Scattered like tarnished silver coins shimmering beneath the ocean’s surface, the Bahamas are abounding with adventures aplenty just waiting to be realized. The Bahamas are comprised of more than 3,000 islands and known worldwide for its crystal clear waters. There’s a Bahamian island to match most every water-and-sand-based compulsion, each framed by a backdrop of gorgeous, mesmerizing blue. Volunteer programs in the Bahamas promise that you’ll return home with more than a suntan, and have an adventure that will immerse you deeper into the waters of life. So dig up your own adventure, your treasure awaits in the Bahamas!
Travel anywhere in the Bahamas and you'll find pristine beaches with cerulean waters lapping at their shores. While gorgeous strips of sand ring every island of this archipelago, the destination is a multifaceted one that offers a variety of distinctly Bahamian experiences for every type of volunteer.
While natural attractions shine on every island, Andros is king when it comes to exceptional natural surroundings. Though it is the biggest island, it is also the least-populated, leaving plenty of room for playtime outside your volunteer placement. While volunteer in Andros, you’ll find the world’s third-largest barrier reef that is filled with schools of tropical fish and deep blue holes, which throw down the gauntlet to serious divers. If you’re a hiker, snorkeler, diver, or general swashbuckler, Andros should be on your radar when deciding where to volunteer in the Bahamas.
Birthplace of the Bahamas, Eleuthera is a 100-mile long wisp of land where pink sand beaches are littered about like a pirate’s plunder on the deck of his ship after a successful day of bootlegging. The island’s name (we know you let out a giggle) is derived from the Greek adjective, eleutheros, meaning "free". For volunteers looking to embrace the freedom promised in the name, Eleuthera offers a number of high-energy distractions. Wreck divers can explore the Devil’s Backbone, and seasoned surfers can catch the waves of the eastern shore. Eleuthera is ripe for off-the-beaten-path exploration.
Volunteer Programs in the Bahamas
The Bahamas offer several volunteer opportunities for those interested in lending a helping hand. To begin your search, decide what kind of adventure is calling your name. Here are some of the most popular ways to volunteer in Bahamas to get you started:
Save the Turtles! Volunteer in Bahamas and break out of your shell to save endangered sea turtles from further decline. Researchers in the Bahamas need your help to ensure turtle habitats are protected from coastal erosion and climate change. Volunteers can assist scientists in researching and monitoring turtle habitats by snorkeling or boating in serene coastal waters, swimming alongside sea turtles. By finding out where turtles are most abundant and gathering statistics about their habitats, volunteers will help uncover the qualities that can help scientists make the lives of turtles better.
Marine Conservation. Investigate world-class coral reefs and marine wildlife while helping discover new locations for marine reserves by snorkeling in the warm Bahamian waters. Volunteers can explore fascinating mangrove creeks and patch reefs, which provide safe nurseries for fish species. Conservation volunteers can also help record environmental data, such as water depth, flow rate, and density of plant life, so researchers can begin to truly understand how to protect marine life.
Community Development. Although parts of the Bahamas are quite developed, there are still areas that need volunteer assistance. As a community volunteer in the Bahamas, you can work on various community development projects assisting with things like construction, painting, and gardening. If you have an interest in development and conservation, you can combine your conservation knowledge with teaching and promote conservation in local schools by sharing facts about the local ecosystem with students. You’ll make a whole new community of friends through this type of volunteer placement in the Bahamas, and help ensure that future generations will care for the environment and continue supporting conservation efforts.
Costs & Affordability
There is no need to convert your spending money upon arrival if you are from the U.S., because the Bahamian Dollar is linked one-to-one with the U.S. Dollar. Unfortunately, this island nation’s reputation as a tourist mecca means the price of nearly everything is elevated. However, the good news is you will be too busy embracing the simple life and soaking up the beautiful remoteness of the Bahamas to be out and about spending all your money!
Volunteer programs in the Bahamas typically require volunteers to pay a set amount in program fees. What’s included in your volunteer program will vary from program to program, but most will cover accommodation, meals, insurance, training (such as PADI certifications), and a sense of purpose! Visas, vaccinations, and flights are usually left up to each volunteer to arrange.
If the cost of volunteering in the Bahamas seems overwhelming, don’t throw in your beach towel without considering scholarships, starting a FundMyTravel campaign, or going on a treasure hunt. When you are called to do something great, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it!
Accommodation & Visas
Have you ever experienced a refreshing slumber with the cool, ocean breeze and the therapeutic sound of waves brushing the shore outside your window? No, it doesn’t count if it came from a machine in your apartment. Accommodation in the Bahamas is usually provided for volunteers in rustic beach-houses or ramshackle settlements of unexplored backcountry, or in more traditional dorms and hostels. No matter where you stay while volunteering in the Bahamas, your surroundings will be stunningly beautiful. Staying with multiple volunteers during your program, sharing sleeping and dining quarters, will nourish your sense of community, as you will not only share your experience with each other, but also to be working toward a common goal.
Most volunteer programs in the Bahamas provide volunteers with adequate housing placements, where living conditions are above what you’d expect from such remote islands. Remember that the Bahamas is still a developing country though, so many Western luxuries, such as hot water, AC, and Wi-Fi, may not always be accounted for. It also wouldn’t hurt to inspect your bed sheets for insects before climbing in at night!
Residents of the United States, Europe, and most commonwealth countries do not need a visa to volunteer in the Bahamas for short-term stints. Just pack your passport and you’ll be ready to go! However, if you are leaning toward a long-term volunteer program in the Bahamas, you’ll likely need a visa. Check out GoAbroad’s Bahamian Embassy Directory for more information.
Benefits & Challenges
Not Always a Walk in the Park. Traveling from island to island in the Bahamas is not necessarily easy. Since you won’t be going in armed with your fanny pack full of tourist cliches, you should plan on having a raw and rustic experience as a volunteer in the Bahamas. Despite the international image of a tropical paradise and the flocks of tourists that visit every year, for the average islander, life could not be further from paradise.
Work Hard, Play Hard. Volunteering in the Bahamas will be hard, yet satisfying, work, so you’ll need to let your hair down sometimes. Most volunteer programs in the Bahamas budget time off for you to eat, drink, and be merry with your fellow volunteers on an afternoon catamaran cruise, or any other stereotypical pastime you can imagine. Take time to enjoy fresh ceviche caught straight from the boat (it’s conch-stantly delicious!) and a Bahama Mama (or two).
Make Your Visit Meaningful. Volunteering in the Bahamas will allow you to build relationships with locals, encouraging and maximizing cultural exchange. You will not only be immersing in the local culture and contributing to a local project, you’ll also be supporting the local economy. For example, you will help the vendor you bought your fruits from or the taxi driver you rode to your placement in, whether they are sending their children to school, providing food for their family, or supporting their daily needs.
Volunteer in the Bahamas, not only to dive in the translucent waters, but also to dive into the transcendent waters of your soul. Something wonderful is sheltered inside you, because we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. So, do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you? Hop on the volunteering boat in the Bahamas and find out!