Voluntourism - your next holiday?
Voluntourism - a portmanteau of volunteering and tourism - is an increasingly popular way for tourists to get out and see the world.
In the wake of disasters like the Samoa tsunami, voluntourism has allowed tourists to see a new part of the world, while providing much needed assistance in the process.
A number of organisations are offering packages that appeal to those who don't want an idle holiday on the beach. It is increasingly common for people to head to a Pacific destination to teach, build, or work in orphanages, while also taking in the often beautiful sights.
It won't be the the typical beach holiday - but you'll get to make an impact on the lives of those around you, while still enjoying all the pleasures of the Pacific.
The best voluntourism trips will not only allow you to provide much needed help to your host country, but also teach you a valuable skill at the same time.
Through a marine conservation trip, you will gain an internationally recognised dive certification, which you will use to check reefs and generally help maintain Fiji's varied marine life.
When you're not underwater, you will stay in a local village, and become familiar with the local way of life while helping out where you can.
As a reward, you'll get to see the best native sights - the beaches, the hidden waterfalls, and the scenic hiking trails are all just moments away.
The beautiful island of Rarotonga is replete with tourism opportunities. But this locally run programme (with the appealing catchphrase "volunteer in paradise") will connect you with volunteer projects, letting you indulge in the amazing landscape while also putting in a bit of helpful, hard work.
Current projects let you work with the island's intellectually disabled residents, working with them to learn them a variety of skills. The group will also pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation every day, to ensure you don't have to worry about a thing.
The Yasawa islands, a series of archipelagos on the outer edge of Fiji, have long resisted the commercialisation of the rest of the country.
Small, desolate villages populate the islands, and Vinaka Fiji host volunteer programmes to help fulfil the needs of the isolated Yasawa people.
You can choose to volunteer as a teacher, work in the community, or even help out with marine conservation.
With the latter, you can learn to scuba dive and help survey the warm waters of the tropical island, and visit the local villages to educate on the practice of caring for marine life.
It offers the best of both worlds - a beautiful part of the earth, where your help will also be greatly appreciated.
Samoa is the perfect destination for a voluntourist - it's on the UN's list of least-developed nations, and there are many people who benefit from the work of volunteers.
Projects Abroad offers a variety of packages for all manner of potential do-gooders. Immerse yourself in a local village, teaching in the school or fishing for food; care for the disabled, or coach soccer or other sports; you can even work caring for animals or other veterinary projects.
Whatever you choose, you'll gain valuable insight into what island life is like, free from the modern trappings of the tourism industry. On weekends you can enjoy some of the more touristy experiences, like lounging on the beautiful beaches or tramping through the lush forests.
Hands Up Holidays, a luxury travel company that coordinates humanitarian efforts, offers two Fijian packages. You can teach, and help assist solo mothers and their children; or you can assist with a number of hands-on projects, such as building houses, working in a bakery, or clearing hiking trails to create opportunities for eco-tourism, depending on where your skills lie.
You get the chance for a little luxury, too - you stay in a five star eco-resort, and have the opportunity to get an optional three day cruise at the end of your stay.
You get the pleasure of both a luxurious holiday, and a meaningful, memorable experience working with people who desperately need help.