Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji

Help preserve Fiji’s delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

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.

Program Overview

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


Where you'll stay

During your project dates your accommodation and food are included in the project cost. The base is located on the beach on the island of Caqalai which is in the Lomaiviti island group. Our project team manages the Island and are the only people living on it. Accommodation is basic and you will be sharing mixed-gender dorm rooms with bunkbeds. There is limited running water which is pumped from a well. Food is basic (rice, pasta, potatoes with fresh veg orders once a week). Volunteers take turns preparing the daily 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

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

Application requirements

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.

Logistics

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

Smugglers Cove
Wasawasa Road
+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.


Additional Information

VISAS:
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.