Australia – Great Barrier Reef Conservation – Images

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
  • Suitable as well for fully certified divers


Program Schedule – 12 day set itinerary:

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 or for those skipping a certification course, these days include your accommodations in the hostel and will have free time to explore all the city of Cairns has to offer 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 Live a Board dive adventure. Over the next 3 days (2 nights), you will live on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef! Open Water Diver course participants will complete their certification on the first day, and will complete a total of 9 dives on board. Advanced Open Water course participants will start and complete their course on board, and will complete a total of 11 dives. Fully certified participants will spend their days enjoying the opportunity for 11 recreational dives on board exploring stunning Reef Sites. In the late afternoon of day 6, the group departs back to Cairns to check back into the hostel.

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. A free day after all diving on the live-a-baord will be the perfect rest day before embarking on the next stage of conservation dives on the following days.

Days 9-10 (Mon-Tue): Over the next 2 days, you will join a renown sustainable eco cruise and sail to outer locations in the Great Barrier Reef. You will do 2 dives a day and conduct conservation 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): This day features an on-land conservation day. 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. The type of project available depends on the needs of the region at the time of your trip and can vary. 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 for fully certified divers: Those who are already Open Water and Advanced Open Water certified can join the full 12 day program at a reduced fee as certification is not required. 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 (minimum participants to run each start date is 3)

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 with 4-6 participants per room.

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, some transfers according to itinerary
  • Visa (if required)

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.

The first 6 days are dedicated to completing diving certifications for all participants. From day 7 onwards, the itinerary provides several types of conservation initiatives underwater, with turtles, and on land.

Some of your tasks underwater while diving 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
  • Data collected from the survey dives will be entered into a national database


Volunteers also have one day in the itinerary dedicated to a local turtle rehabilitation center. Tasks will vary depending on the needs of the turtles in their care, and could include: General cleaning and maintenance, food prep and cleaning tanks, engaging in educational lectures, or other if advised by the staff.

During another day of your trip, you’ll team up with a local marine conservation group. Depending on ongoing projects, volunteers may engage in diverse tasks such as learning about marine debris impact, participating in beach cleanups, assisting with facility maintenance, and potentially contributing to the upcycling process, all while enjoying a day filled with learning, action, and community involvement.

Important note: All dives and activities are weather dependant and may change with short notice. Despite the possibility of changes or cancellations due to weather, the team strives wherever possible to provide alternative activities or reschedule dives while on the program.

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 will stay at a local and lively youth hostel in shared mix-gender rooms housing 4-6 people per room during most of the program. Participants will also spend two nights on the live-a-board boat on the Great Barrier Reef in shared facilities to access reefs further off the coast. For participants who would like a quiet or private housing option, we partner with a local boutique hotel to offer private room upgrades. Pricing and availability is subject to the time of booking, general pricing listed below.

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 3 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 a week at our Wild Animal Sanctuary!

Volunteer Experiences

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