Ever thought about taking a year off of school or work? Doesn’t that sound lovely? A gap year can be a terrific way to take a break from school while still benefitting your personal, academic, and professional life.

However, the success and benefits of the gap year depend on your goal for said year. These goals might be to rest and recharge or to gain new skills and life experiences while giving back. After deciding on a goal, you need to plan your activities and gap year ideas.

This can be an overwhelming process as there are many options! But, if your goal is to be by the ocean, gain experience in ocean and environmental fields or just travel the world, we can help! We’ve gathered some meaningful gap year ideas for ocean lovers and environmentalists to help you begin planning your year off.

a woman scuba dives over a coral reef in curacao

1. Get Scuba Certified

Learning how to dive and getting your scuba certification is a great activity for a gap year! There are many reasons to get your PADI certification. The Open Water Diver certification opens the door to adventure and underwater exploration. You can see marine life up close, explore unique habitats like kelp forests and coral reefs, and dive around the world. You will also gain knowledge and skills during the course, such as learning how to remain calm in unfamiliar surroundings and learning how to #LiveUnfiltered. If you already have an Open Water Diver certification, you can expand your diving skills and knowledge with continued dive education courses and certifications.

scuba instructor and two divers underwater on a wreck dive

2. Become a PADI Pro

How do you feel about diving as a part of your future job? This can be a reality if you become a professional diver, a.k.a. a PADI Pro. Professional courses, including Divemaster and Open Water Scuba Instructor, can help you explore a career in diving and gain transferable job skills, like leadership and professionalism. As a PADI Pro, you will be able to lead others on diving adventures or even teach and inspire new divers. Curious to learn more? Read our FAQs About Becoming a PADI Pro and Why Become a PADI Divemaster!

Utila - Honduras - Underwater - Coral Restoration

3. Volunteer on an Ocean Conservation Project

If you’re interested in getting hands-on experience in ocean or environmental conservation, you should consider volunteering for organizations in those fields. Benefits include meeting like-minded people and taking action for conservation.

There are many projects that could use volunteers and interns to help with activities, like data collection, monitoring, and restoration efforts. In fact, if you’re a diver, you could use your diving skills as a part of these projects, or even use your time volunteering to gain new diving skills.

Ocean conservation projects could also be a great way to travel abroad during your gap year. Check out this marine conservation internship in Utila where you could help with monitoring whale shark populations, and this list of marine conservation volunteer programs. Alternatively, take a look at this list for environmental conservation in general.

Diving Instructor

4. Get a Job That Benefits the Ocean and the Environment

Although gap years are usually a break from academia, they’re not a break from living expenses. This shouldn’t deter you from still having a meaningful gap year! Ocean and environmental jobs are also great options to support you during your gap year, even if you plan on traveling abroad.

Taking a job surrounding the ocean during your year off can really help your self-development in that you’ll gain time management skills, professionalism, and hands-on experience. There are a variety of entry-level ocean and environmental jobs in areas such as ecotourism and marine conservation – including diving jobs!

A gap year can be a fantastic opportunity to take a break from school or work and pursue your passions for the ocean and the environment. Whether it’s getting scuba certified, becoming a PADI Pro, volunteering on an ocean conservation project, or getting a job that benefits the ocean and the environment, there are plenty of meaningful gap year ideas to choose from. 

So, why not make the most of your gap year by exploring the wonders of the underwater world and making a positive impact on our oceans? Take the plunge and dive into your gap year adventure today!

Ready to explore scuba diving and ocean conservation during your gap year? Click the button below to learn more about the different opportunities available and start planning your meaningful gap year adventure today!

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