Volunteer vacations continue to increase in popularity, as surveys show young adults and teens have great interest in voluntourism. And it’s easy to see why.
After all, not only is volunteering abroad a meaningful way to spend your time off: you can have a blast, too! Especially if you go to a destination near cozy sand or epic mountains.
As an article in the New York Times notes, your charitable getaway will be even more spectacular if you choose a bucket-list destination. The key to ensuring the trip to your dream location is magical then depends on choosing a cause that matters to you, working with a reputable volunteer abroad organization, and making sure everything aligns with your budget and preferences for accommodation, work hours, and project structure.
To simplify the task of finding a volunteer or teach abroad program near a beach or mountain (there are lots of programs and beaches and mountains out there), we’ve compiled this list of excellent organizations and programs. So, start your research below!
Types Of Beach And Mountain Volunteer Activities
When you volunteer, teach, or intern abroad in an exciting destination, like a beach town or mountain village, you have ample ways to do some good. Program types include:
Community development: Raise awareness about a public health issue, teach skills training workshops, build houses overseas, implement sustainable farming practices, and more. Community development volunteer abroad programs are common in both mountain and beach areas. For those that want to volunteer in Bali, International Volunteer HQ has a great program in Ubud, Bali, which is in the cool mountains and still within a manageable day trip to beaches. You can assist with community construction and teach health and nutrition.
Wildlife preservation: This is a popular kind of volunteer abroad program for mountainous regions. For instance, Projects Abroad runs a conservation program in the Himalayas. Head to Nepal and engage in wildlife research and other activities to protect biodiversity.
Marine conservation: Join in on marine and coastal conservation efforts, from beach cleanups to marine life research. For example, Fronteering has a shark diving and conservation program near Cape Town, South Africa that’s quite popular.
Education and childcare: Whether you want to help out at a daycare or support women’s empowerment initiatives, you can find a suitable education or childcare program near a beach or mountain. For example, International Volunteer HQ has childcare, English teaching, and sports education projects in happening Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Enjoy the beach as you volunteer with children in need.
Country-hopping service trips: Many service organizations have great adventure travel experiences and volunteer vacations. You could go on a 10-week Central America Ethical Adventure, which allows you to see beaches, mountains, and cultural sites in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and other countries all in one trip (program is offered by Frontier).
So, no matter what you want to do, and whether you want to volunteer in the tropics or volunteer in the mountains, you can find a reputable program in the location of your choice. Below, you’ll find projects hosted by the best volunteer abroad organizations around the world. See what catches your eye—and get ready to go!
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An award-winning volunteer travel organization, Plan My Gap Year offers programs across 17 countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. PMGY’s programs focus on developing long-term, sustainable goals in education, healthcare, environmental conservation, community development, and other areas.
PMGY has great programs in locations near mountains and beaches. This way, you can make an impact while having enjoying splendid nature activities. Consider these options:
Head to Suva, the capital city of Fiji, with Plan My Gap Year. There, you can volunteer in one of two projects: childcare and English teaching. For both programs, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the Fijian community. As a childcare volunteer, you’ll provide much-needed support at community centers and schools that are under-resourced. As an English teaching volunteer, you’ll improve the English skills of students through games, activities, and natural conversation.
When you’re not volunteering, explore the beauty of Fiji. Trek through Colo-i-Suva Forest Reserve, hike Mount Tomanivi (Fiji’s highest peak), or simply chill on Fiji’s dreamy beaches. Already packing your bags? Start your adventure by applying here! Fees begin at $639 for two weeks.
Journey to the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, and assist in helping local people gain access to better healthcare services. You’ll work at a clinic and help with community health initiatives. Duties include observing and helping medical professionals with patient care, which can include taking vitals, giving vaccinations, and doing sugar tests. How hands on your role is depends on your experience.
Located in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco is a great volunteer destination for mountain lovers. During free time, you can go on a mountain biking excursion, join a hiking trip to Machu Picchu, and more. Does that seem like a fun time? Fees begin at $864 for four weeks. Learn more about the program here!
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel specializes in volunteer, teach, and intern abroad programs in Latin America. If you’re looking to make a big difference and have an immersive cultural experience, Maximo Nivel is a top choice if destinations like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru interest you. What’s also nice is that their programs are internationally accredited, so you can earn university credit (inquire with your school before going), and run locally, making for an impactful and immersive experience.
If you want to volunteer near mountains or beaches, these Maximo Nivel programs are worth checking:
Maximo Nivel offers a variety of volunteer projects in Costa Rica. If you hope to enjoy mountain scenery, cozy beaches, and nature activities during free time, consider their English teaching project in Quepos, a town on the Pacific coast. Quepos is known for its beach-lined rainforests and proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park, an unbelievably beautiful area where you can mountain bike, snorkel, surf, and more.
As an English teacher, you’ll work in underprivileged schools and communities, helping the youth and adults gain English language skills. You’ll play an important role in opening up opportunities for your students. Interested? Fees begin at $695 for one week. Apply here!
For this eco-agricultural program in Lake Atitlan, an area surrounded by volcanoes, you’ll help local coffee growers build sustainable coffee production operations. You’ll participate in every part of the process, from bean to cup. It’s a truly impactful program where you can not only help locals create a sustainable lifestyle and consistent income, but also contribute to conservation efforts.
During off-hours, you can also hike nearby volcanoes, like the famous Volcan San Pedro. Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Fees start at $645 for one week. Find out more here!
Operating in more than 34 countries worldwide, Love Volunteers is committed to providing life-changing intercultural experiences. Started in 2009, Love Volunteers has become one of the most trusted names in volunteering thanks to their transparent, cost-effective, and impactful initiatives. As one past volunteer said about Love Volunteers:
“Great projects. Awesome service. Lowest fees. Love Volunteers is the real deal!”
So, if you’re searching for volunteer projects near beaches and mountains, take a look at Love Volunteers’ programs, like these listed here:
Make the trip to Sri Lanka with Love Volunteers, and work at a center that helps children with disabilities learn skills and live a more fulfilled, independent life. Duties include teaching, playing games, socializing with the children, and assisting with maintenance. It’s a truly inspiring program to join.
Surrounded by the Namunukula range of mountains, Badulla is a historically significant town with plenty of cultural sites and natural areas to enjoy, Sound like the place for you to volunteer? Know program costs begin at just $229 for one weeks. Sign up here!
Work alongside local volunteers that run a drug awareness community center. The goal of this initiative is to give drug users essential care and, most importantly, the compassion and sense of hope they need to overcome addiction. The center focuses on education to reduce the transmission of disease and increase knowledge about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. As you can see, this is absolutely a program where you can transform lives.
When you’re not volunteering, you’re free to hang out in Diani Beach, which is Africa’s leading beach destination. Want to learn more? Know fees start at $299 for one week. Get the full details here!
As one of the world’s largest volunteer and intern abroad organizations, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 folks overseas each year. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad is well-regarded for their professionalism, top-notch support, and unique array of programs and destinations.
Whether you want to volunteer abroad near a beach or a mountain, you have excellent choices when going through Projects Abroad, including these:
Help children learn new sports and develop a healthier lifestyle in the city of Apia, Samoa. This program is both fun and impactful, as it addresses key health issues in Samoa, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
What’s also great is that you can relax on Vaiala Beach when you’re not volunteering. Fees are $2,600 for two weeks and $3,260 for four weeks (it gets cheaper the longer you stay). Learn more about the program here!
If you want to volunteer abroad near a mountain, consider this program. Hosted in Brasov, you’ll be right near the Carpathian Mountains as you dig up the past at excavation sites. Your work will be greatly beneficial in preserving historical sites. For instance, Projects Abroad volunteers had a hand in completing a rescue excavation in the heart of Alba Carolina Citadel. How impressive is that?
Ready to start digging—literally? Fees are $2,970 for one week and $4,260 for 4 weeks. Apply to the archaeology volunteer program in Romania here.
Founded in 2007, International Volunteer HQ offers year-round volunteer programs in more than 40 countries across the world, including mountain and beach destinations. IVHQ is one of the most trusted names in volunteering, having sent more than 110,000 volunteers and interns abroad in their first 11+ years. They’re known for their transparency, affordability, and commitment to making a positive impact.
As one past volunteer said about participating in an IVHQ project in South Africa:
“It was such a great and unforgettable experience! It has changed my mind and I had the privilege to meet magical people.”
Check out these IVHQ volunteer destinations:
International Volunteer HQ runs programs in Quito, Ecuador, which sits in the Andean foothills. Volunteer opportunities include offering NGO support, teaching at a kindergarten, working with street children, and working on community development projects. Fees begin at just $290 per week, and you’ll have ample free time to learn Spanish, enjoy the sites and entertainment of Quito, and explore the nearby Andes Mountains. Click here to learn more!
More interested in the beaches of Ecuador? Try one of IVHQ’s programs in Santa Elena, which is right near some of the country’s best beaches. Projects include environmental education, teaching English, and coaching sports. During free time, you can enjoy the sand at places like Punta Carnero (a great surfing spot too). Fees begin at $315 for one week. Learn more here!
Join IVHQ near Cape Town, where you can volunteer with a childcare project, teach children in low-income communities, or lead a computer training program. You can also join a surf outreach project, which means you could spend all your time around the beach. Programs are held in Muizenberg, a beach town that’s just 30 minutes from Cape Town. You’ll have ample chances to go snorkeling, diving, and surfing, as well as just relax on the sand. Cape Town is also right near Table Mountain, a flat-topped peak that’s popular with hikers, rock climbers, and mountain bikers.
Sound awesome? Click here to apply. Fees begin at just $250 for one week.
Engage in coast and waterway conservation or environmental education in and around Auckland. Both projects take you to stunning landscapes and beaches, and you’ll have lots of time to soak up Auckland’s most pristine coastlines and natural areas. Your work will go a long way towards preserving the beautiful environment there.
Is New Zealand the volunteer destination for you? Fees begin at $885 for two weeks. Get more details here!
A nonprofit charity that specializes in work across Africa, Agape Volunteers is incredibly committed to ensuring all their programs have a real impact in the communities they serve. Founded in 2009, Agape Volunteers is your go-to volunteer abroad organization if you’re looking for service opportunities in Africa. Programs are quite affordable, and Agape Volunteers provides volunteers with free travel insurance (a nice perk).
Given Africa’s breathtaking and diverse geography, you’ll find numerous programs through Agape Volunteers near mountains and beaches, such as the ones detailed below:
There are many talented musicians in Ghana, but a lack of resources and inadequate access to music education makes it difficult for underprivileged children to reach their full creative potential. Change that by teaching music to children in Accra, and provide them with a creative outlet and skill they can use for fun, relaxation, and/or earning a living throughout life. Note you should be able to play one music instrument to join.
When you’re not jamming at school with the children, enjoy the sites around Accra, Ghana’s capital city, as well as the nearby beaches. Seem like the right fit for you? Apply here (fees from £510 or ~$655 USD for one week week).
If you’re looking for medical volunteer abroad programs near mountain ranges, look no further than this program. As a medical volunteer in Tanzania, you’ll care for people at healthcare facilities that are forced to stretch their resources to the breaking point in order to treat patients. General duties include distributing medicines, taking rounds, dressing wounds, and assisting with births. Depending on your experience, your role may be more or less hands-on. Please be aware that medical and nursing students are especially welcome, and you must have at least some healthcare experience to join.
When you’re helping those in need, you can make an excursion to Mount Kilimanjaro, which is Africa’s highest peak and just 100 kilometers from the city of Arusha. Intrigued? Discover more about the program here (fees from £695 or ~$895 USD for one week).
A leading voluntourism company, GoEco connects people to more than 150 volunteer abroad initiatives in areas like community development, wildlife and environmental preservation, and education. Founded in 2006, GoEco was recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2015 by GoAbroad. In their first 12 years of operation, they placed more than 15,000 volunteers abroad.
If you want to find solid volunteer travel opportunities near mountains or beaches, GoEco has the programs for you. Check out these:
Live and volunteer on a private island just off Belize’s main coast. Your main duty will be to assist with preservation efforts, whether it’s a general ocean cleanup or doing underwater research of native species. Coral reef data collection is also an important part of the program. During the program, you’ll have the chance to earn PADI diver certification as well (that’s something you can use for a lifetime).
On the weekends, you can bum around on the beach and explore mainland Belize, including the dense jungles. Sound exciting? Fees start from $1,140 for one week. Get all the info you need and apply on GoEco’s site!
Known for its breathtaking beaches and marvelous nature, Palawan is the perfect destination if you wish to volunteer abroad in the tropics. For this program, you’ll get the chance to make a practical impact quickly by building and renovating community centers, houses, and schools in local communities. And, during free time, you can scuba dive, sit in the sun, hike through forests, and more. Spots like Seven Commandos Beach and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park are must-visits.
Already getting your bags ready? Know fees begin at $580 for one week. Find out more and register here!
Do you want to go off-the-beaten-path? Fronteering takes you to unspoiled locations to provide you real, raw experiences. Through their exhilarating programs, Fronteering works to preserve untouched natural areas and uplift indigenous communities around the globe. This is what makes them a top choice if you’re looking for unique volunteer opportunities near a beach or mountain.
The following Fronteering programs are worth checking out:
Venture into remote Scottish Highlands for a trip you’ll never forget. As one of the last strongholds for wildlife in Western Europe, the Scottish Highlands offer you the chance to take in pristine nature and do your part to protect it through conservation tasks. Common duties include removing invasive plants, monitoring wildlife, and maintaining footpaths. You’ll encounter native animals, like white-tailed eagles, the European otter, and the European wild cat, up close.
Sound like the perfect excursion for you? The highland conservation program in Scotland costs only $1,295 for 12 weeks, with the option to stay longer. Sign up here!
Known for its majestic mountains as well as its beautiful beaches, Fronteering’s island conservation program in Aceh is a great fit. The volunteer part of the program takes place on Bangkaru Island. There, you’ll help implement conservation strategies to protect local biodiversity. Most notably, you’ll work on sea turtle conservation tasks.
When you’re not helping on the island, you’ll have time to go snorkeling, kayaking, or surfing. The tropical region is full of fun things to do in the sun. If that sounds wonderful to you, apply here and be on your way to Indonesia (fees from $1,695 for two weeks).
From the stunning shores to the majestic peaks…
Whether you want to help with sea turtle conservation in Greece or go on a service expedition to Tanzania, you have an incredible variety of options when it comes to beach or mountain volunteer vacations.
Think not just about your interests and budget, but also where you can make the biggest impact and learn the most. And don’t be afraid to try something new—because that’s how you’ll have unexpected and transformative experiences.
Ready to plan your trip? In addition to looking at the programs in this article, you can use our crowdfunding platform here on Volunteer Forever to make your beach or mountain adventure more affordable. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way!
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.