Get SCUBA certified, conserve precious coral reefs, and stretch out on the beach!
Students over 18 on Loop Abroad’s programs in any country June 15 – July 1 OR June 29 – July 15. No previous experience required.
June 28 – July 5, 2020
Marine Bonus Week can be linked seamlessly with any two-week program taking place on the following dates:
June 13 – June 29, 2020
One week of SCUBA diving and tropical island living on the beach. Learn how to SCUBA dive, practice identifying tropical fish, check coral health, and join in marine research and conservation projects.
The New Heaven Reef Conservation Program is on Koh Tao island in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s known throughout Thailand for its work in marine conservation. The center – where we will stay – is nestled in a quiet bay on the beach away from the main town and night life because we’re here to focus on exploring and conserving the coral reefs, cleaning up the ocean, learning from experts about this spectacular but threatened ecosystem, and having a wonderful time living on a beautiful island.
During the Marine Bonus Week you will earn:
SCUBA certifications are offered through Scuba Schools International (SSI). If you have questions about receiving college credit for this certification, please contact us.
For many students, this will their first time SCUBA diving – and there’s no better place for it!
We accept students of all levels – from zero experience to Advanced Open Water or higher certifications. Each morning, we’ll break into small groups based on experience level for the day so everyone can learn at their own pace. We’ll regroup at dinner.
If you don’t have any SCUBA certification, you’ll have the opportunity to complete your Open Water Diver certification over the first three days. Each day, you’ll study and practice skills with your dive instructor in a small group. After your certification, you’ll join an ecological monitoring and coral restoration dive with New Heavens’ experienced Research and Conservation team.
If you are an Open Water SCUBA diver already, you’ll spend the first two or three days to complete your Advanced Open Water Diver certification in a small group with your dive instructor. After your certification, you’ll join ecological monitoring and coral restoration dives with New Heavens’ experienced Research and Conservation team.
If you’re already an Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver or have a higher certification, you will need to prove your skills on a refresher dive then you’ll jump right in with the experienced Conservation and Research divers! From day one, you’ll learn and practice advanced skills related to marine species identification, coral health monitoring, artificial reef construction and maintenance, and/or other skills. Just like students doing the SCUBA certifications, you may need to attend small group lectures and training to prepare for each day’s conservation dive.
As long as the weather and visibility are good, all students can expect to enjoy 5-6 SCUBA dives this week. Your group will have up to 16 participants, one Trip Leader, and the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program instructors.
Please note that this is a sample itinerary and is subject to change based on weather, tides, visibility, animals and ecosystems in need, and other factors.
Sunday: Say goodbye to your program group in Chiang Mai and meet with your new Marine Bonus Week group. Travel to Koh Tao (combination of plane, bus, and ferry). This may include an overnight stop before you reach the island.
Each day Monday – Friday: Koh Tao runs on ‘island time’. Being surrounded by palm trees, coconuts, and the sound of the waves just makes people slow down a bit. Here’s the rough plan for each day, but plan to be flexible:
9am: Arrive to New Heaven and prepare equipment
9:15am: Morning class and/or SCUBA
3:30pm: Relax on the beach
5pm: Class or project briefing for next day (only 2-3 days)
8pm: Evening games or free time
Monday: Orientation to the island and New Heaven Reef Conservation Program’s mission of conservation and research
SCUBA Day 1
Tuesday: SCUBA Day 2
Wednesday: SCUBA Day 3
Evening: Marine Ecology 101 and Monitoring Techniques
Thursday: Reef invertebrates and indicator species lecture
Evening lesson: Shark and Turtle Ecology and Monitoring
Friday: Conservation Lecture and Dive
Saturday: Travel day
Sunday: International departure day! Wrap up and reflections in the morning, relax and pack, lunch, and airport departure.
Groups will return to the US on final program date, plus or minus one day depending on time of departure.
New Heaven dive schools has an excellent safety record and often hosts student groups like ours. Their experienced team of conservation divers will provide our safety orientation on arrival. In the water, the most important skill is to move slowly and deliberately, observing but not disturbing the many colorful creatures you see. As with most wildlife, patient explorers will find the most amazing species and unusual behaviors.
Above water, Koh Tao is a small but busy community of divers and visitors. It’s a beautiful and exciting place to be, but it’s important to stay with your group and watch your belongings, especially considering we’ll be loading or unloading the boat every day!
Note: All participants must be capable of independently entering and exiting the water by a ladder and must pass a basic swim test (swimming, treading water) in order to safely join in-water activities.
Tuition is $1,950 and is all-inclusive: all meals, housing, activities, lessons, supplies, boat transport, and roundtrip transportation from Chiang Mai to Koh Tao and back.
The Marine Bonus Week does not qualify for the $100 combined program discount when added to a program. Financial aid is not available for the Marine Bonus Week.
Students may be in double rooms or dorm-style rooms with students of the same gender with twin beds or a shared bed. Rooms do not have air conditioning. Meals will be eaten as a group at local restaurants, mostly serving Western and Thai food. Special diets and food allergies can be accommodated.
Choose any two-week program for June 15 – July 1 OR June 29 – July 15. Then choose “Marine Bonus Week” for July 1-8 OR July 13-21.
Want more elephant time? You got more elephant time!
This Bonus Week is only available to students who are enrolled in and linking to a two-week Loop Abroad program.
July 13 – 20, 2020 **Waitlist Only**
Elephant Bonus Week can be linked seamlessly with any two-week program taking place on the following dates:
June 27 – July 13, 2020
Tuition is $1,350 USD.
We will fly as a group from Chiang Mai to Surin where we will stay for the duration of the bonus week (domestic flight is included in tuition).
For students already on a 2-week program in Thailand, you will be flying into a different part of Thailand to take part in the Elephant Bonus Week.
Students not attending a 2-week program in Thailand will need to purchase international airfare to Thailand. Please contact [email protected] before purchasing international airfare. The domestic flight from Chiang Mai to Surin is included
The Elephant Bonus Week does not qualify for the $100 combined program discount when added to a program. Financial aid is not available for the Elephant Bonus Week.
This program takes place in a rural village in Surin province where the Save Elephant Foundation is directly improving elephant’s lives by helping locals move their elephants out of difficult work such as trekking and street begging.
Learn about elephant medicine from your vet instructor through lectures and demonstrations. Immerse yourself everyday in Thai culture, colors, flavors, and language for a unique cultural experience.
Each day, you will work with a veterinarian to observe, examine, and care for the village’s elephants. Far from the tourist traps, you’ll also get an authentic experience of Thai culture by staying with a host family in their home. Students may share a large bed with another Loop Abroad student of the same gender. There will be at least two students with each family and at most 12 students in your group. You’ll join the rest of your group and staff each day for most meals and activities.
We will contribute to the community and to the elephants by spending much of our time cleaning elephant shelters, chopping sugarcane, planting trees, teaching English, and/or playing games with children at the school. Be prepared to get dirty! On hot afternoons, walk the elephants to the river so everyone can cool off!
You will earn 15 veterinary hours you can count on your VMCAS application as well as 20 volunteer hours in this amazing setting.
The Elephant Bonus week group will start by traveling together with staff from Chiang Mai to Surin for the better part of Monday. On Saturday after our week in the village, we will say goodbye to the elephants and return to Chiang Mai. All meals, travel within Thailand, housing, and activities are included in your tuition.
"This was a great learning experience! We were able to spend a lot of time with the vets and they were constantly answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Strongly recommend this trip!"
Andrea G., Thailand College Veterinary Service 2016
Wright State University, Dayton, OH