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Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji


Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji

About Your Location

Our base is located in Silana, a small fishing village in the Dawasamu District of Tailevu Province, located approximately 6 hours from Nadi, home of Fiji's international airport. Tailevu is one of 14 provinces in Fiji and is located in the east of the mainland Viti Levu. The villages of Dawasamu are traditional Fijian settlements with limited sources of income, remaining relatively untouched by the tourist industry.

Project Life

You will first complete an initial training phase where you will learn to accurately identify locally targeted fish, invertebrate or coral species. Training will involve snorkel and dive point outs with local staff, as well as learning benthic, fish, coral and invertebrate species.

Depending on weather conditions, we aim for everyone to have 1 or 2 dives/snorkels each day, 5 days a week, during which you will conduct underwater surveys after you complete your training. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities, including training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal, environmental education session or alternative income training, depending on local and project needs. You will also be required to complete base duties.

You will stay on Caqalai Island base in basic dormitory accommodation with your fellow volunteers with a communal kitchen, living and work area, taking turns with base duties on a rotational basis.

Weekends are usually yours to rest up and relax, or perhaps even explore some of the surrounding area, all depending on the project needs and requirements.

Project Details

Our partner has joined with local NGOs and organisations in order to identify the best ways to assist the community to conserve their marine resources. The following research priorities have been identified:

Data collection on targeted fish species.
Habitat mapping for coral reefs and mangrove (Coral Reef and Mangrove Habitat mapping).
Development of an environmental education and awareness program for local schools and communities.
Development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practice on Caqalai Island

Our partner works closely with the Fiji Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that the impact of this research and program remains is both relevant and useful for the wider community.

How This Program Makes a Difference

The communities with which we work do not have access to the necessary resources to carry out regular data collection in their fishing grounds and there has been a significant detriment to coral and fish stocks due to natural disaster events and unsustainable fishing practice.

Data collected on our volunteer powered surveys is presented to the local community land owners along with alternative livelihood methods and management strategies to help local stakeholders to make informed decisions with regards to their vital marine resources and long term food security.


Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Fieldwork training
Learn how to identify species and conduct surveys so that you can contribute to data collection efforts and help build an inventory of marine species in Dawasamu.

Conservation surveys
Assist with benthic (coral) or fish target species surveys. You will be taught several survey techniques while you work as a member of the GVI data collection survey team tasked with building an inventory of marine species in Dawasamu.

Support community conservation
Deliver lessons focused on environmental awareness in the local community and participate in community-based work, such as improving water security and sustainable fishing practices.

PADI Open Water course
Learn how to scuba dive or brush up on pre-existing skills. Go over the required theory and practice in confined water dives before undertaking open water dives at sites suited for beginners. Only applies to programs longer than 8 weeks.

PADI Advanced Open Water course
Gain more diving experience and sample different types of diving with 5 adventure dives: deep water, underwater navigator, peak performance buoyancy, underwater naturalist, and AWARE fish identification.

PADI Emergency First Response
Learn primary and secondary care theory and then practise applying these 8 skills in role playing scenarios designed to improve your first aid skills and prepare you for an emergency.

PADI CRRD Speciality
The Coral Reef Researcher Diver Specialty is unique to GVI and focused on advancing your conservation diving skills and teaching you how to conduct coral reef surveys.

PADI Rescue Diver
Increase your awareness of diver safety, manage more complex situations and apply direct intervention techniques via role playing rescue scenarios. Only applies to programs longer than 8 weeks.

Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

- If staying for 14 days or less you can an enter on a 14-day business permit which is given on arrival but you must write business on your arrival card.
- If staying for more than 2 weeks you need a short term Fiji work permit, this takes longer as you need to apply for it before departure.
- Vaccination requirements according to destination
- Minimum age of 18
- Police Clearance Certificate (not older than 6 months)
- If you are joining the program for 2 weeks, you must already have your Advanced Open Water qualification. (we no longer offer 3 weeks)
- If you join the program for 4 weeks you need to already have your PADI Open Water qualification, and will gain your Advanced open water certificate qualification during the 4 week program
- If you join the program for 6 weeks you need to already have your PADI Open Water qualification, and will gain your Advanced open water certificate qualification during the 4 week program
- As a non-diver, you can join for 8 weeks and up and you will gain your PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water during the program
- Medical form
- All marine expedition volunteers must ensure that their travel insurance covers diving to 30m and medical evacuation in the event of a diving emergency.
- Basic level of competency in English
- Volunteer Work Permit - $452 FJD (approx.$225 USD) to be paid when the application is submitted
- Acceptance subject to availability


Pick-up at Suva Airport (specific pick-up times apply)
Transfer to base location
Welcome meeting
Location orientation
Safe and basic accommodation (shared)
Meals while on project
PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water (for 8 and 12 week volunteers)
PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality
Coral reef ecology
Diving compressor training workshop
Use of O2 equipment workshop
Community work workshop
All necessary project equipment and materials but not your own personal diving gear, the full list of requirements is included in the field manual for example, wetsuit, diving mask, fins etc
All necessary project training by experienced long term staff
First Aid & CPR training
24-hour in-country support
24-hour emergency phone
Access to alumni services and discounts

What to Bring

Volunteers MUST bring the following equipment:

Mask & snorkel
Fins & booties: Open-heel fins to wear with booties are highly recommended; if bringing closed-heel (bare foot) fins you must also bring booties for walking in shallows
Wetsuit (recommended 3mm Nov-May & 5mm June-Oct)
Waterproof watch (suitable for 30m depth); ideally, a dive computer is highly recommended
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) with spool reel
Certification cards
Dive slate and pencil
Dive log book

The rest such as BCD's, regulators and weighted belts are provided locally.

Included Activities

There is 1 experience offered per month. Volunteers on longer durations will not be eligible to repeat Experiences. Please note, Experiences are subject to change or substitution and are optional. Volunteers who elect, or are unable, to participate will not be eligible for any refunds. Volunteers must ensure their travel insurance covers any activities.

Fiji Marine Conservation Expedition
• Learn to cook iTaukei food
• Make a traditional drink from kava root
• Learn indigenous plant medicine
• Hike to the top of Tova Peak
• Fish with iTaukei women
• Weave a traditional mat
• Visit Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park
• Boat to Leleuvia Island

Free Time
In your down time you will be free to travel in the local area and you will be free on the weekends. In this time you could do day trips such as dolphin watching, visiting other islands, scuba diving, or relaxing in a nearby resort. You could travel to the capital city of Suva, take a ferry to Taveuni, 'the garden of Fiji' or explore the interior of Viti Levu - the possibilities are endless!

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.

Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.

How Long Should I Volunteer?

Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.

Please Note

In the villages, women must cover their shoulders and knees at all times. It is perfectly fine to wear short sleeved shirts as long as shoulders are covered. Men should bring a sarong too but it is a bit more flexible and they may not need to wear it all the time. Also a short sleeved shirt for school and to village functions but at other times it is acceptable to wear trousers or shorts. On base, volunteers are free to wear what they wish.

Vad ingår?

Extra utgifter på plats


Accommodation during your stay includes basic mixed-gender dormitory style rooms in a Fijian bure with wooden walls and a tin roof. There is a communal kitchen, work area, and general living space where you can prepare for project work and socialise with your new friends. We rent this accommodation from the Silana Youth Project. Providing these community members with a sustainable income is a unique arrangement, and a local success story.

If you need to stay additional nights before or after your project you need to book these separately, ask your travel consultant for help.

Lokal transport

Most volunteers arrange international flights to arrive at Nadi International Airport and then a connecting flight to Suva the day before the Program starts.

Airport pick-ups can be arranged at Nausori Airport, Suva on the Friday prior to project start for the 2 flights below:
• Fiji Airways (FJ7) Arrival: 09:00 AM Nausori International (SUV)
• Fiji Airways (FJ11) Arrival: 12:00 PM Nausori International (SUV)

You will be greeted by a GVI member of staff who will wear a Forest Green Shirt and transport will be arranged to drop you at Pisces Hostel in Suva, please let your Support Coordinator know if you require picking up at the airport . GVI have special rates at the Pisces hotel for your night before the program starts which you can prebook.

If you choose to stay elsewhere, you can easily get a taxi from Pisces Hostel to your accommodation.

Meeting Point on Start Date (Saturday)
The pick-up point for your transfer to the project is at 11:00 in the lobby of Pisces Hostel.

If you are flying out on a Saturday, you will be dropped off at the airport in Suva on Saturday at around 10:00. Please make sure that you book flights from Suva to Nadi after midday 12:00 to allow yourself enough time to check in and catch your flight. If you are using other transport options to get to Nadi, we will drop you off at Pisces Hostel.


Volunteers take it in turns to prepare meals for the group. Food on base is mostly vegetarian, consisting of locally-sourced seasonal produce which participants take turns in preparing for the group. Breakfast varies but could include porridge, eggs and beans, fruit or pancakes. Lunch and evening meals consist of sandwiches, rice, beans, vegetables, pasta with sauce, noodles, roti, cassava or dalo, and occasionally some meat. When eating out, you will find that the cuisine is quite diverse and includes a lot of seafood and has an Asian influence. Please note, no alcohol is permitted on base.

Mer information

Diving Info
During our summer months November to April, the water temperature rises to a very comfortable 27-30°C. Past volunteers recommend 2mm short suits for these temperatures and although this is cyclone season, this time of year is known for calm seas. However, the higher temperature does increase the oceanic plankton growth reducing visibility to around 24-26m. Winter is May to October, when water temperatures are 24-27°C. 3 or 5 mm steamers would be recommended. This time of year is known for fabulous visibility of up to 30m.

Dive Equipment Rental
If you are renting dive equipment locally, pick it up before meeting the team at the pick-up point on Saturday (project start date) and transferring to the project.

Internet Access
You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Mobile/cell phone reception is available on base, although it can be poor at times. It is possible to purchase pay-as-you-go Fijian SIM cards for unlocked phones in Nadi pre-departure. There is no general internet access for volunteers on base. The SIM and credit must be purchased prior to island deployment. It is possible to purchase a pay-as-you-go mobile internet USB stick or WiFi modem, however, internet signal can be poor at times.

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