Explore The Depths
Diving in
South Africa

Collect vital research data to help protect the reefs

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  • Duration
    2-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
  • First Friday Of Every Month Jan-Nov
  • From
  • Duration
    2-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
  • First Friday Of Every Month Jan-Nov
  • From

South Africa Diving Experience & Conservation

Join a volunteer programme like no other, that combines volunteering, diving and sightseeing all in one package. This is your chance to scuba dive on some of the most incredible reefs in the world, make a difference through conservation, experience a unique and rustic town, live a laid-back beach lifestyle and go on weekly adventures!

You’ll dive once or twice a day, five days a week to collect photographic data on sea slugs called nudibranchs, sea turtles, manta rays and more! All of the data collected will be entered into the international database so organisations around the world can make better informed decisions with regards to conservation. On top of this, you will take part in various community development projects, help clean beaches and take part in lectures to increase your own knowledge.

You will be staying and volunteering in one of the best dive locations in the world, Sodwana Bay. This small rustic town is one of the most unique and unspoiled parts of South Africa and you'll get to experience a huge part of it whilst volunteering. Experience the beach, Lake Sibaya, have drinks while watching the sunset, explore tropical forests and more.

Very good service

Very good service, helped me along every step of booking and getting ready for my trips.

Alex EskandariDecember 2023

I lovvvveeeee sodwana and Marius and…

I lovvvveeeee sodwana and Marius and Jo, I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves to have fun and loves scuba diving, you will have a life changing experience if you go on this trip do it now.

Alex EskandariNovember 2023

Jo and Marius made me the best…

Jo and Marius made me the best experience of South Africa and Sodwana bay that I could have had. They are the most lovely and wonderful people and I hope to come back again.

Alex EskandariNovember 2023

Best Two Months Of My Life

My time volunteering was without a doubt the best 2 months of my life!! I booked for 6 weeks and had no choice but to extend my stay for as long as possible! I came to Sodwana with no diving experience at all and everyone was super helpful and made it such as easy experience. I was very quick to ... Read More

Poppy HawkesJanuary 2023

Background to the programme

As has been widely reported in recent years, the oceans around us are undergoing radical changes due to climate change and pollution. Many marine life and their habitats are at threat, unless drastic and immediate action can be taken.

The programme was established in 2018 when the local team became aware that nudibranchs were being monitored to map the effects of climate change and detect changes in ocean conditions before they were felt.

These colourful sea slugs are very prominent in the coral reefs in and around Sodwana Bay, so it is the ideal location to carry out in-depth research on these creatures and the reefs they call home.

By collecting photographic and other important data on nudibranchs, manta rays, sea turtles and more, you are ensuing that the information collected is shared with similar organisations around the world (through international databases). This in turn, ensures that informed decisions about conservation and the environment in Sodwana Bay, South Africa and the world can be made - all thanks to you and other like-minded volunteers.

Where will I be volunteering?

You will be based in Sodwana Bay, a small beach town on the east coast of South Africa – just a few kilometres south of Mozambique. The town and the reefs form part of the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park, which is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sofwana Bay feels like an island tucked away forming its own tropical paradise. With its untouched wonder, it's the perfect place to get away from the noise and rush of city life. Fully enveloped in nature and the close-knit community, you will get to know some of the best, down-to-earth people you'll ever meet and truly feel like a local.

As one of the best dive sites in the world, the coastline boasts 50 km of unspoiled reef and over 1,100 species of fish. The warm brilliant blue Indian Ocean, seemingly never-ending reefs and diverse marine life make Sodwana the best place to start your diving journey and should definitely be on your diving bucket list!

What is my Role?

You will be scuba diving once or twice per day, depending on the schedule and ocean conditions. Your main role will be to collect photos and data on sea slugs called nudibranchs, sea turtles, manta rays and more. Nudibranchs are amazing indicators of reef health and climate change, so it is vital that they are closely monitored to ensure the coral remains healthy.

All of the data and photos collected are then uploaded to international marine conservation databases after each dive. By collating all information collected with other organisations around the world, everyone is able to make better informed decisions when it comes to coral reefs and marine conservation.

On top of this, you will also take part in various community development projects, help clean the beaches before the litter washes back into the ocean and assist with data entry.

As part of the programme you will also be given short and casual marine lectures to help increase your own knowledge. You will be given certificates of completion, which would look great on your C.V.

Also included within the programme fee are weekly excursions to explore South Africa and the local area. These may include beach days, sundowners at local viewpoints, braais (barbeques) at Lake Sibaya while watching hippos, sandboarding and more!

What will a typical day look like?

You will be lucky enough to dive five days a week! During the dive days, you will either dive one or twice, depending on the schedule for the day and ocean conditions.

On your two days off per week there will be scheduled trips that you are welcome to take part in, or you can simply relax around the accommodation and town.

A typical day will comprise of the following –

06:30AM – Camp pick up
07:00AM – Kit up dive gear at beach
07:30AM – Boat launch
08:30AM – 10:00AM – Diving
10:00AM – Kit up dive gear at beach
10:30AM – Boat launch
10:30AM – 12:00PM – Diving
12:00PM – Return to camp
12:00PM – 14:00PM – Lunch break
14:00PM – 15:00PM – Database Entry
15:00PM – 16:00PM – Lecture
16:00PM Onwards – Free time

You will generally have two days off per week, with a scheduled trip normally planned for one and then the other being free for you to relax around the accommodation and town.

Where will I be staying?

You will be staying in the heart of Sodwana Bay, which is known to be one of the most unique and unspoiled parts of the world! The accommodation is conveniently situated on the main road of the town, so you can easily adventure on your own to different shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. There is a popular bar / restaurant next door that provides great food, tv’s, wi-fi and has pool tables – the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy day’s diving.

The purpose built brick house has several bedrooms that sleep two people in each, with all bedding provided and a fan for those hotter nights.

Other things to consider

PADI Qualifications - To take part in the programme, you must be PADI Open Water qualified. We accept volunteers with no diving experience at all and in this case you will be able to carry out you certification during your first week volunteering - included within the programme fee! If you are already Open Water certified, then you would be welcome to obtain your Advanced Open Water as part of the programme fee.

Equipment - We recommend that you bring soft gear along with you, including a wetsuit, mask and fins. If this is not possible, the gear can be rented during your stay for a small additional cost. If you need advice on purchasing soft gear, please let us know.

South Africa Childcare

  • May 2022
I volunteered on the childcare programme in South Africa during May 2022. It was best experience of my life and by far the best country I’ve ever been to. I was a little worried I’d be on my own, but as soon as I walked through the door I made so many friends!

Sasha's story

Big Five Safari in South Africa

  • February 2022
I absolutely loved my time volunteering at Amakhala, so honestly grab your binoculars and go and have some fun! For the same price as a two night safari stay, the 3 weeks I spent at Amakhala Reserve showed me a lot more and taught me about the animals and conservation efforts.

Scarlett's story

Volunteering at Shamwari Game Reserve

  • December 2019
Hear all about my experience in South Africa at the Shamwari Game Reserve in August 2019. Being able to get so close to all of the different animals every day was a dream come true.

Hannah's story

A great two weeks at Amakhala!

  • October 2019
Our two weeks volunteering at Amakhala included so much, with something new everyday. Getting close to amazing wildlife, helping the community and exploring South Africa.

Sara's story

Heading off on safari in South Africa

  • October 2018
Between the UK and South Africa teams, I felt fully supported and had the best two weeks at Amakhala. I saw so many animals and learnt so much, I cannot wait to volunteer again.

Lynette's story

Four months helping penguins in South Africa

  • March 2018
Even though I was volunteering for several months, which is longer than most, the time flew by and I really wished I stayed longer! If you like penguins or birds, then I can highly recommend this programme

Stephanie's story