Marine Protection and Conservation

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Coordinator | Ben
Coordinator | Ben
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
Become a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, learn and apply Marine Conservation & Marine Science Survey Techniques and work together with Universities using this data! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Our Oceans Need Saving. No matter if you are simply passionate about Marine Conservation or if you want to get a reference or a decision making tool for a future study - in this program you get most valuable insights in this large field and actively engage in protecting our oceans! 

We will train you in three different areas to make sure you get all tools needed to support us in our work:

  • Comprehensive dive training to become a PADI Advanced Open Water diver in our 5-Star PADI dive centre
  • Conservation and research methods to practically help us doing research underwater
  • PADI speciality courses to learn about selected topics crucial for a healthy ocean

A more detailled description please find here:

PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water dive training: 
Your course begins with your entry level PADI Open Water Diver course which will teach you the basic principles of scuba diving through a combination of confined Water Dives to learn basic scuba skills and Open Water Dives to review skills and explore. On successful completion of your Open Water training, you will then move straight onto Advanced Open Water Diver course which helps divers to increase confidence and build scuba skills to become more comfortable in the water. This course builds on what has been learnt and develops new capabilities such as underwater navigation, deeper water diving, buoyancy control fine tuning, and search and recovery practice. During your program you will do between 40 - 45 dives.

PADI Conservation and Research: This training serves as an introduction for anyone that has an interest in marine conservation and wants to learn more about how the underwater world works and what we can do to conserve it. The program looks at ecology and identification of reef fish, invertebrates and corals. In addition to that we look at research and survey techniques for the underwater world and then complete four scuba dives, covering these subjects. By the end you will have the opportunity to set up and complete your own survey.

PADI Nudibranch Awareness: Nudibranchs are some of the smallest, most fascinating creatures on the coral reef. During this program you will learn all about them including their ecology before heading out onto the reef to survey them.

PADI AWARE Shark specialty: Sharks are crucial to marine ecosystems, yet sharks are in a global decline. Learn about the value of sharks and what is causing the rapid loss of shark populations. The course may include two scuba dives or may be presented as a non-diving education program.

Running alongside the science training are a number of conservation initiatives that you will be part of so you can put all your new found training into practice. 

REEF fish surveys
Each week, you will take part in REEF fish surveys. REEFs mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public. During the course, you will actively take part in Fish Surveys and counts, uploading the data to REEF to be used around the world looking at diversity and numbers of residents on Coral Reefs.

Coral Watch surveys
As well as that, you will conduct Coral Watch surveys in conjunction with the University of Queensland. Coral Watch is a program that we run on our dives that looks at the health of corals around the world. By looking at colour of individual corals and formations and comparing them we can get an indication of how healthy our marine ecosystem is.

Dive for Debris + Whale surveys
Additional science projects you may be involved with during your time in Costa Rica include Dive for Debris which are underwater clean-ups and are held every month, humpback whale surveys during whale season in collaboration with a study at the University of Panama. Additional workshops and talks are given every week to include various marine science topics.

At the end of your 4 weeks you will be a qualified PADI Scuba diver and also have a deeper understanding of our oceans and the conservation efforts required to protect them for generations to come!

You can also stay for 2 more weeks and extend your dive training in the first week (safety training and Emergency First Response) and then take part in our Coral Rehabilitation program for the final week. This is a very exciting project that has just started. A local non-profit organisation, founded by two passionate, long-term experienced divers and scientists, is just getting started to get active saving the coral reefs. During their long-time diving experience they have seen parts of the reefs dying and now want to make a real impact. The project is purely based on scientific facts and data to make sure it has a real long-term impact. Besides the coral nursery a whole concept of marine conservation initiatives like educating the locals and companies, offering workshops and further projects has been set up. All ready to go, real pioneer work that can be done in this phase!

During your time in Costa Rica you will be staying with locals in a homestay. This is a great way to get to know people who live there and the way of life authentically. In this homestays you will get two meals a day (breakfast and dinner), WiFi is available and a laundry service. You don`t need to be able to speak Spanish to participate in this program. Our common language in the program and with participants is English - even though the locals are always happy if you learn some words on the way.

Costa Rica as a country is the perfect choice for a program like this as it is very active in nature protection. Within a fantastic surrounding it is a true paradise for everyone who loves nature. You will swim with turtles, rays, sharks, dolphins and even whales! In your free time there is plenty to do: visit volcanos, rivers, rain forests, endless beaches or - if you are adventurous - optional activities like surfing or ziplining!

Typical day

You will be active in this program 6 days a week with one day off (usually a Sunday). Your day typically either starts early in the morning and ends in the afternoon (7 am - 2 pm) or starts a bit later in the morning and ends later in the afternoon (10:30 am - 6 pm). This mostly depends on the phase and week of the program you are in. You will have theoretical classes during the day as well as dives to learn for your dive qualifications first and later for the reef surveys. As you will be busy during the day your host family will serve you a breakfast in the morning and a dinner when you return home.

Free-time activities

In your free time there is plenty things to do as Costa Rica is famous for its beautiful and diverse nature: Visit volcanos, rivers, rain forests, endless beaches or – if you are adventurous – try optional activities like surfing or ziplining. For all other activities you might like to do just ask our staff there - a lot of them live there since a very long time and will be able to give you recommendations for anything you have in mind.
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
Medical Document, PADI document and Copy of ID
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You should be passionate about the ocean and protecting it actively, keen to learn about this intersting field, open-minded to meet new people and be able to communicate in English on a daily basis. Besides that we just want you to have a great and informative time in Costa Rica!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

What's Included

Services by Gapforce

Included in this price is:

  • Pre-departure briefing
  • San Jose Airport Pick up and return (flights excluded)
  • Local co-ordinators
  • Homestay accommodation including breakfast, dinner, Wi-Fi and laundry
  • PADI Open Water certification
  • PADI Advanced Open Water certification
  • PADI Emergency First Response certification
  • PADI Marine Conservation specialty
  • PADI Nudibranch Awareness specialty
  • PADI AWARE Shark
  • Survey dives
  • 24/7 emergency back-up
  • Financial bonding

Airport Pickup at Juan Santamaria International Airport

Pick up and return to San Jose Airport (SJO).


We have some local guest families we work together with for a long time now. You will be staying with them in an authentic home, getting home-made breakfast and dinner and also WiFi is available here. Besides that the guest family offers a laundry service for you. The accommodations are all in walking distance.

Guest Family
Food & Beverages

You will get breakfast and dinner in your guest family.

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 Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica.
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 Costa Rica provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Costa Rica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Costa Rica.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

We run our program four times a year. Typically in January, March, July and November. The start date is the day you need to arrive at the airport in San Jose. We will pick you up there so the next day we all start our program together.

This program is paused due to COVID-19 and reopens November 2021. Apply Now!

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 6 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
5 weeks
6 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$1,106 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Gapforce 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 Gapforce 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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Marine Protection and Conservation

Become a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, learn and apply Marine Conservation & Marine Science Survey Techniques and work together with Universities using this data!


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