Marine Conservation - Volunteer Reviews

THAILAND

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Marine Conservation project

Rachel - 2017

“Volunteering was one of the best experiences of my life. The team were very sportive and always managed to make even the boring tasks such as data entry fun! Conservation diving is so much more rewarding than the usual fun dives you can do as a tourist, you learn not only about the reef ecosystem but also how to respect it while diving and snorkelling (its surprising how many people don't!) and how to protect it from the everyday things we do on land that are causing huge problems for the oceans. I made so many friends and hopefully future colleges during my time at this project, it was invaluable to my future studies, career and helped me to develop as a person and a scientist in ways I had not even thought about before joining the course. My only complaint was that I hadn't chosen to do the internship and so didn't stay as long as I wished I could.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing how the artificial reef structures we were working on develop and grow during my time and also seeing the improvement in my own learning about identification of various species of marine organisms.

What did you find most challenging?
Leaving.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Go. And remember to be open to all the new experiences and opportunities Koh Tao and the team will offer you.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I had used it before and wanted to be sure that the project I was going to would be legitimate.”

Kim F - 2017

“Great project and very educational. This project is making such a difference in Thailand and around Asia, it was wonderful to see. Beautiful diving and enthusiastic staff, I had a great time and learned so much!

What did you find most rewarding?
Learning about conservation and seeing the difference this project has made to Koh Tao

What did you find most challenging?
The hot and humid weather!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Very good placement if you want to learn about marine ecology and conservation.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Very well organised, supportive and easy to contact. Always have very fast and helpful responses.”

Kim H - 2017

“Volunteering at marine conservation means to rise your awareness towards our second world, the beautiful world underwater. You will become aware of the massive pollution and destruction we humans cause to our oceans and the importance to change such a behavior. You will gain a lot of valuable experiences, which will last for your whole lifetime!

What did you find most rewarding?
All the knowledge about marine life

What did you find most challenging?
Adapt to a complete different culture

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Prepare yourself, especially for diving. Try it at home before to be sure you will feel comfortable with it!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The homepage seems very reliable, it is organized and all in all very appealing.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes, thank you for your amazing support! ”

Aaron - 2017

“The whole experience was amazing and has made diving much more enjoyable as I know so much more about what I am looking at while diving.

Just go do this project in one of the best diving location in the world! The people working on the project are passionate and it is hard to not feel motivated to affect change that they are working against. The program surprised me with its size and future planning. They have creative artificial reefs that I wont give away. You need to swim upon them and experience it. They are doing their best to affect change and the challenges that come with work in other cultures and governments. Their outreach to the local youth I believe will pay off. Mosquito's were pretty bad to plan for those as they bite through tshirts. Disinfect every cut you get is the recommendation from locals. I saw plenty of infected wounds (cuts, rashes and punctures). Accommodations were find and expected for Koh Tao, long walk up a hill, no ac or hot water. I got used to it after 2 days.

What did you find most rewarding?
The work I did could help contribute to Koh Tao's reefs which are amazing but impacted and needing our help. It is the people caring about doing this work. Just amazing!

What did you find most challenging?
Nothing you can change. Transportation, taxis were really big ripoff. Im used to it in Phuket but this was worse. The motorbike rentals I avoided as so many people have bandages from wrecks. Walking mummies they call them.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
I feel it is best if your certified OW or AOW first to maximize your time working. Their instructors were very good. I managed to squeeze in a Rescue diver and EFR certification one weekend. Spend weekends fun diving and then snorkel the shark bay to see black tip sharks and turtles.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Searched for a Vetted or IRS code volunteer program for my sabbatical for work. They were perfect it getting me the details needed to complete this.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Kathleen - 2017

Joining the Marine Conservation project was one of the best decisions I ever made. The team is very lovely and it's great to be surrounded by people following their dreams and doing something meaningful. Pod is a great organisation, providing support and all necessary information you need during your whole trip.

What did you find most rewarding?

Doing something meaningful and seeing all the different forms of life during diving.

What did you find most challenging?

Protecting from mosquitos, controlling buoyancy while diving and remembering all the coral types.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Go there for at least 3-4 weeks, otherwise time will be too short and you will be leaving before really getting familiar with the work there.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Pod provided lots of information (much more than any other organisation did, I found), which gives a sense of safety and professionalism.”

Helen - 2016

"I spent a month at the conservation project from middle of February to March. A big thank you to all the team you were amazing ! Each morning there would be lectures and then the team would go out on a dive to do reef restoration, install mooring lines, monitor and document the reef etc. Whilst I was there I got the opportunity to go to conservation head office where they make the artificial reef structures.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being part of a team that has so much passion for the reef and environment. Also you meet so many people from all over the world and a wide range of ages.

What did you find most challenging?
Dev's yoga classes (not done yoga before)!! and trying to remember the names for the different types of coral.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I googled the various volunteering organisations but the Pod website just stood out from the rest. Becky my placement manager was really friendly and helpful with any questions that I had. The volunteering guide that you receive which details everything from fights, vaccinations, what to take with you and what you would be doing there etc. is extremely informative and professional. I will be definitely doing another project with Pod and going back to Koh Tao."

Andrew - 2016

"They are the most knowledgeable and passionate people you could hope to meet; the leaders, the interns, everyone...I loved it all.

The placement is to help them supervise their area. After your test surveys, record actual data. There are so many things that need to be done. You won’t get bored!

The morning lectures were great, followed by the one dive a day. Most days finished about 3 to 4 pm leaving good time to enjoy the sun and the area. Chalok bay is the ultimate Thai retreat area.

If you want loads of diving then this won't be for you. If you want fun diving this is also not the way it goes. You dive you have a purpose you get it done. It is amazing and different but it is not pleasure diving. Drupella snail collecting was a challenge in many ways. 1.5 hours at about 4m with your head almost straight down. Difficult. Challenging but probably the most rewarding dive.

Thank you to everyone in the Marine Conservation team! My time there was too short. I could have stayed longer. To get the most from it you need to do 4 weeks I think.

I'd do it again without question!"

Alexis - 2016

"We loved our experience at the Marine Conservation project. The program was quite organized and the daily schedule was great. We learned a lot in the morning lectures and we were often able to put into practice what we had learned immediately afterwards, on the day's dive. The neighborhood is fantastic; plenty of restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance."

Jill - 2015

"The marine conservation in Koh Tao is such an amazing project to be a part of. The staff are so welcoming and dedicated to protecting our oceans it was pleasure to be a part of it. Koh Tao is such a beautiful island, beautiful place, weather and people.

What did you find most rewarding? Being a part of such an amazing project that does such a fantastic job of helping to sustain the beauty in our oceans.

What did you find most challenging? Remembering the type of coral. Accommodation: air con and wifi would be nice or even some storage in the room."

Luke - 2015

“I joined the project for 3 weeks in September, it was a very rewarding and inspiring experience. Everything about my experience was excellent, from Pod’s service in organising my trip to saying goodbye to my many new friends for life from the project. The staff at the project are passionate and hardworking and make you feel welcome right from the start. I will be going back to visit them! Thank you Pod and the Marine Conservation team!

The most rewarding thing for me was to see the marine animals using the artificial reefs we were creating and knowing that what you're doing will benefit the reef and the island. Also taking part in the new Ko Tao freshwater plant project and knowing the good impact it will have on the island was very rewarding.

What did you find most challenging? Learning the names of the corals in the taxonomy lecture! It was still very interesting though. I had a minor scooter accident which left me unable to dive for a week… Do NOT drive the scooters in Ko Tao!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Pod Volunteer is very friendly and helpful!”

George - 2015

“The conservation project is run by people truly dedicated to preserving the marine environment and engaging the local community to further understanding of the benefits of preserving their natural resources. I felt welcome from day one and their knowledge and passion is inspiring. The work was varied but always rewarding, and always rooted in conservation. It was an experience that few courses could rival. I will be going back!”

Lewis - 2015

"Even though I spent only 1 week on the project (+1 week on SSI courses), I learned so much about marine conservation in such a short period of time. People in the project are very helpful and friendly and they explain complicated things in an easy and understandable way. Koh Tao is also a very beautiful place to visit and dive. I had a great time in Koh Tao and I would recommend marine conservation to everyone!

Everything was amazing!! (Apart from the fact that there were a lot of mosquitoes and ants)

What was a typical day at the Marine Conservation project? Having breakfast in a restaurant next to the dive school at 8:30am. Arrive at dive school at around 9:30-10:00am to get dive equipment. Lectures at around 10:00-11:30am focusing on things that you will do on the day. Leave on boats for diving! Time of return ranges from 2:30 - 4:30pm depending on the tasks and how far away we are going. Optional yoga lesson at 5:00pm (1hr 30mins) Excellent for relaxing!

What did you find most rewarding? Learning all the stuff about corals and fish in lectures

What did you find most challenging? Buoyancy!! Almost every task revolves around buoyancy in diving e.g. taking pictures/videos, swimming around, standing still. I wasn't very bad at buoyancy + space awareness so I sometimes accidentally kicked the corals (and sometimes people)

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? The project would be perfect if I had brought an electric mosquito racket!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take an electric mosquito racket to clear any flying creatures in your room (insect propellant for outdoor) Apart from that, there is nothing to worry about. The people there will look after you if you are not very good at some tasks.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Amazing project and people

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? The website looks good and organised. Becky was very helpful.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes"

Duncan - 2015

"Excellent service from Pod before departure. It was really useful to be able to speak to someone who had already been there - they could give you an idea of what to expect. Really enjoyed the educational side of the placement - I learnt more about marine life in those 4 weeks than I had in 7 years of recreational diving.

What did you find most rewarding? The educational side and the general friendliness of all of the team on the project.

What did you find most challenging? As I am in my 50s, the most challenging aspect was the lectures - it took me back to my school/university days. Although I did finally manage to remember the latin names for several types of coral!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? Not really. Sometimes things were a bit rushed and plans changed at the last minute, but this was due to the ever changing weather, which obviously, can not be predicted!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would recommend always wearing diving boots when walking in the shallow water, as any cuts quickly become infected due to high levels of bacteria in the very warm sea. I stood on a piece of broken coral while pushing the long-tail boat that had been grounded due to the tide going out. Although the small cut didn't bleed, it became infected within 24hrs and my lower leg swelled up, making walking difficult. However, a trip to the clinic and a 30 minute drip of antibiotics, followed by a course of tablets, sorted out the infection within 12hrs. The cost was covered by my Banner Travel Insurance (recommended by Pod) and had no excess, which was a pleasant surprise!"

Matthew - 2015

"I had a fantastic time volunteering at the reef conservation project - Thailand is a beautiful place with people who are so friendly and welcoming. I've learnt a lot about marine conservation, made a real contribution to the restoration work and met a really nice group of people. They are passionate about the work but there is still a relaxed atmosphere around the dive school and whilst 'work' comes first we had a lot of fun doing it.

The support from Becky at POD to organise the trip was excellent - a endless fountain of knowledge for all of my questions. Would definitely go back given the opportunity.

Don't worry if you haven't been diving much (or at all) before. The instructors at the school are great - you'll be in very safe hands."

Laura - 2015

“I have always been a keen diver and had an interest in marine conservation. This placement has changed the way I dive, I am so much more aware of what is happening to the reefs and have a much better knowledge now of underwater life that a hobby that I have always loved has become even better. The learning obtained through the daily lectures as well as the underwater conservation work has inspired me to think of other ways to help protect our marine life. The sad fact is that so many of the problems boil down to over fishing and climate change that a bigger push from more people is required to help slow what is happening. The Marine Conservation team is passionate about making a difference and they have been inspirational to me and to all of the volunteers who have had the fortune to work with them."

Kellie - 2015

"The placement was everything I hoped for and more. It was a great project and place made complete by the caring, knowledgeable and passionate team at the Marine Conservation project.

The experience at the Marine Conservation project is brilliant. It taught me so much about marine life, ecology, surveying methods and conservation methods. I was involved in many different projects including: - Caring for baby turtles they are rearing in a nursery - Creating new mooring buoys in popular dive spots to prevent damage caused by anchors - Creating coral nurseries - Attaching corals to artificial reef structures - Data collection on areas providing vital information on the health of the reef - Rubbish collection - Monitoring and maintenance of giant clam nurseries - Painting signs to make others more reef aware

The daily lectures we received were engaging and informative. We got a lot done on every dive, but with any spare air you were taken to see other reef areas. It was the perfect balance to between work and play, but what made the experience for me were the passionate, patient, helpful and intelligent team which work or are interns on the project. I wish there were more people this driven to make a difference to restore the reefs and protect the life they support!

I was very impressed with Becky at Pod, the time and effort she put into making sure all the information is given to her clients is exceptional.

What did you find most rewarding? The amount I learnt both in lectures and practically whilst diving

What did you find most challenging? Dev's Yoga!"

Anna - 2015

"It's was great experience and a lot of knowledge about coral reefs - I have a completely different feeling about the underwater world after all the studies. The team and project owner made me feel like at home, friendly helpful, with a lot of support in every way. Accommodation was great.

What did you find most rewarding? Nice to get to know about coral reef ecosystems and the part of it in global ecology.

What did you find most challenging? Remembering names for corals!"

Lok Chee - 2014

“I would give this project 5As:- - A meaningful project, on - A beautiful island with really nice people - A place you will re-visit after first visit (more than 80% of people I met are at their return visit or recommended by friends visited before) - A project you can learn everyday regardless how long you have been with the team - A choice for any age group to join

What was a typical day at the Marine Conservation volunteering project? Go to Dive shop for pack up/briefing/lesson at around 9.30. Ready for dive at around 11-12. Dive finish at around 3-4, then help with washing up gears. Afterwards it’s our free time, can do yoga, walk around island, and snorkeling (which is really nice)!

What did you find most rewarding? Knowing more about marine life, what coral reef are so important, as well as different people from different part of the world, joining together to do this meaningful task. Not to forget the improvement in our diving skill. Everything is rewarding!

What did you find most challenging? Buoyancy to enable you to work, which is a really good way to improve our diving skill.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't worry about getting bored. You won't regardless how long you planned to stay with them.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad keeps you hungry as you would want to know and excel more every day. Afterwards, volunteering actually enlightening our own self.”

Daisy - 2014

"I would definitely recommend Pod to anyone who wants an experience of a lifetime! Right from the beginning Pod has been very informative and organised, to make my arrival hassle-free. My time spent at the Marine Conservation project has really inspired me to save the corals! Working everyday with such an enthusiastic, hard-working team, who really do make a difference; it's hard not to go away without a new found love for the ocean. And you realise just how important it is to preserve.

What did you find most rewarding? The passion the staff had about various aspects of the marine world, from corals to nudibranchs. And how their enthusiasm rubs off onto every volunteer. They've really inspired me to become a marine biologist and protect the ocean!

What did you find most challenging? Climbing onto the boats!"

Betty - 2014

“I had never done volunteering before, but these 5 weeks in Thailand were an amazing experience for me! There, everyone is relaxed and happy to start the day, the bay is beautiful and I was scuba diving everyday.... what else? It's really nice to discover the oceans by another way than fun dives and feel useful underwater. If you like to scuba dive (or would like to begin) and if you want to learn more about the oceans: go there! You will have a great time and come back full of good memories.

What was a typical day at the volunteer project? We start the day at the dive school with a lecture about what we will do during the afternoon. We have a break to take a quick lunch, then we go to the boat and scuba dive. Afterwards we come back to the dive school, wash our equipment and have a debriefing.

What did you find most rewarding? I really liked to do the conservation work underwater because I had this feeling to be useful to something.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering will enrich yourself, increase your self-confidence and make you grow.

Why did you choose Pod? Because Pod is well-organized and accompany you from the beginning to end of your placement.”

Lucrezia - 2014

"If you love meeting new people, diving and simultaneously do something good ==> go to Koh Tao. I had a fantastic time there and regret, that I could not stay longer.

It was a fantastic experience and I loved it there. Met so many great people. Overall a fantastic experience! I felt very well taken care of and am considering to return at some point. Thank you very very much!  Only downside was that due to the Koh Tao Festival (mid-June) we did not dive for 3 days.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Beautiful location with amazing people. You can easily combine it with travel plans in Asia. I personally would have loved to stay longer and would advise to go for at least 3 weeks."

Michelle - 2014

"I'm 45 year old woman who wasn't SCUBA certified when I arrived, traveling solo for the first time. This trip was a BIG deal. Slightly intimidating. I had the time of my life! Even though I moonlight as a lifeguard and love all things water, I work in IT for my day job. This was indeed very different.

The folks at Pod were very attentive in helping me prepare. Tom at GYT (Pod recommended agency) was super helpful in dealing with my travel, itinerary changes, and assistance after my project ended.

The folks at the project itself got me schooled, skilled and confident in SCUBA. I loved spending each day under the water seeing and caring for amazing coral, brilliant fish, and boring clams that were absolutely gorgeous in their variety of colors, iridescence and size. It was a feast for the sensory system with the sights, the lack of NOISE underwater, and escaping the blazing heat of the day and swimming through thermoclines that really get you to "chill out". I was older than most participants there, but everyone was welcoming and I've made some great friends.

Some days the work was very physically tiring, and that was wonderful! If you're looking for a sense of accomplishment, and team camaraderie, that will provide it! We'd finish typically between 3 - 5 p.m. I loved it when the "Samosa Man" would be waiting at the dive shop for us to return. After cleaning the equipment and putting it away, the night was ours to do what we liked. I loved Chalok Harbor, where our dive school was located. There are a lot of great harbor-side restaurants. The food is fantastic. The view can't be beat, and sometimes, there's entertainment.

What did you find most rewarding? Oddly enough, underwater clean-up. Low stress (I wasn't getting bad data!), yet highly productive (sadly). In particular, I remember cutting a plastic bag from a large coral it was suffocating. It had already caused some damage, but I could see where what I removed would save a big portion of the coral. Another time, I brought in big pieces of net that could have drowned turtles, and plenty of other discarded plastics.

What did you find most challenging? Not being a "science person," finding or correctly identifying the species along the transect line when taking surveys. For instance, I was incredibly proud of myself when I found about 5 Drupella snails on one dive. The guy doing his thesis on them came along after me. Comparing notes afterward, he said he found x hundred per square meter… They hide very well from beginners! Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? Faster wifi at the the hotel. I did hear, too, though, that you could buy into island wifi, but I learned about that too late in my stay.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be comfortable under water. You don't need to know how to SCUBA but be comfortable under water. Also be the type of person to listen to instructors and willing to follow safety rules.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? You may be making a difference in the world, but you'll be enriched forever.

Why did you choose Pod? Easily researched on the web, and verified!"

Maurizio - 2014

"I have already irritated my colleagues, friends and family with endless stories about my stay on Koh Tao, so I’m quite pleased to have another venue to gush! For me, working with the marine conservation team was easily one of the most special and rewarding experiences that I’ve had in recent memory. You are placed on a vibrant and beautiful island to volunteer alongside smart, dedicated people who are eager to learn about the island’s truly amazing marine ecosystems and to contribute to the ongoing projects aimed at research, maintenance and protection of the reefs. The program leader and the select few staff members are some of the most inspiring people I have had the pleasure to know. Each project that you work on seems to find a balance between fun and challenging, producing tangible results for which you can’t help but feel proud of. I found myself falling in love with the island, the ocean, and the people that I worked with.

One night the team went out to dinner to this amazing little family-run restaurant. I had the most delicious red curry that I have ever tasted in my entire life. It also happened to be the spiciest red curry that I have ever tasted in my entire life. Seriously, it was like eating lava. The next day my stomach was… in distress, let’s say. But when the team decided to go back to same restaurant the next day, I couldn’t say no. And I guess I must be a masochist because I ordered the same delicious red curry, and suffered just as badly. But this time I woke up to my stomach in serious pain, and I had to spend the day in the clinic to be properly hydrated and medicated, and the following two days recovering. But other than my self-inflicted gastroenteritis, no problems whatsoever!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I have three pieces of advice: First: Be careful! Koh Tao is addictive. The number of people that I met who were returning visitors to the island – or who had never left – was truly staggering. Second: Try to book for a significant chunk of time. The longer that you are with the team, the more you will have learned about and gained experience with the projects, and the more effective and efficient you will be under the water. And third: do it. You won’t regret it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? There are many invaluable aspects of travel, but it is often a transient endeavour that doesn’t involve much reciprocation to the people or places that you visit. Volunteering abroad allows you to reap the benefits of travelling while becoming more intimately familiar with a new culture and locale, and to properly give back to those who are hosting you."

Kaitlyn - 2014

"I have been travelling and volunteering for a few years now... but I must say that this particular experience stood out from all the rest. From Pod's end, they provided all the support and information I needed, without making me feel restricted. The dive-school that I volunteered at was full of welcoming and like-minded people, I feel like I made some friends that will last a lifetime. I cannot thank you guys enough for such a great experience!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Read up a little on coral reefs before you go, especially if you have no background in biology/ecology."

Scott - 2013

“I had a great time on the marine conservation project. I was apprehensive at first as I was travelling alone and at 43 it's the first time I've done something like this. The team at the dive school were great and taught me to advanced level before I undertook the conservation role. I was part of a small team (it was end of season), who were all very friendly and fun. Together we took part in some amazing tasks from drupella/crown of thorns collection (predators that feed off coral), to laying of concrete blocks for the attachment of mooring bouys. I was lucky to arrive when I did as we were working in conjunction with the Save Koh Tao marine project, Chevron and the Thai local government which meant the arrival of a huge barge with 120 artificial reef blocks and mooring blocks. I will almost certainly return there as it was something very worthwhile and different to my normal life”

Hui Lynn - 2013

"One of the best two weeks I've had. The project and work carried out is of a very high standard and extremely satisfying as I felt I was truly helping the marine life. The people there are ever friendly and instantly welcome you into the community. You immediately get sucked into this blissful island bubble that makes it so difficult to leave.

Hui Ann - 2013

"The two weeks I spent doing Marine Conservation at Koh Tao has been an amazing experience, and definitely one to remember. During our stint there, we got involved in the conservation project, learnt about marine species, the current state of the environment and the efforts being made, met like-minded divers with a passion for what they do, and enjoyed the beautiful dive sites around Koh Tao. The people we met were definitely a huge part of what made the experience so enjoyable. We met people from all over the world and different backgrounds, each with their own story to tell. Despite only being there for two weeks, they were really nice and warm. We made fast friends there. Conservation diving is very different from fun diving! We were expected to be more independent and each dive was done with an objective in mind. We got to get our hands dirty on many fun tasks like gluing and stitching on coral onto artificial reefs, work on giant clam nurseries, underwater clean-ups and crown-of-thorns collection and marine surveys. I found it very rewarding to know that my team completed a task well, and that we made a positive difference in the environment.

What did you find most rewarding? Diving with a purpose, and knowing that you have achieved your objectives after the dive. It feels particularly meaningful to have contributed towards the overall big picture of marine conservation in Koh Tao.

What did you find most challenging? Diving everyday takes a physical toll on your body! We came back at the end of each day feeling tired but accomplished."

Kristopher - 2013

"Working with Pod and the team at the Marine Conservation Project was an extremely rewarding experience. With this project, there is ample opportunity to learn about reef, artificial reef management, research protocols as well as collecting a variety of data.

It was also awesome having the chance to vary how heavily you worked. If you needed to take things in and observe, this wasn't an issue. If you wanted to jump in, also not an issue. I'd definitely recommend this project!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? It's important to know that you need to be a self-starter in some ways. There is the option to disengage, so if you want the most out of it, you'll need to make sure you get up and go."

Kevin - 2012

“This is a fantastic opportunity to learn to scuba dive and then to use your scuba diving skills to take part in a diverse range of activities to help preserve marine life. The staff at the dive school were all very friendly and made us feel welcome and Chad, the project leader, tried to ensure that each day was different. A thoroughly enjoyable experience

What did you find most rewarding? Putting into practice the skills we had learnt in our scuba diving course

What did you find most challenging? Learning to scuba dive was more difficult than I thought it would be

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Stay for a minimum of 3 weeks - 2 weeks was not long enough!"

Tom - 2012

“The time I spend on marine conservation program was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. The dive school where the program is run is a fantastic place to be, everyone was friendly and fun to be around which meant I spend a lot of my spare time at the school just enjoying life. The diving was very rewarding and you feel as if you actually contributed something of note to the local diving. If you are thinking of going on this program, stop thinking and just go, it'll be the best decision you've ever made!

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the difference we were making, during my time we made 50 bottle nursery's which we filled with corals and placed between two artificial reefs to join them together. Previously divers got lost trying to find the second site but thanks to our team we made navigating it a lot easier.

What did you find most challenging? Diving every day and living in a humid climate was energy draining and a lot of the time I just wanted to sleep.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a great way to see how other countries deal with conservation and issues that we take for granted back home."

Sarah - 2012

“Arriving on Koh Tao, 'Turtle Island' I knew that I had fallen in love with it. I quickly got into the swing of life at the dive school and everyone quickly became like family.

The days begun with extremely informative lectures from Chad, Dev or Shin, we then jumped into the truck to begin the days diving. Usually one dive lasting over an hour in which we completed various Marine Conservation tasks such as Reef surveys (Ecological Monitoring Program), Biorock Coral Rehabilitation and Nursery, Artificial Reef Construction and Maintenance, Mid-water coral nurseries, Giant Clam Nursery, Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Releases, Land and Underwater Clean-ups, Water Testing, Underwater Mapping, Erosion Control, Awareness Campaigns.

In my 2 weeks (which I ended up extending to 3 weeks!) I managed to complete all tasks apart from erosion control. I left the project as a qualified PADI and SSI EMP diver as well as recognition cards from SSI for all of the tasks I completed such as Bio Rock.

I now use their Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the changes at the sites and especially the turtles which are to be released in the next few months. I hope to return to Koh Tao perhaps even to complete my dissertation out there! I recommend this project for anyone who wants to learn more about Marine Conservation, spend time at the dive school where they will leave you looking at the world in a new perspective!

What did you find most rewarding? Everything I did.

What did you find most challenging? The first few dives!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go with an open mind and a friendly mantra.

Why did you choose Pod? They were friendly and truthful”

Hannu - 2012

"I found these two weeks great fun combined with sense of being useful and doing meaningful work. I also met many nice people with great personalities. I have already recommended Pod to my friends after returning to Finland."

Jonny - 2011

“I decided to go on the marine conservation course on Koh Tao as I have a strong interest in that topic having studied oceanography at university so it seemed to be the best choice. I had never been to Thailand before and this was the first time I’ve been abroad for 10 years which is fair to say I was a bit nervous before I left. Having said that once I arrived and got settled into diving and met people all those worries quickly went away. All of the people that work at the dive school are extremely welcoming and very good at what they do. Having never been scuba diving in my life this was also another concern but once I got in the water I took to it straight away and had a great time doing my open water and advanced with an instructor called Adnan who was fantastic. Upon finishing my dive training which took 5 days I went into the marine conservation work which turned out to be even more interesting and fun to do. I enjoyed diving so much I ended up doing my rescue diver and EFR while I was there and plan on going back to do my dive masters at some point next year. I would certainly advise anyone to go on this course it has something for everyone! Even if you just want to go diving and learn something about the oceans it’s great, I especially found improving my buoyancy so much better once I had been working in the marine conservation for a week or so and air consumption continued to get lower through my time there. The best part I found was that we were not tied down at and the days were not really dominated by the work we got to do so much more after a morning of diving. I even got to go to the half moon party on Koh Phanang which was an unbelievable experience, also many other trips out around the island. It’s truly a fantastic place to go and the people on the island are all so nice I never had any problems or issues of any sort.

What did you find most rewarding? My diving ability and how much it progressed in my time there.

What did you find most challenging? Remembering all the different corals however after 2 surveys this became very easy and the fish surveys turned out to be a more difficult exercise.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? They need more and more help on Koh Tao all the time, things are improving but more awareness needs to be generated especially for the locals and also tourists. Also the knowledge you will learn there is massive; I thought I knew a lot about the reefs and the oceans but that has increased dramatically while I was there.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? I chose Pod because the course looked fantastic and appealed to me. I would certainly recommend it to anymore who loves sun, sea and sand! It’s all round fantastic so much so I will be returning in the not too distant future.” 

Fadia - 2011

“I can advise anyone who loves the sea, wants to help and learn about the marine environment to chose this placement. The people are very nice and Pod’s information prior to departure is very helpful. The information provided is all you need really. By doing marine conservation I have learnt so much and we have done so many different things, therefore I am very thankful I have done marine conservation. Building structures, placing them in the ocean and attaching corals to our creation was also really cool to do. I think the marine conservation program has a lot to offer us. And I think every moment of the year has something special to offer the volunteers."

Ben - 2011

“After the first week of attaining my Advanced diving certificate I was keen as mustard to get into conservation work. My first day of conservation work was taking data down, tallying the different fish along a 50m line. It was tough but by the end you got the hang of it and even if you didn't comparing data at the end of the dive was a good way of getting an idea of the wildlife underwater. We also collected coral and attached it to the electrified Biorock which helped coral growth by changing the water chemical properties. All in all it was a fantastic experience being able to find new ways to help a brand new environment. Learning so much about the wildlife that lives in what seems a whole new world to us beginners.

What is a typical day at the project? Wake up around 8.30 and get some breakfast with other people from Pod, then we would make our way to the dive shop before 9.30. Pack our gear for the days dive and have a chat to the team to check what we're doing and get a general group briefing from them. Then just chilling out and chatting to other divers at the dive shop before getting picked up for the dive. Once getting on to the boat (sometimes after a hike down stairs) we would gear up and go for a dive ranging from 50 to 90 minutes. Getting back on to the boat for a feast of refreshing pineapple and biccies and coffee would last about 10 minutes while waiting for everyone to get on and pack up on the boat. Getting back to the dive shop around 2 or 3 in the afternoon (after geting back up those stairs and the cruisy taxi rode) a bit fatigued, we'd eventually get back for a cool shower at the hotel after another chat at the dive shop. We'd go for a late lunch and chill out a bit more or go for a massage (the same thing really). We'd all end up meeting for dinner at around 8 and slowly make our way to a bar for a couple of drinks.

What did you find most rewarding? Working on the BioRock mainly because you can see the progress of your work in a matter of days. However even a general clean up or the tallying of wildlife felt productive.

What did you find most challenging? Learning how to dive and being able to work under water was the most challenging yet rewarding experience. The Conservation work was laid back but physically draining which meant after even half a days work you were exhausted."

Chris - 2011

“Koh Tao is a really nice place and it was a privilege to help out a little bit to preserve this paradise. The project is serious but relaxed they are the friendliest and helpful people you could wish for. It makes you realise when you get there how much the world needs help.”

What did you find most rewarding? Collecting broken corals off the sea bed where they would die and attaching them by rope or metal wire to the underwater structures.

What did you find most challenging? Buoyancy control whilst doing the substrate EMP and writing on the slate. But with practice this can be overcome.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? The food and water on the island is very cheap. Dont pack too many clothes. There is a water dispenser at the dive shop to fill your water bottles up for free. There is a really nice bakery next to the project which does some tasty food. Depending on tide there are some steep steps down to the beach to get to the dive boat.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? The website was informative, relevant and the price was reasonable. The people running the project were also very impressed with Pod.”

Ben - 2011

"During May I arrived on the beautiful tropical island of Koh Tao, Thailand. On my arrival I was very apprehensive of what to expect, due to scare stories from other travellers about companies giving you the bad end of the deal on conservation projects, where you don't get a great deal of satisfaction from the project and your money goes to the wrong hands etc. Thankfully I can say with Pod, none of this happened, it was absolutely perfect. All travel arrangements made through them were perfect, the accommodation was fantastic for the very low price and mainly the project I undertook at the dive school was the most memorable experience of my life. Being hands on every single day, Monday - Friday, conserving, protecting and educating was an amazing feeling. The dive school out did themselves when it came to hospitality and friendliness. I have not a bad word to say against this project. I strongly recommend it to anybody, no matter what age, sex, and nationality.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get involved with local people, things are a lot more self-appeasing when you get at least one local person to start changing their life to off-set their carbon footprint and aid the eco-system and environment they live in.”

Stephanie - 2011

"I highly recommend the marine conservation program to every nature lover. If you like being in the water and want to improve your dive skills, this project is for you. You will be an active member of the dive school's marine conservation team in Koh Tao and will participate to their daily work (collection of data, implantation of corals at the coral nursery or at the Biorock - an artificial structure that will help them to grow faster, fish identification, etc.). You will become an "eco-diver" and will have a better understanding of what you are supposed to do, or not, when you snorkel or dive. You will also be able to determinate whether the corals are healthy in a specific region and will improve your buoyancy and reduce your air consumption.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding is when you do a fish survey and recognize all the corals you were not able to recognize the day before.

What did you find most challenging? You have a lot to learn the first week because you need to get a global picture of Koh Tao's marine ecosystem issues and the methods used by the dive school. You might not be very efficient the first week but will do a lot better on the second."

Dhaneesh - 2010

“I did the marine conservation programme in Thailand for 2 weeks and had the most amazing time! The team were all really friendly and I got really good training for both my PADI Advanced Open Water Diving Course and for the actual conservation programme. I learned so much and am now so much more aware of the issues concerning the coral reefs and would definitely do it again.

It's so rewarding helping other people and the environment and doing it abroad was a great as you get to experience foreign and exciting new cultures.

Pod were great by providing me all the information I needed and Beth was always available to answer any questions or reservations I might have had.”

Anne - 2010

“I loved my stay at the marine conservation project. We were there for 3 weeks, and felt like we accomplished a lot. We helped the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (I believe they were called) putting reef balls on the bottom and 'planting' coral fragments onto them, which in time should develop into a nice big coral reef. Other than that we did basically the same thing on biorocks (same principle as the reef balls, but different), as well as coral watch (noting coral health on natural reefs), and monitoring invertebrate and fish species, as they can be used to assess the health of the corals. I am a biology student, hoping to work with this kind of thing in the future, so this project was very useful, as you get certifications for the work you do, but even if you're not a marine biologist, this project is still very giving and you can make a real difference even if you have no idea about fish species going into it.”

Mark - 2010

“The experience on the marine conservation project was fantastic, I have learnt so much about the whole marine ecosystem. I was involved in recording data regarding the health of the reef, underwater and beach clean-up and work on the Bio rock project. This was the highlight for me. I would recommend POD to other volunteers. Just go and do it!"

James - 2010

“The Marine Conservation Project in Koh Tao was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the project which was very informative and I learnt so much. The people I worked with were friendly, supportive and enthusiastic. I will defiantly be making a return Trip. If you interested about the marine life and what happened underwater, this placement is brilliant. The people are awesome and everyone is really friendly.

I would recommend Pod as they kept me highly informed and the communication was very good.”

Debbie - 2009

“I had an excellent time, the accommodation was comfortable and well located near the dive school. The Ecological Marine Project that I participated in was taught professionally by Chad. The whole experience has lead me to carry on volunteering with reef check Australia and I am even moving to cairns so I can fit it round my job! I also cant wait to go back and help out Dev and Chad again in the future. My diving also improved greatly.

The team made a point of introducing themselves and the environment was so relaxing and friendly. After a few days you felt like you had been there for a long time.

The training I received during my time volunteering now enables me to collect data such as identification of 'indicator' species, different corals and their classification and diseases as well as various measuring and survey techniques on coral reefs. I am now able to practice this volunteering on the 'Great Barrier Reef'.”

James – 2009

“I'd highly recommend this placement for any diver (current or prospective), or any student of biological sciences and ecology. I learnt a lot, had a really good time, and I hope that I contributed to the conservation effort.”

Gina – 2008

“After travelling to Thailand for the first time, I was very amazed at how welcoming everyone in Koh Tao was. At the dive school, the location from where the marine conservation project is carried out, it felt like being adopted into their 'family' right from day one. This all made me feel very much like at home. From the activities that were involved in the project I learned so much, that it has made me become more confident and experienced as a scientist as well as a diver. Having never done any diving prior to my arriving in Thailand, I decided to extend my stay in Koh Tao as learn more in depth-diving and to continue helping further with the marine conservation project as well as all other activities organized by the dive school throughout the week.

Out of the three parts of marine conservation program: maintaining the biorock (artificial coral reef), mid-water nursery, data collection of the reefs and other activities such as the beach clean ups (on land as well as under water), I was most impressed by laying hands on maintaining the BioRock, an artificial reef. Everything was carried out underwater, so that we could put to practise our diving  experience......Fantastic combination of diving and its practical usage in marine conservation, something I can most certainly apply in my future life and that can help in the practical application side of my studies....

I would like to thank everyone esp. Pod and the people in Thailand who made this unique, instructive and very joyful opportunity possible and I would like to recommend it to anyone from all ages to all types of backgrounds. Thanks.”

Find out more about the Marine Conservation project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal