Reef Conservation in the Heart of the Caribbean

Caribbean Reef Buddy

About

Our Story in Carriacou is to work closely with the community and people like yourself to make a sustainable difference to marine conservation awareness and education. Caribbean Reef Buddy (CRB) do this through the delivery of environmental and conservation projects which are linked to global ecological and social themes. Our projects include assessing marine species and coral health, repopulation of our reef systems, and supporting greater awareness within our local schools.

You too can write a chapter in our on-going story of how our Reef Buddies took some time and made a huge difference on this tropical island paradise. Your story can not only include your first-hand experience of delivering our projects, but also of your hikes in the tropical forests, your walks along deserted beaches and the bond you’ll make with new friends from all over the world. Join us in the Caribbean as we help you to start a new chapter in your story.

Reviews

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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

So much fun and learned a lot...a win-win!

I had a wonderful time with Caribbean Reef Buddy! I didn't have any scuba diving experience, but in my first week I completed my Open Water certification. The instructors were very knowledgable and I picked up the skills quickly. The dive sites were so beautiful and not too challenging for a new diver to navigate.

I found the volunteer work really interesting! I helped with the lionfish containment, fish identification, coral watch, and coral nursery projects. I appreciated how the staff gave presentations about the background and significance of the projects before we got in the water. I could tell the staff were genuinely interested and enthusiastic about keeping the reef healthy. I learned a lot about marine conservation from the presentations and hands-on work.

The staff and other volunteers were super friendly and there was never a dull moment with them. My 6 weeks in Carriacou went by too fast!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Going into the program I felt a little hesitant about participating in the lionfish containment project. However, not even a week after I finished my Open Water certification I had become a lionfish hunter!
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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Caribbean Reef Buddy - A Hidden Gem

When I came to Carriacou I had never dove nor traveled by myself before, not to mention to a completely foreign country. I came to this program nervous but excited for the coming weeks on the island. As soon as I arrived I instantly felt welcomed by the staff and other members of the program and my nerves seemed to melt away. The staff were all proficient and incredibly enthusiastic about their work, making the work fun and very successful. By the end of my time there, I took part in many conservation activities, expanded my knowledge of the reef systems and diving a hundred-fold, and felt as though I was a part of a second family. Throughout the program, the staff led many fun activities around the island beyond diving - such as a hike up to Chapeau Carre, and a trek to paradise beach through the beautiful mangrove forest. I was truly heartbroken to leave Carriacou and Caribbean Reef Buddy at the end of my stay, and if I had the chance I'd probably stay down there forever.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I had the chance to do this program all over again, I would definitely choose to stay for 16 weeks instead of just 8.
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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience and Great People; Definitely Recommend!

I had an amazing experience with Caribbean Reef Buddy! I had so much fun scuba diving the beautiful reefs of Carriacou while also being able to learn a lot about the issues plaguing the reefs and helping out with conservation efforts. It was a great experience to first-hand help build coral nurseries and conduct reef surveys. I definitely got a lot out of the program and learned a ton as well as greatly improved my scuba skills. It was really great to see the passion and commitment of the team in Carriacou towards conserving the reefs and the ocean, and it felt great to be part of this effort. The program leaders were all very knowledgeable and were super helpful resources throughout my time. I would definitely recommend this program as it was a very fun and rewarding experience!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I did was learn how to hunt lionfish and even actually catching a few! Later, I even got to try lionfish ceviche made from the lionfish we had all caught; it was delicious!
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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'd learned to dive. Now I've learned to love the ocean!

I learned to dive in Australia a few years ago. I enjoyed the experience, but was not wowed by it. I didn't know what I was looking at TBH. I joined CRB to learn more about the marine environment and to dive a lot more too. I planned to do my DM whilst here too. Which was fab!.
The team here are very passionate about the marine environment, but in a practical way. Not in a tree-huggy way. The activities we got involved in were informative, helpful and very insightful. Its easy to really start to fall in love with the ocean when you're part of it every day and have these guys to tell you what it is your seeing and why its so amazing.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I'll be honest. When I signed up for the program I thought it was quite expensive, but the time you added flights etc to it. But I spend 8 weeks in one of the best spots in the Caribbean with some amazing people and I learned so much. The 8 weeks went by in a flash, and as I left I felt that the experience was worth every single penny... Well, except from the Jack Iron hangover!
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Mark
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Came for a month, stayed for four. Going back again in 2021

I was one of the lucky few who managed to get away to this program in 2020 during the pandemic. The UK unlocked and we managed to make it all work. I planned to come to Carriacou for a month, but ended up staying 4 due to flight cancellations and lockdowns. During my time there, I had an amazing experience with the crew and became part of the family. I also worked towards and got my divemaster certification too.

I am to come back again in 2021 to work with the crew again and create a new coral nursery, and to see how the babies I planted last year are growing....

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jon Wright

Job Title
Dive instructor/supervisor, skipper, equipment technician
Jon is a CCR and technical diving instructor trainer who brings 30 years of diving and boating experience to the team. He has been involved with scientific diving for the past 12 years, primarily focused on the technical, logistical and safety elements of many varied projects.
Jon in a wetsuit and dive pack

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have so many! One that stands out for me is a sailing trip out to dive Bassas da India, which lies about halfway between Mozambique (where I lived for 12 years) and Madagascar. Bassas is an uninhabited atoll, formed by a volcano, which rises from the sea bed at 3000 meters to just breaking the surface. It is difficult to find a more remote or more pristine part of the Indian Ocean, the diving was out of this world and the fantastic sense of isolation was surreal.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I love to experience new locations and cultures and it is great to get into the Caribbean vibe! Carriacou has that lovely old world charm of a bygone age which is hard to find now days. Getting back in to sailing after a bit of a hiatus is my short term goal, the region is awash with boats and boaters!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

The large number of return students we get speaks volumes for their enjoyment of their time spent here. As I write this we have 1 return student working here as a dive instructor and a couple who have come back for a holiday. It seems like every month we have at least 1 person coming to dive who was previously a student here.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

That would depend on previous diving experience. A qualified diver would want to get straight into marine field work, learn scientific diving techniques and data collection/entry techniques, possibly rounding this off with some higher level diving qualifications. Non divers would want to start with their Open Water dive course before getting into the scientific fieldwork. As our structure allows for both these groups, students just decide where they ''get on'' to the course and how long they want to stay.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are a group of passionate divers, conservationists and scientists with incredibly diverse backgrounds and skill sets. For me it is really gratifying to see local staff get enthusiastic about conserving the underwater world and being part of their progression as professional divers, skippers and the conservationists of tomorrow.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Good open and honest communication is vital not just for a company but for daily life. Many problems stem from poor communication, conflict can arise over misunderstandings and no team endeavor can succeed if all members are not clear about objectives and roles.
Scientific research is also of far more importance when the results are in the public domain, enabling people to make informed decisions and policies.