Location
  • Mexico

Program Details

Language
English

Pricing

Price Details
The volunteer contribution includes airport pick up and drop-off, the first night's hotel accommodation, transport to San Cristóbal, all accommodation and food whilst with your host family, daily transport to and from the community, all materials for lessons (which are reimbursed with provision of receipts), and the fixed program costs, including food and fruit programs.
Jul 13, 2020
Aug 23, 2021

About Program

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.

Video and Photos

Program 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.

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.

Program Reviews

9.67 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 91.67%
  • 7-8 rating 8.33%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 12 reviews
Default avatar
Coral
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Conservation in Mexico

I am a 26 year old female from the UK. The GVI Marine Conservation programme in Mexico was a lifechanging experience and I loved every second. It was a challenge and I was thrown completely out of my comfort zone, in the best possible way. I achieved my EFR certification and my PADI Advanced Open Water certification in the short time I was on the programme and made friends for life. The staff inspired me with their passion and enthusiasm for conserving the ocean and I cannot wait to get another opportunity to participate in another programme. The biodiveristy of the Mesoamerican reef and the diving opportunities were outstanding and I miss waking up to get on the boat more than anything. Thank you for an amazing two weeks!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared for long and challenging days and make sure you have an adequate level of fitness prior to starting the programme. Also bring a lot of bug repellent - the mosquitos were relentless.
1 person found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Coral, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

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

Volunteering in Marine conservation - Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Hello! My name is Ombeline, I’m a 23 y.o French girl living in Switzerland. I’ve volunteered for 8 weeks in the Marine conservation program - Mexico, Puerto Morelos.
I love travelling and exploring the world, so after I finished my Bachelor and worked in the hotel industry for a year, I wanted to go travelling for a few months before doing my Master. I looked in some magazines of a travel agency for some inspirations and there I saw the project.
I didn´t have any experience with marine conservation, but I already had a big interest for the environmental conservation in general (I would like to make a career in the eco-tourism industry). And because I love travelling, taking care of the environment, the marine world, I thought that this would be a lot of fun. And of course I was right!

It was indeed such an amazing experience, so I’m happy if I can help others to also experience it!
 
This is a summary of a day on base to give a good overview of life as a volunteer in GVI:
 
The day usually ‪starts at 7am‬ with morning duties. There are four different duty groups (Kitchen, Communal, Grounds and Boats). In each group, you have to do different tasks, like preparing breakfast, cleaning or preparing diving equipment. Those duty groups change every day and every group has about five people in it. 
‪At 7:30am‬ after finishing your morning duties you can get breakfast (eggs, cereals, pancake or porridge).
‪At 8am‬ you sometimes have some presentations. Those are usually about some training for your target species (fish, coral or invert) or something about the reef.
‪At 9:30am‬ starts kit-up for wave one (the boat leaves three times a day for some diving expeditions, but you only have one or two dives per day). Once you complete buddy-checks, you’re good to go and can enjoy your dive. When you´re back from the dive it´s usually shortly before lunch time. After lunch you may be on coral lab (coral lab will be once or twice a week). The coral lab is also on the base but is not run by gvi. Although they often need our help for cleaning the corals, feeding the corals or sometimes just some maintenance at the lab. But there are also some invertebrates, which you get to work with. (You sometimes participate to Algae’s grab dive to feed the crabs at the lab). After coral lab you may be on wave three or just have some time off. At your time off you can relax, take a nap in the hammock, study your target species or (what you do mostly) spend some time with the other volunteers. The most popular thing on base is normally playing cards, but there are also many different board games, dice, etc.. And of course there is WiFi at base for social media or if you want to chat with your family & friends. 
‪At 6pm‬ dinner is served. After dinner it´s time for announcements. The staff presents the schedule for the next day, gives out shout-outs or walk-of-shames (very funny). After finishing your evening duties (same as in the morning) your work day is over and you can spend the rest of your day as you like. Usually, together with the other volunteers, you do a movie-night, a games-night, relax or just get some beers or ice cream in Puerto Morelos. You just have to take care that you´re back before ‪11pm‬ (as there is a curfew) and don´t drink too much when you dive the next day.  
 
All weekdays are basically the same, just your duty groups, tasks, etc. change a bit.
 
Normally you don´t spend the weekend on base, but go on roadtrips, cenote diving, explore the night-life in the surrounding cities, etc. with other volunteers. The Yucatán is a wonderful region and there are so many things to do & discover!
 
Honestly the volunteers and the staff were super chill, it was so much fun and such a nice atmosphere. The staff is so passionated and dedicated to their job.

I hope I gave a good impression about the program. 
It was indeed such an amazing experience for me so I hope it will inspire others to do the same and go on this crazy adventure!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would learn faster all the species to learn how to monitor them.
8 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Ombeline, thank you so much for your review! It's great to hear that your program has such a huge, positive impact on yourself. Not only did it have an impact on you, but your work on the program has positively impacted so many lives! I am also so happy to hear it has given you the confidence to pursue a career in conservation. Well done - we would love to see you back on base in the future!

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

Unforgettable volunteering experience

My experience with GVI in Mexico was completely unforgettable. I started doing the women's empowerment volunteering program but the project closed during my first two weeks which was a bit concerning at first. However, the staff on base really made a difference, they were super helpful, optimistic and positive and they helped me set up a new project where I was really happy. I truly felt like we were making a difference with the women in this new community where we did activities, presentations, english lessons... GVI really cares about making a positive and long-term impact in the communities where they work which was really important to me.
The experience as a whole was amazing, the accomodation was way better than expected, Puerto Morelos is a quiet but beautiful seaside town to live in, the lifestyle on base was great and I met so many people from different countries that I hope I stay in contact with for a long time. Hopefully I'll be able to come back in the future.

10 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Paula, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

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

Such a good opportunity!

The course has really opened my eyes to how amazing the coral is! The biodiversity I get to see in a daily basis is mind boggling!
Experiencing it first hand with staff with such great knowledge about every aspect of the reef really helps appreciate and understand it!
All the staff and volunteers are so friendly and helpful!
The diving itself is simply breathtaking!
The location of base is beautiful, with a jungle on one side and the beach on the other side. Shops are about half an hour walk away.
All in all, I am so glad I am on this course, I love every part of it so much so I am planning on extending!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of my first times in the water with GVI, we went snorkelling to get litter out of the ocean. Then we see a beautiful spotted eagle ray! It was stunning!
15 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Josh, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
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.
13 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Michael, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

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...
13 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Katelin, thanks for your great review! I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. And obviously, we would love to see you back on base soon!

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!

14 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Amy, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

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.
12 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Calyca, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Questions & Answers

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