This family trip is a hands-on educational experience on the Greek island of Kefalonia, focussing on the conservation of sea turtles and coastal ecosystems.
Families get involved in a range of conservation activities including surveying turtle nests on beaches, snorkel surveys of seagrass meadows, harbour turtle surveys, a night turtle nest protection shift and coastal clean-ups. These are accompanied by engaging conservation presentations.
You’ll be living on the beautiful and 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 to learn about and take part in the amazing work being done to help save the sea turtles of Greece from extinction and help protect coastal ecosystems that are so important for the planet.
Your family will have exciting conservation activities every day, including turtle nesting beach surveys (early morning starts), harbour surveys of the turtle population, a night turtle nest monitoring shift, snorkelling surveys of sea grass meadows and a coastal clean-up. These activities will be accompanied a series of engaging and interactive presentations throughout the week.
The family programme runs from Thursday morning to the following Tuesday evening (6 days). You will meet the team in Argostoli town each day and transport is provided for activities that are not within walking distance.
Here is a typical rota, with the team split into two sub-groups where indicated (each family unit will stay together).
During your free time, you can explore the many attractions of Kefalonia. We recommend having a few extra days before or after the project to fully enjoy the island!
Turtle nesting beach surveys and nest checks
Every year loggerhead sea turtles migrate to Kefalonia to feed and reproduce, with female turtles laying their eggs on the sandy beaches of the island. Unfortunately, the turtle population is now under great pressure from both human and natural threats.
Your family will help survey the beaches of Kefalonia to monitor hatching sea turtle nests. Starting early in the morning, teams walk along the beach to check turtle nests, looking for fresh hatchling tracks and making sure they are heading to sea.
Harbour survey of adult turtles
Over 300 adult and sub-adult sea turtles swim in the bay of Argostoli throughout the summer. Every morning, many turtles visit the town harbour, where fishing boats return with the morning's catch.
During harbour surveys, you will observe these turtles and record information about their foraging and social behaviours.
Nighttime nest monitoring and protection
You will spend one night helping to protect the turtle nests against light pollution. Light pollution from beach bars, hotels etc. confuses and disorients the turtles, which are normally guided by the light of the moon and stars. If hatching occurs (due to nature being unpredictable this can't be guaranteed), you will help the hatchlings and release them at a darker part of the beach so they can crawl to the sea on their own.
Your family will provide essential resource for covering the different beaches that need to be monitored at night. You will be accompanied by 1-2 members of staff and families may be placed on different beaches if there are multiple beaches to cover. Younger children can complete part of the shift if it's too late for them.
Snorkel surveys of seagrass meadows
Seagrass meadows are a larger carbon sink than the rainforest and play a critical role in combating climate change. They form an important ecosystem, providing habitats for many species including turtles, monk seals and several types of fish.
Leaders will guide you snorkelling on the surface of the sea in marine zones near Argostoli. You will wear a life jacket (you don’t need to dive down) and you will be accompanied by two safety supervisors, on the land and sea (on a paddleboard). Seagrass research involves recording location, depths and other sea properties as well as getting to explore the local marine life! Snorkel shifts will only take place in suitable sea and weather conditions.
The island of Kefalonia is susceptible to plastic pollution and waste which affects turtles, sea birds and many other marine and terrestrial species. The team carry out regular beach and coastal clean-ups which you will help with.
You will receive family orientated presentations to help you all learn about turtles and marine life, the work you will doing and wider conservation issues like climate change.
You and your children should be able to do beach walks of up to 2km and should be confident swimmers who have snorkelled before. One adult is required for up to 2 children and children must be aged 7 or over.
There are up to 16 participants on the family project.
You will be working alongside the local team, including field leaders and assistants. You will have a leader that guides you on each shift.
Accommodation is not included and you have the freedom to choose accommodation that suits your family - there are many fantastic choices, from hotels to apartments and villas, covering a wide range of budgets from the simple to the luxurious!
The meeting point for all activities is in Argostoli and on some days the sessions are spread out with gaps in between, so the most convenient place to stay is in Argostoli town. You can come back to your accommodation to rest and relax between sessions.
Alternatively, if you rent a car, then you may also want to look at accommodation in Lassi, which is a 5-10 minute drive away from Argostoli. There are more accommodation options with swimming pools in Lassi.
There are many beautiful beaches along the coast from Lassi to Argostoli which you can visit to swim, sunbathe, and relax. Argostoli town itself has a bustling town square, supermarkets, tourist shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Meals are not included. There are lots of cafes and restaurants nearby, giving you a great choice of Greek and international food, including vegetarian and vegan options. Depending on your accommodation choice and if you want to self-cater there are good supermarkets in Argostoli town and smaller mini-markets near the beaches.
The water on Kefalonia is safe to drink or you can buy bottled water.
You will need to fly into Kefalonia (EFL).
Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece.
Argostoli is the daily meeting point and is the main town and harbour on the island. It's a perfect base to explore from, heading along the coast by road and you can also take a ferry over to Lixouri (which takes about 30 minutes) and explore that side of the island.
Volunteers have 2 days off per week to relax and explore the island. Popular activities for families in Kefalonia include:
For more information on Greece and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Greece country page.
Kefalonia has a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers with long sunny days. In August, temperatures are usually around 30°C+.
Start dates - 2024
Thursday start - 15 August, 22 August
|Child (under 18 years old)||£395||GB Pounds|
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.
All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT).
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
"We’re home after an amazing holiday and a great time with the wonderful team in Argostoli. We loved every moment, learnt so much and have had some amazing experiences. We’ll certainly recommend Pod Volunteer to others (in fact, I already have!), plan to do talks to our local cub and scout groups on turtle conservation, and look into other projects for future trips. Go for it! You'll have an amazing time, learn so much, feel you are making a difference, meet great people, love Kefalonia, help make a difference to the conservation of turtles and make memories for life!"
"We were staggered by the intense hard work the volunteers placed there were doing, what an incredible team. Thank you for being part of that and promoting this opportunity so we could work alongside them. It was a powerful experience, my daughter wants to return next year!"
"Wow! What an amazing holiday that was! Thank you so much for helping us with the booking, organisation and communication for it.The experiences that we took part in completely brought to life the turtle life-cycle, and the effects that humans are having on them, from staying out on the beach overnight to watch hatchlings make their first journey down to sea – magical! – to helping in a mission to free an adult turtle caught in a fishing line – awe-inspiring! I would absolutely recommend this holiday to anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of sea turtles but also get hands-on with conservation work."
"We have really enjoyed everything, it is very special to be helping out the team here. They have all been welcome and informative. Thank you"
"Hi! It has been hard work for the children but very rewarding! We were so lucky to see adults, hatchlings and a newly laid nest. Children are exhausted but I don't want to leave!!!!! The team have been fantastic and it is an excellent family holiday!"
hatchlings helped to sea last year
"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder
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