Select Page

Coral Reef Research in Fiji

Dive into the crystal blue waters of the South Pacific Ocean and make an impactful contribution to coral reef research in Fiji.


Program Information

Take a trip to the Fiji Islands and discover the rich biodiversity of Caqalai Island’s coastline and crystal waters, home to an array of stunning marine fauna and flora. Assist us in conducting important coral reef research, and at the same time, boost your own conservation and diving skills. You can look forward to developing your skills to build a career in marine conservation. All participants undergo an extensive training program and gain in-depth knowledge about the local marine ecosystem. Your contribution will directly impact UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to Fiji’s Caqalai Islands to improve your diving and assist in crucial coral reef research efforts. The project is geared at providing long term research to support sustainable use and preservation of marine resources, with benefits to the local communities through strategies designed to help guarantee a rich diversity of marine life remains for future generations.

Your participation in marine research will contribute towards providing data to the local government on various conservation initiatives.

Scuba Diving Requirements
Scuba diving and snorkelling are two activities that you will be doing frequently, and you will need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent if joining projects for 4 weeks. Are you a non diver? No problem, you can join for 8 weeks or more, but the 4-week duration is only open for qualified Open Water Divers. Non-divers who want to attend the program for 4-weeks can qualify through local dive centers before their intended start date.

Our GVI staff will supply you with all the training you need to be certified up to a PADI Advanced Open Water diver. You will also obtain the exclusive PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality qualification on this program.

Highlights:
- Increase your employability by developing your hands-on conservation skills
- Learn how to identify coral reef species and/or habitats, including benthos, invertebrates and/or fish in the South Pacific Ocean
- Live and work on a stunning tropical island
- Improve your diving skills and experience
- Develop the techniques you need to survey coral reefs
- Experience true cultural immersion in the Fijian way of life
- Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water

Program Details

Program Type: Volunteering
Location: Australasia - Fiji - Caqalai

Project Life

The Fijian life is characterised by it’s easy going nature, warm hospitality and rich traditions. Our marine conservation participants can add the splendour of the South Pacific to this list!

Weather permitting, we aim to provide 1 or 2 dives or snorkels each day, 5 days a week. Prior to diving you will complete extensive training to prepare you for the research you will be involved in.

Training includes:
- Coral reef research techniques
- Invertebrate, benthic and/or fish survey techniques
- Marine debris survey techniques
- Snorkel and dive point outs
- PADI Open Water diver (only available to participants booked on for 8- or 12-week durations)
- PADI Advanced Open Water diver
- PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality

Your time will be spent diving and conducting various marine conservation initiatives on GVI’s Caqalai Island base. At the end of each day you will enjoy a meal and socialise with the rest of the team.

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.

Accommodation
Life on the base will be simple island living, you will stay basic dormitory accommodation with your fellow participants with a communal kitchen, living and work area, taking turns with base duties on a rotational basis.

Project Details

Participants can look forward to being directly involved in the collection of critical data on coral reef ecosystems and habitats, mastering a diverse skill set associated with identification of an incredible array of underway of marine species and other facets of marine research.

Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities,
including:
- Training sessions
- Data collection on targeted marine species
- Habitat mapping for coral reefs and habitats
- Marine debris surveys and removal
- Environmental education sessions
- Community development and support projects

How this project makes a difference
In order for our participants to gain an in depth knowledge of the Fijian marine ecosystem, we spend up to 5 days a week on research dives or snorkels. During this time we gather important data that is used by our local partner organisations. We work closely with the the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network and local government to ensure that the impact of this research and program remains both relevant and useful for the wider community.

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

Data collected on our volunteer powered surveys is presented to local community groups 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.

Caqalai’s short, mid, and long-term objectives:
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Caqalai:
1. PROTECTION and MONITORING- Establish locally managed marine areas with villages of Moturiki in keeping with community led management plans
2. EDUCATION- capacity building within key stakeholders to ensure strong environmental leadership in the future
3. LIVELIHOODS- Research and introduce methods of alternative livelihoods to generate new sources of income for local communities to reduce dependence on damaged fisheries for income
4. RESILIENCE- Reduce the vulnerability of communities to the negative impacts of climate change through awareness and training in adaptation techniques and disaster preparedness
5. COLLABORATION - Encourage good governance, inter-organisational collaboration and inter-village cooperation

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


While on a GVI program, participants will make an impact while assisting with the conservation of a staggering 1500 species of marine animals, all of which are found in the region. The communities we work with in Caqalai often do not have access to sufficient resources to carry out regular data collection in their fishing grounds. Access to data provides greater insight into how to address coral reef and fish stock related problems, which can be hampered by natural disasters and unsustainable fishing practice.




Data collected on our programs is provided to the local community and our local partners along with alternative livelihood methods and management strategies to help stakeholders make informed decisions with regards to their existing marine resources and long term food security.


Our Partners In Caqalai

Project Objectives

 


GVI Caqalai, Fiji Long-term Objectives:


1. Protection and monitoring: establishing locally managed marine areas with the villages of Moturiki, in keeping with community led management plans


2. Education: capacity building with key stakeholders to ensure strong environmental leadership in the future.


3. Livelihoods: introduce methods of alternative livelihood to generate income for local communities to reduce dependence on damaged fisheries for income.


4. Resilience: reduce the vulnerability of communities to the negative impacts of climate change through awareness and training in adaptation techniques and being disaster ready.


5. Collaboration: encouraging good governance, inter-organisational collaboration and inter-village cooperation.


 


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Regional Exploration

Fiji is a beautiful and exotic destination where you will find picturesque white sand beaches, world class dive sites, and Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth. As an island nation, many of your potential activities will be water based.


Moon Reef Dolphins

Starting locally, participants will be just a short boat ride away you from the famous pod of dolphins that reside year round on Moon Reef.


Forests and Waterfalls

Participants could also opt to hike into forests and swim in hidden waterfalls, or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts.


Suva

Fiji’s capital city, Suva, is only a few hours from the GVI base, and known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port.


Fiji Museum

Participants could also plan to visit the Fiji Museum, where they be able to see ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific, or read up on Fiji’s cannibal past.


Levuka

The old historical capital of Fiji, Levuka, which makes for an interesting day trip, is accessible by ferry and small boat and located on the nearby Ovalau Island.


Further Travels

A visit to Nadi

A little further afield, the possibilities are endless. Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling market, nearby hot springs at Sabeto or get a feel for the local atmosphere at a rugby match.


Pacific Harbor and Bega Lagoon

From Pacific Harbour, join a river safari into the heart of Fiji or dive with bull sharks in Bega Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark dives.


Island Hopping in Yasawa

Depending on how much time you have before or after your program, you could try island hopping around the 20 volcanic islands of the Yasawa group. These remote islands are characterised by white beaches, crystal blue lagoon and dramatic rugged hills, some with summits 600m above sea level.


Dry Land Exploration

Staying on dry land, you might consider a trip to the Sigatoka National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes or a more relaxing option would be the Coral Coast and the Kula Eco Park, Fiji’s only wildlife park.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of the GVI experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your GVI program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Culture

Fiji has had a rich and somewhat tumultuous history. It is made up of a diverse population varying from Indigenous Fijian, Indian, European and Chinese heritage. Its culture is predominantly informed by indigenous traditions and values.


Flavors of Fiji

Traditional Fijian cuisine consists of sweet potatoes, taros, bananas, coconut, fish and leafy vegetables as primary ingredients, but it is the wonderful amalgamation of flavours that makes Fijian cuisine so interesting.


The Locals

Fijians are generally some of the friendliest people in the world, so provided you respect their traditions and customs, locals are typically warm and eager to welcome you as a guest into their villages and communities. Doing so provides you with fascinating insight into traditional Fijian lifestyles and will add another layer of depth to your time on a GVI program.


Caqalai Immersion

Caqalai Island is a mystical, exquisite location, so mysterious that travelers often arrive without even knowing how to pronounce its name (say it with us now so you’re taken care of when you get there: “thang-gull-eye”). The island is a 14 acres big coral island south of Ovalau in a sea known as the Moturiki Passage. Caqalai is the perfect place for all those that want to get away from it all and experience real laidback Fiji Island life.


Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £15
 
+ £195
 

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.