Volunteering with us not only allows you to participate in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established during the program.
Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with us. Our Yucatan field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Mexico!
Optional Side Trips
As a large and vibrant country, Mexico can seem daunting at first, but here are a few ideas to get you going in the Yucatan Peninsula on your weekends off.
In this region you are spoilt for choice in the number of opportunities to try out different dive sites away from the expedition. Dive or snorkel within the unique cenotes (the underwater river systems); dive Cozumel, where the wall dives along the island have been voted as part of the world’s best top ten diving locations; or, for a full weekend, try Isla Holbox, a small island off the north of the peninsula. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place, great for a quiet weekend away. Whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) migrate up near the island from June to September and snorkelling alongside them while they filter feed is a truly breathtaking experience!
Alternatively, if you are looking for a break from the water, make your way to Río Lagartos where flamingos flock and river crocodiles abound; visit Bacalar - known as the lake of seven colours due to the various shades of blue; or visit prime breeding areas for the hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and green turtle (May to October).
Immerse yourself in the surviving Mayan culture of the area and visit remote and untouched Mayan archaeological sites, such as the famous and easily accessible sites of Tulum and Coba, or visit the beautiful and majestic Mayan ruins of Palenque in the Chiapas region. And finally, the colonial city of Mérida is the peninsula’s cultural capital and the local artisans of Izamal will be sure to offer you some souvenirs of your trip.
The facilities at our accommodation are more basic than you are accustomed to - please travel with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to local conditions. Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) dorm rooms with shared bathroom facilities. There is bottled water available for cooking and drinking only. Cold water is used for showering and flush toilet facilities. Participants share base duties including cooking, cleaning and other chores. You need to bring your own mosquito net and bedding, for example a thin sleeping bag liner.
If you need additional nights before or after your project, you need to book these separately. Just ask your travel advisor for help!
Most volunteers arrange their flights to arrive at Cancun International Airport the day before the program starts. You can request to be picked up from the airport, but please note that the pick-up service is only available if your flight arrives between 08:00 and 20:00 the day before the start date of the program (Friday). Make sure to send the correct flight arrival and accommodation details to us (the night's accommodation must be booked separately at extra cost). The airport transfer is not booked until you receive a confirmation from us.
Alternatively you can make your own way to the meeting point on the program start date (Saturday). The meeting time is in the morning at 10:00 at Hotel Posada del Amor in Puerto Morelos.
At the end of your program we will arrange for you to be transferred to Puerto Morelos town centre. From here you can make your own way to Cancun Airport or travel further if you wish to explore Mexico a little more. We recommend you do not book a flight out of Cancun until at least 18:00. Please also remember that you need to wait 24 hours between your last dive and flying.
Meals while on project are included. Volunteers prepare their own breakfast. During work days lunch and dinner are prepared by a local cook, on weekends participants cook their own meals. Food is a very basic, mostly a vegetarian diet with meat available about once a week. Breakfast is usually porridge, fruit or cereal, lunch is beans, vegetables, pasta and sauce etc. and a typical evening meal includes lentils, pasta, beans, rice and vegetables. Local restaurants are also an option at your own cost during weekends.
Dive Equipment Rental
If you are renting dive equipment locally, pick it up before meeting the team at the pick-up point on Saturday (project start date) and transferring to the project.
You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program. Internet is not available on base, but you will be able to reach a store with WiFi within 10 minutes by foot. Please advise family and friends that they may not hear from you on a weekly basis. Mobile/cell phone reception is limited on base. Reception is more reliable in the town of Tulum.