View down a stretch of white-sand beach in Utila, Honduras.

Beachfront in Utila, Honduras. Bartlomiej Kwieciszewski/123rf.

Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) is involved with a number of conservation activities on Utila and the surrounding waters, including scientific research, management of protected areas, sea turtle conservation, lionfish eradication, and environmental education. The range of activities for volunteers can vary, although it can generally be divided into two types: research and education.

Applicants must be at least age 21 and an undergraduate- or graduate-level student.Research volunteers can be active in managing the office, patrolling and monitoring reefs, managing the dive site database, organizing ecotours on foot or by boat, developing communication materials, or working in BICA’s Information Center providing information to tourists on Utila environment and tourist attractions. Education volunteers participate in environmental education in local schools; work on organizing field trips, community workshops, and beach and underwater cleanups; and can be active in reforestation efforts and fish house construction.

While those studying toward or with a degree in environment, biology, or ecotourism are especially welcome, all that is required is an interest in nature and a flexible attitude. Volunteers are welcome to work on related personal projects while working with BICA.

There is a large and eclectic group of international expats on Utila, resulting in plenty of restaurants and a lively nightlife. Volunteers can snorkel or scuba dive in their free time, or study Spanish (English is the native tongue for many Utilians, but Spanish lessons are available).

Map of The Bay Islands, Honduras

The Bay Islands

Bay Islands Conservation Association

Utila, Honduras
tel. 504/2425-3260

Application Process: To apply, send an email and include the reasons for your interest, your expectations and qualifications, any previous experience, and the intended duration of your stay. Applicants must be at least age 21 and an undergraduate- or graduate-level student.

Cost: US$350 per month, which includes accommodations and Internet access. Volunteers are responsible for their own meals.

Placement Length: The average placement length is 1-3 months.

Language Requirements: For research volunteers, Spanish is helpful but not crucial. For education volunteers, strong Spanish skills are necessary.

Housing: Accommodations are in a volunteer house, and rooms may be shared. Meals are not provided, but the dorm has a fully equipped kitchen.

Operating Since: 1991

Number of Volunteers: 53 in 2012

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.