PROGRAM TYPES

CONNECT WITH US

Belize Marine Conservation & Diving
Frontier participants Frontier participants

Belize Marine Conservation & Diving

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

summer in paradise

I'd never done anything like this before , so was nervous of the unknown but this was hands down the greatest experience of my life. If you love the water, diving and a chilled lifestyle this place is for you. my highlights would be diving in an amazing environment almost everyday and feeing like you are making a difference to the world. Also being around amazing staff and volunteers who share the same interest as you is really inspiring and motivating. I can definitely see myself coming back in the future.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

Amazing

If you love being surrounded by weirdos this is the place for you, but in serious, diving is amazing, like something out of finding nemo, food is good, camp is better than expected, south island is so much fun, all in all, one of the best experiences of my life.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

A young treasure of a project

I discovered a new world when I came to Caye Caulker and explored the reef. The diversity of fish species, corals and projects we were offered was amazing, there really is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed surveying the caribbean spiny lobster and learning about them, and of course loved the diving. The project is still young and needs development and structuring but it has huge potential. The weather and climate often dictate what activities can be carried out, which means that some afternoons we had to occupy ourselves and show initiative. It was a life-changing experience and definitely uncovers the need to protect our oceans.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Belize marine life and diving

Excellent time! Learned local fishes and corals, spent time with an interesting and diverse group of people. Enjoyed highs and lows, and learned a lot from the experience. It involved, both free diving and scuba diving, getting to know different sites, learning about manatees and enjoying lectures about turtles, mangroves, sea grass, local people, climate and much more. Frontier's base is unlike any other I have stayed in before - basic but sufficient amenities and wonderful real, non-decorative nature. I will be strange waking up without local roosters morning croaks!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Finn lost in Belize

My experience with the marine conservation project was great and I enjoyed my time in Belize a lot. The staff is a great bunch of people with great sense of humour, which makes you feel at home in the tightknit group of staff and volunteers. I'm glad I had the chance to do this trip and take part in marine conservation and learn more about the sea and it's many forms of life. I'll have a lot of great memories to take with me when I go back home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Belize marine conservation

I chose this project as part of my gap year before attending university in September. I'm very glad I chose this project, it has been an amazing experience. I was very happy with the variety of marine conservation work we did, including diving and snorkelling for fish surveys, lion fish surveys and seagrass surveys. The reef was incredibly beautiful, which made me feel very lucky to be able to dive in this area almost every day. Life on camp was basic but not too difficult to adjust to. The group of volunteers I was part of was great and we all became a great group of friends. Similarly, the staff members were also amazing and cared very much about us enjoying our experience, as well as our safety on the project. Overall, I am very happy to have chosen this project as I made some great friends and have become a much more confident diver, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to dive in such a beautiful area.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Rescuing paradise

From Frontiers station you can enjoy exotic wildlife, perfect blue waters and a night sky like you've never seen before. But, behind the scenes it becomes clear that this is paradise under stress. With booming tourism, encroaching development and rubbish washing up on the beach it becomes clear that the Caye Caulker islands are going through rapid change putting the delicate mangrove and reef ecosystems under stress. This is where your help with Frontier comes into it. From the moment I arrived I was thrown into action. Snorkelling with Turtles and Sting Rays whilst testing my swimming capability for the days to come. The projects aims are outlined to you and you are put through training giving you a sure feeling that the people in charge know what they are doing and are providing you with a real chance to make a difference. I was always made to feel welcome and part of the team. It's not all work though. The relaxing Caribbean lifestyle is part and parcel of the experience. You have time to enjoy the local night life, make excursions onto the mainline and plan further Scuba trips of your own. The team help you the utmost with your own plans. Over all I would highly recommend the marine conservation project in Belize.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Work and fun

I felt like I really contributed to the local projects which is very fulfilling. We all felt like one big family after a week or so which not only made camp life fun and enjoyable but also made everyone look out for each other and push each other to do better in the projects. It was a nice mix of work and fun.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

The scott in Belize

My flight was delayed which meant I missed my pick up with the staff and arrived late at night. I got in contact with Dagny and she was very helpful in making sure I got a hotel for the night and informing me how to get to the island the next day.
Camp was above and beyond my expectations. I felt very welcomed to the group, didn’t take long to get settled. There is a very good mix of professional work and having fun. The staff clearly care about the project, are passionate and were happy to help with any of our needs.
I felt like I really contributed to the local projects which is very fulfilling. We all felt like one big family after a week or so which not only made camp life fun and enjoyable but also made everyone look out for each other and push each other to do better in the projects. It was a nice mix of work and fun.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Diving project

My flight was delayed so i did not arrive until the next day, but i was met by a driver, taken to the project and then met by the project coordinator and given a good briefing. We were taught everything we needed to know for the project. The AROs who trained us were great. We did a variety of things including, seagrass, fish, lobster, lionfish and manatee surveys, as well as beach cleans and helping local charity events. The only negatives were out of Frontier staff’s hands, like not being able to dive because the compressor was broken, or the weather was too bad to take the boat beyond the reef.

I had a great time on this project and I would recommend it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My time in Belize

In the summer of 2017 I finished school and now had a year out before I would start studying marine biology at university. It was always in my plans to visit a new part of the world in this time, however, given my chosen course I realised that there was the opportunity to make a lot more of it than simply just being a tourist. My school had informed me about frontier when I began A Levels and I was able to do some research into what they offered at that time. Having said this, it was unrealistic that I would join one of these projects whilst I was still at school so the prospect of me going only materialised once school had finished.
Belize was a country I knew very little about prior to my time with frontier. Being just 18, I had done next to no travelling and what little I had done had been with friends. Nor had I ever dived before; but this was something that was already on my mind because I knew being PADI qualified would be useful at university. Frontier sold the project well though. Taking part in purposful work out on the reef in combination with island life and great weather, all whilst being in a part of the world that I had never visited before was a very exciting prospect to me.
Despite only giving myself 1 month between deciding on going and my start date, I did not encounter any problems whilst preparing largely down to the detailed kitlist and contact with a frontier coordinator. More information regarding visas and vaccines would’ve been useful however I was able to get around this with some reseach and help from my GP. I had no issues journeying to camp and it was nice that the principle investigator, Dagny, was able to meet me at the airport in Belize City. When I arrived at the south island I was greeted by the project coordinator, Doryan, who gave me an introduction to camp life and work.
Life on camp was basic as expected but it took me no time to adjust and I was able to live very comfortably during my time there. Cooperation and organisation were hugely important for the project and camp dynamic. During the course of the day there were always a whole host of things that needed to be done in different places by different people so boat and staff management was vital. This included snorkel surveys, scuba surveys, dive courses, data input and beach cleans. On top of this there was cooking and many chores around camp that needed to be shared out amongst everyone. These qualities were especially evident in my final weeks where it went from me being the only volunteer, to one of 5. With regards to the staff and other volunteers, I really couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to spend the 6 weeks with. Despite there not being a huge age range between us there was certainly a mix of personalites and life experiences so conversation was always flowing, and even though I was the youngest I felt like what I lacked in stories I made up for with wittyness and a good sense of humour that kept the evenings interesting.On top of this the many lectures and discussions about marine life meant that we were constantly learing new things. It quickly became clear to me not only how knowledgable, but how passionate the staff were about the reef and therefore the work that goes on.
Over the course of the 6 weeks I got to take part in a whole host of different activities. I spent the first week completing the two dive courses that I needed to be able to take part in the frontier surveying. This was done with a local dive company who had built up a strong relationship with the frontier team. As I had been informed by many people, your first breath underwater will be something you’ll never forget; and it did not disappoint. In fact both courses were nothing short of amazing and it helped that the company were very accommodating. Plus in my dive instructor, Max, I made a good friend who I met on many occasions during my stay. Obviously the reefs are beautiful and there is so much to see but some highlights included the deep dives, seeing reef sharks and the night dive that we did. After this I began learning the coral and fish species. I needed to pass a test for each in order to take part in their respective surveys. Whilst it was just me we focused on the corals and then when more volunters arrived we started on the fish studying. The surveys ranged from ones involving transects and quadrats, to simply just tallying and measuring species. We also worked in combination with the local fisheries department to complete lobster surveys. Some surveys we were able to do snorkelling if the method and depth allowed us to. The lectures made the surveying feel more rewarding for us as we were able to clearly see where our worked fitted in in terms of the overall presevation of the marine ecosystem. Knowing that what we were doing was part of an effort to improve the state of the reef was very satisfying, and ultimately it’s why we’re all here. It was interesting to see how the impacts of bleaching varied from site to site, and to hear from Dagny how much she’s seen the reef time in the year that she’ been here. One thing that’s worth mentioning is that the weather didn’t always allow us to complete the tasks that we needed despite it supposedly being the dry season. Having said this, productivity seldom dipped as the staff did their best to work around these setbacks. Overall, we were kept very busy in terms of work, with more of the practical work coming in my last 3 weeks when I had passed the tests and there were more of us.
Island life was one of the main highlights of my time here. We had a fair amount of free time and more than not this was spent on the South Island. This is the built up part where the tourists come, as a pose to our base on the north side where we were more isolated; it being accessible only by boat. My favourite passtimes on the south side here were speaking to new people, relaxing in the sun and swimming. Caye Caulker is a very small island yet they get almost 100,000 tourists each year. This means there is a constant influx of people coming through, most of them just staying for a few days and then maybe going on to San Pedro, Mexico or other countries in Central America. Not only was it interesting talking to all these backpackers, it was useful to me as following my time with frontier I had 10 days to travel round Mexico before my flight home from Cancun. I was able to get get quite a good picture in my head of where’s worth visiting on my travels up North and this was thanks to all the people I met in Caye Caulker who had just come from Mexico. As well as the tourists there are a lot of ex-pats that live here (mainly American and Canadian) and then obviously the locals. I made quite a few local friends as well which was nice as it meant they were around for the entirity of my stay here; and in fact it was hard saying goodbye when my time was up. The local way of life was very much based around being laid-back, with the island motto being ‘go slow’. Walk too fast past any local and you’d be sure to hear them shout it. Because of the gorgeous weather and beautiful sunsets it makes sense to have a culture built around this principle; and in a way it almost becomes part of the Caye Caulker selling point, the fact that everyone is so relaxed. My favourite spot to relax was at the split. As the name suggests, it is the gap between the two parts of the island and on the south side there is a nice open area with a bar and beach volleyball court where you can get the best views of the sunset. It’s where you’ll find most poeple at around 6 when the sun does go down. I was able to hang out here quite a lot and it was nice that the staff came and picked us up from here when it was time to go back north.
At base there was obviously less to do but some things I enjoyed were fishing, swimming and playing cards. Lots of fish lived under the dock and there was a sunken washing machine really close which was home to some angelfish, lionfish and lobsters. What came up a in conversation with lot of the locals was the impending develoment of the North island. With talks in place about building a bridge across the split some seemed to suggest that it wont be long before you’ll be able to walk to base from the south, which seems absurd when you consider it’s nothing but thick mangrove on the north side. It just shows how much development these locals have seen in such a short amount of time. In fact, I met an older gentlemen who was telling me how he remembers when the the south was like the north, prior to any development.
The weekends on Caye Caulker were also very enjoyable. Usually on either Friday or Saturday we would spend the night on the South Side. This meant we had to find a place to stay and usually we chose this place called Sandy Lane. The rooms were cheap and the lady gave us a small discount because we were with Frontier. We’d usually follow a similar course every time we went out because there were some favourite places. There were a few nice places to eat that we always went, one that did karaoke which was always fun. Then we would migrate to Noel’s hostel. Noel was a local that we were all friends with and he worked the bar at his hostel most nights. They love their mixed drinks on Caye Caulker and some of my personal favourites were the Panty Riper and Lizard Juice; plus the cranberry and coconut rum is great too! Then we’d always go to the sports bar, a place where I liked to go a lot in the day to watch the football games. At night they cleared the chairs and made a dancefloor, and when Fireball played it was free fireball shots for everyone. One guy would stand on the bar and pour it straight from the bottle into people’s mouths, except he never actually got it in the mouth. After this place closed at 12 we would either go I and I bar/club or Koko King which was a new resort on the other side of the split. I and I was nice as it reminded me a lot of going out back home, and it was always very busy. Koko King was more of a place for events like the full moon party which was easily the best nights I had on Caye Caulker. They set up a huge dancefloor under a marquee and pretty much the whole island turned up. Because it was on the North side they ran a free boat service to and fro every half hour.
Trying to sum up my time on Caye Caulker is easy because I haven’t had a more enjoyable 6 weeks in my life. There isn’t one aspect of the project or island life that I was dissapointed with. Camp life exceeded expectations and I was more than satisfied with amount work I was able to take part in. I learnt so much from the staff and fellow volunteers and even though we were all very much individuals here for different reasons, we were able to work perfectly as a group because we all shared the same attitude towards the work. My understanding of this particular marine ecosytem has vastly improved and this, along with knowledge of surveying techniques and being an advanced PADI diver will I’m sure take me far in university. More importantly however, I’ve made some great friends here had some unforgetable experiences. I’m sure I will miss the island way of life. In fact, as much as it pained me to have to leave, it was for the best because if I stayed any longer I probably would never want to go home! Maybe I’ll come back one day and see how much the island has changed, but for now all I know is that thanks to Frontier I’ve lived it up in Caye Caulker, coming away with memories that I will cherish forever.

Johnathan Lloyd-Davies

Marine conservation and Diving volunteer

Frontier Belize Project

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My time in Caye Caulker

My name is Natalie, I have traveled to Caye Caulker, Belize from Ontario, Canada. I have come here to take part in the Frontier volunteer dive program for 3 weeks. Being a part of the frontier dive program here in Belize has been an incredible experience ! I have done many dives previous to this program but they were always for recreational purposes. The purpose of the dives done with frontier is to collect data. Its a really different experience while diving and I have really enjoyed it! We partake in surveys such as coral transects, coral colony counting, lobster surveys, lionfish surveys, seagrass surveys, etc. I have gain a lot of knowledge while being a part of this program, I like that now when I go diving and Im looking at the underwater world I know the species I am observing and I have an understanding of how life under the sea works. There are other volunteers here that I work alongside who are a part of other programs such as manatee conservation and beach conservation. Dagny, our principal investigator has done a wonderful job of mixing the three programs together so that I and the other volunteers are able to work together and be a part of extra things than was planned for us. For example we have planted mangroves which is a part of the beach conservation program. I now have my own mangrove nursery growing on the north island of Caye Caulker named « Nat`s Nursery ». I hope one day I can return to see it completely grown over. We live on the northern point of the north island. It is very quiet and peaceful here, One of my favourite spots is the hammock at the end of our dock. I like to lay out there at sunset with my island best friend, fury, the camps dog. Back home in Canada I often begin my work day just before sundown and late into the night. The island life is much different. Here we begin our work in the morning and we always finish at sundown. Which gives us the evening to wind down and relax with friends or in our own space. Its so nice to have time for me, sometimes at home it feels impossible to just relax and take time for me. I only have a few more days to be a part of this program which is very upsetting. The project coordinators and my fellow volunteers have become like a family to me (fury included) but I am most definitely satisfied with my time here on this island and I will be leaving feeling like I`ve made a difference in Belize just as Belize has made a difference in me.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Amazing

I have spent the past 6 months on Caye Caulker as part on the Marine Conservation Project. During my time here I have gained a lot of experience in the field of conservation which will help me towards a career in Conservation. The projects here focus on the coral reef and the impact that humans are having, being able not only experience our impact on the ocean has first hand but to then educate others in how we can change this is extremely rewarding. We live on a remote basecamp on the north part of the island where everyday we are treated to the most incredible sunsets every evening. Cooking on base is fun, we buy fresh vegetables and create dishes from Thai curry to pastas and even crepes! This island is truly a magical place and will be sad to say goodbye!

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    8

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Placement

    6

first two weeks in Belize

Belize is a fantastic vibrant and laid back country with some superb diving and marine life. I completed my PADI advanced open water through the project and the instructors have been excellent. I have also been lucky enough to dive with many sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks and even some manatee since being here. I have also just finished the training process for coral identification and classification and I am now an active participant in surveying and protecting the reef.

The camp where the volunteers live is an isolated (about 15 mins by boat to the local town) fisheries dept. ranger station surrounded by a forest and marine reserve (the targets of the conservation activity). Life here is fairly basic - there is no running water. I do however, feel like the 'back to nature approach' of the project adds to its charm (even if the insects and heat detract from it somewhat).

Socialising with my fellow volunteers has been great fun and the fisheries rangers are genuinely a laugh a minute (watch out for Mr. Fid...). We dive most mornings and make it into town on Caye Caulker regularly in the afternoons, which gives you a chance to use the wifi (as I am currently) and buy a beer. Caye Caulker is small but has plenty of good bars and restaurants as it is something of a backpackers destination. I feel really safe here and the Belizeans are some of the freindliest people I have ever met. I have only been here a couple of weeks and already have some good mates amongst the locals.

I would recommend this project to anyone who loves life outdoors and, of course, diving. However if you'd rather be in a cushy hotel this probably isn't for you.