This project is a hands-on educational experience for families, based on research and conservation conducted on the Greek island of Kefalonia to study and protect sea turtles and coastal ecosystems.
Families get involved in a range of conservation activities including surveying turtle nests on beaches, turtle hatchling rescues, snorkel surveys of seagrass meadows, harbour turtle surveys 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, snorkelling surveys of sea grass meadows and a coastal clean-up. One evening is spent rescuing turtle hatchlings! These activities will be accompanied a series of engaging educational presentations throughout the week.
The family programme runs from Thursday morning to the following Wednesday morning. You will meet the team in Argostoli town each day and transport is provided for activities that are not within walking distance.
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.
Turtle hatchling rescue
Turtle hatchlings crawl to the brightest horizon, which is normally the moon and stars reflecting off the water, to find their way to the sea. Unfortunately, light pollution from beach bars, hotels etc. confuses and disorients the hatchlings. They can spend many exhausting hours trying to find their way to the sea and sadly could die on the beach without help.
You will spend one night with the hatchling rescue team to help the hatchlings and release them at a darker part of the beach so they can crawl to the sea on their own. This shift runs through the night.
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. 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 photography and recording GPS, depths and other sea properties. 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 be given presentations throughout the programme covering the aims of the conservation work, scientific methods you are using, and broader conservation topics 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.
There are up to 14 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!
You will meet the team in Argstoli town each day so we recommend staying in Argostoli town or in Lassi, which is a short taxi / drive away.
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 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.
Start dates with availability - 2023
Thursday start - 3 August, 10 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
"I gained incredible experience with a variety of marine conservation efforts. Discovering the culture and natural beauty of the Greek islands has been a highlight of this trip."
“I have never enjoyed anything so much in my life. Working with the loggerhead turtles has been amazing and has taught me so much about them. My highlight of the holiday was swimming a hatchling out to sea and watching it swim into the distance knowing you helped it!”
"I arrived in Kefalonia with no experience in marine conservation but has 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."
hatchlings helped to sea in 2022
"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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