Fiji and Vanuatu are rich in culture and full of beauty, smiles, and sunshine. Most people think of a holiday laying back on the beach with a coconut, yet we will show you there is so much more to these vibrant and complex islands! We take our Mid Teen Summer Program adventuring off the beaten track to meet local people and explore luscious volcanoes and river systems. We also head out to the islands with a focus on authentic and meaningful connections within the communities we stay.
This program truly captures the essence of Fiji and Vanuatu. We have deliberately created a balance between jam-packed adventure to showcase the pristine environment as well as immersive cultural experiences that give color to the traditions and history of these islands.
✓ Want to travel with an incredible group of new friends!
✓ Are keen to get hands-on service experience in grassroots community development
✓ Want to island-hop across Pacific Island Nations
✓ Love the beach!
✓ Want to get immersed in local Fijian and Vanuatu culture
✓ Enjoy outdoors activities like snorkeling, day hikes, kayaking and rafting
✓ Want to receive a Certificate of Completed Service Hours to add to your resume
I would recommend the program to others to challenge themselves, make new friends, do amazing activities, and to immerse themselves in a new culture! You really get to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person on this program! I learned to let go, and live in the moment."
- Mia, 2021 Student
Get the full Summer Program run-down in our catalogue. This catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions, testimonials and a comparison chart!
**The hub will be confirmed on student home locations and flight paths at the time of booking.
We fly over the sand-dotted islands of the Pacific and start our journey with the group here in Fiji! Our first destination will be on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu where the Coral Coast awaits you. Fiji comprises over 300 islands and is surrounded by jaw-dropping sandy ocean stretches.
Our program instructors will give our group an exciting brief on what to expect in the coming days. The main focus when we hit the ground is to get to know the other group members. We’ll be amazed by all the sights and smells of this Pacific Island Nation - and this is only the beginning! From Nadi, we boat out to another Pacific Island called Vatuele. There’s something you should know about Fijians - they are hands down the warmest and friendliest people we’ve ever come across! On this island gem, we will be taken by the local community and participate in true island living. The sun always shines and people are happy living from the ocean and keeping family close. Our knowledge of Fijian culture will grow while we spend a day weaving traditional tapa cloths to take home and trying our hand at fishing.
Fiji is not just about the beautiful beaches; we will boat back to the main Island of Viti Levu and head to an action-packed location called Pacific Harbor. Here we will have a day to chill and relax before undertaking some H20 adventure sports. We test our skills at kayaking and take on an epic white-water rafting adventure nearby.
We will sit back for a scenic 2-hour drive from Nadi to Nasautoka Village on the big island. Viti Levu is home to 70% of Fiji’s 900,000-person population - and it’s the place to meet with grassroots communities who don’t play a part in the tourism industry. During our time in Nasautoka village, we will be providing some hands-on service needed around the area. Depending on the project, we will be joined by locals that will be working alongside our group. It’s grounding to give back to the country that is giving us such an amazing experience! The afternoons are dedicated to local craft making, planting local crops, collecting firewood, and playing sports with the community. We will be treated to some incredible local meals while in the village - do some searching for the local cuisine before you arrive! On the way back to Nadi and after a few days of hard work, we will soak away our muscle soreness in the hot springs and mud pools.
From Port Denarau, we will head out on a boat charter for the day to explore the quintessential Mamanuca Island group. This is where a lot of the sensational Fiji insta-worthy shots come from. This epic day trip is all about making memories with our group and going out with a bang on our last day in Fiji. Make a note of all the islands we might want to return to one day in the future - the options are endless!
Vanuatu has 80 islands. We take a short flight across to the capital city of Vanuatu located on Efate Island. On the first full day in Port Vila, we will take a tour of the whole island with lots of interesting stops along the way to get a feel for how this island nation is different from Fiji.
We are in for a seriously action-packed week! We will take a boat ride to Nguna Island, where we go on a 3.5-hour round-trip hike up the extinct Marou Volcano. It’s totally worth the hike, and we are rewarded with great views followed by lunch on the beach and an afternoon snorkeling with tropical fish and corals. We will keep up the island hopping as we boat to the nearby Pele Island (any Moana lovers out there?!). On Pele, there are some great short walks and exploring to do. This week we also head to the east coast of Efate Island to kayak on the Rentapao River, paddling through the rainforest and getting a peek into village life. There are loads of refreshing places to swim in cascades along the way. Some of the nights in Vanuatu will be spent in Port Vila, and others will be in a quintessential island bungalow with your group mates.
As our days wind down, we will head back to Port Vila and explore the capital city on a private tour. It’s nothing like a city from back home - think colorful market stalls, unique mural paintings, and impressive cultural sites. We will be on foot checking out the National Museum, National Parliament, and the epicenter of Vanuatu's traditional meeting places.
It’s time to say goodbye to the Pacific Islands, which we have come to learn so much about. More than just an idyllic getaway, they are home to wonderful people with rich culture and history. The program instructors will support the group in reflecting on lessons that can be taken onward in life. We will board the plane as a group and head home to the US with fresh eyes, a sandal tan, a special group of new friends, and a unique insight into life in a Pacific island nation.
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, do laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects, or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
✓ All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
✓ All accommodation
✓ All meals
✓ All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects, and entry fees as described in the itinerary
✓ Experienced and relatable Program Instructors and local guides
✓ Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
✓ Core Activities that encourage shared group reflection
✓ Certificate of Community Development with 18 hours service
Medium Activity Level: Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this gap semester! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program, like helping in the village with simple building and construction.
Low Camping Level: You will spend your time in comfortable hostels and lodges, and a shared homestay experience at Nasautoka Village.
Medium Service Learning Level: You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.
Our accommodation will be a mix of comfortable, clean hostels and lodges, and a homestay at Nasautoka Village. Students will share rooms with other members of the group. Sometimes they will be in twin rooms and other times they will be in dorm rooms. There will never be outsiders from the group present in the rooms. The instructors will be in a twin room near the students. Students will always be able to access the instructors for support at any time of the day.
Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available some days, and instructors will always let you know when you can connect with family and get some downtime for laundry and recuperation. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $10 per day for.
The group will be able to help out with the cooking when we are in the village, which is a highlight. Otherwise, we will eat at restaurants and prepare fresh produce. An average day on program would consist of the following:
To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.
They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.
Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.
We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!
We have been running successful Hawaii programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2021. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look.
Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.