This image depicts a Projects Abroad volunteer photographing a shark during their marine conservation work in Belize.

Barrier Reef Conservation in Belize

Dive with the Belize Barrier Reef animals and do vital coral reef conservation work in Central America

At a glance

  • During dives into the clear, blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll collect data to help inform governmental conservation policies.
  • You’ll get a PADI diving certification and learn from conservation experts.
  • After experiencing the beauty of the ocean first-hand, you’ll help raise awareness about how to protect marine life.

Start Dates: 


See Dates

Minimum Duration: 

One Week


16 or over

Is coral reef conservation in Belize right for me?

This project is open to anyone interested in marine conservation in Belize and protecting our planet. It’s a great opportunity for you to gain diving and ocean animal research experience. This is especially useful if you’re interested in a career in marine biology or a related field.

You don’t need any specific qualifications to join. Our experienced team of Dive Masters and marine biologists will be there to guide you through all your marine conservation work.  

No diving experience? We’ve got you covered. As part of this project, you’ll become a certified PADI scuba diver. If you’ve already got a diving certification, you’ll get to do more advanced PADI courses to hone your skills.

This project is available all year round, so you can join whenever it suits your schedule. You can volunteer for a minimum of one week, but we recommend staying longer to have an even greater impact.

A volunteer and local experts take a boat trip to gather some data whilst on a diving and marine conservation work experience project in Belize with Projects Abroad.

What marine conservation work will I do in Belize?

All the work you do will center around protecting the Belize Barrier Reef and building your marine biology experience. Here are some of the tasks you’ll do:

  • Get your PADI Open Water Diver or Advanced certification
  • Go on survey dives to collect data about the creatures living along the reef
  • Run awareness campaigns about the importance of marine conservation
  • Take part in salvage dives and beach clean-ups to reduce litter in the area

Your work will focus on these areas:

PADI diving certification

During your first week on the project, you’ll get your PADI Open Water Diver certification. If you already have this certification, you’ll get to do the PADI Advanced course. You’ll also do a specialized species identification course to make sure you’re prepared for survey dives. These international certifications are included in your project fee, so there are no hidden costs. 

With these certifications, you’ll contribute to marine conservation efforts during survey dives. You’ll also come away from this project with the skills and knowledge to go diving at different dive spots around the world.

Survey dives

Equipped with diving certifications, you’ll contribute to coral reef preservation efforts by collecting data during survey dives. As a diving volunteer in Belize, you’ll count different species and monitor things like location and water temperature. This data is entered into a database that the local government Fisheries Department uses to inform conservation policies. 

Awareness campaigns and community work

Your conservation work doesn’t end once you reach the shore. You’ll also go out into communities and raise awareness about the importance of living sustainable, eco-friendly lives. This includes things like: 

  • Teaching school children about recycling
  • Speaking to local restaurant owners about limiting their use of straws
  • Planting sustainable seaweed farms with local fishermen

Salvage dives and beach clean-ups

Litter, and particularly plastic, has a devastating effect on the environment. By participating in salvage dives and beach clean-ups, you’ll help limit this effect. You’ll pick up rubbish and recycle or repurpose it, turning something negative into a useful resource.

Our project partners in Belize

We’ve partnered with PADI to make sure you’re fully qualified to participate in marine life conservation efforts. This gives you the chance to work at the forefront of marine conservation as you dive along the Belize Barrier Reef.

We’ve also partnered with the government Fisheries Department in Belize. Through the data we provide, they make important decisions about conservation policies in the country. With their support, we’re able to ensure the work you do will be part of bigger long-term goals.

Where in Belize will I work?


Our Marine Conservation Project is based in Placencia, a small town along the southern coast of Belize. You’ll be participating in dives in marine reserves along the Belize Barrier Reef. We have special permits from the Fisheries Department allowing us to work in these reserves.

Although Placencia will be your main base, you’ll also go on dive trips to more remote islands. Facilities here are basic, but these trips will provide you with a unique insight into island living.

During your free time, there’s plenty to do in the surrounding areas. You can appreciate living close to the coast by relaxing on the beach, snorkelling, or even kayaking. This area is also rich in Mayan history with sights like the Mayflower Archaeological Reserve. 

Airport pickup, flights and visas

When you arrive at your respective airport, a member of Projects Abroad staff will be there to meet you. You can find more detailed information on arrival airports, orientation, and visas on our Belize Arrival Procedures page.

A typical day doing marine conservation volunteering in Belize

A typical work day will run from 9am to 5pm. However, when you’re on dive trips to remote islands, work hours will be from 7am to 4pm. You’ll work from Monday to Friday, with your weekends free. 

You’ll usually have about four to 10 dives per week, with each dive lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. Your week’s schedule will look something like this:

  • Monday: Diving trip to remote islands
  • Tuesday: Full day of diving
  • Wednesday: Return to Placencia, where you’ll prepare for community work initiatives 
  • Thursday: Community work activities like awareness campaigns, clean-ups, or seaweed farming
  • Friday: Input data into the Global Impact Database and Volunteer Resource Database

On Fridays you’ll have a weekly meeting to chat with local staff about the past week’s work. We also arrange different social activities on Friday evenings, which you’re welcome to join.

In general, your evenings will be free. You can spend them with the other volunteers in your shared accommodation. You can bond by doing things like playing cards or chatting about the different countries you come from.

Projects Abroad volunteer is pictured diving and participating in data collection as part of his marine conservation work in Belize.

What are the aims and impact of diving in Belize as a volunteer?

The aim of this project is to help protect and conserve marine life along the coast of Belize. 

The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest reef on the planet. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Belize’s waters are home to 1,400 different species, including 500 types of fish and 100 corals. This reef hosts the world’s largest population of threatened West Indian manatees. 

What’s more, many people in Belize rely on the reef for their income, through things like tourism and fishing. Through survey dives that influence government conservation policies, you’ll help protect this vital ecosystem. Your community work will also ensure local people continue to prioritize conservation initiatives.

We also aim to give you hands-on coral reef conservation work experience. You’ll learn to identify different species and get a PADI diving certification, giving you the chance to learn more about marine biology.

To ensure that we’re working towards a long-term vision, we’ve outlined project goals in our Conservation Management Plan for Belize. These goals are to:

  • Restore natural ecosystems
  • Protect local wildlife
  • Monitor habitats
  • Raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment as well as the animals affected by Global Warming

Join us in Belize and work towards conserving the stunning and varied creatures of the reef.

A male volunteer from Projects Abroad has pictured a project he set up to monitor sea grass growth as part of his marine conservation work in Belize.

Management plans

We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.

Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.

Measuring our impact

Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.

Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.

Food and accommodation

You'll share accommodation with other Projects Abroad volunteers and interns during your stay in Placencia. This is a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and interns, share experiences, and explore your surroundings in your free time together.

The accommodation is safe, clean, and comfortable. Your programme fees include three meals a day.

Find out more about our accommodation.

Leisure activities and free time

Belize is a beautiful tropical country bordered by the clear, blue Caribbean Sea. There are plenty of ways to spend your free time here, whether you’re a beach lover, a culture buff, or an adventure seeker.

During your free time, you can go snorkelling along the colourful Belize Barrier Reef. For a more relaxed atmosphere, you can spend time on one of the white-sand beaches, sipping freshly squeezed papaya juice in the warm sun.

There are also plenty of cultural activities, so you can get a glimpse into the history and heritage of the country. You can visit Mayan ruins or spend the day wandering through an art gallery or museum.

During your trip, you’ll be surrounded by volunteers from around the world. So you can choose to explore independently or with volunteers from our different projects in Belize. 

Safety and staff support

Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.

Find out more about safety and backup.

When you apply you only pay a $295 deposit, which comes off the total program fees.

Things are changing rapidly these days. If you have ANY questions, please call us at (+1) 619 320 2424 and we’ll fill you in on the latest updates.

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