Great Barrier Reef Conservation Assistant

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founded in 2010
Love Volunteers
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Coordinator | Nicole
Coordinator | Nicole
Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef and combine this with marine conservation activities and you have a volunteering program like no other! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

The program

This amazing Learn to Dive program allows budding marine conservation volunteers to learn the skill through a well-renowned dive operator while also participating in a credible reef monitoring program. With a high commitment to environmental protection and sustainability, this unique dive program falls under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s monitoring program ‘Eye on the Reef’ and is designed for volunteers interested in scuba diving, marine conservation and spending time on the reef. From learning to dive (or brushing up on their skills) to spending time with reef experts and monitoring the reef for the Marine Park’s conservation program, volunteers will find this to be an amazing learning, scuba diving and conservation experience. Volunteers with a passion for marine conservation and the willingness to learn to dive, this program promises to deliver a life changing experience.

Goals of this Project:

  • Protect Australia’s amazing Great Barrier Reef
  • Provide information to researchers and conservation authorities to help preserve marine life
  • Raise awareness of the conservation issues of the Reef and teach people how to love, respect and preserve the marine environment
  • Enable inter-cultural exchange between all parties and teach international visitors more about marine conservation and Australia

Note: This program offers a 2 week 'Learn to Dive' option for those wishing to be certified and a 1 week 'Snorkel or Certified Diver' option.

How you can help

Volunteers on this exciting program help by supplying information to help preserve this amazing environment. The adventure begins in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where participants will become a certified scuba diver by completing the popular 5 Day PADI Open Water Course (Advanced Courses or Nitrox available for participants already certified). Then volunteers embark upon the reef as certified divers and volunteer marine conservationists where they will join the ‘Eye on the Reef’ program and complete 8-10 underwater Rapid Monitoring surveys monitoring coral health. The information gathered provides managers and researchers with up-to-date information on reef health status and trends, the distribution of protected and iconic species, and early warnings of environmental impacts. Volunteers will also have the unique opportunity to spend 4 days with a reef expert on the Great Barrier Reef, to learn and experience first-hand the endangered natural wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef. Volunteers will undertake a minimum of 17 dives for the duration of the project. Volunteers who wish to snorkel and certified divers may start Day 7.

Volunteers can expect to undertake the following:

  • Complete a certified 5 day scuba diving course
  • Become a volunteer marine conservationist on the Eye on the Reef program
  • Complete underwater Rapid Monitoring surveys
  • Spend time with reef experts learning more about the environment

Typical day

This program is an incredible 12 day, 10 night Great Barrier Reef Conservation experience suitable for those wishing to learn to dive, qualified divers and snorkelers alike. Note: Qualified divers and snorkelers should book the 1 week program; joining on Day 7. Certified Open Divers also have the option of doing the 2 week trip and completing their Advanced Course

Day 1 Arrive into Cairns and check into the hostel

Enjoy your day discovering Cairns. Points of interest include a stroll along the Esplanade, the Botanic Gardens, a swim in the Lagoon, the port and the CBD. A briefing is given in the late afternoon or early evening.

Day 2 - 3 Begin your PADI learn to dive course with 2 days of theory and pool dives

Volunteers are picked up from the hostel each morning and taken to the Training Center for the theory section of their PADI certification with a qualified instructor. Put all the theory into use in the pool during your practical sessions where all your underwater skills are honed under the watchful eyes of your instructors. After lunch on day 3 it is time for your theory test and a briefing of the upcoming days out on the Great Barrier Reef. Transfer back to the hostel late afternoon each day. Breakfast is included daily.

Day 3 - 6 Great Barrier Reef - 3 nights staying aboard a boat and exploring the reef from above and below the surface

Head out to the incredible Great Barrier Reef for three days of practical training and reef monitoring work, involving a total of 9 dives and completing your PADI course. Return to Cairns late afternoon on day 6. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided. A briefing takes place late afternoon or early evening.

Day 7 Rest day in Cairns. Snorkelers and Qualified divers arrive

Enjoy a day off from the water and a chance to explore Cairns and the surrounding area. Optional activities include Daintree National Park, discovering the waterfalls in the Cairns Highlands rainforest tours, extreme activities like skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating or Mountain Biking tours. Alternatively, just relax by the pool at the hostel or at the Lagoon. Snorkelers and Certified Divers arrive today and check into their hostel. A Reef Teach presentation is held in the early evening, giving an insight into the magical world of the coral reef. Breakfast is included at the hostel.

Day 8 - 11 Great Barrier Reef Day trips – Reef Conservation tasks

These 3 days are spent aboard a vessel (returning to Cairns late afternoon); exploring the reef both above and below the surface. Under the guidance of your reef expert you will undertake a selection of activities each day while diving (2 x dives per day), including Rapid Monitoring surveys and a species count. Snorkelers carry out Coral Watch surveys. Afternoons are free time and breakfast and lunch is provided.

Day 12 Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Center

Visit tropical Fitzroy Island by ferry to undertake a monitoring survey and take an educational tour of the Island's Turtle Rehabilitation Center. You can either return to Cairns at midday or stay on the island for the afternoon to explore the island, relax on the beach or swim and snorkel. A de-briefing takes place back in Cairns in the evening. Breakfast is included.

Day 13 Check out of the hostel and depart Cairns

Free-time activities

A tropical holiday feel prevails on the streets of Cairns and visitors can't help but relax and enjoy the vibe. Strolling the streets is a social event with people enjoying the temperate climate and relaxing in the many bars, restaurants and cafes. Esplanade Lagoon offers the opportunity to swim and relax without leaving town.  

Surrounded by stunning natural attractions - such as the famous Great Barrier Reef where this program is located, Daintree National Park and the stunning Northern beaches - Cairns is a magnet for eco and adventure travelers and is well equipped to cater to every visitors needs.

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Required Documents
Emergency contact
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
This 'hands-on' project is best suited to those who are either pursuing a career in conservation/environmental studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in this field. However, the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by your local project leader. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help and show drive
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Love Volunteers
  • Airport pick-up on arrival
  • Orientation & full safety briefing
  • Accommodation (as specified above)
  • Food & Meals (as specified above)
  • 24/7 local support network
  • Project placement & onsite supervision
  • Registration fee included
Airport Pickup at Cairns Airport

Volunteers arrive into Cairns International Airport and take a complimentary shuttle to the accommodation. 

  • Arrival Airport: Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia (Code: CNS)


Accommodation on this program is at a popular hostel when in Cairns and onboard a boat whilst diving the reef.

In Cairns volunteers stay in a well-equipped and centrally located hostel. Rooms are typically split by gender and cater for to 6 persons sharing. Modern bathroom facilities are attached to each room. The hostel has all the amenities you would expect (and a few you normally find in luxury accommodations) including a communal kitchen, onsite laundry, a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi.

Food & Beverages
Breakfast is provided daily at the hostel and a free Sunday evening BBQ is arranged each week.
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Cairns Airport (CNS) in Cairns. We assist you to find cheap flights to Australia.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Australia provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Australia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Australia.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

This project is available on set start dates throughout the year. 

Volunteers wishing to learn to dive should sign up for the 2 week program. Certified divers join on Day 6 of the program and should choose the 1 week duration.

  • Arrival Day: THURSDAY
  • Departure Day: SATURDAY

Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 2 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$ 2,401
2 weeks (max. stay)
$ 2,896
Average fees
$ 1,925 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Love Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Love Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
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Change your reservation at no extra costs
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We refund your fees if Love Volunteers cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Love Volunteers.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

  Oceania Australia and New Zealand Australia  Cairns City, National Route 1

Great Barrier Reef Conservation Assistant

Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef and combine this with marine conservation activities and you have a volunteering program like no other!


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