Volunteering

Tropical Marine Biology and Conservation in Fiji

Learn to dive in the beautiful waters of the Dawasamu District while supporting community efforts towards sustainable marine resources.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 2 - 12 weeks
Fieldwork hours25 hrs of fieldwork per week
Participant ratio1:6 participant to staff ratio
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Dive in crystal blue water and discover the rich biodiversity of the South Pacific while assisting with the sustainable management of marine resources and local marine protected areas. Contribute to national efforts to conserve Fiji’s delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems while living on GVI’s hub in the rural village of Silana located in the Dawasamu District.

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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
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
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Support & Safety

Program overview

Head on out in the clear blue waters of the South Pacific Ocean, where you will learn or improve your diving in one of the world’s most beautiful tropical regions, while discovering a unique underwater environment. Join an international team of participants on a marine biology expedition which focuses on the collection of important data on marine species from underwater exploration dives. See the colourful coral reefs up close and discover a myriad of fascinating marine creatures to study. This analysis becomes the foundation for local communities and organisers to make better decisions to improve sustainability in the area.

Spend time getting to know the local community and experiencing cultural immersion in the Fijian way of life. Develop an environmental education and awareness program for local children and communities. The project is geared towards providing long term benefits to locals through strategies helping to guarantee food security, not only for current generations but future ones too.

Highlights

Marine conservation surveys

Conduct underwater surveys on targeted fish, invertebrate and benthic (coral) species in the warm waters of the Pacific.

Coral reefs and culture

Experience Fiji’s colourful coral reef systems and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Be part of the real deal

Contribute to ongoing environmental projects that address critical challenges aligned to the global UN SDGs.

Join ethical initiatives

Join local conservation partners and qualified professionals to ensure your efforts are highly ethical, meaningful and sustainable.

Experience unreal adventures

Venture outside typical travel itineraries to get exclusive access to extraordinary remote habitats, rare species and unique ecosystems.

Make friends for life

Share epic experiences with like-minded, passionate changemakers from all over the globe.

Enjoy a hassle-free, safe trip

With expert local staff and 24/7 support at every step – you can relax and enjoy the experience stress-free.

Take a break

Disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature, yourself and your purpose.

Activities

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

Fieldwork training

Learn species identification and survey techniques to contribute to marine data collection and Dawasamu’s species inventory.

Conservation surveys

Assist with benthic (coral) or fish target species surveys.

Support community conservation

Deliver lessons on environmental awareness in the local community and participate in community-based work, such as improving water security.

PADI Open Water

Learn scuba or refine skills. Cover theory, confined water dives, then open water dives in beginner-friendly sites (programs > 8 weeks).

PADI Advanced Open Water

Gain more diving experience with 5 adventure dives: deep water, underwater navigator, peak performance buoyancy and two optional adventure dives.

PADI Emergency First Response

Learn primary and secondary care theory, practice 8 skills with role-playing scenarios, improving first aid and emergency preparedness.

PADI Rescue Diver

Enhance diver safety awareness, handle complex situations, practise direct intervention via rescue role plays (programs > 8 weeks).

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)

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Hot summer savings.

Book in April to get up to 15% off selected programs!

Secure your spot before spaces fill up.
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! Have your morning coffee on the beach and enjoy the sunrise.

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
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
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

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 co...

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 s...

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...

Meals

Food on base is mostly vegetarian, consisting of locally-sourced seasonal produce which participants take turns in preparing for the group. Break...

Climate

With a warm tropical climate, Dawasamu temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, at roughly...

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
Boat to Leleuvia Island
Island myths

Free time

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.

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 ...

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. Loca...

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...

Levuka

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...

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 P...

Suva

The colourful capital city of Suva is known for its relaxed atmosphere, nightlife and

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 s...

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 communit...

Further Travels

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...

Adventure

From Pacific Harbour, you can join a jetski safari, or go white-water

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 propertie...

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, resort...

Cultural Immersion

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.

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...

Languages

Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian and Fiji Hindi. Fijian is spoken as the first language by most indigenous Fijians while Indo-F...

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 religio...

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 seas...

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 ce...

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 family

Michele Comber

Program Manager

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

Reynold

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&# ...

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 ...

Lino

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 ...

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

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.

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.

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.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

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.

07

Respect for all

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.

08

Local Ownership

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.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

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 minim