from 5,272€

Fantastic 4.5rating (6)
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Team Expedition

8 - 8 weeks  ·  Age 18 - 50+

rating  Fantastic 4.5  · 
  Verified by Volunteer World
  Below average response rate

Especially suitable

Age 18+

About the program

Join our summer expedition team to get involved in SCUBA diving to collecting 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 ...

About the program

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 project (R2R), which provides invaluable support to TIDE's research, monitoring and education programs. 

Our R2R program is essential in ensuring the important work of TIDE is able to continue in the future, by providing the resources necessary to carry out the work we do. Volunteers assist in collecting data, contributing to conservation projects, and working in communities to share information with local stakeholders.

R2R volunteers not only have the chance to help in the long term management of the protected areas TIDE manages, but also have a unique opportunity to learn a wide range of conservation skills in different environments. From collecting fisheries and coral reef health data, to monitoring amphibians, and assisting community reforestation groups to working in local schools, volunteers are exposed to a variety of experiences in a leading non-governmental organization in Belize. Here are some of the activities you could be involved in this summer:

  • 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!

Volunteers will work alongside TIDE rangers, scientists and guides, all of whom are Belizean and are passionate about the work they do and experts in their field. An expedition manager will lead the group throughout the program and is available 24/7.

Generally, volunteers work on conservation based activities in the field from Monday to Friday and are expected to participate in all activities scheduled. Usually, volunteers stay at our bunk house style accommodations in Payne’s Creek National Park, a beautiful and secluded location on the banks of a lagoon. At the weekend, the group stays in our large, comfortable house in the village of Big Falls. Saturdays are a day for adventures, and we take you to see all the different sites the Toledo district has to offer, including Mayan archeological tours, cultural and culinary tours, caves, waterfalls, zip-lining and more. Sunday is a day to sit back and relax. 

There are no pre-requisites for the program, since all training is provided by our in-country staff, and all specialist equipment required for field work is provided. All we ask is that volunteers pack their enthusiasm and come with a flexible attitude, since schedules and projects can change to reflect the current priorities of TIDE.

This is a fantastic program for anyone interested in a career in conservation in tropical ecosystems, who wants to understand why holistic ecosystem management which involves local communities is crucial. It gives experience and training in a wide range of activities, so for anyone unsure of their preferred career path, it gives insight into different opportunities. Working in an award-winning non profit organization also gives invaluable insights into the way non-governmental organizations operate.

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 ...

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 sustainability, 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 necessary, 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.

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 ...

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.



Minimum Age: 18 years

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 English (basic level)

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 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

What's Included

What's Included

Services by Ridge to Reef Expeditions

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.

Airport Pickup at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport

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.

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 to 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

What's NOT included?

What's NOT included?

Flight Tickets

The nearest airport is Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City. We assist you to find cheap flights to Belize. FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS

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. GET A QUOTE


If you are intending to volunteer in Belize you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Belize. VACCINE CHECKER

Details on arrival

Our 2017 summer program runs from June 25 – August 20. Volunteers are expected to find their own way to Belize International Airport on the start date, where they will be met by our R2R team. On the program end date, we will take the group back to the international airport for departure flights.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Program fees

8 weeks 5,272€
Average fees 659€/week

Program fees

659€ per week 8 - 8 weeks Age 18 - 50+

Payment methods

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8 - 8 weeks


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

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.

Meet your organization

Ridge to Reef Expeditions

Fantastic 4.5 rating (6 reviews)

Non-profit - founded in 1997

Verified by Volunteer World

  Below average response rate

Coordinated by


About the project

Join our team in Belize and take part in tropical conservation and research programs from 'ridge to reef', protecting ecosystems from forest ridges to coral reefs.

Meet your organization

Ridge to Reef Expeditions (R2R) was launched in 2014 by the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE). TIDE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization in southern Belize that co-manages three protected areas – two terrestrial and one marine – in partnership with the Government of Belize. TIDE works with local communities to raise environmental awareness, build capacity to manage natural resources and foster sustainable economic development.

The Maya Mountain Marine Corridor in southern Belize is home to over 48 endangered species, and communities that depend on natural resources for the livelihoods. This important landscape faces pressures such as poaching, land degradation and climate change, posing a threat to the ecosystems and life they support. 


In 1997, a group of Belizean environmentalists was determined to prevent the destruction of Toledo’s incredible ecosystems. The local manatee population, in particular, was being devastated by intense hunting and gill net use along Belize’s coast. 

With support from The Nature Conservancy, they formed the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE). TIDE rallied the local fishing community and successfully petitioned the Government of Belize to establish the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, bringing 100,000 acres of marine habitat under legal protection and safeguarding some of the healthiest coral reefs in the entire Mesoamerican Reef, as well as important fish nursery grounds, sea turtle nesting beaches, critically endangered staghorn and elkhorn corals, and, of course, the manatees.

Because local fishers were no longer allowed to use destructive gill nets in the new reserve, TIDE organized a net buy-back project and retrained 60 fishers as tour guides, taking advantage of the area’s potential as a world-class fly-fishing destination.

TIDE quickly gained a reputation as an organization that gets results, and in 2001, was selected to manage 11,000 acres of forest under the terms of a “debt-for-nature swap” between Belize and the USA. TIDE has since expanded these holdings to 22,000 acres that form an important wildlife corridor. In 2002, TIDE won the United Nations Development Program’s prestigious Equator Prize for sustainable development.

In 2004, TIDE officially began co-managing Payne’s Creek National Park with the Belize Forest Department. Wildfire is by far the greatest threat to the savanna ecosystem in Payne’s Creek, and so TIDE sought out the assistance of the US Parks Service and Everglades National Park to develop a fire management program. As a result of over a decade of diligent fire management, over 14,000 acres of pine savanna is regenerating.

In 2007, TIDE’s founder, Mr. Wil Maheia, handed over the reins to the current executive director, Mrs. Celia Mahung, an innovator in community participation and environmental education. Under Mrs. Mahung’s leadership, TIDE has won international acclaim for its environmental education initiatives, the flagship of which is the “Freshwater Cup”. This is a football tournament with a twist – each participating school team must first complete a mini project to protect freshwater ecosystems and the Belize Barrier Reef downstream.

The tournament empowers girls and boys by making them realize what can be accomplished when we work together! In 2008, the Freshwater Cup won TIDE the Experiences in Social Innovation Award from ECLAC and the Kellogg Foundation, from over 800 nominations worldwide. In 2012, the competition was recognized again, this time with the International Olympic Committee’s Award for Integrating Sport and Sustainable Development.

Pioneering new innovations again in 2012, TIDE joined forces with the Belize Fisheries Department, Environmental Defense Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy and University of California at Santa Barbara to pilot Managed Access fisheries management in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Glovers Reef Marine Reserve, a first for the Caribbean! Managed Access has resulted in increased catches for fishers and proven so successful that the Fisheries Department decided to roll it out to the entire territorial waters of Belize, a landmark step toward sustainable fisheries in the region!

TIDE has done some great work, yes, but in the face of ever growing environmental threats, will it be enough to realize the organization’s vision of healthy ecosystems supporting biodiversity and a prosperous, sustainable green economy in Toledo?

This is where Ridge to Reef Expeditions comes in. TIDE has always made great use of volunteers, both foreign and Belizean, and the volunteers have always had an amazing experience so in 2012, TIDE decided to establish a structured project to make the most of the talent out there. After two years of development, Ridge to Reef Expeditions was launched in 2014.

Why Ridge to Reef?

Because we’re a relatively small operation, we connect with each and every one of our volunteers. We’re grateful for the support of people who share our passion for the future of our planet, and we make all our volunteers feel at home.

Another thing that sets Ridge to Reef Expeditions apart is the mixture of serious conservation work and pure adventure. On weekdays, we do conservation research and action in remote wild locations. At the weekends, it’s time to relax and you’ll find yourself wandering around Maya temples, learning to make chocolate (and eating it!), jumping off waterfalls, or zip lining through the jungle tree tops. Toledo, Belize’s “forgotten district”, has very few tourists, so we usually have these places to ourselves! TIDE Tours has 15+ years of experience and knows all the best spots and guides.

R2R is excellent value for money because we do not have to support an office or staff outside of Belize. We have low overheads because our administration and infrastructure is shared with TIDE, and we spend little on marketing. For these reasons, our price is one of the most competitive on the market. When you consider everything you get – SCUBA training, scientific training, conservation activities, weekend excursions, comfortable lodgings, meals cooked by local chefs, airport pick-up and drop-off, and support while you prepare for expedition – we don’t think you can get any better value.

Safety & Health

Yes. Compared with other Central American countries, Belize is extremely safe and peaceful. The Toledo district, where R2R is based, is especially safe and friendly with very low crime rates. You should use common sense and take care when out and about to keep your personal belongings with you.

When you first arrive into Belize we collect you from the international or local airport so you will have no need to navigate the city yourself. If you travel overland to Belize City, we will meet you off the bus at the terminal. So from the moment you arrive, a member of our friendly R2R staff team will be there to take care of your onward journey. Please note that whilst R2R take care of you throughout your expedition, volunteers are responsible for their own safety if travelling before or after your expedition.

All our activities and fieldsites are reviewed and a series of risk assessments carried out to ensure that participants are safe at all times. Our expedition staff undergoes first aid training and our emergency action plan and pre-expedition briefings mean that our team is prepared for any situation that arises. Expedition rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of all involved, and must be adhered to.

6 reviews · rating4.5

Katie rating4.6

2015 at Team Expedition

Extremely enjoyable, well organised trip! Everyone you meet from the Team to the locals are a pleasure to be around and all extremely friendly! I had never been on a trip like this before and it was truly an amazing experience!! Having decided to not go down the Scientific/environment root for my ...
Hannah Holah rating4.4

2014 at Team Expedition

My 9 weeks spent with TIDE have been one of the most enriching and enjoyable experiences of my life. I can’t recommend the experience enough and hope one day I get to do it ...
Hanna Johnson rating4.6

2014 at Team Expedition

This summer has provided all of us with a first-hand view of how conservation works when it’s done well. The organization’s dedication, not just to the environment, but to the community as well, is ...
My time in Belize has been truly unforgettable. I would thoroughly recommend this project to people of all ages with an interest in conversation work and living somewhere different. The Toledo district is varied and beautiful and the people are so welcoming. I felt like I made so many new ...
I had such an amazing experience with the Ridge to Reef program! I was down working with them for six weeks and I was able to learn more than just conservation. I was able to grow culturally, learn new skills and I even had time to sit back and relax and enjoy the many different sites of ...
I found the whole experience simply amazing! From this experience I have gained an understanding of a totally new country, culture and way of life, as well as an insight into the way TIDE ...


Americas > Central America > Belize > Punta Gorda

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