Rustic Pathways | Fiji

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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 46 - 60 of 61
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Abigail
10/10

Best trip

The balance of adventure and community service on my trip was amazing. My favorite adventure activities include zip lining, kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, and skydiving. The community service on my trip included doing reef checks, measuring seagrass, and playing with the kids at school. I loved every part of it because I got to experience the real Fiji. Living in the village was my favorite part because I met some of the nicest people ever and had never felt so welcomed by strangers before. The staff were the greatest everywhere we went especially the leaders because they knew when to be strict for our safety and how to have fun.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked to spend maybe a couple more days in the village and I would have liked the trip to be a bit longer because it went by too fast
Yes, I recommend this program
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Liz
8/10

First day....

The worst part of this trip was arrival day- too many kids in one space and we all felt very uncomfortable and awkward. There wasn't much guidance by staff on what to do or what the plan was for the day. There wasn't enough space for everyone to sit for breakfast so it became really awkward for the newbies to find a table. There wasn't much of an introduction to the base and it was not a very good start to the program. The bares had lizards all inside of them and there was evidence of other animals eating snack food- possibly rats. We also had 12 girls sleeping in our room at one time, which only comfortably could sleep 10. However, the service projects and the other activities (I did island hopping) were insane and so fun. After the ice broke with the other kids we found that we really liked each other, but some icebreaking activities on the first day instead of just a beach day would have been really nice.

How can this program be improved?
The first day in Fiji should be completely rewritten. The beach day was nice and all, but it was a really long time to be on the beach especially when you're with people you don't really know. More of an introduction to the base and ice breaker activities would've been nice as well. If possible, moving into the bares earlier would've been nice too.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Deborah
1/10

Look at other programs

My daughter had a completely different time with another agency; she was miserable on this trip. First off, we were not told that she would be sleeping in tents and hostiles. She needed to pay for every trip to the bathroom, never mind that her back was killing. There is also a lot of hiking on this trip! As soon as they got off the plane they had to hike over an hour carrying their luggage. Their luggage would be stored at a nice hotel and then they needed backpack to their tent! Many of the kids were sent here by rich families as punishement for their bad behavior. Little did the parents know, there was no supervision and these bad kids would sneak out at night and go drinking. Many of their water bottles were filled with alcohol. They saw 5 tarantulas and at one point about 4 of the kids were playing with a poisonous snake and the staff said nothing about it. My daughter also had conjunctivits the whole time and many of the kids were sick. If someone hurt themselves they were basically told to suck it up. Not a good program at all. My daughter went to provide service and have a wonderful experience and now she says that she will never return to Fiji because she had the worst experience of her life. If you are looking for a place for a bad child send them here, otherwise choose somewhere else.

Response from Rustic Pathways

Deborah,

I am sorry for your dissatisfaction with Rustic Pathways and I would like to discuss this with you further over the phone. We pride ourselves in our program operations and we take very close care to maintain the safety and satisfaction of our students among primary concerns. It is unfortunate that your daughter arrived on our program and immediately became ill. While your daughter arrived with conjunctivitis, we had a few other students on the program arrive with pre-existing illnesses as well. The program leaders delayed their trip to the islands for a day so the students would have time to rest and recuperate, and by the time the group was out on the islands, everyone was in much higher spirits.

The staff members on this program were certified in Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid and First Aid / CPR. They would not have ignored any student medical concerns. Again the well being of our students is extremely important to us.

I am also sorry for the difficulties that your daughter experienced with her gluten intolerance on the program. We took care to provide her with sufficient alternatives at meal times that were gluten free. In fact, one of the program leaders was gluten intolerant as well, so your daughter always had someone she could come to for extra support or to help her with any gluten issues. Unfortunately, she decided to not eat the gluten-free meals provided to her.

I do want to publicly address the issue you raise about alcohol consumption and safety on our programs. We take this accusation very seriously and we absolutely do NOT tolerate ANY alcohol consumption on any of our programs. Any student found to consume or even possess alcohol will be removed from our programs immediately. On this program we maintained a minimum of a 6:1 student to staff ratio present at all times and at no time were students unsupervised. We take this matter very seriously and I would like to discuss this with you further.

Deborah, I am very sorry that you and your daughter had a negative experience with Rustic Pathways. We take feedback seriously and are always striving to provide the very best experiences for our students and families. I've been working with Rustic Pathways for over four years now. I come to work each day with the hope of providing our next generation's youth with inspiration and the desire to make a positive change in our world. I believe in what we do and I believe in our excellent staff. I take this very seriously. Please contact me at [email protected] or 440.856.5252 if you'd like to discuss this further.

Sincerely,
Ryan Gibbons

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
easydoesit16
10/10

great trip! can't believe how fast it went!

I did the Sun, Sand, Service trip in 2013. I made great friends and had an awesome staff team to back it up! All the staff at the Eco Lodge make it feel like its your second home. I got sick one day and was taken care of really well! Activities were fun and we also got some relaxing time in the afternoons. Great trip!

How can this program be improved?
Other kids on my trip complained about the food. I thought it was good. Its different from what we are used too. The meat has bones in it and sometimes we had indian food. I ate well though!
Yes, I recommend this program
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T
9/10

Great Program

Amazing program! We lived in a village and were basically part of the community. The project leaders are truly invested in their time and making a lasting impact for the village we worked on. An incredible eye-opening experience!

How can this program be improved?
Schedule the work a bit better so the work is more meaningful. Granted, we were the last group, but still. Otherwise, awesome!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rose
10/10

Awesome Experience

I was in the Marine Environmental monitoring group during summer 2013 and this was my first big overseas trip without my family. Let me tell ya, it was amazing. The staff were very welcoming and made me feel like I was right at home! Heck, when we arrived in the Somosomo village on Naviti island, the Fijian staff were all on the beach singing and waving us in! Everyday we did something exciting that we knew was going to leave an impact, whether it be doing reef checks or planting mangroves, we always had a blast! One of the best parts of the trip though was spending time in the village and making so many new friends. The people are amazing and they are so thankful for everything around them that it makes you just feel happy all the time! I know I will be staying in contact with the friends that I made there and I'm so glad that I chose this trip and I can't wait to go on another trip next year!
On a side note- the Marine and Green programs stayed on a remote island in a small base camp (less than 10 freaking steps from the beach!) and not at the Eco lodge. So, if you're expecting some 5 star hotel, with electricity and a pool and such things, I would recommend a trip that stays at the Eco lodge! (But the small island base camp is still my first choice!)

How can this program be improved?
Honestly the only thing that I would change is to make the Marine and Green programs longer! You are just getting in the swing of things after a week and then you have to leave! But everything else (food, lodging, people) was amazing!
Yes, I recommend this program
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omclean
10/10

Not what I expected...

Be sure to think carefully on your program. Someone who signs up for a service project is going to be a different type of person than one who would sign up for a purely fun trip. Truly one of the most rewarding programs I have ever been on. Two years later and I still keep in touch with people from my trip!

How can this program be improved?
Organization. It was nothing like what the itinerary claimed partially because of weather but it turned out great.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
10/10

Once in a lifetime experience!

This program was definately worth it! The staff were so helpful, and they really did their job really well!( like keeping 50 jet lagged grumpy teenagers relatively happy on a rainy first day) The villagers and the fijians really welcomed us into their villages, and seemed to enjoying working along side us to help complete projects. Over my two weeks I: painted a police station, built toilets, tiled a school, taught typing and arts and crafts, picked up trash, and had some fun! There is built in time for some relaxation on the trips out of the Eco lodge, like trips to mud baths and to caves. There was sometimes night time entertainment like fijian dancers and firethrowers. THis was an overall amazing summer.

How can this program be improved?
It would be cool to have more choice in what service project you work on like some of their other programs in other countries.
Yes, I recommend this program
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BPC2893
10/10

Best Experience of a Lifetime

My Rustic Pathways experience in Fiji last summer was beyond life changing. The staff is an incredible group of people that are always making sure that you are having the best experience possible. The other kids get super involved in their programs and take what they're there to do very seriously. Everyone was dedicated to their programs and went above and beyond to make sure that all the work got done on each site we visited. I absolutely loved my experience in Fiji and if I wasn't too old, I'd go back again in a heartbeat. This is a program that if you have the means to go on it, you should go. I've never had a more life changing experience and I know the things I learned about myself in Fiji will stay with me forever.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Momi
10/10

Rustic Pathways Fiji

It's a difficult thing to feel like you've made an impact in a completely foreign community, but Rustic makes it work. I felt immersed in the Rustic Fiji community from the beginning--everyone was friendly, welcoming, and engaging.

Yes, I recommend this program
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north19
10/10

Highlands service trip

I went on the two and a half week highlands service trip when I was in high school (2005 I think?). It was my first big international trip and an incredible experience. The staff were extremely friendly and competent at handling the group dynamic and travel logistics at the same time. There was a great balance of activities to stay busy and time to relax and enjoy the beautiful Fijian scenery. I would be extremely confident in recommending RP to students or to parents both in terms of the quality of the experience and the safety/professionalism of the staff.

Response from Rustic Pathways

We're so glad you had such a great experience in Fiji! Thank you for taking the time to reach out and write a review. We appreciate it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alifish12
8/10

Living in paradise

Marine and environmental monitoring was a trip that has honestly changed my life. It was not the marine monitoring, but living in Malakati village that was life changing. Living with the people of the village, you truely get the chance to live a life that is the complete opposite of yours. You become very close to the villagers, having tea and drinking kava. You become a part of the village and feel more like family than a visitor. During the day We would count fish populations and collect data from some of the healthiest reefs in the world. You really learn about human impact on reefs. After I returned home, I was inspired to become more environmentally friendly. Nothing beats the clear blue Fiji waters. Waking up in paradise to help the environment is amazing. I would defiantly recommend this program to someone who really loves the water and wants to learn about a different culture.

Yes, I recommend this program
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kalanglois13
10/10

Eye Opening

Fiji was amazing and it was beautiful but the best part of the trip was living in a village like the Malkati village, it changed my life. The people were always so friendly and even though they didn't have much they were always smiling. Living in their houses and eating the food they eat and getting used to only having an hour of electricity a day showed me how lucky I was. Doing research on the coral reefs was amazing. The reefs were beautiful and some of the best I have seen. This program changed my life. I would highly recommend this program or any other Rustic Pathways program

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jonah
10/10

Village of Malakati, Fiji Islands: The GREATESTS place on earth.

One of the 3 weeks I spent in Fiji was spent in the extremely remote village Malakati, on Nacula Islands. This place perfectly exemplifies what one would think of Fiji. Serene beaches, laid back lifestyle, and overall beauty. However, Malakati was that and much much more. While I was there I interacted with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The villagers were so welcoming, someone so lost here in America. What made it special for me was that everyone who lived there wanted to be your friend, and tell you stories, and listen to your stories. I remember one night specifically where we had a bonfire on the beach, and instead of staying with the entire group, I went off with these 2 native teenagers, and for about an hour all I did was tell them stories about New York City, and they were fascinated. The villagers are definitely what made my trip. Many of them even remember my name when I came back a week later on my next trip, some of them could barely speak english but they could say my name, and it was simply heart warming. During the day we would sit out on the beach watching the palm trees sway, and listening to the rhythm of the ocean, all while learning about marine and environmental conservation efforts. Later we would snorkel the reef conducting research about the life and stability of the reef and fish in the area. I got community service hours for snorkeling!!!! It was fantastic. After a long day of work, we would see the kids come home from school on a boat, and jump into the water with us, and be so excited, its almost indescribable. What really made the entire overall trip special was the immersion. We didn't stay at a holiday inn. This village was a 5 hour boat ride from the main land. Almost as far out into the middle of nowhere as possible, and it felt like pure freedom. While there we stayed in traditional houses called burees made out of sticks, and branches and slept on bamboo mats. We didn't have french toast or waffles for breakfast, we had fresh fruits and vegetables that the amazing cook had plucked only hours before. We had pirahna! I spent a day with the chief of the village, and I my favorite kid, joevesa, is the future chief. Fiji is such an amazing place, and this trip changed my life by showing me all the differences, and absolute perfection that our vast world has to offer. Because when it comes down to it, thats what Malakati is, pure perfection.

Yes, I recommend this program
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BundleOfLove
10/10

BundleOfLove

This program is absolutely life changing. Rather than being down in the tourist areas experiencing and "Americanized Vacation" this program allows you to live day by day as a true Fijian does. The people that you meet and the relationships that you build are unlike any connection you have ever made before with another human being. We stayed in Buras on the farm and worked on the farm almost every morning. The work is difficult but the strength built is unimaginable. The experiences in this program allow you to see the impact that you are making and see the struggle that these villagers deal with on a day to day basis. Other days we stayed in host families in the Nasivicoso Village. The families that allow you into their homes are beyond kind and loving. They take you in as if you are their own child. During my stay I got extremely sick and my Nae Nae (Host Mom) looked after me as she would for her own child. From the amazing hikes you will take to the waterfalls and highest points in the land, to the interactions and laughter you will share in the schools, to having tea time every evening at 4pm, to Kava ceremonies with your friends and family, to showering in the river, to having a fresh coconut with a bamboo straw, to just relaxing in the peaceful scenery under "Fiji Time", there will never be a dull moment.

Yes, I recommend this program

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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...