Travel to the clear blue waters of the South Pacific Ocean, learn or improve your diving in one of the world’s most beautiful tropical countries and discover an incredible underwater environment.
Join an international team of volunteers on this marine conservation expedition which focuses on the collection of important marine inventory data from underwater research dives. This research is then made available to local communities and organisations to help better inform management decision making. The project is geared at providing long term benefits to the local communities through strategies designed to help guarantee food security for future generations.
Please note, this program offers durations up to 24 weeks. Speak to your Country Expert for more details of extending your stay in-country.
Learning new scuba diving skills, conducting underwater surveys in the warm, turquoise waters of the Pacific, spending time getting to know the local community and their traditional villages, teaching children about environmental conservation during weekly school visits, assisting in the creation of coral farms, discover a myriad of fascinating marine creatures to study, enjoy island hopping, stunning remote island locations, scuba diving, snorkelling, traditional ceremonies, idyllic traditional Fijian villages, white beaches, climbing volcanic mountains, enjoying breathtaking scenery, cultural immersion in the Fijian way of life, learning to speak Fijian.
Scuba Diving Requirements and Additional Courses
You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition scuba diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent. Non divers can join for 8- and 12-week durations, GVI will supply you with all the training you need to be certified up to PADI Advanced Open Water. The 4-week duration is only open for divers already qualified to PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent. For non-divers wishing to attend for 4-weeks, we can recommend local dive centers that will help you qualify before your intended start date.
Also, if you wish to add to your scuba diving skillset, why not take an extra course at a discounted rate?! Check out available Add-ons under the Book Now button on the right hand side, or mention to your Country Expert if interested in finding out more.
"Thank you for such an awesome experience in Fiji, I have come back reenergised and have changed the course of my medical career - I will be taking next year off to work in the developing world. Thank you all for the inspiring and profound impact you had on my person and my career. I feel that this decision is the beginning of something truly extraordinary!"
What's Not Included
You will first complete an initial training phase where you will learn to accurately identify locally targeted fish, invertebrate or coral species. Training will involve snorkel and dive point outs with GVI staff, as well as learning benthic, fish, coral and invertebrate species.
Depending on weather conditions, we aim for everyone to have 1 or 2 dives/snorkels each day, 5 days a week, during which you will conduct underwater surveys after you complete your training. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities, including training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal, environmental education session or alternative income training, depending on local and project needs. You will also be required to complete base duties.
You will stay on GVI’s Caqalai Island base in basic dormitory accommodation with your fellow volunteers with a communal kitchen, living and work area, taking turns with base duties on a rotational basis.
Weekends are usually yours to rest up and relax, or perhaps even explore some of the surrounding area, all depending on the project needs and requirements.
What's Not Included
GVI has partnered with local NGOs and organisations
in order to identify the best ways to assist the community to conserve their marine resources. The following research priorities have been identified:
- Data collection on targeted fish species
- Habitat mapping for coral reefs and mangrove (Coral Reef and Mangrove Habitat mapping)
- Development of an environmental education and awareness program for local schools and communities.
- Development of terrestrial and marine environmental best practice on Caqalai Island
GVI works closely with the Fiji Department of Fisheries and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network to ensure that the impact of this research and program remains is both relevant and useful for
the wider community.
Caqalai’s short, mid, and long-term objectives:
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 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 visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Caqalai:
1. PROTECTION and MONITORING- Establish locally managed marine areas with villages of Moturiki in keeping with community led management plans
2. EDUCATION- capacity building within key stakeholders to ensure strong environmental leadership in the future
3. LIVELIHOODS- Introduce methods of alternative livelhoodto generate incomefor local communities to reduce dependance on damage fisheries for income
4. RESILIENCE- Reduce the vulnerability of communities to the negative impacts of climate changethrough awareness and training in adaptation techniques and disaster preparedness
5. COLLABORATION - Encourage good governance, inter-organisational collaboration and inter-village cooperation
How this project makes a difference
The communities with which we work do not have access to the necessary resources to carry out regular data collection
in their fishing grounds and there has been a significant detriment to coral and fish stocks due to natural disaster events and unsustainable fishing practice.
Data collected on our volunteer powered surveys is presented to the local community land owners along with alternative livelihood methods and management strategies to help local stakeholders to make informed decisions with regards to their vital marine resources and long term food security.
What's Not Included
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Fiji!
Optional Side Trips
Fiji is a beautiful and exotic destination where you will find picturesque white sand beaches, world class dive sites, and Fiji’s famous culture of hospitality and warmth. As an island nation, many of your potential activities are water based! Starting locally, just a short boat ride away you can visit the famous pod of dolphins that reside all year round on Moon Reef or hike into forests and swim in hidden waterfalls or visit one of Fiji’s famous island resorts.
In the water, for those that are not dive qualified you could enrol in a scuba diving course and dive the various dive sites in the region, home to abundant marine life, colourful corals and steep drop-offs. Get lucky with your dive, and visibility can exceed a massive 40m.
Fiji’s capital city, Suva, is only a few hours from all our project sites, known for its relaxed atmosphere, energetic nightlife, large farmers market and atmospheric port. Here you can visit the Fiji Museum, where you can find ancient tribal artefacts, one of the best exhibitions on tribal art in the Pacific, or read up on Fiji’s cannibal past. The old historical capital of Fiji, Levuka, which makes for an interesting day trip, is accessible by ferry and small boat and located on the nearby Ovalau Island.
Further Travelling Opportunities
A little further afield, the possibilities just keep on coming. Explore the town of Nadi with its bustling market, nearby hot springs at Sabeto or get a feel for the local atmosphere at a rugby match. From Pacific Harbour, join a river safari into the heart of Fiji or dive with bull sharks in Bega Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark dives.
Either before or after your program you could try island hopping around the 20 volcanic islands of the Yasawa group. These remote islands are characterised by white beaches, crystal blue lagoon and dramatic rugged hills, some with summits 600 metres above sea level.
Staying on dry land, you might consider a trip to the Sigatoka National Park, where you’ll find a miniature desert of rolling sand dunes or a more relaxing option would be the Coral Coast and the Kula Eco Park, Fiji’s only wildlife park.
Meet Michele, our brilliant program manager in Fiji. She has a lot of travel experience in the US around Europe. She volunteered for one year in Mombasa Kenya on the childcare programme, became Project Manager for three years and worked in South Africa on an under 18's programme.
She loves GVI because ''this job gives me the opportunity to work with people who volunteer from all around the world and being able to work alongside individuals who had the same drive and passion as me, willingness to give up their time, share their skills and knowledge to assist the schools and the community groups we work with.
I have had the honour to work with some amazing partners in different countries who have welcomed me into their communities and let me be a part of their lives , giving me the opportunity to grow and learn. Their strength and their faith and their beliefs that all things can be achieved if you have hope will always stay with me.''
Education Project Leader
Meet Jack, our education projects manager in Fiji. He first volunteered in Peru at the age of 18 with a small, badly managed NGO which had some great partners but 'bizarre practises'. He then spent many years stockpiling money so as to be able to travel independently for 5 years, beginning in summer 2014. After gaining his Celta he then travelled to Nepal where he worked with a Nepali Ngo who were working toward introducing ‘child centred’ learning in rural schools.
This was an incredible experience living with a family in VERY rural Nepal with many festivals and sacrificial chickens. In this role he was teaching children 6 days a week and demonstrating teaching methodologies and techniques to fellow teachers through workshops and training sessions. After Nepal he hooked up with GVI in India as the volunteer coordinator (education) where his responsibilities were the same as in his current role.
His favourite thing about working with GVI is meeting all the crazy people we employ and attract. He loves enabling volunteers to achieve things they wouldn’t imagine.
Community Project Leader
Meet Averham, our community project leader in Fiji. He has spent time volunteering in Vanuatu & Ghana, promoting youth development & sustainability, as well as conducting workshops about adolescent reproductive health and environmental pollutions.
He has also interned in Tecpan, Guatemala where his projects tackled different aspects of sustainable farming and improving child health and nutrition within the district. He has an Honours Degree in International Development Studies & Health Studies.
His favourite thing about working for GVI is living in a Fijian village and being able to see how the projects are progressing first-hand.
Community Projects Leader
Meet Alexa, our amazing community projects leader in Fiji. She has spent many years travelling and volunteering all over the world with GVI. She was a Health and Arts Project Coordinator for in Kerala, India. She went on aGVI volunteer experience in Ecuador, surveying reptiles, birds and amphibians. She even went to Mexico doing diving conservation.
She has experience teaching in the UK, Peru, Spain and Nepal. She was also hub leader for FoodCycle, setting up a community foodservice from scratch with a team of volunteers. She has an MA in International Development specialising in forest politics, gender and development and indigeneity and sustainability. She also holds a CELTA English Teaching qualification.
Her favourite thing about working for GVI is having the chance to use her skills and creativity in the field, then seeing the impacts of her hard work... 'but also living 5m from the sea in a Fijian village ain't bad'
Dane Lee Marx
Meet Dane, GVI's cheerful country director for Fiji. He has spent several years as the Conservation and Ecology Manager on Frégate Island, a small private island in the Seychelles. There he had been fortunate to have overseen and implemented projects ranging from monitoring and protection of rare birds, invertebrates and sea turtles to wide-scale habitat restoration as well as management of significant operations responsibilities.
After leaving that position he took a year off to do some travelling – six months of flyfishing, camping and exploring new Zealand, visiting some friends and family in Australia, and some exceptional diving and island hopping in Indonesia. He holds a BSc in Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences, an Hons. in Zoology, and a MSc in Conservation Biology.
For him, GVI is an exciting organisation as it carries out an impressive range of high impact, grass-roots level projects in some of the most interesting locations across the globe. This and the combined focus on both community based development and a deep seated conservation aligned perfectly with his own interests and passions.
Marine Research Officer/Community Liaison Officer
Meet Dee, our Marine Research Officer/Community Liaison Officer in Fiji. Dee is a Fijian born environmental conservation enthusiast and has a BSc degree in Marine Science. She has had her fair share of experience related to the field of marine conservation; over the last year or two she did an internship with the Conservation Office in the Cakaudrove province of Fiji and volunteered at an organisation, Nature Fiji Mareqeti Viti, that work towards the conservation and sustainable management of Fiji's natural heritage.
Dee’s sees herself as the fictional character, Catwoman, and her talents are not restricted to conservation; she also has some bizarre abilities to show off. “I can bend my thumb backwards till it touches my wrist.” She loves working for GVI, especially not having to wear formal clothing to work every day!
Director of Programs
Meet Danny, our Director of Programs. Although he’s based in Playa del Carmen, Danny oversees the development and running of all of our field operations. He started out with GVI as our Country Director in Mexico and quickly became an invaluable part of the team.
Although being Director of Programs is a pretty demanding job, Danny manages to find time to do the other things he loves in-between. He’s an avid photographer and is always training for a triathlon or ironman.
What’s Danny’s favourite aspect of his job? “Starting new projects – we get lots of request for assistance and it’s difficult to decide when funds are limited. The evaluation process and those initial talks with local partners are very interesting. Seeing projects grow from an idea to full programs is very exciting. I also love the relationships you create with local organisations, they become friends and we jointly work to achieve the project aims.”