For such a tiny place, Belize packs a big punch. Few countries fill so much fun into such a small area, making Belize a great all-in-one destination not only for scenery and adventure, but also for opportunities to contribute something meaningful during your stay. From the rainforests to the tropical islands, the animals you see and the people you meet will make for an unforgettable time. After you volunteer abroad in Belize, you’re sure to leave a part of yourself behind to live forever in this beautiful country.
Where to Volunteer Abroad in Belize
Located on the northeastern coast of Central America, Belize enjoys the same lush tropical climate that attracts beachcombers and jungle adventurers to the region throughout the year. Its northernmost territory shares a small section of the Yucatan Peninsula with Mexico. The culture is very relaxed and welcoming, and the landscape offers wide expanses of beach and dense tropical forests covering rugged mountain ranges. Here are the best places to volunteer in Belize.
San Ignacio. This bustling cultural-economic hub lies on the banks of the Macal River in central Belize near the border of Guatemala. Here you can explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Caracol, marvel at the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, and trek through the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. It’s also a popular destination for volunteers who are interested in archaeology, anthropology and cave digging.
Belize City. This formal capital reaches out from Haulover Creek on the coast of Belize. From urban activities to adventurous endeavors, volunteers are in for a treat here. Whether you’re interested in bustling markets or discovering the Mayan city of Altun Ha, you’ll never tire of things to do. The Blue Hole, a sinkhole just off the coast of Belize, calls daredevils to explore its mysterious depths.
Caye Caulker. This limestone coral island is located off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean sea. The tranquil location is accessible only by water taxi or plane, and it’s a popular place for volunteers interested in learning how to be a wilderness first responder. For those interested in conserving sea creatures, go ahead and dive into the depths of the second largest reef in the world — the Belize Barrier Reef!
How to Volunteer in Belize
The steep rise in conservation interests across Belize, along with the fact that it is still very much a developing country, creates a wide range of options for volunteers hoping to make a meaningful contribution. Here are some of the most popular volunteer projects in Belize:
Teaching English in Belize can be found within existing public school settings or in programs seeking to enhance children’s knowledge in a particular subject. Gaining exposure to different cultures and having a chance to practice their English can inject new excitement and enthusiasm into a classroom.
As a country steeped in Mayan history, Belize continues to unearth artifacts from its ancient past. Archaeologists, anthropologists, and experts of ancient cultures continue to explore the region’s rich history and piece together the stories that have resulted into today’s Belize. These projects often require volunteers who are patient enough to take part in the painstaking search for tiny artifacts and physical clues.
If you’re more comfortable using a brush to paint rather than dust off artifacts, consider the hands-on volunteer option in community development. Since many economic resources are invested in expanding the infrastructure of tourist areas, rural communities often go without the resources needed for maintenance.
Costs of Volunteering in Belize
Volunteering in Belize won’t cost an arm and a leg here. You’ll need to shell out the most portion of your trip for airfare and your program fee. From support to housing to food to in-country transportation, your program fee will cover all of these and ensure that you’re getting the most out of Belize at the same time. Scholarships and help from family and friends via FundMyTravel can help cover the big chunks.
Accommodations in Belize
From bunking with other international volunteers in hostels to staying with local families in homestays, you’re not short on options!
If you’re participating in more rural programs, you’ll be lucky enough to sleep in a tent under the stars in the jungle canopy. In most programs, however, you’ll likely be staying with a host family, where you’ll be immersing yourself in the day-to-day life of Belize’s culture of food, traditions, and language (while also saving on accommodation costs).
Visas for Belize
You’ll need your passport, proof of your program and sufficient funds, and return airline tickets if you plan on volunteering in Belize for less than 30 days. If you’re staying longer, you’ll need to apply for a visa, and your program coordinator can help you make the arrangements. You can get the ball rolling with what you’ll need by visiting GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Volunteers may find themselves in the middle of an ecotourism project that could prove critical to a local community. Locals are trying to better understand the expectations of tourists while balancing priorities of their village.
Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll need to keep in mind the weather. Like most other Caribbean destinations, Belize’s climate can be broken into two general weather conditions: wet and dry.
When you open your mind and heart to things that are genuinely foreign to you while volunteering in Belize, your horizons will widen exponentially.