The Volunteer Bay -

The Volunteer Bay


The Volunteer Bay offers volunteers around the world the opportunity to travel and help local grassroots organizations in Ecuador, Nepal, Thailand and now Costa Rica. Enthusiastic volunteers get the chance to join safe, affordable and educational projects, and enrich themselves from service learning assignments and multicultural exchange. With their help, small and medium local grassroots organizations can better use their scarce resources to carry out environmental or social development projects set forth to improve the livelihoods of their communities.

Our programs abroad advocate safe and responsible travel. They create inspiring scenarios for volunteers to become aware of global issues, and of themselves, while bringing positive change to their lives and the lives of local communities.

Check out our website for complete details about each project and destination. Join us, we need your support.



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Yes, I recommend this program

I originally wanted to do a program where you travel and volunteer with a group, however, I only started planning this trip a month and a half before leaving. This led me to The Volunteer Bay because their programs weren't booked to capacity. Although the program was more based on solo travel, I am so glad I did it because it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. (Also, it offered a much cheaper price compared to group volunteer programs) Pedro, the managing director, and Vida, the programs director, were extremely helpful in what I needed to know about the program. I did the Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Montezuma that is run by ASVO, a non-profit organization that has three locations in Costa Rica. (The Volunteer Bay is pretty much an intermediary between the volunteer and ASVO).
The first two nights of my trip I spent in San Jose at Hostel Van Gogh. Although the hostel was very nice, the city itself isn't great, so unless it's necessary I wouldn't spend much time in San Jose. Getting to Montezuma from San Jose took about 6 hours total which includes bus rides and an hour long ferry ride. The ASVO house in Montezuma is nice and has all of the basics (bathrooms, showers, electricity). The town of Montezuma is small but it has everything you need plus very friendly locals and backpackers. The food served at the ASVO house was great and there was always more than enough. There is also more freedom at the ASVO house than I expected (there's a curfew because a lot of the work that is done takes place at night). The volunteers had some free time during the day so we took a couple trips to the waterfalls and a trip to Isla Tortuga where we went snorkeling. During a typical day in the early season, there is a lot of down time for reading and relaxing.
As for the actual turtle work, there wasn't much when I was there because I arrived at the very beginning of the nesting season. The volunteers were scheduled for one patrol a night which started anywhere between 6:30pm and 2:00am, there was also a 5am shift which is actually great because you get to see the beautiful sunrise. Patrols consisted of walking the beach 2 or 3 times with other volunteers and a Patrol Leader searching for turtles/turtle tracks. I saw three turtles lay eggs and on my last night I was able to move 93 Olive Ridley eggs to a safer location. The experience was amazing and I couldn't have had a better way to end my trip.
I met so many great people from around the world and even those who I don't share a language with became great friends of mine. I would definitely do this program again or do another program through The Volunteer Bay in the future. Pura Vida!

What would you improve about this program?
It would be very hard for The Volunteer Bay to do anything about this, but the only problem I faced was some communication problems because of the language barriers between me and the ASVO staff (which is to be expected since I only speak English and was in a Spanish-speaking country). However, some other volunteers were bilingual and translated for me and it ended up working out.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My main tasks involved working with consideration to protect and preserve the biodiversity of the bees and the well being of the community. I would wake up at 7.30 am, take an outdoor shower, be ready for breakfast at around 8-8.30, start work at 9.30 ish, take an hour for lunch at 1/2 pm and finish work at 4/4.30 pm. My tasks involved: sowing seeds, watering crops, creation and maintenance of vegetable gardens, help in the preparation of food and assist when tourists came to the farm.

My time in Ecuador was physically exhausting, I was not used to such heat (or working so hard) I absolutely loved it though and had the best time I could have possibly asked for. There is no testimonial I could give to the people that I met and worked with that would sufficiently sum up their hard-work, determination and humbleness. My experience was eye-opening and life changing and I cannot wait for the day that I return there. Although I experienced a bit of a language barrier, I could still immerse in the wonderful and vibrant community and history that the bee farm and Ecuador offer me. I deeply recommend this project, I was not disappointed, and neither will you.

What would you improve about this program?
Possibly have more social trips, maybe if the volunteer had enough time take them somewhere outside of Quito?

Possibly fit better locks where the visitors stay
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Yes, I recommend this program

With a background in social work, I have always loved working with children. After a strong urge to travel and having completed my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, I set off for Thailand with the help of the Volunteer Bay, managed by Pedro and Vida.

Besides being some of the most kind-hearted people I've met, Pedro and Vida were also extremely helpful in navigating a new country as a single female. I also learned their insider tips on great eats and the best beaches in Phuket, although it was admittedly difficult to find any beach that wasn't breathtaking. Once I began teaching English at a Thai government school, I fell in love with the Thai children. They were very well mannered and respectful with a cute sense of humor.

Having played soccer since I was five years old, I found a "Football League" and also made some friends for life on the "pitch." Phuket has a huge ex-patriot community, so it was easy to make English-speaking friends. Thais are some of the most friendly and happy people I have ever met, so it was easy to make connections with them too. It was much easier to make friends with Thais who spoke English for me, as my Thai was not the best, despite my attempts.

I was able to work on my Thai most with the children during my volunteering time in a local orphanage, since I was able to volunteer there, thanks to the The Volunteer Bay. The children were younger than the ones I taught, and they also spoke very limited English, so it was an entirely new experience with friendly, adorable, smiling faces. I spent time with them coloring, playing musical chairs, playing with clay, and eating dinner. The women who worked here also spoke limited English, but they were always so welcoming, offering me a drink every time I arrived.

Overall, this was the experience of a lifetime and I have friends from all over the world now. It did help that I'm extroverted and sociable in making friends, but you can find your group anywhere. I loved that it was such a cultural experience too; not only did I learn some Thai, but I also picked up their customs and occasionally go to wai (slight bow with prayer-like hands in front) someone in greeting and thanks. Lastly, I can't forget to mention that I experienced one of my new favorite holidays - Loy Krathong. Songkran, the world's largest waterfight, was also an unforgettable festival in Chiang Mai. You'll have to see for yourself!

Next stop... Ecuador with The Volunteer Bay.

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Yes, I recommend this program

As a vet nurse student, i decided to go practice my skills, get some knowledge and lend a hand at Lanta Animal Welfare. A friend recommended to get in touch with the Volunteer Bay, as they specialize on volunteer programs in Thailand.

They were very helpful throughout the whole way, asking all my questions no matter how silly, and helping me with all the details of my trip!

Everything was organized for me when i arrived. The Animal shelter was an experience I will never forget! It was amazing to meet so many like-minded people that were also willing to escape their busy lives to spend some time with dogs in need. There were people from all over the world, some of them tourists that decided to volunteer for a day or two; while others were full on Vets that wanted to have a gap year helping the less lucky dogs while spending the year in paradise. I volunteered for 2 weeks, and the shelter offered accommodation in the premises. On the afternoons all the volunteers will go out and explore Koh Lanta, have dinner from street vendors and watch the sunset from beach hammocks while discussing our big future plans...

After the 2 weeks volunteering, my husband joined me from Melbourne and we did some traveling around Phuket and Phi Phi Islands. Again The Volunteer Bay were very helpful, giving us info on where to rent scooters, which places to go to, which to avoid, timetables for ferries, recommended hotels in each destination and all we needed! We couldn't have felt more at home and comfy dealing with them!

I would definitely recommend volunteering at an Animal Shelter, as well as visiting Thailand and doing so through the Volunteer Bay. Such a welcoming country with so much to offer!


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at The Volunteer Bay? What has been your career path so far?

Currently I am the Co-founder and Managing Director of The Volunteer Bay. The idea began a few years ago and it was not until last year that we officially launched our site aiming to bring the support of those responsible travelers to grassroots organizations in the countries we visit.

Before I decided to commit to this challenge, I had been teaching English and Spanish, and training English teachers in Korea and Thailand. Originally I'm from Ecuador and began my working experience in the insurance market until I realized it was not something that was making me happy. So I decided to set off and travel abroad to look for new opportunities.

Did YOU volunteer abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

My first experience volunteering was in high school, in Ecuador, at a national park in a building project of recreational areas for visitors. However, the first time I volunteered abroad was in Thailand, at a children's day care center and then I participated in sea floor and beach cleanups. Working with elephants was probably one of my favorite programs in Thailand, but the experience in Nepal at our Eco Village Program was the most endearing.

My partner and I love traveling, meeting the locals and lending a hand to any need we can contribute to. The gratitude that you feel from those you help, plus the bonds that you make with them and other locals along the way is food for your soul. There's so much to learn from them and so much you take with you when you leave. It's hard not to want to stay longer or to come back.

What does the future hold for The Volunteer Bay - any exciting new programs to share?

The programs and destinations that we offer at The Volunteer Bay are those we've visited and worked with. We want to transmit our first hand experience of these programs and organizations to all those volunteers looking to travel abroad to lend a hand.

Our next destination is Costa Rica, where we will be spending the first few months of 2015. Costa Rica is a country full of opportunities for volunteers and grassroots organizations working in conservation, wildlife or social development programs. Plus, its natural beauty makes it an option that can't be missed by all those responsible travelers looking into combining leisure with giving back.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

The future of the industry is promising. With the internet, more information flowing and globalization occurring at such a high rate, I think more and more people will choose to travel and volunteer abroad. With growing mobile technology, people will start to feel more confident about exploring places outside of their comfort zone.

The idea of volunteering abroad “to save the world” will change as well. People who volunteer abroad won't necessarily be going to 'save the world,' but rather to enrich themselves. People will start to see volunteer trips as personal enrichment/ fulfillment experiences.

Which volunteer abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I don't think there are underrated or overrated destinations. Wildlife and communities need volunteer support everywhere on the planet. Rather than thinking solely about a destination, I think potential volunteers should really think about what they want to do. If they want to do anything, anywhere, and are drawn to a specific country ask why. Someone who hates the outdoors won't do well at any biological reserve. It doesn't matter if its in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Thailand or any world protected area.

If a volunteer is a newbie to traveling, and scared to try any food outside of his/her comfort zone, going somewhere completely different like India or Nepal might be a stretch. Not just for their taste buds sake, but also for the reason they might not know how to take care of themselves if they suddenly start having stomach problems.

An experienced volunteer who has traveled to India, across South America, and Asia, might benefit from returning to a known culture to volunteer. Implementing new strategies to their old ways, is the learning process we encourage our volunteers to get endeavor in.