The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest reef system in the world, and home to a wide variety of plants and animals, making it one of the best spots in the world for scuba diving! On this service program, we will partner with a leading NGO/Nonprofit marine conservation organization on a private island. Help protect the Belize Barrier Reef and if you aren’t already scuba certified, earn your scuba diving certification at the same time!* We will also participate in research projects with professional marine biologists to learn about threats to the reef and ways to protect it before diving (literally!) into hands-on volunteer projects to help with the conservation mission.
Throughout your time on this tiny island, you will have a huge impact! Help remove invasive lionfish, assist with marine health checks, and play a part in coral reef restoration. Monitor whale sharks and participate in pollution cleanups. There is no end to the ways you can help.
While giving back to the local community and underwater world enjoy the peacefulness of relaxing on your very own private island away from it all! Grab a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy the turquoise water or simply relax on a hammock and enjoy the fresh island breeze. This program is truly the opportunity to unplug while volunteering for a meaningful cause.
This program is perfect for teens interested in marine conservation and exploring the spectacular world of scuba diving while meeting like-minded peers.
This program is outdoors on a private island where our group will not interact with anyone outside of the island. This allows us to easily remain in a “pod” and keep our travelers safe while socially distancing from other people.
*Divers who are already certified will be able to jump right into diving and volunteer work during the time other participants are earning their certification.
During this program, you will…
- Earn up to 20 hours of service with a leading NGO/Nonprofit focused on marine conservation
- Earn your PADI Scuba Certification on a private island*
- Learn to safely help eradicate invasive lionfish
- Survey coral reefs and complete marine wildlife surveys
- Enjoy some of the best scuba diving in the world
- Spot a variety of marine life, including colorful reef fish, whale sharks, manta rays, and more!
- Go on a night dive to discover how the ocean transforms when the sun goes down
- Monitor whale sharks with marine biologists
- Kayak and paddleboard in turquoise waters
*PADI certification is optional. Certified divers will jump right into volunteer projects
DAY 1: Arrive in Belize
After flying into Belize City, hop over with your Travel For Teens group on a short flight to the tiny region of Placencia where your island home is waiting just off the coast!
DAYS 2-6: OUR OWN PRIVATE ISLAND
We’ll head to the port and cruise over to our very own private island home for the next week. Meet the team for this marine conservation organization and take a tour of the island.
Those who are not scuba certified will jump right into earning their PADI Certification, while certified divers will be able to dive right into assisting the marine biologists with the volunteer projects. Each day will be filled with presentations and thoughtful group discussions with professionals on a variety of subjects including invasive lionfish mitigation strategies, plastic pollution in the ocean, and monitoring whale sharks.
One of the main projects over the course of the week will be controlling invasive lionfish populations. Lionfish lack natural predators and are harmful to native fish and coral reefs. They are able to reproduce quickly and are rapidly creating an issue for marine habitats. Learn to safely spearfish lionfish, then assist the island’s marine biologists with dissecting to collect important data to monitor this species.
Participants will also learn coral reef and fish identification skills and how to monitor whale sharks and other fascinating species. Each day will include several dives during the day and you will have the opportunity for a night dive when the ocean transforms into a completely different and fascinating world.
In addition to the marine conservation work you and your fellow travelers will enjoy fun group activities and games, movie nights, and relaxing by the ocean.
DAY 7: RETURN HOME
After experiencing some of the best diving in the world, volunteering with an important marine conservation project, and bonding with your fellow travelers it’s time to say goodbye to paradise. The memories and friendships you made will last a lifetime!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do.
Eat, stay, and travel like a local. Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
"For my graduation present last year, I was grateful enough to travel to Italy with TFT! I was a bit nervous about traveling across the world without knowing anyone beforehand, but the staff and my peers were all so friendly and welcoming! Everything about this trip was so FUN, exciting, and very well organized. From the airport designations to the travel itinerary, everything was smooth sailing. There was always something new for us to do/see which was my favorite part of the trip. Although relaxing, it was fulfilling to be kept busy with a new culture to explore. I highly recommend not only the Amalfi trip, but any trip with TFT! They are an extremely trust worthy company and my parents were confident that I was being left in good hands. This trip was hands down one of the best trips I have been on and am excited to be traveling with TFT again soon!"
"I went on the Costa Rica Adrenaline trip this past summer and it was amazing! I have never gone on a trip by myself before and I was very nervous. But after meeting with everyone at the airport, I knew that I made the right choice booking the trip! The staff were so helpful and very resourceful throughout the trip, and everyone in my group were super nice and welcoming! I really enjoyed the adventures we did, such as: tubing, ziplining, snorkeling, and canyoning! But one of the best memories I had was being able to surf for the very first time!! It was so surreal and an incredible feeling! I was said to say goodbye on our last night, but I still stay in contact with some of the friends I made to this day! I would totally recommend this trip to anyone who loves adventure!!"
"I had been wanting to go to Japan for years prior and getting the chance to go and be fully immersed was amazing! We got to walk through a national forest and see a beautiful waterfall that I wouldn't have even thought to do. We also went to the Studio Ghibli Museum and got to experience city life but also get out of the crowds and go to towns farther out. I got pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn't have allowed myself to do if I decided to go to Japan by myself on my own terms. I would go back on this trip in a heartbeat. It was so much fun and I got to meet such amazing people. Truly is something that you should do if given the chance."
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 9th to 12th grades and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Do I need to be scuba certified?
No! If you are not certified you will receive course work to complete before joining the program, and finish your certification directly on the island. Instead of learning to dive in a pool, you will learn to dive directly in the warm Caribbean sea!
What if I am already scuba certified?
Great! If you already have your certification you will be able to dive right into our volunteer projects. As soon as our non-certified divers have their certification (by day two on the island) they will be able to dive right in with you!
Where do we stay?
For this program, we stay isolated on a tiny private island off the coast of Belize. Accommodations on the island are clean, safe, and comfortable.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
Students love that they are able to have a hands-on volunteer experience that makes a huge difference! They also love that the island nature of the program allows for close group bonding where everyone gets to know each other and they leave the trip feeling like family.
What is unique about this program?
Where else can you go spend the week on your very own private island giving back to a great cause with a small group of like-minded peers?! Travelers love the adventurous nature of this program that allows them to volunteer with the local community
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
Travelers will also need to provide their own wetsuit, mask, and booties.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! All of your meals will be cooked by the island’s chefs and highlight Belizian culture using fresh ingredients and local flavors.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
All US citizens that enter Costa Rica are automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!