Marine conservation internship in Fiji
This diving and marine conservation internship offers the unique opportunity to dive in, explore, and protect a spectacular underwater environment. Submerged in the crystal clear waters surrounding Fiji’s Caqalai island, volunteers will be responsible for collecting data that will help establish community-managed Marine Protected Areas and assist in developing sustainable management plans.
The internship begins with our marine conservation expedition. Program participants will live for 12 weeks with a research team and undergo an extensive training program, take diving lessons to achieve an advanced level, and gain an intimate knowledge of the marine ecosystem. This knowledge will be put to use as you work as part of a team to compile crucial research on coral reefs and fish species.
On successful completion of the expedition, participants will complete a PADI Divemaster course during a 12-week work placement with a local dive center. This exciting opportunity will provide practical experience in the dive industry.
We work closely with the Fiji Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that that this internship and its resulting research continue to be both relevant and useful to to wider Fijian community. Volunteers may be involved in data collection on targeted fish species, habitat mapping for coral reefs and mangrove management, development of environmental education and awareness programs for local schools and communities, and the development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practice on Caqalai Island.
Schedules and timelines
The marine conservation internship requires a full-time commitment. Depending on the length of stay, volunteers can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surrounding islands and/or participate in recreational dives.
During dive-shop placement, participants’ working hours will be dependent on the schedule of the dive shop. Long hours should be expected.
Where you’ll stay
Accommodation and food are included in the cost of the marine conservation internship. The internship base is located on the beach on the Island of Caqalai, in the Lomaiviti island group. We manage and rent the Island and are the only people living on it. Accommodation is basic — you will be sleep in mixed dorm rooms with bunk beds. There is limited running water, which is pumped from a well. Food typically includes rice, pasta, and potatoes with fresh vegetables ordered once a week. Volunteers take turns preparing the meals in the communal kitchen. There is mobile reception on the island, and volunteers are allowed to bring their laptops — however, charging times are limited, and priority is given to communication equipment.
Activities & Training
Things to do during your marine conservation internship
Volunteers are welcome to organize side trips during their free time, or before or after their internship experience. All associated costs and travel expenses are not included in the project fee, and must be factored into the volunteer's own budget. On weekends and downtime, the region around Manuel Antonio plays host to pristine beaches and hiking trails in the National Park. Volunteers can go on a zip-line tour through the treetops of the rainforest; visit the small cafes and souvenir shops at the beachfront; or take surfing lessons in this famous surf destination.
Further afield, volunteers can visit the Volcan Arenal and relax in the natural hot springs, or explore the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. The advanced surfer should aim for Pavones, the second longest left break in the world. You can also spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains, visit indigenous villages, go deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean, or canoe or kayak along the waterways in the local area on organized river tours.
Orientation and Training
Staff in the field will provide training on required skills, but you may benefit from learning more about Fiji’s local history, culture, and customs before you travel.
Good to Know
Application requirements and preparation
Volunteers need not have any specific skills, just enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. Volunteers must be comfortable and confident swimmers, and be physically fit and healthy. In most cases, volunteer interns dive twice a day, 6 days a week (weather dependent). As a result of the basic living conditions, volunteers need to be flexible and open to working in teams and with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Interns must be fluent in English.
Interns will need to become PADI Open Water (or equivalent) qualified. The PADI Advanced and Rescue Diver qualifications are done on base through the Divemaster course at our local dive shop partner.Volunteers will be assigned to research either fish or coral reefs, and will be required to learn the relevant species before getting to the field.
Health and safety
A change of environment, climate, food, and lifestyle can results in minor, and occasionally more serious, illness. Please inform program staff if you feel unwell at any time. The nearest medical facilities are located in Ovalau & Moturiki Island (20 minutes away from base by boat). For major emergencies, volunteers would be taken to Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.
We have emergency procedures for all foreseeable events — program staff are first aid trained, and interns receive a safety briefing on arrival. Please note that we cannot provide specific medical advice. Consult your primary care provider or visit a travel clinic for further information before your trip. Please be forthcoming about any health issues before you begin the project — failure to do so may have serious consequences for you, the staff, and other participants, including your removal from the program.
A PADI medical form must be completed and signed by a doctor should the volunteer suffer from any of the conditions listed.
We have a small safe on base for money and passports. Traveling in Fiji is generally quite safe and there are low crime rates. The biggest risks result from weather related hazards.
All the most relevant and updated program information can be found in our field manual.
Volunteers meet at Bamboo Backpackers on Newtown Beach at 07:30 am on the project start date. Accommodation leading up to the project start date is not included in the cost of the internship.
If you arrive arrive after 20:30pm the evening before your project start date, airport transfer can be arranged.
Please contact us for more information about arrivals.
At the end of your marine conservation internship,you will be transferred back to Bamboo Backpackers. Please do not book a departure flight before 10:00am on your departure date.
In order for you to enter the country with the correct visa for your internship duration, it is very important that you take into account the following requirements.
For interns staying in Fiji for less than 3 months
When entering the country, please state that you are volunteering. You will be issued a temporary 14-day visa that we will then convert into a Limited Authority to work visa. To do this, you will need to provide a staff member with the following items at your welcome meeting:
- Your passport
- Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 3 months time)
- $190 Fijian Dollars ($105 USD)
- Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)
For interns staying in Fiji for more than 3 months
When entering the country, please state that you are volunteering. You will be issued a temporary 14-day visa that we will then convert into a Short Term work visa. To do this, you will need to provide a staff member with the following items at your welcome meeting:
- Your passport
- Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 6 months time)
- $670 Fjiian Dollars ($364 USD)
- Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)
Please be aware that due to immigration requirements for interns and volunteers, failure to adhere to any of the above requirements may restrict your ability to take part in our program, or significantly reduce your time in-country. Field staff advise participants to enter the country using a tourist visa (requirements are dependent on citizenship). For most nationalities, this does not need to be arranged in advance. Check with the immigration authorities or visit www.cibt.com. Please ensure that you additionally comply with all airline requirements regarding visas and entry.