GVI: Volunteer in Mexico

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, GVI 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.

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About

Participate in marine conservation or community development projects in Puerto Morelos, a port city in Mexico. The city is nearby Mayan ruins, mangrove swamps and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – the second-largest reef in the world. You could contribute to the preservation of coral reefs, indigenous marine and wildlife species, or assist with different education initiatives. These could include development in literacy skills, fine and gross motor coordination, or health awareness workshops.

Each program has sustainable development objectives that align with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). GVI also has a Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy to ensure ethical standards are upheld for all involved.

Highlights
  • Travel to Carribean coastal Mexico, and engage with local community members to learn about cultural practices, or start practicing conversational Spanish.
  • Gain problem-solving, leadership, and cross-cultural communication skills, or develop technical skills in reef monitoring and species identification.
  • Learn about the UN SDGs and support locally-led objectives.
  • Meet people from around the world who share passions for ethical travel and global impact.
  • Become a global citizen, as you learn about different cultures and regional and global issues.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Popular Programs

Student diving and conducting research in Mexico

Earn your PADI diving and coral reef research qualifications while preserving marine ecosystems, and endangered species. You’ll also conduct beach clean-ups and collect ocean floor debris. In this immersive expedition you will collaborate with local community members, and volunteer alongside other international participants. Together you could learn about culture, language, and traditional cuisine in the city of Puerto Morelos.

Volunteer coloring with students in Mexico

Join GVI staff and volunteers from around the world in Puerto Morelos. In partnership with Save the Children, support the development of local youth with reading and writing, motor coordination, and creative growth. You could also assist with the facilitation of health awareness workshops. In your free time, enjoy the Carribean coastline of the Riviera Maya, improve your Spanish, or visit one of several Mayan ruins.

Student conducting underwater research in Mexico

Undergo an extensive training program and gain in-depth knowledge while you gain your PADI Divemaster qualification. This is the perfect start to a career in marine conservation!

Students conducting underwater research in Mexico

Explore the ecosystem of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – the second-largest reef in the world. Join other advanced divers and contribute to efforts to conserve native marine wildlife. You will survey and monitor the reef, collect data to support local conservation initiatives, and increase your knowledge of species identification. You could see dolphins, sharks, and a variety of marine plant life while on your diving expedition.

Volunteer working with children in Mexico

Travel to Mexico in this youth development program. You will have the opportunity to learn Spanish and engage with communities in each location. It is a unique opportunity to be immersed in local culture in two Latin American countries. Contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality, and Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.

Student diving in Mexico

Receive your PADI Open Water certification in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. You can develop cross-cultural skills while also making an impact on marine conservation. As the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is the second-largest reef in the world, you will have the chance to see a variety of sea life on your various expeditions.

Questions & Answers

Hi Elizabeth, It looks like 14 is the youngest age for GVI volunteers but worth sending them an email to inquire!

Reviews

9.75 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome time in Mexico

Staff members were super cool but still professional when it comes to diving. The community was so awesome. I met so many new people there and immediatley became friends with them. On the weekends you can go visit the other cities and party there. The staff can always give you some recommodations. The accomodations are good and clean. There are no hot showers, but who needs a hot shower when it has 30°? ;) (and the water in the shower is still not cold). WiFi is available at base. Definitely recommended to stay longer then four weeks.
All in all an amazing experience which I can recommend to everyone.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have a look at what season you go there. In some seasons you can see turtles nesting, walesharks, etc.
Katelin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ready to change the world?

I can say without hesitation that the GVI Mexico Marine Conservation was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The opportunity to work as a volunteer on a coral reef to survey and help maintain the overall reef system and knowing you are making a difference was such a satisfying aspect of my trip. The living arrangements were wonderful, we had our own personal chief Monday to Friday who lived in the village which meant that the food was usually a Mexican delicacy and sourced locally. The village of Akumal was such a close knit community and GVI shared a strong bond with the locals. The staff went above and beyond for all the volunteers and I met friends I will have for a lifetime. I also learnt more in the 4 week program than I have in my 4 years at university studying marine science. My time in Akumal, Mexico was a time I will cherish forever and look forward to doing again in the very near future.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid, of anything. And say yes to everything. Go and watch one more sunset on the beach, go dancing in the moonlight whilst listening to the mariachi play under the stars, eat the food you've never heard of before, dive deeper than you've ever imagined. Because this is your time, make the most of the opportunity. It might not ever come your way again...
Default avatar
Amy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What I want to do with my life!

As a marine biology student, the work I did in Akumal completely re-affirmed why I want to do what I’m doing. It reminded me of what I’m passionate about and why I live it so much. Getting to dive every day is a dream come true, all the while working towards making a difference! The staff and other volunteers truly made the experience, you all share the same passion and that was that icing on the cake!

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

GVI Mexico Community Project: Coco's Animal Welfare

This was my first time volunteering abroad, as expected I was incredibly nervous. I had traveled to Mexico before but on completely different circumstances and not to Playa del Carmen, in fact, this was my first time traveling by air alone! I had done as much research as possible on GVI and their Veterinary Project but ultimately I had no idea what was to come. Unfortunately I was only able to go for a week, but it was the most eye opening and adventure filled week I've experienced. The first night was spent in a hostel after that I stayed in the GVI house with everyone involved in the community projects. The house itself was amazing, it felt like a family. Every night we all joined together for dinner, each night we took turns cooking and all pitched in for clean up after. The veterinary project is the first up in the morning, we met a Coco's staff member at a near by gas station that drove us to the clinic, then we worked at the clinic until we were done for the day. At the clinic we would first clean the adoption rooms (which really meant we played with kittens for a couple hours) then we would help the operations. There are two stages, prep and recovery, because of my background in veterinary medicine I was mostly involved in prepping the animal for their spay/neuter. Once done for the day we would typically walk back to the GVI house, which was a long hot walk.. This experience has only fueled my love for travel, medicine and volunteering. I thank GVI for that.

What would you improve about this program?
Everything was amazing, the only thing I felt unprepared for was the amount of walking. I love walking, but I've never walked in +40 degrees Celsius with over 70% humidity - I was always sticky. A little more detail about the transportation would have been the cherry on top.
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Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Whatever You Take Away

Whether you come from a background in healthcare/dealing with people with disabilities or not, this project will open you up to a whole new world. Volunteering in a small school set up by local mothers who wished to provide their children with disabilities better educational opportunities, the love and care that is expressed through every therapy, every lesson, will stay with you forever. You will learn a huge range of new skills and likely have the opportunity to also visit other local GVI projects (childcare, vet project) depending on your length of stay.
The opportunity to experience a new culture and learn a new language is unforgettable and grows you as a person whether you are a mature, well-traveled volunteer, or have never left your home town.
Playa as a location is stunningly beautiful, well-equipped and full of everything you need to enjoy your days and weekends. Close to beautiful cenotes and islands full of treasures, ruins and nearby beach towns offer a huge range of day trips or weekend ventures.

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

The land of warm hearted people

GVI Mexico Vet program volunteer trip was my first experience of such kind and I'm still full of emotions from it. Dynamic and in the same time leisurely and relaxed life of Caribbean resort Playa del Carmen, adorable nature - blue sea and sky, white sand beach, green jungle, cenotes with crustal clear water, the spirit of mysterious Mayan history and culture which You can feel all around - all it made it an unforgettable adventure!

During my month in Playa del Carmen I was volunteer at animal protection organisation "Coco's Animal Welfare". Organisation manages low cost spay&neuter clinic and several rescue programs for cats, dogs and other animals. In Mexico there are thousands and thousands of street dogs and cats who need help. Often even owners animals are in extremely bad condition, therefore Coco's works also with dogs and acts owners, visiting poor communities, creating awareness about the importance of spay and neuter and giving them advice not only how to give the best care for their pets, but also medical consultations to children and adults, education for woman, who often are illiterate, and other help. Poverty there is inconceivable and any help is important to change life of these people.

However the main thing that made this trip unforgettable were beautiful, warm hearted people, who are doing their important, amazing, awesome and incredibly work with passion, determination and perseverance.From the very first moment I felt there as in family and I was really proud to be part of this team!

I can really recommend this experience to everyone, however, it should be noted that it is not a trip for those who like comfort and convenience. You will work hard during the day and in the evening You will have intensive Spanish lessons and other training, and after that You will have to do coking, washing up, cleaning the floors and other housework. You will live ordinary Mexican life with all its problems - sometimes without hot water and electricity, with slow Internet connection and low water pressure, and public transport system is terrible. You will live in house with other volunteers, in shared bedrooms and, although everyone there is helpful and friendly, You will have to adapt yourself to others. There is no radio and TV and Internet is used mainly for work, not for entertainment.

However in spite of it all it IS worth and You will earn unforgettable experience! You will have enough time to swim in azure Caribbean sea, to visit impressive Mayan ruins, to dive with turtles and whale sharks and to sunbathe on the white sand beaches! You will learn Spanish and You will know Mexico and Mexicans much deeper than You could, if You traveled as a tourist.

What would you improve about this program?
It may sound overstated but in my opinion the GVI program is close to perfect. Everything is well organised, staff is high professional, support and training for volunteers is well considered and really worthwhile. There was nothing I would like to change.
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Andy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure Time

If you like adventures this is the place for you. These types of programs were you are able to help improving the enviorment and the community of a certain region are really rewarding.

The 3 months I lived in Pez Maya were breath taking. And althought we live in a really austere environment (with no electricity or runnung water) I fell in love with the place. You wake up with beautiful sunrises and go to sleep watching amazing sunsets. Every day you have the oportunity to dive in the deep blue sea were, if you are lucky, you can encounter all kinds of creatures, like dolphins, sharks, turtules and a lot of colorfull fishes... it´s amazing.

The activities we did for the program were really fun. We help cleaning the beaches of Sian Kaan, we went to Punta Allen town to give english classes to kids and adults, we help with the turtule project looking for eggs to make sure they were in a seafe place. But, the most important thing we did, actually the main purpose of this volunteering project, was helping in the study of the coral reef. We dive almost every day two times a day and I have to say... this is a really good way to spend your holidays.

So if you like science, diving and beautiful sceneries this is the place for you. I really recommend coming here to anyone who needs a good change in their life

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emilyas
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life's a beach...

Imagine living on a Caribbean beach miles down a bumpy dirt track in the middle of the jungle... make sure you paint in the palm trees, the sun, the sand, a blue vastness of sky and sea and to ground the image a bit be sure to remember the bug spray. This is life at Pez Maya. Day to day your life is distilled in the most amazing way down to: what are my chores? when am I diving? when am I diving again? and what's for dinner? However, days are surprisingly full. You and your fellow international community of volunteers are responsible for much of the goings on and operation of the base helped along and instructed by the highly knowledgeable and skilled staff. Your knowledge of marine life and science will increase, you will become a better diver, you will McGyver dinners together from the simplest of ingredients (you may find yourself pursuing the elusive leftover porridge cookie) and you may dance the night away under the stars. Potential challenges you will encounter: stormy weather, mastering the art of flushing the toilet with a bucket, close quarters, and isolation. BUT it is absolutely worth it.

I am so glad I participated in this program! I met some great friends, had some great times and now have some great stories. Truly a unique experience!