Blue Ventures Marine Conservation Expeditions in Belize

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About

Discover the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere by volunteering with Blue Ventures.

Based in the fishing village of Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, our dive expeditions offer volunteers from around the world a unique opportunity to get involved with Blue Ventures’ marine research and community conservation work. From coral reef surveys to homestays with a local family and environmental education, expedition volunteers are immersed in the full breadth of our innovative and integrated programmes. You’ll be living in a beautiful tropical setting alongside vibrant coastal cultures whilst gaining scientific research skills and SCUBA diving qualifications.

Expedition volunteers are at the heart of everything we do and we’d love to have you join us!

“This trip was not only fun and memorable, but really rewarding in terms of diving experience, science training, and the truly unique experience of living in a remote area." - Julia Fracassi, 2017 Belize volunteer

Questions & Answers

Reviews

83%
based on 3 reviews
  • Housing 6.7
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 8.3
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Julia
10/10

Truly unique, rewarding experience; some of the best people you'll ever meet

It's been a few months since the expedition and I still find myself thinking about it (and keeping in touch with the other volunteers). Blue Ventures did a great job of making sure there was something for everyone (like interactions with the locals, a visit to a manatee rehab centre, a tour of the local village/cenote/bat cave, and amazing diving, of course!).

The cabanas we stayed in were surprisingly comfortable, and we got to wake up to the sunrise every day (and no bugs!!). Diving was done 1-3 times a day, and the rest of the day was for relaxing, data entry and other tasks, and some of the most intense volleyball games you will ever experience.

It's a huge investment in terms of trips (I'm very cautious about the programs I choose), but I assure you BV is one of the most reputable, conscientious, and exciting programs out there.

I surveyed a number of exclusive diving sites, logged 50 dives, became an advanced diver, met the most amazing people, and developed a passion for Belizean fry jacks. Highly recommend!!

How can this program be improved?
There's not much I'd change about the program! The Belize expedition camp was quite remote, limiting access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which might be difficult for some. However there were weekly supply runs with the opportunity to purchase food.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Janna
5/10

No letter of recommendation

The main reason I did this strenuous program was to get a research letter of recommendation for grad school. Apparently, unlike any other program of its kind that I've researched all across the world, they do not give any letters of recommendation. It's weird they would not give me a research letter for grad school as I am going to school for marine conservation, the very principle their program is based upon. Extremely disappointed. Also, Belize is a third world country with first World pricing. Expect to spend a lot more than you think you would while on your trip.

How can this program be improved?
Letters of recommendation
Response from Blue Ventures

We were surprised to read this review after receiving extremely positive feedback from Janna following her expedition to Belize in June.

Janna recently sent us a request for a letter of recommendation, to which we agreed to provide our standard letter of participation. We are happy to offer this letter to all our volunteers who wish to demonstrate their participation in our expedition to interested parties, and will detail the dates they attended the expedition, and the activities they would have been involved in as part of it.

Unfortunately, this letter was not what was required for Janna’s university application, which required a more personal reference, with a comment on her suitability for the course she was applying for. When we were made aware of this, we offered of be a reference for Janna’s University to contact.

We're confident the science training and time spent carrying out research dives at our dive camp will be useful for Janna if she chooses to pursue studies and a career in marine conservation, and we wish her the best of luck with her graduate school applications.

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Jack
10/10

Everybody eat the Lionfish! (it's invasive don't you know)

Time spent at the dive camp within Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve will provide experiences that assault your senses in the most positive way imaginable. Swimming with sea turtles, sleeping under the stars, spotting manatees, pure isolation with a group of people from around the world and different backgrounds in paradise (like the beach but without the shark attacks and angry Thai agriculturalists) to name but a few. However as good as the food is within the relatively basic structure of the camp you are only human if after four weeks of rice and beans and all its variations doesn't start to wane on you a bit (sorry Victor). Given how exhausted you are from all the diving though any form of sustenance is greatly appreciated but on return from the camp I was treated to what was the best meal of my life. My homestay Mum (they really do feel like mums and family after the time you spend there and the food and care they provide you) cooked up grilled lobster in butter, it was in season, chips and tortilla wraps. I proceeded to create a lobster wrap that would put Man vs Food to shame and devoured it with lashings of Marie Sharps chilli sauce (a Belizean staple of epic proportions). Several things struck me as I wiped chilli sauce from my beard (shaving at camp is possible but I wanted to look like a fat Tom Hanks from castaway on my return home). Firstly, my homestay family were not destitute by any means, the father was the local pharmacist however the kindness and hospitality being shown almost brought me to tears but that may have been too much Marie Sharps. The second thing was what a four weeks at camp it had been. For diving masters and novices alike there will be something at Bacalar Chico that you have not seen or experienced before. To be able to access dive sites that no one else can is a privilege and a pleasure. The extent of the wildlife both in and out of the water is mind-blowing and will leave you clutching at your bird and fish guides just to try and keep up with the numerous species you see. The fact that worthwhile science is being done as well is certainly an added bonus and I defy anyone to go and not come away with extensive knowledge about how these marine ecosystems work and to be able to name many different creatures that reside within them. You may also come away with a murderous lust to cleanse the reef of lion fish an invasive species in the Caribbean, this is also fine. You may even get a chance to go on a lion fish cull a diving experience that really is quite special. Cooking and eating the lion fish after a cull with some garlic and chilli was another experience I treasured, I suppose the food at camp wasn't too bad! Just remember that underneath the stinging spines the meat tastes just fine (Lionfish song 2015). There really are so many amazing things about the work Blue Ventures does within the local communities of Belize that I am sure have many positive consequences. I am sure there are also many different positive things that people may get from volunteering with Blue Ventures if you are looking at a gap year and boosting your University chances or even just a break from normal life. The real amazing thing though is the fun you will have, the wonderful people you will meet and the amazing places you will dive that you will remember for a very, very long time.

How can this program be improved?
Slightly more emphasis on experiences beyond the marine science for people that may be interested in different ways of contributing to Blue Ventures work. Photography for example. Or more emphasis placed on some of the community work that is done which was certainly a highlight.
Yes, I recommend

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Meet the Alumni

About Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures runs award winning marine conservation expeditions in Belize, Madagascar and Timor-Leste.

We have a team of dedicated researchers and volunteers who study all aspects of the marine environment.

Our expeditions offer an opportunity of a...