Travel to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and join forces with GVI’s marine conservation expedition to earn your PADI diving certificate while working on and monitoring the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world.
Our international team works directly on monitoring the overall health of the reef and you will contribute on coral reef and fish monitoring, turtle nesting surveys, among many other tasks, developing an impressive knowledge of this fascinating underwater environment.
Please note, this program offers durations up to 24 weeks. Speak to your Country Expert for more details of extending your stay in-country
Joining fun-dives; immersing yourself in a truly remote tropical paradise, one of the world’s only remaining truly pristine environments; living in a beautiful part of a different country, with the opportunity to experience a new culture, food and way of life; learning about the Mesoamerican coral reef and how to identify the wildlife it supports; participating in monitoring dives that explore different sites along the coast; seeing mega-fauna such as dolphins, sharks and manatees; snorkelling in cenotes or waterways; searching the beach at night for turtles laying eggs; joining in with community programs; teaching English and raising the environmental awareness of the local community.
This project works in conjunction with several highly regarded organisations such as Amigos de Sian Ka’an, a Mexican NGO famous for their conservation work. Through such partnerships volunteers can be sure their efforts are making a serious and measurable impact under the water.
Scuba Diving Requirements
You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition Scuba diving and as such you need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent. Non divers can join for 8 and 12 week durations, GVI will supply you with all the training you need to be certified up to PADI Advanced Diver training. The 4 week duration is only open for divers already qualified to PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent. For non divers wishing to attend for 4 weeks, we can recommend local dive centres that will help you qualify before your intended start date.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This expedition offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the expedition for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
Life on the Program
While your experience on the expedition will be rewarding, days can be long and tiring which you should be prepared for.
Depending on weather conditions, we aim for everyone to dive 4 days a week with 1 or 2 dives or snorkels each day, during which you will conduct underwater surveys. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in training sessions on base, beach cleans, base duty and working with the local community in delivering English lessons and environmental education workshops. The 5th day will be spent having fun dives in the morning and relaxing in the evenings, often with a barbeque. You'll have your weekends off.
While your living conditions will be basic, our base is located on a white sand beach within a protected reserve. When not working, you can take the opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of the reef and marine species, relax with your fellow volunteers or just take in the stunning sunsets that have to be seen to be believed.
GVI is collecting data in the northern section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, working with our local partners with the aim to:
- Form a comprehensive overview of the ecological health of the reef
- Determine the species and breeding success of sea turtles (seasonal)
- Develop the expedition base as an “Ecological Research and Awareness Centre”
- Develop education and awareness programs within the local community
Overall, our monitoring program in Mexico aims to provide a long term record of coral and fish species abundance over time to contribute to the long term survival of the reef.
How this program makes a difference:
Over time and with the contributions of volunteers, we have been able to amass one of the largest databases in existence on the condition, health and changes of any section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
As a result of our work, our partners have been able to continue with the protection of the Sian Ka’an reef system and local fisherman are now trained in diving and monitoring skills and partake in marine surveys with the park and Amigos de Sian Ka’an staff.
Martin was the first one who spotted it. Approximately 2,5 meter of pure bull shark madness faced us. We just couldn’t believe it! So graceful it swam around us for a minute or two and we studied every single fin move motion. It swam in a half circle in front of us then turned around, swam back and disappeared.
Pues escribo mas que nada para agradecerte. Ya no tuve la oportunidad de decirte en persona la gran experiencia que tuve en estos meses pero te lo digo ahora, este viaje fue una verdadera inyección de vida y aprendí mas de lo que me hubiera imaginado, de verdad. Síganle invirtiendo tiempo y esfuerzo a este gran proyecto y contagien de conciencia a mas personas como lo hicieron conmigo. Muchas gracias por todo, espero nos volvamos a ver pronto.
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- Transfer to base location
- Live and work in a protected reserve surveying deserted reefs under GVI’s research permit
- PADI Open Water (for 8 and 12 week volunteers) and Advanced Open Water
- PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality
- First Aid & CPR training
- Coral reef ecology
- Community work workshop
- Use of O2 equipment workshop
- Diving compressor training workshop
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes