It’s that time of year when everyone is overwhelmed, exhausted and utterly unmotivated. I don’t know about you, but my brain fantasises holiday trips to keep my sanity. It would be the perfect time to go overseas for the summer or next semester, right? So, what does the university have to offer? How can I get a great experience with a break from the semester but still gain credit toward my degree? 

 

Costa Rica 

What you do:  

  • Beach patrols/clean-ups 
  • Locating nesting female turtles and monitoring behaviour 
  • Collecting turtle eggs for protection measures 
  • Building hatcheries to protect turtle eggs from predators 
  • Counting and tagging sea turtles 
  • Replanting mangroves and more 

When: This program is a six-day week that starts every Monday. Volunteering is four to seven hours daily, possibly a couple of hours walking on beach patrols.  

The typical work shifts are a couple of hours at a time, starting at 9am, 3pm, 7pm or 11pm, with weekend free time. 

Cost: $1,475 (2 week trip) or up to $12,061 (24 weeks). Plus, a registration fee of $536. 

Requirements: Underage students require a parent/guardian, fluent English, volunteer travel insurance and a criminal background check. 

 

Great Barrier Reef – Cairns (Fitzroy and Green Island) 

What you do:  

  • Reef monitoring 
  • Marine debris collection and research 
  • Sea turtle conservation (volunteers staying 2+ weeks) 

When: The program starts on the first Monday of every month. You volunteer for between four and six hours a day. The typical daily schedule begins at 9am, and there is free time on weekends. 

Cost: $1,686 (1 week) up to $6,560 (4 weeks). Plus, a registration fee of $541 

Requirements: Competent in the ocean (must be able to float and swim at least 50 meters), 18+, criminal background check, fluent English and volunteer travel insurance. 

 

New Zealand – Auckland 

What you do:  

  • Litter data collection and training workshops 
  • Organise beach clean-ups and awareness-raising events 
  • Facilitate behaviour change workshops and nature-based learning experiences with schools, corporations and community groups 
  • Train and support a network of citizen scientists to run New Zealand’s only nationwide beach litter monitoring program 

When: The programs start on the first and third Monday of every month. You volunteer three to five hours a day. A typical schedule involves volunteer work from 8:30am to 3pm with weekends free time. 

Cost: $1,744 (2 weeks) up to $9,477 (12 weeks). Plus, a registration fee of $541 

Requirements: Underage students require a parent/guardian, criminal background check, fluent English and volunteer travel insurance. 

 

Zanzibar 

Programs: Coastal and Marine Conservation (Matemwe) and Rainforest and Coastal Conservation (Jozani). 

Coastal marine conservation 

What you do:  

  • Spotting turtle nests on early morning beach patrols 
  • Locating and relocating egg nests 
  • Releasing baby turtles into the ocean 
  • Monitor Bottlenose Dolphin activity 
  • Monitor the behavioural and acoustic sightings, and photo-identify whale species using various equipment and software (dependent on relevant skills and experience) 
  • Coral reef monitoring and farming (PADI Open Water Diver certification required for farming activities) 
  • Educating the local community and tourists about conservation while completing small related research projects 
  • Beach clean-ups and recycling/upcycling 
  • Growing fruits and vegetables for the volunteer’s own consumption 

When: This program starts every Wednesday. The typical volunteer schedule is 8:30am to 7pm, with weekend free time. 

Cost: $1,044 (1 week) up to $5,484 (12 weeks). Plus, a registration fee of $541 

Requirements: Underage students require a parent/guardian, criminal background check, fluent English and volunteer travel insurance. 

Coastal and Rainforest conservation 

What you do:  

  • Help at a small reptile sanctuary 
  • Working at a farm co-op that grows fruits and vegetables 
  • Upcycling waste materials 
  • Mangrove tree planting 
  • Replanting fruit trees as a source of food for the Red Colobus Monkey 
  • Small construction and renovation projects 
  • Teaching environmental conservation education in local schools 

When: This program starts every Wednesday with a typical volunteer schedule of 8:30am to 5:30pm, with weekend free time. 

Cost: $929 (1 week) up to $4,103 (12 weeks). Plus, a registration fee of $541 

Requirements: Underage students require a parent/guardian, criminal background check, fluent English and volunteer travel insurance. 

 

There are many other locations with similar programs, such as the Galapagos Islands, Victora Falls, Spain, Belize, Madagascar, Namibia, and Portugal. You can find more information on fees, activities, accommodation and how it works here

Sami Peters

Sami Peters

Hi, I’m Sami Peters and I am the Environment and Global Change Reporter for Opus. I study a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and Writing. I love reading, writing, dancing, and the beach. I have a lot of passions but to combine two of my favourites: the environment and writing… that’s the dream.

Sami Peters

Hi, I’m Sami Peters and I am the Environment and Global Change Reporter for Opus. I study a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and Writing. I love reading, writing, dancing, and the beach. I have a lot of passions but to combine two of my favourites: the environment and writing... that’s the dream.