me this experience!

How can this program be improved?

A lot of people got sick after the highlands, but that may just be because of personal problems.

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Hazel
Female
16 years old
Los Angeles
Other

Impact of Climate Change on marine environments

10/10

When I first signed up for this trip I was slightly apprehensive because my previous Rustic trip, Lake Titicaca service adventure, was so incredible I didn't think it could be topped. I was wrong. This trip was not only fun but also so informative about marine life and our effects on the ocean. On our trip we had many informative talks about sharks, tides, invasive species, coral bleaching, and fish. After our discussions and talks we always had the chance to be hands on in the water. This trip allowed us to see everything we learned about first hand. Throughout the trip we stayed in nice beachfront and marine friendly resorts. We also had the chance to stay at a local village. Here, we stayed in safari style tents and we let on cots. While it was the most rustic sleeping arrangement on this trip, it was the most memorable. Getting to help the locals who hosted us by planting coral and removing invasive species was such a rewarding experience. Some of the most memorable experiences were snorkeling with sharks and planting and cleaning coral. Our leaders were incredibly educated and always teaching us new things. They got us excited in the service we were partaking in. This trip was so eye opening and made me aware of our effects on this earth. I got to see the effects of climate change first hand. It was so fun seeing everyone on my trip get so excited and involved in our marine work. Our leaders did an amazing job educating us and this trip was truly unforgettable.

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Sydney
Female
16 years old
United States
Other

Fantastic time full of learning and exploration

10/10

My experience in Fiji was absolutely incredible - the locals were kind and informative, the group leaders were fantastically matched with our group, and Rustic did an incredible job forming an itinerary with the most activities possible for our two weeks. Our group, focused on environmental restoration in Fiji, snorkeled, planted coral, and so much more, all while learning an immense amount about climate change, local species, and ways we could be environmentally friendly. Do not be turned off by a trip you think focuses more on an educational area! Rustic promotes learning through action and hands-on activities coupled with interactive discussions, a combination that makes for an environment that fosters learning and encourages curiosity and passions. We climbed to watch sunrises and sunsets, jumped off sand dunes, and spent much of our time outdoors - Fiji is, quite literally, one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit in your life. The weather is amazing, the culture rich, and the people friendly and open. My favorite memory was being able to dive in a coral reef about 15 feet and see white-tip sharks up close. Observing animals in their natural habitats and learning about what you can do to help them is a wonderful and eye-opening experience. After my trip, I have gone vegan to save water and prevent pollution, and have decided that I want to go into conservation work when I am older, both as a direct result of my trip. I could not recommend a program more highly.

How can this program be improved?

The only major blip in the program was that the itinerary was slightly messed up for our group, which was not communicated to us or our leaders until mid-trip. We ended up having a different second-week itinerary then we originally expected, but the itinerary was just as fun/activity filled as the first one that was planned. Another minor suggestion, but it would be helpful if the Rustic Packing lists were updated more to help with the itinerary - I was in the water probably about 12 of the 14 days, but the packing list suggested 1-2 swimsuits, which seems slightly disproportional.

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Mollie
Female
18 years old
Cincinnati
Columbia College Chicago

Sun, Sand & International Service

10/10

This trip exceeded my expectations. The amount of love you feel from the locals and staff instantly after arriving was amazing. There was also an amazing balance of life changing service and activities. The staff does an amazing job at creating personal connections with everyone there and that makes the trip so much more special. I would strongly recommend this trip (or any rustic trip) to anyone thinking about traveling with them.

How can this program be improved?

Trip was amazing and I don't think it needs to be improved.

Mollie
Female

Sun, Sand and International Service

10/10

This trip was amazing. There was such a good balance of service and fun outings/activities. What really made it special for me was the connection you made with the locals. Everyone was so excited to see you no matter where you went and were always super thankful in the villages we worked in! The leaders & staff also put such a good effort in making strong personal connections within the first few days which made the experience that much more memorable.

How can this program be improved?

I think the trip was fantastic and nothing needs to be improved.

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Jessica
Female
17 years old
Beverly

Intro to Community Service was AMAZING !!!

10/10

This program was absolutely amazing. All of the staff are so helpful and nice. I left a boyfriend's tee shirt on the plane after getting back to LA, and the plane guide person with Rustic was so sweet and helped me get it back and consoled me while I was crying my eyeballs out. Then when I got sick from dehydration they were so sweet and got me crackers, water, electrolyte packets, anything I needed. Then the trip itself was the perfect mix of fun and service. Plus the service was fun. 10/10 recommend !!!!

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Reina
Female
17 years old
Los Angeles

Not as Expected

2/10

When I signed up for the Marine Biology trip to Fiji, I was so excited. I love engaging in new experiences and making friends from all over the world. However, my expectations were quickly depleted. To start off, the social environment of the trip was awful. Everyone was super cliquey, and it reminded me of middle school. There were 2 distinct friend groups on the trip, and if possible, they had little interaction as possible. It wasn't a fun environment to be stuck in for 16 days. Because of this, I was incredibly homesick for most of the trip.

Next, my initial trip leaders were rude and distant towards me. They made us do push-ups if we were even 5 minutes late to an activity. I understand if timeliness is important, but then in turn, they themselves would be 30 minutes late to an activity. The hypocrisy drove me insane. The two trip leaders made no effort to befriend me, and only learned my name 4 days into the trip, even though there are only 15 children and we spent all day together. When I informed my trip leaders of an intense skin reaction I was having that looked like chicken pox, they told me to "get used to it" and that I would probably have it for the next 3 weeks, giving me no medicine or actual diagnosis. Needless to say, that wasn't comforting at all. Then, I continuously had stomach problems because my body had a hard time adjusting to Fijian food, and when I told my trip leaders, they either didn't believe me or acted irritated. In addition, they advised against using medicine I had brought on the trip for that specific sickness. Overall, they did very little to help me adjust and made me grow less likely to reach out to them for help.

Lastly, the simple day-to-day living environment was a bit tricky as well. I was surprised to find myself without warm water or electricity for more than half the trip. I was essentially camping, which wasn't what I had initially signed up for. Herds of rats came into my tent 3 nights in a row, preventing me from getting very much sleep. As for the food, a lot of it was inedible because they didn't remove the bones, so I found myself incredibly hungry and ended up eating unhealthy foods to make up for my loss of food intake. The daily activities were fun, but sometimes a bit too intense. A mandatory 3 hour hike in the hottest part of the day made one of my friends vomit and made us an hour and a half late to lunch, when we were all hungry before we even left. Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this trip to my friends.

Response from Rustic Pathways

Thank you for taking the time to review your program. This is certainly not the experience that we seek to deliver to our clients. While we do have a 97% overall satisfaction rating for our Fiji programs, your feedback provides us an opportunity to improve our operations for future travelers.

In further looking into your review, it appears that there was an unusually high number of students that traveled together on this session of the program, which can contribute to a more challenging group dynamic. We train our Program Leaders to manage these type of situations by facilitating activities to break down barriers and actively manage group dynamics. Unfortunately, this was complicated when two of the Program Leaders had to leave the trip for personal reasons resulting in an abrupt adjustment in staffing. This is an exceptionally rare occurrence that further added to the poor group dynamic.

As for your medical care, I'm sorry that you felt your program leaders were inattentive to your needs. We did have one staff who is an EMT and another in training as an EMT on your program, who both take medical situations extremely seriously. Typically, we encourage students to try hydration, simple diet changes, or over-the-counter medications for the first 24hrs for an upset stomach until it is determined that there is an acute situation when antibiotics or other medications are appropriate. We will ensure that our Program Leaders hear your feedback to ensure that there is clearer communication about a treatment plan in order for students to understand the level of care being provided.

As for the accommodations, I do see that our FAQs on our Marine Program is clear about the safari tent style accommodations for the few days spent out at Somosomo Island. I will, however ask our team to include reference to the accommodations directly in the trip itinerary. This is a good recommendation, thank you.

As for your comments about food, our Program Leaders are good at accommodating specific food requests. However, this is largely dependent on students sharing with their leaders what they are looking for or what specific elements of the trip's menus are proving to be challenging. I'm confident that we could have made adjustments to meet your expectations if this was communicated more clearly with our team.

I'm glad that you generally had fun with the activities on the program. Our programs do seek to push students out of their typical comfort zones in order to get a culturally authentic and immersive experience. We recognize that every student has their own individual point for personal growth, and I'm sorry that you felt you were pushed too far. Despite this feedback and the challenges you faced on program, I was pleased to read your program evaluation form that stated, "I thought overall it was an enlightening experience that helped me become far more cultured in the world." I'm hoping that you are able to continue to reflect on the the positive experiences of your program.

I would be happy to continue this conversation with you, and I can be reached directly at [email protected] We really appreciate your feedback and thank you for the opportunity for us to make improvements to ensure all students have an amazing experience with Rustic Pathways.

Shrushti
Female
27 years old

Literal best

10/10

This was literally the best time of my life. Nothing in my life has topped this thus far. I've traveled to many countries and I've done many volunteer hours back in America, however, this trip truly made an impact on me. Not only did Intro to Community Service help perform tasks and volunteer hours that truly made an impact in the community, the people and friends that I met through this program are unforgettable. We were building a flush toilet in a village that previously shared one between the entire village. It made me appreciate so much. It was amazing to see how we were actually making a difference. Also, my group was told that we were the most compatible and fun group. The leaders and Fijians made our group. Simen, Sophia, Sam, Max, Julie, Hollie and many others made this trip the best. I cried about 8 times when leaving the Eco-lodge and the airport. I'm so upset that I didn't do a longer trip. I hope I encounter those people later in my life. I can't wait to visit Fiji again. I've cherished every moment in Fiji with the best group leaders and friends. Can't wait for the reunion in Portugal!!!

How can this program be improved?

Nada.

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Megyn
Female
21 years old
USA
Other

Marine service and adventure = AMAZING

9/10

My time spent with Rustic Pathways was the best! I was able to experience a new culture and met new people from all over! During out trip we got to work with some amazing people who really helped up out with the marine service we did. I am very interested in marine biology, and this trip was great for that. I saw sharks, learned new things about the ocean, tried foods I'd never imagined I'd try before, met unique people and saw some of the most beautiful coral reefs ever! Food was pretty good as long as you're not too picky. The Fijian people are the best ever and they act like you're their family. The accommodations were nice. At first we stayed at this sort of rustic resort Kuata Island. So beautiful and it was my favorite spot, despite the cold showers. Then we went into the village of Somosomo which was more rustic where we stayed in tents with cots. Still had a great time! Lastly we finished off the trip with adventuring around the main island, where we stayed at many different places that we all equally as nice. No 5 star hotels but still it was awesome! Go into it with an open mind and a positive attitude and you'll have such a great time!

would also recommend getting scuba certified and going on the shark dive they offer as an optional activity- pricey but SO worth it!
Other tip- I wish I had brought some warmer clothes like sweatpants and more than 1 sweatshirt. It rained while we were in Fiji and got windy and a little cold.

How can this program be improved?

I wish we did more service! That was my favorite! Also wish we got to spend some time with the children in the village. I know this is a marine service trip but still would've loved to play with them a little!

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Kelly
Female
20 years old
Wyoming, NSW
Other

School Leavers Fiji

10/10

Making the desicion to travel to Fiji by myself into the unknown was difficult but Rustic Pathways gave me the experience of a lifetime on the school leavers program. Living and staying in a unique Fijian village have me an insight into the amazing culture the country has to offer. The support staff were beautiful and did everything to tend to anyone's needs, even travelling a distance away to collect ice every day for my medication. Their Fijian and village background makes them so knowledgable and they were great fun to be around. The 3 days in Nadi was a great way to end the trip, and the activities the company planned were a great way to see another side of Fiji. Cannot recommend this trip enough

How can this program be improved?

Maybe changing the itinery on the website as we didn't follow that st all and it may confuse or defer people from the trip

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Lilah
Female
20 years old
New Jersey
Other

Fiji Fun

8/10

Fiji was spectacular to say the least. I had so much fun and made unforgettable memories. My absolute favorite part was swimming in the ocean. The food was yummy. I wish I could go back. I learned how to speak a bit of Fijian. The location was beautiful. Plus, I had such a fun group! I still contact some of my fellow travelers. Being in Fiji was one of the greatest times of my life. The weather was hot, and I loved it! I strongly urge others to go on this.

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Kaitlin
Female
21 years old
Melbourne, Australia
Monash University

Waterfalls and Culture in Fiji

9/10

Amazing trip - often reminisced and perfect for first time overseas travellers.
The school leavers trip was perfect for a celebration after exams and a stressful year of study where you have the support of a local and a group leader and get to both relax and give back to the community.
Despite the hot weather in Fiji at the time the projects in Fiji by Rustic Pathways are fantastic because they take you to place you would not be able to see as a tourist and meet local people and eat with them. And I'm not going to lie. The food was to die for, which in my case was possible as I'm allergic to nuts. Which is also going to say was easily avoided with help in Fiji!
Helping on the farm and in the school was great fun although exhausting and very hot t really did seem that most of our time was spent drinking water and sitting in the shade.
If I had one tip for someone taking a trip with Rustic Pathways its that taking the long way is always worth it - if you can walk instead of drive, do, you'll see some pretty awesome stuff BUT make sure you drink a ton of water because most people for sick from dehydration!!
Also, packs are always more convenient than suitcases!

How can this program be improved?

More opportunities to get to know the other people in the group and options to stay longer - continue the trip in the villages and see more of the highlands!

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Jamie
Female
19 years old
Burke, Virginia

Marine Service and adventure

10/10

This trip was a once in a life time experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the ocean and its ecosystem. I went into this trip wanting to figure out if marine conservation was something that I wanted to study in college and this trip helped me form a concrete decision. Although I went into this trip knowing a few people I came out of this trip with many new friends. Do not sign up for this trip if you are thinking that Fiji is an island paradise where you will become a tanned goddess, Fiji is a paradise but we did a lot of work. Much of the work consisted of snorkeling, fish counts, reef checks, giant clam measuring, hiking, and crown of thorns removal. Fiji is a developing country so don't expect warm showers. Come into this trip with an open mind and a desire to learn about a culture and make new friends.

How can this program be improved?

One thing that I would change was the way that money was stored and handled. Maybe next year make an electronic way to store money so that money can not be stolen.

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Meghan
Female
Maine

Marine service and adventure

7/10

I did the marine service and adventure trip. This was my first rustic trip and it was a good one! The trip was a little disorganized at times which was hard, but overall it was good. I wish we did more community service, because what we were doing was really fun! Highly recommend if you're looking into marine biology because this trip really covers lots of that. The fiji people are the best people you will ever meet, and seeing fiji was really exciting because it's so beautiful there. The places we stayed were always right near the beach and usually we had beds or cots. The food was pretty good and the coral reefs were amazing!!! Anyone who chooses this will have a great time!

How can this program be improved?

More service and more organized

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Joey
Male
19 years old
New York City (Manhattan)

BEST TIME OF MY LIFE

10/10

Hi my name is Joey. This summer I went on a RP trip called Big Fiji Explorer. The activities were amazing and so were the people. I made friends that will last a lifetime. I enjoyed every second of this trip even the plane ride! We went to the highlands, to the beach, zip lining, white water kayaking, staying at resorts, scuba diving, and much more. I would recommend this trip to anyone. This definitely backs up Rustic Pathway's new statement "Travel changes everything". This trip definitely changed me and I would go back any day. Rustic Pathways is also super helpful when coordinating the trip, whether it is figuring out your schedule, coordinating flights, having allergies, etc. Big Fiji Explorer, so far, was the best experience of my life. I would not change anything during that trip.

How can this program be improved?

I honestly cannot think of anything that could be improved.

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Iain
Male
19 years old
Washington

A Fijian Paradise

10/10

I traveled to Fiji with Rusic Pathways in the summer of 2013. It was the experience of a lifetime. The journey began with landing in the airport, and immediately getting rushed to a boat to take us to our island destination. On the boat ride I met travelers from all over the world. The island we stayed at was beautiful. It had really nice people, and the food was amazing. We slept in tent-huts which weren't the most comfortable, but when you're in Fiji, who cares, right? We went scuba diving, and saw many types of tropical fish. We were able to snorkel amoung manta rays and observe just how huge they are. We went on a magnificent morning hike and saw the sun rise from the highest peak of the island. If was truly breathtaking. As a vegetian, I never felt confined to what I could eat, because the cook accommodated to my needs very easily. Later on the trip we went back to the main island and were able to shop at local markets and buy delicious treats. We hiked to a waterfall where we were able to relax in the pool at the base and admire our surroundings. We also walked to a beach with black sand, and then took a boat ride out to see Dolphins jump in and out of the blue ocean waters. Honestly, it was the best trip of my life.

How can this program be improved?

I would change the beds we slept on in the tent-huts on island we went to when we first got off the plane. They were a bit uncomfortable.

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Iris
Female
19 years old
Shanghai, China

Great Experience

8/10

This travel will bring you great, unprecedented experience. It offers you many opportunities to help people, to do things that you have never done before.
You may feel uncomfortable staying with strangers in the same room for so much time at first, but you will be used to it after days and days being together as partners. After all the trip, you will certainly become friends with them and contact them even after the trip.
The counselors and the locals are all very welcomed and full of passion, you do not need to worry a lot. They will help you and care for you.
The views here are wonderful!

About The Provider

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Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways to one of many exotic locations.

We take students on unique, rewarding, and safe programs to some of the world's friendliest and fascinating countries. Immerse yourself in a new culture, work on purposeful community service projects, and expand

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