Conservation through research and education

Indo Ocean Project


Dive Master and Research Diver internship with multiple locations in Indonesia, the heart of the coral triangle. Complete your PADI dive master course along with 5 ecology specialties written and designed by our team of marine biologists and dive professionals and approved by PADI and SSI. Marine megafauna, coral and mangrove restoration, marine park management and much more. You don't need to be a scientist to get involved!


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Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best projects I had the pleasure to be a part of! Spending 3 months with Indo Ocean Project gave me a new found love of diving and gave me valuable experience in marine conservation. I started off as a very inexperienced open water diver and through the project came out as a confident dive master. The project taught me all about being a good diver not just in but out of the water as well. The dive sites at the Bira project in South Sulawesi were some of the best I have seen and with little tourist activity. The conservation programs are aimed to help preserve these marine ecosystems and get a better understanding of just what is going on in the waters around Bira. This project gave me the skills to be able to work in the dive industry and marine conservation and would highly recommend!

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Yes, I recommend this program

This project is perfect for anyone with a passion for marine life. Personally it was my first step into the conservation world and I couldn’t have imagined it better. You get to work with badass professionals on a daily basis. I’ve learned so many skills and acquired so much knowledge that it’s hard to believe I’ve only spent 10 weeks there. You’re part of a big family of about 10 interns from all backgrounds and countries. A typical day consists of 1 or 2 dives (during which you will do heaps of research and and assisting tourists), combined with a workshop. After a busy day you get plenty of time to relax, explore the island or try the local delicacy “Joss”... Only one way to find out what it is ;) Whether you’re a marine biologist looking for an amazing place to do your research or an inexperienced ocean lover like me, the Indo Ocean Project’s got it all!

What would you improve about this program?
Make the project twice as long because it’s so noooicee
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Yes, I recommend this program

I joined IOP as a complete newbie (no knowledge in marine conservation and only 2 or 3 dives) and I must say it was the best experience of my life.

Thanks to the wonderful people that are working hard everyday to make it possible , this experience will teach you all the tricks to become a good dive professional by :
- Allowing you to work in a busy dive shop with a very fun and accessible staff
- Allowing you to dive in some of the best dive sites on the planet where you'll learn how to deal with currents
- Getting access to a various amount of workshops and knowledge taught by highly skilled people
- Being involved in scientific research
- Working with people who are making a difference

Serena Stean, the program director, has a wealth of knowledge (I am still looking for the question she can't answer) thanks to the amazing life she's been living and the hardwork and investment she puts in the dive master program. You can be sure her passion for the ocean will be passed on to you.

The only bad thing I can think of is that time flies too fast when you're in there and you're always leaving (if you ever leave one day) with the desire to come back ASAP.

Big thank you to everyone implied in this project. You're doing amazing things and I hope you'll keep doing this for many years.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you ever come to this project, just enjoy every single day because once it's over, you'll regret not to.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I was part of the first group of interns that started the Indo Ocean Project in Bunaken (June-July 2019) and this has been one of the best experiences I have ever had! And this is saying a lot, since I’m currently taking a year off to travel around Southeast Asia and all I’ve had is amazing experiences...

I cannot recommend this programme (and any of the other Indo Ocean Project internships, in Penida and Bira) enough: the Project is very serious about the research it conducts and also about the training it provides for interns. All the staff is amazing and will go out of their way to meet your needs and expectations, and the level of teaching is excellent. As other people have mentioned in their reviews, interns have a lot of freedom to apply any particular skill set they may have and to develop different projects and activities other than those already planned (you can read all about these on the IOP website).

I actually have already been a Divemaster for over 10 years and went to Bunaken only to do the research component of the internship. I would totally recommend this programme for people who are already DMs, but want to learn about conservation and research. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, but it turned out to exceed all my expectations. I learned a lot from Pascal, IOP’s lead marine biologist, and had his support to design and lead a couple of different experiments for the whole team.

I do not have a marine biology background, but had already done some volunteering in this field before coming to Bunaken. At the Indo Ocean Project, I had the opportunity to apply and expand a lot on the knowledge I have recently been developing. I am confident that people who already have a marine biology background would also benefit a lot from this programme, being able to apply their skills on the field and directly contribute to high-quality research.

Because I was already a Divemaster, I had more time to focus on the research projects, which I loved, and enjoy the incredible diving that Bunaken has to offer. It was also great to see the quick evolution that my colleagues had during their Divemaster training. Even though we had people from all different levels of diving skill and experience, our team was able to work very well together, always learning from each other, while also having a lot of fun. The amazing team from IOP (Pascal and Olivia) made it look so easy to make this happen!

If you’re thinking of which IOP location to choose, here go my thoughts:

Life in Bunaken is simple and beautiful: wake up early morning, 5 min walk through beach and mangrove to the great dive shop at Living Colours Resort, go out on the boat to dive and conduct research, home cooked lunch at the homestay (with our entire family of beloved pets and the owner Lorenso, who is a Bunaken institution), workshops and classes in the afternoon, early dinner at the homestay and then bedtime because you will be exhausted! This is a perfect location for people who enjoy nature and quiet places, and who don’t mind basic food and accommodation (cold water showers only, electricity only in the evenings). At the same time, because it is a small island, you will have the chance to get to know the lovely locals of Bunaken. I made some great friends there and loved our nights out at Deco (the one and only bar in Bunaken), always with a live band playing by a bonfire on the beach. Also, you will spend most of the time with your colleagues from IOP, which really makes you turn into a small family by the end of your stay.

I visited Nusa Penida after finishing my internship in Bunaken and could see some obvious differences between the 2 projects: in Penida interns have a more social and busy life outside of the project, as there’s a lot more to do on that island than in Bunaken. While in Bunaken there are no restaurants and we ate all of our meals together at the homestay, in Penida you will be spoiled for choices of both Indonesian and western food, nice coffee shops, bars, etc. In Penida you will also probably end up renting a scooter and having the freedom to explore the island by yourself, on your own time, if you wish to.

Regarding the diving, Penida is also amazing but has more difficult conditions than Bunaken, with lots of currents and cold water during winter. I personally think the coral reefs and walls of Bunaken are more beautiful. However, in Penida you will be spoiled to have a resident population of manta rays throughout the year and mola-molas coming to shallow waters during the winter.

I personally am still biased in favour of quiet, peaceful Bunaken, but people who are very social and need to have a life outside of the internship would prefer Penida, I believe. I haven’t had the chance to check out Bira yet, but I’ve heard some amazing things and it is definitely on my list for my next trip to Indonesia!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure you enjoy every minute as much as you can, time will fly by very fast!
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Yes, I recommend this program

IndoOcean Project was a newer program with no reviews when I applied which caused me to be somewhat hesitant. However, I reached out to individuals from the alumni page and when I asked about their experiences, they unanimously responded that they had nothing negative to say. I add my voice to theirs because I, too, have nothing negative to say about the program or my experience.

When I decided I wanted to pursue my Dive Master certification, I knew that instead of training in a dive shop to work in the tourism industry, I wanted a program that was more conservation and scientific minded. When I looked into programs along these lines, I found IndoOcean Project, which fulfilled and then exceeded all of my expectations for a Dive Master training program. Because of amazing instructors (namely Serena, the incredibly knowledgeable and patient DM instructor) and versatile conditions throughout Penida, I now feel comfortable working and leading divers anywhere in the world. However, in addition to this base, I now also have a wealth of knowledge and experience related to marine conservation and research.

Personally, my time at IndoOcean Project was valuable in order to get back in touch with my scientific background. However, I would strongly recommend the program for people of any background, as I firmly believe that anyone who wishes to wishes to become a dive professional should have foundational knowledge in conservation (and the science that often drives it) as you will become the ambassadors of the sea. During my time with IndoOcean Project, I worked alongside Dive Master Trainees with diverse backgrounds who all found the experience to be more than worthwhile. The Lead Marine Biologist, Pascal, is passionate and knowledgeable and more than willing to sit down with you to help figure things out if there is anything you don't understand or if you simply want to 'nerd out.'

The program's research and conservation projects are hands-on and include Indicator Species Roving Surveys, Mangrove Restoration, Remote Underwater Video, Turtle Identification, Manta Identification, Marine Debris Collection and Composition, Micro-Plastic Surveys, Coral Biodiversity Mapping, and so much more. Many of these projects are run in partnership with conservation organizations and universities, and the data collected from them are used to create and inspire real time change both within and beyond the Marine Protected Area of Nusa Penida.

By far, one of the best things about IndoOcean Project is that it is always growing and changing for the better. The fearless leader and founder, Lauren, is a big dreamer with a can-do-attitude, fueled by a passion for conservation. This shows in the spirit of the organization and all of the incredible people that are a part of it. If you have an idea or a skill to contribute, the staff will listen and encourage you and help you to make it a reality. Therefore, the projects are constantly expanding and are often intern-led.

I spent my time with IndoOcean Project at the original project site of Nusa Penida. The island is full of beautiful views, welcoming people, delicious food, adorable puppies, and a magic that will draw you in in ways you never expected. There are definite advantages to partaking in IndoOcean Project at it's original site. The project is based out of Nomads Diving, a top rated dive center which was started and grew alongside IndoOcean Project. Nomads is fully equipped with plentiful and up-to-date gear, high quality dive boats, a swimming pool, classrooms, and a beach bar. Most importantly, the staff at Nomads are all incredible people with kind spirits and a shared commitment to conservation. You will have the opportunity to learn from the example of the expert dive guides Romy and Ady, will shadow talented instructors, will be safely taken care of by captains and crew, and will be able to hang out with the rest of the Nomads Family who will always be there to help you if there is anything you need. In addition, since Penida is the original IndoOcean Project site, there are more projects already happening, so you might be able to experience more variety. However, if you have the opportunity to participate at any of the locations, definitely take it! There is so much offered by those sites that Penida doesn't have--if I could, I would sign up to go to both of them right now.

Overall, I cannot recommend this program enough to anyone who would like to become a dive professional and who has a heart for the Earth and its oceans. While you will work hard and face many (rewarding) challenges throughout the course of your internship, the biggest challenge you will face will be leaving all the goodness that is IndoOcean Project!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change about this program is to make it last longer!


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Staff Interviews

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

Putri Martosudarmo

Job Title
Program Coordinator and Community Outreach Officer
Putri is a Divemaster and Scientific Diver who currently works for the Indo Ocean Project as a Program Coordinator and Community Outreach Officer. She mentors the Divemaster Interns and helps run the citizen science side of the project as well as community outreach programs.
Putri Martosudarmo

What is your favorite travel memory?

During my travel in the summer of 2018, I decided to explore more of the Indonesian archipelago after getting my open water scuba certification. I went diving in Pulau Seribu, Bali, Gili, and Komodo islands when I found my true purpose. I was in awe of what is in the underwater world. From the smallest nudibranch, largest mantas and the fastest sharks! I knew from then on that I would like to be a dive professional with a focus on marine conservation.

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

Working for Indo Ocean Project has definitely made me a more conscious diver. Understanding habitats and what lives there and also how to dive without destroying marine life.

I have also been fortunate enough to be able to dive in remote places and connect with local communities and children. This job has made me appreciate my home even more and to protect it.

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

Definitely how much their training and knowledge expand after their program with Indo Ocean Project. The students we have are usually the adventurous and explorer kinds, so its always amazing to see where they go after and what they do. I always love to hear when they pursue more education in the marine biology field or when they decided to work in remote places we haven't even heard of and, of course, the creatures we only see in books.

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

After doing the Penida Project myself, I would do it all over again because of the location. Doing your Divemaster program in Nusa Penida, where the current is strong and the water is often cold, will make you a better diver and Divemaster.

In addition, I will do a few extra weeks in the Bira project, as well as other locations available so I can have more dives in different conditions under my belt.

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

Indo Ocean Project is unique because we all came from different countries and backgrounds, but have one goal together which is ocean conservation.

I was especially proud of my team when we get to do local community outreach in the elementary school in Bira. We got to talk to them about the beauty of their home, the species underwater and how to protect it. We also raised awareness around plastic waste and how to eliminate it from the simplest thing.

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

Communication is definitely key to being a successful company. Especially being in remote areas where logistics are often difficult and sparse. Being supportive of each other is also very important. We are living and working with our co-workers who are basically becoming a family.

Indo Ocean Project is also very open to new ideas and views that we are always welcome to express our thought on opinions.