Dive in tropical blue water and discover the rich biodiversity of the South Pacific while assisting with the local management of marine protected areas in Fiji. As a volunteer on this project you will meaningfully contribute to national efforts to conserve Fiji’s delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems while living on a research base on the spectacular Caqalai Island. Join an international team focusing on the collection of important marine inventory data collected on underwater research dives. The research is made available to local communities and organisations to help better inform management decision making, while providing long term benefits to the local communities and including strategies designed to help guarantee sustainable food security.
We work closely with the Fiji Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that that this project and its resulting research continues to be both relevant and useful to the 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 practices on Caqalai Island.
This expedition requires a full-time commitment. Depending on your length of stay, you can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surrounding islands and/or participate on fun dives
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.
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.
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.
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.
Volunteers meet at Bamboo Backpackers on Newtown Beach at 7:30AM on the project start date.
Accommodation leading up to the project start date is not included. A taxi from Nadi International Airport to your accommodation should cost around $10FJD.
If you arrive arrive after 8:30PM the evening before your project start date, airport transfer can be arranged.
We can recommend the following accommodation:
Bamboo Backpackers (meeting point)
33 Wasawasa Road, New Town Beach
+679 672 2225
+679 672 6578
Nadi Bay Resort
Wailoaloa Road, Martintar
+679 672 3599
At the end of your project you will be transferred back to Bamboo Backpackers. Please do not book a departure flight for before 10:00AM on this date.
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:
This program is implemented by a trusted organization within the AFSNext partnership community and has our full endorsement. While not managed or operated by AFS, it maintains the same exceptional quality standards, which are set by a network of experienced international non-profits operating within the international education field.