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.
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.
"Working with the GVI team has been a great way to learn more about the incredible work that GVI guys are doing every day. It is a wonderful way to stay connected and learn about ongoing social and environmental projects and helping GVI amplify the work done by change-makers internationally."
What's Not Included
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.
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.
What's Not Included
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:
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.
What's Not Included
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 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.
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
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 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…
Meet Molly, our hard working country director for both Thailand and Laos. Over seeing operations in two countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.
She started volunteering and travelling at a young age, working in soup kitchens, with AmeriCorps, at animal shelters, as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters of America and as a Guardian ad Litem. She studied family development and psychology and loves to dance.
Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Thailand. GVI has hubs all around the world and she has been lucky enough to visit the hubs in Nepal, Thailand, Laos and the office in South Africa.
Conservation project coordinator
Meet Katie, our brilliant conservation project coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is experienced in environmental education, working within zoos and outreach programmes in the UK, teaching a huge range, from pre-school children through to university students.
From a young age she travelled to many unique and culturally diverse places with her family.
During her short term internship with GVI, at Jalova Biological Research Station, she developed and advanced her surveying, research and project development skills whilst working in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
Her must bring travel item is her trusty camera; "There is not a day that goes by where I don't encounter a moment that I want to capture, especially when exploring the worlds natural beauty."
Meet Dora, our insightful base manager in Phang Nga, Thailand. She has spent much of her life traveling, studying and volunteering all over the world. She grew up in China but felt the need to explore the world. She's lived in many different countries such as Egypt, Japan and the Phillippines,saying that she's not one to stay in one place for very long. She's also explored most of Europe an the west of the USA.
She has a BA in international relations focusing on the continents of Africa and Asia. She's also a certified, open water NAU diver.
Her favourite thing about working for GVI is how every day is different and how meeting so many new people has taught her so much about herself. She's a real life traveller and we're lucky to have her on board.
Meet Karissa, our vibrant country expert for our Cape Town and Thailand, Phang Nga, hubs. She loves travelling and has had her fair share of travelling too. Her first solo travel was to New Zealand to work as an Au Pair, followed by Fiji for over a year. She then travelled to Thailand, where she met her South African partner and worked as an English Teacher at a public High School.
Karissa is TEFL qualified and has first-hand experience of working abroad. What first attracted her to join GVI? “The amazing volunteer projects and stunning locations across the world.”
She moved to Cape Town in November 2015 from her home country, the USA, and is loving every minute of being able to call South Africa her new home!
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!
Caroline Van Der Does De Willebois
Service Learning Manager Thailand
A conservationist and adventurer at heart with a passion for sustainable development and marine conservation. Caroline has a Master's degree in International Development and past experience working with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, educational marine conservation with the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Mozambique, and dive instructing in Thailand.
Caroline believes that GVI's combination of conservation and community development projects helps us to reach a true and sustainable impact in the field.
Her travels have taken her all over the world, but she is grateful to have returned to Thailand to join the GVI family and support and train others to have the best possible Service Learning experience!
Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”
When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”
What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”