Song Saa Foundation

Song Saa Foundation

Location: Koh Rong, Cambodia

Duration: Minimum 4 weeks participation

Start dates: First Monday of every month

Costs: From $1750 USD, see costs below for further details



  • Gain personal hands-on experience in ground-breaking marine conservation initiatives.
  • Work alongside experienced and passionate conservation professionals and scientists.
  • Live and work in a traditional Cambodian fishing village community.
  • Ideal for those studying marine biology and environmental conservation, or those with a keen interest in marine ecology and ecological conservation.
  • Keywords: marine conservation, marine biology, field research, sustainable development, environmental

The Ocean Stewardship Program is the largest island-based marine conservation initiative in Cambodia. The program is located in southwest Cambodia and centres its efforts on assisting coastal communities in the Koh Rong archipelago. Resting in a well-managed conservation area, with enormous conservation potential, this is the ideal place to learn to dive and engage in pioneering marine conservation.

Our early efforts included establishing the first recognised marine reserve in Cambodia, setting up an artificial reef programme, delivering a youth environment education initiative and creating the first solid waste management system in the Archipelago.

By taking part in the Ocean Stewardship Program you have the unique opportunity to work with seasoned professionals, contributing to a lasting legacy for marine and community conservation in Cambodia. Data collected on the project will serve to assist in the management of Cambodia’s first Marine Fisheries Management Area (an internationally recognised marine reserve) and you will be among the only people collecting on-going marine survey data for this protected area. Your involvement in the project will promote the conservation and preservation of one of the most pristine marine environments in the lower Mekong region.


Daily Life

We have two project options that you can join, depending on your scuba diving experience and interests:


This is a scuba dive focused research and monitoring project. It is ideal for those who are already PADI Advanced Open Water trained (at minimum). The first two weeks of your expedition will be given to an engaging Coral Reef Ecology course, during which you will attend lectures, workshops and take part in practical in-water training sessions. This is a robust and comprehensive course that involves the completion of Powerpoint and in-water tests to be able to begin surveying. Don’t worry they aren’t super tough, it’s just to make sure that you are fully trained and ready to collect data. The course is designed to provide enough information to launch a career in marine conservation, so it is well worth the effort! Apart from being dive trained, there are no other pre-requisites to join this project – we will fully train you from novice to expert over the two-week course.

As week three rolls around you will be ready to start collecting marine survey data, which is the climax of the expedition. On average, you will complete two dives per day, however this is dependent on weather conditions and base logistics, thus there may be days when this is not possible. During these days, there are ample opportunities to get involved with other aspects and initiatives of the Foundation, such as engaging in community projects (e.g. running an art class with local children, or leading a group of local students to a rainforest waterfall).

A typical survey dive will take one hour, during which time you will collect population and species richness data for corals, fish and invertebrates, assess substrate type and gather ancillary data. At the end of each dive day, all data will be entered into a collective database for analysis. All data collected on the research and monitoring project is handed to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration and the Cambodian Coral Reef Monitoring Network (a group of likeminded and engaging stakeholders) to inform conservation management strategies for the Koh Rong Marine National Park (Cambodia’s first internationally recognised marine protected area). As such, your involvement in our Ocean Stewardship Program will have significant benefits to collective conservation efforts in Cambodia.


This is a purely snorkel focused marine conservation and restoration project. It is ideal for those who are not scuba dive trained but wish to engage in high-calibre environmental restoration. There are four engaging areas of focus for this project – artificial coral reef creation, mangrove restoration, coastal clean-ups, and community engagement. Over the course of your expedition you will have the option to be involved with all aspects of the project.

Cambodia has a rich coastline of seagrass meadows, coral reefs and mangrove forests, which are constantly under threat from climate change and coastal development. Our Ocean Stewardship Program (and the Conservation and Restoration Project) is equipped to combat these challenges through a series of dedicated restoration activities. Your involvement on this project will significantly aid our efforts to retain the biodiversity and natural beauty of the region. There is no pre-requisite experience needed and we will give you a casual and informative series of presentations to become fully trained.

Both projects are run side by side each month. During the evenings there will be opportunities to relax in a beach bar, try your hand at pool or darts, and read in our comfortable cabana – to name just a few ideas! There’s plenty to do to stay engaged and have the experience of a lifetime.

To apply or for more information please contact Ben Thorne

Travel & Accommodation

During the expedition you will be living in our dedicated sustainability centre, located in a small village on the north side of Koh Rong Island. It is a traditional Cambodian-style building nestled within the local community. Each secure room is shared between a maximum of two volunteers, and is furnished with a fan, shelves, pillows, mattresses and mosquito nets. You will need to provide your own bed linen and towels. Electricity is only available between 19:00 and 23:00 each day.

Training will be delivered at an air-conditioned building in a nearby facility which has 24-hour electricity, fast WiFi, hot water shower, and laundry facilities, as well as a gym available for use during your time off.

You will be served three meals per day, cooked by trained Khmer chefs with a balanced and diverse array of choices. Unlimited drinking water will be provided during your stay. There is free WiFi available. We have a fully trained doctor on hand 24/7, in case of any illness. You may wish to purchase additional snacks, drinks and personal items during your stay, for which a weekly budget of $50 USD is recommended. Please note there are no ATMs on the island, thus you should budget accordingly.

Upon arrival in Cambodia you will need to make your own accommodation and internal travel arrangements prior to the expedition start. On the first day of your expedition you will be met by project representatives in Sihanoukville town (approximately 5 hours by taxi from Phnom Penh) and guided to the field site on our private speedboat. Recommendations for internal travel arrangements and suggested accommodation for your pre-arrival time in Cambodia can be provided upon request.


    • Minimum age of 18 years
    • Minimum 4-week commitment
    • Interest in marine conservation and sustainable development
    • Healthy level of general fitness and stamina
    • Ability to swim at least 200 m unaided
    • PADI Advanced Open Water certified (for the Research and Monitoring project only)
    • Travel & medical insurance (to include unlimited diving up to 30 m depth for the R&M Project)
    • Necessary vaccinations as advised by your local travel nurse or GP
    • Valid passport (minimum 6 months until expiry from date of entry in Cambodia)
    • B. Visas for Cambodia are very easy to get, and are obtained at the airport on arrival
    • B. You will need to provide your own scuba mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit (3 mm recommended) and booties. All other dive equipment will be provided for you on-site.


  • Research and Monitoring Project – First 4 weeks = US$2150 (flat rate)
  • Research and Monitoring Project – Additional 1-week blocks (after the initial 4 weeks) = US$250 per week
  • Conservation and Restoration Project – First 4 weeks = US$1750 (flat rate)
  • Conservation and Restoration Project – Additional 1-week blocks (after the initial 4 weeks) = US$200 per week
  • Places on both projects are confirmed with a $500 deposit.

What’s Included:

Your Project Fee includes:

  • All program activities, including scuba diving (for C&M Project)
  • Accommodation & food (3 hot meals per day)
  • 24 hour in-country support from experienced program staff
  • WiFi
  • Access to an air-conditioned gym
  • Laundry service once per week
  • Hot water showers
  • Return speedboat from the mainland to island-site

What’s Not Included:

Flights, visas, vaccinations, insurance, local land transfers, scuba mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit and booties are not included.

To apply or for more information please contact Ben Thorne