Work And Play: Volunteering Abroad In Belize

by Heilwig Jones

Visitors to Belize are often surprised to find out how much this little country has to offer. Located on the tip of Mexico, a few hours south of Cancun, Belize is best known for its marine life found on the second-largest coral reef in the world. Back on land are some of the world’s oldest Mayan ruins, dense jungle, and a diverse cultural population, which, most surprisingly, are English speaking.

Construction Volunteering in Belize
Volunteering in Belize can involve building sustainable homes for orphans. Photo courtesy Kaya Responsible Travel

A British commonwealth country, Belize is the only country in Latin America to have English as an official language. Belizeans pride themselves in being the “Caribbeans of the mainland” — and while you can hear the Spanish tones of neighboring Guatemalan migrants all around the country, the fascinating sound of Belizean Kriol can soon make you believe you are out in the islands. Ya man!

Volunteering in Belize is a guarantee that you’ll be spending lots of time in some gorgeous outdoor scenery. Here, Central American jungles combine with the Caribbean sea. Add ancient Mayan temples and tombs, more than 570 species of birds, and postcard-perfect islets, and you have one of the most visually fascinating countries on earth. Thinking about becoming a volunteer in Belize? The scope of work you can get involved with is equally as diverse as its land and its people.

The Life Aquatic. If you are drawn to Belize’s ocean life, you can join some fascinating marine conservation initiatives. Live out on the islands of the marine national reserves, and help conduct research on the reefs. Work alongside whale sharks, turtles and tropical fish, helping to tackle one of the greatest threats to the Caribbean waters — the invasion of the lion-fish.

A person scuba diving

Scuba diving in Belize.

Bonus: participants can get their PADI diving qualifications at the same time — you’ll want to be a certified diver if you spend any amount of time near the crystal waters of Belize. Divers come here to explore underwater caves, the Belize Barrier Reef, and The Great Blue Hole, a giant underwater sinkhole that Jacques Cousteau named one of the 10 best dive sites in the world.

Humanitarian Help. Inland in San Ignacio, you can get involved with community development initiatives that range from volunteering in public hospitals to building a new halfway home for orphans using sustainable building techniques. For those with a passion for teaching or counseling, Belize can really use your skills in schools, shelters, and domestic assistance programs.

Whatever your interests, there is something in Belize to appeal to everyone, and a lot of work that needs to get done. So pack your sunscreen, swimsuit, and trekking shoes and prepare to immerse in a fascinating land — come volunteer in Belize!