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Coral Cay Conservation


Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) is an award winning conservation NGO, that has been running projects for over 30 years. CCC pioneered the idea of 'citizen scientists', meaning that no matter your background you can join a CCC expedition and make a meaningful, positive contribution to the preservation of our oceans and forests.

You can join us as a marine volunteer based in the Philippines, in the heart of the coral triangle! You will learn how to dive (or improve your skills) and become adept at identifying corals, fish and a host of other marine creatures.


The Kiln, Grange Road
GU10 1DJ
United Kingdom


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I have just come back from an amazing five weeks at CCC. I enjoyed it so much that I cancelled
the few days travel I had planned at the end of the trip and stayed on base until the very last minute!

I arrived as a dive trainee and so underwent a week of training to get me to Advanced Open Water diver. The instructors were great and we all felt really comfortable training with them and the fact that we were learning to dive on House Reef, just a few steps from our accommodation and some of the best diving in the world, according to the diving veterans amongst the group, just made it even better.

After learning to dive was two weeks of science training where we learnt the different subtrates (corals, sponges etc), invertebrates, and fish, and surveying techniques. Science training was tougher than I expected but it is necessary- if you aren't sure about what you are seeing on the reef then you are not going to be able to perform accurate surveys. Once I had learnt it all, surveying became fun, and diving is way more interesting when you can recognise what is going on beneath the surface!

Once surveying started, we would spend our days on the Nudihunter, CCC's dive boat. We would travel to the site, do the first survey dive, then eat lunch, hang out and snorkel etc as we waited for the next dive, then we would do the second survey dive and travel back around the bay to base. It was always fun to be on the boat because the scenery was amazing and once we even saw a whale breaching!

The base is basic as you might expect for this part of the world so be ready for no running water, shared rooms etc However, everyone works together to keep the place spotlessly clean and you soon get used to not having luxuries like working taps (and there is an outdoor shower so washing is easy enough)! The base is quite big and with a large area outside so there are lots of places to chill out in between dives and science training so you can have as much or little space as you want. The base is located within the village of Napantao and further beyond we could travel to Liloan to stock up on any toiletries etc we needed.

The other volunteers were of a mixture of ages (ranging from 18-51 when I was there) with most of us around early twenties to mid thirties, and a range of nationalities and backgrounds (some were scientists, others like me didn't work in anything related to this but were just interested in science and conservation). Everyone was lovely and there was a relaxed, social vibe at base. Everyone has an interest in diving, conservation, and adventurous travel in common so friendships grow easily here! In the evenings we would chill out together on the porch- sometimes there would be guitar playing, salsa lessons, movie nights, and impromptu spanish lessons!

Saturday nights were "party night" and we would celebrate with a few options- a trip into Napantao to the karaoke bar, a beach fire, and a trip across the bay for a night dive at the Sogod Bay Dive Resort. On Sundays we would have the day off and we would either spend those days snorkelling on the reef or else exploring Leyte. In the time that I was there we visited some hot springs, hiked to a waterfall, and climbed a volcano.

Most people were staying for four weeks and I stayed for five which barely seemed long enough. If you are learning to dive as well, then you aren't going to get much time to actually survey by the time you finish training so if you can stay for longer then I would definitely recommend it. I really hope to return one day and then I will definitely make sure I have a couple of months to spend there.

To sum up, this was probably the best trip of my life (and I have done a lot of travelling) and it was great to be doing something worthwhile and for such a great cause. I am already planning ways I can take two months off work and return!

How can this program be improved?
I am not sure if it can! It was all great and I would definitely go again.
Yes, I recommend this program
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As a gap year student following A levels, this was the first time I had really 'travelled' by myself, so I was quite nervous and spent ages researching where to go before settling with a CCC expedition - and I wasnt disappointed. I signed up to stay on the Montserrat site for 4 weeks and I enjoyed it right from the moment I arrived!
CCC were absolutely brilliant in all aspects, both with the scientific and learning side and also the social side. All of the staff were genuine and great fun - I felt like part of the family almost immediately. The organisation and safety was excellent - something I was concerned about when trying to work out where to travel. I accomplished a lot within the 4 weeks I stayed there (I would definitely stay for at least 8 if I were to do it again!), including an Expedition Care Program, my PADI Rescue Diver, as well as learning how to survey a marine environment.
Everyone was so enthusiastic about the work that CCC do; we also completed a beach clean and I partook in one of the the library sessions about the environment that are held every other week for local children. It was great to be surrounded by like-minded people in such an amazing environment. The locals were also very friendly.
The accommodation was well above my expectations - I was sharing a dorm with one other volunteer and we had an ensuite bathroom with a shower and everything! (I am told this is unusual but it was very nice!). As a group we completed a few chores every day including sweeping and mopping and cooking lunch and dinner/washing up, but it wasn't unmanageable by any means (I quite enjoyed the chores-bonding time!).
We went diving almost every day and the reefs were stunning. The standard of safety when diving was also very reassuring, especially as Montserrat was such a remote location. Often in the morning before a dive there was the chance to go on a trail and experience the terrestrial side of the surveying as well (as a marine volunteer I wasn't expecting to be able to partake in this, but I ended up learning a lot about the birds and certain reptile/amphibian species found on Montserrat too which was great).
Every Sunday was a 'degas day' which allowed you to contact relatives (there was wifi!!!) and enjoy walks to the beach or snorkeling. This also allowed me to experience the island life and culture a bit even though the rest of the week was packed full of activity.
I genuinely cannot recommend this organisation enough, I am already planning on joining another of their expeditions next year and taking my brother with me! And if you are concerned at all about anything, the talks that CCC give at their base in Surrey are brilliant, or you can send them an email and they will reply promptly and helpfully.
Don't let this amazing opportunity working for a wonderful NGO pass you by - I promise you'll have the time of your life whilst helping towards a very important cause!

How can this program be improved?
I genuinely have nothing really to say, except maybe be prepared to be constantly active and doing things because there is so much to do on site! (It's not a tanning holiday let's put it that way!) Saying that, you do get enough time away from it all to not get too tired and you get out of the experience what you put in - so make the most of it!!
Yes, I recommend this program
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I spent 3 months with CCC in the Philippines and if I could I would go back and spent the rest of my life there.
My time there changed everything for me. I learned a lot about marine ecology and it never felt like I had to learn it. Everything there made me want to learn everything as quick as possible. I went there right after high school, but you'll find a different range of people in every age: marine biology students, passionate divers or people who just wanted to figure themselves out and do something else.

The accommodation is great, the description says up to 8 people per room but we were never more than 3 girls in our room. You can see the water from your window, you have your own bathroom. In your free time (you'll have lots of it) you can sit on the porch and look at the water or cuddle the dogs or just take a nap. The walls inside are covered in fish paintings and create a homey atmosphere. You'll have lunch and dinner together with all the staff members and volunteers and I promise you'll never want to eat somewhere or anything else in your life. The chef makes great food and everything is fresh and if you're nice he'll give you extra pancakes or fried chicken!

The diving is simply breathtaking. For people who've never been diving before as well as for experienced divers. You'll see a wide range of species: Rays, beautiful reef fishes, eels, nudibranchs, squids, seahorses, sharks, tuna, peacock shrimps and if you're lucky a whale shark will swim past you. And if not, you'll see one of its fins while sitting in the porch and jump in the water to get a closer look while snorkeling.

The equipment is good, the training is great as everyone supports you and tells you their little tricks. If you need help the staff will always support you and make sure everything is okay. Even for people who have zero experience in the field it's not hard to learn the things needed for the surveys. The surveys themselves are good scientific work; everyone is passionate enough to take them seriously. They're always a lot of fun! While you're there you'll contribute to the establishment of Marina Protected Areas. You'll see the differences between the overfished areas and the MPAs and you'll get to know, how hard it is to find a compromise between protecting the environment and not taking the fishermen's livelihood.

The base is located in a rather rural area, which I quite enjoyed. There are not many people around and the beach is always empty. If you want to you can take a bike to one of the towns around and buy fruits and candy or have a basketball match with the local policemen.
The trips we did were amazing. If you get the chance, go and see the waterfalls.
Another way to have fun are the Saturday nights where you'll have a trivia quiz (everyone takes it very seriously) and karaoke in the village afterwards. The life at base is really social, you'll have someone to have fun with all the time.

It's been hard for me to leave this wonderful place on earth and I can happily recommend everyone to take part in the marine expedition of Coral Cay Conservation.

How can this program be improved?
I would get mugs that still have handles and get the chef to make more of his amazing mango float! And maybe build more closets, so everybody can store their stuff properly.
Yes, I recommend this program


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