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PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships for Divers & Divemasters

Robin Van Auken | Hands-on Heritage
Written By
By Robin Van Auken
PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

The ocean is a mysterious place. It covers 70 percent of the planet, yet only 5 percent of it has been explored. It’s a magical place too, thanks to the phytoplankton that creates half of the air that we breathe. It’s also a secretive place, hiding the deepest spot on Earth: the Mariana Trench, at 36,200 feet below the surface, is more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

From coastal beaches to deep hydrothermal vents, the ocean is a varied ecosystem that’s home to myriad forms of life, including the cute and friendly dolphin, and the ugly and grumpy anglerfish.

If you’ve ever been curious about the ocean and what lies beneath, then you should discover it firsthand. Join the creatures of the deep and learn how to breathe underwater as a trained scuba diver.

When you’re a PADI certified scuba diver, the ocean is familiar and welcoming. Your Open Water certification gives you the training to stay safe, and the confidence to explore an amazing new world. Learn the theory of scuba diving in the comfort of a classroom, before moving into a pool for practice. Learn how to use scuba equipment, including the compass for underwater navigation. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll enter the open water and complete your certification. When you’re certified for Open Water, you can dive anywhere in the world.

As a PADI Divemaster, the ocean becomes your workplace. One of the benefits of becoming a divemaster is sharing your skills and knowledge with others. You can be a leader who mentors and motivates other people to dive and encourages them to develop a passion for marine conservation. The divemaster program will enhance your underwater experience, take your diving to the next level, and start you on the course to becoming a PADI professional.

If you’re interested in learning more about scuba diving at some of the best locations for underwater training, keep reading. From the Andaman Coast to Zanzibar, the waters of our blue planet are brimming with sea life and worthwhile projects.

Featured Dive & Marine Conservation Programs

Maximo Nivel

PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

Maximo Nivel offers Spanish language learning courses, volunteer programs, internships, and adventure travel opportunities throughout Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has connected 25,000 people with high-quality, safe, and affordable programs, ranging from sea turtle conservation, jungle reforestation, eco-agriculture, and environmental awareness and education. It also provides Spanish immersion programs, gap year projects, TEFL certification, and high school abroad placements.

If you’re looking for adventure, learn how to scuba dive with Maximo Nivel. With three great destinations in Latin America, this organization can prepare you for the future as an academic or commercial diver.

Scuba Diving Certification

Earn your PADI Open Water scuba diving certification in less than five days with Maximo Nivel, with a program that’s internationally recognized and respected in the dive community. You’ll learn the basic principles of scuba diving with lessons from a PADI certified dive instructor before practicing basic skills in confined water dives. Once in open water, you’ll continue your training and gain real-world diving experience. Learn how to use standard scuba equipment, such as the diving mask, snorkel, fins, regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD), and air tank. Your fee includes the course textbook and materials, diving equipment rental, transportation to and from the dive site, and PADI certification.

Scuba Dive in Costa Rica: Start your diving career on the most beautiful beach in the world, along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Practice in the safety of a national park in Manuel Antonio and explore the underwater paradise created by volcanic rock formations. You’ll have the opportunity to swim with sea turtles, white tip and reef sharks, octopi, stingrays, lobsters, and tropical fish. Fees begin at $825.

Scuba Dive in Peru: Mancora, Peru is home to thousands of marine species, including angelfish, emperor fish, sea turtles, octopi, sea horses, and more. When you complete your Open Water course with Maximo Nivel in Peru, you’ll receive a basic introduction to Scuba equipment, learn the rules and principles of diving, and complete your confined and open water dives for your PADI certification. Program fees are $695.

Scuba Dive in Guatemala: Learn how to dive on the edge of Lake Atitlan, the deepest lake in Guatemala! This unique destination is a national treasure, where divers can actually touch the hot mud along a volcanic fault line. Earn your PADI certification in freshwater, and swim with largemouth bass, crabs, and varied plant life. The costs for this program are $425.

Scuba divers must wait 24 hours after their last dive before boarding an airplane, and the Maximo Nivel program fee includes extra housing to accommodate this delay. Learn more, select a country, and apply here!

Projects Abroad

Scuba diving with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad offers programs in more than 50 countries, with the mission of mutual learning and cultural exchange. It works across language, cultural, and geographic lines to place more than 120,000 travelers worldwide since 1992. Projects Abroad volunteers have global impacts on social, environmental, and economic projects.

Earn your PADI Open Water Diving Certification and protect marine life on a Conservation Program with Projects Abroad. Once certified, you can participate fully in Marine Conservation Projects in BelizeThailand, and Fiji. If you already have a PADI Certification, you can earn your Divemaster Certification in Fiji and Thailand!

You’ll do plenty of practical work on the Marine Conservation Programs, including survey dives and salvage dives. Because diving is such an important part of your project work, your PADI certification is included in your project fee. This means there are no hidden costs. This is a completely safe and secure way to earn a diving certification, gain practical experience, and have a valuable impact on our oceans.

Work with the Fisheries Department to Protect the Belize Barrier Reef

Learn to scuba dive and protect the second-largest barrier reef in the world! On this program, you’ll dive in the clear, blue Caribbean Sea and collect data on the ecosystems and species you encounter. Projects Abroad has partnered with the government Fisheries Department in Belize for this project. This means the data you collect goes into government databases and is used to inform national conservation policies.

This project is the ideal way to gain practical conservation and diving experience. It will enhance your resume and show employers that you care about global conservation efforts. You’ll stay with other volunteers at the Projects Abroad accommodation in Placencia. All meals are included. Spend your weekends tubing in the cavern rivers, exploring Belize’s jungles, or planning a trip to the Maya ruins. Hang out at the beach and fish, snorkel, or dive.

Program fees start at $3,470 for one week, and include PADI diving courses and equipment rental, accommodations and meals, travel and medical insurance, transportation to and from the airport, transport to your work placement, and in-country 24/7 support. Learn more and register here.

Dive with Bull Sharks and Collect Valuable Data in Fiji

Sharks are some of the most endangered and misunderstood creatures on the planet. As top-tier predators, they play a vital role in the marine ecosystem. You can help protect sharks and other marine life on Projects Abroad’s Shark Conservation Project in Fiji. These are some of the tasks you’ll do:

  1. Dive with bull sharks and collect data on their behavior
  2. Work with and learn from qualified marine conservation experts
  3. Observe juvenile shark tagging
  4. Assist with deploying BRUV equipment to monitor marine life
  5. Raise awareness about the importance of sharks to combat false negative perceptions

The project is based in Pacific Harbour, considered the adventure capital of Fiji. You’ll live in shared accommodation with other volunteers. Spend two weeks or longer in Fiji with program fees starting at $4,250. Read more.

Help with Marine Conservation Initiatives in Tropical Thailand

Earn your PADI certification in Thailand and use it to contribute to marine conservation efforts. Projects Abroad’s Conservation Program in Thailand focuses on protecting the myriad of species found in the Andaman Sea.

You’ll contribute through survey dives, beach clean-ups, salvage dives, and awareness initiatives. Your work will give you practical conservation experience, ideal if you’re interested in a career in the environmental field. You’ll learn from seasoned professionals, who will teach you what it’s like working on the front-line of marine conservation.

This opportunity is great for students, gap year tourists, or university researchers interested in marine biology, environmental issues, and preserving the ecosystem. No experience is needed, as you’ll receive training to participate in all activities, research, and surveys.

You’ll live and work in Ao Nang in comfortable bungalows at base camp, and meals are provided in a communal restaurant area. Fees begin at $3,220 for one week, and you’re encouraged to stay longer. Read more and register here.


environmental conservation volunteer

GoEco began in 2006 and now has more than 150 affordable programs across over 40 countries. To date, GoEco has placed more than 17,000 volunteers and interns in programs overseas. They’ve won numerous awards for their work, including Top-Eco Enthusiast in 2017 by Greenmatch. GoEco also receives great reviews right here on Volunteer Forever.  

Many of GoEco’s projects focus on wildlife protection and environmental conservation, especially marine conservation. These internships and volunteer projects are great opportunities to learn diving skills. For instance, on GoEco’s marine conservation internship in Mexico, you’ll gain experience in ocean conservation, visit a beautiful part of the world, and get both your PADI Open Water Diver and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certifications.

So, are you ready to dive and do your part for ocean conservation? Then check out GoEco’s two diving internships below!

Scuba Diving for Marine Research and Conservation in the Seychelles

Make your way to the Seychelles, an archipelago filled with natural beauty. There, as a marine research volunteer, you’ll help with coral reef monitoring, identifying and counting fish, and collecting data on turtle breeding areas. If you don’t yet have diving qualifications, GoEco provides training for you to obtain the PADI Advanced Open Water Certification and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Certification during the first couple of weeks. That’s right—you can earn two types of diving certifications!

You’ll spend most of your time underwater scuba diving during this marine conservation and research program in the Seychelles. You will have the opportunity to teach environmental awareness classes in the local community as well. And during free time, you can enjoy the Seychelles. Soak up the sunshine and play on the beaches, but also immerse yourself in the local culture. The Seychelles is a unique blend of cultures, and the arts, architecture, music, and food are all wonderful here. 

Fees for the diving program include lodging and meals and begin at $3,890 for four weeks ($7,220 for 12 weeks). Get all the info and apply here!

Diving and Marine Conservation Internship in Fiji

Head to tropical Fiji, where you’ll collect valuable data for ocean conservation. Before you start diving and exploring the local coral reefs, you’ll take classes to earn your PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water certifications. Then, you’ll begin diving and collecting data to be used for creating coral reef restoration strategies and protecting vulnerable ocean life. 

When you’re not going underwater, you can educate the future generation about environmental conservation. Going into local schools and seeing the excitement of the children is truly an amazing experience! And when you’re not working as a marine conservation intern in Fiji, tour Caqalai Island, relax on the sandy beaches, and see what’s happening in the capital city of Suva. 

Interested in diving in Fiji? Internship fees include lodging and meals and start at $3,750 for four weeks ($7,080 for 12 weeks). Get more details and apply here!

Global Vision International

PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

Global Vision International (GVI) specializes in award-winning, high quality, and high impact conservation and community development programs throughout the world. Founded in 1997, GVI places 2,000+ people abroad on volunteer and intern programs each year. Its projects are designed toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, allowing volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to contribute to responsible projects. GVI partners with prolific organizations such as Save the Children, The Red Cross, WWF, SANParks, and The Jane Goodall Institute, as well as smaller, community-based organizations with grassroots initiatives.

GVI offers several scuba diving programs, beginning with a marine conservation program for high school students under the age of 18, wishing to learn the basics in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. For older students, it offers marine conservation and PADI divemaster internships in ThailandMexico, and Seychelles. Keep diving and reach the pinnacle of your career with its flagship program in Latin America, a program that transforms you into a Master Scuba Diver Trainer. GVI programs include in-country support, airport pickup, all project equipment and materials, project training by experienced staff, orientation, meals, and safe, basic accommodations. Keep reading to learn more about these exciting opportunities.

Under 18’s Marine Conservation & PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Travel to the cultural hotspot of the Yucatan Peninsula with GVI and get a taste of life as a conservationist or marine biologist. Discover the underwater world and develop your skills as a scuba diver on this placement designed for high school students who already know how to dive and are seeking PADI Advanced Open Water certification. If you’re interested in learning how to dive, check out the marine conservation awareness program here.

This program aims to make you a more comfortable and confident diver while allowing you to research coral and fish species. Your data will contribute to the long-term survival of the reef while becoming educated about local and global issues. Swim with turtles and dolphins in the warm turquoise waters of Mexico while you raise environmental awareness, and help to minimize the impact. Keep up the adventure on the weekends. You’ll have a chance to explore ancient Mayan cities and ruins, trek tropical jungles, and may even visit a cenote, an underground river. This placement lasts two with a fee of $3,590. Learn more here!

Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internships

Launch your career as a professional scuba diver or marine conservation scientist when you embark upon a PADI Divemaster and marine conservation internship with GVI. This internship places you in Thailand, Mexico, or Seychelles, and consists of two 12-week placements that will expand your knowledge of marine conservation, as well as commercial scuba instruction. During the first half of your internship, you’ll conduct coral reef and marine life surveys, participate in training sessions and beach cleanups, assess marine debris, and more, depending upon the project’s needs. You’ll dive or snorkel five days a week as you conduct research. The second half of your internship places you with a conservation team onsite, where you’ll continue to learn and earn your PADI Advanced Open Water, Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty, Rescue Diver, and Dive Master certifications. This provides practical experience in the marine conservation field as you assist with daily operations and research. Choose from one of several exciting and exotic internships below!

Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship in Seychelles

Join GVI in Seychelles on a PADI Divemaster and marine conservation internship where you’ll work on coral reef monitoring and recovery, survey invertebrates and fisheries, research sea turtles, and help to develop an environmental education and awareness program. Long-term objectives of this program are to:

  1. Provide a consistent collection of data of the reef system on behalf of the Seychelles National Parks Authority
  2. Increase the scientific output and awareness of the project through the publication of findings
  3. Support the President’s Village Children’s Home aim of providing a safe and friendly environment for children under the age of 18
  4. Increase in-country capacity by providing training in environmental education
  5. Minimize the environmental impact at Cap Ternay
  6. Raise awareness of environmental issues among volunteers and visitors

During your expedition phase, you’ll stay at GVI’s research base, with basic living conditions designed to leave as small of a footprint as possible on the environment. Spend days off swimming and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, or hiking to Mount Curieuse to admire the stunning panorama. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai, or head to Beau Vallon Bay, the main tourist area with hotels and guest houses, shops, and restaurants. Fees for this six-month internship program start at $10,795. Learn more and sign up here!

Indian Ocean Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship

Compile crucial research as part of a marine conservation team on Mahe Island and then southern Thailand in the Indian Ocean with GVI. This intensive 24-week internship will provide you with superior instruction in scuba diving and you’ll earn your Divemaster Certification from PADI, as well as specialty diving training. Your internship begins in Africa in Seychelles before transferring you to Asia, advancing your scuba diving skills at incredible coral reefs. You’ll gain independence and develop a leadership style that could lead to a successful career working with GVI or its selected partner organizations in Thailand. During the work placement portion of your internship, you’ll assist with the daily running of a dive center in Thailand, handling clients, crewing on the dive boats, and assisting in the water.

As a member of the Seychelles team, your tasks will vary from undertaking reef surveys, collecting science data, and preparing dive equipment on the expedition. In Thailand, you’ll focus on developing your scuba skills to achieve your Divemaster qualifications. Accommodations are basic but comfortable, and all meals are included. Free time in Thailand can be spent sightseeing and enjoying the scenery of the Andaman region. There are islands, parks, caves and more to visit. Tour the Krabi Province and climb more than 1,200 steps to the Buddha statue there. Visit Than Bok Khoranee National Park, or go shopping and clubbing in the popular city of Ao Nang. This internship’s fee begins at $10,495 for 24 weeks. Read more and register here.

Marine Expedition and PADI Divemaster Marine Conservation Internship in Mexico

Join GVI in Mexico for an intensive, 24-week internship that will improve your diving skills to Rescue Diver status and beyond, while training you as a marine conservationist. Work is conducted at GVI’s Akumal base, where you’ll help collect data on the health of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. At the end of your first 12 weeks, you’ll be assessed to measure your progress. Then you’ll proceed to train as a PADI Divemaster. At the conclusion of this internship, you may apply to work with GVI or one of its partners in another country. Field positions, both paid and unpaid, may be available to you for one month to a year, depending upon availability and your skill level.

The goal of this internship is to help develop you as a leader and a role model, with credentials that will boost your career. You’ll dive every day and conduct research on the coral reefs in the area, as well as marine life. You’ll take part in training sessions, and help to clean beaches. You’ll also assist with environmental education sessions, training the people of the community to conserve their natural resources. This is a hands-on opportunity to experience and learn more about the challenges of marine conservation in the Yucatan Peninsula. Long-term objectives of the project in Akumal are to:

  1. Provide data to GVI partners on the health of the reef
  2. Contribute to a coastal management plan
  3. Create a better understanding of the reef system
  4. Raise environmental awareness
  5. Minimize the impact of tourists and other people
  6. Increase in-country capacity within GVI partners and community members

Spend your free time diving or snorkeling the cenotes of the Yucatan, or dive in Cozumel, where wall diving is the best in the world. If you’re ready to travel inland, make your way to Rio Lagartos to watch flamingoes and river crocodiles. Sightsee the Maya ruins and archaeological sites, and visit the colonial city of Mérida. This six-month internship starts at $9,245. Read more and apply here.

PADI Instructor Internship

Commit to a future that has you teaching scuba divers around the world with GVI’s flagship program, the PADI Instructor Internship. This 30-week program places you in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for a comprehensive, well-rounded training that develops you into a highly qualified and specialized PADI instructor with marine conservation training. This professional program sets you apart and is transferable to any dive industry application. Your training means you’ll be able to work and teach globally and with confidence with specific diving, marine conservation, biology, and work experience. Your internship will be spent on the following training:

  1. Marine Conservation Training – 12 weeks
  2. PADI Divemaster Course (Internship and Placement) – 12 weeks
  3. Instructor Development and Master Scuba Diver Trainer courses – 6 weeks

Before you start the internship, you will need to be qualified to at least PADI Open Water, or equivalent. The cost of this 30-week internship is $15,600. Learn more and register here.

African Impact


African Impact operates in 12 countries within Africa, offering safe and sustainable programs that are impactful and make a positive difference in the lives of the people and wildlife they help. Founded in 2004, African Impact has placed more than 13,000 people on its award-winning humanitarian projects. Its volunteers make life-changing memories while contributing to responsible community and conservation projects.

Join African Impact in Zanzibar, renowned for its diverse marine life, including swimming with dolphins, or scuba dive in Seychelles, a paradise with white beaches, blue waters, and tropical weather.

Dolphin Research and PADI Diving Course

Travel to Zanzibar and spend your weeks researching and swimming with bottlenose dolphins, and snorkeling on pristine coral reefs, while you become a certified scuba diver. When you volunteer with African Impact on its dolphin research and PADI diving course, you’ll help contribute to understanding the effects of tourism, while promoting and educating ethical commercial enterprise. Volunteer duties include:

  1. Monitoring dolphins in their natural habitat
  2. Studying the impact of tourism on dolphin behavior
  3. Swimming with dolphins in an ethical way
  4. Teaching young students about conservation
  5. Interacting with the community and learning Swahili

Located off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a tropical paradise with cerulean blue waters and white beaches. Stay in the coastal village of Jambiani, surrounded by coconut palm trees, in a private beach house that fronts the sea. Known for its world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, Zanzibar is a perfect location to get off the grid while making a sustainable contribution to the ecology of the region’s dolphin population. Your research on human-dolphin interaction helps the government as it formulates a policy for tourism, and to prevent dolphins from becoming stressed. On weekends, you can continue to enjoy the water with boat rides, kite surfing, and learning how to sail the dhow and ngalawa, traditional African small boats. Program fees begin at $2,304 for two weeks. PADI course fees are additional. Read more and register here.

Marine Expedition Program in Seychelles

If you’re a student or professional in the area of biology or wildlife, put your knowledge of science to work on a marine conservation program with African Impact. Join researchers and scientists on Mahe Island in Seychelles, collecting data and assessing the coral reefs off the island for health and management policies. Investigate threats to coral populations, including high sea temperatures, population pressures, poaching, and tourism impacts.

Swim in the Indian Ocean with the migrating whale shark, survey the nesting sea turtle, collect plankton, and monitor coral reefs. You’ll visit the breeding areas for the hawksbill and green turtles, and dive with manta rays and dolphins. While you’re in Seychelles, take your PADI Advanced and Coral Reef Research Diver courses, as you learn to identify fish and coral species. Take part in workshops, including Coral Reef Ecology, Community Work, Diving Compressor Training, First Aid, CPR, and O2 Equipment.

In addition to scuba diving, you’ll conduct underwater or snorkel dives each day to survey and remove marine debris. Life is simple, with accommodations in basic dormitories with shared bathrooms. Weekends are a great time to relax or head to an Internet cafe to keep in touch with family. Trek to a waterfall for a freshwater dip, or dive at your favorite sites for fun. Stay four weeks or longer with program fees beginning at $3,045. Learn more and sign up here.


PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

Frontier is a nonprofit organization devoted to conservation and sustainable livelihood development. Founded in 1989, Frontier offers more than 400 impactful projects in 60 countries, placing travelers on projects in the areas of community development, educational, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, humanitarian, and research and conservation. Frontier’s staff and volunteers work with NGOs and communities to safeguard biodiversity through meaningful travel opportunities.

Travel with Frontier to Tanzania, or the island nations of Fiji or Madagascar for an unforgettable Divemaster Internship that will propel you into a career as a marine conservationist and a dive professional.

Fiji Divemaster Internship

Become a PADI certified professional diver and gain work experience in marine conservation with Frontier on the island of Beqa in Fiji. The shores of Fiji are fringed with palm trees, and the Pacific Ocean that laps its white sandy beaches are filled with an astonishing array of sea life. There are more than 1,200 species of fish off its shore, including clownfish, triggerfish, blue tangs, and more. There are whales, dolphins, anemones, and soft coral, but the biodiversity doesn’t end there. Help to preserve this nation’s natural resources while you train as a divemaster during your three-month internship here. In addition to logging 40 dives, you’ll earn your PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Emergency First Responder, and the Rescue Diver certifications. Some of the tasks you’ll perform in the field of conservation include:

  1. Locating, mapping, and studying the coral reefs
  2. Conducting underwater visual censuses of the reef and commercial fish
  3. Assessing algal and coral cover
  4. Recording observations of the feeding habits and behavior patterns of marine life

Your work helping to conduct a scientific baseline survey of reef areas will help to build awareness of the value and vulnerability of Fiji’s environment. You’ll gain hands-on experience of marine systems and processes, and attend lectures and workshops that further your understanding of conservation issues.

Underwater, you’ll see turtles, manta rays, sea cucumbers, feathery starfish, spiny urchins, octopus, and jellyfish. You may encounter flying fish, sharks, and dolphins on your boat ride to the dive site. On Beqa, you’ll live in Frontier’s comfortable timber-frame house at a castaway camp a short walk from the bay. Camp life is simple and fun. Weekends give you opportunities to swim and snorkel, play volleyball, or attend church. You can play board games with other volunteers, or chat by the campfire at night. Prices for this 12-week internship start at $5,645. Read more here.

Madagascar Divemaster Internship

Often called the “8th Continent,” Madagascar is home to some of the world’s most spectacular dive sites, and is a great place to join Frontier on a Divemaster Internship. Its waters are pristine habitats for a massive diversity of marine animals. Its luxuriant seagrass beds are a feeding grounds for reef fish, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus, and sea turtles, making Madagascar a perfect location to complete your scuba training and become a marine conservationist. When you make the leap to a professional diver, you’ll be able to conduct scuba reviews, lead dives, and assist Master Instructors.

This three-month internship provides you with intensive scuba training, lectures from scientists, as well as the opportunity to complete your personal project, collecting data from Marine Conservation survey sites. You’ll also study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the coral reefs, and the effects of global warming on marine communities. You’ll provide environmental education in community schools, explaining Frontier’s work, and interview local fishermen on their catches and opinions on reef health. You’ll supply vital information on the Malagasy coastline, and enable sustainable management and protection in the region.

Free time can be spent sailing, snorkeling or swimming, playing games with other volunteers, hanging out in the camp hammock, or stargazing at night. Andoany (also known as Hell-Ville) is a one-hour boat ride away, and you’ll encounter all the attractions you miss, including cafes, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, nightclubs, and more. Internship fees begin at $5,095 for 12 weeks. Click here to learn more and to register.

Tanzania Divemaster Internship

On a Divemaster Internship with Frontier, you’ll work with dive instructors and Mafia Island research staff and volunteers to conserve some of the most amazing marine life on the planet. Tanzania is renowned for its pristine waters and its wealth of marine habitats, making it a perfect location for you to earn your PADI Divemaster certification. You’ll learn dive theory in the classroom, then take your lessons to confined water for practice. Then, your open water diver training will transform you into a role-model dive professional. As you explore underwater, you’ll encounter tropical reef fish, thorny and spotted seahorses, and four species of sea turtles. Further offshore you’ll see dolphins and rays. The deeper waters off the coast of Mafia Island are a great place to see migrating humpback whales and giant whale sharks.

Classes on marine conservation and lectures are part of your internship, and once qualified to PADI Advanced Open Water diver, you’ll take part in Frontier’s long-term monitoring surveys of the coral reef. As a PADI Divemaster you will be qualified to do the following:

  1. Act as an instructional assistant to PADI Instructors
  2. Supervise participants in PADI experience program
  3. Supervise both training and non-training related diving activities
  4. Enroll in PADI Instructor-level training

Camp life on Mafia Island is simple, and accommodations are in communal huts. This is primitive living at its best! Join the fun with beach volleyball, or swim and snorkel during free time. Play poker or board games with your fellow volunteers, or relax with new friends under the stars. You can shop at traditional markets on Mafia Island, or rent a boat for a fishing trip. Enjoy the Western-style restaurants and souvenir shops. Fees for this 12-week internship start begin at $4,795. Learn more and sign up here.

International Volunteer HQ

PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is a trusted volunteer organization that works with local organizations and NGOs in more than 40 countries. Founded in 2007, IVHQ sends more than 10,000 people overseas on meaningful projects each year. With more than 200 affordable programs with sustainable objectives and safe projects worldwide, IVHQ is an innovative organization that works to keep fees low while delivering high value for the environment, and the communities that live there.

Add scuba certification to your academic resume and prepare for a career that includes marine life conservation. IVHQ offers volunteer programs in PortugalBelize, and Madagascar that deliver experience and atmosphere with every spectacular sunset.

Environmental Scuba Diving in Portugal

If you’re a beginner diver, check out this environmental diving project that combines scuba experience with marine conservation in Portugal. Earn your PADI Open Water certification, or take specialty diving courses if you’re already certified. The scuba equipment is provided by a local diving school in Cascais. After you’re trained, you’ll continue to work with the dive company, helping to contain underwater pollution, and learning how to conserve vulnerable marine life. Some of the tasks you’ll perform underwater include removing garbage from the seafloor, recording the type and amount of trash and other items collected, observing marine life, identifying and counting fish, and learning how to protect the underwater ecosystem.

Stay up to 12 weeks, accumulate training, and gain enough experience underwater to apply to Dive Master certification! You’ll live Cascais, in a dormitory-style hostel with same-gender rooms. Wifi is available, as well as nearby cafes and restaurants. Program fees start at $825 and include the required PADI manuals, crew packs, PIC cards, and full scuba equipment. Read more and apply here.

Volunteer with Marine Conservation in Belize

Volunteer to help conserve the fragile underwater ecosystem of Belize while you become a certified scuba diver with IVHQ. Earn your PADI Open Water certification in the quiet, turquoise waters of Belize, then assist trained biologists with the Marine Conservation project near Placencia. Your day-to-day duties will include researching and gathering data on marine life, including lobsters, whale sharks, and queen conchs. Learn about the lionfish and how to spearfish to remove this invasive species. You’ll also survey the coral reefs. You’ll complete 13 dives each week, including one night dive. Bring your own dive mask, snorkel, (3mm) wetsuit, and boots.

Stay in a volunteer house on a small private island with basic but comfortable accommodations. Travel inland on weekends and explore the prehistoric Mayan archaeology sites, spice farms, and waterfalls. If you want to keep diving, visit the world-famous Great Blue Hole. The cost of the volunteer program starts at $690 for one week, and PADI certification and training is an additional fee. Sign up for extra weeks and earn your PADI Divemaster certification, a specialty that can advance your career. Learn more here.

Marine Conservation in Madagascar

Join other volunteers on the island of Nosy Komba, on the northwest coast of Madagascar, and help with marine conservation! On this IVHQ project, you’ll assist with a variety of conservation efforts such as reef surveying, turtle monitoring, nudibranch research, reef regeneration, and beach cleanups. Help educate the community about environmental issues and the protection of the country’s biodiversity. You’ll be trained on how to carry out the research-based activities at sea, and taught the methodology of coral baseline surveying.

You’ll be diving each day, so you’ll need to be PADI Open Water certified. You can complete the eLearning portion of this course before arrival, then participate in the confined and open-water PADI lessons while in Madagascar. Volunteers need to bring their own snorkel and mask, fins, wetsuit, as well as other related scuba equipment. You’ll stay in huts on Nosy Komba, sharing space with up to five other volunteers of the same gender. Wifi is accessible in the village, and you’re encouraged to buy a SIM card upon arrival. Free time on weekends gives you ample opportunity to visit other areas of Madagascar, shopping at markets and beachfront stalls, and joining guides on treks to sightsee lemurs. Side trips can be made to other islands, including Nosy Be, where there are sacred lakes, beautiful beaches, and waterfalls. Program fees start at $550 for two weeks. Consider staying for a minimum duration of four weeks to complete the dive and research training required to work on this project. The scuba certification fee for Open Water is $380, and Advanced Open Water is $280. More information can be found here.

Under the Sea

Marine science and conservation of ocean ecosystems are crucial to our understanding of the world in which we live, and how to keep its inhabitants healthy and abundant. With about one million species of animals living in the ocean, every time a scientist goes on an expedition under the sea, they see something new. Some of the smallest animals (zooplankton) and the largest animal (the blue whale) live in the ocean.

Not only is there a lot left to discover, but there’s a lot that’s changing, and not always for the better. A change in temperatures can impact entire reef systems, a bleaching effect that devastates symbiotic sea life. As a certified scuba diver with a passion for marine conservation, you can help us learn more about the health of the ocean, and how we can protect it for generations to come.