Marine Conservation Exploration in Fiji and Thailand

Discover two amazing regions, packed with exotic marine life, as you contribute towards the long-term survival of these endangered eco-systems.


Program Information

Explore two of the world’s most beautiful regions, live amongst dramatic tropical scenery and contribute to invaluable marine conservation initiatives. Join a team of international volunteers and help create a network of marine protected areas, assist in important climate and conservation issues and gain your PADI Advanced Open Water.  

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to two of the world’s most celebrated tropical locations. Experience the clear blue waters of Fiji and the awe inspiring limestone cliffs of Thailand when you join a team of international volunteers in this multi country marine conservation project.



In Fiji, you will join a marine conservation expedition that focuses on collecting data by underwater research dives which will help establish Marine Protected Areas. The research will provide long-term benefits to the local community and help guarantee food security for future generations.

In Thailand, you will be living and volunteering in the stunning coastal province of Phang Nga. Your time here will be spent assisting in the conservation of its coastal and marine ecosystems as a hands on member of an international team.

Besides taking part in conservation activities and developing a holistic understanding of the problems these regions face, you will also become immersed in the local culture of both regions by assisting in various community initiatives designed to promote environmental education and in the delivering of English programmes.

Please note travel between Fiji and Thailand is not included, but please speak to your Country Expert who will be able to advise you on your options and costs involved.

Scuba Diving Requirements and Additional Courses

You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition scuba diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent.

Also, if you wish to add to your scuba diving skillset, why not take an extra course at a discounted rate?! Check out available Add-ons under the Book Now button on the right hand side, or mention to your Country Expert if interested in finding out more.

Highlights

Experience living and volunteering in Thailand and Fiji; learn new scuba diving skills; educate the local community on the importance of marine conservation; conduct underwater surveys; assist in the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas; develop a well-rounded education on sustainable conservation, environmental conservation and community development; enjoy island hopping in your free time; visit idyllic traditional Fijian villages; relax on pristine white beaches; enjoy the breath-taking scenery and immerse yourself in the local culture and way of life.

Program Details

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Project Life

Fiji

While settling into the island lifestyle, you will undergo an initial training phase where you will learn to accurately identify locally targeted fish or coral species. Training will involve snorkel and dive point outs with GVI staff as well as learning benthic coral and invertebrate.

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

Accommodation will be basic dormitory style, with shared bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and communal areas. Camp duties such as cooking and cleaning will be shared on a rotational basis. On weekends you can explore the local area, relax on the pristine beaches or simply take it easy at base camp with your fellow volunteers.

Thailand

Throughout your stay in Thailand, the various projects you participate in will very much depend on the needs on the ground and the time of the year. From November to March, you may be involved in sea turtle research and conservation. The rainy season of May to October sees more terrestrial and community work such as mangrove research and planting, biodiversity surveying in nearby National Parks and environmental education.

Volunteers may also have the chance to take part in various environmental education workshops with the local community, stressing the importance of protecting our natural environment.

Accommodation will be small but comfortable with shared facilities, with enough space for people to relax together or in private. If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while in Thailand, this location does offer upgrades. Contact us for more information, or mention to your Country Expert who will be able to assist you.

Project Details

Our project aims vary between countries, but are all focused around building a better future and support structure for these children.

In Fiji, GVI has partnered with local NGOs and organisations in order to identify the best ways to assist the community in conserving their marine resources. GVI coordinates with the Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that all the work and research conducted is both relevant and useful to the wider community.
Our aims are the following:

  • 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 programme for local schools.


Our aim in Phang Nga, Thailand is to better understand the effect of changing environmental climates in conjunction with the local communities. Our goal is to sustain the long-term conservation of the area and aid in the preservation of the natural environment.

Caqalai and Phang Nga'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- Introduce methods of alternative livelhoodto generate incomefor local communities to reduce dependance on damage fisheries for income
4. RESILIENCE- Reduce the vulnerability of communities to the negative impacts of climate changethrough awareness and training in adaptation techniques and disaster preparedness
5. COLLABORATION - Encourage good governance, inter-organisational collaboration and inter-village cooperation

In Phang Nga:

1.  Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies
2. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising and habitat restoration

How this project makes a difference

The communities with which we work in Fiji do not have access to the necessary resources to carry out regular data collection in their fishing grounds. By collecting specific data, we can help the local communities make more informed decisions with regards to the management of their vital resources.

Your presence as a volunteer in Thailand will help protect some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and coral reef systems. By adopting a holistic conservation approach, we are educating the community on local environmental issues, dealing with the social and economic pressures that leading to the destruction of reefs, fish, coral and turtle populations and aim to end unsustainable food systems and development.

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
  • Community work workshop
  • Coral reef ecology
  • Diving compressor training workshop
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water
  • PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Transfer to base location
  • Travel advice
  • Use of O2 equipment workshop
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal dive kit, e.g. mask, fins, wetsuit, timer etc.
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Exploration

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Fiji and Thailand!

Optional Side Trips


Fiji

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 are water based! Starting locally, 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 600 metres above sea level. Hike in the Mamanucas Highlands and enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view at the top of Malolo Island.

In the water, if not on our expedition and not dive qualified, enrol in a scuba diving course to the dive the various sites dotted around the Yasawas, home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and steep drop-offs. Get lucky with your dive, and visibility can exceed a massive 40m. But if you want to stay closer to the surface, you can snorkel with manta rays near Naviti Island or with sharks on the Waya reef. And for some simple old fashioned swimming, visit the Sawa-I-Lau limestone caves off the north coast of Nacula Island, one of the most famous natural attractions in Fiji.

Thailand

Explore the amazing Khao Sok National Park, including the stunning Cheow Larn Lake and 740km² of rainforest and which is home to elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia  – the largest flowers in the world, 90cm across with a unique aroma… of rotting flesh! Take a day trip for a quick sample of the park’s delights or stay overnight and discover even more – perhaps in one of the jungle tree houses, or even on a bungalow that floats on the lake. Trek through the jungle, kayak around Cheow Larn lake visiting spectacular limestone caves, swim in idyllic waterfalls or just relax and see what you can spot!

Khao Lak is a very popular tourist spot close by, with beautiful, seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you’ll be spoilt for choice and hundreds of spas offering massages and treatments at reasonable rates. With a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to hostels, Khao Lak offers you the chance to spoil yourself for a few days, whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge a little.

Phuket Island, about 90mins south of Khao Lak and renowned for its colourful nightlife is also a great stop-off for divers and snorkelers, but if you’re not the diving type you can explore Phang Nga Bay by speed-boat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ before visiting the floating Sea Gypsy village. Phuket is also very popular with surfers, playing host to annual surfing competitions, though there is a great ‘secret spot’ near Khao Lak… if you’re interested GVI staff will show you the way!

Further Travelling Opportunities


Fiji

A little further afield, the possibilities just keep on coming. 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. Fiji’s capital city, Suva, is a city known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port. Here you can visit the Fiji Museum, where you can find ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific, or read up on Fiji’s cannibal past. 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.

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.

Thailand

Thailand is a country with a whole range of fantastic places that you could visit. If you have the time and budget, you could consider going to see the following; the waterfalls of the picturesque Khao Yai National Park, the mountain town of Chiang Mai, the local tribes of Nam Province, the beaches of Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, the temples and nightlife of Bangkok and many more…

The Team

Claire Ogg

Program Manager Caqalai
Meet Claire, our Program Manager on our Caqalai Base in Fiji. Claire received her degree in agricultural and environmental sciences and is also an avid diver and marine conservationist.

She has lived and worked on various continents around the globe and has extensive experience in the diving industry.

While travelling Claire has come across earthquakes, cyclones, volcanoes and pirates!!! Talk about living on the edge! Working for GVI is an adventure in itself, luckily not the dangerous kind. She was first attracted by GVI because of our good reputation within the industry and she likes the fact that we employ, train and give back to the communities that we work in.

Zara Roche

Operations Manager
Meet Zara, our awesome Operations Manager here in Fiji. Zara started out as an eager education volunteer right here in Fiji back in 2014 and she was impressed by the stunning location in Fiji and GVI's volunteering ethos. She has been with us ever since and has worked her way up to Operations Manager, overseeing all the logistics on our base.

Zara is a water baby and she loves to get into the water for a dive/swim at any opportunity I can. As a GVI staff member in Fiji, she gets the opportunity to dive into the South Pacific paradise often. "When your job doesn’t feel like a job because you are getting the opportunity to do what you love is a blessing! GVI is a one big family based organisation and I appreciate working for a company who believes in working together with communities there is a grassroots non-hierarchy approach. This approach I believe is a fantastic way of successfully delivering volunteering projects."

Michele Comber

Program Manager
Meet Michele, our brilliant program manager in Fiji. She has a lot of travel experience in the US around Europe. She volunteered for one year in Mombasa Kenya on the childcare programme, became Project Manager for three years and worked in South Africa on an under 18's programme.

She loves GVI because ''this job gives me the opportunity to work with people who volunteer from all around the world and being able to work alongside individuals who had the same drive and passion as me, willingness to give up their time, share their skills and knowledge to assist the schools and the community groups we work with.

I have had the honour to work with some amazing partners in different countries who have welcomed me into their communities and let me be a part of their lives , giving me the opportunity to grow and learn. Their strength and their faith and their beliefs that all things can be achieved if you have hope will always stay with me.''

Dane Lee Marx

Country Director
Meet Dane, GVI's cheerful country director for Fiji. He has spent several years as the Conservation and Ecology Manager on Frégate Island, a small private island in the Seychelles. There he had been fortunate to have overseen and implemented projects ranging from monitoring and protection of rare birds, invertebrates and sea turtles to wide-scale habitat restoration as well as management of significant operations responsibilities.

After leaving that position he took a year off to do some travelling – six months of flyfishing, camping and exploring new Zealand, visiting some friends and family in Australia, and some exceptional diving and island hopping in Indonesia. He holds a BSc in Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences, an Hons. in Zoology, and a MSc in Conservation Biology.

For him, GVI  is an exciting organisation as it carries out an impressive range of high impact, grass-roots level projects in some of the most interesting locations across the globe. This and the combined focus on both community based development and a deep seated conservation aligned perfectly with his own interests and passions.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

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