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Caribbean Reef Conservation - Belize

  • Join an award-winning project and become part of an active research team
  • Learn to dive or develop current skills whilst carrying out surveys and data collection
  • Research findings are used to enforce government preservation of the beautiful reefs
  • Live on an idyllic private island in the Caribbean
Location Caribbean Island located in the south of Belize
Start dates Throughout the year, starting on a weekend
Project closed from 4th - 31st October 2015
Duration 1 - 12 weeks (can extend up to 24 weeks locally)
Age requirement 18 +
Availability Spaces available, fully booked in July 2015
Cost From £795 / €945 / $1265 - see fees table below

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

Each day will differ but volunteer tasks can include:

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

There are 2-4 dives per day which are structured with opportunities to do a mix of reef check survey dives and species dives and wall dives. There are fun dives too, so the schedule is relaxed and not too regimented.

The early morning and night recreational dives are a great way to begin or end your day. 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 bioluminescence water light show from the String of Pearls.

It is a great location for beginners divers to gain their PADI Open Water qualification during their first week (which is required for the conservation work), since there are no strong currents, great visibility (15-40 metres) and is a safe non-challenging location. Divers who have already have their Open Water certificate can start on the conservation role straight away.

PADI Dive Courses
Whilst on the island you can improve your diving skills by doing additional PADI courses. 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

You will volunteer for 5 days per week (Monday to Friday) between 7.30am and 6pm with breaks throughout the day.

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

Hear from past Belize Reef Conservation volunteers

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Belize Reef Conservation reviews.



view photo album | view video


How is the Belize Reef Conservation project making a difference?

The project’s primary objective is to encourage the Belizean Government to enforce preservation zones in the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. The team carry out marine surveys, 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.

In recognition of the fantastic work they are doing, the project was granted a Highly Commended award by the World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Best Responsible Wildlife Experiences category.

Why are volunteers needed?

Volunteers’ primary role is to contribute towards the projects on-going surveys, data collection and conservation work. They make a major contribution to the understanding of the reef ecosystem in the Sapodilla Cayes.

Volunteers 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.

Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine fish and the scientific community recognizes the need to work with non-scientists in order to help collect important data on these reefs. Volunteers do just that, help us collect the valuable data needed to help us monitor the health of the reef itself and its inhabitants"
Jo, Project Director of the Reef Conservation project

Where will I be living?

The project is located on a small, idyllic island off the coast of Punta Gorda. The surrounding area is abundant in marine life and you can take a kayak out, fish (hook and line) or snorkel around the island.

During the week volunteers live on the island, staying either in the main building or in one of the small, private, simple cabanas overlooking the sea. All rooms are clean and comfortable and have fans. The bathroom facilities are shared and there are communal areas to relax and socialise. WIFI is available on the island.

Weekend accommodation is not included but there are a number of guest houses for various budgets in the town of Punta Gorda.

Whilst you are on the island you can spend your free time in the hammocks, using the island kayaks, snorkelling, playing volleyball or just soaking up the Caribbean atmosphere. 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.




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 - Erin is your dedicated placement manager
  • In-depth Volunteering Guide on your volunteering placement
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to 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. mask, snorkel, 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 methodologies
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Crisis management plans and 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 Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod volunteer fees

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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