IOI-Empowering Cuba

Coral Reef Restoration Assistant

Cocodrilo, Cuba show on map

You will contribute to an ongoing initiative to improve and monitor coral reef health off the Southern Coast of Cuba's Isle of Youth.

As the coral reef restoration volunteer, you will contribute to an ongoing initiative to improve and monitor coral reef health off the Southern Coast of the Isle of Youth. The work is based directly on the needs of the community, and will be conducted in the following areas:
  • Coral reef monitoring.
  • Coral gardening.
  • Fish surveying.
  • Seagrass surveying.
  • Lionfish monitoring and capture.

Volunteers will snorkel to conduct this work, with the exception of the coral gardening and lionfish monitoring, which will require volunteers to scuba dive. The data collected will help guide the environmental planning of this protected area. 

Participating in an IOI project in Cuba offers the incredibly rare, and impactful opportunity to make a profound contribution in a country that is in an exceptional state of transition.

Cuba is facing a sudden modernization process in communication, tourism, and real estate – all of which will have significant impacts on the local community and culture. As a result, things are moving very quickly, and the island could immediately begin to face environmental and social pressures as a result of trying to accommodate the influx of people and ideologies.

IOI is uniquely qualified to navigate the complex system that is Cuba in order to provide volunteers with real life, real impact programs that empower the local community in a sustainable way. Our volunteer program is important because you are helping to protect endangered coral reefs and sea turtle populations and helping generate an income for the local people. Normally, community members of towns like Cocodrilo depend on extracting natural resources to make a living. For example, even though overfishing is a problem that all of Cuba is facing, members of coastal communities in Cuba continue to fish because they do not have any other option to make a living. In Cocodrilo, however, community members are working with local scientists and volunteers like you to protect their natural resources. The volunteer program has given them a reason to switch from fishing to conducting a fish survey or coral reef restoration work with the volunteers. Your participation in our volunteer program directly supports the conservation work. We firmly believe the only way to engage in effective conservation is by working with local communities.

As a volunteer, you will help collect data necessary for the conservation of Cocodrilo's local protected area. Your work will greatly help in maintaining the community's coral restoration project. That fact that you travel all the way to remote Cocodrilo to help with conservation efforts shows the community that their resources really are worth protecting!

Typical day

After eating a homecooked breakfast at the volunteer house, you'll get your snorkeling or dive gear on and head out to the water (a 3 min. walk from the house!). You'll be in the water off and on from about 8am to 12pm doing the restoration or monitoring work. Your exact tasks will depend on what the community needs at that time. The afternoons and evenings are free for you to explore Cocodrilo and it's beautiful coastline.

During your volunteer activities, you will be primarily working with local community members who have years of experience working with volunteers like you. They will make sure you are safe and happy during your time volunteering and that you are doing work that will be valuable to the community. All we ask of you is that you show up on time and are an enthusiastic worker and have an open mind. Many plans in Cuba can change last minute-so be prepared!

Make sure you bring clothes that are appropriate for the tropical weather, so in addition to the normal shorts, shirts, and flip flops, bring lightweight long sleeve clothing to protect yourself from the bugs and sun, sunscreen, bug repellent, good shoes for walking. Also bring your snorkeling gear including a snorkel, mask, and fins. If you want to SCUBA dive, you must have a certification and we recommend volunteers bring their own diving equipment since the equipment at the volunteer site is heavily used.

Details on Arrival

Volunteers can join our program throughout the year. We encourage all volunteers to stay as long as possible to maximize local and personal benefit. Minimum stay is one week. We encourage longer commitments by discounting each additional week stayed. Maximum stay is one month.

Free-time activities

The town of Cocodrilo is small but there is plenty to do, especially if you like to be outdoors! You'll have the afternoon to explore the surrounding areas, from the picturesque beach to the crystal clear waters. There is no internet in Cocodrilo so it's the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life!


Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak Spanish (basic level)
Required Documents
SCUBA Diver Certificate (only if diving)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
- Basic level of Spanish.
- A genuine passion for animal conservation.
- Ability to work independently as well as in a team.
- Flexible schedule that accounts for the day to day needs of working with a local institution.
- Physical ability to work outdoors with potentially high sun, element, and temperature exposure.
- Ability to independently collect and register data.
- Must be an experienced snorkeler, or a certified diver if you plan on diving
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 12:00

Suitable for


Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if IOI-Empowering Cuba cancels your trip
Resolution Support
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by IOI-Empowering Cuba.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
IOI-Empowering Cuba (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by IOI-Empowering Cuba

The program fee is necessary to cover your cost of living and logistics. Our overhead is covered by other means, and thus, 100% of any funds that exceed your direct cost will go towards the project you participated in.

Airport Pickup at Rafael Cabrera Airport

We provide airport pickup from Nueva Gerona, the airport closest to Cocodrilo. Nueva Gerona is a domestic airport and is a short flight away from Havana. We provide clear directions and assistance for booking the flights and can provide assistance in Havana if desired.


Accommodation is provided at Villa Arrecife, our volunteer house and dive center. The house has two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and back patio and is located only a short walk away from the ocean and town center. You will share the house only with other volunteers. 

Guesthouse Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

A private chef comes daily to the house to cook all meals. We can adapt to your dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Rafael Cabrera Airport (GER) in Nueva Gerona. We assist you to find cheap flights to Cuba.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Cuba provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Cuba you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Cuba.
Costs (Prices in USD)
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Cocodrilo/Cuba between 1 week and 4 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. IOI-Empowering Cuba will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Cuba.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with {} during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Americas The Caribbean Cuba  Cocodrilo, Isle of Youth

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