With its pristine waters and white sandy beaches, Fiji is an ideal destination for volunteers wanting to soak up some sunshine in a balmy, tropical location in their free time.
As one of the world leaders in ecotourism, it’s hardly a surprise that its oceans are home to almost four percent of all of the world’s coral reefs and are inhabited by over 1,500 species of marine life. It was only natural that we chose this paradise for the location of our Shark Conservation Project. Our Fiji staff and volunteers are always telling us such wonderful things about this beautiful archipelago, so we decided to share some of our favourite facts with you.
1. Fiji is made up of 333 islands, with 223 of them being uninhabited.
2. For a cool few million you too can have your own slice of paradise. In 2005 Mel Gibson purchased Mago Island for $15m.
3. These days around 40% of the Fijian population are of Indian descent. Fiji was colonised by the British between 1874 and 1970. Between 1879 and 1916 they gave 600,000 Indians free passage to Fiji in exchange for work on the sugarcane plantations.
4. For the fashion conscious please bear in mind that unless you are the chief, wearing a hat and sunglasses in a Fijian village is a big no-no.
5. Cannibalism was once common practice among Fijians. Fear not though - thanks to King Ratu Cakobau, this ended in 1871 when he encouraged his people to stop eating other humans.
6. If you ever have a hankering for boiled bat then Fiji has you covered. This delicacy together with raw fish and various roots are often eaten by locals. Certain other dishes are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven or a ‘lovo’.
7. Speaking of roots, the root of the yaqona bush is ground up and strained with water to make Fiji’s traditional drink, kava.
8. Incredibly confusing to most westerners, many Fijians raise their eyebrows as a non-verbal way to say “yes”.
9. Strange but true, it is possible to be in two different time zones at the same time when on the island of Taveuni due to the fact that Fiji is spread across the international dateline.
10. If you’re looking to book a flight to Fiji then this one might be worth checking – although Fiji has 28 airports, only 4 of them have paved runways.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.