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Coastal and Marine Conservation in Zanzibar

Coastal and Marine Conservation in Zanzibar

Conserve marine life & the reef
Start dates
Programs start every Wednesday
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 8 hours a day
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Semi-permanent tent
Program fees
From AU$986 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are passionate about conservation and wildlife and enjoy spending time beside the ocean. You’ll be working with local and international marine biologists so you don’t need to have any prior experience.

Project details

Love the sea and want to be a Coastal and Marine Conservation volunteer in Zanzibar? International Volunteer HQ’s Coastal and Marine Conservation project is a great way for volunteers to gain experience and learn about the challenges of protecting wild turtles, and coastal ecosystems, and you may also get the chance to release baby turtles after hatching. Volunteers also help monitor a coral reef, provide environmental education to local kids and tourists, learn about local sustainability issues, and can get involved with coral farming.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Matemwe is home to some of Zanzibar’s finest beaches. With white sand that seems to glow day and night, it is a popular tourist destination! Volunteers have the opportunity to work alongside local marine biologists to help boost marine life populations and protect the coastal environment.

As a Coastal and Marine Conservation volunteer, you’ll be volunteering in Matemwe and staying at a coastal conservation camp just a short walk away from the beach. You’ll get to assist at a local turtle hatchery that was established to protect marine life in the North East of Zanzibar. The turtles are released into the ocean immediately after hatching, as it has been found that they best develop their sense of orientation and other critical ocean survival skills soon after birth.

You will also be assisting with coral reef monitoring by snorkeling, community environmental education, and activities addressing Zanzibar’s waste problem which imposes a threat to marine turtles and other sea animals.

Volunteers can also be part of coral farming activities via scuba diving (please note that a scuba diving certification is needed for this activity - volunteers taking part for two weeks or longer can join a 3 day PADI Open Water course on-site for an additional cost).

Volunteer tasks will vary but can involve:

  • Spotting turtle nests as part of early morning beach patrols
  • Assisting local biologists with locating and relocating the egg nests
  • Releasing baby turtles into the ocean*
  • Assist locals with seaweed farming projects
  • Weekly turtle identification workshops
  • Maintain an aquaponics system by helping to grow vegetables and raise Tilapia fish
  • Activities focused on pollinator support for solitary bees
  • Coral reef monitoring by snorkeling
  • Coral reef farming via scuba diving (PADI Open Water dive certification required)
  • Educating local children about environmental education during school visits and a kids club hosted at the volunteer camp
  • Beach clean-ups and recycling/upcycling
  • Assisting at a community waste collecting point
  • Assisting with growing fruits and vegetables for the volunteer’s own consumption, using permaculture techniques and learning other skills for sustainable living
  • Optional Swahili language lessons once per week, included as part of the program

*Volunteers need to be aware that while turtles are released into the ocean immediately after hatching, we cannot guarantee that this will occur during a volunteer’s program, especially for those attending for shorter durations.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

Why do Coastal and Marine Conservation Project volunteering in Matemwe with IVHQ?

As a Coastal and Marine Conservation volunteer in Zanzibar you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Protecting and boosting marine life populations in Matemwe
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining marine conservation knowledge and experience
  • Learning about sea turtles
  • Exploring Zanzibar and its amazing beaches

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • VVolunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Hannah Nygren
01 Feb 2024

I personally struggled in my first few days at the camp, it was very overwhelming being in such a different environment and I felt very homesick. But despite this, I pushed through, left my comfort zone and branched out with new people. I ended up meeting some amazing friends who I definitely will stay in contact with and had, by far, the best experience of my life.

Go with an open mind, be ready to be completely pushed out of your comfort zone and to persevere through the discomfort of being in a place so different from your home. It will end up being so fun and overall just an incredibly memorable experience. For me, it will definitely be a memory that I will cherish for life.

Camilla Coupland
21 Dec 2023

I gained confidence and learned a lot from the project. I think if someone is hesitant to join they shouldn’t because you have to be open and adaptable to make the experience work.

Halli Briscoe
14 Jun 2023

IVHQ and the local team gave me all the support I needed in preparation for my program! Releasing a batch of turtles into the water for the first time was my favourite moment from the volunteer experience - It was so powerful to see the beginning stages of their lives.

I was prepared for an amazing experience doing a unique volunteer project, but I was not expecting how awesome the community of people would be. My group of fellow volunteers was incredible. We were all so different, but so accepting of each other and I loved the opportunity to get to know so many great people from so many different cultures! It can be scary trying something new, especially if you are far from home, but the challenges and the adventures will give you an experience of a lifetime that will help you grow as a person and give you new perspectives in life.

Jayme Warner
31 May 2023

I had such an amazing and incredible experience with IVHQ and I look forward to more volunteer trips with them in the future! The coral and seaweed farming activities as well as spending time with the local kids were my favourite moments of the volunteer experience. I came home with several habits that I plan to keep to minimize my impact on planet earth. I learned so much while I was there and developed new, awesome habits that I want to keep! To anyone still hesitant about volunteering abroad, I would say "just do it!" - everything is organized and you just have to go into it with a can-do mindset.

Alisha Dube
04 May 2023

Hanging out, telling stories and laughing with other volunteers were my favourite moments from the entire experience. The support from the Zanzibar local team was always amazing and my time on the program made me realize how interested I am in studying our planet and how we can conserve it. What I would say to someone still hesitant about volunteering abroad is; don't hesitate, take the risk and book a trip because it's truly life-changing and worth every penny!

Vittoria Roberto
10 Nov 2021

Volunteering will forever be one the best ways to truly learn about a culture. You will receive an experience interacting with locals that you just otherwise wouldn’t get as a tourist. With the variety of places and programs available thru IVHQ you are sure to find one to suit your interests. The staff at IVHQ is super helpful in making sure you are prepared for your trip. And the programs themselves are very exciting. Will definitely consider another trip with them!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Zanzibar with IVHQ


The Marine Turtle Hatchery is based at Matemwe, a village on the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar. Volunteers are accommodated at a coastal conservation camp located 15 minutes away from the hatchery. Some of the project work is based on the beach where the camp is situated, such as beach clean ups. With spectacular beaches and a coral reef, there is plenty of fishing, snorkeling, diving, sightseeing and relaxing to be done in this area.

Arrival and orientation

Volunteers need to arrive in Zanzibar on their Wednesday start date and their orientation will take place on the Wednesday afternoon and/or the following day.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ) in Zanzibar. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Wednesday night before your Thursday program orientation. If you are travelling in Tanzania prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Zanzibar on your start date.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins on the Wednesday afternoon and/or the Thursday morning after your chosen start date. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Zanzibar – an introduction to Zanzibar, Zanzibar customs, rules and expectations, language lessons (Kiunguja), safety, travel opportunities in Zanzibar, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On the first day of the volunteering placement, you will be escorted to the project by our local staff and introduced to the staff at the placement you will be working with.

Weekdays - A typical day would be as follows:

5:45 - 7:15 AM Beach patrol
7:30 - 8:30 AM Breakfast at camp
9:00 AM Volunteers begin work for the morning
1:00 - 2:00 PM Lunch at camp or at project site
2:00 - 5:00 PM Volunteers resume work for the afternoon
6:30 - 7:30 PM Dinner at camp


Volunteers have free time on the weekends and are able to make the most of the gorgeous beaches, explore Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town or other towns, shop for souvenirs, or enjoy a range of adventure and outdoor activities including snorkeling, diving, swimming, wildlife viewing and fishing. If you’re staying for a while you may also like to fly back to mainland Tanzania or other parts of Africa where you can go on safari or otherwise explore.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Coastal and Marine Conservation project stay in semi-permanent fully furnished tents in a camp located just a 3 minute walk from the beach. You can expect to share with 1 to​ 3 other volunteers. When possible tents are separated by gender, however cannot always guarantee this separation due to varying occupancies and booking situations.

Bedding is​ ​provided, however you will need​ ​to bring​ ​your own towel and biodegradable toiletries. Biodegradable shower gel is provided in the shower blocks, as the greywater is used for watering the garden. Please note, because of this volunteers should not bring shampoos/shower gels that are not biodegradable. The showers are solar-heated and volunteers need to be prepared for times where there may be no electricity as the supply can sometimes be disrupted on the island.

The camp has cooks, housekeepers, maintenance staff and watchmen. The program coordinators and support team are also available on a daily basis during the week for support and via phone over the weekend.

If you would like to keep connected during your stay, free WiFi is provided and volunteers will be able to connect in most areas of the camp. Volunteers can also bring an unlocked mobile phone and the local team will provide you with a local SIM card at your orientation and assist you to set it up.

If you would like to arrive a day earlier than your recommended arrival date, or wish to spend a few extra nights after finishing your program, we can arrange extra nights of accommodation for you for US$45 (approximately AU$69) per person, per night on the Turtle and Coastal Conservation project. Meals are included, and extra nights are subject to availability. There is an additional surcharge attached when volunteers need airport pick-up earlier than their Wednesday start date.

If you would like to arrange extra nights of accommodation, please just make a note in your application or contact your IVHQ Program Manager who will be happy to assist you.

Private room upgrades are also available for an additional cost. These are subject to availability so once you have registered, you will be able to request to book an accommodation upgrade via your MyIVHQ Profile.


Zanzibar’s cuisine varies across the island, owing to the difference in produce inland and along the coast. The immigration of Khoja Indians has resulted in local dishes influenced by Indian cuisine. Staple foods in Zanzibar include rice, chapati and coconut milk.

Volunteers are served three meals per day in a buffet style, which is a mix of local and Western food. Breakfast includes toasted bread with jam and vegetables such as tomatoes or avocado, olive oil, fruit, eggs, filtered drip coffee, tea and cereals.

Lunch and dinner typically consist of plain or pilau rice (which is traditionally cooked in Zanzibar with cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves), chapati, legumes such as beans, pasta, and french fries with meat or vegetables (typically carrot, sweet potatoes, peas, or okra) typically cooked in a coconut sauce that contains some herbs and spices. Meals are 70% vegetarian and 30% meat/fish based, and the meal plan and the procurement of the food products take into account sustainable practises and healthy nutrition. Please note, meals can vary depending on seasonality.

Please note that while the local team can cater for vegetarians, they are not able to cater to other special dietary requirements or requests, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home and there is the need to be flexible or prepared to supplement the food provided. If supplementing food, volunteers must note that the kitchen is not available for volunteer use but there is a mini fridge available for shared volunteer use in each tent.

A drinking water filter machine is available at the accommodation and to help reduce plastic trash volunteers are asked to bring a refillable drinking bottle.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$511) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $635 Equivalent to $91/day
2 weeks $890 Equivalent to $64/day
3 weeks $1,145 Equivalent to $55/day
4 weeks $1,400 Equivalent to $50/day
5 weeks $1,655 Equivalent to $47/day
6 weeks $1,910 Equivalent to $45/day
8 weeks $2,420 Equivalent to $43/day
10 weeks $2,895 Equivalent to $41/day
12 weeks $3,335 Equivalent to $40/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$511) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Volunteers ​staying for 5 weeks or more ​will need to budget US$400​ to ​obtain a work permit.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Zanzibar generally find US$50-75 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Meals
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit Zanzibar

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Dodoma
Population 58 million
Languages Swahili and English
Currency Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
Time zone UTC+03:00

Weather and climate

Zanzibar follows very similar weather patterns to that of mainland Tanzania but is always a little more humid and warm weather should be expected all year round. The island’s rainy season runs from March through May when humidity is high and afternoon downpours are common. The dry season occurs from June through October and rain is infrequent. During November and December there’s another short rainy season followed by a short dry season across January and February.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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