Volunteer in Cuba with Sea Turtles and Coral Reef Restoration

Volunteers are needed to join various marine conservation projects in the village of Cocodrilo, on the southern coast of Cuba’s Isle of Youth. These projects include Coral Reef RestorationSea Turtle Monitoring and Coastal Habitat Restoration

You can join for 1 week up to 4 weeks and we have places available all year round.

Individuals and students all welcome.

Costs for accommodation in our shared volunteer house, food, materials & training start from £830

Volunteers in the waterCoral Restoration Turtle nest monitoringCocodrilo CoastVolunteers ready for a diveFood prepared for all volunteers Coast of CocodriloVolunteer house

About the Project

The Marine Conservation Volunteer programme in Cuba has been established to further empower the remote community of Cocodrilo, located on the south coast of the Isle of Youth, through sustainable means.

Coral Reef Restoration

Volunteer with Coral Restoration project Cuba

The Coral Reef Restoration Volunteer will contribute to an ongoing initiative to improve and monitor coral reef health off the southern coast of the Isle of Youth in Cuba. Volunteers will conduct work in the following areas based on the community’s needs:

  •  Coral reef monitoring
  •  Coral gardening
  •  Fish surveying
  •  Seagrass surveying
  • Lionfish monitoring and capture

Volunteers will snorkel to conduct this work, except for Coral Gardening and Lionfish Monitoring, which require volunteers to scuba dive. Data collected will help support the environmental planning of the protected area.

Sea Turtle Monitoring

The sea turtle nesting monitoring project is located at El Guanal Beach, on the southern coast of the Isle of Youth. The beach is remote, located in a protected area, and is mainly visited by Green and Loggerhead sea turtles. As a volunteer, you will walk the beach and collect data on the nesting turtles, nests, and eggs, and contribute to a recently started local sea turtle conservation initiative.

This is possible to join during turtle nesting season, so from May through October. You would be working 6 hours every night (10pm-4am)

Coastal Habitat Restoration

Coast of Cocodrilo in Cuba

The Coastal Habitat Restoration Volunteer will support a recently started local habitat restoration initiative that focuses on beaches important for nesting sea turtles. Volunteers will remove invasive plant species, plant native species, analyse coastal plant community, and remove trash from the beaches near Cocodrilo. The duties of this position supplement the Sea Turtle Monitoring project. You will also be working 6 hours every day (7am-1pm). 


Volunteer Requirements

As a volunteer on our Marine Conservation project in Cuba, you need to be able to speak intermediate level of Spanish. Certain tasks with the Coral Reef Restoration project requires volunteers to be certified in scuba diving. If the volunteer is not certified, you will still be able to assist with other tasks on the project that will be done snorkeling. You need to have the ability to work independently as well as in a team. Physically able to work outdoors with potentially high sun and temperature exposure, and to walk long distances on the beach. 

Dates & Costs

Coral restoration in Cuba

Volunteers can join for 1 to 4 weeks to stay and help out with a local marine conservation project throughout the year. The Sea Turtle Monitoring project is only available during turtle nesting season, which is from May through October.

25th March to 8th April 2018 - Fully Booked
8th April to 15th April 2018
15th April to 29th April 2018
29th April to 6th May 2018
6th May to 13th May 2018 - Fully Booked
13th May to 20th May 2018
20th May to 3rd June 2018
3rd June to 17th June 2018
17th June to 1st July 2018
1st July to 15th July 2018
15th July to 29th July 2018
29th July to 12th August 2018 - Fully Booked 

12th August to 26th August 2018
26th August to 9th September 2018
9th September to 23rd September 2018
23rd September to 7th October 2018
7th October to 21st October 2018
21st October to 4th November 2018
4th November to 18th November 2018
18th November to 2nd December 2018
2nd December to 16th December 2018

The above dates are just a guideline, and you are welcome to join for 1 week up to 4 weeks in duration throughout the year. Volunteers should arrive on a Sunday and leave on a Sunday. Select the later flight on the Sunday, so you travel for departure (La Habana to Nueva Gerona) in the afternoon or evening. For return (Nueva Gerona to La Habana), select the earlier flight (should be in the early or late morning). It will not be possible to arrive/leave on other days of the week. 

The price for 1 week is £830, 2 weeks is £1340, 3 weeks is £1765 and 4 weeks is £2100. The costs include shared accommodation in volunteer house, food (3 meals a day), airport pick up and drop off in Nueva Gerona, training and supervision, in-country and pre-departure support. 

The costs don't include flights (international or domestic), travel and health insurance, visa or any personal expenses. You are required to possess appropriate travel health insurance which will cover you throughout the duration of your time abroad and includes medical evacuation. You should also acquire insurance for extreme sports, if you plan to take on activities such as scuba diving.

Lodging, Food and Travel

Volunteer House in Cocodrilo

Housing is provided for all programme participants and will consist of shared living in the volunteer house. The house has 2 bedrooms, where participants will share a bathroom, but volunteers will have a private room as long as availability permits. Maximum 3 people can stay in each bedroom. Currently, the Cuban government only allows 2 volunteers at a time in Cocodrilo and thus we cannot accept more than this till this might change again.  

Staff will do laundry up to two times per week and provide three meals a day – cooked in-house by a private chef. Vegetarian and vegan options are available.

The villa is a very short walk from the ocean and town center. Cocodrilo is a small town, safe, and everyone is very friendly. This is the perfect opportunity for volunteers to immerse themselves in the culture.

The Volunteer Villa in Cocodrilo has a Cuban cellphone that you can use to receive international calls and make calls within Cuba while you are in Cocodrilo. Because there is no internet or wifi, this will be the way you communicate with your family and friends.

Visa to Cuba

Cuba requires all visitors to enter with a tourist visa, also called tourist card. Tourist visas must be purchased at the airline counter when you check in for your flight, as you will be required to have a tourist visa to board the plane. Prices of visas will vary depending on airline. Tourist visas are only valid for 30 days, so make sure your trip is less than 30 days. Please contact your airline/travel agency about the visa process, as some might also be providing your tourist visa upon buying your ticket online. The visa process might also change without notice, and thus please confirm how to obtain your tourist visa with the relevant Consulate or Embassy. 

Volunteers having breakfast at house

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your expected departure date from Cuba. You are required to possess appropriate travel health insurance which will cover you throughout the duration of your time abroad and includes medical evacuation. You should also acquire insurance for extreme sports, if you plan to take on activities such as scuba diving.

Travelling to Cocodrilo

We recommend buying a round trip flight to Havana from your home country. To purchase tickets for the Isle of Youth, search for a round trip flight from Havana (La Habana) to Nueva Gerona for your desired dates.

Make sure to consider the timing of your flights in order to ensure you can make your connections. You must be at the domestic terminal three hours before the flight to Nueva Gerona is scheduled to depart. If it is not possible to arrive to Havana from your home country at least 5 hours before the flight to Nueva Gerona, then we recommend you stay in Havana the night before the flight to Nueva Gerona to ensure you can make the connection.

Upon arrival to Nueva Gerona, you will enter the small airport and pick up your bags at the carousel. When you exit the airport, a representative will be waiting for you with a taxi. From the airport, we will take you to the immigration office in Nueva Gerona. There, the representative will pick up the travel permission you need to enter Cocodrilo. After visiting the immigration office, the 2.5-hour journey to Cocodrilo begins.

In case your flight arrives late in Nueva Gerona, you will be taken to the volunteer housing in Nueva Gerona, where you will spend the night. The journey to Cocodrilo will then be the next day. 

Medical information

Dengue fever does occur in Cuba. To best protect yourself from risk, avoid being bit by mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk. Please contact your GP for any further vaccination advice and recommendations.

Map & Background


Cuba is an archipelago made up of over 4,000 islets. Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean and has a population of about 11 million people. Cuba hosts many endemic species and is well known for its strong system of natural protected areas.

Isle of Youth 

The Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud) is the largest island of Cuba after Cuba proper. The population is around 100,000 with the largest city and capital being Nueva Gerona in the north. The "Isla de la juventud" is one of the most colourful places of the Caribbean, as much by its related legend to privateers and pirates like by its natural wealth that surrounds it.


The climate is tropical, with the dried season being November to April and the rainier season being May to October. June is the hottest month with an average temperature of 27°C and the coldest month is January at 21°C. Average rainfall for Havana is lowest in February (10 mm) and highest in June (80 mm).

How to Join the Project

Volunteers diving in Cuba

To secure a placement and volunteer in Cuba, please complete and submit the form with your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However for those who are accepted, you will be required to pay 25% of the balance within the first 14 days, and the final balance 2 months before arrival. Once we have confirmed your place, you will receive an information package on the programme, suggested items to bring, how to travel there etc.

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