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Great Barrier Reef Dive Expedition

Great Barrier Reef Dive Expedition

Join the ultimate dive adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. Get certified as an open water diver or take an advanced course during your first live-aboard boat trip. Venture into the far reaches of the Coral Sea on a four-day trip to snorkel with dwarf minke whales, a type of baleen whale that visit the reef along their migratory path each year from June to August. When not swimming with whales and other marine animals, join marine biologists to help evaluate the sustainable management of ecotourism. Log up to 21 day and night dives during your trip. When not out at sea, get your blood pumping on the jungle swing or during a bungee jump (add-on activity)!

Your Program Leader is 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 Ph.D. in marine biology.

Students love being able to snorkel with the whales

2022 Departure Dates

June 14 – June 29, 2022 Available Start Here
Students love our programs in Australia!
Program Profile
Program Profile

The Great Barrier Reef

Stretching for more than 1,400 miles, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the reef comprises more than 3,000 individual reefs and 600 islands. It’s home to more than 1,600 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, dove, 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 to 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 face-to-face with these magnificent creatures.

The heart of this program takes you on a four-day live-aboard expedition for encounters with the minke whales. You’ll 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’ll experience the unforgettable and return with exceptional knowledge of marine biology and sustainability.

Don’t Wait. Do It Now!

Warming ocean temperatures, agricultural fertilizers, and plagues of starfish and jellyfish are some of the many threats facing the world’s coral reefs. Don’t procrastinate if this expedition appeals to you. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. 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 Letter (for students under 19, recommended by the US State Dept but not required)
  • 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