Caribbean Reef Conservation


Join an award-winning project and become part of an active research team. Learn to dive or develop current your skills whilst carrying out surveys and data collection. These research findings are used to enforce government preservation of the beautiful reefs. Live on an idyllic private island in the Caribbean.


Key Info

key info
  • Location: Caribbean Island in southern Belize
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 – 12 weeks +
  • Age requirement: 18+
  • Availability: Space available, limited June & July 2017
  • Cost: From £895 / €1075 / $1210 - see fees table below

Project Information

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
  • 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

Working days and hours

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

Other volunteers

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

Closure dates

The project is closed to volunteers between 3rd - 30th September 2017.

Volunteer reviews

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

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

How is the Caribbean 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.

Where will I be living?

The project is located on a small, idyllic island off the coast of Placencia. 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 in a shared room 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, eat and socialise in. WIFI internet 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 Placencia.

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 the small town of Placencia. With 16 miles of sandy beaches, it’s a beautiful spot to relax in at the weekends. You will find yourself becoming part of the local community in Placencia.

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • 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

On your placement:

  • Conservation volunteering placement
  • 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
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

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 and food, airport transfers. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
1 week (not available for beginner divers) £895 GB Pounds
2 weeks £1495 GB Pounds
3 weeks £2095 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £595 GB Pounds

Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see


lionfish removed from waters

"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian


Pod UK Manager

Erin has visited the project, apply and you'll hear from her soon!

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



  • Belize Reef Conservation volunteer – Betsy

    “The Reef Conservation project was an incredible experience!! I felt so well looked after, as it was my first time diving. But also the project itself was really fun. It was great to learn so much about the ocean as well as dive. Feeling that you were contributing was great!”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Reef Conservation volunteer – Dan & Ruth

    “We were so impressed with the whole experience. It was everything we expected and more. We learned; contributed; laughed; met incredible people from all over the world; and felt part of something greater than ourselves.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Reef Conservation volunteer – Eve

    “Absolutely amazing project! The island is paradise and the dives are so much fun! All the research is really interesting and it doesn't feel like work at all. Knowing you are helping conserve the reef is such a great feeling. The marine life is outstanding and every dive you see something new.”

    Read more volunteer reviews


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  • Wall Street Journal
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Year Out Group
  • Sunday Times
  • the independent
  • theguardian
  • DOFE
  • Right Tourism
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Tourism Concern


Sustainable needs-based volunteering projects that have lasting and positive impact on the local community. Volunteers of all ages are needed to make a difference overseas.

Structured to minimise costs for volunteers and maximise benefits for the projects we support.