Ridge to Reef Team Expedition

Join our expedition team to get involved in all aspects of the work TIDE does, from SCUBA diving to collect coral reef data, to planting trees with community groups.

The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) has been working since 1997 to safeguard large areas of terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the pristine Mesoamerican complex for the benefit of local communities and the species contained within. Since 2014 we have given volunteers a unique opportunity to get involved in our work through our Ridge to Reef Expeditions program, which provides invaluable support to TIDE's research, monitoring and education programs. 

Our eight week summer team expedition immerses volunteers into a variety of TIDE's important work, and includes the following activities:

  • PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water SCUBA training
  • EFR first aid certification
  • SCUBA diving to collect important information on fisheries and coral health, or protecting the reefs from the invasive lionfish 
  • Reforestation along important riverbanks
  • Summer science camp in local village school
  • Nighttime patrols along nesting sea turtle beaches
  • Other activities not yet confirmed, there is always so much to do!
As well as taking part in our conservation activities, we will help you to explore everything that southern Belize has to offer through our Saturday excursions, which include visiting ancient Maya sites, kayaking, caving, zip-lining and more.

Guides and scientists for all activities are local Belizean experts with a wealth of knowledge they are willing to share and who really understand the importance of the work we do. 
So if you want to help avert devastating oil explorations, protect endangered species and empower local indigenous communities by safeguarding their way of life, join our expedition team for a truly unforgettable experience where you really can make a difference.  

Ridge to Reef Team Expedition Help reforest areas of riverbank Use your new SCUBA skills for fisheries research Collect valuable data alongside local scientists Jaguar caught on our cameratrap Chill out after a day of hard work Weekend retreat in Big Falls village Volunteer bunkhouse at Payne's Creek Assess coral reef health Explore ancient Maya sites Engage with local schoolchildren Learn monitoring techniques from local experts Dive into Rio Blanco waterfalls Payne's Creek from the lagoon bank Get lost in the rhythm at the local drum school Don't be afraid to get your feet muddy! Get your PADI SCUBA certification Traverse through jungle treetops Relax in the heart of the marine reserve Releasing endangered parrots into the wild Clean up turtle nesting beaches

Suitable for


Typical day

Wake up in the peaceful setting of our volunteer bunkhouse in the heart of Payne's Creek National Park, surrounded by fragrant pine savannah and on the banks of the lagoon where manatees are a common sight. After a hearty Belizean breakfast of tortillas, beans and eggs, travel by boat through the lagoon and into the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.

Arrive at our marine base and receive a briefing from TIDE's marine biologist about the day's diving activities, then don your gear and head out to the first dive site. Dives may include measuring conch length to determine fishery sustanability, marking lobster as part of our mark-and-recapture study, determining levels of coral bleaching or hunting and spearing the invasive lionfish.

Return to the marine base for a hearty lunch of rice, fried chicken and salad, then head back out for the afternoon dive, before returning to Payne's Creek for the evening. After a home cooked dinner, you will have time to record the data you collected today, relax, play games or attend a class about an upcoming activity or topic of interest such as climate change. 

On some evenings, we will go back out after dinner and patrol the local nesting sea turtle beaches, looking for evidence of nesting activity. If we find a nesting female, we will watch from a distance, then once she is safely back in the ocean we will check the nest to ensure it's in a safe location. If neccessary, we may attempt to relocate to ensure maximum chances of offspring survival. Once we know where and when a nest is laid, we know when it will hatch, so this process enables our team to be present for the event, and help safeguard the hatchlings as they make their journey towards the sea and beyond.

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
Required Documents
Health Declaration signed by medical practitioner, Travel health insurance and DAN dive insurance
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
All that is required is a willingness to get stuck in with whatever activities we have scheduled. Belize has a tropical climate, so the ability to hike or work in hot, humid conditions, (and also at times wet as summer is the rainy season), is a must. All training is provided so anyone can join our team!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 16:00

Any questions? Just ask. We at Ridge to Reef Expeditions are happy to help you.

Free-time activities

Each Saturday we take the expedition group on an excursion in the Toledo district of southern Belize. Activities including zip-lining, river tubing, caving, kayaking, visiting ancient Maya sites, local cookery and crafts classes and drumming lessons. Belize is very culturally diverse, and volunteers will get to visit and work with a wide variety of cultures during their expedition.

Each Sunday is set aside as a day of relaxation, so you can wander into the local village of Big Falls to use the internet cafe or visit the shops, or simply relax at our large weekend house which has 360 degree views of beautiful landscapes from our screened in and comfortable verandah.

Water Sports


What's included?
To make life easier for you, everything is included in your fee once you arrive into Belize at the international airport, including; Airport transfers on the expedition start and end date; food; accommodation; weekly Saturday excursions to local attractions; PADI Open Water training and course materials; PADI Advanced Open Water training and course materials; EFR first aid training and course materials; equipment rental. You will have a dedicated expedition manager with you 24/7, with 24 hour access to emergency medical services and communications. In addition to this, local guides and scientists and TIDE staff members will lead the conservation training and activities.

All our local guides have full training, some of which is provided through expedition fees, and receive a competitive salary.

What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Airport Pickup

Your expedition manager will meet you at the international airport on the program start date. You will travel as a group in our private tour bus to Big Falls, approximately five hours drive, stopping for lunch and restroom breaks on the way.


For most fieldwork weeks we will stay in the volunteer bunkhouse and cabanas in Payne's Creek National Park. This rustic field station is located in fragrant pine savannah by the banks of an intricate lagoon system, where manatees are a common site. Mammals and bird life are abundant, and endangered yellow headed parrots will be your morning alarm! There is a comfortable screened in bunkhouse that sleeps twelve in bunk beds, three new cabanas sleeping four each in bunk beds, a screened kitchen and dining area, indoor and outdoor flushing toilets, indoor and outdoor cold water showers (perfect on a hot day!), solar power and plenty of space for yoga, football or volleyball at the end of hard day at work.

On the weekends, stay in our house in Big Falls. About a 30 minute drive from TIDE's headquarters in Punta Gorda in a beautiful house situated in 11 acres of former orange orchard. Here you can hear frogs "calling for rain" through the night and wake up to an abundance of bird life. With comfortable dorm room style bedrooms, full bathrooms, a large kitchen-dining area and a screened porch where you can see nothing but forest before you, this is the perfect place to kick back and relax after a week in the field. For larger groups, we also have a new addition of three bedrooms and two bathrooms just a few meters from the main house.

Within a couple of minutes you can walk into Big Falls village where there are small shops, a bar, an internet cafe and, if you're in the mood for luxury, an eco-lodge with swimming pool which you can use for a small fee.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

All meals are provided once you arrive into Belize City. For the most part, this is in the form of home cooked Belizean style food such as baked chicken, rice and beans, tortillas and plantain, but we also provide a variety of international dishes to cater to everyone's taste. Occasionally we will take the group to a local restaurant as a treat (included in your cost).

We can cater for any dietary requirements if you let us know before you arrive.

Purified drinking water is always available.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
Costs (Prices in USD)
8 weeks (min. stay)
8 weeks (max. stay)

You can volunteer at the project site in Punta Gorda/Belize between 8 weeks and 8 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Ridge to Reef Expeditions will tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
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 Ridge to Reef Expeditions during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Belize

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Belize. Please check the visa regulations for Belize.
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Belize.

What's next?

The nearest airport is Philip S. W. Goldson International (BZE) in Belize City. We assist you to find cheap flights to Belize.
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 Belize provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Belize you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Belize.
Punta Gorda, Punta Gorda, Belize

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