• Australia
    • Cairns
2 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Year Round
Small Group (1-15)
Travel Type
Older Travelers


Price Details
1 week: $1298 Canadian
2 weeks: $1592 Canadian
3 Weeks: $1852 Canadian
4 weeks: $2112 Canadian
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Some Meals Transportation Travel Insurance Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare SIM cards Some Meals
Jun 21, 2019
Jan 23, 2018
34 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Off the coast of northern Queensland lies the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, attracting people hoping to see first-hand the gorgeous diversity of marine life. But unfortunately many of these magnificent marine creatures are in trouble, including the Green Sea Turtles, Flatback, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.

Many sea turtles suffer from ‘Floaters Syndrome’ - a condition that causes air to be trapped under their shell. This can be the result of many different threats. Some turtles are the victims of boat strikes, their bodies and shells damaged by the propellers. Others suffer from obstructions in their guts as a result of the ocean rubbish that the turtles eat, mistaking the garbage for food.

Working closely with local veterinarians, their facilities have grown to include an on-shore rehabilitation center, and a pre-release holding area on an island 45 minutes off the coast by boat.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Hands on sea turtle care.
  • Island program on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Stay in a downtown hostel (included in fees).
  • Free tuition for a volunteering abroad certificate.
  • Suitable for first time turtle volunteers and marine biology students alike!

Program Impact

At first glance, traveling each day to a beautiful tropical island to care for several recovering sea turtles may not seem to be changing the world. But this is serious work. By supporting the work of our partner, you are supporting a greater network of organizations, individuals and agencies in their efforts to conserve sea turtles and the habitats where they live. This network includes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Australia, the EPA National Park Rangers and James Cook University.

The information captured and utilized by the turtle rehabilitation team is often shared with other rehabilitation centres’ both nationally and internationally. The data spans everything from autopsy findings to blood composition and genetic sampling. Members of the team are also involved in a number of research activities including turtle nesting site surveys, marine debris impacts on turtles and feral animal control on and around turtle nesting sites. Every healthy turtle that you help return to the ocean provides a ray of hope - not only for the turtle breeding population but also for sea turtle conservation as a whole.

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Program Reviews

10 Rating
based on 2 reviews
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  • Impact 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Changed my life.

I discovered AEI a couple years ago while doing research in preparation for my year abroad. I am a massive animal lover, and am extremely passionate about ecotourism, therefor when I came across this incredible organization it almost felt too good to be true. After speaking with Heather, I decided on 3 months in Australia working with sea turtles and 3 months in Thailand working with the Elephants and Wildlife. I had no idea that this trip would change my life in the way it did. The people in Australia quickly became my family. Spending 5 days a week on the island with the turtles and being able to just walking into the water onto the Great Barrier Reef is something that only dreams are made of. To this day, the people there are some of my closest most cherished friendships I have ever made. Leaving Cairns was one of the hardest things i've ever done, so hard in fact that after my 3 months in Thailand I actually went back to visit and stay with the owner of the rehabilitation centre for another couple weeks!

None of this would have been possible without the immense support of Heather and Nora, and I can not thank them enough for the life changing opportunities they have provided me with!!

30 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful interaction with the turtles!

My son and I did this program together for 1 week. I found the hostel that was recommended by the Turtle Center to be absolutely wonderful! There is a 45 min ferry ride over to the island each morning and evening, but the boat is large and steady. We spent most all of our time at the center preparing food, feeding, and cleaning turtle pools. Although it is hot in the summer, the entire area is shaded and the center employees were all very easy to get along with. We got to know each of the animals during our brief tenure; there were 6 when we arrived and a 7th came during our stay. Each afternoon there was time left to do something on the island before the evening ferry came to take us back to Cairns, wear proper shoes and do the hike to the top of Fitzroy!

What would you improve about this program?
It was lovely. If I had known we would always be free by 5:45, I would have planned other things to do around Cairns- perhaps let others know this. (you must be on the 5:00 ferry, therefore you will always be done by 5:45)
25 people found this review helpful.
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