Dreaming of an island getaway? Are the swaying palms and sea breezes calling to you? If you’re ready for a South Pacific stay or a Caribbean adventure, consider combining your vacation with a worthwhile volunteer program or internship abroad!
The islands where you can visit and volunteer come in all sizes and shapes, from black volcanic beaches to white crystalline sand. They’re fringed with coral reefs or sandbars, crowned with mountains and rainforests, and home to unique and diverse wildlife. Despite their incredible beauty and ecology, there is a need for volunteers like you to lend a hand in areas such as community development, conservation, teaching, and much more beyond the beaches and resorts.
Lending a hand and expertise to local entrepreneurs can help them build a sustainable income and provide for their families. Teaching English, sports, and life skills to children can ensure that they have a bright future ahead. Studying coral reefs and the marine life that inhabits them can make a difference in oceanic conservation for years to come – there’s no shortage of amazing projects that you can be a part of while also enjoying your time in the sun and the sand.
If deadlines have you feeling defeated, and living in a fast-paced city has you stressed, checking out might be exactly what you need to rejuvenate. Do good work during the day, then spend your evenings saluting the sunset! To get started, let’s take a look at just a few of the many wonderful island volunteering opportunities available to you worldwide.
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Plan My Gap Year offers affordable placements for travelers who would like to volunteer in childcare, teaching, wildlife conservation, community projects, and mental health projects in Africa and Asia. Founded in 2011, this UK-registered charity strives to promote self-sufficiency within the communities where its projects are located. All PMGY programs are inspected and vetted by the team to ensure project safety and to match you with an initiative that complements your skills and interests.
Poaching is a serious crime, and the Bali Wildlife Rescue Centre needs compassionate volunteers to assist with caring for a range of animals that were victims to poachers and traffickers. The primates and birds that you’ll help have been rescued from markets, private homes, and businesses where they were kept as pets, entrapped, or used for entertainment.
PMGY created this program to allow you direct access to animals like macaques, eagles, cockatoos, and even crocodiles and the Javan Lutung – as a volunteer, you’ll give them daily support by feeding, interacting to enrich their lives, cleaning enclosures, and other general maintenance activities. During your stay, you will live in a shared volunteer house a short, five-minute walk from Tabanan, where you’ll find local restaurants, shops, and more. This program starts from one week at $180 – learn more and sign up here!
True, the Real South East Asia Encounter is not primarily on an island, but you will visit one as you travel and volunteer around the heart of South East Asia! Plan My Gap Year’s 12-week adventure brings you to some of the most colorful, spiritual, and diverse countries in the world, where you’ll find blissful beaches, ancient temples, delicious cuisine, lush landscapes, and urban jungles. You will start in Vietnam, then volunteer and travel your way through Cambodia and Bali for 12 weeks. This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in grateful communities, embrace new cultures, appreciate their histories, and make a positive impact. Tours start monthly, with a program fee of $2,565 – learn more and sign up here!
Global Vision International (GVI) places 2,000 participants abroad every year, with more than 20,000 travelers placed to date. Founded in 1997, GVI offers volunteer trips and internship opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and the Americas. A few projects that you can take part in include critical community development, environmental conservation, teaching, and more – you also have the chance to develop your professional skills through training, qualifications, and work placements through GVI.
Volunteer with a GVI community development project in the gorgeous islands of Fiji in the South Pacific! Fiji is an amazing region defined by coastal villages, dense jungles, and volcanic mountainsides. Choose from locations on the tiny, idyllic Caqalai Island with its white-sand beaches, expansive reef system, and a lush interior. Or travel to Viti Levu, a remote island famous for its resident pod of Spinner Dolphins and proximity to Moon Reef. Volunteers like you are needed for a variety of activities, from key infrastructure construction to setting up community-based income-generation programs, to teaching local school children, and conducting environmental management research.
Spend your free time exploring the island nation of Fiji: swim in hidden waterfalls, hike in forests, and scuba dive or snorkel to your heart’s content. Take a ferry to Fiji’s capital, Suva, only a few hours away and known for its nightlife, farmer’s market, museums, and art exhibits. This program starts from two weeks at $ 2,290 – learn more and sign up here!
Beach time is best spent when you’re productive, so put down the novel and help save baby sea turtles with GVI’s Turtle Program in Greece! While not technically an island, the small, traditional village of Giannitsochori is in a part of Greece that is separated from the mainland by the Diorama Korinthou, the Greece Channel. Make a lasting contribution to the conservation and protection of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting site on the Ionian Sea – here, you’ll patrol the beach searching for Loggerhead Turtle nests, harvest bamboo and help build these protective barriers, and educate locals and tourists about the importance of protecting this valuable natural resource.
Cool down with a dip in the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, and during your time off, explore the local markets and shops. The scenery is breathtaking, the history is mindblowing, and the food is amazing. You’ll be able to visit Greek and even Roman ruins, as well as the World Heritage Site of Mystras, an amphitheater, and fortress dating to 1249. This program starts at two weeks at $2,100. Learn more and sign up here!
The palm-fringed beaches with waters rich in wildlife and lush forests of Mahe are calling. Can you hear? If you’re yearning for a tranquil, tropical volunteer holiday, look no further than GVI’s Island Conservation Expedition to the National Marine Parks in Seychelles! Join one of the leading data collection agencies in the islands and conduct research that supports conservation policies. For two weeks or longer, you’ll live and work amidst the most beautiful spots in the world, contributing to the long-term survival of marine species such as the hawksbill turtle, lemon sharks, and terrestrial animals and plants like the giant tortoise, mangroves, and the Coco de Mer – the largest seed of all living plants.
A few of the tasks that you’ll take on include participating in educational campaigns, mangrove replanting, flora re-vegetation, beach cleanups, and environmental education classes. Optional side trips during your free time can bring you to the World Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai on the islands of Praslin, thought by early explorers to be the original Garden of Eden. Ferries will take you to the inner islands, where you can catch buses to landmarks, but the outer islands are accessible only by small planes or charter yachts. These difficult-to-reach islands are also in near-pristine condition and boast magnificent birdwatching opportunities. Program dates and costs start at 2 weeks for $2,100. Interested? Click here to read more and start your application!
Global Nomadic connects people with worthwhile projects around the world, providing easy access to international internships in a range of fields. By connecting young professionals with vetted NGOs, Global Nomadic creates an environment where you can gain experience and be a part of important community initiatives. Since 2009, Global Nomadic has offered TEFL courses, volunteer abroad placements, and internships sending more than 1,000 volunteers and teachers to 40 countries. Projects range from human rights and social sustainability to environmental conservation and wildlife rehabilitation. By signing up with Global Nomadic, you will make a difference and ensure your efforts are sustainable and impactful by working alongside local NGOs on projects relating to your degree or career goals, with transparent placement costs and the opportunity to speak directly with your in-country coordinator when you register.
Looking for a volunteer opportunity or internship that will enhance your medical specialty skills? Consider Global Nomadic’s Village Healthcare Internship in the Philippines, where you’ll gain new skills and insight into the functioning of a rural healthcare center. You’ll appreciate the ingenuity it takes to find ways to provide basic health care with limited resources. If you wish, you’ll be placed in a hospital working alongside local doctors and support staff, with tasks tailored to your interests and abilities. Or, another program brings you onto health awareness campaigns for children at local schools – either way, you’ll have a challenging and enriching experience, and make valuable contributions to a meaningful program.
During this internship, you’ll work Monday through Friday, leaving weekends open to explore the sights and wonders of Palawan and Coron Bay, known as one of the finest wreck-diving locations in the world. Nearby, you’ll have the chance to visit Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. Program costs are $500 per week, with minimum stays starting at one week. Learn more and apply here!
Travel to Rarotonga and work alongside seasoned veterinarians to treat the islands’ animal populations with a Veterinary Internship in the Cook Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. The local clinic that you’ll be placed with is dedicated to solving the problem of stray dogs, which the police typically shoot-on-sight. You will be part of an alternative solution to spay and neuter as many strays as you can find to curb the population. In addition, you will help provide a free veterinary clinic that offers care to pets and other domesticated animals. As a veterinarian intern, your duties may include sterilization, administrative assistance at the clinic, veterinary surgery, vaccinations, and laboratory work, depending on your skills and qualifications. The flexible placement can be tailored to your interests and abilities, and is ideal for veterinary students and professionals – you’re invited to stay from two weeks to six months, with a program fee starting at $650. Begin your internship with an application!
Spend your volunteer trip abroad on the world’s fourth-largest island: Madagascar! With its unique ecosystem, Madagascar boasts world-class beaches and rainforests and is home to an astonishing variety of animal and plant species. Yet despite its natural riches, Madagascar is an impoverished country. Most people live in rural areas with limited access to sanitation, education, and secure food sources. Worse, the country has lost 90 percent of its original vegetation because of unsustainable practices.
Global Nomadic places volunteers in the Anosy region of Madagascar, involving you in various projects in the field, such as construction, community work, education, and conservation. Choose to work as a short-term volunteer or an intern, staying in country for up to ten weeks. Typical projects can include:
- School building: From clearing the site, digging foundations, building walls and cementing floors, to assisting in the construction of desks and benches
- Sanitation infrastructure: Build “flat-pack” latrine kits for families to install, or paint educational murals on the side of the town or school latrines
- Education: Teach English through songs and role play, with a focus on health education and environmental conservation
- Conservation: Assist with fieldwork, studying and monitoring lemurs, frogs, lizards and more
During your stay, you will live at a campsite in a beautiful and remote area of Madagascar, setting the stage for adventure and experience. The program fee starts at $2,450 for four weeks in the field. Learn more and sign up here!
Frontier, founded in 1989 as a nonprofit conservation and development organization, works with volunteers and communities worldwide to safeguard biodiversity, build sustainable livelihoods, and inspire people of all ages to travel with meaningful purpose. Frontier has developed over the years with an eye on global impact, building more than 400 projects in 60 countries, spanning five continents, all with an emphasis on conservation, community, and adventure.
Travel to Papua New Guinea, a tropical island covered in rainforest and ringed by coral reefs! Here, you will immerse yourself in a magical, mysterious country that’s home to more than 800 indigenous languages. On Frontier’s Papua New Guinea Village Project, you will use your creativity and initiative to teach about conservation, eco-tourism, eco-forestry, agro-forestry, and climate change. Other volunteer projects that you can be a part of include teaching health care, primary education, and more in a new school – the villagers you’ll meet are eager to learn about you and your culture. In exchange, they’ll teach you about their secluded, rustic way of life.
During your time in Papua New Guinea, you’ll live with up to 10 other volunteers in a shared house with no running water or electricity – a great way to get off the grid and challenge yourself to live more simply. These volunteer opportunities begin at four weeks with program costs starting at $2,295 – learn more and apply here.
Volunteer on Frontier’s Bali Teaching and Beaches program while immersing yourself in the community and culture of Bali, a small island of Indonesia, renowned for its beautiful and varied landscapes! On this program, you’ll volunteer with children ages four to 12 in a local school, teaching English, arts and crafts, sports, music, and dance. You may shadow a local teacher or take responsibility and develop your own teaching skills and techniques, depending on your experience and comfort with this project.
In Bali, you can tour the towering volcanic mountains and the rolling green rice fields, relax on contrasting black and white sandy beaches, and snorkel amazing coral reefs. You’ll stay at a hostel with other fellow volunteers, and enjoy three meals per day prepared with a traditional mix of Indonesian and Chinese styles – and there are bicycles to rent so you can explore the local area. Frontier’s Teaching volunteer programs in Bali start at two weeks with fees beginning at $995 – learn more and apply here.
Calling all writers! Join Frontier on a journalism jaunt to the Caribbean, with picture-perfect, white sand beaches fringed by iridescent shores. This Dominican Republic Multi-Media and Journalism Placement takes you to the township of Samana, where you’ll immerse yourself in a peaceful community of laid-back people. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of island life, including merengue music, honey sweet coffee, locally made cigars, and fragrant food.
This project uses the tools of artistic multimedia journalism to generate publicity and to raise awareness about child welfare and the rights of children and adolescents. You’ll receive free Spanish lessons each week as you help to report and write about DR topics, and take photographs or video. You’ll work on blogs and other communication outlets as you contribute to local initiatives that aim to tackle human trafficking and related crimes to children. During your free time, you can go whale spotting or take a hike in virgin rainforests and explore wild rivers and waterfalls.
You’ll stay in the volunteer guesthouse in the center of town, surrounded by restaurants and internet cafes. Rooms are twin-share with wifi – volunteers cater meals for themselves, helping each other shop and prepare meals. There also are numerous restaurants a short walk away. You’re invited to stay four weeks or longer, with a program fee starting at $2,095. More information and an application are available on Frontier’s website here.
For over 25 years, Projects Abroad has prided itself on quality international volunteering and internships. They offer a variety of projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Projects Abroad has evolved to offer meaningful volunteer opportunities to more than 100,000 travelers worldwide, with a mission of cultural exchange and freedom of choice, and they want to transform communities with your help. At the same time, their projects give you the opportunity to discover what you’re capable of and realize your potential.
Between island hopping in the Philippines, you can help local teachers at understaffed kindergartens when you choose a Childcare Project with Projects Abroad. You’ll provide each child with the attention they need to learn and meet important developmental milestones. You can sing songs, play sports, and run arts and crafts lessons. Your classes will help develop literacy, numeracy, and fine motor skills.
When you aren’t with the children, there are plenty of exciting things to do and places to see. If you love adventure, don’t miss the chance to go scuba diving at one of the island’s many dive spots. You can also spend some of your leisure time basking on one of Cebu Island’s amazing white sand beaches.
During your time here, you’ll live with a host family for an authentic and immersive experience. Program fees begin at $2,270 and you’re invited to stay for three weeks or longer. Read more about and apply here!
Spend your days diving in crystal blue waters on the South Pacific coast while on a Conservation Project collecting valuable data on the world’s most misunderstood creatures – the shark. This data aims to keep sharks off the critically endangered species list. During this project, you’ll also earn your PADI Open Water Certification and assist with shark surveys, mangrove reforestation efforts, and awareness campaigns.
If you an adrenaline seeker, you can try kayaking, ziplining, and white water rafting during your free time. The island has great hiking among breathtaking waterfalls and lush rainforests. And if relaxing is more your thing, Pacific Harbour has some of the finest, white-sand beaches on the island. Get the most out of your stay by joining for two weeks or longer with fees starting at $4,215. Find out more here.
Launch your career in medicine by shadowing doctors in a local hospital. You’ll have an unparalleled learning experience surrounded by the beauty of the tropical Caribbean. You can rotate through different hospital departments, sit in on patient consultations, and learn about treatment methods. You’ll also get involved with practical work during outreaches, where you’ll provide community members with free basic health checks.
After work, you can discover majestic waterfalls on hikes, relax on idyllic beaches, or eat jerk chicken at one of the many restaurants or markets. The project starts from two weeks and fees are $3,065, but the longer you stay, the more you’ll get to see and learn. Find out more here.
Tired of the beaten path? Yearning for a volunteer experience that is far from ordinary? Fronteering offers many different volunteer opportunities abroad, from caring for huskies on a dog sled team to helping save the Amazon Amerindian way of life. Founded in 2007, this organization’s goals are twofold: to make a difference to communities that can benefit from the input of volunteers, and to provide an exciting and significant experience to individuals from all over the world. In addition to volunteer placements, Fronteering also arranges unique, exciting – and in some cases extreme – adventure trips to experience some of the world’s most unspoiled locations.
Think you’d enjoy volunteering in one the world’s oldest and most pristine forests? Consider joining the Kiwi Conservation project on the beautiful island of New Zealand, helping to protect the rare and endangered kiwi bird. If you love being outdoors, you’ll appreciate the seclusion of staying in a nature sanctuary far away from a crowded city. With Frontier, you’ll visit rugged and unspoiled jungle-like forests and learn to live sustainably, working closely with biodiversity rangers to protect Kiwis and other endangered species.
In your free time, you’ll visit the beautiful Kai Iwi Lakes, climb Tokatoka Peak, and see other amazing destinations such as the filming locations of The Lord of the Rings. New Zealand also is famous for its Maori people, beaches, mountains, skiing, bungee jumping, and wildlife watching of whales and penguins. During your time in New Zealand, you’ll live in a dormitory with tree tents available. There is no internet access here, so you will be living a more rustic lifestyle during your trip. Program fees begin at $795 for two weeks, and you’re invited to stay up to eight weeks. Read more and apply here!
Travel to the tropical island of Bankgkaru in Indonesia as part of a unique volunteer opportunity where you can work with researchers, marine biologists, and others as part of Fronteering’s Island Conservation Project. With its untouched rainforest and effervescent coral reefs, Bankgkaru is home to Turtle Beach, one of Indonesia’s most fertile and prominent breeding sites for the endangered Green Sea Turtle and the Leatherback Turtle.
You’ll assist conservationists as they tackle serious issues such as turtle egg poaching, destructive development plans, and unsustainable fishing practices. The focus on the project is to address these detrimental issues as quickly as possible while helping to conserve the island’s rich and untouched environment. As a volunteer, you’ll be tasked with patrolling the beach, turtle tagging and measuring, marine debris surveys, researching species and vegetation, and assisting with sustainable fishing education.
Bankgkaru’s beach stretches for nearly two kilometers, and opportunities abound for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and much more. You’ll be housed in the HAKA rangers Camp in modest, dormitory-style rooms, and will help maintain a small organic garden nearby. You are invited to stay for two weeks or longer, with a program fee starting at $1,450 – learn more and apply here!
Ready to Travel?
If you’re ready to go on an island adventure, pack your swim mask and snorkel and grab your hiking sandals because adventure awaits when you choose a volunteer project in an exotic destination!
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Sarah Vandenberg · Director of Partnerships
Sarah has worked as a researcher and consultant in the volunteer travel world since 2004. With a BA from the George Washington University and background working with both public and private sector volunteer organizations, she enjoys exploring the world and collecting and sharing stories, trends, and advice with travelers who want to volunteer, intern, or teach abroad.