Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Belize

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

girls underwater snorkeling
girls underwater snorkeling

About

You can now join IVHQ volunteering in Belize! The IVHQ Belize program is based on a small private island, 26 miles off the coast of Placencia in Southern Belize. Volunteer work takes place at sea and volunteers are accommodated in a well-equipped volunteer house on the island. Whilst on the IVHQ Belize program you will have the opportunity to join a Unique Marine Conservation project and assist in a variety of conservation efforts focused on the protection of the marine ecosystem in Belize.

Volunteers are accommodated in volunteer house on a small private island and are provided with three tasty meals each day. The IVHQ Belize program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, 3 meals per day and 24/7 in-country support.

Highlights
  • Programs are available year-round in Belize at an affordable price of US$690 for 1 week
  • The IVHQ Belize program begins every Monday and volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 8 weeks.
  • The Belize volunteer program is based on a small private island, 26 miles off the coast of Placencia in Southern Belize.
  • IVHQ Belize program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, 3 meals per day and 24/7 in-country support.

Book With Confidence: Added Flexibility & Free Changes

IVHQ makes it easy to change your travel plans should you need to – or if you simply change your mind. As long as you cancel or reschedule at least 15 days before your program start date this year, it's free to change your dates, volunteer program or destination.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.5 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • Impact 8.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 8.7
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 12
Default avatar
Amy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Experience!

My time spent volunteering with ReefCI in Belize is one I’ll never forget. Booking with IVHQ ensured that I had all the necessary information and equipment ready for the trip. My point of contact within IVHQ kept in touch with me ahead and during my trip, and responded swiftly when I had any follow up questions.

Over the three weeks on Tom Owen's Caye, my experience just got better and better. Having been certified for diving 12 years prior, I hadn’t dived since so I was nervous to return to it, however I had no reason to be. The diving instructors on the programme were incredible. They were supportive and patient with the various diving experience of all the volunteers and made me feel at ease. Their knowledge of the marine life was extensive, which they shared during various lessons, and their passion for what they do genuinely shines. Learning to spear the invasive lion fish species was incredible, and surprisingly fun! We also spent time on a nearby island doing a beach clean up which felt very rewarding and has increased my awareness of my single use plastic consumption.
The rest of the staff on the island programme were great, including the chefs, housekeeping, boat captain - some of who became great friends. It almost felt like I was part of a big family, rather than volunteering. I learnt a huge amount during my time, I completed my advanced open water diving and lion fish specialism certifications during my time there. You truly feel like you’re making a difference.

This experience has inspired me to continue volunteering in marine conservation and explore other projects through IVHQ.

Default avatar
Courtney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ReefCI Trip To Belize was amazing!!

We did 12 dives over the course of the week. Everyone was super nice, the island was beautiful, the food was great and I felt like I was actually making an impact. The staff was very helpful and accommodating. Logistically, it was very easy to get to and once you were picked up, you did not have to worry about planning anything else. The staff took the time to debrief everyone prior to each dive. By the end of week one, I felt very confident in what tasks we had to accomplish. I think doing more than one week would be better since you can spend most of your time learning the first week and then implement all of your learnings the next week. I would definitely recommend to anyone who is passionate about scuba. I can't wait to sign up again next year!

What would you improve about this program?
I think they could "work" the volunteers a bit harder during the dives. We only had one surveying dive a day.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Courtney, I am so glad to hear that you felt well supported by the local team in Belize. Your time on the Marine Conservation Project sounds amazing! We would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again anytime! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Gwen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A new world travel experience making a positive environmental impact

As a world traveler and Sustainability professional, passionate about protecting our environment, I have been looking for a way to start incorporating volunteer work with my travel. Volunteering with Reef CI at Tom Owens Caye, Belize was the perfect way to start! I researched many programs, but this one was perfect for me as Reef CI allowed me to volunteer for only a week (many volunteer programs require at least a 2-3-week minimum time commitment) and use and expand upon my diving skills. I enlisted through IVHQ, as I found they had the best price. Grace, my IVHQ contact, was extremely helpful before the trip to help me prepare. Her correspondence was always timely and IVHQ's enlisting process was very thorough - IVHQ wants to help you prepare for your best volunteer experience possible. In addition to Grace, I also worked with Anthony, my U.S. Reef CI contact, who also helped answer my many questions and sign me up for the Coral Reef Conservation and Fish Identification PADI Specialty courses I was wanting to take in order to get my SSI Advanced Diver certification while in Belize.

In Placencia, Belize I knew exactly what to expect and where to meet the Reef CI group for the boat ride to Tom Owens Caye. Upon arriving to the island on the first day, all volunteers pitched in to help carry supplies up to the main house. Sleeping assignments were then made. Assuming I would be much older than most in my group, I had requested in advance that I have a bungalow on the island to allow for some quiet time, and they completely accommodated me. Next there was a review for the new people while returning volunteers were diving, and all dive equipment was assigned for the week. Later, the new volunteers did an introductory dive followed by a delicious meal - just one of the many you'll have on the island. You'll eat very fresh food every day, including the lion fish you kill. The cooking staff also worked within my dietary restrictions by providing me gluten free meals!

You're given the daily island schedule prior to arriving in Belize, but the schedule is also posted in the main house, and the highly organized Reef CI staff follow it to a tee! I was so impressed with how they ran the program on the island, especially juggling with new and returning volunteers, volunteers just learning to dive and getting certified, to those who were working on their Advanced Diver certifications and/or taking PADI Specialty courses. This, of course, is on top of providing daily coral reef and Belizean marine life presentations and getting the volunteers in the water to partake in lion fish spearfishing, conch and lobster surveys, and coral reef and fish identifications. There was a lot to juggle and Willie, Luis, and Peter, and rest of the Reef CI staff, handled it very smoothly. And did I say friendly? The entire Reef CI staff were a pleasure to be with and fun to hang out with playing cards or backgammon.

The diving certainly did not disappoint. There was opportunity to see amazing marine biodiversity. If you're not an experience diver, do not let this dissuade you from trying this trip. Where else can you get certified in such a coral reef setting, not to mention for a very reasonable price?

The island itself is well maintained. The palm trees were cleared out just enough to allow sun and plenty of shade. In down times, you could take a nap in a hammock or play volleyball. Or just keep your course work and dive log up to date. Unfortunately, there was no internet for the entire week. However, it was nice to be off the grid - it made it more relaxing. If you're looking for fancy accommodations, then this is not for you. However, if you're looking for comfortable lodgings, in a very relaxed, minimal setting (yes, you have to get used to minimal water shower usage since you are on an island), and a place to meet great people and make new friends while making a positive, environmental impact, then this IS the place for you. I would definitely recommend taking an eco-volunteer trip to Belize and do it through Reef CI. All in all, I was very impressed. I would go back for sure!

What would you improve about this program?
It would be helpful to let people know in advance if there is not going to be internet service. I didn't miss it, but some people may have scheduled business or correspondence they may need to conduct while on the island.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Gwen, it's great to hear that you had such a wonderful experience volunteering in Belize! Thank you for giving your time to an awesome and impactful Marine Conservation Project. We hope to have you volunteer with IVHQ again! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager

Default avatar
Georgette
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Making a Tangible Difference

Belize is a beautiful and friendly place whose unique barrier reef has been invaded by the destructive lion fish. ReefCI works to preserve the reef by educating volunteers on Lionfishers eradication and preservation of coral, conch and lobster.

The program educated me about local fish, types of reef coral and the part they play . My diving knowledge was tested and improved by the competent dive masters and guides. I learned about the physiology of the lion fish, it’s poisonous spines, their location and how to find the stomach and determine what the fish consumed. I learned how to fillet the lion fish so the kitchen staff could include it in our meals.

The food was freshly prepared and plentiful, nutritious and well presented.

The atmosphere on the isolated island of Tom Owens is calming and magical. Safe environment, friendly staff, comfortable, simple accommodations and a worthwhile project make this project memorable in EVERY way!

What would you improve about this program?
The program is perfect! I personally rate it perfect!
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Georgette, thank you for your informative review! It sounds like you had an amazing time on the island and learnt a lot about the local ecosystem and how to help protect it! I am glad to hear you enjoyed the relaxed island lifestyle, tasty meals and felt supported by the local team. We would love to have you back anytime! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

Read my full story
Default avatar
Heath
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Reef Conservation International

This was a great program for our family to participate in! We were looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the world, learn and have fun. This was it! Reef CI and IVHQ made the details easy to navigate and understand with great communications before, during and after our trip. Online training before the trip was meaningful. The conservation portion of the trip was great, diving was excellent and the instructors were safe, knowledgeable and cared about the environment and the program. From the first day, we were given classes on exactly what we would be doing and why it was important. Instead of just diving to look at the environment, we felt like we were helping the environment and making a difference. We wished we had stayed for another week!

What would you improve about this program?
It would helpful to have had some additional online training pertaining to all aspects of the program. A quick couple of slides on each of the 4 types of surveys (lionfish, conch, coral and commercial fish) would have helped us understand better before we arrived. (totally not needed, but I had to add something)
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thank you for your lovely review Heath! I am so glad to hear that you and your family enjoyed your time volunteering through IVHQ. It sounds like you guys made the most of your time on the island and the expertise of the local team. Thank you for contributing to such an amazing conservation program! We would love to have you back anytime. Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Thais
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Conservation in Belize

What an experience! This was my first time doing a diving trip and was unsure about it but when I met with the group, I felt very welcome and part of someone interesting.
We stayed in this small island and it was very comfortable. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. They taught us many things such as how to use the spearfishing and how to measure the corals under water. They would first explain and demonstrate on land what we would be doing under water.
On the first day at the island we were educated about the impact of the plastic and other issues in our oceans and it made it very real. Everyone should have this experience so they could bring home more wisdom to share with friends and loved ones and help change the course of our oceans.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Lion fish was very tasty and it was nice to eat a fish that we cough ourselves.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Thais, it sounds like you had a transformative experience on the Island, and really took advantage of everything the team in Belize has to teach. Thank you for giving your time to volunteer with IVHQ on an incredibly important environmental project. We really appreciate it! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Jordan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Belize Volunteer Program

Having the Opportunity to volunteer with Reef CI was a great privilege for me for so many reasons. It helped grow me as a young man, gave me appreciation for a new culture and also for God's creation. The staff were friendly and great help in me achieving my open water certification and then also achieving my advanced open water certification.

Futhermore, it was great to have the opportunity to do marine conservation through hunting for lionfish, as well as performing population counts for lobsters and conch. Another great aspect of Reef CI is it opened me up to meeting a ton of new people from all over the world! Not only did I become a certified scuba diver and perform marine conservation, but I also made a ton of new friends.

Thank you Reef CI for the positive experience!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

That's awesome Jordan! Congratulations on becoming PADI Certified! Diving is always an incredible experience and I am sure you will be able to utilise your new skills on many more adventures. It sounds like you really took advantage of the volunteering experience and made close friends while giving your time to an important marine conservation project. Thank you! Acacia - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Autumn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Tom Owen's Caye- My Happy Place

This was an incredible experience, living off-the-grid for a little while on a warm, tropical paradise. Hammocks, a tightrope for walking, some books, a volleyball court, and cards are available for the volunteers. It was even possible to project a movie some nights. The staff was so personable and knowledgeable. The work was super fun, though I felt that the staff would have been able to make more of an environmental impact on their own (they are way more skilled in taking measurements and spearing), however the program helps with awareness. New people come and go each week. Just know, it is not resort living, be prepared for cold showers and finicky Wi-Fi, you are there to work! The food was delicious (you even eat lionfish) and the staff holds a barbecue every Thursday night. Thank you!!

What would you improve about this program?
Warn people ahead of time if the Wi-Fi will be down during their stays.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Wow Autumn - you really took advantage of the off-the-grid lifestyle in Belize! Thank you for spending your time with IVHQ and giving back to a great sustainability project. Acacia - IVHQ Program Manager.