Conservation through research and education

Indo Ocean Project

Why choose 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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Ahmad Hatta
Yes, I recommend this program

IOP Divemaster Program at Raja Ampat

I arrived in Raja Ampat on 8 Oct to start the Divemaster program with IOP. It was a bit too much to take in the first time I arrived, considering the basic facilities in place for the IOP interns. We were hosted at the Scuba Republic Base Camp in Waisai, Waigeo island, Raja Ampat. My initial thoughts were that it was going to be a long 7-8 weeks here.
Fast forward 7 weeks later, and now back in the comforts of home, I have nothing but fond memories of my time with the IOP team in Raja Ampat.

The people that run the IOP program in Raja Ampat i.e. Selene and Mario are top-class Diving Instructors, and coupled with the academic background in Marine Sciences, they made the whole 7 weeks there filled with so much learning.

Apart from the required SSI, PADI content, what was good for me was the experience sharing from Sel and Mario in handling real-life diving situations. Be it equipment issues, people not feeling well, a difficult 'diver', personality issues and so on. The informal sessions on top of the course content were what I found valuable. A lot of support also from the IOP staff at Raja i.e. Shae, Mike and later Jon. Being a senior intern from day-1 (I'm 52 years young) was one of the concerns I had when I arrived, but everyone there was very supportive, and I had no problems fitting in early on and really be part of the family. But seriously, there was a lot of content to absorb, and this was no holiday camp. Assignments and knowledge reviews were frequent and had to be submitted on time. Those in Raja would know what "BRUV LUV" means very well by now :).

Looking back, I came home a much better diver than when I started. The Divemaster certification allows me to pursue opportunities to further my training to work with disabled people that want to experience diving. The learnings on the science content makes me more knowledgeable on the different fish species identification when I'm in the water ( I've had the opportunity to see a Red Emperor Snapper hiding under a coral (go guess if this a Snapper or Emperor!). The workshops and practical session with corals will allow me to participate actively on future coral restoration work in Malaysia.

The final week was the hardest for me at least, starting with the Stamina test, the final Skills sessions and the Stress test (doing the equipment exchange underwater with a buddy 2 sizes smaller than me was a definite challenge !).

I ended my 7 weeks with a fantastic party! The customary "Snorkel Test" to finish of the program was one I would not forget in a long time.

To Mario, Sel, Shae, Jon.. A big thank you to guys. Thanks for taking care of us interns and ensuring that we were always motivated, making the learning sessions on land and in the water enjoyable, interesting and most importantly SAFE.

What was your funniest moment?
Probably the time when I completed my stamina test! And of course, the snorkel test !
  • Top Class Instructors
  • Comprehensive Program Content
  • Open and Honest Communication with IOP staff
  • Facilities at Scuba Republic could be better (not really IOP's domain)
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Divemaster and research internship

I spent two months in Bira with the Indoocean project, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I ever did.
I really loved to be part of the IOP family, sharing all the moment with the other interns and the staff..
I learned a lot of new stuff about the marine environment that I did not know and that I will remember because was really well explained.
I also loved to do my divaster with IOP.
The staff is really competent and really good people - I’m really glad I had the chance to meet them.

I chose the IOP in Bira at Blue Planet Dive Resort beacuse it was a bit remote and in an area that is not so easy to reach, and I was right with my choice: pristine house reef, amazing sunsets, amazing people, nice village and super dive resort with amazing owners. Moreover you may have the chance to see Mobulas, Whalesharks, Threshershark and Hammerheads, without having the dives sites crowded by many boats, since there are only few dive center in the area :D

If you are looking for a new experience, don’t hesitate to apply, you will not regret it :-)

  • Great and competent staff
  • Beautiful location
  • Well organized research intership and divemaster course
  • Nothing - I can not remember something negative
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Research Diver and Dive Master internship

I was looking for a place to do my Dive master internship and I found out about Indo ocean project from a prior intern and I am more than happy to be a part of this project. The instructors are super nice and they train you to be the best. The project gives you a head start in the conservation world. You dive everyday with a purpose of giving something back to the ocean even if it is a tiny effort. No dive is just a dive at the Indo ocean project. You are always doing some type of surveys, research, collecting trash from the ocean, maintaining and planting coral nurseries. With Indo ocean project you get much more than the bare minimum in every aspect of dive master training. I would love to be a part of the project again in future and contribute in whatever way possible.

  • Fantastic diving
  • Great people
  • Lovely food
  • None
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime

I did my zero to hero program with IOP. I started out from scratch with 2 dives under my belt and I finished my program as a divemaster with over 100 dives. It is really difficult to put into words the incredible journey that the program had to offer. Even though I had no marine biology background, I had no problem keeping up with the program. The staffs are wonderful and are extremely knowledgeable. My instructors from reeflex also really helped me out with my certifications. My confidence and skills improved so much with time. All the research and science blew my mind. This program was a wonderful start to my diving journey and I fell in love with the marine life in Penida. It was incredible, challenging at times but absolutely worth it. The people, the experience and the culture in Indonesia, everything is absolutely incredible! If anyone’s thinking of doing their divemaster and research program, this is the right place.
I would say, the only thing that they could improve upon is the stay, with things getting fixed on time.

Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Amazing experience I will never forget

I loved my time there and had the best time. This internship provided a great opportunity to learn about marine research and there’s no perfect place to do it other than Raja Ampat. Learnt a lot as a diver and as a research diver. Ended up making life-long friends and walking away with beautiful memories of that place… The Scuba Republic local staff were really great and always going above and beyond to ensure we have a good time on land and on the boat. I will definitely recommend this program to anyone interested.

  • Rich marine biodiversity
  • Learning opportunities
  • Lack of variety on the dive sites
  • Improvements with dive boat


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Helen Wu

A city girl from Hong Kong who loves nature and adventures, just do it slowly, cautiously and preferably in small group, because introvert.
Helen Wu diving with a diving buddy

Why did you choose this program?

When I was researching ideas for my career break, I only had two wishes: something to do with diving and something I can give back to the environment.

After stumbling upon Indo Ocean Project (IOP) online and read so many good reviews about them, I knew this is where I want to be. Living on an island, diving everyday, learn about the environment and meet like-minded people are more than what I wish for.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IOP have all the contacts to help you with the basics. From visa application, transportation from Bali to Nusa Penida to on site accommodation, they have it all sorted for you.

They also have Facebook group for up-coming interns and alumni, as well as WhatsApp group for stand-by interns, the answer to your concerns is just one question away!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be mentally prepared to live on an island. Put your city-life standard and western-norm expectation aside. Embrace the purity of simple living and enjoy the presence of animals and nature.

Be open-minded. The things you deemed as “challenge” would be your accomplishments when you look back to it. No dives are the same and you only train once as divemaster, so make the most of every moment with a smile.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The program is well organised with good structure. A typical day involves two dives, either from the boat or shore. Followed by afternoon activities like knowledge workshops or skill practices or independent study. Once the work is done comes the hardest part of the day that requires the most brain power - to decide what’s for dinner.

Every five to six days we get a day off, which we usually spend exploring the island, go on fun dives or get a well deserved massage.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Coming in I had plenty of concerns. Do I have the body strength to take on the intense physicality of daily diving? Am I be able to keep up in learning all the scientific knowledge and training? And my biggest concern of all - will I make friends as a mid-thirty Asian woman amongst the many young gap year-goers?

As it turns out, all of my fears and concerns are just overthinking, as IOP is an accommodating place where you can take your time and do it in your own comfortable pace.

And as cliche as it sounds, age really is just a number, be your true self and you will attract your kind of people wherever you are.

Staff Interviews

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

Benjamin Graves

Job Title
Bira Project Co-Manager
With a PhD in Western Art Music from the University of Cambridge, a Master's in Music from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and a BMus(hons) in Orchestral Clarinet from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Benjamin's first true passion is classical music; this making up the majority of his career to date - having had his music commissioned and performed all over the world and working as tutor in Orchestration and Composition to Undergraduate musicians at Cambridge. Coming a close second is a love of the ocean, and it was his experience both diving across the world - from Ireland to Fiji and New Zealand to Grand Cayman - combined with the tutoring of university-age students which brought him to Indo Ocean Project, to co-manage, alongside his wife, Jess, the project in Bira, South Sulawesi.
Benjamin Graves


What is your favorite travel memory?

Kayaking on Khao Sok, Thailand, in search of wild gibbons, then proposing to Jess from a tent on a floating platform on that same lake.

Khao Sok is an extraordinary place and much like many places of travel has a feeling of poignancy as well as beauty: to provide hydro-electric power to Phuket the Thai government flooded a vast stretch of forest valley, so displacing countless animals. The resulting lake gives, not only green energy to hundreds of thousands, but also unparalleled access to forest canopy and unique views of wildlife, such as the gibbons and great hornbills, but the tips of drowned trees poking out of the water serve as a poignant reminder of all that was lost for the sake of progress.

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

I have learned a great deal about patience and compassion, and how to stay calm in a crisis. Such a remote working location requires a steady head in an emergency and an ability to collaborate at close hand with those around you. It is important to respect and recognise the independence and fortitude of both staff and interns and utilise such attributes for the sake of your growth and theirs.

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

James, an intern from 2022, was diving on the Great Wall dive site, a particularly spectacular and dramatic site, when he and his group saw a white manta ray. This is particularly special due to the rarity of this animal to Bira and because James was assisting on the course which was the start of intern Pradish's SCUBA journey. It will be an experience which will stay with Pradeesh for life.

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

I would attend the Research Internship at Raja Ampat. The reports of students visiting the Bira project who have dived there describe a completely different experience regarding wildlife, topography and conditions, and not least the opportunity to search for the red bird-of-paradise, therefore it would be a completely novel experience.

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

Most Divemaster programmes involve mostly assisting with beginner SCUBA courses and providing assistance to dive-shop managers with sales and gear fitting. While Indo Ocean Project involves such important work, it also offers a broader range of diving experience, such as research diving and assisting on more rarified SCUBA qualifications, such as Rescue Diver and Deep diving specialties.

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

Communication and treating those around you - including aspirant Divemasters - like professionals and adults and respecting their input and opinions. As a mentor and tutor, it is important to recognise your own weaknesses and have the self-confidence to invite input from wherever it may come and implement it into your own conduct.