Dive into crystal blue waters and discover the rich biodiversity of the South Pacific! During this program, you’ll assist with critical research that will aid in the local management of protected marine ecosystems. In addition to your volunteer service, you’ll get to travel to traditional Fijian villages and gain your PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. This is your chance to learn or improve your diving in one of the world’s most beautiful countries and discover an incredible underwater environment!
Join national efforts to conserve Fiji’s delicate coral reefs while living on GVI’s research base on the stunning Caqalai Island. You’ll become part of an international team of volunteers on this marine conservation expedition which focuses on the collection of marine inventory data from underwater research dives. This research is then made available to local communities and organizations to help better inform management decision making. The project is geared toward providing long-term benefits to local communities through strategies designed to help guarantee food security for future generations.
Where you’ll stay
You’ll stay on the Caqalai Island base in basic dormitory accommodations with your fellow volunteers. You’ll have a communal kitchen, living and work area, and take turns with base duties on a rotational basis. Weekends are usually yours to rest up and relax, or perhaps explore some of the surrounding areas, all depending on the project needs and requirements.
Activities & Training
Things to do
Volunteers are welcome to organize side trips for their free time or before/after their project experience. All associated costs and travel expenses are not included in the project fee and need to be factored into the volunteer’s own budget. There are a number of activities in the area, including sky diving, horseback riding, day cruises and sailing trips, visits to island resorts, traditional markets and mainland tours. There is also easy access to Bega Lagoon and opportunities to dive with bull sharks, trips to Sigatoka National Park and Kula Eco Park and, of course, just exploring the numerous neighboring islands. If volunteers still haven’t had their fill of diving on the project, we have strong relationships with a number of dive companies nearby and volunteers are welcome to participate in extra dives at reduced rates.
Time and weather permitting, volunteers also have the opportunity to add (at an added cost) a number of PADI dive qualifications including Rescue Diver and appropriate specialty courses. While all volunteers receive Emergency First Responder training, to complete the qualification and receive the certificate, an extra fee is required.
Orientation and Training
Staff in the field will provide training in the skills required, but you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you travel.
Volunteers complete an initial training phase where they learn to accurately identify locally targeted fish or coral species. Training will involve snorkel and dive point outs with field staff, as well as learning to identify benthic coral and invertebrate.
Good to Know
4-week volunteers need to have their PADI Open Water Qualification (or equivalent) before their start date. They will do their PADI Advanced qualification in the field. If you are volunteering for longer than 4 weeks you do not need to be a qualified diver.
Volunteers need not have any specific skills; just enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. Volunteers need to be comfortable and confident swimmers and be physically fit and healthy. In most cases, volunteers dive twice a day, 6 days a week, weather dependent. As a result of the basic living conditions, volunteers need to be flexible and able to work well in teams and with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.
- Volunteers will need to be fluent in English.
- Volunteers will need to submit a criminal record check.
Health and safety
A change of environment, climate, food and lifestyle often results in minor, and occasionally more serious illness. Please inform 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 Hopsital in Suva. We have emergency procedures for all foreseeable events, the staff are first aid trained, and you will receive a safety briefing on arrival.
Please note we cannot provide specific medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider (doctor, GP, etc.) or visit a travel clinic for further information leading up to your trip. Please be forthcoming about any health issues before you begin the project as 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 will need to 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.
Applicants meet on the project start date at 07:30 am at Pisces Hostel in Suva, Fiji. We recommend flights are booked in to Nausori Airport in Suva for the day before the project start date and we suggest volunteers stay over night at the meeting point:
95 Gordon Street
Tel: +679 330 0905
At the end of the project volunteers will be transferred back to Suva and we recommend departure flights are not booked before 12:30 that day.
In order for you to enter the country with the correct visa for your volunteering duration, it is very important that you take into account the following requirements:
For volunteers intending on staying in Fiji for less than three months:
When entering the country, please state that you are volunteering with us. 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 at your welcome meeting with:
- Your Passport
- Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 3 months time)
- $190 Fijian Dollars (approximately $105USD)
- Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check
For volunteers or interns intending on staying in Fiji for more than three months:
When entering the country, please state that you are volunteering with us. 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 at your welcome meeting with:
- Your Passport
- Proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 6 months time)
- Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check
- $670 Fjiian Dollars (approximately $364USD)
Please be aware that due to immigration requirements for volunteers, failure to adhere to any of these requirements may restrict your ability to take part in our program and/or significantly reduce your time in Fiji.