Great Barrier Reef Conservation Experience

founded in 2010
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Coordinator | Nicole
Coordinator | Nicole
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
Experience 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

Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef is a bucket-list item for many - combine this with marine conservation activities and you have a volunteering program like no other! This amazing Dive program allows budding marine conservation volunteers to learn or improve their 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 more advanced dive courses (detailed under Additional Info.) 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 Great Barrier Reef Conservation experience suitable for those wishing to learn to dive and qualified divers alike. Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Nitrox programs are available. View details on the Additional Info. and Start Date tabs.

Open Water Certificate

Day 1: Sunday Arrive into Cairns

Arrive into Cairns and transfer to your hostel. Enjoy your day discovering this amazing location! Points of interest include a stroll along the Esplanade, the Botanic Gardens, a swim in the Lagoon, the port and the CBD. 

Day 2-3: Monday and Tuesday Open Water Certificate training begins

Volunteers are picked up from the hostel in the morning and transfer 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 under the watchful eye of the 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 at the hostel.

Day 4-6: Wednesday, Thursday and FridayGreat 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. Depending on weather conditions you will undertake a total of 9 dives; 4 of which will complete your Open Water Dive Certification, 4 fun dives and a night dive. Return to Cairns late afternoon on Friday for some well deserved free time on land! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided on Wednesday and Thursday and breakfast and lunch on Friday.

Day 7-8: Saturday and Sunday Free time

This weekend is free time 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. Breakfast is included at the hostel.

Day 9: Monday Reef Monitoring Orientation

Today is spent getting to know the local team and fellow volunteers and learning about the Reef Monitoring and Turtle Conservation projects. The Orientation session runs from 9am to 4pm with breaks for snacks and lunch. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 10-11: Tuesday and Wednesday Island reef research and conservation activities.

Catch the 7:30am ferry to a tropical Island where you will undertake Rapid Monitoring surveys, Coral Watch surveys and species counts. You can either return to Cairns at midday or stay on the island for the afternoon to explore, relax on the beach or swim and snorkel. Breakfast and lunch is included.

Day 12-13: Thursday and Friday Overnight reef adventure 

A unique experience to be hosted overnight on the reef, aboard a fully-equipped activity pontoon. Enjoy the stunning sunsets and experience inaccessible areas of the incredible Great Barrier Reef. Volunteers will conduct reef monitoring on Thursday and have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the activities and tours available. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner included on Thursday.

Day 14: Saturday Check out of the hostel and depart Cairns. Breakfast is included at the hostel.

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 and Vaccination Certificate
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. It is a dive course requirement that participants can swim 200 metres or snorkel 300 metres and tread water/float for 10 minutes.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Love Volunteers
  • 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 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 meals on-board as noted.
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. 

Open Water Certificate: SUNDAY arrival. 13 nights, 12 days

Advanced Open Water Certificate: TUESDAY arrival.  11 nights, 10 days.

Rescue Diver Certificate: SATURDAY arrival.  14 nights, 15 days.

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

This program is paused due to COVID-19

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

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
2 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$1,448 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. 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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Great Barrier Reef Conservation Experience

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


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