Bula, welcome to Fiji!

Fijian village life


On a Think Pacific volunteer expedition to Fiji, you are about to sample a way of life that few people will ever be fortunate enough to see as you live at the heart of a remote and traditional Fijian village. Our projects are based on remote islands, completely cut off to tourism in the beautiful Lomaiviti Province of Fiji. Here you will experience traditional island life as you are introduced to the unique Fijian culture and customs and welcomed to the villages with a warmth and kindness greater than you could imagine.

Village life in Fiji

Arriving into your Fijian village is the most exciting day of the expedition. Each team visits a different community to complete the project objectives. The communities are so incredibly excited for your arrival that the entire village will gather to greet you from the boats and welcome you into their traditional island village. By the time you depart from your project, you will feel like you have a second home at this tiny community. During your time in the village take this opportunity with both hands! Immerse yourself into every aspect of Fijian life and see the country through the eyes of the local people. Take an active interest in Fijian customs, culture, values and traditions. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into the Fijian village experience, and you'll get so much back and make so many amazing friends.

'Kaiviti lifestyle'

Fijian life is incredibly communal and friendly. The entire village live and work together. Fijians farm together, maintaining crop plantations which feed the whole village. They fish together, later dividing their catch, and families will all come together in the evenings to play cards, strum the guitar, chat and dance the night away as they drink Kava. Weekends in the village are 'family time' as you help to farm and fish, play with the Fijian children, attend local church services and ceremonies and enjoy communal feasts. The Fijian village is a very slow paced and gentle way of life with an overwhelming sense of sharing and togetherness.

Your accommodation

The villages are tiny, usually just 20 or so families in each community. During the project, you will stay with your own Fijian family in the village. The Fijian families will treat you as one of their own. If you are lucky, you may also live with a family who has children and your little Fijian brothers and sisters are always so intrigued and incredibly excited by the arrival of visitors from afar! Conditions are basic; expect cold bucket showers, pit toilets and limited electricity. Most volunteers are lucky and will have their own bed although some will sleep on a simple mat (which will be provided). Houses are small and often just one room structured, a communal space, with a curtain dividing your sleeping area and the rest of the family.

Fijian food

You will eat with your Fijian family, who provide all of your meals in the community. Think Pacific fund any costs of this food so our teams pose absolutely no burden on the local resources. You may often find many different people at your home for lunch and dinner – in Fiji it is custom to invite anyone who is passing into the home to eat. Food is very carbohydrate heavy, so expect lots of root crops such as dalo and cassava, and also lots of fish, as this makes up the bulk of a typical Fijian diet. Traditional Fijian food is usually steamed or boiled and often marinated in coconut cream. Indian curries, rice, dahl and roti are also common. Fijians will eat seated on a mat on the floor, and will eat with their fingers. The whole village comes together at weekends to cook and enjoy communal lovo (underground earth oven) banquets.

Culture shock

Trust us when we say that there really is nothing like a Fijian village! However, the comparatively basic standard of living, the communal nature, the strong religious beliefs and the traditional customs and values in the village, may take time to adjust to. It is completely normal to feel a little out of your depth in the first few days. With the support of your Fijian family, your team and our leaders, we find it doesn't take long to adjust to life in the South Pacific. Before you know it, you will be settled into Fijian life and loving every minute of your unique experience!

Fijian Language

The majority of Fijians speak both Fijian and English. There may be some language barriers with pronunciation, but as long as you talk slowly and clearly in English there is little difficulty in understanding each other. Young children and some elderly members of the community may not speak any English at all and it's great to learn a few Fijian words as early as you can. Ask your families to teach you a little Fijian, they will be delighted and honored to do so. The more you learn, the more the Fijians will both respect you and encourage you more!

'Fiji time'

'Fiji time' is something you will soon be accustomed to – and it has the ability to change everything. A village ceremony may be cancelled for no explained reason or the boat captain may decide not to set sail that day. South Pacific Islanders take everything at their own unique, mystifying and incredibly slow pace. This can sometimes seem frustrating, but don't let it get to you; its better to smile and take any changes in your stride and welcome this beautiful, relaxed and refreshing way of life!

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The South Pacific is just intoxicating. I was lured by visions of tropical islands, but itís the beautiful way of life and the experience of doing something so worthwhile which will stay with me.
Angell, London
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