Volunteer in the Caribbean on the stunning island of St. Eustatius, in the Dutch Antilles, overlooking St. Kitts in the Caribbean Sea. You can take part in the following conservation volunteer work activities:
You can join for 8 weeks up to 12 weeks and we have places all throughout the year available. We are open to discussion of volunteers joining us for less than 8 weeks in exceptional circumstances.
Individuals, groups and students doing research all welcome.
Cost for lodging in volunteer house, gas, water, materials, training & orientation, airport pickup; starts at £1260
Volunteers spend two or three days a week working on the trail systems in The Quill and Boven National Parks. You will work mostly on trail maintenance including clearance, erosion control and improving signage. It is important that you are a competent hiker and are fit and healthy. A number of our trails are steep with loose footing.
During the turtle nesting season which runs from March to October, you may be assisting with night patrols on Zeelandia beach monitoring nesting sea turtles (not applicable from November to March). Teams will be established and days rotated. You will assist with gathering data from sea turtles that generally nest between dark and dawn. Data gathered by the crew will be shared Caribbean-wide through a linked database which wildlife managers use to improve protective measures for endangered species. In general, you will be monitoring hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles. This programme may also be combined with beach sand monitoring. Turtles don't nest every night and therefore you shouldn't expect to see turtles during every patrol. At the beginning of the season it is rare to see any turtles nesting. Please also note that our nesting population of turtles is small and we therefore do not patrol the beach every night throughout the season.
The aims of the Botanical Garden are preservation, conservation, education and recreation. The Garden has basic facilities and a public pavilion for picnicking and barbeques. It has suffered damage from the recent hurricanes, drought, destruction by roaming animals and a lack of funding over the years therefore there is much need for development. A decision was made by the STENAPA board in 2017 to focus on Phase 1 of the garden which are the lower slopes and entrance area. Funding has been made available for a perimeter fence to keep out roaming animals. The shade house was completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Rebuilding this has become a main project in the garden. The Botanical Garden is open to the general public from sunrise to sunset 365 days per year and we offer guided tours with a small suggested donation. The Botanical Garden Ranger or the Botanical Garden intern will carry out these tours.
We have regular iguana patrols to catch and bead the local endangered population of Lesser Antillean Iguana. This includes search and remove patrols of invasive Green Iguana and any hybrids. A member of staff who is trained specifically in catching and beading iguanas will accompany volunteers on iguana patrols. Iguana patrols take place at specific times during the day when the iguana is most active and in the evening between 7pm and 9pm. Alongside iguana patrols STENAPA are setting up a headstarting facility where we will be monitoring and caring for juvenile wild iguanas that will be released in adulthood. Volunteers will help with maintenance and feeding schedules at this facility.
STENAPA run a junior rangers club in association with other after school clubs on the island. This involves doing a range of activities with the children from hiking to snorkelling. The first week of every month STENAPA visit all the schools on the island giving short presentations about nature on Statia and doing some activities. This can also involve going on field trips. In July there is a summer club which is a week of activities for children in the summer holidays. Alongside this STENAPA run a week long event called Shark Week in June which is aimed at educating the community of the importance of sharks on our reefs – this is a Caribbean-wide initiative and is very popular. For volunteers there is an opportunity to help out with the activities with the children if you are interested.
In the office STENAPA has a small team which require help from time to time. Tasks may include organizing meetings, data entries, manning the reception desk and office support for rangers. This is a good opportunity to understand the management of protected areas and its protocols.
Fridays are known as ‘Family Friday’ and are an opportunity for the whole group to work together with interns on a particular project, such as marking out a new trail, installing new signposts, cleaning the turtle nesting beach, planting a new garden or carrying out a survey.
At the beginning of the project, you will receive orientation of the various equipment and areas of work, and the general protocol of being a volunteer. In the first week you will be shown the location of the national parks, the botanic garden and the office. The rangers will ensure that you are fully orientated on all equipment and understand the tasks at hand.
You will work 5 days a week. A typical working day for trail work or botanical garden duties would start at 7am and finish at noon. The afternoons will be free and can be spent relaxing, diving, snorkeling, swimming down at the pier, obtaining diving certificates, bird watching, using the Internet, and enjoying the peace of Statia! For the sea turtle volunteer programme, you will be required to do a night patrol a few times a week. These start at 8.30 and continue until the small hours of the night depending on the advice from the Marine Park Manager and the Sea Turtle Intern. You are also welcome to volunteer for more than half a day if you wish, as any extra help is always welcomed!
St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA)
The Quill National Park was pronounced the first official National Park of the Dutch Caribbean on May 4th, 1998. The area is now a protected area, which consists of the dormant volcano, The Quill, and the limestone formation to the south of it, called White Wall. Within the National Park, there are several good hiking trails for visitors – you will be working on these trails. The Boven sub-sector comprises five hills in the Northern Hills of St Eustatius: the Boven, Venus, Gilboa Hill, Signal Hill and Bergje. This area has only been actively managed since 2007 due to a long running land ownership dispute.
The Statia National Marine Park is defined as the waters surrounding Statia from the high water mark to the 30m (100ft) depth contour. It was designated the Statia Marine Park in 1996 through the St. Eustatius Marine Environment Ordinance, with the objective to preserve and manage Statia's marine resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and future generations. STENAPA also manages the Botanical Garden which is located in on the windwardside of the island, at the base of the Quill National Park with a view of St. Kitts.
Objectives and Background of the Quill Crater Trail Step & Boardwalk system
Sea Turtle Conservation Volunteer Programme
The sea turtle conservation programme has now been running for over 15 years. Monitoring patrols for nesting turtles on Zeelandia Beach started in 2002, and increased in 2003 with a greater number of patrols due to the onset of the Working Abroad Volunteer programme. It was with great excitement that the first leatherback turtle was observed nesting on 17th April 2003, and a number of additional leatherbacks nested on Zeelandia during the year.
Today, the Sea Turtle Volunteer Programme Co-ordinator along with the Project Intern coordinates the monitoring patrols during the nesting season. Volunteers are expected to take part in these patrols when they are scheduled. Volunteers should also expect that many nights the beach will be patrolled without a sighting of a nesting female. Our presence on the beach should actually be seen as safe-guarding. Our role is the protection of the eggs until the hatchlings make it safely to the surf.
18th June to 13th August 2018
16th July to 10th September 2018
13th August to 8th October 2018
10th September to 5th November 2018
8th October to 3rd December 2018
5th November to 31st December 2018
Volunteers can join for 8 up to 12 week periods, starting on any Monday throughout the year.
Please note we can be flexible with dates, the dates listed above are just a guideline, you can join the project starting on any Monday throughout the year, as long as you are able to come for 8 weeks or longer. Please email email@example.com for further dates or questions. There is a maximum of eight volunteers there at any one time. Please note that you should arrive at the airport on the weekend before your project starts (preferably on the Sunday), with orientation happening on the following Monday morning.
As volunteers, you will be supervised on all of the projects by STENAPA staff either in the botanical garden, on the trail, in the marine park or in the office. You will also receive orientation and proper training at the beginning of the project.
The cost for 8 weeks is £1260 and 12 weeks is £1800, which covers all project costs, including all food (monthly allowance of 300 USD), lodging in volunteer house, drinking water, materials for trail project, all training and supervision by staff, pickup and drop off from airport in Statia, use of mountain bikes, WorkingAbroad Projects backup and placement support, and so on. For those volunteers assisting with the work at the marine park in addition to the trail work, STENAPA will provide dive gear and tanks for this. The airfare to St. Eustatius, travel/medical insurance and personal expenses are not included within this price. It is mandatory for you to take out travel and medical insurance for the duration of the project.
The house has views of the Caribbean sea, a small garden and outside sitting area. The house has basic facilities including WIFI, kitchen and washing machine. It is communal living and there may be up to 10 people sharing the accommodation at any time.
You will be responsible for preparing all your own food and you will receive a budget for food of $300, which you can use to buy your supplies at the local grocery store. There is also a local farmer called Hazel’s Vegetables who sells his produce near the airport- ask a member of staff to show you where.
Health, weather, facilities
The climate on Statia is known as a tropical dry climate. It is warm year round, ranging from 25 to 35 degrees, with a gentle ocean breeze. Rainfall occurs during the rainy season, but only for short spells.
Oranjestad is the capital of Statia, which caters for facilities such as internet access, 2 banks, post office and a few local shops.
There are no health hazards to be aware of for Statia, except for sunburn possibly or mosquito bites. You can drink the water straight from the tap in most establishments but ask before doing so as it may come from a cistern. The island is very peaceful, and there are no problems with crime or safety.
How to get there?
In general, you can travel from your home country to St. Maarten (Air France, KLM fly daily from Europe, American Airlines and others from the USA), and from there, get a connecting flight with Winair (www.fly-winair.com) to St. Eustatius – this local airline that flies there (flights usually take about 20-30 minutes and there are several flights a day - prices can range from 100 to 150 USD return). Trans Anguilla Airlines http://transanguilla.com/ also flies there too. You should arrive on the weekend (preferably the Sunday) before your project start date, we will pick you up from the airport when you arrive and take you to the volunteer acommodation, your programme will begin the following Monday morning with your orientation.
See below for two videos showing the marine and terrestrial ecosystems on the island:
St. Eustatius, better known as Statia, is located in the Netherlands Antilles islands of the Caribbean, and is only 8 km long and 3 km wide. It is a tranquil and beautiful island which gives a visitor the feeling of stepping back in the Caribbean of decades past – islanders enjoy striking up conversations, stray goats and chickens wander around the streets and the pace is calm and slow.
Visitors don’t go to Statia for its beaches, but rather for its amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities as well as for its hiking trails in the National Parks, and for visiting its old Dutch colonial buildings and forts. Statia has a population of approximately 3200 people, most are of mixed African and European descent. Dutch is the official language, but the spoken language is English.
Below is an interactive map showing the location of the project:
Sarah Perche, from France, volunteered at the project for 1 month from July to August 2017:
I am very happy about my volunteering. I spend an amazing month in Statia, which was too short. I did several tasks into the Natural Park: marine and terrestrial. I helped with the Iguana patrol, inside the Botanical garden, checking the trails and during the summer week with the local kids. But as a marine volunteer, I was helping mostly in the Marine reserve. It was a really good field experiment for a marine biologist. I get an overview about the management of natural park. The people are nice and very friendly.
Every morning you are on the deck, and during the afternoon you took a nap or snorkeling to see turtles or you can work also with the rangers if you want. You need to be prepare to the heat, carrying water around with you and the mosquitoes (the local spray is doing miracle, one per week almost). So if you want to enjoy Caribbean lifestyle, protect and help a natural reserve, meet amazing people, diving on beautiful dive site. I recommend you to join this project in the north of the Caribbean.
Laura Filimon describes her time volunteering at the project in 2016:
It was an awesome experience, I would do it again in an instant I got to meet some very cool and interesting people, both local or expats on the island. The park rangers were more than friendly with me and the other volunteers or interns, making an effort to make us feel part of everything they were doing. Even though I don't have a background in biology or marine sciences, I felt very much included in everything they did, learning bit by bit from everybody I interacted with.
I really enjoyed the rides with the truck around the island, weather we were going to chase down iguanas, go and maintain the Botanical Garden, clean the beach of garbage or go on a beautiful Hike on the Quill or Boven Hill. Every view point offered beautiful "pictures" of the Island and it's surroundings. I was lucky and the rainy season was just arriving in Oct/ Nov, so I appreciated every moment I could sit on the beach, have long snorkeling dives or just sit in the hammock and read a lot.
The Island, even if it is small, definitely has it's benefits - all the locals are very very friendly, we were not afraid to just leave the cars or the house door open , the shops are in walking range of the Intern House.
The conditions in the house are not those of a 4 star hotel, but I didn't go there for that, rather for the quiet and peace, the sun, the ocean and the sea, the nature and all the experience of leaving Europe for a whole 2 months.
I appreciate you and this program for helping me have this experience, I would definitely recommend you and your team to anybody that wants to go out of their comfort zone and experience life and other cultures
Hermit crabs, Johnson's whistling tree frogs, Lesser Antillean Iguanas and more in St. Eustatius. Read this blog from our WorkingAbroad intern, Nina and get first-hand impressions of life, sounds and sights on this lovely Caribbean island known as the "Golden Rock" - at our Statia Conservation Project
Please click here to read the blog
Oliver Selmoni from Lausanne, Switzerland aged 22 yrs old, volunteered for one month this summer with his two Swiss friends, and writes about his experience
I volunteered at STENAPA one month between July and August. We were the first volunteers staying at the new house, which I guess changed a lot the way of living the island. The house is placed just above the Carribean beach. The location is great, close to everything, you can go to the office, to the dive shops or to town in 5 minutes (we were given bikes). The house has 3 bedrooms, livingroom, kitchen, bathrooom and everything is pretty comfortable. There is a huge garden were you can enjoy BBQing with a stunning view of the bay. Volunteers and interns live together at the house with Foxy the dog and Vinny the cat (lovely pets).
Volunteers work the morning from Monday to Friday. You have to be motivated in doing the work, it isn't difficult and volunteers aren't expected to rush. At the botanical garden we worked basically as gardeners, which was nice because we could see the results of our work. The work on the trails consists in cutting everything that is not supposed to be on the trails. What I enjoyed the most about these two projects was the chance of working in wonderful places in total freedom. There was always something nice to see, could that be the view to St. Kitts from the garden or the tropical vegetation inside the crater of the Quill. The turtle patrol is nice as well, of course you have to be lucky.
The afternoons we spent much of our time at the beach sunbathing, drinking, snorkeling or diving. The beach is very close (1 minute in bike), never crowded, the sea is warm and quiet, with lots of animals and stuff to see. I did the open water certificate at the dive shop. It costed 375 dollars and the only thing I regret is not having it done before. There are great dives and you can see again lots of stuff (from shipwrecks to sharks).
The weekends we hung out to the "downtown" of Statia (10 minutes in bike). The downtown consists in three or four bars where you can go drinking, dancing, karaoke and so on. The people from Statia are really nice and friendly. It would be pretty impossible to argue, people were pretty chill. There are not much tourists but when you easily find people from Europe or USA at the beach in afternoons or friday night downtown (some works at the dive shops or at the archeological sites).
To sum up, I had a great time in Statia. Of course, you have to give up some comforts (cold showers, always feeling sweaty and dirty, mosquitoes) but it's all worth it.
Raymond Phillip describes his experience on Statia last summer
Originally I was quite worried about catching flights and making my way to Statia but once I had arrived it was smooth sailing. The volunteers were very welcoming and most of the islanders were open to get to know you which meant it was quite easy to feel involved. As I wasn't working during the afternoons this gave a good opportunity to improve my swimming and learn how to snorkel. The reefs along the shoreline, near the office, were amazing to visit daily as you would always see different things.
I was upset that the sea turtles were not nesting during the time I was there, however seeing them in the water made up for this. I enjoyed helping out with the summer club and meeting the local children, even though some of them could be a hassle!
I felt this was a good investment and was a good choice as my first major trip away. Although a months stay was a good amount of time, I could have easily opted to stay longer had I not needed to be back in England.
Mat Wicks wrote about his time on Statia in February
My time on Statia was too short. After 3 weeks on the island I really started to feel at home and enjoy myself, but then I had to leave a week later! Living in the Botanical Garden was great, I spent much of my time lying in a hammock watching hummingbirds and lizards. The garden is a fantastic place and there is a good opportunity to work on it in a personal project, doing anything that takes your fancy that you think will be good. The staff and interns are very open to new ideas. I worked on trails which is good excercise in the baking heat, clearing the way and carrying signs, and I also helped with species surveys, birds and butterflies. It was a shame I was not there for the turtle season, but there is still so much to do. As a volunteer you have the afternoons off, and quite often I would hike 'round the mountain' to the office to check emails, then to the beach for snorkelling etc. Statia is a strange place but I liked it a lot. The nature on the island, on the quill, on boven, in the marine park was amazing- you really get to see a lot.
Tanya Saunders, who joined the project gives some other reasons why you should join the Statia Conservation Project:
1. For anyone who wants to work in conservation or gardening, this is a really good experience to add to your CV.
2. By joining this programme, you have the opportunity to learn to dive, and to spend plenty of time snorkelling and diving.
3. For anyone wanting to work in the voluntary sector, this also provides you with experience of working for a not for profit organisation - STENAPA is a Foundation representing the National Parks and Marine Park of St. Eustatius.
4. For those of us who don't need it for their CV, it is also ideal for those who enjoy living and working in the outdoors the whole time.
5. There are also some opportunities to work with kids and help to teach them about conservation.
6. Many organisations charge quite a bit for people wanting the opportunity to dive as a volunteer, but on this project, you can sometimes dive as a volunteer, so it is a really good opportunity for anyone who is keen to get more diving experience, without the excessive costs.
7. There is an archaeology non profit organisation also on St. Eustatius, and volunteers can also spend some time there in their free time.
- Yes. Most importantly, do research. Read all the Working abroad info thoroughly & supplement it with a visit to the Stenapa website, if nothing else, so that you fully know what you`re letting yourself in for. Try & travel as light as possible within reason & don`t take anything in the way of clothes that you are desperate to bring back with you. The four most important things I would say to take would be a hard wearing pair of gloves, a decent headtorch for finding your tent at night, a decent insect repellent & a large, robust container for drinking water for use while working, one-litre minimum, but I would recommend at least 2 litres. Try & contact Stenapa prior to attendance in order to find the local conditions on the ground & anything that may particularly be required or definitely not required as the case may be ( I brought a first aid kit with loads of stuff that there was already a lot of in the intern house, yet the house was crying out for some drying up cloths & cleaning utensils for the kitchen which could not easily be found on Statia, which I could’ve easily taken with me). Take something to keep you occupied, ipod, books, DVD`s etc. Be prepared for it to be hot, prepared to sweat & prepared to put your back into it, but to be rewarded accordingly!
If you are interested in joining this project as a conservation volunteer in the Caribbean, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form including two references and your application payment of £180. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid one month before departure. Once you have been accepted on the programme, you will receive a Volunteer Information Package with all detailed information on your project, information on amenities on St. Eustatius, suggested items to bring and lots more.