Discover the rich biodiversity of the South Pacific while assisting with research that will aid the local management of marine protected areas. Contribute to national efforts to conserve Fiji’s coral reefs and marine ecosystems while living on GVI’s research base in the idyllic rural village of Silana located in the Dawasamu District. Gain your PADI Advanced Open Water qualification and contribute towards tangible, long-term community benefits.
On this program, you will learn all about coral reef ecology and conservation issues facing tropical marine organisms and the communities that depend on them. Participants typically spend time in the water every day, in what can only be described as a vibrant marine ecosystem.
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.
There is a possibility of seeing endangered species such as sharks, rays, humphead wrasse and turtles while participating in the program. While on dry land, you will spend time in the Dawasamu communities helping with our environmental education and sustainable livelihood projects.
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 ...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
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.
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.
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.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
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.
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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.
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 ...
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 COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
‘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.
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.
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.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays ju...
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the heal...
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes ...
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations a...
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|