Volunteer in Cuba with IOI: Reef and Costal Habitat Restoration Volunteer

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About

The Reef and Costal Habitat Restoration Volunteer will contribute to an ongoing initiative to improve and monitor coral reef health and help in the restoration of the coastal habitat off the southern coast of the Isle of Youth, Cuba. Volunteers will conduct work in the following areas based on the community’s needs:

Coral reef monitoring and gardening
Fish surveying
Seagrass surveying
Lionfish monitoring and capture
Trash removal
Invasive species removal

Volunteers can snorkel to conduct this work, except for coral gardening and lionfish monitoring, which require volunteers to scuba dive. Data collected will help support the environmental planning of the protected area.

Volunteers may also have the opportunity to conduct sea turtle monitoring on a nesting beach near Cocodrilo during sea turtle season depending on conditions (May-October).

Highlights
  • Live in a picturesque Cuban coastal community and learn about Cuban culture.
  • Participate in a marine conservation community initiative, protecting Cuba's important natural resources.
  • Bond with other volunteers, staff, and community members.
  • Spend time under the water either snorkeling or diving or walking along the beach.
  • Explore Cocodrilo and Cuba's Isle of Youth--a truly hidden treasure!

Impact

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 3 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 10
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Default avatar
holly
9/10

Culture Immersion + Coral Reef Restoration

This was one of the best experiences I've ever had, and I've traveled to over 20 countries. Besides the helpful work on coral reef restoration, the beautiful and remote location of this work made it worthwhile. Our small group was taken into this community where we learned all about Cuba, its people, and its customs. For a short 10-day stay, it was one of the most immersive trips I've ever been on. I would say 10 days is the minimum! Stay longer if you can!

We spent each day scuba diving in the reef, led by an expert master diver who educated us on the reef and the work that they're doing. While sometimes we didn't feel as effective doing the hands-on reef work, I think it's more important as an educational tool for travelers to bring with them.

Not only was this some of the most beautiful diving, the food they cooked was incredible! Freshly caught seafood every day, the freshest juice, and served three times a day. It felt like a resort more than volunteer service.

We want to come back, to spend more time in Cocodrilo, to visit our far-away Cuban family, and to work more with a brilliant and fledgling program.

How can this program be improved?
Our Spanish wasn't the best (but did it get better!), but a bit more information and transparency about the coral reef work and the long-term work IOI has been doing would go a long way. We found this out gradually, and again, there was a bit more of a language barrier than we expected. Knowing a decent amount of Spanish would make things so much easier!
Response from IOI : Intercultural Outreach Initiative

Holly, thank you very much for your review and thank you so much for your kind words about our program. We are happy to hear that this was a great experience volunteering with us! It is amazing how one's Spanish improves as we are immersed - we're so glad to hear you had a great experience practicing your Spanish. We agree that the longer people stay, the better. We hope you join us again in the future!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jamie
10/10

An amazing experience!

I had such an incredible, life changing experience on my trip with IOI to Cocodrilo. Pre-Trip communication was clear and my pre-trip questions were quickly responded to. I felt extremely prepared and well informed for my trip.
During my trip I felt well taken care of and supported by the IOI Cuba staff. More specifically, my time spent in Cocodrilo was a perfect mix of beautiful, safe, and exciting. The volunteer opportunities were very accurately advertised and the diving and snorkeling were breathtaking. I gave the social scene a 10 because I loved interacting with locals, heading to the "circulo" to listen to music and talk with locals.
The house in Cocodrilo (Villa Arrecife) is very comfortable, the community is nice, safe, and engaging. The food was really amazing - delicious, filling, and healthy!
It felt so empowering to be a part of this program and to be able to help. There is so much to do and so much to see in this small town! I was in Cocodrilo for 3 weeks and could have stayed longer. I cannot wait to be involved in another program with this organization!

How can this program be improved?
There is really nothing I can think of in the realm of improvement.
Response from IOI : Intercultural Outreach Initiative

Thank you very much for your review, Jamie! We are happy to know that our communication with you before the trip was clear and that you felt prepared to travel to Cuba. We are also happy to see that you felt empowered and that your experience was a blend of conservation and cultural experiences. That's exactly what IOI strives for. Please come back any time. The community of Cocodrilo missed you!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Alexandra
10/10

Amazing experience in Cocodrilo

If you are looking for a really meaningful opportunity to gain experience with on-the-ground community-based conservation in Cuba, I highly recommend going to Cocodrilo with IOI! I had the opportunity to be involved in and learn firsthand about the innovative marine conservation/education programs being led by local community members in conjunction with IOI. Cocodrilo is an incredibly unique place with a really special potential to serve as a model for eco-tourism benefitting both the community and the environment. Not only was it wonderful to get to know such a great town, but also once you see what's underwater you will be mesmerized. A truly beautiful place.

How can this program be improved?
Have more vegetarian options at meals.
Response from IOI : Intercultural Outreach Initiative

Thank you for the positive feedback, Alex! It's true as a volunteer in Cocodrilo, you'll see firsthand the exciting marine conservation initiatives and be able to participate in them. I can speak for the community members when I say they loved getting to know you! And since you've been there, the chef has really expanded the option for vegetarians. You were probably one of the first vegetarians Cocodrilo has seen (!) but now the chef can accommodate all restrictions--from vegetarians to vegans.

Yes, I recommend

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About IOI : Intercultural Outreach Initiative

Mission: To provide international education programs that support the education, conservation, and social development of isolated communities by assisting local institutions in sustainably handling the human-environmental intersection.

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