Belize Marine Education & Conservation Project

Partake in active marine education and conservation while helping to protect the Belize Barrier Reef!

Running parallel to the stunning Caribbean coastline of Belize is the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern hemisphere. Spanning just under 190 miles, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to remarkable reef ecosystems, picture-perfect islands and an array of fascinating species, though many of which are now sadly a conservation concern.

On a small, private island just off the coast, you'll find the Belize Marine Education and Conservation Project. There are two main aims of this project: conservation through education and conservation through action. Through a series of daily presentations on coral reefs, marine life, and environmental threats, you’ll gain valuable and in-depth knowledge that will underpin the conservation activities you’ll take part in, such as biodiversity identification dives and beach clean-ups. The other big focus of this project is the removal of one of the largest growing threats to the area, the invasive lionfish. You will learn how to safely remove lionfish and participate in daily extraction dives, during which you will collect data which is then given to government bodies to assess and monitor the severity of the invasion.

At the end of your experience, you’ll leave this island paradise with a wealth of marine knowledge, perhaps a PADI diving certification (if you don’t already possess one), and memories of protecting the Belize Barrier Reef and living on a private Caribbean Island! 

Running parallel to the stunning Caribbean coastline of Belize is the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern hemisphere. Spanning just under 190 miles, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to remarkable reef ecosystems, picture-perfect islands and an array of fascinating species, though many of which are now sadly a conservation concern.

On a small, private island just off the coast, you'll find the Belize Marine Education and Conservation Project. There are two main aims of this project: conservation through education and conservation through action. Through a series of daily presentations on coral reefs, marine life, and environmental threats, you’ll gain valuable and in-depth knowledge that will underpin the conservation activities you’ll take part in, such as biodiversity identification dives and beach clean-ups. The other big focus of this project is the removal of one of the largest growing threats to the area, the invasive lionfish. You will learn how to safely remove lionfish and participate in daily extraction dives, during which you will collect data which is then given to government bodies to assess and monitor the severity of the invasion.

At the end of your experience, you’ll leave this island paradise with a wealth of marine knowledge, perhaps a PADI diving certification (if you don’t already possess one), and memories of protecting the Belize Barrier Reef and living on a private Caribbean Island! 

Dive Training Programme
Dive Training Programme
If you are an unqualified diver, you will spend the first week learning how to dive and achieving your PADI Open Water Certification. This will be done under the supervision of a fully qualified instructor, but you’ll swap a cold pool for the warm Caribbean Sea! If you already have this qualification, you do not need to complete any additional courses, however, you can choose to complete your PADI Advanced Open Water or several other certifications or speciality courses for an additional fee.
Marine Conservation Education
Marine Conservation Education
Education is at the very core of this project, you’ll attend several presentations during your time on the island where you will learn about the threats of invasive species and how to safely remove them, the ins and outs of coral reefs ecosystems, and gain an in-depth knowledge of marine life and how best to protect our oceans. This conservation education forms the basis of all the other activities; you will not only get involved but will understand what you are doing and how it helps. Knowledge is power, and this is power you can pass on!
Biodiversity Identification Dives
Biodiversity Identification Dives
Marine conservation education is two-fold, as following all presentations, you'll have the opportunity to put into practice what you learned during biodiversity identification dives. Fish, sea turtles, sharks, invertebrates and coral will all be on the identification cards. The diversity of different reef fishes and invertebrates, alongside other factors, goes a long way in determining the health of local reefs, so you will be able to assess sections of the Belize Barrier Reef with the staff passing on notable observations to the Belize Department of Fisheries.
Invasive Species Removal
Invasive Species Removal
Lionfish are an incredibly destructive, invasive species with rapidly growing numbers around the Caribbean and the Eastern coast of the United States. The destruction they cause to native reef ecosystems is alarming, with studies suggesting a single lionfish on a reef could reduce native juvenile fish populations by 79%. As a volunteer, you'll learn to safely remove lionfish via spearfishing, and collect data on the number extracted to determine density and the overall increase or decrease of lionfish populations in southern Belize. After fillet, dissection and data collection, you will also be able to enjoy lionfish for lunch or dinner, as it’s now promoted as a sustainable seafood choice!
Night Dive
Night Dive
Once a week, volunteers are given the opportunity to participate in a night dive where you’ll go in search of moray eels, nurse sharks and other nocturnal creatures. This is your opportunity to discover the Belize Barrier Reef at night, offering you a different yet captivating experience. Your senses will be acuter, coral colours are brighter due to the lack of filter light through the surface, and you’ll be introduced to the fascinating marine life that comes to life at night. (To take part in this activity, you will need to be at least PADI Advanced Open Water qualified.)
Beach Clean-ups
Beach Clean-ups
Weekly beach clean-ups are organised to ensure the island remains pristine, and that any plastic or general waste that could be harmful to the environment, coral reefs or marine life, is removed and recycled where possible. You’ll also spot clean wherever you see plastic on the beach or the reefs, directly protecting and conserving our oceans on and offshore!
Free Time & Weekends
Free Time & Weekends
Your weekends will be spent on the mainland in Placencia in the accommodation you’ve organised. You’ll have the whole weekend to arrange activities and explore Belize at your leisure! There will also be plenty to get involved in during your free time on the island, including paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, volleyball and badminton. There are also a lot of hammocks with great views to settle into with a good book.

Arrival: You will need to arrive in Placencia, Belize on the Sunday before your start date. Please note, accommodation is not included in Placencia, so you will need to arrange your own hotel. There are some suggestions in the project guide and the travel team will be happy to help with any queries you may have.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
On Monday at around 9:30am, you will travel by boat to the private island. You may want to fire off a quick text to friends and family as you won’t have internet or service over the next few days. You’ll find a more meaningful connection on the island; it just won’t be digital! Upon arrival, you’ll have time to settle in, grab some lunch, and in the afternoon, you’ll head out for your first dive! If you’re learning to dive or furthering your dive qualifications, you’ll spend this afternoon and the next couple of days achieving your chosen PADI Certificate, before participating in the conservation activities.
Day 2 - 4 - Project Days:
The days start early on the island, with everyone up for a coffee before the first dive. You’ll be back for breakfast at around 8:00am to fuel up for the day ahead. After breakfast, volunteers usually take part in an activity such as lionfish dissection, dive prep and receive a presentation in preparation for the next dive. You’ll head out on the boat before and after lunch for a mixture of ID dives and invasive species removal and will be back ashore around 4:30pm, with some free time before dinner. Those undertaking their PADI qualification should finish by day 3, and those who are AOW qualified will be offered a night dive for a chance to embrace the dark! A BBQ will be arranged for day 4, alongside a recap of the weekly lionfish removal numbers and the island highlights.
Day 5 - Back to the Mainland:
Volunteers will participate in a morning dive before breakfast. Then it's time to pack up and return to the mainland leaving at 10:30am, and arriving around lunchtime. You may want to get back to your chosen accommodation to settle in for the night and take advantage of the Wi-Fi, or if you are staying for longer than a week, you may wish to start your weekend exploring Belize.
Day 6 - Departure or Leisure Weekend:
For those only staying for 1-week, Saturday is the departure day from Placencia Airport back to Belize International Airport. For those staying longer, you can use the weekends to explore Belize. From ancient ruins and jungle expeditions to cultural or zip-lining tours; there’s something for everyone! (Activities will be at your own expense). You will then board the boat back to the island on Monday, well-rested after a great weekend. The itinerary will follow the same format with weekends off on the mainland, and the presentations will be new each week until the 5th week when the cycle repeats.

To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

If you are not at least PADI Open Water qualified, you must include a PADI dive course in your booking. Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!

Duration Price
Select PADI dive course to view available durations & prices.
Price:


Accommodation

On the island, you’ll be allocated a room in the main building or in an individual cabana. Rooms are usually shared between 2-4 people and the bathroom and shower facilities are shared by all. The accommodation is basic but clean and comfortable, and every room has incredible views of the Caribbean Sea! There are plenty of hangouts on the island and loads of hammocks, so you can really relax into island life.

You will need to arrange your own accommodation for the night before the project starts, and for the weekends, though the travel team are happy to make suggestions from budget to luxury hotels if you would like any help with this.

Meals & Beverages

You’ll receive three meals per day on the island, plus a morning and afternoon snack. Previous volunteers rave about the food, so we’re sure you won’t be disappointed! As an environmentally conscious organisation, the project provides a mostly plant-based diet with protein sources from the sea (i.e. invasive lionfish). All dietary requirements can be catered for, but please inform us of any well in advance. Drinking water is also provided, and alcoholic and soft drinks are available at an additional cost.

When is the best time to volunteer?

The project operates all year-round including holidays, and with an average yearly temperature of 29°C (84°F), you’ll likely need marine-safe sunscreen year-round. As Belize has a tropical climate it does rain regularly, but more often at night, which luckily makes sleeping more comfortable. During the winter months (November-January) it’s recommended that you bring a jumper for the evenings. The water temperature is consistent at around 26°C (80°F) so a 3mm wetsuit will be perfect for diving.

Getting there

You will need to fly into Belize International Airport (BZE) and then take a domestic flight on a ‘hopper’ plane to Placencia which can be booked via Tropic Air or Maya Island, costing approximately US$230-290 (£180-230) for a round-trip. The flight takes about 45 minutes, and we recommend leaving 1.5 - 2 hours between your international arrival and your domestic flight departure.

Volunteers must arrive in Placencia the day before the project start date as the boat transfer to the island is at 9:30am on Mondays from the Water Taxi Dock. Please note, accommodation is not included when not on the island, therefore, you will need to book somewhere to stay for the night before your start date and for your last night in Placencia.

Visa requirements

Most nationalities including British, Canadian, and US citizens do not need to obtain a visa in advance of travelling to Belize, as a 30-day tourist visa is issued on arrival. We do, however, recommend checking with your local embassy regarding visa requirements prior to travelling.

If you plan to stay for longer, visas can be extended locally, and extensions cost approximately US$25 per month.

DIVE COURSES

You are able to join this project as a qualified or unqualified diver and there are a number of dive courses available that you can complete.

You must be at least PADI Open Water qualified to take part in the project dives. So if you join as an unqualified diver, you will spend approximately 3 days completing your PADI Open Water qualification. If you would like to further your diving qualifications, the following are available on the island:

  • PADI Advanced Open Water Certification – $225 (1 week to complete)
  • PADI Rescue Diver Certification – $275 (1 week to complete)
  • PADI Dive Master Certification – $750  (4-week minimum stay)

There are also a number of speciality courses you can undertake on the island, though you must be at least Open Water certified before taking any:

  • Invasive Lionfish – $125 (2 days)
  • Coral Reef Conservation – $125 (2 days)
  • Fish Identification – $125 (2 days)
  • Deep Diver – $125 (3 days)
  • Emergency First Response – $125 (2 days)
  • Underwater Photographer – $200 (2 days)

Please Note: The PADI Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Dive Master, and Underwater Photographer, all require the PADI e-Learning to be done prior to arrival, details of which you can find on the PADI website.


Download Project Guide Image Download Project Guide

What's Included

  • 5 days & 4 nights on a private island during dive weeks including accommodation
  • Boat transfers to and from the private island
  • 3 meals per day on the island
  • 12-13 dives per week
  • At least 1-night dive per week (for Advanced Open Water qualified divers only)
  • Training for conservation work
  • Conservation donation

What's Not Included

  • All flights
  • Wetsuit, fins, booties and dive mask (you must bring your own)
  • Dive gear rental fee for a BCD and regulator
  • Travel insurance
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987