Volunteer abroad in Fiji, and you will be able to enjoy a tropical, ocean paradise while contributing to the progress of a developing nation. Roughly 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, Fiji is a great location to volunteer abroad. Featuring a cluster of 332 islands with picturesque, crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and beautiful coral reefs, Fiji is a place volunteers may never want to leave. Although the scenery may appear utopian, Fiji still faces a number of issues so volunteers can surely help make a real difference.
While there are a number of islands in Fiji, there are a few locations that stand out in terms of volunteer placements. Depending on what you want to experience, in terms of rural versus urban Fiji, there’s bound to be a city that fits your goals as well as desired lifestyle as a volunteer in Fiji.
Suva, the capital of Fiji, offers numerous opportunities for volunteers. Suva is the largest cosmopolitan city in Fiji, and therefore attracts a number of students within the South Pacific region. Although there is no industry that stands out from the rest in Suva, volunteer placements in education are readily available, whether you want to lead a class of students or assist in an already established curriculum. Other popular types of volunteering in Suva include health, journalism, and tourism.
The Yasawa Islands. Consisting of six main islands and many other small inlets, the Yasawa Islands only opened to land tourism in 1987, making tourism a relatively new but rapidly growing industry. One of the most popular areas of interest for tourists is diving, so having diving experience and open water certification is extremely beneficial for those who want to volunteer on the Yasawa Islands. Volunteers might even have the chance to assist tourists with dives or explore the underwater world of diverse aquatic life in their volunteer placements.
Nadi is the location of the largest international airport in Fiji, and is therefore the point of entrance for most international travelers. As a result, there are a number of tourists that cycle in and out of Nadi, and the city has a number of outdoor activities that facilitate the influx of tourists. Therefore, there are many opportunities to volunteer in Nadi as an activity guide for rafting, sailing, snorkeling, and other eco related tours.
In addition to these locations, there are numerous small towns and rural areas that offer a range of volunteer opportunities in Fiji. These areas are often in the greatest need for teachers and teaching assistants, as many of children are not supplied the educational luxuries that many living in the bigger cities have. There are also many farming and gardening volunteer placements available in the more rural areas of Fiji.
Volunteering Abroad in Fiji
The most popular types of volunteer placements in Fiji are within education and eco-tourism, as these fields have the highest, consistent demand for assistance. Volunteering in Fiji is also possible in many other specialized industries, such as health, medicine, and marine biology. No matter what field you end up in as a volunteer in Fiji, it’s nearly impossible not to include yourself in some sort of outdoor activity. Whether that involves scuba diving, sailing, or just hiking through the countryside, you are sure to connect with Fiji’s natural environment in many ways.
Individuals can volunteer in Fiji for as short as one week or up to a couple of months. The required experience and duration of each volunteer placement in Fiji will mostly depend on the amount of responsibilities the placement requires. For instance, teaching a class of students will usually require you to stay for a set duration, to match up with a term or semester, and will most likely require a teaching degree or certificate. Some specialized tours, such as scuba diving, may also require volunteers to have a certificate in a particular field. However, if you are volunteering in Fiji in a placement with limited responsibilities, such as assisting staff at an orphanage or conducting a guided land tour, typically no prior experience is required.
Those who are proficient in English should have no problem with communication while volunteering in Fiji; English is one of three recognized national languages and is spoken by the majority of the population. To make things even easier, English is the language used by most volunteer organizations in Fiji, as well as in the classroom.
Costs & Affordability
The costs of volunteering in Fiji are relatively cheap, given the high quality accommodations that most volunteer programs offer. Although the cost does vary greatly from program to program, generally you will get what you pay for. Fiji is one of the most developed islands in the Pacific; the economy was established mainly in the 1960s and 70s through the trading of many natural resources, but has recently experienced another leap due to the influx of tourism.
The cost of living in Fiji is very affordable. Standard items are less expensive than in most Western countries. For example, a meal for two at a typical restaurant is roughly $25, as is the price of a good pair of jeans. Gasoline is the only expensive commodity, but this won’t cause an issue for volunteers, as public transportation is readily available. Local one way trips are typically less than one dollar each. Keep in mind that prices drastically vary from the cities to more rural areas, where the cost of living is even more affordable, but altogether Fiji is generally an inexpensive country to volunteer abroad in.
Accommodations & Visas
Most volunteer programs in Fiji will include housing and meals in packaged programs. The most common living arrangements provided to volunteers are hotels, resorts, and dorms. Additionally, most volunteers also have the option of participating in a homestay.
Visas are issued to citizens of most countries at the time of your arrival into Fiji, as long as they have proof of a valid passport that is valid for three months after the date of visa issuance. Visitors are not to exceed a four month stay, and that applies to those volunteering in Fiji too. If you plan to volunteer in Fiji for longer than four months, you must acquire a work visa.
Benefits & Challenges
- Live & Work in a Beautiful, Idyllic Setting. Surrounded by tropical waters, warm weather, and palm trees, your time as a volunteer in Fiji will feel as much like a vacation as a volunteer program. This is the perfect location to volunteer abroad if you want to achieve an ideal work/play balance.
- Help a Nation in Need of Exposure. Although Fiji is a highly progressive Pacific island, much of the country is still underdeveloped. Though this preserves the natural beauty of the country, there are still many people who are without modern necessities. By helping to bring education, vaccines, and medicine to underprivileged communities, you will be improving the lives of individuals and the country as a whole in your day to day volunteer work.