Professional
Apprenticeship

PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

Start your professional diving career by earning your PADI Divemaster while exploring the underwater worlds of both Fiji and Mexico.

Durations: 24 weeks
Fieldwork hours50 hrs of fieldwork per week
Participant ratio1:6 staff to participant ratio
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Experience two of the world’s top diving destinations while earning your PADI Divemaster. Learn how to dive while living rural village of Silana located in the Dawasamu District in Fiji, and contribute to long-term locally-led ocean conservation projects. Afterwards, hone your dive leadership skills at a dive centre situated on Mexico’s famously idyllic Riviera Maya coastline.

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Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time & cultural immersion
Speak to alumni
MEET THE TEAM
Parent Info
Arrivals &
Flights
Your Impact
publications
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Careers
Support & Safety

Program overview

This six month apprenticeship is designed to give apprentices a headstart in the exciting career of professional diving. It is specifically catered to those who are interested in the field of marine conservation.

For the first 12 weeks, apprentices will train in the warm, tropical waters of the South Pacific. They will live, learn, and work in the rural village of Silana, located in the Dawasamu District, with an international team of experienced GVI staff and enthusiastic participants from all around the world. Here they will complete the prerequisite qualifications of their PADI Divemaster program. Receive the Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by GVI & PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. This is offered to participants staying for 2 weeks or longer. Apprentices will also earn their EFR certifications while completing this first part of their PADI Divemaster apprenticeship in Fiji.

After successfully completing their training, apprentices will make their way to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to work at a world-class dive centre. Here apprentices will learn to lead recreational dives, honing their skills so that they can excel in their final Divemaster exam.

Please note that flights between Fiji and Mexico are not included and that you will require a PADI Open Water qualification, or equivalent, before joining other apprentices in Fiji.

Highlights

Get a PADI Divemaster qualification
Gain diving skills while conducting underwater marine conservation surveys in dives sites across Fiji and Thailand.
Explore Fijian coral and culture
Experience the warm waters and vibrant cultures of two of the world’s most beautiful countries – Fiji and Thailand.
Kick-start your career
Participate in three months of intensive fieldwork training to ensure you’re ready to launch directly into your conservation career.
Get a job placement
Work for a conservation partner for three months to get real practical experience and build a network of industry contacts.
Fast-track experience
Join a targeted career-readiness program that’s based on two decades of experience to grow your leadership and career skills.
Career guarantee
Our comprehensive apprenticeships guarantee a job offer within 18 months upon completion of all program components and meeting eligibility criteria.
Advance your career
Gain international experience, receive four recognised qualifications and get a LinkedIn reference to boost your CV.
Get the edge
We know what it takes to work in conservation – that’s why our apprenticeships qualify for preferential recruitment when applying for GVI vacancies.
Kick-start your career
Participate in three months of intensive fieldwork training to ensure you’re ready to launch directly into your conservation career.
Get a job placement
Work for a conservation partner for three months to get real practical experience and build a network of industry contacts.
Fast-track experience
Join a targeted career-readiness program that’s based on two decades of experience to grow your leadership and career skills.
Career guarantee
Our comprehensive apprenticeships guarantee a job offer within 18 months upon completion of all program components and meeting eligibility criteria.
Advance your career
Gain international experience, receive four recognised qualifications and get a LinkedIn reference to boost your CV.
Get the edge
We know what it takes to work in conservation – that’s why our apprenticeships qualify for preferential recruitment when applying for GVI vacancies.

Is this program for me?

This internship is specifically useful for someone who has or is actively studying the below subject areas at school, university or college, or has an interest in these subject areas.

  • Marine science
  • Ecology
  • Population biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Biology
  • Environmental science
  • Zoology
  • Botany
  • Marine biology
  • Ecology and evolution
  • Environment management
  • Marine conservation

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Fieldwork training
Learn how to identify species and conduct surveys so that you can contribute to data collection efforts and help build an inventory of marine species in Dawasamu.
Lead conservation surveys
Assist with benthic (coral), fish target species, and other marine species surveys. The data you collect in the field will either be for your individual research project or for GVI’s ongoing flagship research initiative.
Support community conservation
Deliver lessons focused on environmental awareness in local communities in Fiji and Thailand, and participate in community-based work, such as improving water security and sustainable fishing practices.
Leadership and fast track training
Get additional training in Impact and Ethics, Intro to Project Management, Effective Communication, Leading Teams for Impact, Off-Site Safety Management, Participant Management, Self Leadership & Wellbeing, and GVI Policies and Procedures.
Leadership responsibilities
Take on additional responsibilities such as entering data, writing reports and summaries, and updating species lists and fieldwork checklists.
Personal project
Work on an individual project that aligns with your personal interests.
Mentorship
Meet weekly in a small group with other interns and an experienced mentor to receive project guidance and feedback on your leadership style.
Work placement
Complete a work placement in Mexico, where you will work directly with customers, gain practical experience with equipment, and lead and guide dives.
PADI Advanced Open Water
Gain more diving experience and sample different types of diving with 5 adventure dives: deep water, underwater navigator, peak performance buoyancy, underwater naturalist, and AWARE fish identification.
PADI Emergency First Response
Learn primary and secondary care theory and then practise applying 8 skills in role playing scenarios designed to improve your first aid skills and prepare you for an emergency.
PADI Marine Megafauna (MMF)
The MMF Distinctive Speciality, unique to GVI, enhances diving skills for marine megafauna conservation projects (available for 4+ week programs).
PADI Rescue Diver
Increase your awareness of diver safety, manage more complex situations and apply direct intervention techniques via role playing rescue scenarios. Only applies to programs longer than 8 weeks.
PADI Divemaster
Organise and direct a variety of scuba diving activities, including classroom presentations, pool sessions, ocean training sessions, and assisting on courses and guided dives.

Skills

  • Data entry
  • EMR training
  • Marine conservation
  • PADI
  • Species identification
  • Survey research

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA)
Institut de Recherche pour le Development (IRD)
Ocean Conservancy
Marine Ecology Fiji and the Great Fiji Shark Count
Mexico dive shop

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

This is summer!

Chase that feeling! Save up to 15% on selected programs.

Book and pay by 31 July to claim offer.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

06:30

Start your day bright and early! If you’re an early riser, explore the beautiful surroundings and enjoy the stunning views.

07:00

Make yourself some breakfast and pack lunch for the day ahead! After breakfast, gather for the daily update.

08:00

At the start of your program, focus on dive/marine conservation training. Once you’re ready, it’s time to dive!

12:00

Lunch is enjoyed as a group. Lunch meals typically consist of sandwiches, noodles or a rice dish.

13:00

Continue with either dive/marine conservation training, or diving and conducting coral reef, seagrass and other surveys.

16:30

Either assist with base duties, start preparing dinner as a group, or enjoy some free time.

18:00

Enjoy a meal together. After dinner, it’s common to have reflection sessions and discuss the day’s work and its effect on the environment.

19:00

Time to relax or get involved in social activities. Make use of the common areas to spend time with your group, play a game, or do some studying.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Leadership responsibilities
Personal project
Placement
12-week placement
Mentorship
Weekly group sessions
Internship supervisor guidance
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
University of Richmond endorsed leadership course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Advanced leadership training
Personal development record
Project planning and management
Fast track training
Self-leadership and well-being
Project management
Ethical engagement
Measuring impact
Developing intercultural competence
Effective communication (storytelling and social media)
Team management
Participant journey
Off-site safety management
Safety management in practice (OSSM part 2)
Standards, policies and procedures
Emergency first response (select hubs)
Career services
University of Richmond careers course
Career coaching sessions (x2)
Career guarantee
LinkedIn reference – upon request
Job portal
Preferential recruitment on GVI positions
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
University certificate – leadership (University of Richmond)
University certificate – careers (University of Richmond)
Fast track training certificate
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Boasting magnificent sunset views and swaying palm trees, our base is located on the edge of a traditional rural village, 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 offers a unique opportunity to gain insight into Fiji’s 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, you’ll be accommodated in basic, mixed-gender dormitory-style rooms within a traditional Fijian bure, featuring wooden walls and a tin roof. There is a comm...

Transportation

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 weekend travel, part...

Communication

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 rec...

Meals

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 porri...

Climate

With a warm tropical climate, 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 t...

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

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.

Learn to cook iTaukei food
Feast with friends
Make a traditional drink from kava root
A ritual cup
Learn indigenous plant medicine
The plants will heal
Hike to the top of Tova Peak
To the mountain
Fish with iTaukei women
Reading the tides
Weave a traditional mat
What weaves us together
Visit Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park
Living wild

Free time & cultural immersion

By joining a GVI program, you not only contribute to preserving unique ecosystems but also get the chance to explore the surrounding area or venture further to see what else the region has to offer on weekends.

Our field staff are a great source of advice on local travel options. Many participants choose to travel before or after their experience, solidifying friendships made on the program. 

Engaging with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in today’s world. Cultural immersion is encouraged, and there are many activities to enjoy during your free time or before and after your program. Please note, these suggestions aren’t included in the program fee and are at your own expense.

The local community

Fijians are some of the friendliest people in the world, provided you respect their traditions and customs. The local community is typically warm and eager to welcome visitors. Doi...

Languages

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 varia...

Spirituality and religion

Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Fiji, followed by Hinduism and Islam. Prior to the nineteenth century, indigenous Fjians practiced various traditional religions ...

Local handcrafts

Fiji has a thriving souvenir industry. Local artists produce various intricately carved wooden items.

Cooking

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 seasone...

Festivals

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 cerem...

Weekend trips

Coral Coast

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 jou...

Leleuvia Island Resort

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. Local f...

Dawasamu surrounds

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 a ...

Historical excursions

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 Paci...

Suva

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 (which is...

Diving

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 stee...

Moon Reef dolphins

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 community m...

Further travels

Levuka

For an exciting weekend getaway, visit Levuka, the old colonial capital of Fiji and a World Heritage Site. Located on the nearby Ovalau Island, just off the coast of Viti Levu, it&...

Shark dive

Dive with bull sharks in Beqa Lagoon, one of the world’s most famous shark diving destinations.

Nature parks

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 an...

Adventure

From Pacific Harbour, you can join a jetski safari, or go white-water rafting on Navua River.

Sabeto hot springs

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 properties, ...

Nadi

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 and watersports (like...

Speak to alumni

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.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Meet the team

Get acquainted with the GVI Australasia, Fiji, Dawasamu, GVI Latin America, Mexico, Puerto Morelos family

Michele Comber

Program Manager

Meet Michele, our brilliant Program Manager in Fiji. She has travelled widely in the US,

Taione

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 ...

Ana

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 ...

Samuela

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.

Parent Info

‘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.’

Parent Info Pack

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.

Arrivals

We meet you at the airport.

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.

Flights

Find your flights with our partner, Student Universe.
Flights are not included in your program fee
Visit Student Universe

Please note that if you use this service delivered by Student Universe and / or if you buy your ticket through this portal you are agreeing to the Student Universe Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. Your agreement regarding flights will be between you and Student Universe or as per their terms and conditions.

As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.

We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness, harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.

Your Impact

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 with in 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 partner – the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network.

Project objectives

 

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.

Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.

All of our publications are on Google Scholar
Google Scholar
View publications
GVI Fiji Dawasamu Annual Report 2018
Annual Report
2018
‘Recycling Project.’
Newspaper Article
2017

Fiji Times Newspaper

Author(s)
Mere Naleba
‘Villagers take a stand, say no to plastic bags.’
Newspaper Article
2018

Fiji Times Newspaper

Author(s)
Mere Naleba

Our Ethics

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.