Marine Conservation Volunteering

The Reef Conservation 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 (or snorkel) 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 in this incredible marine park. From learning to dive, advancing your dive skills or participating as a snorkeler, all volunteers will spend time with reef experts to monitor the reef and its marine inhabitants for the Marine Park’s conservation program. Volunteers will find this to be an amazing learning and conservation experience. For those with a passion for marine conservation 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

How You Can Help

Volunteers on this exciting program help by supplying information to assist in preserving this amazing environment. The adventure begins in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where participants can opt to become a certified scuba diver by completing the popular PADI Open Water Dive course.  Advanced Open Water, Rescue and Nitrox courses are available for participants already certified. See the Additional Info. section for the start dates and pricing. 

Volunteers then embark upon the reef as certified divers and volunteer marine conservationists and complete underwater Rapid Monitoring surveys to monitor 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 time with a variety of reef experts on the Great Barrier Reef, to learn and experience first-hand the endangered natural wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Volunteers can expect to undertake the following:

  • Certified scuba diving course  
  • Become a volunteer marine conservationist
  • Complete underwater rapid monitoring surveys
  • Complete coral watch fish identification surveys and coral health monitoring
  • Help with turtle identification, benthos transects, marine debris beach clean-ups and debris sorting and categorising
  • Spend time with reef experts learning more about the environment



Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over (17 when accompanied by a guardian) who wish to give their time and energy to help protect the natural environment of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. 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. Beyond this 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, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!  

Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:

  • Emergency contact
  • Vaccination Certificate

Find out how to obtain a police check here

Project Location

Australia, Cairns, Queensland

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.

Start Dates & Duration

Minimum 2 weeks

This project is available throughout the year with arrival days as follows: 

Open Water Certificate: SUNDAY arrival as per the start dates listed on the calendar. 

Advanced Open Water Certificate: TUESDAY arrival, 2 days after the listed start dates.

Rescue Diver Certificate: SUNDAY arrival.  Start dates:
2023: 7May, 4Jun, 2Jul, 3Sep, 1Oct, 5Nov, 3Dec
2024: 7Jan, 4Feb, 3Mar, 5May, 2Jun, 30Jun, 1Sep, 6Oct, 3Nov, 1Dec
2025: 12Jan 

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

Arrival & Orientation

Airport Pickup Included

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

Pick-up is provided from the accommodation the following day to begin the program.

Open Water Certificate:  15 nights

  • Arrival Day: SUNDAY
  • Departure Day: MONDAY
  • Arrival Airport: Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia (Code: CNS)

Advanced Open Water Certificate: 13 nights

  • Arrival Day: TUESDAY
  • Departure Day: MONDAY
  • Arrival Airport: Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia (Code: CNS)

Rescue Diver Certificate: 12 nights

  • Arrival Day: WEDNESDAY
  • Departure Day: MONDAY
  • Arrival Airport: Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia (Code: CNS)

Accommodation & Meals

Public Hostel / Meals Included

Accommodation is provided in Cairns during the theory portion of the dive training and whilst working at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.  

Volunteers are also treated to the incredible opportunity of living on-board a custom dive vessel whilst undertaking dives on the Reef. A unique experience never to be forgotten!

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.

Meals are detailed in the 'Typical Day' outline to the right of this page.


From USD 2559
Program fee:
Different currency?
USD 2559

That’s just USD 183 per day* for:

  • 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

*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.

Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).

Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.

Additional Info

Already Open Water Certified?

Advanced dive courses are available to Open Water Certified volunteers.  Pricing below.
Start dates are listed in the Start Date section.

  • Advanced Open Water Diver Certificate: $2,437
  • Rescue Diver Certificate: US$2,562
  • Nitrox: please enquire for details.

Wanting to extend your impact on the Great Barrier Reef?  Simply book for the 3 week option and undertake further activities. Additional cost for this week: $1,030

Reef Conservation extra week sample activities:

  • Orientation with knowledge and in water competency assessment
  • Reef health monitoring
  • Marine debris beach clean up
  • Turtle research data entry and analysis
  • Ocean plastic sorting tour/talk/sorting
  • Last day - FUN DAY - dive day or tour of Daintree or Aboriginal art tour (weather depending)