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Marine Conservation Philippines is a non-profit NGO working to preserve fragile marine habitats like coral reefs and mangrove forests and improve quality of life for marginalised fisherfolk in the Philippines. MCP is where international volunteers can join a large professional team of marine biologists, scientists, teachers and dive instructors, and help tackle the myriad problems and issues facing the Oceans today. Participation in the program involves extensive scuba diving activities. Participants need not be qualified divers prior to starting – they can learn as part of the program In a travel market full of volunteer opportunities provided by for-profit companies, this program is the real McCoy. MCP is a locally registered non-profit working under the auspices of the local government, and in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources and a number of local and European universities.

Besides volunteer fees, MCP is financially supported by the Rufford Foundation and other international trusts and charities and provides consultancy and aid to the local municipalities in coastal resource management. The staff to volunteer ratio is 1:1 and the work of the volunteers makes an actual difference! In 3 years volunteers have planted thousands of mangrove trees, removed tons of plastic and other marine debris from coral reefs and beaches, conducted more than thousand scientific survey dives, contributed to the publication of several scientific articles (more pending), helped educate thousands of school children and have enabled MCP to make a real difference in coastal protection. Besides the work actually making a difference, volunteering with MCP also ticks all the happy boxes! It is bonfires and marshmallows, it’s diving with sea turtles, it’s meeting new friends from all over the world, it’s learning stuff about reef biology that will blow your mind. it’s learning how to dive, it’s meeting the locals, It’s It’s seeing rare and endangered wildlife.

Skills & Experience Acquired

Time Commitment

The work week is 6 days, Monday to Saturday (on rare occasions when community engagement require so, we work Sunday also, but then usually convert another day to a day off) The days are fairly long, starting around 7am and stretching well into the afternoon.

Active Periods

Year round. Every second Monday is a possible arrival day.


Work and Activities Description

If you are not certified as a diver already, you will start your participation in our program by getting licensed through the PADI system of education. As the work we carry out on fragile reefs require divers with excellent skills, we add additional practice and excursion dives until you’re ready for the task. Typically volunteers do one or two courses, but some who volunteer for two to three months or more, do multiple courses or complete their dive master. However the project is not a dive shop and people primarily come here to take part in conservation, so we ask everyone to be flexible with their course wishes, as the instructors can only do so much. The priority is turning non-diving volunteers into diving volunteers ASAP - then after that, it's adding to the skillset of experienced divers, who wish to do additional courses. Taking your open water course through a demanding environmental organisation instead of a lax commercial dive shop, makes you a very, very excellent diver! After your initial diver training you'll start contributing in a very valuable way to our mission. You'll join in on one of our dive teams and will actively help out with our scientific and conservation work. This means you'll be involved with some very practical hands on work, and it's rare that weeks are alike - many new things and opportunities come up, so you could be involved with any number of things ranging from mangrove reforestation, reef surveying, underwater construction work or something completely different. You can however expect to dive around a dozen dives a week, doing various work. Our single biggest project has been the collection of baseline data. (To provide advisory to the local government we need to have solid data. We were actually the first group of scientists trying to collect this from this stretch of coast, so it's pioneer work.) We have completed this work, and are now working on mangroves, and a monitoring protocol running three different surveys simultaneously on invertebrates, fish and bottom composition. This methodology has been adopted by the government, and it is work you are likely to help contribute to when volunteering.

Typical Day

Your day starts around 07:00 with breakfast. After breakfast the plan for the day is reviewed. Some volunteers will be doing scuba courses, others will be out doing marine research, underwater cleanups or community work. What you’ll be doing will largely be based on where you are in the volunteer program and also on personal preferences. We’ll usually have lunch around one or two o'clock - if you’re doing work far from our base, you’ll eat your lunch at a local market there. After lunch we often continue with our various activities till sometime in the afternoon. Typically this consists of entering survey-data on computers or various base work. When you wish to have days off, you can let us know. This may be to experience other islands elsewhere in the Philippines, to go for a visa-and-shopping run to Dumaguete, to explore the area on a motorbike or just to have a day to yourself and laze in a hammock with a book. While we feel the work we do is important, we don’t expect you to take part in everything all the time - especially if you stay for months. (But if you want to, you’re most welcome!) We understand most volunteers are not interested in working all the time, which conveniently leads us to Sundays. Sunday is always a day off. No volunteers are allowed to do any diving, except during unusual circumstances. The reason for this is twofold - firstly it’s important to off-gas from time to time so you don’t get the "Friday Bends" (a slang term in the dive industry, where dive masters and instructors can load their bodies with gas day after day, until they eventually experience symptoms of decompression illness). Secondly we wish to give our staff a day off as well. Obviously food needs to be cooked, but other than that nothing happens on Sundays, unless you organise it yourself. (When’s the last time you went swimming in a mountain lake, visited a faith-healer or sung karaoke anyway?)

Free Time Activities

After your work for the day is done, maybe you'll study for your next scuba course, but often you’ll just want to relax and unwind with fellow volunteers. The late afternoons is good for sports, or hiking in the hills and forests around our camp. What you do after dinner in the evenings is very much up to yourself. You may want to organise a game or movie night, share a drink and a laugh, get people around a camp fire or something completely different. Other options would be to go on a night dive, go for a run, catch up with friends and family at home using our free WiFi, work out in our gym or maybe just quietly read a book. The camp is situated within a old botanical garden (really! It used to be a proper botanical garden open to the public,) so there's heaps of space, and you can find a quiet spot for yourself to do yoga, read a book or just unwind on your phone.



Accommodation Options

Mixed and single sex dorms. Private accommodation is potentially possible, but subject to availability.

Accommodation Description

We live in a lovely old botanical garden on a hill close by the sea, with the volunteer bungalows nestled under mango and nara trees. The bungalows are airy and comfortable. As a volunteer you have your own private locker (with electrical sockets inside, so you can charge your gadgets) The bungalows have fans, mosquito nets (not actually needed for most of the year) and nice terraces looking into the garden.


Various shaded chill-out areas and hammocks, jungle gym, classroom, hike-friendly forest and hinterland.

Facilities Description


MCP has a core staff of around a dozen people working in science, conservation and scuba tuition. In addition to that there's usually a few interns and we have ten people from the local village employed in various auxiliary roles


There’s a thousand things that can kill you, and no matter how long you live, eventually one of them will. Most of these things can happen in the Philippines too. Going from one place to another in traffic has risks. You may fall and hurt yourself, or you can get sick. These things can happen anywhere in the world, and no-one can issue any guarantees. In addition to this, scuba diving also has inherent risks. All this said, volunteering with us is a safe as we can reasonably make it. All staff members are skilled first aid providers (many are in fact first aid instructors,) we conduct our scientific diving under the strictest safety protocols, and our scuba training is second to none. We take great care in running a healthy and hygienic kitchen and the crime rate in our area is much, much lower than in any European city. We have contingency plans for every emergency you can think of, manmade or otherwise, and we conduct various safety and emergency drills several times a year.

Food & Drink

Three daily meals, various snacks and fruits, free tea, coffee and water is provided free of charge. We have our own gardens and chicken coop, and try hard to source everything locally to support local farmers. We have a very skilled kitchen team and are happy to cook vegetarian/vegan meals, and it's no problem working around any allergies.

Internet Access

We have free WiFi available to all volunteers. It's fast enough for the occasional Skype conversation and checking emails, but when everyone tries to access it at once speed does slow down.

Phone Signal

Cellular signal is poor at camp, but a five minute walk up a nearby hill makes for excellent signal.

Nearest Facilities

Dumaguete CIty, some 50 km away has everything you'd expect from a big city. You can find malls, hospitals, cinemas etc. In nearby Zamboanguita, there's pharmacies, a local clinic, and a 7-11.

Airport Pickup

The local airport is Dumaguete (DGT.) Airport pickup and drop-off in included in your price.


Language Requirements

English (You need not be 100% fluent, but competent enough to understand scuba lessons or lectures say)

Document Requirements

Liability releases and medical forms for scuba diving.

Nationality Requirements


Qualification Requirements

You do not need any prior qualifications

Medical Requirements

The standard PADI medical questionnaire

Other Requirements

Marine Conservation Philippines only accept volunteers aged 18+. Long days, and potentially long swims and carrying of gear takes a toll, as such we do not recommend participation to people aged 60 or older.

Recommended Gear

All scuba gear is provided. You do not need to bring any, but if you wish to, you are welcome to bring your own personal gear. It's recommended to bring a rash guard that covers your arms, and if you have very short hair or are bald, we strongly recommend you bring a bandana or similar to cover you. The direct tropical sun can burn you very quickly when in the water. The Philippines is hot and often humid too. We suggest you choose light clothes. Most volunteers who bring more than a pair or two of long pants and/or anything with long sleeves never use it. If you want to be able to do work in the local community (like teaching in schools), please bring some items of clothing that covers your shoulders (a normal t-shirt is fine) and some shorts that aren’t too short. If you use tampons, please be aware that they are difficult to find in the Philippines. We recommend bringing your own supply. If you are prone to getting bitten by mosquitoes, consider bringing some repellant. You do not need malaria-meds, as there is no malaria here. November til June are almost completely dry months, and there are very few mosquitoes anyway. Outside of those months it is also a good idea to bring a rain coat, just in case. No matter which time of year you volunteer, you definitely want to bring a high SPF sunscreen! We recommend something like this one, as it’s safe for corals, and many sunscreens aren’t. Best to bring is both a long-sleeved rash guard and sunscreen! It’s recommended to bring a little cheap flashlight. You do not need to bring any bedlinen, sleeping bags or similar – we got you covered.

Included Services

Before Journey Services / Support

Volunteer manuals and primers on the work you will be doing will be sent to you, and you can of course ask as many questions as you need. We also organise the airport pickup, and let you know how to find us on arrival.

On-Site Support


Pricing Breakdown

Volunteering is 450 USD / week, and the average stay is probably 8-10 weeks. The volunteer fee covers three daily meals and free water, tea and coffee plus seasonal fruits and snacks. The fee also covers basic accommodation. (We live in a lovely old botanical garden on a hill close by the sea, with the huts nestled under mango and nara trees) Also covered are all scuba diving, including scuba gear rental, marine park fees and transportation. It also includes supervision and participation in all activities, air-port pickup, wifi and some small niceties like a t-shirt etc. The fee also covers any PADI scuba diver training you wish to enroll in. (except manual, which is yours to keep after the course and certification fee to PADI. For most courses this is either 65 or 85 USD, depending on PADI's cost of the specific materials and certification for that course.)

Not Included in Price

Flights, insurance, vaccinations, pocket money, visa extensions (you get the first month for free as a tourist when you enter the country, but must extend past that)

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