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Please note:This program is currently unavailable. Check out our other marine conservation programs

Volunteer on Isla de la Juventud (or Youth Isle) in Cuba to participate in the preservation and conservation of its luscious coral reefs and abundant sea life. Snorkel through the waves while participating in the gardening of sea plants, the surveying of sea life and much, much more!
 
The goal of this project is to help protect the ecosystems of one of Cuba’s most beautiful islands. This project involves assessing the health of these ecosystems, as well as the gardening and maintenance of them. This project's activities may vary depending on the current needs of the coral reefs, but no matter the task, you can be sure to be making a positive impact on this underwater biological community.
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Location of the Project:  Cocodrilo, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba
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Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 4 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Nueva Gerona (GER)
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Volunteer Work:  Marine conservation, coral reef conservation
Age:  Min 18 (Volunteers under the age of 18 can only participate alongside a parent or legal guardian)
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Number of Volunteers:  Maximum of 2 international volunteers
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Important Note:  Volunteers must arrange a regional flight to Nueva Gerona (GER) from Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) in Havana. There are only 2 flights to GER per day, and the times vary. Airport pickup will be included no matter the time of arrival at GER on arrival day. 2.5 hour journey from Nueva Gerona to the island is also included.

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Shared volunteer house
Food:  3 meals are provided each day, both on weekdays and on weekends
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Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are included on both arrival and departure days
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Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses
Isla de la Juventud, also known as Youth Isle, is an extension of Cuba’s main island. The island is not a popular tourist destination, being 60 miles south of the mainland, which allows for a relaxed, secluded feel. Youth Isle is one rich in history and has been called an array of different names, from Pirate Island to Parrot Island, as well as the elusive Forgotten Island. The island received its most recent name, Youth Isle, after Fidel Castro opened a university there for communist students in the 70’s. Youth Isle is no longer home to this university, and the population of the island has subsequently dwindled.
 
On Youth Isle's northern coast is the black sand, Bibijagua Beach. The island is surrounded by teal waters and a rainbow of sea life that volunteers on this project will be assisting in preserving.
As a volunteer on this project you will be participating in a wide array of marine conservation activities including the surveying and monitoring of different species of marine life.
 
Some of your tasks may include:
  • Coastal habitat restoration
  • Coral reef monitoring
  • Seagrass surveying
  • Fish surveying
  • Monitoring of turtle nesting sites (May to October, depending on local conditions)
  • Coral gardening (for divers only)
  • Lionfish monitoring and capture (for divers only)
Please note: Volunteers must already be experienced snorkelers to participate in this project, and must already be dive certified to participate in coral gardening and lionfish capture activities. Not all activities take place in the water, however.

Activities are based on the community’s current needs, and are; therefore, subject to change.

A typical day: Your day will begin bright and early at 7am, where you will participate in your first task until noon. Lunch is served at 12pm. The rest of the day is free time for volunteers to rest, go on excursions, etc. Dinner is served at 7pm.
​During sea turtle monitoring season, volunteer duties will take place from 10pm until 4am. 
 
Internet
Internet:  No WiFi will be available after leaving Nueva Gerona Airport.
Laundry
Laundry:  Laundry service is included.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay in shared, same-gender, 2-person rooms in the volunteer house.
Food:  A personal chef will be at the house every day to prepare food for volunteers. The volunteer house is only a short walk away from both the beach and the town area.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Basic level of Spanish, most island residents are non-English speakers
  • Must be an experienced snorkeler and/or certified diver
  • Physical ability to be in high temperature and high levels of sun exposure
  • Physical ability to spend many hours in the ocean at a time
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team
  • Ability to collect and register data independently
Youth Isle is a place rich in history as well as in scenery. If time allows, explore what this island has to offer by visiting the beaches, museums, and more!
 
Playa Bibijagua:
Bibijagua Beach, located in the northern part of Youth Isle, is the island’s most popular and only black sand beach. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. It is located close to the popular tourist attraction, the Presidio Modelo.
 
Presidio Modelo:
The Presidio Modelo is an attraction for those who are interested in learning about the history of Cuba. The now-museum was once a prison in which Fidel Castro was held. 
 
Criadero Cocodrilo de Nueva Gerona:
For our volunteers who are animal-lovers, a trip to the Crocodile Farm of Nueva Gerona is a must! The hatchery has about 500 crocodiles at at time, and releases them back into the wild at the age of 7.
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