Do I need any diving experience
No previous experience is needed. Dive courses are conducted in the first week of your expedition. You can also take additional PADI dive courses like Rescue and Divemaster whilst on the project. Please see our "costs & dates" page for more details on additional courses.
What diving equipment do I need to bring
If you are joining our expedition as a non-diver, your expedition fee will include FREE rental of a BCD and Regulator for the duration of your open water course training. Other equipment you must bring is: mask, snorkel, wetsuit, fins, dive boots, dive slate and dive computer. It is however possible to rent some of these items on site, if you do not wish to carry them while on further travels. Please see our "costs & dates" page for further details, or contact one of our helpful trip advisers.
For volunteers who are already qualified divers, we will provide tank, weights and weight belt as part of your expedition fee. You will need to provide all other equipment, however it is possible for you to rent your BCD & Regulator, plus some other items from us on site. Please see our "costs & dates" page for further details, or contact one of our helpful trip advisers.
Do I need diving insurance
YES - This is extremely important, you will not be allowed on the expedition with out adequate insurance that covers you for diving up to 30 meters and for the duration of your stay. We strongly recommend you use Divers Alert Network (DAN) for your insurance as they are by far the best and most reasonably priced. Please visit www.diversalertnetwork.org for further details.
How safe is the diving
Raja Ampat has over 80% of the world's hard corals and is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world due to currents from different oceans flowing into the region. This means that at times there may be small, mild currents on some of the dives. However, you will be fully trained on how to dive in currents and will not be expected to go out on surveys until you are totally confident and have good buoyancy skills. Experienced divers may wish to bring a reef hook, and delayed SMB (though these are also provided on site).
We have some of the best boat drivers in the area. They were born in the local villages and know the curents on dive sites very well. Their local knowledge (some of which has been passed down from generation to generation), is second to none. We also use tide apps on smart phones to determine when it is best to dive a site, to avoid strong currents ie: rising, slack or falling tides.
At Barefoot Conservation safety is our top priority. We have all state of the art medical equipment for remote diving; including oxygen, first aid kits, AED and when possible a Medical Officer on site. The local government installed a new Decompression Chamber in the capital's (Waisai) hospital in 2013. This means the nearest Decompression Chamber to our basecamp is only a 45 minute fast boat ride away.
What if I have diving accreditation's other than PADI
We require all divers to be qualified to a PADI Advanced Open Water level or equivalent from another organisation. Please see this "comparison table" if your qualification is from another organisation. If you are joining an expedition as a non-diver, your expedition fee includes us training you up to PADI Advanced Open Water and Emergency First Response (EFR - First Aid).
What is the diving schedule
You will typically do 2 dives a day. Both dives may be done in the morning after breakfast, or both in the afternoon after lunch. This leaves the morning/afternoon available for you to be involved in the community projects and have some downtime. Mon-Fri is reserved for survey dives, while Saturday is for fun dives (recreational), with Sunday being a no dive day (for safety reasons).
We try and do a night dive every 1-2 weeks, this also depends on the tides.
There may be times when it is not possible to do 2 dives a day for example due to extreme weather conditions out of our control. Your safety is our top priority at all times and we will never take unnecessary risks that may jeopardize your health and safety!
Can I do extra dive courses
Yes. There will be opportunities for you to do the PADI Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses while on the project.
If you are starting the expedition as a non-diver and wish to complete the dive master course we recommend you allow yourself at least a 8-12 week expedition to enjoy the full benefits and experience offered by the PADI dive master course.