• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

2024 Dates

2 weeks: 2 week marine only – 10 June – 23 June 2024
2 weeks: 2 week marine only – 22 July – 4 August 2024

Click Here for Expedition Dates

Akumal Bay

The marine site is in Akumal, part of the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve. If you are not already dive trained, you can spend your first week at this centre completing a PADI Open Water dive training course, before moving onto the Caribbean reef ecology course in your next week. This course consists of lectures, morning and afternoon in-water practicals, and trains you in some of the survey techniques used in the marine environment to assess the status of reefs and their associated fish communities. If you are already dive trained or just wanting to snorkel your first week is on the Caribbean reef ecology course and the second would be spent working with different researchers on site. Projects you will join include monitoring of sea turtle abundance, sea turtle grazing of seagrasses and seagrass biomass in Akumal Bay.

Key Activities

  • PADI Open Water dive training course: This course involves a combination of theory lessons, confined water dives and Open Water divers to gain an official SCUBA qualification.
  • Caribbean marine ecology course: This course consists of lectures and in water practicals either by diving (if a qualified diver) or snorkelling. The lectures cover an introduction to the Akumal and the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, marine survey techniques, diversity of coral reefs, threats to coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses, and the future of coral reefs
  • PADI Open Water referral course; For this option, students need to arrive having already completed their theory and pool training components with PADI.
  • Seagrass quadrat surveys: 1m quadrats are used to assess the coverage of the three different species of seagrass in Akumal Bay, assess turtle grazing and coverage of epiphytes growing on the seagrasses (indicators of water quality)
  • Turtle and tourist abundance transects: a series of belt transects are used to assess the distribution of sea turtles in Akumal Bay in relation to tourists
  • Reef monitoring: skills learned during the reef ecology course are used to monitor reef ecosystem health using transect surveys for coral, fish and invertebrates. For this option students need to be dive trained and have completed the Caribbean reef ecology course

Mexico Marine Research Objectives

At the marine site, the research is focussed on assessing the efficacy of the newly formed Akumal marine protected area on the abundance and health of seagrasses and the impact of snorkel tours on the abundance, health and behaviour of sea turtles. Research also aims to monitor the combined impacts of water quality and turtle grazing on the abundance and health of the seagrass ecosystem. In addition, students will have the chance to work alongside our team at Akumal Dive Center to complete their PADI open water dive training and complete a Caribbean reef ecology course in which they will learn about the major conservation issues with Caribbean reefs and will participate in variety of techniques for coral reef monitoring.

  • Attend lectures on Coral reef ecology course
  • PADI Open water dive qualification
  • Opwall fee.
  • Cost of international flights into and out of Cancun.
  • Cost of internal travel to and from the start and end point of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. The standard package costs around £260 or $338.
  • Extra nights’ accommodation in Cancun costs around £72 or $93 (breakfast included).
  • Park entrance fees are £20 or $26.
  • Dive equipment rental – $75 per week or equivalent in pesos for a full dive kit. If you only wish to snorkel and want to hire snorkel equipment, the cost is $38 per week. Please note that wetsuits/rash vests cannot be provided – you should bring your own.
  • PADI manual and PIC card (if you are completing your Open Water qualification) – £69 or $89 approx.
  • Mexico charges a tourist tax, currently approximately $14 before leaving the country to travel home.
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
  • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified.
  • Standard travel insurance – cost can vary, for 2 weeks it can range anywhere from £40-80 or $40-150.

Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.

In Mexico it is hot and humid. Temperatures rarely drop below mid 20s even at night. It is unlikely to rain much, but you do get occasional heavy showers during the season.

Fitness level required
Low on the marine site. On the marine site lower levels of fitness are required (although you will likely be very tired at the end of the day after the in-water sessions).

Creature comforts
On the marine site the facilities are a little less rustic – you sleep in bunk beds in dormitories about 10 minutes drive from the beach. There is good phone signal and the site is well supplied with shops.


  • Mexico
  • Akumal

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

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