At a glance
- Embrace living next to the ocean and desert as you help protect critical coastal resources along the Gulf of California.
- Participate in a range of conservation activities, including collecting scientific data during dives, planting mangroves, and monitoring marine animal populations through surveys.
- Work with and learn directly from expert conservationists to increase your knowledge and level of field experience.
- Live in a guesthouse with other volunteers equally passionate about saving the environment.
- Diving course included in the price
16 or over
Is marine conservation work abroad right for me?
Our marine conservation projects abroad in Mexico are incredibly versatile in that they meet the needs of different people. If you are:
- a student of Biology, Biodiversity Studies, or Marine Studies looking for a marine conservation internship abroad that offers practical field experience,
- a student with a strong or casual interest in working with animals outdoors during summer break,
- a working professional interested in doing more than just relaxing at a Cancun resort on their next vacation,
then this project can work for you!
You’ll live and work in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, surrounded by people who share the same sense of passion for protecting threatened wildlife and the environment. The activities we offer are hands-on, so you’ll always be involved in something. This could be participating in a survey during a dive, or getting your hands plastered in mud planting mangroves. You’ll constantly be learning from our staff, who’ll show you why coastal areas are an important focus of conservation efforts in a real-world context.
If you’re joining this project as a student in a related field with experience under your belt, you’ll build your knowledge and add relevant field work to your resume. We can facilitate marine conservation internships tailored to meet your school’s requirements, you just need to discuss this with us when you apply.
Joining us with no previous experience? Don’t worry! This is an educational experience as well as an adventure, and we’ll teach you everything you need to know to do the work. If you’re unable to dive, there are plenty of land-based and other marine activities to get involved with. And no matter your level of experience, our staff will be available 24/7 to assist you when you need help or guidance.
Our marine conservation volunteer abroad program in Mexico runs year-round, so you can join whenever it fits your schedule. The minimum duration is one week.
You’ll find it useful to speak some Spanish, but it’s not required as our staff speak English. You can also use this project as an opportunity to learn Spanish or practice your conversational skills!
Here is a breakdown of the work you will do:
Learn to Dive and Participate in Underwater Surveys
You’ll be taught to dive in a pool. By the end of your first week in Mexico, you’ll obtain your Open Water Diver certification (or the next level of training, if you’re already qualified to dive in open water). Once you have your certification, you’ll be able to participate in underwater activities, like identifying the marine species you’ll encounter. Our underwater activities are based along the coast surrounding the city of La Paz and the Espiritu Santo Island.
Collect Data and Observe and Monitor Marine Species
A critical part of this project is collecting scientific data. This data is used to support studies done by local universities. The methodology varies from project to project, for example, how you identify fish underwater may be significantly different to how you observe and monitor coastal birds on land. You’ll be exposed to multiple scientific methods, which will greatly expand your research skills.
Planting mangroves is critical for coastal conservation, so you can expect to spend lots of time elbow deep in mud! Mangroves are one of the most important ecosystems on any coastline, and they’re essential to supporting the conservation of marine life. They act as nurseries for many different fish species and help reduce harmful carbon emissions.
You’ll help care for mangrove seedlings in a nursery, and replant them in sites along the coast.
Where in Mexico will I work?
Our Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Mexico is located in Baja California Sur, a state in northwest Mexico, in the La Paz region. You’ll work in areas in and around Espiritu Santo Island, a protected area, and live at a local guesthouse.
When you’re not working, you can explore La Paz, the state capital, or several nearby towns, including tourist hotspot Cabo. Whatever you choose to do in your free time, there are plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities and stunning beaches to discover. You could even visit Bahía Magdalena where Grey whales come to give birth (seasonal December - March). Make the most of your chance to experience authentic Mexican culture!
What is a typical day like?
In Mexico, you’ll work Monday through Friday, for around six hours a day in the mornings and afternoons. You’ll have weekends free for yourself.
Wondering what a typical week would look like? It could go a little like this:
Monday: An early departure to the dive site where you will take part in a couple of surveys for environmental impact signs. This will typically involve diving for 2 to 3 hours*.
*If you don’t have a diving certification or experience, we’ll make sure you get this training before you do a proper dive. A dive certification is included in the price of the project!
Tuesday: Take part in a fish identification workshop in the morning and a snorkelling survey in shallow waters in the afternoon.
Wednesday: Attend a morning workshop to learn how to identify birds living in coastal areas, and do field practice in the afternoon.
Thursday: Join a workshop where we teach you how to identify the fish you’ll see during dives. In the afternoon, you’ll help monitor species in Isla Espirtu Santo and go diving.
Friday: Take a field trip to places outside the bay of La Paz. Take part in snorkelling dives to learn about the impact on coral and species in the different areas of the bay.
These activities could change depending on various factors, like the weather. Most activities are available during the summer months, but we also have some winter-specific activities such as monitoring land birds.
In a typical week you'll take part in 4 water-based survey activities - 2 diving and 2 snorkelling.
What is the goal of marine conservation work in Mexico?
The main goal of this project is to protect the threatened natural resources of Baja California. We also aim to counteract the encroachment of human expansion and its effects on the surrounding environment.
In Baja California, there are several urgent issues affecting the environment, namely:
- Environmental changes due to global warming (like harmful algae blooms)
The work you do - whether it’s planting mangroves or collecting valuable data on marine populations - contributes directly to mitigating the impact of these problems. We also share the data we collect with local universities, to support studies and research efforts.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
There are so many adventures to be had in Baja California. Naturally, most of these are water-based. From boat trips to snorkel tours, your leisure time will never have a dull moment.
If you’re looking for culture, the nearby towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José are well worth a visit. You can check out the museums and eat in authentic local restaurants.
In autumn and winter, you can travel to the desert for hikes with the most breathtaking views. In summer, your best bet is to jump on a boat to Espiritu Santo Island. Here, you can relax on pristine beaches, snorkel in crystal clear water, or learn to scuba dive.
For more diving and snorkelling opportunities, visit Cabo Pulmo. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a protected National Marine Park. With the only hard coral reef in the Gulf of California, it’s a haven for over 800 different species of marine life
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.