Bahamas Marine Conservation with Gapforce
93% Rating
(28 Reviews)

Bahamas Marine Conservation with Gapforce

In the teaming waters around Andros island Gapforce groups work with the Bahamas National Trust to survey the Island’s valuable reef and its inhabitants. Our results help create protected marine parks, assist local communities and teach conservation awareness in primary schools.

Being based in a small community in the Bahamas is a massive plus and a short walk from our base on Andros our volunteers work with the local school – Staniard Creek Primary School.

So as part of the team you’ll experience unforgettable diving, make a whole community of friends and help ensure that future generations will care for the reef and its long term survival!

Locations
North America » Bahamas
Length
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
Language
English
Housing
Hostel
Starting Price
$2,000.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
What is included: UK Briefing Day, airport transfers, experienced staff, accommodation, meals, science training, technical dive equipment, all dives, 24/7 emergency back-up, community visits, social activities, t-shirt
Extras: PADI dive training: Open Water (£300), Advanced (£250) and EFR (£100)
Other Locations
Andros, Blanket Sound

Questions & Answers

Hi Tina, I stayed on Andros for 6 weeks from July - August last year and had an absolutely amazing time. I honestly wish i'd of opted to stay longer. Food is fairly simple but keeps you sustained and full of the energy you require to do a days diving. Meals are normally done on a rota, so for example, on Monday the camp might have bean burgers, Tuesday could be be pasta and salad and Wednesday mig...
Okay that is perfect I turned 16 a few months ago! can't wait to get more information on the trip!

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    82%
  • Support
    90%
  • Fun
    77%
  • Value
    92%
  • Safety
    89%

Program Reviews (28)

Default avatar

Amazing experience in Bahamas

9/10

I took a trip to the Bahamas in January 2017 for 10 weeks for the marine conservation program, and I loved it. I met some incredible people, including the staff members, who I'm sure I'll be friends with for years. I had never been diving before so it was a bit of a risky move to jump in for 10 weeks, but I absolutely loved learning to dive, the instructors were great and were really helpful. We had two interns from the previous phase who knew everything about the program and the ins and outs of the camp. The camp was even more basic than I thought it was going to be, but I wouldn't have changed that because it made the experience better - everyone is in the same situation no matter where you're from, just be wary of frogs sitting in the toilet bowls! The camp itself is beautiful, right on the beach which stretches for miles with no other people, and the dive sites you are taken to are amazing - if you are expecting to see sharks, rays and turtles, you will not be disappointed! The showers are outside and are pretty cold, but nice on a hot day. You have to do your own laundry but that's easy! Cooking meals is great fun in teams, although trying to make a meal at the end of the week when you have all the boring ingredients left is hard. One of the few downsides is the food, because it's very basic, mostly noodles, rice and vegetables, but there are two local shops where you can get a few luxuries. The only other thing I would add is that your experience can be made better or worse by the people you experience it with; if you have bad instructors or fellow volunteers that you don't work well with then it can be really hard.

How can this program be improved?

I think that gapforce should give the camp manager a bigger budget for a wider range of food and supplies for activities like paint and sports equipment. There are a lot of things on camp that needed fixing or improving, like lights in the toilets and shower curtains.

Louisa
Female
22 years old
Freiburg Im Breisgau

12 unforgettable weeks

10/10

My time on Andros with GapForce was surely the best time of my life. Not only did I learn a lot about the local fish and coral species, the oceanic environment in general, taught by the very passionate marine biologist Elyssa, I also had the best dive instructor zara, who made me always feel safe and showed me the underwater world. Both of them were precious to the camp and people I would not want to miss. Apart from the learning I had the incredible opportunity to live in one of the most amazing places I've ever been, seconds away from the beach. I saw loads of sharks, turtles, interesting fish and dolphins. And I experienced everything with amazing people I met through this program and who became my friends for a life time.
Also the program around our scientific training was great fun and especially the legendary quiz-nights. The time here was definitely life changing, thanks to the amazing staff people and also all the volunteers.

How can this program be improved?

This phase was a big turning point for the program and already improved through new engines for the boat, a new compressor and some restoration work for the dive and food shed. two points that could make the program even better would be the food and sanitary situation.

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Jake
Male
21 years old
Burton Upon Trent

Incredible Expirience!

9/10

The six weeks proved to be both challenging yet stimulating in the content it offered.

As someone who has never dived before, or undertaken such a huge project so far away from home, the initial arrival into camp proved fairly daunting and nerve wracking.

However friendly and helpful staff and a well ran series of dive and conservation practical and theoretical lessons quickly brushed aside any worry that remained and formed the basis of what would be an incredibly insightful and engaging six weeks.

As of leaving, i am now a qualified PADI Advanced Open Water diver and further the skills i have learned to progress into more advanced fields of diving such as wreck and cave. The work of the camp Marine Biologist and her clear enthusiasm for the field has also helped enforce a real interest in marine biology and conservation and huge desire to take a more proactive approach to looking after the incredibly fragile, beautiful and diverse world that lives beneath the waves.

Perhaps the hardest part of leaving camp is the realisation that I now have to leave behind all the incredible volunteers, both new and old, of whom i have worked, lived and dived with over the last six weeks. The friendships formed over the duration of the project have been a pleasure to be part of and i remain confident that they will continue onward into the forseeable future.

Thank you so much to all the hardworking staff and volunteers on camp for making these six weeks so special!

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Tish
Female
21 years old
Cranleigh
University of Bristol

Wonderful under and over water world

10/10

My trip to Andros was amazing. I will never forget it and I will take a lot of calmness and patience with me home. Alone living on a camp directly at a lonely beach and being able to jump into the water whenever it gets too hot, is wonderful! For me this adventure was completely positive as I enjoyed every dive we did – with Elyssa and Zara I always felt safe- , all the lectures we had –Elyssa is a very competent marine biologist-, spending time with the people here, getting to see a bit of the Bahamian life and the island and simply exploring parts, as tiny as they might be, of the stunning underwater world. I had so much fun learning about all the fish, corals etc. that I even would have loved having more lectures, but I noticed that Elyssa was so busy that it wasn’t possible. Its a whole new way of diving when you actually know all the fish you are surrounded with under water. Sadly we had a lot of problems with our boat and the compressor so we couldnt do as many dives as I expected us to do. Nevertheless it was never boring at the camp as we found other things to do instead. The trips to the blue holes of Andros were fun. One day we learnde more about plants at the Forfar station and we even got to try Termites! The best trip was to the bat caves, what was scary and so much fun at the same time! Afterwards we went snorkeling at wrecks what I really enjoyed too. If you dont expect a high living standard and super delicious food you will have a great time with all the people you meet at the camp. Thanks to cool activities like the Quiz Night or Beach Olympics there will be forming a great community. The longer you stay here the more cool stuff you will do because the number of people decreases. If you are motivated and eager to find out more about marine life and how to help saving it, this project is made for you!

How can this program be improved?

It would be good to have better equipment, like a new boat, compressor and truck as these items kept breaking down and so hindered us from going diving. Also it would be better to have three marine biologists who are deeply concerned about the ocean and really into this topic than two.

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Marie
Female

Bahamas July 2016

8/10

I came on this trip because wanted to spend the summer diving in a beautiful country and get involved with a marine biology programme that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I have absolutely loved living in Andros over the past 6 weeks as it has given me the opportunity to not only make great friends from all over the world, but to live on a beautiful white beach and learn and conserve the local eco systems. The lectures Elyssa provided us with were really great as they were really thorough and exciting and she was always available for extra help with the understanding of the fish to those of us who do not study marine biology as a degree. I could really tell she put so much effort into them and it made learning the fish a lot more enjoyable than it could have been. I’d also say that Zara made the running of the camp really fun and up beat as it seems the expedition leader wasn’t available a lot of the time, which almsot all the volunteers found incredbily fustrating and odd. She also took almost every dive during the week days over the time I spent in Andros and was always in a good mood and ready to help even by the time of the last dive of the day. Although I may have written an email expressing my frustration with the facilities here, which still stands true, it has in no way tarnished my experience and time here and I am very sad to be leaving Greenforce and everyone left here. Particular highlights for me visiting the blue holes on Saturday's and all of the incredible diving i managed to do, as well as making really great friends.

How can this program be improved?

Although I was fortunate enough to have a bed, I think that the other living quaters could be improved a lot, especailly the beds and amount of space volunteers have to store space. As well as this I think more diversity between meals would be incredibly benefical. Other than that I really enjoyed a more basic living experience. However, because of the all problems encountered during my time here im not able to ignore the fact that the equipment and facilities seem to need a bit of investment in order to ensure maximum diving, This is especailly true for the compressor and boat.

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Ann-sophie
Female
24 years old
Sinzheim

Diving

5/10

There was one dive where we did a fish point out and it was just amazing. First there were 3 sharks around us and after this we saw a moray swimming which was absolutely amazing. Staying here is amazing because of the nice sea and the diving sites. Even snorkeling is much fun when you can see all the corals and fishes right under you and you can make amazing photos. I liked the trips to the blue holes because it is nice to see these water filled big holes in the middle of the jungle.

Response from GapForce

Hi Ann-sophie, looks like you had a great time on the program and we're happy to have had you! Let us know if you have any feedback about how we can improve. Best wishes, the Gapforce team.

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Andrew
Male
22 years old
west chester
Ursinus College

Blue Hole Day Trip

9/10

There were many highlights on this exciting trip in Andros, Bahamas. One of the most memorable moments was the day trip to Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole. I enjoyed riding in the back of the truck with all of my peers. We brought a speaker and listened to our favorite tunes the whole way there, which was a total of about 30 minutes. Our driver was going slow as a saftey precaution so it took a bit longer to arrive, yet I didn't mind from how enjoyable the car ride was. We took turns picking a song, and it was so interesting to hear all of the different styles of music played. Some of the songs I never heard before and couldn't even understand as they were in a different language, but they grew on me. Now, I play them on days we have wifi, because how catchy they are. With the wind blowing in our hair and trying our best to sing along, we created bonds that hopefully last a lifetime.

When we arrived at the bluehole everyone jumped right in to cool off from the sun's rays that give us our golden brown tans. The water was surprisingly warm with such a fresh lake like feel to it. The color of the water was amazing as it reminded me of my ocean back home, in a cool blue. After swimming around we all gathered together for a giant water polo game. I have never played before so it did not take me long to realize how much of a tiring sport it is. My heart was racing as everyone was turning all of their poridge into ATP in hopes of out swimming their competitors. I ended up scoring 6 of our 10 goals but only because I hung out on offense the whole time as I grew tired quickly of swimming the length of the massive water hole. We all took a half time break to enjoy some delicious lunch made by our volunteers. The biggest highlight of the day was the tricks I did off of the table into the water. I started off with a front flip despite caution warnings by the staff. This got my confidence going to where I was able to gather up enough courage to try a gainer flip, something I have aspired to try for a while. I finally did it though and was very proud of myself when I rested my head down later that night.

How can this program be improved?

more diverse diet

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Benjamin
Male
20 years old
Plymouth

My Experience

10/10

I graduated high school in 2015, not knowing what I want to do. I found Gapforce and knew it was the perfect opportunity to see the world. I have never traveled outside of the United States so I was very excited. I knew I would have the time of my life, and it did not disappoint. I met many new people and gained many new friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for Gapforce for giving me this opportunity.

How can this program be improved?

Modernized living, more variety of foods

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Laura
Female
19 years old
Northern Ireland

Summer on Andros

10/10

i had the most amazing experience on this conservation trip to Andros! everyday held something knew and we were kept busy doing various activities that were the opposite to boring, the diving especially was unbelievable and learning about the island and all the fish was really interesting. it was also nice to get away from all the luxury and experience living in beautiful remoteness. the people volunteering and all the staff were so friendly and made the trip unforgettable. All i can say is that my time was not at all long enough!

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Fred
Male
19 years old
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

Bahamas 2015

10/10

This trip is utterly faultless. I have never been the company of such amazing people doing things that I love. The staff on the phase were brilliant with a huge font of knowledge about the oceans and environment surrounding us. The equipment we used was top of the range, and I felt safe when in the water. The sea life that I was so lucky to see was amazing, from Caribbean reefs sharks to Loggerhead turtles, the Bahamas had it all. Andros, being such a remote island, had a create sense of community, with locals being friendly and generous with their possessions. The social life was great with 'Timmy's bar' being a 30 second walk from the house. We also went to such events like the Islands regatta which was a great way of embracing the culture that Andros so strongly expressed. The living conditions were great taking into account the remoteness of the Island. If you like rice and noodles this trip is the one for you. Overall I had the best 5 weeks and couldn't have asked for better people to spend it with.

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Kami
Female
18 years old
Vienna, Austria
Other

An encounter with a Caribbean Reef Shark

9/10

It was afternoon by the time the second group set out to go diving. The sun was shining, and see sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. It was hot and humid, and clouds were lining the horizon. We kitted up and loaded everything into the motorboat, and as we undid ourselves from the boje, four very excited volunteers were lying on the front deck. As we approached the dive site (I believe it was Aladdin's) the wind was tousling our hair and a sudden feeling of happiness erupted in everyone. A smile spread across my face as I felt a deep inner enjoyment and content. The sea was calm so we threw in our BCDs and hopped in with our fins and masks to put everything on in the water. As everyone swam to each other Chloe gave the signal and we slowly descended. You felt almost as if you were floating, weightless. The warm water encased you as you started swimming with only board shorts and a rash vest. As we rounded up around Chloe we all got our dive slates out and began the coral point out. Everyone seemed very confident after the last lecture in the morning and some hours to practice. Chloe showed her amazement and joyfulness by giving us energetic thumbs up ever time we identified a given coral correctly. Like this half an hour drifted by seamlessly. I was just watching Chloe when I saw her eyes focus on something in the distance. I swivel around and am astonished to see a Caribbean Reef Shark swimming by silently. You could see the awe stricken faces of all volunteers, and the coral point out was momentarily forgotten as we all watched with wonder this amazing creature of the ocean. As it started to swim away we went after it in hot pursuit until it disappeared in the distance and blended in with the turquoise blue of the warm water. As we ascended to the the safety stop Theo and Lukas were finally able to fool around, they played around by snatching Chloe's fins and taking off her boots. This ended up being a mad chase in circles until the three minutes were over and we were able to surface. As we inflated our BCDs we all erupted in laughter and Chloe had big smile on her face when she said: "You guys were awesome. You knew your corals inside out, and that dive really made my day!" We finished up that great dive with jumps off the boat and swim around before we headed back home to camp.

How can this program be improved?

I believe it was overall an amazing experience, but you could change some housekeeping things such as having somewhere to wash your feet before stepping into the house, to keep the sand from accumulating and thereby the sandflies from hatching.

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Theo
Male
22 years old
London, England

Truly Incredible

10/10

I cannot find any thing negative to say about this program, from the amazing location, incredible diving and wonderful staff members the two months I had the pleasure to spend on the island of Andros was easily the best two months of my life. What the camp lacks in luxury it more than makes up for in location and being surrounded by amazing people and having amazing experiences daily means any missed creature comforts are very quickly forgotten. The diving, the main attraction to the course, is beautiful, being surrounded every dive by exquisite fish and crazy corals is breath taking at first, however after lectures on fish and corals it soon amps up the experience ten fold being able to ID what you are sharing the warm, clear water with. Overall it was an unforgettable experience that I cannot recommend any more to any body considering it, do it, you won't regret it.

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Ollie
Male
22 years old
Sailsbury, United Kingdom
Other

The best thing you will ever do!

10/10

I turned up for a month in the Bahamas with people I didn't know and to do something I had no previous experience of.......... and the best time. The instructors are some of the most professional, kind, hard working, good fun and just bloody awesome people you will have the pleasure of meeting and in my experience the same is true for the volunteers. This course seems to attract like minded and fantastic people. The accommodation and food is basic but very homely and a very relaxed environment to live in. Once you leave the comfort and sunny rays of the beach and venture on a dive words just cant explain the beauty that beholds you. Phenomenal reefs and fish, a fair few megafauna and visibility that enables you to see mainland America......... nearly! All in all I cant do this trip justice in words I just recommend you get out there and try it cause you wont regret it!

How can this program be improved?

Get rid of the bloody mosquitos and sand flies

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Alex
Male
20 years old
kent, England
Other

The best month of my life!

10/10

The phase was genuinely the best time of my life, as we had an amazing group of volunteers who all bonded perfectly, and staff who got along with everyone. The island itself was enough reason to make me love the whole thing, but the organisation by the staff to get us at least one dive a day in some of the clearest, and most perfect waters imaginable just added to that. Whether you're an experienced diver like myself, or a complete novice then this is the perfect course for you. You can learn to dive in amazing conditions and see an unparalleled variety of marine wildlife just 20 metres from the house! And if you have dived before, whether it's in clear blue waters or in the murky lakes of England (like I was unfortunate enough to learn in) then it's still an amazing experience in itself. I would highly reccomend anyone and everyone to try this out for themselves, even if it's for two weeks, it will be the best fortnight of your life! Not just because of the diving, but the setting in which you are staying. There is so much else to do other than scuba dive, like visiting the blue hole lagoons, which are straight up amazing, and a lovely break from the normal routine on camp. If you do anything on your gap year, and you're even slightly interested in the oceans or scuba diving, I cannot push this option more than anything, as it has truly made my gap year the most memorable!

How can this program be improved?

Nothing, the program really was perfect!!

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Megan
Female
London
Newcastle University

A very memorable experience

8/10

I would recommend this project to those who do and don’t have any diving experience. I was there for the full 10 weeks and it was definitely a memorable experience. As a first time diver I didn’t know what to expect, however, James the instructor was amazing. In just 10 days, I was a qualified advanced diver!

The April phase was pretty good in terms of weather, and there were only a handful of days where we were unable to dive. However, it was made sure that most of these days were used productively. From exploring the islands blue holes to visiting a bat cave.

As a marine conservation project we were there to collect data and, therefore, had to learn fish and coral species. Chloe made learning fish and corals easy, with helpful power points, flash cards and games. I would say if you have an interest in marine life then this trip is definitely suited to you.

For someone who is fairly fussy about food, you may struggle. With the main mealtimes involving, rice, beans, porridge and pasta, it can get a little boring. However, by the end of the phase we were making the most out of the given ingredients. There are also 2 shops in 5 minute walking distance, where you can get some snacks.

This was a really memorable experience and I would urge anyone who wants to try or enjoys diving to go for it!

How can this program be improved?

The website and kit list information should be updated. It seems like head office don't give the support that the team in the Bahamas need.

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Laura
Female
24 years old
United Kingdom

Basic but an amazing experience

10/10

I would strongly recommend this project to anyone, even if you have no diving experience. I was there for four weeks and wished i went for longer, in that time i did a lot. I was nervous about diving before i went however James the instructor was brilliant and i managed to complete the advanced course in 10 days.
The staff were good at having days planned, and the project was good value for money. Any issues the volunteers had, were addressed by the staff and things were changed swiftly after which made the trip run more smoothly. The food was very basic however i'm gluten tolerant and i took supplies with me and it was no issue for me to eat alternatives. Everyone helps with the cooking which makes it more of a social activity and everyone's preferences in the kitchen are accommodated for. There is also a shop five minutes away to get snacks from in between meals.
In my phase, there were only 10 volunteers and we all got on well, you get to know everyone as you spend most of the day together and as cliche as it sounds you become a little family. which is why i would recommend going for as long as possible as if you leave early it is hard to say goodbye.
Anti-insect repellent is a must as the sand-fly bites can be particularly nasty. Although everything is quite basic you soon get used to it.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing i would change would be that the food had more vegetables and meat. I think the staff should receive more money so that they can afford fresh meat instead of the processed alternatives.

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Lucy
Female
24 years old
Andros, Bahamas

O'fish'ally 'Fin'tastic ;)

9/10

This trip has truly been amazing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it when I booked it but it exceeded what I imagined. For my gap year I first wanted something to do which wasn't travelling around and was by an organisation I looked at volunteering and treks but none had quite as much spark as diving everyday. I had been diving before so it really sounded like the perfect trip for me. There were many people who had never been diving before so they got qualified in the first few weeks, I thought that was quite bold to commit to 3 months of unknown, but they all enjoyed themselves so much and were lil pro divers by the end.
Even when we could not dive due to weather issues, we were still on the largest island in the Bahamas so there was so much to explore. We went up north to Morgan's bluff where there were ship wrecks we could snorkel, another time we went to captain Morgan's cave and then to the most northern tip of andros. On the island there were hundreds of blue holes we could of explored, my favourite of the blue holes was churches; it had a platform to jump, dive or flip off depending how ballsy you were, a bbq and toilets!! Another bh had a rope swing which was very entertaining.
All these day trips were organised by our amazing scientist Sam and expedition leader. Both Sam and James slaved away to plan these trips for us so we weren't sitting around camp all day.
There was a point during the 10 weeks where Sam was on his own supervising 12 people, whilst leading 4 dives a day and having to buy groceries (without a car) so then hitching back, taking hours. He must have been exhausted by the end of the day, but he never complained and was always still willing to listen to moans or suggestions. Also he would have to teach us our fish and coral lectures in between dives. it was clear the passion he has for his subject, which made the lessons so much more bearable and interesting. He would come up with quirky ways of remembering either the fish or coral, which always stuck in my brain. This man deserves a medal.
I would recommend staying for the full 12 weeks, just because you get so close to your fellow volunteers, like a big family, leaving early upsets the family and you won't want to leave them having all the fun!
If you're a cool kid, this trip is for you. Yes, you'll miss home sometimes and yes you'll miss vegetables (shocker) but that's not the things you remember from the trip.
You'll remember the crazy underwater creatures and the awesome people you meet. I'm tempted to book for next phase!
It is advertised as 2 dives a day for 6 days a week. Now thats a lot of diving! For the 10 weeks I was there I was sold the idea of 120 dives. To put this into perspective, I did 32 dives. all of them were amazing and so much fun, but its still about a quarter of what is advertised.
I would recommend checking out the weather conditions of the time of year you intend to visit, so you get your moneys worth.

How can this program be improved?

A bit more loving from London. It feels a tad neglected; the phase before, unfortunately had issues with the boat which resulted in it being out of action. London should have actioned this over December since they had a whole load of new volunteers arriving in january expecting to dive from a boat. To rent a boat (which we had to do) cost about $200 a day, this is not a cost effective solution which should have been dealt with.
Another improvement could be to change the way the trip is advertised. Gapforce stated 2 dives a day for 6 days a week. On average i was doing about 3.2 dives a week. I feel London are a bit disillusioned with what is possible when weather is bad, or boats are broken, or there is not enough equipment.

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Philipp
Male
19 years old
Germany

Loved it :D

9/10

I took part in the Greenforce Bahamas project in January 2015- march 2015 and I would definitely recommend this project to everyone who loves meeting new people, diving, beach life and sun. Every thing is obviously a bit basic but I believe this adds to the whole experience and makes everything a bit more fun. The dive sites are also really good and if you are lucky you might see sharks, dolphins and turtles. My fellow volunteers and staff members where extremely nice and supportive and I have definitely made awesome new friends. Food is basic just like the whole research station but if you are not a picky eater you will be just fine. Andros is really a beautiful island with so many things to visit and the locals are very friendly and funny. The only thing I was disappointed about was that it seemed like Gapforce has neglected this project a little bit the main problem being that we didn't always have the proper equipment or it wasn't working properly. But none the less the staff always tried to make the best of the situation and often did. All in all I have to say that going to the Bahamas was an experience of a life time and I would recommend it to everyone.
If you have any questions feel free to ask :)

How can this program be improved?

I think the equipment is a little rundown but is still working fine. I think the project is just missing a little more funding from Grapforce for it to be perfect .

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Alistair
Male
19 years old
Switzerland

Good trip, good staff, bad support from London

8/10

Generally the trip was generally really fun. The diving is amazing and when the weather is good there is loads to see from parrotfish to the occasional shark and ray.

The staff (my dive instructor & marine biologist was Sam Healy) during my phase were really good and professional in the way they certified us and conducted the dives. Greenforce does tend to be slightly conservative with diving in other than perfect conditions but on the whole I do not find this a bad thing. Apart from anything else when the water is choppy the visibility is lowered to a few meters.

The accommodation is basic but for me this is part of the charm, although no warm water does take getting used to. You sleep on the air mattress you bring as the bunk beds are wooden frames so a thicker mattress is not a bad idea. There is also a small social area to hang around in, listen to music, watch films and play games, etc. But don't expect to be able to surf the web as wifi is only available on Sundays unless you buy data on a prepaid sim card ($35 for 2GB). The social area is also where the cooking is done. The food is fairly basic due to GapForce giving the instructors a tight budget (I think too tight). I would definitely recommend bringing vitamin tablets as you cannot get them on the island, due partly to the budget and partly to the lack of fruit and vegetables available on the island you do not get the vitamins you need. Most people also end up buying a few loafs of bread a week to keep them going in between the meals.

As I mentioned before I feel that Sam (our primary staff member after the second instructor had to unexpectedly leave early on) did a really good job, especially considering he was on his own and (with the intern- Scot), responsible for twelve people. Being the marine biologist he also gave the lectures on the fish species that we had to learn. They were fairly easy to learn as he was always prepared to ask questions and always had a funny way of remembering the species main traits. Sam is knowledgable and his passion for the marine sciences is evident.

Where the staff were effective, I feel the support they and the volunteers get from London once in the Bahamas to be less than satisfactory. Given this they do an even better job. We had multiple problems with boats, which cost us multiple diving days. Greenforce used to have a boat but have not done anything to replace it after it got damaged a few phases ago. This means that we have to rely on renting boats. At first we had one of the locals, which barely worked (there are very few mechanics and even less spare parts on Andros). Then due to the second instructors contacts at the five star resort down the road we were able to rent their spare boat. Obviously though this came with a few more restrictions. They were not really a hinderance but just one more thing on top of other complications, which Sam did not need. I feel that GapForce left Sam to deal with these problems on his own and with a tight budget. I also think that GapForce should provide an extensive 1st Aid kit (not for minor use i.e cuts and scratches) but if there was an emergency ther does not seem to be anything and there are no medical supplies on the island.

Furthermore be aware... GapForce advertises one to two dives a day. I will admit that after four weeks we were meeting this promise but only because we had three people leave the program (only booked a month). Before this there was not enough space on the boat and not enough equipment. Due to the lack of equipment I dove with an S,M and L BCD's on different occasions, meaning that often the equipment was ill fitting and banged around. There is only one large BCD and two mediums. The rest are small and extra-small (not really appropriate for the guys). Sam was doing four dives a day to get the two groups of six volunteers two dives a day. This is not really an ideal situation for him either as it means he was not getting a rest or often much food throughout the day. To add to this Sam is the one who has to do the grocery shopping and because there is no car he has to hitchhike the half hour journey down to the closest "town", which not only is difficult but also time consuming.

The bottom line is I would recommend this program but you have to be aware that it is probably not the cheapest option (partly due to prices on Andros) and that if you are not here for more than seven weeks you will just be on a diving holiday and not marine conservation (as you have to learn everything before doing the surveys).

I just hope that GapForce gets a boat sorted, which should make things easier and would stop a big waste of our money ($500 a week without fuel for the rent). Also for groups bigger than about twelve to fourteen people there needs to be more equipment otherwise their advertising of 1-2 dives a day needs to become: a dive a day (max). So basically it was a good experience due to the actual diving the people on the trip and the Staff (Sam and Scot) but let down by GapForce's administration, which left the feeling of being ripped off (i.e not cost effective).

How can this program be improved?

GapForce needs to supply more equipment, get a boat sorted so they are not wasting $500 a week renting the boat and advertise more correctly what you are actually getting. Also there needs to be an extensive permanent 1st Aid kit (aside from the personal ones people bring) for the instructors to use. There is nothing if there is an actual emergency other than oxygen.

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Jesie
Female
24 years old
Ashford, Surrey, United Kingdom

Bahamas

9/10

Diving was fantastic and I learnt so much about the reef, marine animals and the coral. Sam the scientist made learn not only interesting but fun playing games to help learn the species of fish and coral.

Some of the days were boring when we couldn't dive as most of us just sat around doing nothing. More team games or activities would have improved days like this.

Only real negative of the trip was the boat disaster no ones fault but I think gap force should have another boat in place that could have been used when the rental boat was not able to be used.

How can this program be improved?

Would have been better when we couldn't dive we had other things to do. Some of the time when it was sunny but too windy dive we did nothing for days. Games or doing group tasks would have made it more fun and worth while.

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Casey
Female
19 years old
Pennsylvania, USA

Oct 2014

9/10

I had always loved scuba diving and headed down to the Bahamas to learn more about marine science. The program balanced learning and fun very well and I ended up having one of the best experiences of my life. Be prepared that this is not a resort location. I feel that the fact that the location is a little rustic and rugged only adds to the experience. You are right on the beach and dive everyday (weather permitting). I would recommend going during the spring or summer season, as the winter winds can sometimes leave you stranded on land. For the price and location, the food, the diving, and the accommodation were great and plentiful. Plan to learn a lot and never want to leave!

How can this program be improved?

Food wise, there could always be more options. More back-up for boat or weather predicaments. Otherwise, great trip!!

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Hayden
Male
24 years old
Canada

So much fun, has potential to be even better!

8/10

I went down to the Bahamas not expecting much at all and I believe those are the expectations you have to have if you're going to a project like this one. I had loads of fun during my time in Staniard Creek, but unfortunately, due to some uncontrollable factors such as weather and the fact that Andros is so remote this projects full potential was not completely reached. Saying this, there was nothing that the staff could do and they worked their hardest to try and make the windy (no diving) days as enjoyable as possible with lots of out trips. These trips were to AMAZING blue holes, surrounding towns and to more sheltered areas close by where volunteers were able to complete their PADI courses in time before they left. So the staff was great, especially Sam, the chief scientist who was a fantastic teacher and more importantly a great person. He made lessons fun and interactive, while putting emphasis on accuracy and the importance of what we had come to do. If not for the windy weather and trouble with getting boat parts I have no doubt that we would have been making the 5 minute boat ride to the beautiful reef to dive and survey almost every day. So I'd suggest to anyone interested to definitely check the seasonal weather patterns before they go. It's too bad that I wasn't there at another time of year when it wasn't so windy, because if not for the wind and a few other uncontrollable factors I would be giving a 10/10.

How can this program be improved?

I think if the program had of had a better boat that could have allowed for more diving, but I believe they have gotten one since I was there!

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The
Female
19 years old
UK

Incredible

10/10

We went scuba diving almost everyday, we saw sharks and turtles and dived in a blue hole for the first time! One of the nurse sharks even came really close to the shore, we could see it from the volunteer house!
Met some of the most amazing people who I will never forget. Thanks for one of the best experiences ever Greenforce!

How can this program be improved?

Cost was high for what was given (food, etc)

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Sebastian
Male
24 years old
Vienna
Other

Bahamas July 2013

10/10

I could write pages and pages about this amazing experience. As someone from my phase said to me, it sounds cliche but it is indeed a life changing experience. I can only agree.

As a advanced open water, I was looking forward to dive the reefs of Andros. And they lived up to my expectations! The oceanic blue hole King Kong is the most stunning dive I ever did. The geology is outstanding!! The reefs lay deep, but provide an amazing topography and the drop off called Tongue of the Ocean is dramatic and makes one realize how small and insignificant a human being is in the ocean. During every single dive we had a lot of fun, fooled around (of course within saftey regulations) and cracked jokes before and after.

The camp itself was perfect. We had a huge group (I recon 25 volunteers +staff) so they were people everywhere. But if one wanted time off, relax and enjoy the silence, people went up on the balcony where the `chill area` was and could do just that. Otherwise there was always something going on. The other volunteers were fun loving, it did not take long until we all became close friends. I really hope to have a reunion. Same goes for the staff, they did a awesome job coordinating our group and making sure everyone feels good and gets to dive as much as possible. I can´t lie, they were just as fun loving as every volunteer and always good for a laugh. And yeh, Saturdays were the best evenings.

About the lectures, teaching, and the program: If somebody is interested in Marine Science I would highly recommend it! It is a great chance to get some skills, knowledge and to be involved in intercultural education as it is a big part of the whole program to educate the local community about various topics. We also did beach clean ups, set up survey sites, did a lot of identification dives and had lectures about Fish, Corals, Invertebrates, Turtles, Ecology and and and...we watched documentaries in the evening from time to time which gave us a great idea about issues and life out there.

Other days were spent at the blue wholes, which you see in the videos (one of the best days we had was there) or by some randome activities which were up to you.

Before I go on and write a book let´s just say that this trip was not only great but a perfect chance to dive every single day and learn about the oceans and marine conservation. If you can imagine doing this for weeks or months, go!! Don´t hesitate because I am sure you will never regret it.

How can this program be improved?

FOOD. Small portions, high carb diet. Well better count in some extra bucks for food. But that sounds worse than it is. We all were good with it, as we bought some things from the local shops and mixed it up.

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Becks
Female
24 years old
Bolton, Lancashire, UK
Durham University

Bahamas Marine Conservation July 2012

10/10

The experience of living outside by the ocean for 5 weeks is one which I will never forget. There is not a day that goes by which I don't think about my time on Andros and I would recommend this trip to anyone.

There wasn't ever an average day on Andros but most days were spent diving for half of the day and then learning about either the various types of fish and coral and the marine environment. We also learned about other conservation efforts taking place around the world and species that were in danger. Diving is one of the most incredible activities and the reefs around Andros were a spectacular vantage point for marine life. It felt like descending into a complete other world on my very first dive - one which I never wanted to leave once I was in it.

Other days were spent seeing the island and taking in the local culture. We would take trips to the amazing blue holes on the islands, sometimes with picnics and sometimes stopping at local cafe's and restaurants. We would also get involved with teaching local kids to swim or educating them about what they could do to aid the protection of the marine environment.

By the weekends after all that hard work we'd definitely earned alot of rum drinks from the beach bar we were based near to. The social side of this project was brilliant and the pictures from our Saturday nights will always help us to remember the amazing times we had together. On this trip you can't help but make friends that you'll keep for life.

If you want an out of this world experience, cut off from the world's life in one of the most incredible settings, where you contribute to the conservation of the world's oceans then this trip is definitely for you!

How can this program be improved?

The food wasn't very varied and the portions were smaller than usual to try and minimise the costs so that money could be spent on more important dive equipment. It was a high carb diet to give you all the energy you needed for the dives so you didn't tend to notice the portions but some big eaters might want to factor in extra costs of food from the locals shop.

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S.J.T
Female
19 years old
Munich, Germany

Bahamas 2012 : July Phase

10/10

I love the ocean and marine life, so when I stumbled upon the greenforce Bahamas trip I was excited but really didn't know what to expect. However, once I got there I never wanted to leave! The relationships I made with the interns, supervisors and other members are ones I will always cherish, and we are all still in contact. We became a team and looked after each other, we all had chores and all worked together to make the experience as good as possible. I not only developed a true passion for the marine environment, but through fish and benthic lessons and actually seeing the underwater world first hand, am now studying environmental science in Uni, using a lot of what I learned in the Bahamas. I would recommend this to anyone, it developed me as a person who is more open to making new friendships, and 'literally' diving into unknown experiences.

How can this program be improved?

The variety of food lacked, but we always had fun experimenting with what we had. Meal times were never boring.

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Sam
Male
24 years old
Nottingham, England
Other

Amazing experience!!

10/10

I spent 6 months on the island of Andros. 3 months as a volunteer and 3 months as an intern. Both phrases were excellent!!
The island holds some awesome natural beauty which include the blue holes and the beaches. I loved waking up every morning on the beach and seeing the sun.
You do work hard during the week with many dives, school lessons and fish learning but this makes the weekend fun at the bars feel even better.
I will never forget my first dive on the reef, it felt like I was on another planet and I would recommend diving to everyone because of that experience.
If you like sun, sea, sand and alcohol this is the trip for you!!!

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Matt
Male
24 years old
United Kingdom
Brunel University

Bahamas 2012

10/10

I had the best diving trip of my life out in The Bahamas. I felt it was a very authentic experience of the country because we weren't in any touristy areas. Having a huge bay all to ourselves was brilliant and being able to stop the boat and dive anywhere without anyone else around was a unique experience I haven't had diving anywhere else.
Day to day we would be up early; first group would dive while the rest of us learnt how to identify all aspects of marine life from the fish to the reef. Then everyone would be in camp for lunch before we would swap diving and lectures around.
With perfect conditions we were able to get 2 dives per boat trip, but due to weather it didn't always happen.
The marine life was insane with me seeing my first site of sharks, sea turtles and a spotted eagle ray within my first 2 dives!
The people were just awesome as well and made the trip that much more of a quality trip. We've already had one reunion in the UK and have another on the way.
Things didn't always go to the exact plan, however that's what this kind of trip is all about. It made the experience that much more exciting!

About The Provider

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Gapforce is a leading provider of structured Gap Year programs and summer opportunities overseas. The wide range of global adventures includes marine conservation, wildlife protection, community volunteering & healthcare, extreme expeditions, leadership training, working holidays, internships, sport coaching, ski instructor and leadership training.

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