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How to Volunteer on a Private Tropical Island

Written by: Daniella Tacheny

More travellers than ever are pursuing sustainable tourism, and voluntourism is proving the most popular choice with young travellers. The appeal of voluntourism is its inclusiveness of both travelling and discovering a new place, alongside the opportunity to give back to the local communities that you visit.

There are countless volunteering opportunities available worldwide, many of which are in popular tropical tourist destinations. Many of these opportunities are in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, which is said to be the home of voluntourism, but there are also many opportunities to lend a hand on tropical islands, such as Bali in Indonesia.

What if we told you that you could enjoy a tropical vacation on a private island while volunteering at the same time? Yes, that’s right – a private island! Tropical destination-seekers can now make a difference by helping to conserve the Belize Barrier Reef while enjoying the bliss of a private, tropical getaway.

Volunteers on private islands get to do everything that regular island vacationers do – snorkel, scuba dive, lay in hammocks, swim in turquoise waters, play volleyball in the warm sand and eat tropical fruit. The key difference is that diving on these programs combines personal pleasure with important data collection work for marine conservation.

belize private island

How to find a private island volunteer opportunity

So, how does one find such an amazing sustainable tourism opportunity like volunteering in marine conservation while living on a private island? We’re here to help! With a simple search, you can find the perfect private island volunteering opportunity. Our partners work with many volunteering organizations, in destinations around the globe, so finding an opportunity is easier than ever.

Searching by country is the most effective way of finding private island experiences, since the names of private islands are not generally as known as public islands such as Bali and Seychelles, for example. By searching for opportunities to volunteer in Belize or Indonesia, which both contain hundreds of islands and cayes, you’re bound to find the perfect private island volunteering opportunity for you.

whalesharks divers

What does volunteering on a private island look like?

Since these islands are private, there is no large community or population, which means that volunteer work is focused on the conservation and preservation of the island’s ecosystems. This means either marine research and conservation or wildlife research and conservation.

Marine research and conservation volunteering tasks generally consist of survey dives. This is when, upon completion of a diving certification, you will dive into the coral reefs and collect data on the current status of the reef and the fish living within it. If you are not already PADI-certified, volunteer programs often offer to certify you while you are on the program. Other marine survey dives may include taking underwater photographs for the identification of specific animal populations; whale sharks are one of the most commonly sought after for research purposes. Wildlife data collection is similar, done while on foot rather than in the water.

The most amazing part about volunteering on a private island, however, is the ethical values. By lending a hand to preserve vulnerable marine and land ecosystems, there is no room to question the positive effect that volunteering is having on a community. The community is the ecosystem, and the ecosystem is benefitting from the data collected. Data collected on marine conservation programs is most often shared with governmental organizations, such as those who focus on environmental conservation. Collected data is used to help create laws for marine recreational regulation. In addition to this, many photos from photo identification dives are added to international databases, which are accessed by conservationists to help monitor and understand the current vulnerability status of different marine species.

evening volleyball private island

Recommended program: GoEco’s Private Island Marine Conservation Experience

One of our favourite volunteering opportunities can be found on a private island in Belize. With GoEco’s Private Marine Experience program, volunteers can enjoy a completely private, beautiful island on the Belize Barrier Reef. The island is just an acre and a half in size, 25 miles off the mainland, with beautiful stone cabanas for living quarters right on the sand. And let’s not forget that nothing surrounds this island except for warm, turquoise waters! Oh, and the meals are vacation-quality, including fresh fish, lobster and tropical fruit such as coconut. There are plenty of perks to being a volunteer in Belize!

Both certified divers and non-divers are welcome to join, and PADI Open Water as well as Advanced courses are available on the island. This marine conservation programs works closely with the Belize Fisheries Department, and is a leader in conservation in Belize. Volunteers will take part in survey dives, monitor the health status of the coral reef, photograph whale sharks and even take part in the removal of an invasive species that is currently threatening indigenous marine life.

We can recommend this program based on its track record. Whale shark identification photos are consistently being added to the public Whale Shark Sightings Database, two new breeding grounds for conches have been located and the program is the leader in the removal of invasive species in all of Belize. Not to mention that volunteers are in excellent hands with the local team on the island and the support of the GoEco agency.

Private Island Marine Experience

From: £960 / 7-28 Days

Travel to a private Belizean island to contribute to marine conservation, specifically the conservation of the Belizean Barrier Reef.

View Experience

If you are a traveller who dreams of private islands, secluded beaches and beautiful waves, but who also wants to give back to such a beautiful place, then volunteering on a private island is just what you need! You can learn to dive or enhance your current dive skills, get into research and data collection, and truly make an impact on marine and land ecosystems while enjoying a tropical getaway. Get in touch with us to discover these opportunities – bon voyage!

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