Reef conservation volunteering in Belize

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2017: 30 Apr, 7 May, 14 May, 21 May, 28 May, 4 Jun, 11 Jun, 18 Jun, 25 Jun, 2 Jul, 9 Jul, 16 Jul, 23 Jul, 30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug, 27 Aug, 3 Sep, 10 Sep, 17 Sep, 24 Sep, 1 Oct, 8 Oct, 15 Oct, 22 Oct, 29 Oct, 5 Nov, 12 Nov, 19 Nov, 26 Nov, 3 Dec, 10 Dec, 17 Dec, 24 Dec, 31 Dec
2018: 7 Jan, 14 Jan, 21 Jan, 28 Jan, 4 Feb, 11 Feb, 18 Feb, 25 Feb, 4 Mar, 11 Mar, 18 Mar, 25 Mar, 1 Apr, 8 Apr, 15 Apr, 22 Apr, 29 Apr, 6 May ...

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Reef conservation volunteering in Belize


By taking part in this project you will be making a major contribution to reef conservation in Belize. Through your reef surveys you will be providing the data from which the reefs can be monitored and conservation strategies and activities planned. The project is also actively involved in monitoring the invasive lionfish species which is now present in the area and provide date to the local fisheries and government departments to advise policy.

The projectís 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.


Social responsibility: Before volunteers depart we provide them with a detailed volunteering guide on the area they will be visiting. We try to educate and encourage our volunteers to understand and respect the local cultures and customs.

Economic responsibility: For over 10 years we have been providing volunteers to help at charitable projects around the world. A UK charity has now been launched to build on this success by providing financial assistance to overseas causes as well. The organisations we work with are often struggling to fund the work they are doing so every penny raised makes a real difference.

This is a locally run organisation, providing employment for local Belizean staff. While volunteers are in-country, they stay in locally owned accommodation and we encourage them to buy locally and support local businesses.

Environmental responsibility: One of the main negative impacts of our volunteers travelling, is the carbon dioxide created from flights. We work with an Amazon conservation project that helps to ensure that carbon is sequestered through tree planting. While our volunteers and customers are overseas, we identify and encourage simple steps to minimise their impact on the local environment. And at our office in the UK we try to recycle as much of our office waste as possible, use recycled products where available, avoid printing (no brochures) and minimise energy usage.

Reviews of Reef conservation volunteering in Belize

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 05 Mar 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Learning to hunt/catch lionfish. The 3 daily dives

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring your own equipment, since equipment at reefci isn't well-maintained. Here is what I wrote on another website:
The equipment overall was a little tatty - not a big deal - except one mouthpiece on my regulator was broken, which I didn't discover until I was in the water, and a strap on the BCD was broken so that the tank was actually floating perpendicular to me during the dive. These issues were tended to once pointed out, but clearly not much attention is being paid to the state of the equipment - which can be a safety issue - at the beginning/end of the dive. Two guests took out the kayaks, which were also pretty beaten up, and they reported that the paddles had seen better use.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Since all people employed are local, obviously it benefitted them. And eliminating some lionfish I suppose helps, but since they reproduce so quickly and prolifically, I don't think anything a volunteer does for a week will put a major dent in their population

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Here is the review I submitted on another website:
The great: excellent, healthy food, fresh fish every day, salads, etc., courtesy of Linda, a wonderful cook who knows how to use herbs and spices to their advantage. The possibility to dive at least 3 times a day. My fellow volunteers (I was lucky and had 3 other colleagues for the week, which is not always the case). This is important, because reefci is about an acre and a half, so not much to see and do outside of the diving - but that's why you're there. Also, learning to hunt/spear lionfish is fun, as are the other volunteer activities. Marco was the divemaster, and he took great care to make sure I felt comfortable and safe (hadn't dived in quite some time).
The not so great: this is not a resort and I didn't expect resort amenities. However, be aware that, when the diving is over, there are no options for comfort. That is, there are no comfortable chairs anywhere to sit in and read a book, or even look out at the horizon or enjoy a cool drink. There is one bright overhead light in the bedrooms, so no option to just read in bed.
There are maybe 7 or 8 hammocks, out of which only one or two are deep enough to be comfortable. One guest actually fell out of one because it was so skinny. And, 7 or 8 hammocks don't suffice if there are more than 4 guests (the total for my week) since the staff use them quite a bit. I put pillows from the bed underneath my hammock to cushion any fall that might occur.
The mattresses are barely comfortable, and the plumbing could use a little help - the faucets actually moved from left to right as I turned the water on/off. Screening covers half the doors to the bedrooms, and at least for my room, the screens were ripped pretty badly.
My shower had enough water - not a lot, but enough of a dribble - but other guests' showers didn't, so I was happy to share my facility with them.
I was there in February so wasn't uncomfortably hot, but I would imagine the summertime heat could be unbearable.
My divemaster, Marco, was pretty great. However I took one dive with Frank, who didn't show the least interest in the group that he led. In fact, the two visitors that I dived with canceled their afternoon booking with him because they got so little out of it. He basically "led" the dive but didn't look for or point out anything interesting. So, look to dive with Marco if you go, or at least avoid Frank.
The above are maybe quibbles, and they didn't detract from a memorable week - but a lot of that was due to the great people I shared the week with. Alone on that island, or with less companionable folks - and this might be a different review.
Overall, the above are simple fixes, and it's a shame that the owner doesn't invest a little in the upkeep of the place. But, it seems that ecotravel brings in enough volunteers so the place can operate at a barebones level.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for your review, we really appreciate hearing how you got on and taking the time to provide such detailed feedback. We're really pleased to hear how much you enjoyed the regular dives, learning to hunt lionfish and the food. Food on the island regularly gets commented upon in volunteers' feedback and the lionfish fish fingers and barracuda that we had when I was there were incredible! We have also taken on board the parts of the trip that you didn't enjoy as much and will be working closely with the team in Belize to make improvements wherever possible as we want all volunteers to have the best possible experience at our projects. If you would like me to give you a call to discuss the points in any more detail, please just let me know and I'll be happy to do so. Best Wishes, Erin,

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