I am a complete beginner and have never dived before. Is this ok?
Our volunteer trips are for both non-experienced and experienced divers. Not certified? No worries, many of our volunteers come to the island to learn to dive. Looking to further your dive credentials? Many of our volunteers come to our island to further their diving certification status. Regardless of your diving level, our island is a wonderful place to learn with calm, clear waters and little current. We swap the cold swimming pool for the Caribbean Sea and the classroom for a hammock under a palm tree! Please be aware that if you are doing your PADI Open Water Course Certification, there is a limited amount of conservation work included during your first week. If you want to get more involved with our conservation programs, we suggest you book a minimum of two weeks if getting your PADI Open Water Certification with us. To learn more about our dive courses and the PADI certification process on the island click here.
What dive equipment do I need?
You must bring your own dive mask, booties, fins, and wetsuit. These items are size specific to each individual -especially wetsuits, fins and booties for your feet. We do not provide dive computers since almost all of our volunteering dives and conservation efforts are at depths less than 18m/60ft. However, a dive computer is mandatory for any diver that wants to dive deeper than 18m/60ft or for those taking the PADI Advanced Open Water certification course with us. There are no reliable places in Placencia, Belize to buy or rent these items; therefore, it’s important you have them prior to your trip departure.
We provide the rest of your dive gear – BCD’s, tanks, regulators, and weights for a $25 USD per week dive gear rental fee. You are welcome to bring your own dive gear if you prefer. Anyone wishing to participate in our optional night dives MUST bring their own dive light/torch. Please note that in order to participate in night dives one must be a certified Advanced Open Water diver.
Do I need a visa to visit Belize?
Belize was formally British Honduras and gained independence in 1981. Therefore, for British, Canadian, and USA passports there are no special visa requirements for trips up to 1 month. If you plan to stay for longer, passports can be extended locally. Visa extensions cost $25 USD (about £15) per month.
Please double check here to confirm if you need a visa if from a country that is not the UK, Canada, or the USA.
When do I need to arrive in Placencia, Belize?
Our conservation dive trips are Monday thru Friday – we depart for our island at 9:30am on Monday from Placencia, Belize and return to the mainland (Placencia) on Friday anywhere from 11am-1pm. So you will need to schedule your arrival and departure in and out of Placencia, Belize either on a Saturday or Sunday.
Do I need any special vaccinations or medication?
There are currently no vaccination requirements for Belize. However, it is a good idea to be up to date on diphtheria, typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus, polio, cholera, and rabies before you leave home. It is recommended that you discuss your trip with your doctor and get advice prior to departure. Some doctors recommend malaria tablets if you are planning to visit the jungle. Please check with your own doctor for malaria recommendations.
I am traveling on my own, is it safe to travel in Belize?
Belizeans are very friendly towards tourists and harassment/crime is not an issue. We have had countless solo travelers through the years (many as young as 16) and have never had an issue! In addition, we always have one support staff member on call that live in Placencia if there is ever an issue with one of our volunteers. Placencia and the country as a whole relies on tourists. Tourism is the lifeblood of their economy; therefore, they have created an extremely safe environment for tourism to thrive! If I had to describe Placencia in a word – friendly!
Is there an ATM or bank in Placencia, Belize?
Belize uses the Belizean Dollar which is 2 to 1 with the US dollar; however, US dollars are widely accepted. If bringing US dollars, try to bring smaller notes as most shops/restaurants will struggle to change larger notes. There are 3 banks in Placencia where you can access funds via debit or credit card. The banks have international ATM’s and can give cash advances on switch, delta or credit card. Therefore, it is not necessary to bring lots of cash with you.
How much money do I need to bring with me?
Your spending money requirements will depend on how often you plan to go out socializing and what extra trips you plan to take at the weekends. Organized tours normally cost around $100 USD for a full day, or $ 60 USD for a half day, all inclusive. Once on the island during the week you don’t have to pay for much. We run an honesty system for beers, wine, and rum drinks and internet is included. A Marine Park fee of $25 USD per week is payable to Belize Fisheries Department for the maintenance and up keep of the Marine Park. This is all payable in cash in country at the end of your week. At weekends meals are not included. If you eat out, prices vary depending on the restaurant you choose. Belizean places are much cheaper than those serving international food. A typical international meal costs circa $50-100 BZD ($25-50 USD) and a typical Belizean meal can be as little as $20-20 BZD ($10-20 USD). Beers are circa $4-8 BZD ($2-4 USD). A rum and coke is about the same.
What is the weather like in Belize?
The weather is one of Belize’s many charms, with an average yearly temperature of 84F/ 29C. We are in the tropics so it does rain regularly but more often than not it is at night which cools things down to make it much more comfortable for sleeping. During the winter months, it is worth bringing a jumper or sweater for the evenings. The water temperature is consistently around 80F/26F so a 3mm wetsuit is perfect.
Are you open all year and when is the best time of year to come?
We operate year-round except for the month of September when we close for staff holiday and island improvements and maintenance. Our official whale shark season is March-June; however, we often see them throughout the year. This is our busiest time of year so book early to avoid disappointment! Christmas and New Years are also lots of fun. Imagine diving on Christmas day from a beautiful remote Caribbean island!
I will be traveling on my own and worried that I will be the only one. Who usually comes on your trips?
We attract a large number of single travelers so don’t worry, you won’t be alone! Approximately 65% of all our volunteers are single travelers, so there will be plenty of opportunity to meet new people. However, the ratio of single to non-single travelers will vary from week to week. In addition, we don’t charge a single supplement, which makes us very popular with individual travelers.
We attract a huge cross section of demographics and have had guests as young as 3 and as old as 82. You will find that people coming on this type of vacation/holiday all have a shared passion for ocean conservation and diving, which makes for great group dynamics.
I am a bit of a fussy eater, is this a problem?
All dietary requirements are catered for (food allergies, vegan, vegetarian, no seafood, dairy, tree nuts etc). No worries – we have vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten free eaters, diabetics, and nut allergy volunteers that come to the island every year. Our chef is quite accustomed to meeting the needs of our volunteers. Don’t worry, we will make sure your dietary needs are met : ) However, it is always a good idea to bring special food and snacks that you like. Please be sure to indicate your specific dietary allergies/restrictions, or diet preferences in the section “Any dietary restrictions?” when you register for a trip at checkout on the website.
I am interested in pursuing Marine Biology/Conservation as a career, will this help me?
Absolutely! ReefCI is a fantastic way to experience real world conservation efforts, while having great fun! You will get hands-on experience for marine conservation work and gain real world insight on what it is like to actually work in the field of marine conservation. You can even shadow our two Marine Biologists while with us and soak up as much from them as possible. It would be a great learning experience for you and help inform you on your possible career choices.
Is there internet or cell service on the island?
We have no internet or cell phone service on the island. The location of our island is very remote and far from the mainland of Belize to receive a cell signal or internet service. We do have a satellite phone but it is only used by staff for emergency situations. There is no WIFI in nature, but I promise you will find a better connection. Relax, unplug, breathe deep, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the ocean.
It has been a few years since I have been diving, I may be a little rusty, is this ok?
We appreciate that not everyone can dive regularly like us at ReefCI. Feel free to share any concerns you have with the team when you arrive and they will give you a refresher or take you on a shallower, maybe shore dive to start with to help regain your confidence. Most of our guests are excited about getting in the water but are a little nervous having not dived for a while. The ReefCI team are here to help you every step of the way, and don’t worry, it will all come back to you pretty quickly!
I love diving but I am worried that 2-3 dives a day might be too much for me, is this a problem?
Our volunteers can choose how much they wish to get involved. Some people want to do as much conservation diving and learning as possible, while others wish to combine the conservation dives with relaxation and fun dives. All dives are voluntary so you can choose to relax in our hammocks with a good book, fish from the island, or do a bit of sea kayaking/stand up paddle boarding or immerse yourself in conservation volunteering. The choice is yours!
I am not a scientist but I am passionate about diving and conservation. Will I still be able to make a significant contribution?
Our trips are designed for people just like you! The research methodologies we teach are very simple and straight forward and you can learn all you need to know to help us collect our data in the training session prior to the dive. We try to give the general diver a unique opportunity to learn about and help conserve the marine environment while having a fun vacation/holiday. Our trips are for both experienced and non-experienced divers, scientists and non-scientists alike, everyone makes a contribution regardless of their background and experience.
What can I do before my trip to enhance my conservation experience?
ReefCI uses the “Paul Humann Reef Fish, Reef Coral and Reef Creatures” identification books. These are great informative books that you may wish to purchase as reference books prior to your ReefCI trip. They are big heavy books so we don’t expect you to bring them with you, unless you have space, we have copies on the island for use during your stay. It always helps if you can familiarize yourselves with the different fish groups.
Do I need any special insurance or will my standard policy cover me?
You do not need to have specific dive insurance or travel insurance but it is highly recommended. Most travel insurance policies include diving insurance. Moreover, most travel insurance policies will include dive insurance up to 30 meters (98 feet) which will cover you at ReefCI. If you would like to get only diving insurance, I highly recommend Divers Alert Network – DAN. Dive insurance is for your medical safety and possible costly medical bills and travel insurance will hurricane proof your visit. Divers insurance covers dive accidents including decompression illness, accidental death and dismemberment, permanent and total disability and the medical costs associated with these types of accidents. I recommend it, but some come without it and some never leave home without it. It is your personal call. In my opinion, whenever going to anywhere in the Caribbean always have travel and dive insurance. This is the best way to protect a trip against hurricanes and other acts of nature and dive accidents.
If you cancel your trip, payment is non-refundable. Paid trips or deposits can be rescheduled or transferred into another’s name. ReefCI will try to reschedule trips to a future date within a 12 month period, subject to availability. If ReefCI cancels the trip 100% of the payment will be refunded; EXCEPT in cases of natural disaster and force majeure (hurricanes, tropical storms, etc…). Should diving or island transfers not take place due to force majeure, natural disaster, or unforeseeable circumstances including rough sea conditions, monies will not be refunded. ReefCI highly recommends travel insurance that covers such events as they will affect our operations from time to time. If a person does not complete their certification course there will be no refund for the course or the difference of diver/non-diver rate.