+44 (0)207 697 8598

9th July 2013, Placencia, Belize - Along Belize's world heritage site-listed barrier reef, coastal communities are making waves in fight against a rapacious predator.

Chapman, J.K. -Blue Ventures Conservation Report
Published in Conservation reports
Thursday, 02 February 2012 10:15

Belize dates and costs

Belize expedition dates

We have spaces for our Belize expeditions starting and finishing on the following dates: 

Expedition start dateExpedition end dateStatus
7-Jun-14 18-Jul-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - current expedition - full
12-Jul-14 26-Jul-14 NEW 2 week Belize community expedition - spaces
12-Jul-14 8-Aug-14 NEW 4 week Belize community expedition - spaces
26-Jul-14 5-Sep-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - one space remaining!
13-Sep-14 21-Sep-14 NEW 9 day lionfish project - spaces
26-Sep-14 6-Nov-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
2-Nov-14 7-Nov-14 Private group trip - full
10-Nov-14 21-Dec-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
5-Jan-15 15-Feb-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
24-Feb-15 6-Apr-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
10-Apr-15 21-May-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
25-May-15 7-Jun-15 Private group trip - full
13-Jun-15 19-June-15 and 28-Jun-15 7 and 16 day Lionfish project - spaces
22-Jun-15 3-July-15 Private group trip - full
6-Jul-15 19-Jul-15 Private group trip - full
3-Aug-15 12-Sep-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
19-Sep-15 27-Oct-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces
31-Oct-15 6-Nov-15 7 day Lionfish project - spaces
10-Nov-15 21-Dec-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces

Costs (as of 1st July 2014)

Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay. Half of our volunteers have never dived before and our PADI dive courses represent excellent value for money.

Expedition lengthYou are a PADI Advanced Open water (or equivalent) diverYou are a PADI Open Water (or equivalent) diverYou have no diving certificationNon-diving under 17
(accompanied by an adult)
Expedition medic
7 day lionfish project £600 NA NA   £500
9 day lionfish project £750 NA NA   £600
16 day Lionfish project £1,350 NA NA   £1,100
2 week community expedition £600 NA NA £500  £500
4 week community expedition £1,100 to £1,200 NA NA £1,000  £1,000
3 weeks £1,950 £2,050 £2,150 £950  
4 weeks £2,150 £2,250 £2,350 £1,150  
5 weeks £2,350 £2,450 £2,550 £1,250  
6 weeks £2,525 £2,625 £2,725 £1,400 £1,850*
7 weeks £2,825 £2,925 £3,025 £1,600  
8 weeks £3,125 £3,225 £3,325 £1,800  
9 weeks £3,425 £3,525 £3,625 £2,000  
10 weeks £3,725 £3,825 £3,925 £2,200  
11 weeks £4,025 £4,125 £4,225 £2,400  
12 weeks £4,325 £4,425 £4,525 £2,600 £3,000*
12+ weeks £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £200 per additional week

£4,200* (18 weeks)

* Discounts are given for trained medical personnel fulfilling the role of expedition medic. Find out more here but please note that additional costs apply for dive courses (PADI Open Water - £100 and PADI Advanced Open Water - £75).

Our expedition costs include:

  • Transfers between the village of Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve
  • Accommodation for the duration of your stay in beach-front eco-cabins with a maximum of four volunteers per cabin
  • Three meals per day including tea and coffee at breakfast and lunch - all meals are prepared by local chefs using fresh local ingredients
  • Science training with our team of field scientists and researchers
  • Scuba diving training and certification to PADI Advanced Open Water level (depending on your existing qualifications)
  • Use of our scuba diving equipment including buoyancy control devices (BCDs), regulators, weights and cylinders
  • Comprehensive logistical support and pastoral care from our large team of permanent field staff
  • Health and safety briefings from our expedition medics and dive managers

Our expedition costs do NOT include:

  • International flights to Belize City or Cancun in Mexico
  • Domestic travel to the expedition starting point in Sarteneja; there a regular public buses from Belize City
  • Entry visa for Belize
  • Malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations
  • Travel and dive insurance
  • Personal diving equipment: wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, watch or dive computer, dive torch and underwater slate
  • Personal field equipment: sleeping bag, torch, mosquito net
  • Scuba diving training manuals
  • Additional dive training; costs are detailed below
  • Spending money for drinks, snacks and souvenirs
  • Hotel accommodation before or after your expedition dates
  • More information about all these costs can be found in our volunteer guide

Additional dive training

Volunteers wishing to undertake additional dive courses should inform us prior to the start of their expedition. It may also be possible to decide to take a dive course while on your expedition, subject to a supplement of 15% for the course manual and materials.

If you book a course in advance and decide during your expedition that you don't wish to take the course, the course fees will be refunded but not the cost of the course manual. Please note that it is a requirement for every student to have their own copy of the relevant course manual.

PADI Scuba Tune-Up - £49 (including manual and decal)

This course is designed for divers to tune-up their diving skills and safety knowledge before diving again. A PADI decal (sticker), attached to your certification card, denotes successful completion of the course. This is compulsory for all qualified divers who have not dived within six months of their expedition start date. You may chose to participate in a scuba tune-up before you arrive in Madagascar and we can help you to choose a suitable dive centre or instructors.

PADI Emergency First Response - £95

It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual. Contact us to buy this manual for £14 including delivery costs (alternatively you can purchase it from a local supplier).

PADI Rescue Diver - £245

It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual. Contact us to buy this manual for £24 including delivery costs (alternatively you can purchase it from a local supplier).

PADI Divemaster - £395

It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual.
 

 

Published in Belize
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 18:59

Volunteer expeditions in Belize

Join one of our marine conservation expeditions in Belize!

• Immerse yourself in Belize's stunning coral reefs and diverse coastal cultures 
• Assist with rigorous underwater research alongside our marine biologists and gain scuba diving qualifications
• Participate in our community education and conservation initiatives

"I would highly recommend an expedition with Blue Ventures - the diving was awesome and I met some fabulous people! The locals in Belize made me feel so welcome and I was very sad to leave." - Sandra Cheung, United Kingdom

Based in the fishing village of Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, our diving expeditions offer volunteers from around the world a unique opportunity to get involved with Blue Ventures' marine research and conservation work. The Blue Ventures' dive camp in Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve is on Ambergris Caye an island that was recenltly voted the best island in the world in the Trip Advisor 2014 Travellers' Choice Awards!

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp

Join our team surveying the second largest barrier reef in the world (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site), and contribute to our efforts to conserve this spectacular ecosystem, including combating the threat of invasive lionfish.

Volunteers are immersed in the full breadth of Blue Ventures' programmes in Belize, including underwater marine research at our dive camp in Bacalar Chico and environmental education with local children in the seaside village of Sarteneja.

"My expedition was one of the most memorable and important experiences of my life. Your ideas are valued, your participation is appreciated, and English teaching at the local school is received with great enthusiasm." - Monika Calitz, United States 

Education3
From gap year students and university graduates to career breakers and retirees, our expeditions attract a diverse range of people from around the world, who share an interest in diving with the purpose of supporting our marine research and conservation work.

All of our volunteers complete an intensive two-week science training programme run by our field scientists at the beginning of each expedition, involving numerous snorkelling and diving excursions as well as informal lectures, small group discussions and practical exercises on coral and fish species identification. 

"Being able to identify so many coral and fish species has opened up an entirely new underwater world to me!" - Suzie Nott, United Kingdom

diving-belize-web
Both qualified and non-qualified divers are welcome to join our expeditions, with the PADI Advanced Open Water course offered to those without this qualification, including a Peak Performance Buoyancy adventure dive. Dive training is carried out during the first three weeks of expeditions, so that all volunteers are qualified to participate in underwater surveys once they have successfully completed their science training.

"The diving expertise of Blue Ventures' staff is excellent and I now feel more confident in the water."
 - Jodi Burley, Australia 

Experienced divers who have not dived in the six months prior to their expedition are required to take a refresher course with us, to ensure that they are confident and well trained. We also offer the PADI Emergency First Response, Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses for those who wish to advance their diving qualifications.

Bacalar Chico Dive Camp
Our volunteers in Belize split their time between the fishing village of Sarteneja (during the first and last weeks of their expedition) in local homestay accommodation, and our beautiful dive camp in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve (during the middle four weeks of their expedition) in beach-front bungalows. Volunteers are given regular Spanish lessons by our staff, and staying with local families in Sarteneja provides the perfect opportunity for language learning exchange!

Located on the shore of the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Sarteneja is the largest fishing community in Belize, near to the spectacular Shipstern Nature Reserve where our volunteers spend time experiencing the flora and fauna through day and night walks. The Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve is a large, palm-studded island shouldered by white beaches and backed by mangroves that fade to the west into Corozal Bay. Our volunteers love the communal bungalows that face out onto the Caribbean sea!

BCDC new huts
In their spare time at our base in Bacalar Chico, our expedition volunteers can be found exploring the mangroves, playing games on the beach, snorkelling or relaxing in their hammocks. While in Sarteneja, there are opportunities to visit nearby Mayan ruins and the Shipstern Nature Reserve.


You can use the interactive map below to zoom in and out of the region, including Sarteneja and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve:

Turtles, rays, nurse sharks, dolphins and giant moray eels are all regularly spotted on dives, and manatees are frequently spotted in the mangroves between November and January. Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve is also a nesting site for many birds, including rosetate spoonbills, white ibis, boat-billed herons and magnificent frigate birds.

Manatees (grazing marine mammals, living in shallow water where seagrass is the dominant vegetation) are common in the shallow waters between the Belize mainland and the barrier reef. Manatees are one of the flagship species of Corazol Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and we help to gather opportunistic sightings data and monitor their activity at resting holes.

Every six weeks a new group of volunteers arrive at our site, ensuring year-round sustainability of our marine research. We host an average of 10-14 volunteers per expedition, and we never have more than three volunteers per staff member.


"What I learned and felt during my expedition with Blue Ventures helped propel me to and through a graduate degree in Marine Science. The people and places I experienced through BV were a wonderful start to my journey towards becoming a published scientist.
If I ever have kids, I'll be sending them on a trip with you guys some day."
- Geoff Hensgen, United Kingdom

Lionfish

As is the case throughout the Caribbean, invasive lionfish are threatening to decimate populations of juvenile fish in Belize's coral reefs. Blue Ventures is working with local fishers and seafood buyers to combat this threat by stimulating new markets for lionfish, as a way of increasing removals, diversifying traditional fisheries and reducing their impact upon native fish populations. 

We also conduct research that includes culling and dissecting lionfish to investigate their reproductive status and feeding patterns. In 2014, we launched a short lionfish dive trip that offers divers the chance to contribute to this research, and participate in licensed culls of invasive lionfish. 

Our team

Heading up our team in Belize is Jen, our country coordinator, who first started with us as a field scientist back in 2011! Shawn is our expeditions manager, a qualified and experienced PADI instructor responsible for coordinating dive activities and training. Research undertaken by expedition volunteers is managed and supervised by Winnie and Meira, our field scientists, who are tropical marine biologists, responsible for delivering science training at the beginning of each expedition.

The health and well-being of our volunteers is looked after by our expedition medics, who are trained medical personnel that join our expeditions and are available at all times on site in case of accident or emergency. Our community officer, Silvia, facilitates all of the environmental education activities that volunteers get involved with in Sarteneja.

Dates

Expedition start dateExpedition end dateStatus
7-Jun-14 18-Jul-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - Full
12-Jul-14 26-Jul-14 NEW 2 week Belize community expedition - spaces
12-July-14 8-Aug-14 NEW 4 week Belize community expedition - spaces
26-Jul-14 5-Sep-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - last few spaces
13-Sep-14 21-Sep-14 NEW 9 day lionfish project - spaces
26-Sep-14 6-Nov-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
2-Nov-14 7-Nov-14 Private group trip - full
10-Nov-14 21-Dec-14 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
5-Jan-15 15-Feb-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
24-Feb-15 6-Apr-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
10-Apr-15 21-May-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
25-May-15 7-Jun-15 Private group trip - full
13-Jun-15 19-June-15 and 28-Jun-15 7 and 16 day Lionfish project - spaces
22-Jun-15 3-Jul-15 Private group trip - full
6-Jul-15 19-Jul-15 Private group trip - full
3-Aug-15 12-Sep-15 6 week marine conservation expedition - spaces
19-Sep-15 27-Oct-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces
31-Oct-15 6-Nov-15 7 and 16 day Lionfish project - spaces
10-Nov-15 21-Dec-15 6 week marine conservation expedition- spaces

Costs (as at 1st July 2014)

Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay in Belize. Half of our volunteers have never dived before and our PADI dive courses represent excellent value for money.

Expedition lengthYou are a PADI Advanced Open water (or equivalent) diverYou are a PADI Open Water (or equivalent) diverYou have no diving certificationNon-diving under 17
(accompanied by an adult)
Expedition medic
7 day lionfish project £600 NA NA   £500
9 day lionfish project £850 NA NA   £650
16 day Lionfish project £1,350 NA NA   £1,100
2 week community expedition £600 NA NA £500 £500
4 week community expedition £1,100 to £1,200 NA NA £1,000 £1,000
3 weeks £1,950 £2,050 £2,150 £950  
4 weeks £2,150 £2,250 £2,350 £1,150  
5 weeks £2,350 £2,450 £2,550 £1,250  
6 weeks £2,525 £2,625 £2,725 £1,400 £1,850*
7 weeks £2,825 £2,925 £3,025 £1,600  
8 weeks £3,125 £3,225 £3,325 £1,800  
9 weeks £3,425 £3,525 £3,625 £2,000  
10 weeks £3,725 £3,825 £3,925 £2,200  
11 weeks £4,025 £4,125 £4,225 £2,400  
12 weeks £4,325 £4,425 £4,525 £2,600 £3,000*
12+ weeks £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £300 per additional week £200 per additional week

£4,200* (18 weeks)

    Please see our Belize expedition dates and costs page for precise details about what is and is not included in these prices.

    * Discounts are given for trained medical personnel fulfilling the role of expedition medic. Find out more here but please note that additional costs apply for dive courses (PADI Open Water - £100 and PADI Advanced Open Water - £75).

    Next steps

    Download our guide for more information about our expeditions, check out these FAQs or get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , our UK-based expeditions coordinator, who will be happy to answer all of your questions. When you're ready, you can apply here.
     

    Gallery

     

    Published in Belize
    Monday, 05 December 2011 16:01

    Volunteer in Belize with Blue Ventures

     
    Published in Belize
    Wednesday, 06 January 2010 00:00

    Expedition Medic, Madagascar and Belize

    Blue Ventures offer discounted volunteer expeditions for medical professionals who can provide health, safety and general treatment for our marine conservation and research programmes in Madagascar.

    Published in Careers - Overseas
    Wednesday, 19 March 2008 11:17

    What makes us different?

    Different expeditions and volunteering opportunities suit different people. The quality and type of experience varies considerably among different organisations, so you should make sure that you do a bit of research to find the right trip for you.

    You may like to consider asking some of the following questions:

  • What are the aims of the project, and how will your participation contribute to these aims?
  • If you’re looking to join a conservation or research project that claims to be achieving conservation goals, ask what results have been achieved and what research has been published, and how volunteers were involved in that work?
  • Who is running the expedition; the organisation you are booking with or a sub-contracted local partner?
  • What is the status of the organisation; charity, not-for-profit or private company?
  • How are your expedition fees spent; what percentage is spent in-country and what percentage supports head office costs?
  • How many staff does the project employ to provide training, support and guidance for volunteers?
  • Can I talk to ex-volunteers about their experiences?
  • What health and safety measures are in place?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements for volunteers? Some expeditions house volunteers in dormitories while others can offer private accommodation.
  • Are volunteers expected to cook for the group, or are local chefs employed to prepare meals?
  • Remember that an attractive website with appealing marketing does not necessarily mean that the expedition itself will meet your expectations, or give you the experience that you are looking for.

    Speaking to the organisation and asking a few direct questions can help you to decide which organisation to travel with. We are always willing to talk, so give us a call on +44 (0)207 697 8598 to discuss our expeditions in Madagascar and Belize.

    What makes Blue Ventures different?

    Our organisational structure

    Our award-winning expeditions are run by a social enterprise which fuels our marine research and conservation work in Madagascar and Belize. Profits generated by Blue Ventures Expeditions (a private company) are re-invested to maintain the standard of our expeditions and further channelled to Blue Ventures Conservation (registered charity number 1098893) in order to support the development of our innovative and integrated community-based programmes.

    grounded-in-science

    Our conservation impact

    We have hosted more than 1,800 volunteers at our sites over the last decade, resulting numerous reports and scientific papers being published about the state of Madagascar and Belize’s coral reefs, and directly contributing to the development of our marine conservation work.

    Our expedition volunteers also play a vital role in diversifying income-generating opportunities away from fishing within coastal economies, generating more than US$100,000 for local homestays to date in Belize alone.

    Our volunteer to staff ratio

    We limit the number of our volunteers on each expedition to a maximum of three per staff member (with an average group size of 12-14 volunteers) so that everyone receives a high standard of science and dive training and support, no matter what their background.

    Madagascar team

    Other organisations offering similar research opportunities and expeditions tend to accept greater volunteer to staff ratios but we feel that this can limit the learning experience, availability of facilities and diversity of activities that volunteers can participate in.

    Our expeditions are run by experienced staff recruited, trained and managed by our London headquarters to ensure we deliver consistently high-quality training, safety and expedition experiences. The teams consist of at least four international staff members (including PADI dive instructors and marine biologists) working alongside at least four local staff members.

    Our science and dive training

    All of our volunteers complete an intensive two-week science training programme run by our field scientists at the beginning of each expedition, to ensure that their knowledge is sufficient to carry out underwater surveys with our marine biologists coordinating the research.

    Science training
    Both qualified and non-qualified divers are welcome to join our expeditions, with the PADI Advanced Open Water course offered to those without this qualification. PADI Emergency First Response, Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses are also available for those who wish to advance their diving qualifications.

    Our health and safety

    Safety is our top priority when working both above and below the water in remote environments. Our volunteers are required to complete a medical check with their doctor before joining an expedition with us, and we aim to have a qualified medic on site at all times, with additional 24-hour medical support provided both from our UK based medical professionals and within each expedition country.

    Health and safety
    Rest days (decompression days) are incorporated into our schedules, and conservative dive profiles allow for a large safety margin. Communications can be difficult on remote expeditions so our field sites and research boats are connected by VHF radios and/or mobile and satellite phones at all times, and our research boats carry medical oxygen on all diving trips.

    We have a worst-case scenario medical evacuation (Medivac) plan, supported by 24-hour contact with our head office staff and medical advisers. All of our expeditions staff are experienced divers, with training in first aid and practical rescue management skills.

    Our accommodation and food

    Our expedition volunteers stay in beach-front eco-cabins at our dive sites in Madagascar and Belize, with a maximum of four people per bungalow. We offer private accommodation for a small supplement; ideal for couples, families or those wanting their own space.


    Coco Beach
    Three meals a day are prepared by local chefs, with plenty of fresh vegetables and seafood, and we are normally able to cater for those with specific dietary requirements. Volunteers are also given the opportunity to learn how to make traditional snacks, such as doughnuts, fish samosas and tortillas. Tea and coffee is available with most meals and treated drinking water is freely available on site, with bottled water and other beverages available to purchase from local restaurants or shops.

    Our value for money

    The cost of our expeditions is among the most competitive in the sector, and we believe that we offer the highest standards of science and dive training, accommodation and food. We don’t charge for dive kit hire (we have all of the expensive equipment that you need available for you to use at our research sites) and PADI dive courses are subsidised to keep prices low.

    Our expeditions help to finance our marine conservation programmes in Madagascar and Belize, and we want as many people as possible to join us, learn with us and contribute to this work. We recommend that you compare our prices, quality and reputation versus other marine conservation expedition providers in the market.

    Our responsible practices

    We are a member of the Year Out Group and all of our expeditions abide by their Code of Practice and Charter. We spend more than 70% of volunteer fees in our expedition countries, with the remaining sum used to support our UK-based team, marketing, insurance and payment protection.

    We have been recognised six times in the annual Responsible Travel Awards, winning the prestigious 'Best Volunteering Organisation' in 2010, and also winning the ‘Best Volunteering Organisation’ in the British Youth Travel Awards in 2012. As a leader in responsible travel, we have also been recommended as an ethical volunteering organisation by the Guardian and the Telegraph.

     

    Published in Volunteer
    Page 2 of 2