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This program is now open to volunteers living in Australia or New Zealand. For other international programs, schedule a call to find out more or check out our Programs Open Now page.  

Known to be the world’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef is home to many endangered animals, including over thirty types of whales, dolphins, 1,500 fish species, and much more. Join GoEco to restore and preserve the reef while protecting its species in the marine ecosystem.

Program Highlights:
  • A GoEco Best 10 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2020
  • Become PADI Open Water certified and PADI Project AWARE Specialty certified
  • Dive into and explore the world’s largest coral reef system, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands
  • Work alongside a professional team of marine biologists
  • Participate in monitoring and coral watch surveys to collect vital data
  • Visit and volunteer at a turtle rehabilitation center
  • Receive an esteemed certificate for your marine conservation contribution

Program Schedule:

Arrival Day/ Day 1: Arrive at Cairns Airport (CNS). Volunteers can arrange to be picked up from the airport and taken to the hostel. Afternoon introductory meeting. 

Days 2-6: These days will be dedicated to achieving your Open Water certification. If you already have your Open Water certification then you can work on your Advanced Diving Certification, or take a specialty course. Days will be spent both in and out of the classroom and pool in order to improve your diving skills and knowledge. After this segment of training, you will travel to the Great Barrier Reef to dive a total of nine dives. Four of the dives will be your final steps in achieving your certification, while the rest will be fun dives, including a night dive. Nights 4 and 5 you will stay overnight on the boat!

Days 7-10: These days will be spent on conservation efforts. Over four days you will travel every day to the outer shelf of the Great Barrier Reef. Here, you will do a total of eight dives, with the majority of them focusing on conservation. While diving, you will collect data, observe the coral reef conditions, and survey the animals and plants surrounding the reef. You will also have the opportunity to go snorkeling recreationally or to do further surveys. During these days you will complete your PADI Project AWARE Specialty.

Day 11: On the last day you will have the opportunity to go to a nearby island to learn about turtle conservation at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. You will learn about the organization, meet the turtles currently at the center, and participate in other educational activities as well as enjoying free time to explore the island. 

Day 12: Departure day.

Note: Divers who are already Open Water certified and Advanced Open Water certified can join this program on Day 6, Monday, at a discounted rate. All dive equipment is included.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
Location of the Project:  Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Project length:  12 days
Arrival Airport:  Cairns Airport (CNS)
Volunteer Work:  Diving, research, marine rehabilitation. All equipment included (Mask, snorkel, fins, BCD, Regulator, Weights, Tanks, Wet suits/ Stinger suits)
Age:  18 - 80
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 8 volunteers (This project requires a minimum of 4 participants, any less and the project will not take place.)
Important Note:  According to PADI Dive regulations people with asthma, diabetes and serious respiratory conditions will not be medically cleared to dive. For most nationalities, a tourist visa is required to get into Australia; it is recommended to apply at least 6 weeks in advance.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms in a hostel and a boat
Food:  2 meals per day are included
Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, travel health insurance, reef taxes and levies (approx AUD$160), personal expenses, visa (if required).
Cairns is a tropical location in North Queensland, Australia. Located on a coastal strip between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range, it offers great access to diving at the Great Barrier Reef. From Cairns it is easy to travel to the nearby islands, Green and Fitzroy. While diving is the main attraction, there are many other exciting attractions nearby such as the Atherton Tableland and Cape Tribulation.
Following your dive certification, from Day 6 onwards, you will be involved in marine conservation tasks, done while diving. Data collected from the survey dives will be entered into a database. 

Some of your tasks may include:
  • Survey dives to collect data on the coral reef (volunteers may choose to snorkel for data collection as well, although diving is recommended)
  • Species monitoring and counting
  • 360-degree survey of sea bed to identify macro-algae, live coral, live coral rock, coral rubble and sand
  • Recording any damage to coral
 On the last day of the program, volunteers will assist in hands-on duties at a turtle rehabilitation center to feed the turtles and clean the tanks.
Internet:  WiFi is not available on the boats. WiFi is available at the hostel for an additional cost.
Laundry:  There are laundry facilities available in the hostel for an additional cost. There are no laundry facilities on the boat.
Accommodations:  Participants will stay at a hostel in shared facilities during most of the program. Participants will also spend two nights ( 4 and 5) on the boat in shared facilities to access reefs further off the coast.
Food:  2 meals are provided per day (Breakfast and lunch.)
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
  • Minimum age is 18 years old
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Completed PADI medical form 
  • We must have at least 4 participants registered, 30 days before the project start date in order to run the program.
While the expedition is packed full of amazing adventures in Cairns and at the Great Barrier Reef, traveling around Australia or to nearby Papua New Guinea are wonderful options for before or after the project. The nearby cities of Brisbane and Sydney are only 2-3 hours flight away and also offer exciting cultural and recreational attractions. Don’t forget the magnificent beaches for relaxing and snorkeling, the incredible hiking trails, and the surfing hotspots scattered throughout the rest of Australia.

To gain the complete in-and-out-of-water Australian experience, add on a week at our Wild Animal Sanctuary!
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