Programme: Marine Conservation Expedition Caqalai 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.
This programme runs for 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 or 24 weeks. Contact us to find out the dates and start planning your adventure!
Programme: Marine Conservation Internship Caqalai This diving and marine conservation internship offers unique opportunity to dive in, explore and protect a spectacular underwater environment. Diving 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 the community with developing sustainable management plans.
This programme runs for 24 weeks. Contact us to find out the dates and start planning your adventure!
Room & Board (any housing, food, and transportation included). 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. We manage and rent the Island and are the only people living on it. Accommodation is basic and you will be sharing in mixed 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.
Does the project require any special preparation? For the Marine Conservation Expedition, four 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 need not be a qualified diver. For the Marine Conservation Internship, volunteers need to be at least PADI Open Water (or equivalent) qualified. The PADI Advanced and Rescue Diver qualification are done on base with the Divemaster course taking place at our local dive shop partner.
Volunteers will be assigned either fish or coral and will be required to learn the relevant species before getting to the field.
Overview of the tasks and time commitment needed from the participant. 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 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 programmes for local schools and communities and the development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practice on Caqalai Island.
This expedition requires a full time commitment. Depending on your length of stay volunteers can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surround islands and/or participate on fun dives.
What specific skills, education, or experience must the participant have? What skills, education, or experience are desirable? Volunteers need not have any specific skills just an 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 people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.
Health and safety (site specific health and safety information). 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.
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.
Inclusions/things to do (trips or extra features). Volunteers are welcome to organize side trips for their free time, or before or 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 near by and volunteers are welcome to participate in extra dives at reduced rates.
Time and weather permitting volunteers also have the opportunity to add (as an added cost) a number of PADI dive qualifications including Rescue Diver and appropriate specialty courses. While all volunteers receive Emergency Frist Responder training, the complete the qualification and receive the certificate a extra fee in required.
Orientation and Training (supervision and preparation the participant will receive). Staff in the field will provide training on 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 benthic coral and invertebrate.
Costs (detailed list of what’s included/not included and per diem estimate). What's included:
Pre-departure support and discounted services:
24-hour emergency phone
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
Long term experienced staff
All necessary project training by experienced staff
All necessary project equipment and materials
24-hour in-country support
Alumni discount - 20% off if booking at the same hub within 3 months, 15% off if booking at a different hub within 3 months and 10% off thereafter
Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
Community work workshop
Certification and summary of training and experience received
Weekly evaulation with your mentor
First Aid & CPR training
PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Dive Master certifications (not including PADI professional fees)
Use of O2 equipment workshop
Diving compressor training workshop
Coral reef ecology
First Aid & CPR training and certification
Confidential professional reference
PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality
PADI Advanced Open Water
Transfer to base location
Teamwork and leadership experience
Leading biological surveys course
Work placement (if successful on training period)
What's not included:
Medical and travel insurance
Additional drinks and gratuities
Extra local excursions
International and domestic airport taxes
PADI Open Water
Food during work placement
Additional Information. 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 we will need you to provide a staff member at your welcome meeting with
proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 3 months time)
190 Fijian Dollars (about $135 NZD)
Hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)
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 we will need you to provide a staff member at your welcome meeting with:
proof of your departure flight (scheduled for departure in under 6 months time)
hard copy of your Criminal Record Check (translated into English)
$670 Fjiian Dollars (about $475 NZD)
Please be aware that due to immigration requirements for 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.