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Philippines - Marine Conservation and Diving

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Join us as a volunteer, learn scientific diving and study marine biology, help us campaign and meet like minded people from all over the world who may end up as your lifelong friends.

Marine Conservation Philippines is a non-profit organisation based in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Through marine research, campaigning, local outreach and conservation efforts we have joined the fight to try and change the current situation before it is too late. We dream of a future and of a sea where our kids and their kids can still marvel at grazing sea-turtles and sharks and where coastal communities enjoy adequate fish-stocks for the next generations.

Our underwater world is under tremendous pressure - too much garbage and litter, especially plastic is being thrown in, and too many fish are being fished out. Only 0,1 percent of the seas are covered by coral reefs, yet these fragile reefs are home to an astounding 25% of all marine species. The Philippines are the middle of the coral triangle, and with a land mass of 7000 islands it has a unique topography with a collective stretch of shoreline, longer than any other nation in the World. This means that the Philippines are home to more coastal reefs than anywhere else in the world, making it the frontline of the fight for preservation of fragile marine habitats.

If you are not certified as a diver already, you will start your participation in our program by getting licensed through the PADI system of education. As the work we carry out on fragile reefs require divers with excellent skills, we add additional practice and excursion dives until you’re ready for the task. Typically volunteers do one or two courses, but some who volunteer for two to three months or more, do multiple courses or complete their dive master. However the project is not a dive shop and people primarily come here to take part in conservation, so we ask everyone to be flexible with their course wishes, as the instructors can only do so much. The priority is turning non-diving volunteers into diving volunteers ASAP - then after that, it's adding to the skillset of experienced divers, who wish to do additional courses. Taking your open water course through a demanding environmental organization instead of a lax commercial dive shop, makes you one badass diver!

Volunteering is for people who want to get involved and get their hands dirty. Don’t expect any luxury at camp (well, other than the food which is amazing!). Accommodation is charming, but primitive. There are shared bathrooms and almost everything runs off solar power, including the wifi. There’s an outdoor jungle gym, and the whole botanical garden is more than ten hectares - large enough to go adventuring.

Your adventure starts here.
  • Schedule & Activities

    Your day starts around 7:00 with breakfast. After breakfast the plan for the day is reviewed. Some volunteers will be doing scuba courses, others will be out doing marine research, underwater cleanups or community work. What you’ll be doing will largely be based on where you are in the volunteer program and also on personal preferences. We’ll usually have lunch around one or two o clock - if you’re doing work far from our base, you’ll eat your lunch at a local market there. After lunch we often continue with our various activities till sometime in the afternoon. Typically this consists of entering survey-data on computers or various base work.

    The evenings are different. At times you will be at work analyzing data collected on the dives or studying for your next scuba course, but often you’ll just want to relax and unwind with fellow volunteers. What you do after dinner in the evenings is very much up to yourself. You may want to organize a game or movie night, share a drink and a laugh, get people around a camp fire or something completely different. Other options would be to go on a night dive, go for a run, catch up with friends and family at home using our free WiFi, work out in our gym or just quietly read a book. It really is up to you.

    When you wish to have days off, you can let us know. This may be to experience other islands elsewhere in the Philippines, to go for a visa-and-shopping run to Dumaguete, to explore the area on a motorbike or just to have a day to yourself and laze in a hammock with a book. While we feel the work we do is important, we don’t expect you to take part in everything all the time - especially if you stay for months. (But if you want to, you’re most welcome!) We understand most volunteers are not intererested in working all the time, which conveniently leads us to Sundays.

    Sunday is always a day off. No volunteers are allowed to do any diving, except during unusual circumstances. The reason for this is two fold - firstly it’s important to off-gas from time to time so you don’t get the "Friday Bends" (a slang term in the dive industry, where divemasters and instructors can load their bodies with gas day after day, until they eventually experience symptoms of decompression illness). Secondly we wish to give our staff a day off as well. Obviously food needs to be cooked, but other than that nothing happens on Sundays, unless you organize it yourself. (When’s the last time you went swimming in a mountain lake, visited a faith-healer or sung karaoke anyway?)

    The minimum duration is 6 weeks as it takes quite a while to learn the techniques required to participate in the conservation work before you are fuully able to contribute to the research programs and date collection.

  • 6-8 Weeks Program

    - 6-8 weeks volunteering includes two diving courses, see additional fees below
    - Introduction to underwater survey methodology and data collection and entry
    - Reef biology lessons
    - Reef and beach clean-up
    - Base duties
    - Further work with advanced survey methodology and data analysis
    - Involvement with community work
    - Support and supervision
    - Unlimited diving (averaging 40 to 50 dives per month)
    - Full dive gear
    - Free use of snorkeling gear

    If you are a non diver, then you will have to do PADI Open Water, and can do PADI Advanced Open Water, if you wish to.

    If you are a PADI Open Water diver, you can do the PADI Advanced Course and the PADI Rescue, if you wish. (Doing the PADI Rescue Course will also include the EFR (Emergency First Response) first aid course, if you have not had CPR training within the last two years).

    If you are an PADI Advanced Open Water diver, you can do the PADI Rescue Course, if you wish to. If available, you may do the PADI Deep Diver specialty course too.

    If volunteers do 10 or 12 weeks, then they can do an additional course (three in total) - or possibly go all the way to PADI Divemaster. (Requires a minimum of 12 weeks if a non-diver when starting.)

    The longer you commit, the more time you have to learn new skills and try out different aspects of the project work.

  • 10-12+ Weeks Program

    - PADI Open Water (if not already certified;) or PADI Advanced (if already certified Open Water); or PADI Rescue Diver plus First Aid Course *
    - PADI Deep diver + Nitrox training, and/or
    - PADI Divemaster training, or PADI Underwater videographer training (with the possibility and supervision to help create a short conservational movie)
    - Introduction to underwater survey methodology and data collection and entry
    - Reef biology lessons
    - Reef and beach clean-up
    - Base duties
    - Further work with advanced survey methodology and data analysis
    - Involvement with community work
    - Support and supervision
    - Unlimited diving (averaging 40 to 50 dives per month)
    - Full dive gear
    - Free use of snorkeling gear

    * The fees for the different courses (paid locally):
    Open Water USD 85
    Advanced Open Water USD 85
    Rescue Diver USD 85
    Nitrox USD 65
    Deep Diver USD 65
    First Aid USD 65
    PADI Divemaster USD 200 (Additionally, if anyone does the divemaster course they must themselves apply to PADI to join which costs a further USD 120.)

    This is only meant as a guideline or description of what a typical volunteer stay entails. Opportunities that we need to seize may present themselves; weather and conditions, local fiestas, public holidays and many other things affect the project in a fluid, organic way that sometimes alter plans. As such, this is not an exact checklist of activities you are guaranteed to take part in, but should give you a solid idea of what generally goes on, and what you’re likely to experience.


You will live in a spacious and cozy dorm with up to five other volunteers. It’s possible to stay in either a mixed dorm or a single-sex dorm. The charming thatched roof cottages are built of natural materials and are shaded under old mango fruit trees. All have lockers, fans and mosquito nets. There is a separate toilet and bathrooms.


Free return airport transfer to Dumaguete


3 daily meals and snacks - vegetarian and vegan options always available.
Free water, tea and coffee.


All year round! Please note that sea conditions change according to season. There is usually more rain between June and September.

Ytterligare information

We ask volunteers to remember that the support of the local community is of absolute importance to our environmental efforts. We are the guests and must behave accordingly. With enthusiasm, a willingness to learn new things and consideration for people and culture you’ll come a long way. Upon arrival at the expedition base, you will be briefed on local culture and customs.

As a participant in the Marine Conservation Program, it's your responsibility to read the two liability documents BEFORE departure, as you will be required to agree with and sign them when you arrive at the base in the Philippines. If you do not agree with or sign the forms then you cannnot participate. Please be aware that if you have any medical conditions, requiring you to answer yes to any question on the medical questionaire, you must get clearance from a doctor before you can dive. To ensure you can participate, we strongly suggest you do this prior to departure, as clearance is not guaranteed.

Travel insurance is compulsory