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Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation

Naifaru Island, Maldives
from £1,345 (2 weeks)

Ref: AV076

An incredible opportunity to work at this Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the beautiful Naifaru Island in the Maldives.  Work hands on with the local conservation team to rescue, protect, care for and ultimately release these endangered animals. If you are passionate about Marine Conservation, including help for a huge range of coral and species of fish, and want to rescue and rehabilitate turtles, whilst experiencing beautiful tropical island living, this is the project for you! 

Who can join: 18 years of age and over
Accommodation: Volunteer House/Apartments
Transfer time: approx, 3 hours
Pick up Point: Ibrahim Nassir International Airport (Male)
Meals: Meals Included
Volunteer numbers: approx. 8 volunteers

Duration & Fees

2 weeks£1,345
3 weeks£1,795
4 weeks£2,295
6 weeks£3,195
8 weeks£4,095

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Start Dates

Volunteers can join the project on any date during the year, however we recommend that volunteers join on a Thursday or a Saturday so that we can arrange the speedboat to Naifaru Island rather than the slower night ferry.

This project is open year round.

Payment

£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • Accommodation 
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Boat transfers from Male to Naifaru and back
  • Orientation and support from project staff
  • Local SIM card
  • Visa (full details of the requirments are in your pre-departure pack and the visa is arranged for you)

What's not included

  • Flights to Ibrahim Nassir International Airport (Male)
  • Travel Insurance including cover for repatriation
  • Overnight accommodation in Male on arrival (we will pre-arrange this for you)
  • Telephone and internet use
  • Snorkel equipment
  • Optional excursions

Highlights

  • Help to conserve sea turtles and work hands on rehabilitating them back to the wild
  • Conserve rare marine life while developing and enhancing professional skills
  • Experience the ‘real’ Maldives living and working with this friendly and welcoming Maldivian Community
  • Live on the beautiful tropical island of Naifaru, the fifth most populated island and bustling with life
  • Have the amazing opportunity to see whale sharks (if in season)
  • Meet other like minded volunteers and make friends for life
  • Enjoy weekly boat trips to neighbouring islands 
  • Learn to dive in one of the world’s top dive locations
  • An opportunity to snorkel in the Azure Marine filled Ocean! 

This is a fantastic project that combines Turtle Rescue and Release and Marine Conservation initiatives. 

Turtle Conservation

Whilst working as a Turtle Conservation volunteers you will work with a team of dedicated enthusiasts at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the Island to save, care for and eventually release the turtle population in this beatiful area of the Maldives.  The small Marine Centre is located in a remote part of the Island, giving the turtles and ideal enviroment to be cared for before their eventual release back into the sea. 

Turtles are often kept as pets by people in the community and kept under very poor conditions often resulting in their death, it is thought that as many as 90% of these pets die due to neglect.  Some people also still catch them to eat despite the nation-wide ban on killing tutles.  The Centre tries to rescue as many of these turtles as possible as well as looking after the ones that are brought in by fisheman who have had them caught in their nets and injured.  A big part of the work this project does is to carry out awareness campaigns and work in the community to highlight the importance of safeguarding these beautiful animals.

Since the project launched in 2010 they have had a big impact in changing the attitude of the local community towards this endangered animals but there is still a lot of work to do. 

Volunteer Activities

Gathering

We believe that it is ideal to leave turtles in their natural environment without human interaction. We do not hatch turtles as it is a delicate procedure which has the potential to ‘go wrong’ and also alter resultant sex ratios in the hatchlings. What we do always do is take in any turtle in need. The Turtles come to the Centre from a number of sources; some are caught in fishermen’s nets; some are saved from islands where they have ended up in less-than-ideal situations; some are rescued from people trying to sell them as pets to tourists and locals.   

Care and Rehabilitation

Once a turtle is brought to our Marine Centre volunteers work to nurse the turtle until it reaches a size whereby most of its natural predators have disappeared and it will stand a good chance of survival on release back into the ocean. 

Releasing

And then the most exciting and rewarding part of the process releasing the larger turtles back into the sea.  This is done in two stages, first by relocating them into the sea in a sea cage before finally being released back into the wild.

Community Awareness 

Volunteers are involved in teaching and building awareness amongst the local community, about the importance of turtle conservation as well as hosting information sessions with tourists from nearby resorts, to raise awareness about the plight of the turtle and its conservation.

Monitoring and Volunteer Presence

Volunteers visit nearby islands to monitor activities and show a presence to those who would raid turtle nests, so that the plight of the wild turtle population is not ignored or forgotten.

The project is currently also embarking on lobbying activities for complete legal protection of the sea turtles in the Maldives as nest-raiding is unfortunately still a legal activity. This means known nesting sites are regularly visited by poachers who take the eggs for consumption or for hatching baby turtles, to be sold as pets (the latter is illegal but not enforced effectively at the moment).

Join the team here on Naifaru and you will help create a safe environment for the turtles, build awareness of their importance of their conservation and have an incredible experience in this beautiful location.

Marine Conservation

Volunteers also work on marine biology activities with the huge range of species of coral and fish that reside in these warm Indian Ocean waters, including lots of different rare species. Tasks can range from fish surveys, coral gardening and monitoring to helping to restore damaged areas of coral and reef.  

Other duties and opportunities include planning and participating in awareness programmes. This is an important part of Marine Conservation, teaching the local communities,  school children and tourists alike how to look after and care for life under the water. This also includes developing any projects that are already in the pipeline. The Marine Conservation programme has since 2012 been located in the Marine Park which is close to the coast. Future plans focus on the coral gardening project, as well as a new anemone fish breeding project.

Volunteers will work with dedicated professionals and like-minded volunteers to develop essential professional skills that will widen their knowledge and help in future career plans.  Marine Conservation is vitally important as the reefs need to be looked after in order to support life for the population dependent on them and it is not only the underwater world that depends on the reefs, but also the two main industries of the Maldives, tourism and fishing.

Some tasks may take a few days to master and weather conditions may affect the work being done; therefore a volunteer placement of three weeks or more is the ideal time to spend at this project to give and receive the best experience. A placement of two weeks is also acceptable if you don't have any longer.

It is also highly beneficial for volunteers to bring their own comfortable snorkelling gear in order to explore below the water.

Naifaru Island

The beautiful island of Naifaru is located in the Lhaviyani Atoll in the Northern Maldives. The island lies approximately 142 kilometers (88 miles) north of the capital, Malé and is approximately 53 hectares (53 km²) in size.  It is the fifth most populated island in the Maldives yet small enough to enjoy seeing everything on foot. Naifaru is a bustling little community, with a beautifully friendly and welcoming community,  many restaurants, coffee shops, a hospital, post office and a bank.  Naifaru has just over 5,000 people currently registered on the island with the majority being Maldivian whilst there are a small number of expatriate workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Naifaru has a few main streets which form a grid within which you will find a maze of intricate side streets and alleys. Both the main streets and side streets are always filled with people of all ages, sitting around talking, playing local card games or even playing Maldivian music in the street – Naifaru is an island full of life and friendly people, a great place to make new friends and have a amazing volunteer experience.

Given the relatively small size of the island, everything is within easy reach – from the volunteer house you can walk to any of our projects in less than ten minutes. Or you might walk down to one of the island's four restaurants and enjoy the cool evening breeze with a cup of coffee and a view of the Indian Ocean and the Naifaru ‘skyline’.

Extra Information

Volunteers enjoy a free excursion once a week. This is usually to an uninhabited island or a fishing or snorkelling trip.  There are also some great snorkelling sites around Naifaru and you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy these whilst on the project.

Water sports

The Maldives are full of corals and marine life making snorkelling a must-do activity during volunteers' free time, no matter if a beginner or a seasoned expert. Snorkelling and swimming trips are arranged for volunteers led by local guides who know the best places to snorkel and where an array of colourful corals can be seen through crystal clear waters that are home also to an abundance of fish.

Fishing is the islands' main trade, and the harbour is full of fishing boats and fishermen alike. Project staff have excellent relationships with local fishermen and can organise the hiring or a dhoni (local) boat for anyone keen to try their hand.   Preparing and cooking the catch on a beach barbeque is a great experience and will impress fellow fishermen and volunteers alike.

The Maldives is undoubtedly one of the best places to scuba dive in the world. Learn to dive here with one of the 15 dive schools, or for those already qualified, tick off some of the best dive locations from the list  - from natural locations to shipwrecks.  Unfortunately diving is not part of the Marine Conservation Project but if you want to take part in diving activiteis the proejct staff will be happy to offer advice and help arrange this with one of the local diving centres. 

Island excursions

Although it will not be possible to visit all 1,192 of the islands that make up the Maldives, there are trips to many of them. Choose from picnics on remote uninhabited islands where the the reefs and jungle can be explored, to overnight stays on the capital of Malé.

Luxury resort

The Maldives are often synonymous with luxury, and volunteers can experience this luxury too, located on the resort specific islands. Perhaps take a day trip to the Lhaviyani Atoll or arrange a longer stay either before or after the volunteer placement at a discounted price, giving the chance to see the best of both Maldivian worlds.

Visa Requirment

To join this project we need to arrange a work visa for you prior to arrival.   In order to arrange this visa we need a letter of enrollment into a University or College or a copy of your degree or diploma.  If you do not have this, please do contact Amanzi Travel so that we can discuss the documents that you may have that will allow us to arrnage this visa for you. 

Getting There

Volunteers should fly into the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport, which is located on an island next to the capital Malé. From here, volunteers can take either the speedboat to reach Naifaru – which takes three hours – or the ten hour night ferry, depending on their international travel arrival time. 

We recommend that volunteers join this project on a Thursday or a Saturday so that we can arrange the speedboat to Naifaru on these days.  Volunteers should aim to arrive in Male Airport on any Wednesday or Friday, as this leaves you with one day in  Male and we will then arrange your transport by speedboat to Naifaru the following day.  We will provide overnight accommodaiton options in your pre-departure pack upon booking. 

The only fixed transport between Male and Naifaru is the speedboat, which goes between the islands every Thursday and Saturday, leaving from Male' in the morning at 9:00am and leaving Naifaru around 1:30pm.
 
In case you cannot plan your arrival according to the above, we will try to get you on a night ferry instead, but these do not run on a fixed schedule, and thus may leave you in Male' a few days before you can depart for Naifaru.
 
On departure, we recommend that you plan your departing flight for any given Friday or Sunday. You can then depart from Naifaru by speedboat either Thursday or Saturday. Alternatively, if possible, you can book your departing flight late Thursday or Saturday night (no earlier than 9:00pm) so that you will not have to spend a night in Male.

Volunteers can book a seaplane transfer back to the airport for a return flight, which is the best way to see the Maldives and a real experience.  These cannot be arranged for arrivals as the reduced rates offered can only be used on standby seats.   This is something you can discuss with the project staff whilst on the project and is highly recommended at the end of your stay on the Maldives.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and can make any flight arrangements required.  Please contact Amanzi Travel for information.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Naifaru Island, Maldives, Maldives Marine and Turtle ConservationNaifaru Island, Maldives, Maldives Marine and Turtle ConservationNaifaru Island, Maldives, Maldives Marine and Turtle ConservationNaifaru Island, Maldives, Maldives Marine and Turtle ConservationNaifaru Island, Maldives, Maldives Marine and Turtle ConservationVolunteers will either stay in a 6 bedroom guest house with single sex shared rooms or in the volunteer house.  The guesthouse accommodation has air conditioning and shared bathrooms. Bedding will be provided, but volunteers will need to take their own towel. There is a common rest area for volunteers with a fridge, kettle and TV.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in your proejct fee.  For any volunteers who do not eat fish or meat, vegetarian meals can easily be arranged.  Please let Amanzi Travel know about any dietary requirements before you join.

Click here to view the full interactive mapMaldives

Maldives Overview

The Maldives is comprised of an archipelago of islands with a double chain of 26 atolls, sitting in the Laccadive Sea, approximately 700 kilometres from Sri Lanka. There are 1,192 coral islands. The Maldives is the smallest Asian country by population and land area, and one of the most dispersed countries as it covers almost 90,000 square kilometres. The Maldives is also the lowest country in the world where the highest point is only 2.4 metres (or 7 ft 10 inches).

The islands are home to some of the world’s best beaches, boasting the pure white sands that are softly lapped at by the clear azure waters of the ocean. The Maldives are well known as an Indian Ocean paradise, and attract plenty of keen scuba divers, beach worshipping tourists and honeymooners. There are over 100 private island resorts in the Maldives, some being top luxury retreats while others have simpler hotels specially designed for families or scuba diving groups, as well as eco resorts and budget choices.

The ocean surrounding the Maldives is home to several ecosystems; colourful coral reefs, more than 1100 species of fish, five types of sea turtles and over 20 species of whales and dolphins ranging from planktonic organisms to the huge graceful whale sharks. All of this underwater life makes the Maldives one of the best dive locations in the world with huge coral walls, caves, manta rays and where the water is so warm no-one needs to wear a wetsuit.

Highlights of country

    • Stunning white sandy beaches
    • Fascinating underwater world
    • Warm temperatures all year round
    • No need for a wetsuit when diving
    • Chance to see whale sharks

Climate

SeasonsMaxMin
Summer 35 °C 27 °C
Winter 30 °C 27 °C

The Maldives benefit from a tropical monsoon climate that is affected by the area of South Asia to the north of the Maldives. There are two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season is during the months of April and May, while the rainy season is from June until the end of August.

The hottest month of the year is usually March, but temperatures are pretty steady throughout the year. The coldest month of the year is often January. Most rainfall is in September with an average of 243 mm. More rain usually falls between September and December, while the least is usually between January and April.

Key Facts

Population – 333,400 inhabitants
Capital - Male
Currency – Maldivian rufiyaa
Official languages – Dhivehi
Time difference – GMT + 5 hours
Telephone - + 960

Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation

Expect the unexpected they said and that's what I did. But what I got was way more than I'd have ever expected. Straight from my pre-departure guidance till reaching the gorgeous island of Naifaru.

I've learnt so much on this trip. Stuff about the sea life that I never knew before. Why and how we care for the beautiful Green Sea turtles. Getting up every day to feed those babies and watching them playing with water and creating bubbles through their noses and catching them, it was just adorable.

Going on excursion trips to uninhabited Islands and snorkelling with these amazing bunch of people. Snorkelling is something I had never done before but it was like a dream. The sea life is full of pleasant surprises and it's very picturesque.

Our team of marine biologists were some of the most talented people I've ever met. The tireless efforts Bryony and Alice put in to make you feel at home, whilst at the same time educating you, is commendable.

Overall it was an experience of a lifetime. I’ll miss the happy faces,the jokes, breakfast at lushia’s, the marine centre, playing heads up and cheers to the governor… and listening to blues while night fishing, even though I didn't catch a single fish.

Sikander, India (Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation

Where do I even start?! The past two weeks have been absolutely incredible. I can safely say I have had the best experience in my life, and I am privileged to have had the opportunity to be one of the volunteers in the marine conservation project.

The Maldives is a magical place, these beautiful and spectacular islands have welcomed me with open arms, strongly enough. I never felt homesick, rather I felt like I was at home for the entire duration of my project. Here in Naifaru, I’ve had so many adventures and made so many friends and most importantly, met a very unique group of individuals, with whom I have shared most of my amazing experiences and made many unforgettable memories which I will forever cherish.

It really amazes me how we all come from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, religions and mentalities. Yet, we got on so well as a team, serving a very noble cause. We were an awesome gang and everyone has been like a brother and sister to me. I enjoyed every activity, we did together: Breakfast at Luisha’s, snorkelling, night-fishing and just chilling together, getting to know each other.

As a Muslim, I felt a special connection with the Maldives and its people. It really amazes me how I share so much with them even though they are thousands of miles from home, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Taha, Libyan (& a wee bit Scottish) (Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation

I am truly grateful for having met so many amazing people and making some unforgettable memories. It is experiences like this that impart such profound impacts on your life. Take in the small moments. Appreciate the sunsets and the vastness of the night sky filled with stars. Take pride in the fact that you are contributing to the preservation of the natural world. Inspire one another. Gain perspective and grow.

I am leaving this island full of ambition. My drive and compassion to preserve the integrity of the earth has only been amplified through this experience. Whatever aspirations you may have in life, I only hope that your time here ignites some sort of inspiration, as it did for me.

Stephanie, Canada (Maldives Teaching Assistant, Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation

Crazy to think that my time here in Naifaru has come to an end. My time here has definitely been an experience I will never forget. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience, one that I am so grateful to have taken.

Throughout my three months here I have met some amazing people. I’ve seen and done and experienced some amazing things. To sum up everything I’ve done and will remember for ever: …..camping on Dhidoo, night fishing, breakfast at Luisha’s, Chillipot, Monopoly Deal, the sunsets (something I will miss so so much), the turtles, watching the world cup on a giant screen outside, under the moonlight, whilst listening to the waves crash… I could go on forever. 

You’re in an amazing country surrounded by amazing people, snorkel, explore, see the ‘real’ Maldives. Not many people will have this opportunity. Totally make the most of it. I really will miss this place.

Mary Ann, USA (Maldives Marine and Turtle Conservation)

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