A Projects Abroad volunteer collects data on a Diving and Marine Conservation volunteering project.

Diving & Coral Reef Protection in Thailand

Marine Conservation Volunteering in Thailand

At a glance

  • Gain a PADI Advanced Open Water certificate and Peak Performance Buoyancy Speciality Certification.
  • Contribute to our important marine conservation work in Thailand while adding great experience to your CV.
  • Guided by conservationists, you'll carry out underwater surveys, coral propagation, and extra land-based initiatives.
  • You’ll live with other volunteers in a comfortable hotel on Koh Tao Island. During your free time, you can explore the stunning beaches, taste delicious Thai cuisine, or take trips to nearby islands.

Start Dates: 

Anytime

See Dates

Minimum Duration: 

Two Weeks

Ages: 

16 or over


Is Marine Conservation volunteering in Thailand right for me?

If you like working outdoors and want to help marine life and the environment, this marine conservation program is for you. 

Thinking about a career in conservation? Then this marine conservation volunteer opportunity will boost your resume, and demonstrate your commitment by getting actively involved in efforts to protect our planet. In addition, you can also pursue a professional Divemaster qualification with us if you're able to stay for the time It takes to qualify. Ultimately, the experience will help set you apart from the crowd in applications and interviews and help you develop your personal skills.

Everything you do in Thailand is geared towards preserving marine life and helping it thrive. For example,  we build artificial structures for coral restoration, remove debris and nets from reefs, collect survey data, and monitor invasive species.

You don’t need previous experience to join this project. We’ll teach you everything you need to know and our staff are there throughout to help and guide you. In addition, all of your dives are supervised by qualified Diver Masters. 

You’ll spend an entire week training and learning to dive. This includes multiple PADI Dive Courses and specializations. By the time you start your marine conservation work, you’ll be an Advanced Open Water Diver with a Peak Performance Speciality! This ensures that you are able to confidently maneuver underwater and safely conduct project work.

This project runs year-round and you can join for a minimum of two weeks. However, it is recommended to stay longer, as you’ll get to see and do much more.

Diving volunteers in Thailand on a boat

Learn to dive 

Your diving training takes place in the dive shop’s pool and in the ocean. By the end of your first week in Thailand, you’ll obtain your PADI Open Water, PADI Advanced Open Water, and Peak Performance Buoyancy certifications! This means you can safely take part in underwater conservation work with the team. You’ll keep learning and developing your skills throughout your time in Thailand. 

In the long run, your volunteer work will contribute to helping protect coral reefs in Thailand. These advanced qualifications will also be useful for future conservation work and recreational diving. 

Take part in survey dives with professional divers

Survey dives will help monitor the health and biodiversity of the reefs. Data will be important in determining future policies to protect the marine area. You will also use this data during workshops and lessons. 

Gain conservation skills and knowledge

The Marine Conservation Project is designed to teach you about coral reefs, their benefits, and the issues they face globally. You’ll join regular workshops and lessons to improve your knowledge and awareness of conservation issues and skills. This will be a part of a wider Citizen Science course where you can experience some of the latest research projects being conducted by marine biologists.  

This course includes studying microplastics, water quality, coral health, and new methods of recycling and upcycling. Many of the topics you learn about will link to the dives you conduct that day. For example; you might collect water samples during a dive, and then test the samples at the base in the afternoon. 

The longer you stay on the project, the more detailed and varied your studies and skills will be.

Plant and maintain coral reefs

The main focus of this project is to help restore vulnerable coral reefs, while also creating new artificial reefs. This involves surveys, construction work, and planting coral fragments onto new nurseries underwater. Existing reefs require extensive maintenance to keep them clean and to reduce the influx of invasive species.

In many places around the world, it is illegal to touch or damage coral. However, the Department of Marine & Coastal Resources has approved special permission for our team to transplant coral around Koh Tao. You’ll be part of this process and will learn the different stages of transplanting, as well as techniques to use ‘corals of opportunity’ to rebuild impacted areas. You’ll assist marine biologists in our research and restoration areas while discovering the many techniques that suit different corals and locations.

Fishing nets and even trash can be found in the most remote locations. During dives, you will remove ropes, nets, glass, aluminum cans, and other items that are suffocating or threatening coral reefs and other marine life. You’ll be taught how to plan scuba dives to remove debris, and the decision-making process to remove only certain items. You’ll also collect data to push for changes in regulations at government levels in order to reduce debris levels in our oceans.

Join beach clean-ups along the coastline

Litter and trash are harmful to marine life and wildlife in general. With volunteers from around the world, you will walk along Koh Tao’s beaches, collecting and correctly discarding rubbish. Thousands of cigarette butts alone litter Koh Tao’s beaches. 

After each beach clean-up, you’ll make notes, and share this data with local officials. This information can then be used for educational purposes, and for long-term conservation plans in the area. 

You’ll join workshops to repurpose and mold plastic into new items. Learn new ways to recycle and manage waste.

Who are our project partners?

We use the PADI dive courses as our basic dive training program. You will study and train during your first week in Thailand. 

Within a week of your arrival in Thailand, you’ll be ready to dive and assist the team with valuable underwater research work. This period of training forms an important part of your conservation work. 

We are committed to preserving and restoring the marine and coastal environment. We do this through numerous activities in collaboration with multiple local and international partners. These include: 

  • Ocean Conservancy
  • Reef Check Foundation
  • Big Microplastics Survey
  • Innoceana
  • CoralWatch
  • UNEP
  • Green Fins

Our partnerships with local and international groups show our commitment to the conservation of marine life in and around Thailand. 


Where in Thailand will I be working?

Koh Tao

You will be based in Koh Tao, a tropical island off the east coast of Thailand. It is part of the Chumphon Archipelago and provides pristine diving conditions throughout the year. The hotel and dive centre are based on Mae Haad Beach. You’ll dive across many sites around the island, in the Gulf of Thailand.

You will stay at a beachside hotel with ensuite rooms and wifi. You will have air conditioning and hot showers. Shared rooms are same-sex only, unless you are travelling with friends and request otherwise.

When not working, you can relax by the pool, or explore the island and tropical beaches. There is lively nightlife and beautiful viewpoints across the island.

Airport pickup, flights and visas

When you arrive at your respective airport, a member of Projects Abroad staff will be there to meet you. You can find more detailed information on arrival airports, orientation, and visas on our Thailand Arrival Procedures page.


A typical day as a Marine Conservation volunteer in Thailand

A typical day in Thailand on the Conservation Project begins around 7 am and ends at 4 pm. Your day is packed with activities that benefit the local environment and the community. You’ll have breakfast with the other volunteers at the Dive Shop restaurant.

You will follow a schedule each week in Thailand.

Mornings are usually spent doing land-based conservation activities such as beach cleanups, microplastic surveys, upcycling workshops, or attending presentations to learn more about different issues and skills.

In the afternoon you will go diving and join reef surveys, remove debris and invasive species such as drupella snails, and maintain the artificial reefs. You will usually dive twice per day. It's common for the dives and workshops during the day to be related to each other.

Lunch and dinner are also provided at the restaurant which offers a large variety of Western and Asian options. 

During your free time, you can explore the island. Discover new beaches and viewpoints.

Two volunteers are seen diving and collecting samples whilst on their marine conservation work in Thailand with Projects Abroad.

What are the aims and impact of this Conservation Project?

The aim of this project is to help threatened marine life in the Koh Tao area. By training and educating divers and non-divers about ocean issues, we hope to improve the health of our oceans and coral reefs.

The waters around Koh Tao used to be shark-infested, but the population has reduced dramatically over the decades. The whole ecosystem needs protection and support to protect these apex predators. The Koh Tao region has also suffered multiple coral bleaching events recently. The worst mass bleaching event occurred in 2010, and more events have impacted the reefs since. Tourism, development, and the dropping of anchors have threatened the fragile ecosystems of Koh Tao. 

There are a number of ongoing marine conservation missions we are involved with to limit the impact of these threats. The primary focus of the project is the preservation and restoration of coral reefs so that future generations can benefit from these important ecosystems and the marine life around the island stays healthy.

The data we collect during dives is shared with local authorities and global research projects with the aim of improving environmental policies and making a positive change. Practical work to build and maintain reefs has a clear and visible impact. Immediate changes can be made to protect reefs by deploying mooring buoys and preventing anchors from dropping onto the reef.

By doing ocean conservation work abroad in Thailand, you can help support and protect our oceans. Become a marine conservation volunteer today to help make this happen!

Female volunteer uses scissors to cut a net tangled in the coral reef in Thailand

Management plans

We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.


Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.


Measuring our impact

Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.


Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.


Food and accommodation

You’ll share accommodation with other Projects Abroad volunteers and interns during your stay at Koh Tao. This is a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and interns, share experiences, and explore your surroundings in your free time together.

The accommodation is safe, clean, and comfortable. Your program fees include three meals a day.

You’ll have an ensuite hotel room with air conditioning and hot showers. There are swimming pools and a beachside restaurant to relax at in your spare time.

Find out more about our accommodation.


Leisure activities and free time

Experience the stunning landscapes and rich cultures of Southeast Asia. Thailand is an unforgettable country with plenty of enticing things for you to get up to in your free time.

One of the highlights of volunteering in Thailand is the pristine beaches. With stunning snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, it’s a great destination to choose if you’re interested in marine life. There’s always the chance to relax on the beach in the warm glow of the sun.

You can easily explore the nearby islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, famous for its ‘full moon party’.


Safety and staff support

Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.


Find out more about safety and backup.

When you apply you only pay a $295 deposit, which comes off the total program fees.

Things are changing rapidly these days. If you have ANY questions, please call us at (+1) 917 810 4744 and we’ll fill you in on the latest updates.

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