Marine and Coastal Conservation
Greece

The Marine and Coastal Conservation project researches and monitors the large seagrass meadows and sand dune systems that can be found around the beautiful island of Kefalonia in Greece.

Volunteers get involved in hands on research, exploring and assessing the sand dunes on land and through drone surveys, and in-water snorkelling surveys of the seagrass meadows. Volunteers help to keep the beaches clean, recording plastics and other debris and collecting for disposal or recycling.

You’ll be living on the friendly island of Kefalonia, with its sandy beaches, rugged scenery and surrounded by the warm crystal blue waters of the Ionian Sea.

Join the team and help protect these critical ecosystems that are so important maintaining biodiversity as well as tracking and mitigating climate change.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: Kefalonia, Western Greece
  • Start dates: Thursdays from May-Sep
  • Duration: 2 - 6 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (7+ for families)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £789 / €915 / $985 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The project studies the seagrass meadows and the sand dunes along the coast of Kefalonia which are categorised as vulnerable on the Red List.

Volunteers support the work of the local conservation team and take part in the following tasks:

  • Snorkelling surveys of the seagrass meadows 
  • Assessment of seagrass meadows and geotagged photos to classify the sea floor
  • Sand dune habitat surveys, species identification and vegetation studies
  • Sand dune litter surveys - recording and collecting litter and debris
  • Drone surveys – assisting the team’s drone pilot and reviewing footage to create topographic and 3-D maps 
  • Overnight light pollution survey on the beach 
  • Data review and entry to databases
  • Coastal bird surveys (South Coast Field Station only)

You should be a confident swimmer who has tried snorkelling before. The seagrass meadow research is carried out by snorkelling on the surface of the sea, wearing a life jacket, in waters of up to 8 metres deep. Volunteers are monitored by a safety supervisor on a paddle-board and snorkel shifts will only take place in suitable sea and weather conditions. Surveying involves in-water photos, recording GPS, depths and other properties of the sea environment.

Through these surveys you will learn about the importance of documenting, protecting and tracking changes to ecosystems and the impact of climate change and human activities. 

Why the work is so important

The seagrass meadows are a larger carbon sink than the rainforest and play a critical role in mitigating climate change. They form an important ecosystem, providing vital habitats and nursery grounds for turtles, fish and lots of other marine life and organisms.

Sand dunes and their vegetation form coastal protection between sea and land. They are a specialised ecosystem for many species including nesting turtles and rare dune vegetation. The dunes are under threat from development and climate change leading to degradation and erosion. The beaches in the area are affected by light pollution from hotels, street lights and restaurants so volunteers monitor the light pollution overnight in teams with the aim to help protect the areas affected by the light pollution along the beach. 

Field Stations

The project has two different field stations, each with its own volunteer accommodation and research focus in different areas of the island.  

At the East Coast Field Station, the beaches that volunteers monitor are 1.5km to 2.3km from the volunteer accommodation. Therefore at this Field Station you will need to cycle to the survey sights so you should be comfortable riding a bicycle (helmets and safety vests are provided). 

At the South Coast Field Station, the volunteer accommodation is close to the beaches and sand dunes so no cycling is required. Volunteers at this base will also take part in bird surveys which contribute to Cornell University’s e-Bird citizen Science online database.

Typical day

At the start of your first week, you will be fully briefed on the project and receive training in the research procedures and techniques that you will use, including GPS, sea meadow research, data entry and photo classification.

Working days consist of a morning shift and an afternoon shift of around 2-4 hours each, with the middle of the day free to rest and relax. Mornings typically involve sand dune surveys, sea surveys and litter collection. Afternoons focus on data entry from the mornings surveys. Mornings with sand dune surveys start early at around 5.30am and the afternoon shift finishes between 6-7pm. There is also often one overnight beach survey to monitor light pollution. You can see a sample rota here.

Volunteers have 1 day off in their first week and 2 days off in following weeks. During your free time, you can explore the many attractions of the island or simply relax on the beaches near the volunteer accommodation!

Other volunteers

There are usually 8-14 volunteers (with a maximum of 17), numbers vary throughout the year.

If you are coming with a friend or partner, please let us know so that we can book you onto the same field station and can try to schedule you the same days off and we can request for you to stay in the same room (subject to availability and rooms are normally single gender). 

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.

Local support

You will be working alongside the local team, including field leaders and assistants. Staff live alongside volunteers in the field stations.

“Without the help of volunteers we wouldn’t be able to sustain the ongoing research and assessment of these vulnerable ecosystems which are so important for our planet” Nikos, Program Director

Accommodation

There are two separate volunteer field stations, South Coast and East Coast, each with its own volunteer accommodation.

East Coast Field Station
This is a self-catering volunteer house surrounded by fruit and olive trees, giving lots of shade and space to relax. The house has simple furnishings and a communal cooking and living area. Each bedroom accommodates up to 4 volunteers and there is a shared bathroom. There is basic Wifi.

Bedroom

The house is ideally positioned between the two main coastal areas that will be monitored and the stunning beaches of Skala and Mounda.

Accomodation

South Coast Field Station
Volunteers share a room within a volunteer apartment by the sea within a shaded pretty garden. Each bedroom accommodates up to four volunteers with a shared bathroom, kitchenette and small living area. There is basic Wifi. 

The accommodation is located in the quaint beach town Svoronata and the beautiful soft sandy beach of Ammes is only a five-minute walk away. 

Meals

Meals are not included at either base, but there is an option to pay for catered meals at the South Coast Field Station - vegetarian meals can be provided 5 days a week for an additional cost.

At both field stations volunteers can prepare their own meals and are able to buy groceries locally. You may also like to visit some of the local restaurants, get pizza delivery or order some souvlaki (traditional grilled kebab) for an evening meal on the beach!

There are options at local stores for vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements.  

Here are typical examples of the food you could have:

  • Breakfast - Greek yoghurt with honey, toast with jam and banana or apple
  • Lunch and dinner vary throughout the week and can include – pasta, grilled sandwich, tomato and green bean stew, moussaka, pasta salad, lentil bake

The water on Kefalonia is safe to drink or you can buy bottled water.
 

Getting there

You will need to fly into Kefalonia (EFL). 

You will be met on arrival at Kefalonia Airport and transferred your accommodation. The South coast accommodation is around 5 minutes' drive from the airport and the East coast field station is about 1 hour's drive from the airport.

Location and free time

Kefalonia is an popular island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. 

When not working, volunteers enjoy socialising together and regularly have movie nights, quiz nights and get creative with henna designs. It’s also nice to head into the local towns and have a meal out and even try out some Greek dancing!

Volunteers have 1 day off in their first week and 2 days off each additional week to relax and explore the island.

East Coast Field Station
The volunteer house is ideally positioned between the two main coastal areas that will be monitored, the stunning beaches of Skala and Mounda. The beach of the popular tourist town of Skala is 2.3km away and Mounda beach is 1.5km away, easily accessed by walking or using the project bicycles!

Skala has a long beautiful beach with beach bars and restaurants to enjoy, beach volleyball and water sports on offer. There are also bakeries, grocery stores and shops to visit. Mounda beach is known for its tranquillity and pristine waters, a lovely place to relax in the Mediterranean sun!

Beach

South Coast Field Station
The accommodation is located in Svoronata with the soft sandy beach of Ammes only a five-minute walk away. Svoronata is a quaint beach town with several traditional Greek tavernas and restaurants. The local bus goes daily to the island capital Argostoli which is the perfect place for shopping and there is lovely harbour, cafes, restaurants, grocery stores and fresh fruit markets.  

Climate 

Kefalonia has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers with long sunny days. From May-October, temperatures range from around 24 to 30+°C, peaking in July and August.

Travelling in and around Kefalonia

Popular activities in Kefalonia that you might like to combine with your project are:

  • Beach heaven – beautiful beaches to explore, including Xi beach with its reddish sand and clay that people use as face masks for a homemade spa day!
  • Caves, lakes and mountains – there are ancient caves to visit with stalactites, azure blue waters and underground chambers. Mount Ainos is the highest point on the island and a national park with lots of biodiversity and stunning views
  • Sea kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving. Enjoy crystal clear and warm, see the abundant local marine life or go deeper and dive the sunken wrecks of submarines and landing craft from WWII
  • Island hopping – the islands of Ithaca, Lefkas and Zante are a ferry ride away or can be visited via day trips on tourist boats

For more information on Greece and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Greece country page.

Greece

The minimum age for this project is 18 years old and the minimum duration is 2 weeks.

Dates

2024

East Coast: Thursday start - 11 Jul (4 weeks only), 5 Sep, 19 Sep

South Coast: Thursday start - 13 Jun, 27 Jun, 11 Jul, 25 Jul, 8 Aug, 22 Aug, 5 Sep 

2025

East Coast: Thursday start - 29 May, 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 10 Jul, 24 Jul, 7 Aug, 21 Aug, 4 Sep, 18 Sep

South Coast: Thursday start - 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 10 Jul, 24 Jul, 7 Aug, 21 Aug, 4 Sep

What's Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer specialist to support you from booking on until you complete your trip
  • Comprehensive trip planning guide
  • Kefalonia airport pick up and transfer to accommodation  
  • Transfer from accommodation to Kefalonia airport on departure
  • Accommodation 
  • Induction and training
  • T-shirt
  • Life jacket and fins for snorkelling
  • Support from the team onsite in Greece
  • 24/7 emergency support from the Pod Volunteer UK team 
  • Donation to Pod Environmental Fund tackling climate change
  • 100% payment protection through ABTOT 
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Mask & snorkel
  • Living costs - meals, snacks, drinks, laundry
  • South Coast Field Station meals option - 3 meals a day / 5 days a week for additional fee of 75 Euro per week
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
2024 - 2 weeks £789 GB Pounds
2024 - extra 2 weeks £699 GB Pounds
2025 - 2 weeks - May & Sep start dates £789 GB Pounds
2025 - 2 weeks - Jun, Jul & Aug start dates £825 GB Pounds
2025 - extra 2 weeks £779 GB Pounds

Discounts

  • £50 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes - financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 

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

Read volunteer reviews from the Marine Conservation project

Tom

"I have really enjoyed my 2 weeks. It has been interesting learning about the different data collection methods. The shifts have been enjoyable, my favourite shifts include the snorkelling shifts and drone surveys. I have met lots of great people whilst I have been here. The program is run very well and on arrival, we were provided with lots of interesting information.On my days off I visited Poros, Sami, Fiskardo, Argostoli and Zante."

Jess

"The past two weeks in Greece has been an incredible experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. This is the first time I have travelled without friends or family but the other volunteers and the staff were so welcoming when we arrived that it immediately felt like home. I arrived in Kefalonia with no experience in marine conservation or anything in a similar field but the past two weeks have been full of learning and taught me so much about the importance of protecting these ecosystems and the impact they have on the rest of the world."

Eden

"I have absolutely loved the past 2 weeks in Kefalonia. I have learnt so much about marine conservation and research which is vital for my course. It has made me fall in love with the ocean even more and exploring the beautiful Greek wildlife. I have also learnt so much about myself, it has been a life experience which I will treasure forever. I have made friends for life, and the interns and volunteers have really made the experience the best possible."

Olivia

"I have spent the last 2 weeks in Kefalonia and enjoyed every second. The balance between actively going out and finding the data yourself and inputting the data into programs and spreadsheets really makes you appreciate what you are doing here. I have made some amazing friends who I will keep in contact with all the time now and I am already looking forward to coming back."

Kaitlyn

"My two weeks have been unforgettable. Not only have I gained incredible experience with a variety of marine conservation efforts, but I have also discovered so much about myself and the importance of taking a journey. Arriving here, I instantly felt at home with the interns and other volunteers, all of whom made this experience so much more memorable. Discovering the culture and natural beauty of the Greek islands has been a highlight of this trip. I could not have chosen a better program to be a part of while taking my first trip overseas."

Camilla

"We never expected to have such an amazing summer spending 4 weeks. Our overall experience was so diverse, making friends, exploring neighbouring islands, doing fun and impactful work, spending time in the sea as well as the beautiful villa, seeing Greek culture and most importantly contributing to a project that everyone involved really cares about. We loved learning about the ecosystems around Kefalonia and knowing the data we collected will help to preserve them in the future made it extremely rewarding."

51

km of sea floor surveyed and mapped

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Gemma

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Reserve your place and start your volunteering adventure to Greece!

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Greece Marine Conservation volunteer – Rory

    "Volunteering has opened my eyes not only to conservation science. On top of this is making friends and enjoying island life."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Greece Marine Conservation volunteer – Jess

    "An incredible experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I arrived with no experience in marine conservation but the past two weeks have been full of learning and taught me so much about the importance of protecting these ecosystems and the impact they have on the rest of the world."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Greece Marine Conservation volunteer - Kaitlyn

    "Unforgettable! Not only have I gained incredible experience with a variety of marine conservation efforts, but I have also discovered so much about myself. I could not have chosen a better program to be a part of while taking my first trip overseas."

    Read more volunteer reviews

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