Enroll by July 29 to save 15% on a 2019 program ! Use code LAST19 when you enroll. Explore Programs by Departure Date
Great Barrier Reef Dive Expedition

Great Barrier Reef Dive Expedition

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Get certified as a PADI Open-Water diver or get your Advanced Certification if you’re already a diver. Learn about environmental issues threatening the reef while you venture out to sea on your live-aboard dive expedition. Snorkel with Dwarf Minke Whales and record observations on their behavior, which directly contributes to the ongoing research of our service partner organization, Humpbacks & High-rises, an organization dedicated to the protection of marine mammals.

Your program leader will be the distinguished marine expert, Dr. Olaf Meynecke. Dr. Olaf is a leading scientist in the field of marine ecology. He studied Environmental Science in Germany, specializing in Biology, and worked as a scientific coordinator for the European Union before moving to Australia, where he completed his PhD in Marine Biology. To learn more about Dr. Olaf, click here.

Students love our programs in Australia!
Departure Dates

No-Stress Travel Guarantee!

With our No-Stress Travel Guarantee, you may cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.
Program Profile

No-Stress Travel Guarantee!

With our No-Stress Travel Guarantee, you may cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.
Program Profile

Often dreamed about, rarely visited: one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Stretching for more than 1,400 miles, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. Comprising of more than 3000 individual reefs and over 600 islands, the reef is home to more than 1600 species of fish and 600 types of coral. There is no better place in the world to study marine biology. This expedition will place you amongst the privileged few that have snorkeled, dived, swam and slept in one of the greatest underwater treasures on the planet with world-leading marine biologists.

Dwarf Minke Whales

Each year from June-August, Dwarf Minke Whales visit the northern Great Barrier Reef in what is the world’s only known, predictable aggregation of this species. The whales are exceptionally inquisitive and often closely approach divers and snorkelers for extended periods of time. Through this expedition, there is a 98% chance of coming eye-to-eye with these magnificent creatures.

The heart of this program takes you on a four-day live-aboard expedition to seek encounters with the minke whales. You will accompany marine biologists from James Cook University, who conduct multi-disciplinary research into dwarf minke whale biology and behavior to evaluate the social and economic values of the whales and the sustainable management of swim-with-whales tourism. Combining snorkeling, scuba diving and marine research, you will experience the unforgettable and return with exceptional knowledge of marine biology and sustainability.

Don’t Wait: Do It Now!

At one point in our lives, we have all wished to have a crystal ball and see what the future holds. Reality, however, is that no-one knows what lies ahead for you, us, and our planet. Warming ocean temperatures, agricultural fertilizers, and plagues of starfish and jellyfish are some of the many threats faced by the world’s coral reefs. Do not procrastinate if this expedition appeals to you. Set the goal, plan well, and make it happen. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, we’ll see you on the reef!

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.
Carry-On Luggage

A small backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet and money (USD or AUD)
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • iPod or MP3 player
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Travel power adaptor
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
  • Arrival instructions for Brisbane
  • Scuba certification card
Checked Luggage

One medium-size duffle bag or wheeled bag is ideal for this program.


  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (10)
  • Pants/capris (2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Shorts (4)
  • Tank Tops (3)
  • T-shirts (8)
  • Sweater/fleece (2)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Bath towel
  • Beach towel
  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Sneakers/running shoes (1)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for hot weather)


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Oxybenzone-free sunscreen (reef-safe)
  • Bug spray
  • Contacts and solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant (no aerosols)
  • Wet wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Razor/shaving cream


  • Travel Pillow
  • Headlamp with spare batteries

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Gear

(**If you don’t own, this is available to hire on boat for additional fee**)
(**Provided by dive company, included in program fee**)
You are welcome to bring your own if you prefer

  • Mask and snorkel
  • Fins
  • Booties
  • BCD, regulators and dive computer
  • Wetsuit or wetsuit top


  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)
  • Musical instrument (guitar etc)

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time.

Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email australia@rusticpathways.com