Why So Many Survivor Seasons Are Filmed In Fiji

Ever since 2016, the sandy beaches and aquamarine waters of the Fiji islands have provided a spectacular backdrop for filming "Survivor," the fan-favorite show on CBS that first debuted in May of 2000. The lush jungle landscape provides a perfect environment for a group of strangers to outwit, outplay, and outlast each other until the title of Sole Survivor has been announced. But before 2016, the show spent 32 seasons moving between locations such as Palau, Samoa, and Africa. Why did the show discontinue its nomadic journey around the globe? What are the real reasons that "Survivor" has maintained its location in Fiji for so long? The answer has to do with the ease of production and the evolution of the game. 

According to Jeff Probst, host of the show as well as its executive producer, Fiji is ideal for many reasons. "Fiji offers us everything that we want," Probst explained to Entertainment Weekly. His list includes fantastic beaches as well as "incredibly beautiful water that you can see down 30 feet." This idyllic setting is the island paradise that is the backdrop for the challenges and strategic maneuvering that viewers enjoy. However, it's not just the beautiful setting that has made Fiji a favorite place to film. When you're filming a show as complex as "Survivor," which requires the help of over 400 international crew members, maintaining the same location has helped to streamline this enormous undertaking.

Comfortable accommodations

The producers of "Survivor" have also developed a working relationship with the government of Fiji that is mutually beneficial. Producing this show has helped bring in close to 30 million dollars in revenue for Fiji, and it helps add around 400 local jobs for the economy as well, per FBCNews. Probst mentions that having a great working relationship with the local government is another reason why it's become their favorite spot to film the show. He tells Entertainment Weekly that one of the benefits of filming in Fiji is "local labor that loves to say 'Bula!' every day because they're just happy you're here."

Another reason that Probst has decided to continue filming in Fiji is because the production crew has found excellent accommodations there. "Our crew has never been as happy," he says. "We actually have decent accommodations to do this show out in the jungle. It's a win-win-win." In the past, the crew has had to stay in a number of different facilities as they film the show, ranging from rustic cabins to tent cities. In Fiji, the production crew has been able to stay at the Mana Island Resort, a luxury accommodation that is closed to the public when the TV crew moves in. With luxurious features such as ocean views, a spa, plunge pools, as well as WiFi, it's no wonder that the crew working around the clock on the show's taxing production schedule is happy to bunk down in lodging like this.

Game evolution

While filming in Fiji has its benefits, Probst also points out that other locations have negatives that put a strain on the production process. When the show first began, part of the adventure was to highlight specific features of different locales, and the local culture became integrated with many of the contestants' rewards. However, time has changed over the years. "It's been two decades. It's a different world," Probst says (via Entertainment Weekly). "There are not as many places we can go for lots of reasons — the economy, population, political unrest, weather patterns." As time went by, it became more difficult to find suitable locations to film.

As a result, the show began to evolve, with more of an emphasis on twists and turns that related to game-playing, instead of simply a change of scenery. While the titles of earlier seasons used to emphasize a location, such as "Survivor: Pearl Islands," the titles gradually evolved to emphasize changes to the game instead. "Survivor: David vs. Goliath" or "Survivor: Island of the Idols" are examples of themes that the show has taken on to keep the game fresh even though the location has remained the same. "When you find yourself in a leadership position, what you do realize is, you have to make decisions," Probst explains. These decisions are what keeps the show more popular than ever after 45 seasons, and it may be in Fiji to stay. As Probst explains, "I hope we stay here forever."