GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering

Video and Photos

GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering

About

GVI offers a variety of marine conservation volunteering programs. You could travel to Fiji, Seychelles, Mexico,or Thailand and actively participate in coral reef research expeditions, sea turtle protection and nesting programs, plastic pollution and beach clean-up efforts, or identify and survey indigenous sea life.

These programs offer a way to receive professional dive training and research qualifications, and improve your technical marine conservation skills, while also supporting local community projects to achieve their sustainable objectives.

Highlights
  • Travel to a different part of the world, immerse in the culture and experience another way of life.
  • Learn conservation skills to improve your CV and increase your future employment opportunities in the marine industry.
  • Support the preservation of local biodiversity, contributing to reach sustainable objectives.
  • Better understand native species, surrounded by their immediate environments.
  • Dive, snorkel, and swim in some of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse oceans.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Questions & Answers

Hi Berni, Each marine conservation project has different levels of dive qualification requirements. You will need to start by being PADI certified. These include; PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Divemaster, Instructor, and Rescue Diver. Please note that the project you choose will determine which PADI divers qualification is required. To conduct the coral reef surveys on a project, you will...
You have to be 18 to do many of the GVI programmes. I was 17 when I did it however, they may have changed the age restriction since then. There are under 18 programmes available so best thing to do is check out the GVI website :)

Reviews

94%
based on 15 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 15 of 15
Default avatar
Pauline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely amazing project!

I‘ve been participating in this project for two months and I enjoyed every single day! The island where the project is located is very small but a real paradise. The dive sites around it are very beautiful as well; during the project you will have plenty of time to see how great they are because there is at least one dive per day for everybody!. I‘m very glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of the GVI community and the great important work they are doing. And I’m especially grateful for all the amazing people I met there and who made my experience a very funny, unique and unforgettable one. Sometimes, it can be a long day on base but the knowing that you are actually making a difference is worth every effort!
I can only recommend this project to everybody who likes to dive (or is interested to learn it as I did) and want’s to save the world (or at least a very beautiful part of it😉)

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The diversity of life in the coral reef was stunning! I saw sharks, sea snakes, turtles etc.
Some local volunteers showed us how to make coconut-milk by ourselves, that was pretty cool!
Default avatar
Caterina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Daydreaming in Seychelles

Hello everyone! I am Caterina and I have just returned from one of the most beautiful experiences of my life! GVI Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles!
I am Italian and I am studying biology in Milan, I am very interested in the marine world and all the animals and corals that live there, I would like to study marine biology and graduate soon to be able to contribute to the research and protection of this fantastic underwater world!
I found this project while looking for a way to spend my summer in close contact with the ocean and what could be better than a month in the Seychelles as Coral reef researcher !?
The day at the camp is long and tiring, but the dives in the reef and the breathtaking beaches are what you have left most from this experience! The staff is always available to help you and is very prepared in all fields!
I am sure that this experience will help me in the future to find my place in the world of marine biology but it is also thanks to this project that I met so many fantastic people from all over the world with whom I built a special bond that I know will not end

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
experience this project to the fullest, get involved and not be stingy with emotions, it will be unforgettable
Default avatar
Flavia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a time of my life!

I absolutely loved being part of the Marine Conservation volunteering program at gvi Phan nga this year!
I was truly impressed by the excellent organisation : GVI has closely supported me since the very beginning helping me making my initial choice up to the departure and after the end of then programme .
Overall, I found the gvi team really helpful, welcoming, and most of all , truly passionate about their work with local communities. During my time in Thailand, I was also impressed with their professionalism: all volunteers were closely protected and looked after at all times.
What made my trip so enjoyable was also probably the great variety of activities offered which allowed us to make an impact on the local community through effective projects work whilst also experiencing the local culture .Thanks to the program, I also had the opportunity to further explore my passion for animals and biology and understand more about what I want to study In the future. I can now definitely say that I have grown as a result of this experience. Not only have I learnt a lot about myself but also from the incredible people around me; being surrounded by volunteers of different nationalities , passionate staff members and welcoming local people truly opened my mind and inspired me to always aim to grow further as person.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Definitely to embark on this journey with and open mind and growth mindset! I can guarantee this way you not only will enjoy the trip much more but also experience the program to its fullest!
Default avatar
Philippa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible

Wow! I had always expected great things from traveling to Fiji, but this GVI experience exceeded all expectations. The living conditions were basic, but for the remoteness of the island they were satisfactory and all added to the experience. Days were filled with activities both in and out of water, being in the water at least twice a day keeping one very busy and allowing many interactions with the marine life. Opportunities to go and teach in schools as well as do community work were also present for those who wanted to experience further the Fijian culture. Having a strong sense of community both with fellow vols, staff and villages in the three months I was there truly made Caqalai my second home, along with it’s beautiful scenery and tranquil environment. I could not recommend GVI Caqalai highly enough to anyone else thinking of going, my best advice would be to take the leap there and get stuck in, enjoy every moment because before you know it you’re leaving the island for the last time.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don’t wait for anybody else, if you want to go, go! You will meet amazing people out there and have an awesome time! Once there throw yourself in to the work and the culture, make every moment count
Default avatar
Daniel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Fiji Marine Conservation Expedition

The GVI Fiji Marine Conservation Expedition was such an amazing experience! I really enjoyed the projects we conducted while I was there! The GVI staff were very friendly and helpful when required! They were friendly, approachable and respectful. Not only were the staff amazing, but so were the volunteers! I met so many people from around the world and I learnt so much from them! Spending four weeks on a tiny island, really makes you grow strong connections quickly, and everyone becomes like family! I gained so many experiences and skills from this program and would recommend it to everyone! The accommodation was a little more basic then I was used to, but it all added to the experience! Would strongly recommend this program to everyone and would suggest doing more than 4 weeks (as my 4 weeks went way too quickly)!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Choose the longest duration you can do for this program! It goes so quick!
Default avatar
Ben
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loving life

My experience with gvi was the best in my life I was sad to leave. The staff where so friendly and I made many friends. I loved diving that I carry it on so I be qualified enough to do it as a career. Am at dive master level. I loved surveying fish I even got the book I learnt the fish from. From my experience it's made me want to go to uni and start studying ecology and conservation so I am able to go back with qualifications to work for gvi or in Fiji. I want to carry on making a difference. I settled in so easily and loved the way life was over there. I loved surveying the fish and being in a completely new environment it's like a new world under the ocean and am happy I've taken apart in trying to conserve what we have. I made good friendships and I worked very hard in the island always trying to do more to help the community. I had lots of help and support from the staff they are the friendliest people you will ever meet and also very passionate. I hope I can go back and work for them to do my bit. I was never nervous about being away so far away I loved it. I just embrassed everything and went with an open mind.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Dont take alot of luggage I took to much and ended up paying extra to bring home take the things that you definitely need and leave everything else behind you wont need it specially clothes you dont need many of them.
Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

How GVI Changed My Life

After spending 3 months on Caqalai, I honestly don't know where to begin aside from saying the whole experience was unbelievable. Being able to wake up every morning to a beautiful sunrise on the beach and knowing that each day would mean another chance for me to make an impact on this world brought a sense of fulfilment I had never experienced before in my life. Even the training and tests were made incredible from the sheer patience and support from the knowledgeable staff, which even as a new diver made me feel confident and safe even when I was out of my comfort zone.

I got to see first hand how caring they were when my mother, who was a poor swimmer and very nervous to dive, was met with nothing but kindness. They were beyond flexible with their teaching methods, and would go so far as to taking their own free time to help her learn and feel comfortable even being in the water. All that effort truly helped make my Mom the confident AOW diver that she is today, and just goes to show how accommodating and willing to help the staff was no matter what the problem.

My favourite memory is hard to choose from. Even post-program I find myself scrolling through the hundreds of videos and photos I took while volunteering, and just reminiscing in the sheer joy I felt while living out those moments. Every dive made me feel like I had a purpose. We got to meet the community first hand and see the differences we made in their lives by collecting this research. It was beyond gratifying seeing how thankful and appreciative the community of Moturiki was to have us, and they never failed to welcome us into their homes. I truly felt that I was apart of something much bigger, and most importantly, apart of their family.

Some useful tips would be to really come with an open mind. The conditions are harsh, and the activities are physically demanding. But if you stay open to being put way out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to growth and failure, you can meet some of the best people that you will ever know in your life, and have experiences you would have never imagined possible.

Who knows, you just might find yourself also dancing with your friends in the moonlight, while the bioluminescent plankton at your feet lights up the water like stars.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe they could buy a better volleyball... That's about it.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Finding Myself Across the World

I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I had graduated with a business management degree but it felt like something was missing. I felt like I could get more out of life and I wanted to see what else was out there. I randomly stumbled upon GVI's Diving and Marine Conservation program online and took a leap of faith by hitting the apply button. To date, it is the greatest experience I have ever had. I got dive and snorkel each day in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world, educate local children and explore neighboring Fijian islands. I learned about marine life and ways to protect and conserve them. I learned that my heart belonged in the water, improved my diving skills and gained an immeasurable amount of confidence. My month volunteering in Fiji was good, that I signed up for a second home after being home for a while! I couldn't have traded my experience with GVI in Fiji for the world.

Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Impacting Marine Life in Fiji

Coming out of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. To kill some time between graduation and the real world, I found GVi’s Diving and Marine Conservation program in Fiji. Being in Iowa and having the closer ocean be a 24 hour car ride away, I was thrilled that there was a program that would connect me to the ocean. Joining this volunteer program was the best decision I’ve ever made. I learned so much about the ocean and it’s inhabitants, I met wonderful people from all over the world, and I truly felt like my work made a difference. I also developed a passion for conservation and marine life that I never would have obtained if it weren’t for this program. It was so incredible, I went back a month later! I couldn’t say better things about GVI and the program I went on. It was a truly life changing experience.

Read my full story
Default avatar
Anna Sabrina
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Dreamjob on a tiny Island

From my first day on I learned so much about the reef around Caqalai, the Fijians and their culture and how important education and community work is. That is what I love about the work GVI does, it is not just about marine conservation and diving, it connects everything therefore you can understand the whole context. This is the best way to do it because that is how everything on this beautiful planet works, everything is connected and depends on each other.
The project really opened my eyes how to be aware of our environment and improve my ecological footprint. I was so impressed by the way of living I experienced on Caqalai island. Everything was unpretentious but enough to be really happy and achieve something. For me, this time confirmed which work fulfills me the most. After one month I finished my Coral Reef Research Diver course, I am so thankful for this amazing experience, for all the lectures, the possibilities to go on dives and clean the ocean with my own hands on DAD dives, SAD snorkels and beach cleans and for all the beautiful, mindful people I met during my time in Fiji. I have so much respect for the whole staff team and the Fijians on Caqalai, Leleuvia and Mouturiki, you are doing an amazing job!
I left this island with the promise to do whatever I can, to save the ocean and share my new knowledge and experience with as many people as I can.

What would you improve about this program?
-more different media presentations
-a possibility to borrow materials (I can imagine that not everyone is able to spend so much Money on diving Equipment)
-look more after different Levels, Keep People busy
Default avatar
Tania
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Definitely worth it!

After getting into scuba diving as a hobby last year and as an ocean lover, I decided to participate on a volunteer program for marine conservation through GVI. I was there for a month in February, living in a remote location called Pez Maya on the Caribbean side of Mexico.

There were 30 people on base including staff and volunteers from UK, USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Holland, Mexico and Australia. We had no electricity or running water and shower with buckets of water from a well. Creatures at base included iguanas, spiders, scorpions, snakes, bats and crocodiles in the mangroves nearby. Oh, and mosquitos, lots of them!! But the deadliest thing to look out for would probably be falling coconuts - don't laugh, they kill more people than sharks.

The day started at 7am with duties including cooking, cleaning and preparing the boats. Amongst the diving and dive training, there were science lectures; fish and coral monitoring, and beach cleans. In only a 2 month period we collected 522 kilos of rubbish! Quite sad to see how much plastic and other trash is in our oceans and on our beaches. A weekly visit to the small fishing village of Punta Allen where we play games and teach English to kinder, primary and middle-school kids was quite rewarding. They don't have much in this town of 500, so a visit from the GVI Pez Maya volunteers is a highlight for them. A 5.30am wakeup and 2 hour bumpy road trip to the town was worth it.

Back at base, we slept in huts on bunk beds with not-so-comfortable mattresses, but each night we fell asleep under a sky full of stars and to the sound of the waves. Life at Pez Maya was interesting and exciting, and very simple. An escape from the outside world (no Wi-Fi) of limitless contact at our fingertips is a breath of fresh air and a realisation that we take the small things in life for granted, such as a sunrise, a hot shower or conversations and laughter with friends over a game of cards. Being part of a volunteer program was such a great experience. You are there for a purpose with other like-minded, passionate people, having a great time for a great cause – and doing your part in making a difference.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be great if there was more emphasis on learning the fish and/or coral species prior to the program. This would save some time whilst there as you need to complete a knowledge test of the species and potentially get you into monitoring a lot sooner.
Default avatar
charlie
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

well below par

I signed up for three months, get padi cert and volunteer. I've volunteered for other projects, travelled and lived in basic conditions throughout Asia, Egypt etc.
I understand the location is remote, but conditions were way more basic than necessary (especially considering fees I paid). getting information about the project was difficult, I had to ask about power, running water, food, living conditions, access to phone/Internet. none of this was in pre-departure info. .. all I got was 'it's awesome, beautiful beach,'
The 'you must take' list was out of date, I didnt need half the stuff; and there was other stuff that would have been useful/ good to know; especially as one is basically stranded on the island for 1, 2 or 3 months.

It would be better for people to only book one month initially, then have option of extending, I chose to leave, which meant I forfeited a huge amount of money, they refused a refund, offered only a 60% discount on another immediate departure (ok, if most of the money was going to the local fijians, who definitely needed aid, but I'm sure much goes to staff in plushy head office and their travel)
if you're an 18 yr old, never travelled, and don't care about living in squalor, then go. .. Otherwise there are much better options.

flip side, got my padi scuba cert, had some awesome diving on beautiful reefs of fiji...

Default avatar
MacWack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic Opportunity to get involved in Marine Science

DAY TO DAY
Most days saw us all getting up at 6:30am to do duties, which included raking the grounds, cooking breakfast, preparing the boats and cleaning the communal areas. After breakfast, we all grouped together for boat push and prepared for the days diving.

People on first wave would kit up, and be briefed on the dive before heading out. Anyone left on base would help out by filling tanks on the compressors, manning the radio, preparing lunch or learning their fish or coral species.

Diving days usually consisted of 4 waves with 12 divers on each one, this meant that everyone on base managed to get 1 dive everyday and two if your hut was not on kitchen duty.

After all the waves had gone out we'd help to push the boats back on to the beach and de-kit the boats.

Dinner would be served around 6:30pm. Due to the low availability of electricity on base there is NO refrigeration so all meals are vegetarian. After dinner we often played cards, watched films or just chilled out in the communal area. There is a strict 3 beer limit on nights preceding a diving day.

Party nights, however, often saw slightly more alcohol consumption... They also meant a later evening meal, cooked by the staff which included meat!

HIGHLIGHTS

I had never dived before I went on this volunteering trip and was a little nervous to begin with. The staff are fantastic teachers and very safety conscious. They are focused and enthusiastic. I earned both my Open Water and Advanced Open Water while on camp and now feel very confident while diving!

The coral reefs are beautiful and their protected status means that they are well populated with many different species of fish and coral. Rare species can often be spotted here.

A personal highlight was seeing a Hammerhead shark during my second ever open water dive!

FOOD
All meals, with the exception of dinner on party nights, is vegetarian. As an avid meat eater I thought this would be a problem, but I honestly didn't miss meat at all. The quality of meals really depends on how keen you are to make it. There is a helpful recipe book to get you started if you are unsure on how to go about it and the other volunteers are very enthusiastic. I felt that the quality of the food was fantastic during my 2 month stay in Mexico.

SAFTEY
On base health and safety is the number one priority, this means that occasionally it can be frustrating if a diving day is called off for what feels like only a little wind or a small amount of swell. However this does mean that EVERY dive is a safe dive. I never in danger while I was diving with GVI.

The general area I visited in Mexico, Quinatana Roo, was very safe. There is a strong police and army presence which is there to make you feel safe.

COST
The cost may seem high at first glance but factoring in the number of dives, the qualifications and the quality of instruction. The diving itself makes it worth while. Let's not forget either that you will be living on a tropical beach in a beautiful country!

PLACES

TULUM
The local town, Tulum, is a vibrant but small urban area. We found that all our needs could be met there. There were a variety of bars and restaurants as well as an internet cafe, the hotels are reasonably priced. We recommend the Hotel Maya and Chilam Balam, both of which are secure, well priced and comfortable.

Playa del Carmen and Cancun both offer a more urban break for those that desire it. You should be aware though that the prices go up for everything in both these places.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Hotels/Hostels
Hostel 615 (Located on 6th and 15th)
-Cheap
-Friendly family owned
-Secure

Hotel Colorado
-More Expensive
-Friendly
-Recommended by GVI
-Secure

Nightlife
5th Avenue runs close to the beach, most of the bars, restaurants and clubs are on or near this street. (200-400 pesos for club entry)

CANCUN

-Much more expensive
-Hotels and Hostels in the downtown area (near the bus station) offer more reasonably priced beds, the Hotel district itself is very expensive and even more so at night. (700-900 pesos for entry to clubs)
-The Hotel district can be reached from downtown using the buses for approx 30 peso and the beach is free to use. Cancun beach is by far the best & busiest beach we visited.

FINAL NOTES
Bring a camera, preferably a waterproof one. Invest in a GoPro if you can afford it.

Bring a BOX mosquito net, as these are the only ones that fit the beds.

Learn as much as you can about the topic you are given to study, the more you know the faster you will be able to monitor.

Default avatar
dalilam23
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Life in Fiji is a dream turned reality!

Marine Life in Fiji is a dream turned reality! Who doesn't want to explore the depths of the world. You will SCUBA dive and snorkel in the clear, blue waters of the South Pacific Ocean to collect data that will help establish community managed Marine Protected Areas.

Default avatar
Flo
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtles, Diving & Tequila !

July 2011, I took part in the marine conservation expedition in Mexico, for 5 weeks. This trip was beyond amazing and utterly rewarding, if I could go back and do it all over again I would go tomorrow!

The trip is based around caring for the environment and becoming more aware of environmental issues that are impacting the reef. Being able to scuba dive became a huge focus of the trip as this was the best way to learn about the ecosystem. It didn't matter if you could already dive as you didn't miss out on anything, everyone else just had to catch up with their PADI dive course. The diving was incredible, it didn't take long for everyone to feel confident in the water and we saw some amazing creatures!

As well as learning a great deal about the environment, the coral reef and the fish that inhabit this fragile ecosystem, there was a huge amount of socilising. Each day we would have a plan set out so that everyone knew when they were doing what. We always had time to bond with everyone and I was lucky enough to be working on the base which was situated on the beach. It felt like paradise and it was great being able to mess around in the ocean or laze about on the hammocks with your new friends during your free time. We were never bored that's for sure!

Everything was very organised throughout the 5 weeks, each hut had a job to do each morning such as, being in the kitchen for the day, raking the paths each morning, getting the boats ready and cleaning the communal area. The food was surprisingly good, we couldn't have meat or dairy products as there was no way of keeping it cold but everyone did very well to produce decent meals and people became very creative as the days passed. You never went hungry! If you were, all you had to do was increase the portions.

I feel like I made a difference as when we were on base we were constantly thinking about ways to minimise the amount of damage we cause to the environment. A few examples are, having bucket showers, only turning the generator on at certain times of the day for short periods, weekly beach cleans and no plastic bags allowed on base. Since leaving the base I have been very conscious of the damage I cause to the environment when I am at home. So I believe GVI encouraged me to really make a difference to the world we live in.

The staff on the trip were brilliant! Young, bubbly, energetic and clearly full of passion! I've left with many of them as my friends! Whenever we needed help they were always there to guide us, left whatever they were doing and came to help us straight away.

If I went on the same trip again, I would take much more mosquito repellent with me especially in the summer as we all got attacked by them constantly and it was irritating when you ran out and couldn't get any more til the weekend! I would recommend a head torch and rash vests as I failed to bring either of these with me! But everything you need to bring is on the list!

Anyone can take part in this trip! You dont have to be outrageously physically active, but a passion for the outdoors way of living is important!

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About GVI

Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in various countries around the world, each manned by our own staff and aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), as well as the objectives of local partners. We welcome participants...