On this extended version of our 13-day Fiji program to the Land of Smiles, you get a little more of everything with a full 40 hours of community service and more sensational days to really savor Fiji time in paradise. See the direct positive impact of your hard work and earn service credit as you spend time with the locals and help improve the facilities of a local island school. Discover what it feels like to make a difference in the lives of the friendly school children who you’ll come to see as little brothers and sisters over the course of our project.
Combine this enriching experience with an amazing adventure that showcases all the best parts of this idyllic Pacific island nation. During our time exploring the spectacular island chain, dive into the crystal clear blue waters as you the swim with manta rays, reef sharks, exotic fish and vibrant corals. Feel like a local as you explore limestone caves, cook a lovo, sample kava and visit several villages. Join us for a mix of cultural immersion, fun, adventure, and relaxation that you’re sure to never forget!
During this program, you will…
- Improve the facilities at a local elementary school (up to 40 hours of community service credit)
- Make lifetime bonds with local Fijian students
- Snorkel and scuba dive* vibrant coral reefs teeming with incredible exotic marine life
- Prepare a lovo with Fijians, learn how to weave palm frond baskets and cook like a local with this traditional earth oven
- Hike for incredible sunrise and sunset views of the Yasawa Islands
- Kayak between amazingly beautiful islands in the turquoise water of the famous blue lagoon
- Go zip-lining through jungles, mountain tops, and cave systems
*This is an optional excursion
If your teen plans on diving, it is mandatory for you to purchase dive insurance in advance of the program. Please review our FAQ section for more information.
DAY 1: DEPART FROM LOS ANGELES (LAX)
DAY 2: CROSS THE INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE
DAY 3: NADI, VITI LEVU
We spend our first day on the largest of the islands in the Fijian Archipelago, Viti Levu. We’ll stop at beautiful sand dunes at a national park where we will shake off our jet lag with a leisurely hike, and even have the opportunity to jump and play on the dunes! Our first afternoon we will visit the most beautiful beach on the island to relax, swim, and get acquainted with island life. After a fun day exploring the main island we will head back to our beautiful resort, right on the beach with an incredible sunset view.
DAYS 4 – 15: YASAWA ISLANDS
Waking the next morning we will hop on a ferry bound for Nacula Island, one of the furthest north in the Yasawa island chain. We will spend our time here immersing ourselves into the laid back rhythm of Fiji time! Brilliant sunrises and sunsets beg for the attention of your eyes and camera.
Just a short ten minute boat ride away is a local school we have partnered with for many years, where we will complete an important renovation over the course of several days. You will be able to form genuine bonds with the Fijian students as you coordinate playground games, swap stories, and teach each other about your own cultures. You’ll also spend some time meeting the students from each classroom and feel warmly welcomed into the school with songs and dance. Our service project will be capped off with a touching assembly from the school thanking you for your hard work.
Our program will also involve day trips to the neighboring islands for village visits where you will spend time connecting with local families, some of whom may never have traveled further than 20 miles from the island in their entire lives. Many of the students from the school we partner with live in these villages, so you will be able to spend some time with the children outside of school and see what daily life for them is like!
Our time on Nacula will also involve fully immersing ourselves in Fijian culture while enjoying a wide variety of activities. Prepare an authentic lovo (Fijian feast cooked in the earth) to gain new appreciation for the local fare. Participate in a traditional kava ceremony. Learn Fijian songs and dances, and discover the meaning of “Fiji time” while soaking up everything this island has to offer!
Of course, no one’s time in Fiji would be complete without plenty of water activities! Paddle across the sea in a glass bottomed kayak, snorkel in the neighboring blue lagoon and dive beneath the waves to explore the pristine reefs and underwater ecosystems. Swim in the famous limestone caves of Sawa-I-Lau. Each day we’ll also enjoy the option to play volleyball with the local staff, snorkel, swim, or relish some laid back hammock time. We will play group games in the evenings, and some nights will even involve special Fijian performances and a bonfire!
After about a week on Nacula we travel by ferry to our second stop, Drawaqa Island to enjoy snorkeling in its world-class house reef. Relax on the perfect white sand taking in sunset from the aptly named Sunset Beach.
The morning after we arrive, if we are lucky, we will be greeted by the furious drumming signaling that manta rays have been spotted feeding in the channel just off the shore. We will throw on our snorkel gear, board a boat, and jump into the current to swim above and next to these gentle, majestic animals whose wingspans can reach up to twenty feet!
The last Yasawa Island, Waya Lai Lai, has the tallest peak of any of the islands we will visit. Play beach volleyball in one of the most beautiful locations imaginable before getting a few hours rest. The next morning we take an early morning hike up the second tallest peak. Sunrise with a thirty-mile view makes the early wake up absolutely worthwhile. After breakfast venture offshore to a coral reef where we will have the ultimate in adrenaline experiences: swimming with reef sharks (with our expert guide, of course!). These beautiful animals will be curious, but keep their distance from you. Landing back on shore for lunch, you will be completely in love with the islands and never want to go home; but the program isn’t over yet!
DAYS 16 – 17: NADI, VITI LEVU
We will return to Nadi to come full circle and complete our adventure in Fiji. Our last two days will be packed with excitement. Take off on a thrilling zip-line tour through jungles, caves, and mountaintops. We will also get down and dirty and enjoy a day spa the natural way by covering yourself head to toe in mud before relaxing in the warm, re-invigorating water of natural hot springs.
After two incredible weeks together it will be time to say goodbye to our new friends, but the memories we made together in Fiji will last a lifetime!
DAY 17: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
On the mainland we stay in Nadi Bay at a beachfront resort with great facilities for enjoying this idyllic setting. In the Yasawa Islands we stay at three local rustic resorts, each situated on the water and selected for the amazing activities and famous Fijian hospitality on offer.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Every year students fall in love with the tropical paradise that is Fiji. Picturesque white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, a huge array of adventure activities both in and out of the water and the legendary Fijian hospitality leave such an impression on the teens they often wish they could stay just one more day!
What is unique about this program?
The community service program with the local school is something we are very proud of, having formed a wonderful relationship after returning to volunteer there for years. This gives the teens an exclusive all-access pass to form amazing bonds with the students. Year after year there are tears as the teens have to bid fond farewells to their new found friends.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Not included (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
Fijians are amazing chefs, so during the program there is delicious array of dishes, and lots of it! Try a TFT favorite, the local fish and coconut delicacy kokoda, as well as taro and cassava, straight from the steaming lovo, which is a traditional earth oven used for centuries.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of the program?
Due to the nature of our service work in the local village, all you’ll need are clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
A more detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
Do I need anything special for the scuba diving portion of the program?
All students participating in dives during our Fiji programs are required to have dive insurance. Many health insurance policies already cover this and so do some homeowners policies. We recommend that you check with these first in case you already have coverage.
We recommend using this website to find the best insurance policy for your teen.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Fiji is automatically granted a free four-month tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!