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Volunteers will help run a small sanctuary for endangered sea turtles, mainly for green turtles and hawksbills. The project receives the turtles from many different sources: some are rescued from urban areas of the islands, others are caught in fishing nets and some are saved from people attempting to sell them to tourists as pets. When a turtle is taken to the sanctuary, the project’s team will begin to nurse them until the turtles reach about a foot in length. At this point they are rehabilitated back into the sea within a designated marine conservation area.

Another important aspect of the program includes coral reef restoration and monitoring. To mitigate anthropogenic pressures damaging the reef around the island of Naifaru, a coral garden has been implemented to support and restore the local reefs. We transplant already broken coral fragments onto metal frames and monitor their health once per week. A monitoring program has been implemented as well to assess and compare the reefs’ health around Naifaru and other islands.
Location of the Project:  The island of Naifaru, in the Northern Maldives
Project length:  Min 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks (longer placements up to 12 weeks may be requested)
Arrival Airport:  Male Airport (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport)
Volunteer Work:  Sea turtle conservation
Age:  18 - 65
Number of Volunteers:  1 - 8 international volunteers
Important Note:  Visas: Volunteers staying up to 30 days should apply for a tourist visa. Those staying more than 30 days will need a business visa, which requires proof of a completed Bachelors Degree, police clearance, medical clearance and other items. Volunteers must apply at least 8 weeks in advance.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms in a volunteer house
Food:  Three meals daily
Airport Transfers:  Included on arrival and departure dates as well as transportation between Male and Naifaru
Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Support:  Local in-country team and 24 - hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, personal expenses, hotel stay on arrival and departure day (about US$75 per night)
The project is found on the lush island of Naifaru within the Lhaviyani Atoll of the Northern Maldives. As the Maldives' fifth most populous island, Naifaru is a lively, little community and an ideal place to meet friendly new people. There are currently just over 5,000 residents on the island, the majority of whom are Maldivian, and a handful of immigrant workers from various countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. The island is full of intricate streets where one can find stores selling anything from tailoring services to hardware. Naifaru is full of great coffee shops and restaurants to try and there are always Maldivian street musicians and people of all ages playing different card games and talking with friends. So sit down, feel the island breeze and take a minute to appreciate the view from Naifaru where the glorious ocean meets the endless sky.
You will travel to the Island of Naifaru where you will join a dedicated team of marine conservationists where you will care for local turtles and marine species. You will be surrounded by fellow ocean enthusiasts who are dedicated to helping care for these injured turtles.

There are various projects you will be a part of, such as assisting in the care and maintenance of the turtles currently living at the center, monitoring our coral gardening efforts, and developing and executing awareness programs to be presented to the community. If you are volunteering in the calmer months (November to May) you may even be able to help with manta ray research. Depending on the length of your stay, you will also be trained on identifying marine organisms to participate in the snorkeling surveys to assess the reefs’ health around Naifaru and other islands. The longer you stay at the project the more you will experience and learn from an extremely talented and knowledgeable group of marine conservationists.

A typical Day:
  • Heading to the Marine Center to feed the turtles. This is done in separate tanks so that you can observe the turtles’ intake.
  • Conduct weights and measurements, check for any injuries or infections. Measure and weigh the turtles and check them for any injuries or infection.
  • Change the water in their tanks and add new sea grass for them to eat throughout the day.  
  • Around lunchtime, you will assist the marine biologists in creating various educational tools to be used in the local schools, or maybe you will be monitoring our coral garden or learn how to identify marine organisms.
  • In the afternoon, heading back to the Marine Center to give turtles their second feed and sometimes go crab-hunting for the turtles, or help in a beach clean-up.
  • In the evening, you will be able to participate in different activities such as night fishing and BBQs.
Other components of the project include educating the local community about the importance of marine and turtle conservation initiatives, assisting in informative sessions for tourists and helping lead awareness campaigns. 

The daily tasks may vary depending on the duration and time of your stay as well as the number of turtles receiving treatment at the sanctuary. Volunteers should expect to be given Fridays off though turtles still need to be fed. Saturdays are set aside for fun excursions arranged by the project.

Please note that volunteer activities and schedules can change at any time based on the needs of the project. 
Internet:  Available at the accommodation
Laundry:  Available at the accommodation
Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay in rooms with 2-3 (single gender) people in a volunteer house. The rooms are equipped with ceiling fans and the house has electricity, free Wi-Fi, a living room with TV, kitchen, washing facilities and western-style bathrooms. You can upgrade your accommodation to a private room for an additional fee, pending availability.
Food:  Volunteers are provided with 3 meals daily. Breakfast will consist of Maldivian dishes and/or western-style options and is served at a local house. Lunch and dinner are both served at one of the local restaurants where you’ll be given the choice between a number of different dishes such as sandwiches, chips, pizzas, rice and noodle dishes. Your living arrangements will also have a kitchen available for your use.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
  • Ages 18 – 65 
  • Good level of physical fitness and to have some experience swimming
  • Hold an interest in marine life and conservation efforts
  • Positivity, strong work ethic, and open minded
  • Have your own snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, and fins)
The project encourages volunteers to travel on the weekends to nearby islands and organizes boat trips for the volunteers. It is a great time for volunteers to enjoy fishing, night fishing, exploring uninhabited islands, snorkeling, seeing dolphins and manta rays and more – plus it’s all included in the project fee!

Participants should also take advantage of the discounts that the Lhaviyani Atoll resorts provide for their volunteers:
  • 50% off overnight stays
  • 25% off diving
  • 25% off all restaurants and bars
The project team organizes fun trips every Saturday – fishing, trips to uninhabited islands, reef snorkeling and more! 
Volunteer Experiences
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