Our award winning Marine Conservation project in Thailand supports marine conservation and research initiatives on the beautiful island of Koh Tao.
You will take part in a marine conservation programme learning more about the marine environment, contributing to research, managing local reefs, and working on coral restoration and protection. The project has two main objectives; surveying the reefs and implementing local environmental initiatives to protect the oceans and coastline. Divers of all abilities are welcomed and scuba diving courses are provided.
Live on the idyllic island of Koh Tao and explore its world famous dive sites! Explore the island’s beaches, sights and jungles in your free time.
Join the team and contribute to an innovative marine conservation programme.
Coral Reefs cover less than 2% of the ocean floor but support 25% of all marine life. They are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth, but also one of the most threatened. The Marine Conservation project in Thailand aims to address this through a foundation of research, education and local restoration and protection measures.
The programme is structured over 4 weeks which you can join for 1 week or more as well as any additional time for dive courses you may need (see diving section below). The longer you are able to stay, the more diverse the range of conservation topics and initiatives you will be able to get involved in.
Each week combines lectures with dives and activities that have a specific conservation focus. Here is an outline of what’s typically involved, which can vary through the year depending on the research and activities being undertaken by the project:
“Volunteers are truly what make our program a success. They help us complete the day to day tasks, achieve success in our projects and initiatives. Over the years our program has evolved incredibly, and a lot of the progress can be attributed to the enthusiastic and determined people that we have had the pleasure of hosting.”
Chad, Marine Biologist
In order to take part in the conservation programme you will need to have completed your SSI Advanced Diver or equivalent certification. If you are a beginner or Open Water certified diver you will take the additional dive courses before you start the 1-4 week conservation programme. If you have a certification but haven’t dived in the last 6-12 months you may also need a scuba refresher. SSI (Scuba Schools International) is an internationally recognised dive standard equivalent to PADI.
You will participate in the project from Monday - Friday with weekends off to relax and explore, there is lots to do in your free time. A typical day is normally from 9am - 5pm with a mix of diving and lectures, which varies depending on the topic.
The project also has two longer term internship programmes which have a variety of start dates each year. Volunteers can either join the Conservation Internship or Dive Master and Conservation Internship.
You can find out more about the types of internships available here.
There are usually 5-10 volunteers who work along full time staff and interns. There are also other divers taking part in recreational dive courses and diving.
This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.
Volunteers are supported by Dev, the founder of the dive school. Originally from the UK, Dev has lived in Thailand for over 20 years and is a highly experienced diver and conservationist.
You will have your own ensuite room with a fan and cold water shower just a few minutes’ walk from the dive school – some rooms are owned by the dive school and others are in neighbouring hotels. The rooms are in a great location, just minutes from the beach! There is WIFI available at the dive school.
Alternatively, you can upgrade to a premium room located by the beachfront next to the dive school, for a weekly supplement. These include air-conditioning and hot water showers and have a lovely view over the the bay.
Meals are not included in the placement but there are lots of cafes and restaurants nearby, giving you a great choice of Thai and international food, including vegetarian and vegans options.
Drinking water is provided at the dive school for you to use.
You will need to fly into Bangkok (BKK). We recommend that volunteers take a connecting flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui (USM) and then a ferry to Koh Tao. You can alternatively take a bus or train to Chumphon and ferry on to Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is a dramatic mix of dense jungle and hilly terrain in its interior, and granite outcrops and beaches along its coast. The island is one of a number on the south east coast of Thailand which are popular destinations for travellers, including Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. It has become best known for the abundance of excellent dive sites nearby. It is a simple, friendly and fun island with an atmosphere that means people usually stay a lot longer than intended!
There are plenty of bars and restaurants on the island, giving you a good choice for eating and going out. There are also many activities you can get involved in such Muay Thai (kick-boxing), hiking and Thai cooking. These activities are best booked locally.
The dive school has yoga classes available onsite for a small additional cost. Many volunteers choose to join the evening class after they have finished their conservation work. If you are staying for 4 weeks, there is also the option of taking a freediving course at weekends, gaining your Freediving Level 1 certification (at additional cost).
Volunteers live on the south side of the island on a beautiful bay; the south is relaxed with friendly cafes, restaurants and shops in walking distance.
Water temperature: 27-31°C
Depth range: Up to 40m
Common marine life you will encounter: large schools of fish including; barracuda, bat fish, trevally; groupers; angel fish; butterfly fish; parrot fish; anemone and clown fish; wrasse; trigger fish; moray eels; green turtles; hawksbill turtles; blue spotted stingrays. You may also be lucky enough to encounter pelagics (the bigger open ocean marine life) like a whale shark!
The island of Koh Tao has a tropical climate and throughout the year it is hot with temperatures generally between 25-33˚C. There can be tropical rain showers at any time of year but the main rainy season is from October to December.
Thailand is often referred to as the ‘land of smiles’ and is a huge attraction for travellers from around the world due to its glorious beaches, tropical climate, great food and fascinating culture. Popular activities in Thailand that you might like to combine with your project are:
For more information on Thailand and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Thailand country page. This also features all our other Thailand volunteering projects as you might like to consider combining this project with one of the others we offer to make a trip of a lifetime!
If you are a beginner (no dive certifications)
Arrival day: Sunday
2021 - 27 Jun, 25 Jul, 22 Aug, 19 Sep*, 12 Dec
2022 - 9 Jan, 6 Feb, 6 Mar, 3 Apr, 1 May, 29 May, 26 Jun, 24 Jul, 21 Aug, 18 Sep*
If you are PADI / SSI Open Water or equivalent
Arrival day: Wednesday
2021 - 30 Jun, 28 Jul, 25 Aug, 22 Sep*, 15 Dec
2022 - 12 Jan, 9 Feb, 9 Mar, 6 Apr, 4 May, 1 Jun, 29 Jun, 27 Jul, 24 Aug, 21 Sep*
If you are PADI / SSI Advanced or equivalent
Arrival day: Saturday
2021 - 3 Jul, 31 Jul, 28 Aug, 25 Sep*, 18 Dec
2022 - 15 Jan, 12 Feb, 12 Mar, 9 Apr, 7 May, 4 Jun, 2 Jul, 30 Jul, 27 Aug, 24 Sep*
* Maximum 3 week conservation course only available on these start dates
The project is closed between mid-October to mid-December.
|BEGINNERS - 1 week conservation + SSI Open Water + SSI Advanced Course (14 nights)||£1495||GB Pounds|
|BEGINNERS - 2 weeks conservation + SSI Open Water + SSI Advanced Course (21 nights)||£1995||GB Pounds|
|BEGINNERS - 3 weeks conservation + SSI Open Water + SSI Advanced Course (28 nights)||£2495||GB Pounds|
|BEGINNERS - 4 weeks conservation + SSI Open Water + SSI Advanced Course (28 nights)||£2995||GB Pounds|
|OPEN WATER DIVERS - 1 week conservation + SSI Advanced Course (11 nights)||£1195||GB Pounds|
|OPEN WATER DIVERS - 2 weeks conservation + SSI Advanced Course (18 nights)||£1695||GB Pounds|
|OPEN WATER DIVERS - 3 weeks conservation + SSI Advanced Course (25 nights)||£2195||GB Pounds|
|OPEN WATER DIVERS - 4 weeks conservation + SSI Advanced Course (32 nights)||£2695||GB Pounds|
|ADVANCED DIVERS - 1 week conservation (7 nights)||£875||GB Pounds|
|ADVANCED DIVERS - 2 weeks conservation (14 nights)||£1375||GB Pounds|
|ADVANCED DIVERS - 3 weeks conservation (21 nights)||£1875||GB Pounds|
|ADVANCED DIVERS - 4 weeks conservation (28 nights)||£2375||GB Pounds|
The prices above are for a standard room, for a premium room there is a supplementary fee of £150 per week.
Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis. For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.
All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT).
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
"After doing this for just a month it felt like I had been studying marine biology for years with the amount of information that was somehow packed into my eventful day. In contrast however, every day was unfathomably relaxing thanks to island life. Even with an 8am rise, morning lecture, daily dive, nightly parties, and everything in between, there was no point at which I felt like I couldn't cope. Everything was "structured" perfectly and the dive school is undoubtedly the absolute best on the island - and I'm not joking when I say this - but perhaps in the entire world.
However long you're planning to stay, triple it. Time doesn't exist on that island and a month went by in what felt like less than a week - trust me you will regret not booking for longer!"
"This is a fantastic project and a great opportunity to contribute to incredibly worthy marine conservation. I learnt a huge amount about marine conservation, through daily lectures and conservation dives. I was hugely impressed by the research, and it's amazing to be able to spend time alongside such a knowledgeable and passionate team. The project caters to all levels of conservation and diving experience, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone!
It's fun, interesting, valuable and rewarding, and you'll have some amazing memories. A lot of people on the island and project have gone short term, but ended up staying permanently and it's easy to see why once you're there!"
“I had a wonderful experience being a part of the conservation work. I was able to participate in a lot of different projects during my two weeks in Koh Tao, like reef surveying and coral restoration, and learned a lot through the daily lectures. The conservation team was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about teaching and conservation work and it was really inspiring! I loved my time there and highly recommend it for others!
You come away feeling like you might have helped the local reefs and organisms even if the work is on a smaller scale. With all the negative information about coral reefs being degraded, it's nice to know that people like the conservation team are fighting for the coral!! It's a really positive and inspiring environment to be a part of."
"Everything about this project met or exceeded my expectations. From day 1 the team were welcoming and supportive, no matter how long you are joining them for they go out of their way to include you in their "extended family". The passion and dedication they have for the project is obvious to see and inspiring to be part of.
They always have time to talk through and issues or problems, no one is left struggling with a task they are unsure about and while we are challenged with tasks or general conditions on some days no one is forced into something they are truly uncomfortable with and this creates a very positive atmosphere within the group. The hardest part of this project is leaving, I extended for a week and am already planning and saving for a return as soon as I can!"
artificial reefs deployed
"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder
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“This placement has changed the way I dive, I am so much more aware of what is happening to the reefs and have a much better knowledge now of underwater life that a hobby that I have always loved has become even better.”Read more volunteer reviews
"The most rewarding thing for me was to see the marine animals using the artificial reefs we were creating and knowing that what you're doing will benefit the reef and the island. You'll grow as a person and a diver, and make some good friends along the way."Read more volunteer reviews
“You volunteer with smart, dedicated people who are eager to learn about the island’s truly amazing marine ecosystems and to contribute to the ongoing projects aimed at research, maintenance and protection of the reefs.”Read more volunteer reviews