Maldives – Marine and Turtle Conservation

Join marine conservationists in their efforts to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles, as well as enjoy spending time in one of the most idyllic places in the world.

Program Highlights: 

  • A Top 10 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2022 & 2023
  • Get hands-on experience rescuing, treating and rehabilitating sea turtles
  • Learn from and work with experienced marine biologists and on-site veterinarian
  • Engage with the local community and raise awareness about turtle conservation, waste management and protecting our oceans
  • Ethical wildlife interactions and volunteer tasks
  • Explore uninhabited islands and go on snorkeling trips during weekly excursions
  • Experience life on a tropical island, surrounded by crystal waters and friendly community members


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment): 

Arrival day, Wednesday: You will arrive at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE) and transfer via domestic flight to Madivaru airport, which is 5 minutes from Naifaru island by boat. Naifaru will be your home for the duration of the project. If you arrive in the afternoon, you will receive a welcome presentation and introduction to the marine centre on the same day, as well as a small tour of the island.

Day 1, Thursday: You will join the team for breakfast followed by your first morning at the centre. This morning shift includes doing food prep and sea grass collection for the turtles, feeding the turtles, cleaning and pampering the turtles, cleaning the tanks, and interacting with resort guests who come for a tour of the Center. After this shift ends, it is usually already around lunch time. Following lunch, you can go for a snorkel or join one of the other activities before watching the sunset and heading to dinner.

Day 2, Friday: Fridays usually start earlier around 8 am for a beach clean-up. Following the clean-up, you will have breakfast before the morning shift with the turtles. After lunch, you either have some free time or can join an afternoon activity that can comprise of snorkelling, beach surveys, fish surveys, turtle rehabilitation swims, movie or documentary viewings, or interesting presentations from our marine biologists or vet. After dinner, the group might want to head to one of the local cafes to have a fresh juice and play some cards.

Day 3, Saturday: Usually is an excursion day! Volunteers begin the day by having breakfast together. Depending on the group and the weather, we will either leave after breakfast or after lunch to hop on the boat and go snorkelling, visit uninhabited islands, go for dolphin watching, or do some night fishing.

Day 4-8, Sunday-Thursday: The rest of the days follow a similar schedule with the morning shift occurring after breakfast (at 8:30), followed by free time or an afternoon activity between lunch and dinner.

Remaining weeks: The remaining weeks will follow the above schedule of working and having Saturdays typically reserved for group excursions. Volunteers departing will head back to Male on a Wednesday morning via a domestic flight.



Location icon Location of the Project: Naifaru, Lhaviyani Atoll, Maldives

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Sea turtle conservation

Age Age:  18+

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: 1 – 10 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Students enrolled in a veterinary university may apply for the Sea Turtle Vet Program


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: shared rooms in a volunteer house

Food Food: Three meals daily

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Domestic return flights between Male and Naifaru are included in the program fee from Oct 1st, 2022. We will provide further instructions and help organize this following your application.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, hotel in Male for late arrivals (approx. $70 USD – cash payment only), cost of transfers between airport and hotel (if needed).

The project is on the locally inhabited island of Naifaru, which sits within the Lhaviyani Atoll in the north of the Maldives. As the fifth most populous island in the Maldives, Naifaru boasts a lively community and offers a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. Most of the approximately 6000 inhabitants are Maldivian, however Naifaru is also home to several immigrant workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The island has many intricate streets lined with shops selling everything from ice creams to tailoring services, and there are several restaurants serving both local and western delicacies. Take the time to immerse yourself in the vibrant, friendly community and kick back and relax on the island’s beautiful beaches.



In the Maldives, we are lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of tropical marine life, including five species of sea turtle. Unfortunately, because of threats such as habitat loss, poaching, the illegal pet trade, and injury from ghost net entanglement, most sea turtle species are now endangered.

As part of a local NGO, the Marine Centre works to combat this by rescuing, rehabilitating and ultimately releasing sea turtles back into the wild where they belong (predominantly the green sea turtle and olive ridley sea turtle). Some of the turtles we receive are non-releasable, but function as a good example to raise awareness about the effects of human activities on our marine life. Most of the green turtle hatchlings we receive arrive at the center after being kept illegally as pets, whereas the team rescues most of the olive ridleys after being caught in discarded fishing gear.

As a volunteer, you will be an integral part of our team, working alongside our Marine Biologists to gain practical turtle husbandry skills from cleaning and feeding, to assisting with administrating medical treatment. There is an on-site veterinarian that volunteers work with on most days at the marine center (as well as the marine biologist). Additionally, you will play an important part in raising awareness about marine conservation issues in the Maldives and creating awareness on our island.

This program is perfect for budding conservationists who want to gain practical skills and field experience, or for volunteers who simply love sea turtles and want to interact with them sustainably.


Volunteer Activities 


  • Prepare food for the turtles
  • Collect sea grass in the ocean
  • Feed the turtles
  • Clean out the tanks
  • Turtle scrubbing
  • Guide resort guests

Afternoon Activities:

  • Take one of our resident turtles for a swim in the ocean
  • Snorkelling around the jetty or off the beach near the marine centre
  • Fish surveys
  • Beach clean ups
  • Beach surveys
  • Watching sunset at the beach or at a nearby café
  • Watching a documentary or playing cards/games
  • Enjoy some free time


  • Card games
  • Catch crabs to feed to the turtles
  • Film night
  • Downtime

Daily tasks may vary depending on the time and duration of your stay, and the number of turtles at the marine center. Saturdays are days off and set aside for fun morning or afternoon excursions arranged by the project staff.



Vet student placement

This program also offers veterinary student placement with more in-depth tasks. Veterinary students may apply of all university years but should still be enrolled in university. Surgical experience is beneficial, but not mandatory. We can provide further information during your application interview.

Community outreach 

Even though it may have bright turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Naifaru Island is not a resort. Local island life is very different and reflects the huge wealth disparity in the Maldives. In Naifaru, many issues have arisen because of this disparity. For example, living conditions can be basic and the island’s waste management is very poor. As a result, there is a large amount of litter on the island, as well as incomplete construction projects where money has run out.

The local NGO’s work stems far beyond our marine conservation efforts. As a volunteer, you may also work with the community in many areas to educate, support and campaign for a better Naifaru. Whether it’s improving sports facilities, hosting beach clean ups or protecting the marine environment. This work contributes to a happier and more thriving Naifaru!


Please note: Volunteer activities can change based on the needs of the project. The Marine Conservation Program is available for 2-week durations but we strongly recommend at least 3 weeks to get the full experience. Weather also plays a role in what you will do and bad weather may prevent you from going in the water for several days.


Internet icon Internet: Wi-Fi is available at the accommodation, however it’s not always strong enough for streaming our video calls. We recommend downloading some movies or series to watch when the wifi is struggling.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry facilities are available at the accommodation.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers stay with up to three people to a room, each room includes an en-suite with a wet room. The volunteer house only has cold water. The volunteer house includes a communal space and a kitchen with fridge/freezer, kettle, and washing machine, but no other appliances. The Program also has private room upgrades in a nearby Guest house – $45 one-person private room upgrade, $55 for two people sharing one room. The guesthouse is situated closer to the centre and restaurant where we eat our meals. The guesthouse is also closer to the beach; however, the island is very small and the volunteer house is only approximately a 10 minute walk away. The guesthouse boasts hot water and faster, more reliable wifi. Each room includes a fridge, TV, and laundry services.

Food icon Food: We provide volunteers with three meals daily. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at a local restaurant. Vegetarian/Vegan options are available. Please inform us of any specific dietary requirements in advance and the local team will cater for these.


Volunteers staying less than 29 days in the Maldives will just need a tourist visa. Volunteers staying longer than 29 days will need to apply for a business visa.

Business Visa Requirements

All applications to volunteer longer than 29 days in the Maldives need 4 weeks in advanced notice to apply for the visa. We will cover the cost of the business visa application by the programme fees. However, any additional costs required to get the documents listed below are not included.

  • Completed Bachelor’s degree (scanned copy of your degree certificate)
  • Police check (less than 12 months old with no convictions)
  • Medical (forms provided)
  • Colour scan of your passport (minimum 300dpi)
  • IM30 (forms provided)
  • Covid Vaccination card or certificate (copy)
  • Passport sized photo with white background (minimum 300dpi)

Please note that we will provide you with further information and help after your application to and acceptance on the program. 


Volunteer program minimum requirements:

  • Age 18+
  • Good level of physical fitness, confident swimmers and comfortable snorkeling
  • Possess an interest in marine life and marine conservation
  • Positive, open-minded, with a strong work ethic
  • Snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins)

The project staff organizes weekly excursions for all volunteers (included in the project fee). Activities range from exploring uninhabited islands and specific snorkeling trips to dolphin watching, fishing, and searching for manta rays.

Volunteer Experiences

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