Australia – Great Barrier Reef Conservation

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 2023
  • Become PADI Open Water certified or Advanced Open Water certified
  • Dive into and explore the world’s largest coral reef system, composed of over 3000 individual reefs and 900 islands
  • Work alongside a professional team of marine experts and Master Reef Guides
  • 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 (Sun): Arrive at Cairns Airport (CNS) and transfer to your hostel. You can explore the city and then join an afternoon introductory meeting.

Days 2-3 (Mon-Tue): For those doing the Open Water PADI Diver Course, you will spend these days in the classroom and pool in order to improve your diving skills and knowledge. For those doing the Advanced Open Water certification, these days include your accommodations in the hostel and free time before you start the ocean dives in the Great Barrier Reef on day 4.

Days 4-6 (Wed-Fri): Depart early on day 4 for your Great Barrier Reef dive adventure. Over the next 3 days, you will live on a boat and do 9 dives. Four of the dives will be your last steps in achieving your Open Water PADI Certification, while the rest will be fun dives, including one night dive. Note: Advanced Open Water, Nitrox and Rescue students start from day 4.

Days 7-8 (Sat-Sun): Ferry transfer to Fitzroy Island to visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Center. You will meet the local team, learn about the turtle rehab efforts, and possibly lend a helping hand. Tasks may include preparing food for the sea turtles, cleaning tanks and beach cleans up. Note: this visit will take place either on day 7 or 8, with the other day free.

Days 9-10 (Mon-Tue): Over the next 2 days, you will join a renown sustainable cruise and sail to outer locations in the Great Barrier Reef. You will do 2 dives a day and conduct activities under the supervision of a designated eco-guide. This may include Rapid Monitoring surveys and/or a marine species count (weather dependent). Non-divers may also carry out Coral Watch surveys while snorkelling.

Day 11 (Wed): You will join a team of marine conservationists and assist with a unique marine debris upcycling project. Tasks may include beach clean-ups, sorting and segregating plastic debris. You will have a feel good and fun day and learn about the effects of human waste on our oceans.

Day 12 (Thu): End of tour, farewells and onward travel.

Note: Divers who are already Open Water certified and Advanced Open Water certified can join this program on Day 6, Friday at a discounted rate. Contact a GoEco representative during your application process to apply as a certified diver. All dive equipment is included.



Location icon Location of the Project: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Project length Project length: 12 days/ 11 nights

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Cairns Airport (CNS)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Diving, research, marine rehabilitation. All equipment included (Mask, snorkel, fins, BCD, Regulator, Weights, Tanks, Wet suits/ Stinger suits)

Age Age:  18-80

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 8 volunteers (In 2023, this project requires a minimum of 2 participants, any less and the project will not take place. In 2024 the minimum is 4 )

Important Note 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 Accommodations: Shared rooms in a hostel and a boat. In 2024, accommodations are not included however, they can easily be added on for an additional fee – see pricing below.

Food Food: During the program, participants get 3 x breakfast, 5 x lunch and, 2 x dinner.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

  • Flights,
  • Airport transfers,
  • Travel health insurance,
  • Reef taxes and levies (approx AUD$85),
  • Personal expenses,
  • Some meals,
  • Visa (if required).
  • In 2024, the accommodations are not included in the total price, however they can be added on for an additional fee – see pricing below.

Cairns is a tropical location in North Queensland, Australia. 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 major 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 may assist in hands-on duties at a turtle rehabilitation center to feed the turtles and clean the tanks.

Internet icon Internet: Wi-Fi is not available on the boats. Wi-Fi is commonly available at various hotels and hostels in cairns.

Laundry icon Laundry: There are no laundry facilities on the boat. While you’re staying in Cairns in a hostel or hotel, laundry will depend on the local providers.

Accommodations icon Accommodations:
Volunteers in 2023: volunteers 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.
Volunteers in 2024: the program doesn’t include accommodations allowing participants to stay anywhere in Cairns they prefer. Two nights on the boat are still included in the itinerary, so volunteers are responsible for 9 nights accommodations. With GoEco, it’s easy to add on to your program a hostel accommodation package for all 9 nights upon request, see pricing below for the full package. Our partner hostel provides a mixed-gender dorm room of about 4-6 people.

Food icon Food: During the program, participants get 3 x breakfast, 5 x lunch and 2 x dinner according to the outlined itinerary.

Please click here for the updated COVID-19 entry requirements to Australia:

Project’s minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age is 18 years old
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Completed PADI medical form. NOTE: if medical conditions are mentioned, getting a doctor’s approval is mandatory.
  • 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 hour’s 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 our Wild Animal Sanctuary!

Volunteer Experiences

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