Cuba Sea Turtle Volunteer Expedition

Spend 4 nights helping with a sea turtle conservation project at the incredible Guanahacabibes National Park, along Cuba’s western coast. Work side by side with Cuban biologists to study and protect nests of green and loggerhead sea turtles. During the day, explore the park’s forests, reefs, and caves. Profits from this trip will help to save at least 500 hatchlings at this turtle nesting beach per participant.

2017 Dates: July 9 - 16 (12 spots left) / Aug 5 - 12 (6 spots left)

Price: $2,750 per person double occupancy ($500 to register). $50 discount available for paying by check.

Includes: Bilingual guide, private transportation, accommodations, most meals (except as noted on itinerary), activities, and a donation to turtle conservation.

Excludes: Airfare, personal items, and tips for the guide/driver.

Notes

  • This trip is open to American citizens through a "People to People" license given by the US State Department to our partners. It's also open to citizens of other countries.
  • Minimum recommended age is 14 years old, under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult.
  • Group size is limited to 16 people maximum. 
  • Monthly payment plans can be arranged up until 3 months before trip departure.
  • Private tours and visits and short-term volunteer opportunities are not available at this time.
  • This trip can be done as a student field trip. Contact us here to inquire about dates and prices.
  • Single supplement is $380. (We can try to pair individuals with others of the same sex to avoid the fee.)

CONTACT US to:

  • Register by phone or mail
  • Ask a question
  • Request more information
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Register by phone at 800.215.0378


 
 

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE TO HAVANA

Arrive on the first day to Havana and we will have an airport pickup arranged depending on when the group arrives. Allow plenty of time to come through customs and pick up your baggage (this can take a long time in Cuba). The first night, the group will meet at the hotel for an orientation and dine together at one of Havana’s excellent paladars, a restaurant run by local residents in former residences. Overnight at Hotel Presidente, a beautiful hotel in downtown Havana. 

DAY 2: TO MARIA LA GORDA / GUANAHACABIBES

After breakfast, meet up with your guide for a presentation on Cuban ecology. Then board the private, air-conditioned bus to make the 5 hour drive to the Maria La Gorda resort, where you will be staying for the next 4 nights. 

Along the way, you’ll stop in the city of Pinar del Rio for lunch and view the beautiful countryside, one of the main tobacco growing regions of the country. After you arrive and settle in, you’ll have a buffet dinner and then an orientation meeting to learn about the work done on the beach. Rest up tonight for the long nights on the beach ahead. Overnight at Hotel Maria La Gorda (4 nights). 

DAYS 3 - 5: SEA TURTLE RESEARCH & GUANAHACABIBES EXPLORATION

On the first day, we will have a group birding activity in the park after breakfast. The park has some extraordinary birds that can be seen including the bee hummingbird (the world’s smallest bird), the pygy owl, the Cuban trogon, and more. 

That afternoon and the rest of the week, you can sign up for snorkeling or diving excursions into the park’s coral reefs (costs not included). There are generally 2 snorkeling and 3 diving options per day or you can choose to snorkel right from the beach in front of the hotel.

Each evening, the group will go to the nesting beach to look for nesting turtles (45 min - 1 hour drive each way). Once you find a turtle, you will help local staff collect data including measuring, tagging, and marking the nests. If there are hatchlings, you can also help collect data and release them to the water (more likely during the August trip).

DAY 6: RETURN TO HAVANA

After breakfast, we will board the bus to return to Havana, where we will have lunch. Take some free time to relax or explore the city and then attend a private concert by one of Cuba’s best bands, Mezcla. Enjoy dinner on the town (dinner not included to allow for flexibility of choice). Overnight with at a homestay with a local family (2 nights). 

DAY 7: HAVANA EXPLORATION

Today, you’ll explore one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Attend a presentation by an architecture expert and then take a walking tour of Old Havana to see the restored squares and churches. 

After lunch, you’ll have free time to visit one of Havana’s great museums and then dinner at La Casa, a fabulous third generation paladar. Then head to one of Havana’s most famous jazz clubs for a concert and drinks or visit the Art Factory, a unique art museum/night club with live performances. 

DAY 8: DEPARTURE

Head to the airport in plenty of time for your flight (we recommend at least 3 hours as the process sometimes takes longer than most airports). Or extend your stay and explore other parts of the country.

Is This Trip Right For Me?

Cuba is a unique destination, which has both positives and negatives. This trip includes mid-level hotels and private family homestays, which offers a personal view of life for Cubans. The quality of each home varies but all include simple breakfast and the homes are safe and include private rooms, most with private bathrooms, in a safe neighborhood of Havana. This trip includes much time spent time outside, which means some activities are dependent on weather and there can be significant bugs in this area. The trip also involves a lot of time on the private bus, including a 5 hour drive each way to Guanahacabibes and about an hour each way from the resort to the nesting beach each evening, which results in late nights (arriving back to the resort as late as 2 am some nights). 

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Photo credits: Brad Nahill/SEE Turtles, Julia Azanza