Mexico Akumal – Marine Conservation

Earn your PADI Advanced and PADI Coral Reef Researcher Diver Qualification as you join a team of international volunteers in partnership with highly regarded organizations.

Travel to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and join forces with us on the marine conservation expedition, earn your PADI diving certificate while working on and monitoring the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world.

Our team works directly on monitoring the overall health of the reef and you will contribute to coral reef and fish monitoring, among many other tasks, developing an impressive knowledge of this fascinating underwater environment.

Please note, this programme offers durations up to 24 weeks.

Project core activities

  • Coral restoration nurseries
  • Turtle photo id and monitoring
  • Sea grass monitoring and mapping
  • Tourist impact assessment
  • Turtle nesting (seasonal) monitoring around the area
  • Incidental sightings recording
  • Weekly beach cleans
  • Teaching in the local schools in Akumal each week, and outreach work to assist the community and promote conservation practices.

Immerse yourself in a tropical paradise, live 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 and sharks; snorkelling in cenotes or waterways; joining in with community programmes; teaching English and raising the environmental awareness of the local community; and joining fun-dives.

This project works in conjunction with several highly regarded organisations such as Centro Ecologico Akumal, 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 and Additional Courses

You will spend the majority of your time on this expedition gaining and improving Marine conservation and Scuba diving skills, helping our partners carry out their marine conservation work. Non-divers can join for 8- and 12-week durations, our program partner will supply you with all the training you need to be certified up to PADI Advanced Diver. 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 centers that will help you qualify before your intended start date


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 get into the water everyday to dive or snorkel but this is also dependent on the needs of our partners as there are conservation measures in place which will not require you to dive 5 days a week. During your time in the water you will conduct underwater surveys after you complete your training. Besides diving, you should expect to be involved in additional projects and activities, including training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal, environmental education session or alternative income training, depending on local and project needs. You will also be required to complete base duties.

While your living conditions will be basic, our base is located on a property a few hundred meters from the beach. When not working, you can take the opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of the reef and marine species, explore the nearby cities, cenotes, relax with your fellow volunteers or just take in the stunning sunsets that have to be seen to be believed.

Our program partner 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.

Develop education and awareness programmes within the local community.

Overall, our monitoring programme 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.

Akumal’s short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to on the Marine Conservation Expedition in Akumal:

Provide data to our partners on the overall health of the reef, to be used for coastal management, and to have a better understanding of the Mesoamerican barrier reef system.

Raise environmental awareness within the area and local community.

Minimise the environmental impact that visitors and other people have within the bay area.

Increase in-country capacity within our partners and community members in the area.

How this program makes a difference:

Over time and with the contributions of a small number of volunteers,  Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA) have been able to amass a large database on the condition, health and changes of this section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. With all our helpful and hardworking participants we can help our partners move forward providing great support to their work these other areas of the reef


Volunteering with us not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established during the programme.

Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with our program partners. Our Yucatan field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Mexico!

Mexico Akumal – Marine Conservation

Program Highlights

  • This is a real chance to learn hands on conservation techniques and provide our primary partners with accurate data which can be used to monitor the health of the marine environment and support active conservation measures in the area through CEAS publishing and policy change.
  • We dive and snorkel and use many different ways to monitor reef healthy.
  • This is not a standalone diving programme people need to be aware that they may not dive every day.

But all that we do is geared towards positive work supporting our partners

Specific program focuses

Monitoring the health of coral reefs through monitoring the corals and fish – Volunteers are divided into fish or coral by the onsite Science Officer. The 4 to 8 week volunteers will be allocated to learn Fish families and the appropriate methodology, they may also be able to help with and learn Coral Watch. Fish study either adult of juvenile fish. If volunteers progress quickly they may learn both.

Coral is divided into the study of sessile organisms on the reef and coral diseases, this will be done on base once they have learned the coral species list.
Other programmes which will run throughout the year as and when they are needed to be completed:

  • Coral restoration nurseries
  • Turtle photo id and monitoring
  • Sea grass monitoring and mapping
  • Tourist impact assessment
  • Turtle nesting (seasonal) monitoring around the area
  • Incidental sightings recording
  • Lionfish population studies & eradication program
  • Weekly beach cleans
  • Teaching in the local schools in Akumal each week, and outreach work to assist the community and promote conservation practises.
Mexico Akumal – Marine Conservation

Program Details

MXPM0066E Mexico Marine Conservation

4 WEEKS FROM$ 3,495

Qualifications gained – PADI Advanced Open Water, PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty.
If volunteers stay for 8 weeks or longer they can also complete their Open Water Course on base if they aren’t already certified. 4 week volunteers must come to the program as certified divers.
Add ons are: Leadership Internship, Biological Survey Techniques (not for 4 weekers)

Mexico Akumal – Marine Conservation


Start Dates:
Specific Saturdays

4 – 12 weeks