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Marine Conservation Volunteer Project in Madagascar

Marine Conservation Volunteer Project in Madagascar

Protect & preserve precious marine life
Start dates
Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
Choose from 4-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 3 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+, or 16+ accompanied
Open-air hut
Program fees
From AU$3321 for 4 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are passionate about protecting and conserving the marine ecosystems. You’ll need to be a competent swimmer and have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. These courses can either be completed before you arrive in Madagascar, or you can do them when you arrive. You’ll also need to be able to bring your own diving equipment.

Project details

Ready to don your dive gear as a Marine Conservation volunteer in Madagascar? International Volunteer HQ’s Marine Conservation project enables volunteers to assist oceanographic organisations protecting sea life and the natural marine environment in the crystalline waters of Madagascar. Volunteers gain marine conservation and scuba experience by diving to carry out a wide range of conservation activities that contribute to the health and sustainability of the coral reefs, endangered turtles and other marine life.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Madagascar is home to an amazing ecosystem that is a stunning mixture of its African and tropical influences. However, like many coastal areas in the world, the effects of human development and climate change mean it needs intervention to remain at its best. This is a great chance to help with conservation efforts, learning and using scuba diving skills to get hands-on experience.

As a Marine Conservation volunteer in Madagascar you will help to protect the natural plant and animal life by assisting different oceanographic organisations in a range of initiatives, including:

  • Reef surveying - helping to monitor the biodiversity, health and growth of the reef system around Nosy Komba through fish, invertebrate and coral surveys.
  • Turtle monitoring - helping continue collecting data on Madagascan turtles to help assess the success of conservation efforts.
  • Nudibranch research - conducting underwater surveys to determine the population and biodiversity of nudibranchs and other molluscs.
  • Beach cleans - removing damaging litter that can harm local marine animals.
  • Community - educating the local community about environmental issues such as conservation and the protection of biodiversity and marine resources
  • Reef regeneration - helping coral reefs to grow and become healthier, and creating artificial reefs to help provide more habitat space for reef fish.

All volunteers receive comprehensive training to prepare for carrying out research-based activities at sea. This involves identification training for marine wildlife such as turtles, fish, corals and invertebrates and a mandatory Ecological Monitoring Program course which is an advanced introduction to coral reef ecology. You’ll also be taught about coral baseline surveying, a key skill in marine conservation and the accepted approach to monitoring the state of coral reefs.

You can expect four one-hour dives per week, with the rest of your work hours spent collating or inputting data or monitoring turtles, and one day spent on other activities such as snorkel surveys and dry activities.

You’ll need to be a competent swimmer and have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. These courses can either be completed before you arrive in Madagascar, or you can do them when you arrive.

​This project has a minimum duration of four weeks to allow sufficient time to complete the training required to make a meaningful impact on the project. When you apply, please specify whether you have diving certifications, ​or whether you will be taking the Open Water Dive/Advanced Open Water Dive course in Madagascar. The courses can be completed in Madagascar for the following:

  • AU$695 for the Open Water
  • AU$537 for the Advanced Open Water course

Please note if you’re receiving your certification in Madagascar, you’ll also need to purchase and complete the PADI online theory courses before your arrival.

All Marine Conservation volunteers are required to bring the following items to Madagascar, as these are not available for purchase on the island of Nosy Komba: a snorkel; a mask with tempered glass; dive fins - open heel with booties are more comfortable for frequent use; a wetsuit - long or short, 3mm minimum; 2 mouthpieces to be used with regulators; and towels.

Additional recommended items for Marine Conservation volunteers: surface marker buoy (DSMB), reel (a small finger reel is fine), waterproof watch (resistant to 200 metres), dive computer/watch, dive compass, and dive torch.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

Why do Marine Conservation volunteering in Nosy Komba with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in Marine Conservation in Madagascar you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping to protect and preserve the marine environment
  • Learning about the effects of climate change
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining marine conservation experience
  • Diving in the stunning waters around Madagascar
  • Immersing yourself in Malagasy culture

Volunteer requirements

  • To join the Marine Conservation project in Madagascar you’ll need to be a competent swimmer and have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. These courses can either be completed before you arrive in Madagascar, or you can do them when you arrive. You’ll also need to be able to bring your own diving equipment.
  • Volunteers aged 16-17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • All volunteers are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 16-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Maren Stroup
26 Mar 2024

I gained so much from this program. I would totally recommend to anyone willing to push themselves out of their comfort zone. The Malagasy culture is beautiful and the people are so welcoming and lovely. I made many great friends I still keep in touch with today and want to go back for a longer time.

Emma Halliday
08 Aug 2023

The teaching program in Nosy Be and Nosy Komba was the most rewarding three weeks. I gained friends for life, both the other volunteers and camp staff, as well as the locals and students who I taught during my time there. Everyone was so kind and happy. It has taught me a lot about the Malagasy culture and way of life, along with things about myself and what I'd like to be doing in the future. My advice to other volunteers would be to absolutely go and enjoy every minute! It is a beautiful part of the world, with an incredible community. The classes are relaxed, and there is enough time to plan lessons during the week. The students are so eager to learn and will ask you any questions they have. There is a teaching book that keeps a record of what the students have learned previously so you have a good understanding of what to revise with them and then what to teach. Be creative with your lessons and take the time to understand where the students need more practice/what works well for them. You will love it!

Kasia Gasior
18 Jul 2023

One month was too short and I wish I could've stayed for MUCH longer! I hope and plan to return for a longer period one day :)

Ampang has my heart! I went into this program having zero idea what to expect, I just always knew I wanted to teach English in Madagascar. The whole experience exceeded any expectations by 1000x. The staff is awesome, I've made so many close friends there and I loved learning the language and about the culture. Teaching there has made a huge impact on me and I am forever grateful for the experience and opportunity.

Alice McQue
24 Mar 2023

The local staff were supportive and made my time very enjoyable! I think deploying an artificial reef was my favourite moment on this program as it taught me so much about the ocean. It was an amazing experience!

Tomaz Lima
18 Mar 2021

If you're thinking about going, go. Don't think too much, you won't regret it.

Natalia Roldan
04 Feb 2021

I loved living on camp, it felt like something out of a movie. The diving was truly unique and learning about cool and rare species in study groups to later identify them made the best interactive learning I’ve experienced. People have an easygoing vibe, we’re all there to help, learn, and enjoy and I’ve seen no better place to do it. The moments in which I was laughing with joy or amazed by what I encountered are countless, and I will cherish my memories here for the rest of my life.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Madagascar with IVHQ


There’s far more to Madagascar than its famous lemurs. As well as its impressively vast diversity of wildlife, the island nation off the south-eastern coast of Africa has an interesting marriage of French, African and Southeast Asian cultures; breathtaking scenery and dreamy beaches.

It’s also a place where the majority of people don’t have good access to food, healthcare, education or other basic necessities. While there are steps being taken to improve this situation, Madagascar remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Volunteers can be part of the solution by choosing projects that have a meaningful impact on the lives of local people and support communities to help themselves.

The IVHQ Madagascar ​volunteer ​abroad program is based on the slopes of Nosy Komba, a small i​sland off the northwest coast of Madagascar and only a few kilometers from the larger island of Nosy Be. Marine Conservation project work mainly takes place on coral reefs and in national marine parks in and around the island of Nosy Be.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers need to arrive in Nosy Be before 12 noon on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive in Madagascar. There are two options for flying to the Madagascar program - Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nosy Be is the most convenient for an airport pick-up, however you can fly to Ivato Airport (TNR) in Antananarivo. Some volunteers choose to fly to Antananarivo and take a connecting flight or two-three day bus (and boat taxi) to Nosy Be. If you are interested in taking the bus, please reach out to your Program Manager for more information once you have registered. If you want an easy arrival, we recommend flying to Nosy Be.

If flying into Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nosy Be and arriving before 12 noon, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation on Nosy Komba. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation. If your flight arrives after 12 noon, you will still be met at the airport but will need to stay in Nosy Be for the night to then travel by boat to Nosy Komba the following morning. This night of accommodation will be at your own expense and you will need to book this in advance of your arrival. Your IVHQ Program Manager will be happy to send you recommendations of affordable hotels in Hellville that are within walking distance of many shops and restaurants.

If you are travelling in Madagascar prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Nosy Be before 12 noon on the day before your program orientation. You will be taken to Nosy Komba by boat.

Orientation is hosted by our Madagascar team at the volunteer accommodation on Nosy Komba. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Madagascar – an introduction to Madagascar, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities and an introduction to project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be introduced to the project staff you will be working with and begin your training.


Volunteers work for approximately 3 hours per day, but start times and daily workloads depend on the tides and dive schedule. Volunteers will be assigned a morning or afternoon dive and this will change throughout your time on the program. A typical schedule is as follows:

6:00 - 7:00 AM Volunteers with a morning dive depart.
7:00 - 8:00 AM Breakfast prepared by the local in-house cook for volunteers not on morning dives.
8:00 - 9:00 AM Morning divers returns for breakfast at volunteer camp.
12:00 PM Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer camp or eat a packed lunch at their placement.
12:00 - 2:00 PM Afternoon divers depart.
4:00 PM Afternoon divers return.
6:00 PM Dinner at the volunteer camp prepared by the in-house chef.

While not diving volunteers can assist with work at camp including: collation of data, turtle monitoring, artificial reef creation; or assist volunteers on the Teaching project and study and plan for the following day’s activities.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in locally built open-air huts on Nosy Komba and can expect to share a hut with up to five other volunteers of the same gender.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and there are basic cold shower and flush toilet facilities on-site. Volunteers are expected to contribute to ensuring the bathrooms and huts are kept clean and tidy.

Lockable storage boxes for volunteers are available in the main house, however volunteers should also bring a padlock to secure personal items in their luggage when not in use. Volunteers are required to bring their own towels and sheet, pillow, pillow case, mosquito net and thin sleeping bag/top sheet. It is hot in Madagascar and most people only require a sheet to sleep under, although in the cooler months from June to August, a blanket or sleeping bag may be required.

Power for lights is supplied from solar panels and there is a backup generator for staff that may run 1 - 2 hours per week. Volunteers are encouraged to minimize the amount of electronic equipment they bring as the camp only has limited power points available to charge devices. As there is no other electricity at camp we recommend volunteers bring solar chargers for their devices, if possible. The accommodation is fairly isolated and only accessible by boat or a 30 minute walk across boulders and uneven terrain to the nearest village for WiFi and charging.

WiFi is accessible in the local village and you can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone when you arrive in Madagascar.


Volunteers are served three meals per day, prepared in the traditional Madagascan style by an on-site Malagasy cook.

Meals are basic, but nutritious and tasty. Breakfast ranges from pancakes to eggs or bread with condiments.

Lunch is rice or pasta based, and dinner is rice based. Both lunch and dinner will usually be either chicken, zebu (beef) or fish, all with vegetables, beans and sauce. Volunteers working on a placement which requires them to be away from camp during lunch time can organise a packed lunch, through the local team, the night before. Supplies in Madagascar are limited and meals will change seasonally depending on the ingredients available on Nosy Be.

Please note that the local team is not able to cater for special dietary requirements​ or requests and meals are usually carbohydrate heavy. You should not expect to eat as you normally do at home and there is the need to be flexible or prepared to supplement the food provided. If supplementing food, volunteers must note that there is no refrigerator and the kitchen is not available for volunteer use as it is a traditional kitchen. Volunteers can store non-perishable items at camp or can eat out at local restaurants.

A small canteen is available on Nosy Komba for volunteers to purchase snacks. Snacks should be stored in containers located in the dining area.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$520) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
4 weeks $2,100 Equivalent to $75/day
5 weeks $2,495 Equivalent to $71/day
6 weeks $2,890 Equivalent to $69/day
8 weeks $3,660 Equivalent to $65/day
10 weeks $4,450 Equivalent to $64/day
12 weeks $5,240 Equivalent to $62/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$520) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Madagascar generally find US$70-120 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit Madagascar

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Antananarivo
Population 26.97 million
Languages Malagasy and French
Currency Malagasy Ariary (ARA)
Time zone UTC+03:00

Weather and climate

The climate of Madagascar varies due to the topographic differences and trade winds from the Indian ocean. Typically the climate is tropical along the coast, temperate inland and arid in the south. There is a wet, warm season from November to April with most rainfall covering the eastern coast. There is a cooler, dry season from May to October. Temperatures fall between an average of 18°C (64°F) to 30°C (86°F) throughout the year, with the lowest temperature dropping to 12°C (54°F) and highest reaching 36°C (96°F).

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