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Caribbean Reef Conservation - Belize

  • Live on an idyllic private island in the Caribbean
  • Learn to dive or improve your current diving experience
  • Join an award-winning project and become part of an active research team
Location Caribbean Island located in the south of Belize
Start dates Throughout the year, starting on a weekend
Project closed 28th September to 1st November 2014
Duration 1 - 12 weeks (can extend up to 24 weeks locally)
Availability Spaces available
Cost From £795 / $1265 - see pricing table below

How will I make a difference?

Your primary role is to contribute towards the projects on-going surveys, data collection and conservation work. By volunteering at the project you will make a major contribution to the understanding of the reef ecosystem in the Sapodilla Cayes. Your time and efforts will also help to raise awareness of the importance of the marine life and the research collected by the project team helps inform government decisions, particularly in regard to the department of fisheries.

The reef conservation project is not for profit and the majority of the programme costs directly benefit the local community. The contribution also provides a critical source of funding for future research and conservation work.

Read what past volunteers have said about this project in our Belize Reef Conservation reviews.

Reef conservation volunteering in Belize: What will I be doing?

Volunteers work 5 days per week (Monday-Friday), each day will differ but volunteer tasks can include:

  • Reef Check
  • Queen Conch surveys
  • Coral watch data collection
  • Lobster Surveys
  • Lionfish population monitoring and control
  • Sea turtle conservation (June-December)
  • Community education and awareness campaigns

Diving is structured, but relaxed, and not regimented. There are opportunities to do a mix of reef check survey dives and species dives, wall dives and of course fun dives, and generally there will be 2-4 dives per day. The early morning and night recreational dives are a great way to begin or end your day. Often new dive sites are discovered by the project team as there are few other divers in the area

For beginner divers it is safe non-challenging place to learn with visibility in Caribbean waters ranging from 15-40 metres and no strong currents. To participate in the conservation work you will need to be at least PADI Open Water certified and beginners will obtain this in their first few days.

There are usually around 6-10 volunteers at one time with a maximum of 15.

PADI Dive Courses
Whilst on the island you can improve your diving skills by doing additional PADI courses; Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver, a variety of speciality dives, EFR first aid or your Divemaster course.

PADI Open Water is included in the placement cost but the following courses can be done for an additional cost:

  • Advanced Diver: 2-3 days
  • Rescue Diver: 4 days
  • Emergency First Aid: 1 day
  • Divemaster

More about the project

The projects primary objective is to encourage the Belizean Government to enforce preservation zones in the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. They carry out marine surveys in the area surrounding the island, collecting data on the local fish & invertebrate population and this is submitted internationally to Reef Check headquarters for inclusion in global coral reef status reports, and locally to the Belizean Department of Fisheries.

They have been very active in the monitoring of local fish populations, particularly the lionfish, and have been instrumental in the increase in community awareness campaigns.

The project was granted a Highly Commended award by the World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Best Responsible Wildlife Experiences category.

Location and free time

During the week volunteers are based on a 1-acre squared island, the surrounding area is abundant in marine life and you can take a kayak out, fish (hook and line) or snorkel around the island. On the reef, along with the more common marine life, volunteers frequently spot hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, spotted eagle rays, dolphins and manta rays. If you are lucky, at full moon you may also see whale sharks and the fantastic light show from the String of Pearls.

You will be working 5 days a week and then return to the mainland town of Punta Gorda at the weekend. At the weekends you can enjoy the laid back Belizean life in sleepy Punta Gorda or stay in a tropical jungle lodge. You will find yourself becoming part of the local community in Punta Gorda at the weekends when you return to the mainland. For example the project sponsors a local football team and guests often go along to watch the matches.

Volunteer accommodation

During the week volunteers stay on a small island off the coast of Punta Gorda, accommodation private rooms in small simple cabanas overlooking the sea. The main building is run on solar power. all rooms are clean and comfortable and have fans. There are also rooms suitable for couples. The bathroom facilities are shared and the communal area.

Weekend accommodation is not included but the project has a guesthouse available and there are a number of hotels for various budgets in Punta Gorda.

What's included

Before you go On your placement
  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced PoD UK team
  • Single point of contact - Becky is your dedicated placement manager
  • In-depth information booklet on your volunteering placement
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to PoD
  • Conservation volunteering placement
  • Airport pick up (Punta Gorda)
  • Return boat transfers to the island
  • Accommodation - weekdays on the island
  • Food - weekdays on the island
  • Induction and conservation training
  • All dives
  • Use of dive equipment (excl. wetsuit, mask, booties, dive computer)
  • PADI Open Water (if you do not already have it)
  • Scuba review (if you have a dive qualification but haven't dived recently)
  • Training for survey methologies
  • Support from local team
  • Support from PoD UK office
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Specialist crisis management insurance
On your return
  • Contact from your placement manager
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the PoD community
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), PADI admin fee, PADI Dive Manual(s), World Heritage National Park fee, weekend accommodation. Budgeting guidance is provided in our information booklet which we will email you when you apply.

How volunteer fees are set

PoD is run as a non-profit volunteer organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the PoD Charity - for more details click here.


Divers 1 week * £795 €945 $1265 $1360
  Extra weeks £595 €705 $945 $1015
  * For 1 week placements you should be PADI Open Water or equivalent. Beginners must do a minimum of 2 weeks
Non-divers 1 week £695 €825 $1105 $1190
  Extra weeks £595 €705 $945 $1015

Prices in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP.  For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com


We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information


PoD UK Manager



Erin in the PoD UK team has visited this project and is the placement manager so if you apply you will hear from her soon!

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