Rustic Pathways | Fiji

Video and Photos

About

Our community partnerships in Fiji date to 1993. These deep roots mean that we have friends in every village we visit and our expert local staff members make students immediately feel at home. Arriving students are welcomed to their programs with a traditional sevu sevu ceremony and invited to share a taste of kava. Our Fiji programs visit villages on remote islands and in the mountainous highlands, locations not available to the average tourist.

Sailing through the islands of Fiji feels like you’re in a postcard brought to life. Whether you are in the highlands or among the islands, you will constantly be surrounded by calming tropical scenery. The warmth of the Fijian people make you feel at home and you will find yourself easily adjusting to island life.

Questions & Answers

Hey Sarah! I had the exact same question when embarking on my trip to Fiji. Being my first Rustic trip I followed the packing list completely. Which you should do because some of my friends did not have some of the stuff I had. I wish I brought more lounging, comfy clothing. Everything says on the website "no leggings", but everyone wore leggings and comfy lounging clothes when we weren't in...
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.

Reviews

93%
based on 61 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 31 - 45 of 61
Default avatar
Sydney
10/10

Fantastic time full of learning and exploration

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Mollie
10/10

Sun, Sand & International Service

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Mollie
10/10

Sun, Sand and International Service

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jessica
10/10

Intro to Community Service was AMAZING !!!

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 !!!!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Reina
2/10

Not as Expected

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.

No, I don't recommend this program
Shrushti
10/10

Literal best

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Megyn
9/10

Marine service and adventure = AMAZING

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!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kelly
10/10

School Leavers Fiji

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

Fiji Fun

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kaitlin
9/10

Waterfalls and Culture in Fiji

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!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jamie
10/10

Marine Service and adventure

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Meghan
7/10

Marine service and adventure

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

BEST TIME OF MY LIFE

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Iain
10/10

A Fijian Paradise

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Iris
8/10

Great Experience

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!

Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

About Rustic Pathways

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...