Curious what other people have to say about our project? Read below the reviews of some of our Shark Warriors. And if you can’t get enough of reading the experiences of our participants, have a look at our reviews on GoOverseas and GoAbroad.
“Best Field Work Experience”
Kristen – 21 years old – Australia
I was lucky enough to spend my 6 weeks of University Placement with the Gili Shark Conservation Team. The Gili Shark Team and the locals of Gili Air have made this Island a second home for me.
I have had fieldwork experiences that I would never have been able to receive in my Marine Science Undergrad. By completing the PADI Scientific Diver training, you are able to assist with roving survey dives, reef check, coral heath index surveys, coral restoration, and RUV deployment. The skills I have learned under the guidance of Andre, Zara and Katon have been invaluable.
The other Sharkies are also great, what make this an unforgettable experience. I had some of the funniest days of my life here! I am so grateful to have been able to spend six weeks here with an amazing team.
I would also like to thank Rose and Andreas for their hospitality. It has been a pleasure getting to know you all!
“I Can’t Wait To Come Back”
Lindsey – 34 years old – UK
In 8 weeks with Gili Shark Conservation, I have had the most amazing time diving, learning and laughing with new friends from around the world. I have learned so much about fish identification, corals and conservation as well as developing my skills as a diver. The project is welcoming and I feel like part of the family; I cannot wait to come back again to learn more and check on the coral babies we have planted!
Andy – 26 years old – Switzerland
Honestly this was the first time volunteering so I did not know what I was doing. But I am deeply impressed by everything. From the first contact, to the preparation until arriving in villa nangka everything was perfectly organized. The people in the whole program, dive center, to the staff were just awesome! The diving was so cool, entering a new world. The two weeks I was here, were way to short, so next time I will stay longer!
“I Immediately Felt Part Of The Family”
Addie – 22 years old – USA
The team are incredible and made me feel so welcome. Everything they are doing is amazing and I was so proud to be a part of it. I learnt so much about conservation, sharks, rays and turtles, fish identification and so much more! I have become a far more confident diver and enjoyed every single dive we went on. This is a must do for anyone who cares about the ocean and what lies within it, has completely changed the way I view the world.
The accommodation within Oceans 5 was great, really clean and comfortable and perfectly located for the dives. I would also extremely recommend Oceans 5 as a dive resort for doing any courses or fun dives, the instructors are really professional.
Thank you to the team for making an unforgettable experience – I will 100% be coming back!
Ricky – 20 years old – Australia
When you arrive in Gili Air, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this new environment. You are quickly greeted by kind locals and tourists and eventually Rose and Andreas at Villa Nangka. Villa Nangka is quite literally your home away from home. I felt as though everyone I met in this place became my own little family after leaving mine behind in Australia. And then there is the program itself!! It’s just perfect. You quite literally become a real scientist by fetching your own data underwater and discussing it above the surface back at the base office.
I am a university student and this meant that this program was perfect for me. Andre and Zara are some of the nicest, most patient people you’ll meet. They will help you with everything you may ever need. If you are contesting with yourself for whether or not you should pursue this program, my advice is to just go ahead and book it in. I had no idea what I was in for but this has been the best experience of my life and I have made connections with people that I will be forever grateful for.
“A Wonderful Experience“
Si – 32 years old – Singapore
Long story short: if you can’t decide whether you should volunteer with Gili Shark Conservation, you should just go ahead and do it because it will be worth every minute of your time.
I was looking to do some volunteer work related to diving and found GSC. My experience was positive right from the very start, as the organisers demonstrated incredible flexibility and allowed me to arrive outside of the rest days and start my rescue diver course pretty much immediately (so I started and ended on a Friday, whereas the typical week at GSC runs from Tuesday to Saturday). For the small number of staff vs the number of volunteers, everything was impeccably organised for not just myself but everyone else.
I had a ball of a time over the two weeks with GSC – apart from the fun of diving in and of itself, you get to take up the scientific diver and AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Distinctive Specialty courses, which are both a lot of fun and super educational. Essentially, you can only come out of your time at GSC a better diver and a more knowledgeable person, with greater awareness of and appreciation for the marine environment and ecosystem.
The people are definitely worth a shout out – instructor Zara and marine biologist Andre for patiently and expertly imparting their knowledge, divemaster Katon for his smiles and impeccable work ethic (actually this is true for everyone at GSC), and founder Rose (and her partner Andreas) for the incredible warmth and hospitality at the beautiful Villa Nangka, your home during your time on Gili Air.
“Best Place To Do Your Divemaster”
Sam – 37 years old – USA
I had been searching for a unique place to do shark research and also accomplish my Dive Master certification while having a life changing experience in a foreign country. This was definitely the right choice! The Shark conservation project is very well run and you learn an incredible amount in a short time. Zara, Andre, Katon, and Josie teach you all about Sharks, Turtles, Fish ID species, and coral health (as well as helping you with all the little things about daily life on the Gilis)!
The conservation project is known for the shark conservation but they do so much more. My favorite project was building artificial coral substrates, constructing them on the ocean floor, and then populating the substrates with coral polyps to regrow the reef! You really feel like you are making a difference while having the time of your life. I stayed for seven weeks and I wished I stayed for even more! Time flies when you love the work you are doing. The “Sharkies” (what the research team is called) become family after no time. Its amazing living and working with people from all different ages, backgrounds, and countries. During my time here on Gili Air I also did the Dive Master program with Oceans5 (the dive resort we share space with) and almost everyone there was amazing!
The dive Instructors are top notch and focus on your development as a professional diver as well as acting as mentors. The locals are so nice and the foods amazing too! Super safe Island and plenty of fun things to do here or grab a quick boat taxi to the other islands for more adventures! I met many life long friends that I will stay in touch with forever (Zara being my all-time number 1 homie 😉 She will invite you to EVERYTHING but she hates cats and Trigger fish so keep that in mind)! Looking forward to a return trip in the future! Amazing experience all around!
“Love At First Sight”
Tess – 18 years old – USA
If you are interested in the Gili Shark Conservation project, there is one thing you should definitely be aware of; you are not just becoming a part of their team, you are becoming a piece to this entire community’s puzzle. The island is very small, which means, everybody knows everybody. It is so special. The shark team is extremely popular amongst the population, so if you join the project, you will become very well known very fast. The dive community is especially tight between every dive center thanks to beach clean ups and great restaurants, but the community at Oceans 5 is even more remarkable. I spent so much time at Oceans 5 during my courses, I stumbled into knowing every single instructor, dive master, student, receptionist, and boat captain very well. Every one of them is extremely friendly and kind with the best sense of humor. They never fail to make me shake my head and laugh.
I came to the project having never dived in my life. I grew up in Kansas, USA, and moved to California less than a year ago. I joined this project because of my passion for marine life and environmental health. I knew Indonesia had one of the most endangered reefs in the world, and I wanted to do something to help it. I began my PADI Open Water course the first week I arrived, and fell in love. I finished my course right in time for the weekend, so on my two days off, I decided to do my advanced course as well. In just my first week of diving, I had completed 14 dives at 9 different dive sites. I had also seen my first sea turtles, octopuses, rays, moray eels, and sharks. I think I’ve spent more time in the water than on land, but that’s how it should be!
Like I said, the shark team is very popular on the island, and rightfully so. This team works very hard to educate and promote conservation on the island to everyone they can reach. The team runs a beach clean up every Saturday at different dive centers to make sure everyone is included, as well as attend other clean ups. Every work day the team goes on two survey dives and records sharks, turtles, rays, and indicator species. They drop a GoPro with bait and record that data as well. Taking the boat out with other divers, everyone is interested in our research. This is a perfect opportunity to further educate visitors on the status of the area’s sharks and reefs. During my time here, I have recognized the shark team as the environmental leaders of the island.
Villa Nangka is a wonderful place to stay! The people that live here have become my family, and I am convinced I could write a book about the various characters. I am incredibly sad that my visit has come to an end, but I am so very grateful for the people I’ve met and the experience I’ve gained diving and collecting data. I am confident if it weren’t for school, I would be staying here as long as I can.
Who could imagine that creating a few quirky doodles during lectures would develop into a beautiful sustainable business that contributes to International conservation organizations while inspiring customers to make changes to protect and conserve our planet? Well that is exactly what happened for Tess. Read all about it in our ‘Shark Warrior In The Spotlight blog’
“Go For It”
Scott – 48 years old – USA
What an awesome experience! I went on this adventure with my daughter, Haley, who is studying marine sciences. I am an inexperienced diver, having received my basic underwater certification just before the trip. The Gili Shark Team is fantastic with a tremendous amount of experience and very welcoming to all levels of divers/experience in marine conservation.
Every day was an adventure where we were exposed to the beautiful waters surrounding Gili Islands and the impact that we have on our marine environment. Andre, Zara, Cece and Jo made us feel right at home and part of the team from day one. The crew at Oceans5 are top notch with a tremendous amount of experience and accommodating to all levels of divers.
We spent two weeks on the island and my only regret is that we did not stay longer!! I highly recommend this experience to anyone that wants to have a great diving adventure and also learn a tremendous amount about the efforts being made by these heroes working to have a positive impact on our marine environment. For anyone that is hesitant about joining the efforts, or sending their young adult to join the effort- don’t hesitate. It is a life changing opportunity in a wonderful, safe and welcoming place! Go for it! Can’t wait to be back.
“Having the opportunity to work with others that have the same goals about shark conservation has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.”
Elyssa – 26 years old – USA
My time with the Gili Shark Conservation project was a very positive experience. My peers, advisors, and mentors were always very supportive and knowledgeable, and I always felt like everyone was very approachable. The staff at Villa Nangka were very welcoming which created a comfortable home environment and a sense of family. The dive instructors from Oceans5 were all very funny, down to earth people that made difficult courses enjoyable and less intimidating. Our daily survey dives were always a new and fun adventure that taught me useful skills and helped me become a better diver.
While working side by side with the other shark warriors everyday, I built special bonds with each and every one of them that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The Gili Shark Conservation Project also helps the participants be active within the community through weekly beach clean-ups and uniting the community to learn about and support shark conservation. Having the opportunity to work with others that have the same goals about shark conservation has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and I would definitely do this again.
” I Can’t Wait To Come Back”
Delvin – 36 years old – USA
Working at Gili Shark Conservation was a fantastic experience for me. I learned so much valuable information about scientific data collection and research diving, furthered my own diving skills by completing my rescue course and made some lifelong friends in the process.
Everyone who taught me was so patient, professional and fun! Rose and her team are doing vital work for one of the best causes in the world – I feel privileged to have been a part of the team, even if for a short while. I can’t wait to come back and volunteer my time again for the project very soon!
“An Incredible Experience With Amazing People”
Kate – 22 years old – Ireland
From start to finish I cannot think of anything negative to say about the project. From the first contact I felt like I had made a good choice on where to spend my university internship. Zara was extremely friendly and helpful in planning my stay. The transfer from the airport to the hotel and then to the boat went smoothly. Once I arrived to Villa Nangka I was welcomed with open arms by Rose and the team.
The introduction to the project was thorough and fun. It is really nice and motivating to see how dedicated and enthusiastic Andre and the team are about conserving the biodiversity around the Gili Islands.
Each day is different but always fun and rewarding. I came to the project having never dived before and by the end of my stay I have nearly 30 dives completed and both an open water and advanced open water certificate with shark aware and scientific diver specialities.
Living with the other sharkies is great as you make new friends and by the end of your stay, however long that may be, you come away with a new tropical family.
Life on the island is surprising, it is far more developed than I ever imagined, with delicious food around every corner and lots to do on days off. There are drinks by sunset, paddle boarding at sunrise, Sharkbites bingo on a thursday and quiet evenings at Villa Nangka playing cards and listening to good music. All in all I would highly recommend the project and I can’t wait to come back!
“Through the project I have learnt multiple different survey techniques and have begun a journey of understanding our marine backyard”
Sarah – 26 years old – New Zealand
The Gili Shark Conservation experience is second to none!
Watching our coral babies thrive and grow on our restoration site is truly heart warming and makes you feel as though you are truly making a difference.
The team welcome participants and make you feel completely at home – my time spent here as truly flown by! And now, when I look back on the past 4 weeks I can truly understanding the amount of knowledge i have gained and the impact the project has had on me.
Through the Gili Shark Conservation project I have learnt multiple different survey techniques and have begun a journey of understanding our marine backyard.
I absolutely recommend this experience to anyone, from a beginning diver to dive master! Come and give it a go and do your part to protect our marine eco-system.
“Diving Every Day Around This Beautiful Paradise Island Never Disappoints”
Steve – 52 years old – UK
I arrived on Gili Air, a 2 hour boat trip from Bali in early January 2020 with the intention of diving with a local dive shop. It was very early on in my stay that I became aware of the Gili Shark Conservation Project and quickly made some enquiries about how I could become involved.
From the initial contact I made with the team they were incredibly informative and on hand to answer any questions I had and it left me in no doubt that I should take up the opportunity for an internship at the earliest opportunity.
I have been here for 3 months now and my original plan was to complete a couple of weeks but as time has gone on I have learned so much and also contributed a great deal of time to the project and have become passionate about my time with the sea.
Diving every day around this beautiful paradise island never disappoints and I plan to continue to remain a part of this amazing project for the foreseeable future. Well done guys, keep up the amazing work.
“Five Amazing Weeks On A Tropical Island“
Mia – 19 years old – UK
In the first two weeks of my trip, I took the PADI Advanced Open Water course, PADI Rescue diver & EFR course with Oceans 5 Dive Center. Next I started my PADI Scientific Diver course and shark aware course with the project. This involves learning all the indicator species of our reef around the Gili Islands and learning how to participate in all the surveys.
I have taken part in roving surveys, coral health index, reef check and photo identification. We have watched educational videos on corals and the problem with bleaching, which taught us the impact of humans and global warming on the oceans.
To help with this we have done a few coral restoration dives where we harvest coral fragments and replant them onto hex domes on the sand floor. it is the most rewarding part as we get to check on the older babies and see how much they have grown.
We have been taught how to act respectfully around marine life and how to approach sharks, rays and turtles. We like to spread the message to the locals and other tourists such as snorkelers.
Every friday we have an aware day where we do a dive against debris in the morning and organise a beach cleanup in the afternoon. We also support Unite Gili which is when we go to all the restaurants to ensure they are “green”.
Our role is to encourage them to cut out use of single use plastic in takeaway food packaging and straws. We also visit all the dive shops on the island to collect data on sightings of sharks and rays. We like to spread the message of the beach clean so we get lots of participants.
On a normal day we do two dives in the morning then come back for lunch and in the afternoon we go to the office to input data, watch ocean documentaries, make eco bricks or do quizzes and presentations.
We get evenings, Sundays and Mondays free to hang out with all our friends and explore the island.
“The Only Negative I Have From This Trip Is That I Wish I Had Stayed Longer!”
Izzy – 22 years old – UK
My time as part of the Gili Shark Conservation team was phenomenal! Everyone is super lovely and helpful and easy to talk to 🙂
The volunteering element of the trip is very different to many other things I have done. You actually feel like you are doing something significant and helpful for the project and the reefs and sharks around the island.
As someone with a scientific background the skills I have learnt here will help me immensely in the future and have helped open so many doors.
As a relatively new diver I was apprehensive about feeling out of my depth but everyone makes you feel so comfortable so that you feel completely prepared and comfortable when you do enter the water.
The only negative I have from this trip is that I wish I had stayed longer!