Travel to a remote fishing village in the Dawasamu region of Fiji to be part of an adventurous marine conservation program.
Join the local project team to scuba dive and identify, monitor and survey a range of beautiful marine megafauna species – including getting to know the local pod of spinner dolphins. Immerse yourself in the Fijian culture, meet new friends and have the island adventure of a lifetime.
Iconic reef sharks. Tropical fish. Majestic spinner dolphins. Vulnerable sea turtles. Sunny island vibes. Incredible reef dives in the warm Pacific ocean. Beautiful corals. Vital marine research. Laid-back village-living. Swimming in waterfalls. Hiking rainforests and volcanic mountains. Sounds like something you’d love?
When you join a dolphin, turtle and shark conservation volunteering program in Fiji, you’ll get the once in a lifetime experience to live in one of the most pristine natural areas on Earth.
You’ll not only get the rare opportunity to enjoy the raw beauty of a secluded paradise island, but you also get to contribute to the protection of its habitat and species.
Learn a range of methods and field techniques to survey marine mammals both below and above water. With your new knowledge and skills, you get to identify and record sightings of marine megafauna like rays, turtles, dolphins and sharks while diving – critical data that will help build an inventory of marine species and support UN Sustainable Development Goal #14 – Life Below Water.
To join our epic scuba diving surveys, you’ll need to have your Advanced Open Water diving certificate. But if you don’t have it yet, no problem! With an existing Open Water certificate, you can join a 4-week program to get the necessary training. And if you have zero diving experience or qualifications yet, you will learn everything you need to know on an 8-week program.
Besides the incredible ocean experiences and projects, you will also get immersed in authentic Fijian village culture. Experience traditional ceremonies and cultural events, and enjoy the essence of local Fijian cuisine with fresh seasonal local produce and fish available daily.
Observe the local pod of spinner dolphins, learn how to identify individuals and help survey the population.
Get blown away by the colourful coral reef systems and immerse yourself in the warm Fijian culture.
Contribute to ongoing environmental projects that address critical challenges aligned to the global UN SDGs.
Join local conservation partners and qualified professionals to ensure your efforts are highly ethical, meaningful and sustainable.
Venture outside typical travel itineraries to get exclusive access to extraordinary remote habitats, rare species and unique ecosystems.
Share epic experiences with like-minded, passionate changemakers from all over the globe.
With expert local staff and 24/7 support at every step – you can relax and enjoy the experience stress-free.
Disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature, yourself and your purpose.
Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.
Learn survey techniques to become a member of the data collection team to build an inventory of species like dolphins, turtles, rays and sharks.
Assist in delivering lessons focused on environmental awareness and importance of marine megafauna conservation in the local community.
Learn how to scuba dive, or if you already have your certification, brush up on your theory and skills (for 8+ weeks programs).
Gain more diving experience and sample different types of diving with five different types of adventure dives.
Improve your first aid skills and be prepared in an emergency. Learn primary and secondary care theory and then practise applying 8 skills in role playing scenarios.
Increase your safety skills, manage more complex situations and apply direct intervention techniques to assist others (for 8+ weeks programs).
Learn how to identify marine megafauna species and different field techniques used to survey marine mammals to help conduct important surveys.
Some of the partners we work with on base.
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|24-hour in-country support from local staff|
|24-hour emergency desks|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Weekly group check ins|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
Boasting magnificent sunset views and swaying palm trees, our base is located in the bustling village of Silana, in the district of Dawasamu. We have Tova peak on one side (the third highest mountain on Viti Levu) and the beach on the other. From your bed you can listen to the sounds of the crashing waves. A short boat ride away, you will find the famous Moon Reef with its resident pod of spinner dolphins.
Participating in a GVI program here provides you with a unique opportunity to gain insight into Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth, and to experience what it’s like to be part of the community. On arrival, you’ll get to experience a “Sevusevu ceremony” – as a sign of respect you present yourself to the community to ask “permission” to stay. The ceremony is an age-old tradition that marks the formalisation of the community accepting and welcoming you, and celebrates your arrival.
Accommodation during your stay includes basic mixed-gender dormitory style rooms in a Fijian bure with wooden walls and a tin roof. There is a communal kitchen, work area, and g...
Transfers to and from the Nausori Airport in Suva take about 90 minutes and can be arranged with GVI in advance for the day before your program start date. For independent trave...
You will have limited access to long-distance communications while on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Mobile phone ...
Food on base is mostly vegetarian, consisting of locally-sourced seasonal produce which participants take turns in preparing for the group. Breakfast varies but could include po...
Dawasamu temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, at roughly 26°C (80°F). It can be cooler at night and in the early mornings during the winter months of May to ...
We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards – the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.
Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
There are many day activities to choose from, such as ziplining and forest walks, as well as a variety of backpackers, resorts and beautiful beaches to visit. It’s a three-hour ...
Leleuvia is a coral island with beautiful white sands which can be reached by boat in 1.5 hours. This is a popular, although costly, destination along the Moturiki passage. Loca...
Go for a hike into the nearby forests, swim in the hidden freshwater waterfalls, or visit some of the black volcanic sand beaches. If you feel like a more luxurious weekend, and...
This is the old colonial capital of Fiji and a World Heritage Site – which makes for an interesting day trip. Levuka is located on the nearby Ovalau Island which is accessible b...
Explore the history of this island nation by visiting the Fiji Museum in Suva, where you’ll find ancient tribal artefacts, and one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the P...
The colourful capital city of Suva is known for its relaxed atmosphere, nightlife, and farmers market. The busy port town is about 3.5 hours away by bus or 2 hours by taxi (whic...
If you have diver’s training, you can enjoy scuba-diving at the various resorts and dive sites in the region. This region is home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and s...
Take a short boat ride with a local fisherman to visit the famous pod of spinner dolphins that reside on Moon Reef all year round. This is a great way to meet the local communit...
Dive with bull sharks in Beqa Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark diving destinations....
Consider a trip to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes, or for a more relaxing option you can visit the Coral Coast...
From Pacific Harbour, you can join a jetski safari, or go white water rafting on Navua River....
Located midway between Lautoka and Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu, you can indulge in a day of luxury and pampering. The hot springs are believed to have healing propertie...
Explore the town of Nadi, which is about five hours away. Here you will find markets, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, beautiful beaches, resorts, nightclubs, watersports (like...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world, provided you respect their traditions and customs. The local community is typically warm...
Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Fiji Hindi. Fijian is spoken as the first language by most indigenous Fijians while Indo-Fijians mainly speak the local va...
Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Fiji, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Prior to the nineteenth century, indigenous Fjians practiced various traditional religio...
Fiji has a thriving souvenir industry. Local artists produce various intricately carved wooden items....
The national dish of Fiji is Kokoda, which is a combination of fresh fish, pickled in lemon juice. Coconut milk is then added, along with tomatoes and chillies. The dish is seas...
There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being Fiji Day, celebrating Fiji’s independence. This is celebrated in October with a week of religious and cultural ce...
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Meet Michele, our brilliant Program Manager in Fiji. She has travelled widely in the US around Europe and has volunteered with GVI in Mombasa Kenya on one of our original commun ...
Marine Science Coordinator
Meet Reynold (aka Rey) who is our Marine Science Coordinator in Fiji. He is passionate about marine conservation and Octopuses, the most intelligent animals underwater. He can ...
Marine Dive Officer
Meet Taione, our Marine Dive Officer in Fiji. He is passionate about all things conservation, working with communities, and especially our diverse volunteers and experts in this ...
Marine Boat Captain
Meet Lino, our Marine Boat Captain on our diving programs at GVI in Fiji. Born and bred in Silana, a village in Haryana, India. He has a son and can’t wait to have you on ...
Marine Science Officer
Meet Ana, our friendly Marine Science Officer in Fiji. She delivers our ethical and impactful marine coastal programs through data collection and impact reporting. She is passio ...
Marine Boat Captain
Meet Samuela, our Marine Boat Captain on our diving programs at GVI Fiji. He was born in Silana, a village in Haryana, India where grew up and lived before joining us in Fiji.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.
We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.
This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
While on a GVI program, you will make an impact by assisting with the conservation of a staggering 1,500 marine species through underwater surveys and data collection, all of which are endemic to this region.
The communities we work within Dawasamu often do not have access to sufficient resources to carry out regular data collection in their fishing grounds. Access to data provides greater insight into how to address coral reef and fish stock-related problems, which can be hampered by natural disasters and unsustainable fishing practices.
The data collected on our programs is provided to the local community and our local partners along with alternative livelihood methods and management strategies to help stakeholders make informed decisions with regards to their existing marine resources and long-term food security.
Research is shared with local communities to support decision making regarding the management of their marine assets.
The data is also shared with our in-country partners – the Fiji Locally Management Marine Area Network (FLMMA), the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Ocean Conservancy, Marine Ecology Consulting and The Great Fiji Shark Count
GVI Dawasamu Long-term Objectives:
1. Protection and monitoring: Collect long-term data on the reefs around Dawasamu. Share this data with the communities of Dawasamu and support them in developing a sustainable resource management strategy.
2. Education: Provide the communities of Dawasamu With information about their natural resources – including the threats and means of protection. Support the best-informed decisions when looking after their resources.
3. Livelihood: Support alternative methods of generating income, reducing dependence on damaged fish stocks for income.
4. Dawasamu Environmental Movement (DEM) supports the continued development and training of the DEM and their natural resource management strategy.
5. Waste Management: Conduct regular cleanups of the sea and beaches on and around the Dawasamu District.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.
Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.
Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
During your first days on project, you will participate in several training sessions that emphasise the key teaching skills useful for our education program, including TEFL techniques and lesson planning, amongst others. You will also gain soft skills in communication, collaboration and organisation. You will also complete an overview of completed project work, items in process, as well as future plans. Lastly, you will learn how our work contributes and longer term sustainable goals, and how they link to the SDG’s.
Dawasamu on Education and Community project.
All about the village of Silana, traditions and cultural information.
Overview of GVI and Project work.
Overview of Fiji and its traditions and culture
During your expedition you will help to enter raw data that you collected into the GVI database where it can be further analysed by our science team. There are 14 sites around Caqalai where we collect data once a year, of which seven will be surveyed for a second time, all at three different depths. Once a year a comprehensive annual report is produced detailing the analysis of the data collected and any conclusions that can be drawn. Data collected on crown of thorn surveys, dives against debris, beach cleans, coral bleaching surveys and The Great Fiji Shark count will be shared with relevant partners.
The baseline method employed by GVI during the underwater surveys was designed to complement existing survey methods used in Fiji by the Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA). GVI uses three separate methods for our marine expedition, Point Intercept Transect (PIT), Invertebrate Belt Transect (IBT) and Underwater Visual Census (UVC), all conducted as a team along one transect.
You will be assigned the responsibility to learn either fish, invertebrates or benthic life forms first based on the length of your stay and depending on the needs of the survey team. The reason for this division of species is to get volunteers into the water collecting data as soon as possible and thereby maximising the effectiveness of the survey team. Short term interns and volunteers (4-6 weeks) will be trained and allocated the collection of data on Crown of Thorns, coral bleaching and Nudibranches around Caqalai, as well as participating in Dives Against Debris.
The best way for the staff to improve and assess your fish, invertebrate and benthic life-form knowledge is to use multiple teaching methods. GVI’s teaching method in Fiji incorporates slideshow presentations, fun workshops (fish bingo anyone?) and most importantly, what we call “point out dives & snorkels.” Once basic dive training is completed at the beginning of the expedition, each diving day you will participate in 1-2 point out dives or snorkels.
Learn more about what is contributing to the decline in the health of the world’s ocean and marine species and what can be done to prevent it. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the field of marine conservation, explore how to protect marine ecosystems and discover how you can contribute towards conservation-related initiatives. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
Earning a professional diving qualification, such as those offered by The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is a necessary step for many aspiring marine biologists. All GVI marine conservation programs include training by certified dive instructors that allows participants to qualify for a range of PADI certifications including PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Divemaster, Instructor, Rescue Diver and Master Scuba Diver Trainer.
This speciality was designed by GVI and can only be gained by joining a GVI marine conservation program. Learn about how to perfect the buoyancy necessary to conduct reef surveys upside down to protect the reef from quick-moving flippers, the different methodologies used for conducting marine research, and the techniques necessary to conduct a range of surveys.
A basic first aid qualification is a requirement for many professions including professional diving, primary school teachers, and occupational therapists. A first aid course certified by Emergency First Response (EFR) is included in several of our programs. The course is one of the most highly reputed first aid training programs available around the world. The medical best practices and teaching methodologies of the organization are backed up by nearly five decades of experience. The course helps participants master skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), and administer emergency oxygen for infants, children, and adults.
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.