Learn to Dive in the Caribbean and Play an Active Part in Marine Conservation Volunteer Projects

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Become a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer and join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. Learn to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and play a full and active part in exciting marine conservation projects.

You can volunteer with Caribbean Reef Buddy for 2 to 8 weeks from May to October every year. We have places available for 2017.

Individuals, groups and students conducting research projects are all welcome.

The cost for hotel accommodation, breakfast and evening meals, PADI dive training or diving in lieu, under water research and data collection training and supervision by our resident dive professionals and biologists starts at £1599.

Learning to dive in Carriacou Taking part in underwater monitoring Volunteers monitoring the reefs Lion fish Volunteers receive speciality training in digital underwater photography Volunteers will get the opportunity to see lots of underwater wildlife! The view of Paradise Beach from the volunteer house Volunteers have plenty of free time to relax and explore Volunteers assisting with lionfish containment Volunteers undertake PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water dive courses A beautiful sunset on Paradise Beach Volunteers aboard the boat Taking part in reef surveys Guided tours of the island are available Enjoying some underwater photography View from the boat deck Biologist and dive instructor Kate Sunset over the sea Volunteer lionfish hunters Researching corals

The Project

Become a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer and join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. Learn to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and play a full and active part in our exciting marine conservation projects.

Volunteer Programme

An underwater photo of volunteers divingBy choosing to join Caribbean Reef Buddy you will be undertaking the following:

  • PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water dive courses or free in lieu fun dives.
  • Advanced diving techniques including navigation and buoyancy control.
  • Specialty training in digital underwater photography.
  • Specialty courses in coral and fish identification.
  • Specialty training in Lionfish containment, including hunting, analysis and data collection.
  • Specialty training in internationally recognized reef survey protocols, fish, benthic and coral survey techniques, including Reef Check.
  • Lectures / classes from resident biologists covering a broad range of related subjects.
  • Training in equipment maintenance.
  • Day trip to the setting of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and snorkel with Green and Hawksbill turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park.
  • Snorkel trips to the beautiful Sandy Island and White island.
  • Turtle monitoring with our friends at Ocean Spirits in Grenada (only on combo package).

All of the above courses and training will ensure you are well prepared to join us in our conservation and monitoring projects and help us to protect and preserve the beautiful reefs around Carriacou. All diving equipment, course materials and research / project equipment is provided by us.


Whilst you will be busy, there is always time for snorkel trips out to the stunning Sandy Island as well as fun dives to fully appreciate the amazing biodiversity of the reefs. Also after a hard day ‘in the office’, a beach bbq with a beverage of your choice is a great way to relax!

Eagle rays at Sandy IslandDuration of your stay

The training, knowledge and experience you gain will largely be dependent on the duration of your stay with us. A two-week stay will provide you with dive training up to PADI Advanced Open Water as well as introducing you to some of our monitoring and data collection protocols. Extend your stay to 4 weeks and you will have the opportunity to conduct more research dives, learn advanced monitoring techniques and build your dive portfolio! If you have eight weeks free, why not join us? Build on your previous experiences with us and complete the Emergency First Response Course, Rescue and Divemaster courses, leaving us as a fully qualified professionally rated diver with all the tools to work in diving and marine and coral reef conservation.

A volunteer surveying fishReef Monitoring

The coral reef systems around Carriacou comprise a beautifully special and biodiverse coral reef ecosystem on which the population of this island relies. Though still teeming with life, increasing stress due to over-fishing and invasive species could ultimately threaten their collapse!
Through reef monitoring and data collection, a better picture can be obtained concerning stressors to the reef ecosystem and strategies by which they can be mitigated. We work together with universities and individual researchers around the globe that share our goals to protect this beautiful and productive ecosystem. Caribbean Reef Buddy employ a variety of monitoring techniques ranging from Coral Watch, Reef.Org, Reef Check and AGRRA. Our resident biologists are on hand to provide help, assistance and training.


Lionfish Containment

Caribbean Reef Buddy has received funding by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) which is implemented by UNDP, to run a Lionfish Containment programme and reduce the populations of these invasive fish around Carriacou. Through this programme, we have trained a team of local community members to dive and safely hunt Lionfish during weekly culls. Any catch is sold to local restaurants for sale to hungry customers. We work in conjunction with rangers of the local MPA in order to raise awareness about the invasive Lionfish in the community through school programs, a Lionfish jewellery programme, and quarterly derbies covering all of Carriacou and beyond!

Coral Nursery

The coral reef nursery

Working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and United Nations Environment Porgramme (UNEP) and in collaboration with our partners at Deefer Diving,  Caribbean Reef Buddy have helped established an Elkhorn coral nursery. A new and exciting project, ‘out planting’ of the first crop of coral fragments has started and will continue throughout 2017 thereby providing a degree of protection for the vulnerable coastline on the north of the island.
As a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer, you become part of our extended family and will be involved in the delivery of these projects and more. Working closely with the local community, you will develop your skills both in and out of the water and gain invaluable, ‘real life’ experience of working within the field of marine conservation.

Background

The threat to and associated decline of Caribbean coral reefs has been well documented. Climate change, over-fishing and increased commercial development are all playing their part. By virtue that this is happening underwater, we run the risk of it remaining ‘out of sight and out of mind’.  As history has proven, once it is gone, it is gone forever. With that in mind, Caribbean Reef Buddy is working hard with our partners and friends to help develop an understanding of the threat to this amazing ecosystem, as well as working with government representatives and agencies to help protect and preserve the reefs.

Caribbean Reef Buddy 

Group volunteer photoCaribbean Reef Buddy is a registered NGO located on the island of Carriacou near Grenada in the West Indies.  The team is composed of a group of concerned, ecologically-conscious dive professionals and biologists who, through our frequent presence under the water, have noticed increasing threats to the coral reef systems of Carriacou. We understand the importance of the role that a healthy, resilient marine ecosystem plays in sustaining the livelihoods of the local population, and have taken the initiative to protect the biodiversity and ecological wealth of those that exist here in Carriacou. Partnered with Deefer Diving Carriacou, a PADI 5 Star centre, we are perfectly placed to meet the marine conservation needs of the island.

Our Friends

Our programmes are delivered in conjunction with our friends from Ocean Spirits, who utilise their expertise to train volunteers in turtle monitoring through their summer programmes.

We are also working in conjunction with Canadore College to deliver summer field camps and training in our reef monitoring and Lionfish containment protocols, as well as the University of Guelph to support researchers interested in Carriacou’s reef ecosystem for conservation-oriented data collection.

Throughout our work our aim is to inspire people and lead by example, encourage environmental awareness and individual development. We are proud that people who come to work with us leave as friends.

Chameleon in the trees

Dates and Costs

Volunteers can join for 2, 4 or 8 weeks or even take advantage of a "combo" package with our friends at Ocean Spirits on the neighbouring island of Grenada. Anything from your first steps in diving and coral reef ecology, through to professional Divemaster training and advanced research protocols for those wishing to work in the field, we have something to suit everyone, anything is possible. For further information on these start dates and alternate placement durations please email: Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com

2 week dates in 2017:

28 May – 10 June
2 July – 15 July
30 July – 12 August
27 August – 9 September
1 October – 14 October

4 week dates:

Reef monitoring28 May – 24 June
2 July – 29 July
30 July – 26 August
27 August - 23 September
1 October – 28 October

8 week dates Eco Divemaster Programme:

28 May - 22 July
2 July - 26 August
30 July - 23 September
27 August - 21 October

Thinking of a career in diving and marine conservation? Caribbean Reef Buddy are excited to announce a new programme for 2017. If you are looking for something completely different for the summer, come and join our Eco Divemaster programme: Complete all your dive training up to and including the PADI professional rating of Divemaster as well as developing a detailed understanding of all our coral reef conservation programmes and protocols.  After 8 weeks with us you would leave with all the qualifications and experience required to work in the dive industry and the field of coral reef conservation. For more information contact Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com

The above dates represent the arrival and departure dates to and from Carriacou.  Projects will start the day after arrival. In order to ensure our volunteers receive the best training possible, we limit numbers to 10 per programme and places go quickly, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Volunteers working with leatherback sea turtle research in Grenada

We are also offering combination trips with Ocean Spirits Leatherback Sea Turtle Programme in Grenada

"Combo" week programmes are 5 or 7 weeks on the following dates:

28 May to 10 June (CRB) plus 10 June to 1 July (Ocean Spirits) = 5 weeks
10 June to 1 July (Ocean Spirits) plus 2 to 15 July (CRB) = 5 weeks
10 June to 1 July (Ocean Spirits) plus 2 to 29 July (CRB) = 7 weeks

For further information on "combo" pricing please email: Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com

Volunteer Lionfish hunters

Costs

Costs are dependent on the duration of your stay. The cost of the 2-week package is £1886, the 4-week package is £2995 and the 8-week Eco Divemaster package is £4979 (excluding professional PADI membership fee).  For those who are already Open Water or Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) qualified, we are offering a reduced price which includes 2 extra full days of fun diving at the cost of £1599 for 2 weeks and £2708 for 4 weeks.  Extra night accommodation on Carriacou is available at £26.75 per night- this does not include extra diving and must be booked in advance. 

All above costs include hotel accommodation (based on a shared rooms) with breakfast and evening meals provided. All dive training, or free fun diving in lieu of courses, equipment rental and PADI course fees and PADI manuals are also included as well as project t-shirts and wrist bands. Airfares, transfers to Carriacou, medical/travel insurance and personal expenses are not included. It is compulsory for all volunteers take out travel/medical (including dive) insurance prior to joining the project.

Food, Accommodation, Travel & Free Time

BBQ on the beach

You will be based in a quaint family-run hotel, just 2 minutes walk from the dive centre. Mishka, the owner / manager is a true Caribbean gem, her and her partner Tim, will be on hand to ensure your stay is as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Just a short hop over the road from the hotel and you will find yourself on the beautiful island beaches where you are able to relax, chill and soak up the unique island atmosphere.

You will be provided with breakfast every morning, usually comprising of cereals, toast, eggs, bacon, fresh juices, tea and coffee. When you return from your diving activities you can expect delicious dishes such as home-made lasagne, burgers and traditional meals from the West Indies - such as the famous rotis and Oil Downs! For those volunteers with special dietary requirements, please ensure you include this as part of your application.

Requirements

• No previous experience is required, all training, materials and equipment is provided.
• Minimum age 18+ years.
• A good team player with a positive ‘can do’ attitude, a sense of humour is a must!

Tobago Cays trip with turtlesFree time

Your time with us will be busy and immensely rewarding, particularly if you are only with us for 2 weeks. However, we fully appreciate that this is your trip and your experience, and we want you to get the most from it. Volunteers will be given one day off a week for island exploration and relaxation, and if more time off is needed the programme can always be adjusted to suit. Some potential activities outside of our programmes (additional costs incurred) include:

• Guided tours of the island.
• ‘Castaway’ remote Island trips and island bbq.
• Kite surfing on Union Island with our friends at the JT Pro Centre.
• Visit to ‘Happy island’, an island containing nothing but a bar!
• A nature walk through mangroves and the nature park at High North.


Bobcat diving boat for volunteersTravel to Grenada

If you are travelling from the UK or Europe, direct flights are available with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Alternatively, flights via Barbados, Trinidad and the US are available with BWIA, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines. If you are travelling from the US or Canada, flights are available with American Airlines and Air Canada. Flight prices do vary so please book early to get the best prices!


Travel to Carriacou

Carriacou is a short boat ride from Grenada. There is a daily ferry leaving the Osprey terminal in St. George’s at 08:30am Monday to Saturday and 8:00am on Sunday. Depending on your flight time, there may be a requirement for an overnight stay in Grenada, please factor this in to your travel plans to ensure you arrive in time to start your programme. A member of the team will be waiting to meet you as you step off the ferry in Carriacou. In the event of an overnight stay in Grenada, we offer a discounted rate of $35USD per person per night (room only) at the Sea Breeze Hotel located right on the famous Grande Anse beach.

The beach at sunset

About Carriacou – Isle of Reefs

Carriacou is the sister isle of Grenada. Just 13 square miles in size, Carriacou is surrounded by beautiful beaches of white, golden and volcanic black sands. Coral reefs surround the island, providing a base for our beautiful sandy beaches - Carriacou is perfect for beach walks, snorkelling and sun bathing. The weather is warm and sunny all year round with air temperatures ranging from 23°C (73°F) during winter to 30°C (86°F) maximum in the summer, and sea temperatures never falling below  26°C (77°F). Carriacou represents the authentic Caribbean, you will find no glitzy resorts or tourist traps on the island, just warm and genuinely friendly people who are simply pleased to see you! We are sure you will fall in love with the island, the culture and the people.

Carriacou is also close to the famous Tobago Cays, which provided the setting for the film Pirates of The Caribbean. The Tobago Cays Marine Park is also a turtle sanctuary, where you can swim & snorkel with hawksbill and green turtles. Boat trips and tours can be arranged for you.

Please see below for a video showcasing some of the activities at the project:

Testimonials

Isobel Sherlock from the UK spent 4 weeks volunteering on the project, here's what she had to say: 

Isobel Sherlock after helping with lionfish containment I spent 4 weeks volunteering with Caribbean Reef Buddy during the summer of 2015. It is certainly one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life and I am counting down the days till I go back!

Before arriving in Carriacou I had one very brief Scuba diving experience in a UK aquarium – needless to say a world away from diving in this paradise. So it was fair to say I had no idea what I was doing when it came to diving. But I need never have ever worried that I had no experience whatsoever – the dive shop will provide you with everything you could possibly need (all of which is brilliant quality), the staff endeavour to make you as comfortable as possible; they are patient, enthusiastic and as thorough as ever each time you go diving.

I gained my Open Water, Advanced Open Water PADI certifications along with several other including, Wreck diving, underwater photography and fish identification. I was there to gain these qualifications and contribute to the volunteer programme by collecting data and taking part in lionfish culls but I came away with so much more than that.

The island itself is not only beautiful but safe, extremely welcoming and vibrant. The locals are keen to chat to you and help you in any way possible, you could spend hours enjoying the lengths of white sandy beaches, swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise waters or hiking around the island. The programme attracts like-minded individuals and I met some great people who I am sure I will stay friends with.

The programme itself is well structured and thoughtfully planned. Each day brought something to new to the table, the staff are extremely knowledgeable so we were learning new things each dive. The centre is flexible and will strive to accommodate your every need. In the four weeks there I saw something new everyday – no dive is the same. The dive sites are vivacious and utterly amazing with a range of habitats that sustain a variety of marine life.

I cannot recommend this volunteer programme, the dive shop, the staff or the island enough!


Volunteer with an invasive lionfish

Sabrina Conliffe from Canada participated in the Reef Ecology Programme: 

Participating in the reef ecology program with Caribbean Reef Buddy was the experience of a lifetime! This fast paced program is jam packed with fun and engaging activities. I did not have a lot of diving experience prior to joining the program but the instructors were super friendly and welcoming, which helped me feel comfortable in the water. During the program I was able to attain many dive certifications through PADI such as my advanced open water, Caribbean lionfish containment specialist, and coral & fish ID certifications, to name a few.

Not only did I gain experience as a scuba diver, I also got to participate in conservation projects such as lion fish culling and reef monitoring. Reef Buddy gave me the opportunity to gain experience in hands on field work that I would not have been given anywhere else, and their passion for reef conservation and management is truly inspiring. The best part of about the organization is the emphasis they put on community involvement. Through the program I met a lot of members of the local community who have received training in scuba diving and lionfish hunting with Reef Buddy, an opportunity they may not have otherwise been offered. This shows the dedication that the Reef Buddy team has put forth to ensure that their projects are improving the health of the reefs as well as benefitting the local communities while being sustainable in the long term. I recommend this course to anyone who is interested in hands-on learning about reef conservation in a fun and unique setting!


Laura Bradley from the UK joined both our Ocean Spirits Porject and Carribean Reef Buddy Diving Projects:

Volunteer Laura Bradley

After spending 3 weeks with Ocean Spirits in Grenada I was lucky enough to be able to spend the final weeks of my travels with the Caribbean Reef Buddies in Carriacou.  Although my visit was rather fleeting, I was able to gain my open water PADI qualifcation and was lucky enough to learn with a group of 6 locals who were being trained up to be Coral gardeners as part of CRBs conservation works. Whilst I was staying CRB had 3-5 volunteers who had been there for around 4/5 weeks they seemed to have really enjoyed it, amassing around 40-50 dives during their stay, diving 5/6 days a week and always enjoying Sundays off to explore the Island or relax on the beach.

The days would involve getting to the dive shop around 9 o'clock and then having a couple of dives before lunch, and maybe one afterwards, which meant getting back to the guest house around 4 o'clock, time enough for a bit of a relax, a shower or a drink or two at the local bar. The accommodation was shared rooms (with the other volunteers) with ensuite bathrooms in a guest house located right on Paradise Beach which was a picture postcard location. The facilities were fine, clean, tidy and the manager was very helpful and accommodating of any requests. Breakfasts and evening meals were included and cooked by the guesthouse and were really tasty, on the chefs/managers night off we had a group meal provided for us at the local bar 'Off the Hook'. The guesthouse also arranged for a bus to pick us up everyday so that we made to the dive shop safely and (usually) on time!

All of the staff at the dive shop and CRB were lovely and friendly and the conservation and community work CRB is undertaking is really interesting and very valuable to the local ecosystems.  I would highly recommend the project to anyone interested in any aspect of marine conservation.


Volunteer Taylor divingTaylor Dupont, a student from Canada, joined the project in July: 

As a student entering my first year of university I had the urge to do something exciting for the summer. I was a part of the Caribbean Reef Buddy Ecologist program for the month of July and it was the best experience I've had! The team there is amazing, their hard work and passion for the ocean is inspiring. They always made sure we were comfortable and enjoying ourselves. We went diving about twice a day and always saw something new at every beautiful dive site... each day was an adventure. We were able to complete our Advanced Open Water qualification as well as 6 other certifications. From this trip I've made so many great memories and friends, Caribbean Reef Buddy has sparked my love for diving THANK YOU!
 

 

 


Volunteer Ryan Horricks

Ryan Horricks, a Ph.D. Candidate from Canada talks about his time with Carribean Reef Buddy: 

I have worked with Caribbean Reef Buddy since their inception. I have drawn heavily on their diving resources and extensive knowledge of the local marine environment when establishing underwater research sites in the near-shore waters of Carriacou. Their professionalism and commitment to marine health and conservation were the primary reasons that I chose to work with them these past few years although I have developed several more since. They have always been extremely amenable to the almost unavoidable short-notice timetable changes associated with field research and have been very accommodating with respect to the particularities of our dive program’s safety requirements.

Carriacou provided us with an excellent opportunity to assess coral reef health at sites within and outside the boundaries of a newly established marine protected area. Carriacou is isolated from the heavy tourist traffic that larger or more popular destination islands suffer which has lead to a marine environment in relatively good condition. The combination of the charm of Carriacou with the professionalism of Caribbean Reef Buddy has strongly influenced our decision to work with them again in the years to come.

Paradise beach where the volunteers live in Carriacou

How to Apply

If you are interested to join one of the Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer programmes, you need to fill out the online application form. To secure your place, please submit the form complete with an application payment of £180 GB pounds.  If for some reason, your application is not accepted, your payment will be reimbursed in full. For those accepted, full payment must be made 2 months prior to departure. Once you have been accepted on the programme, we will send you a confirmation email including a short welcome pack full of information and facts to ensure you are fully prepared for your visit.

Apply Now

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