Best Island Vacations For Volunteers
Are you looking to take a meaningful island vacation that won’t break the bank? Whether you choose to travel to the white sand beaches of Bali or the colored sand beaches of Hawaii, International Volunteer HQ offers the best island vacations for volunteers who want to experience an island getaway while supporting important community projects in Hawaii, Indonesia, Fiji, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Madagascar.
Combining an island vacation with volunteering abroad is the perfect way to travel with meaning and experience life beyond the resort walls. As a volunteer on our island-based volunteer programs, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and volunteer alongside local people, while supporting important community and conservation projects, including Teaching English, Marine Conservation, Construction and Renovation, and Turtle Conservation. Volunteering abroad with IVHQ for an island volunteer vacation is a budget-friendly option, with program fees starting from $270 for 1 week in the Philippines.
Affordable island volunteer vacations are available with IVHQ for durations ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks. Each destination has distinctive cultures and customs, but one commonality - incredibly welcoming and hospitable people. Wherever you choose to take an island volunteer vacation, you can count on warm smiles and feeling instantly at home on foreign shores. Remember to come prepared to experience island time - a slower-pace of life where the priority is less on punctuality, and more on making the most of every minute.
There is a range of volunteer work that you can get involved in on IVHQ’s island volunteer programs. If you’re volunteering in New Zealand, you can get stuck into supporting the Native Forest and Waterway Restoration project, or if you’re volunteering in Madagascar, you can dive into the blue waters for the Marine Conservation project, or in the Philippines, you get in front of the classroom and teach to enthusiastic English-learners. See IVHQ’s full range of volunteer project options to explore which projects are best aligned to your interests and skillset.
Keep reading to learn more about the affordable island volunteer vacation opportunities available with IVHQ…
When someone mentions island paradise, very few destinations would pop into your head before Hawaii! Distinctive landscapes scattered with waterfalls, tropical forests, golden beaches and iconic surf all make for the perfect island vacation for volunteers. The volunteer program in Hawaii places you at the heart of the island’s conservation issues, so you can provide support in preserving the island’s natural beauty and eco-systems. With volunteer work focused on coastal and waterway conservation efforts, you can expect to take part on beach clean-ups and environmental education programs, as well as native fishpond restorations. When you’re not volunteering, you’ll have the opportunity to soak up everything that Hawaii has to offer - from volcanoes to Waikiki beach, meaning everyone from the adventurer to the beach bum is catered for.
The Hawaii project was my seventh international volunteer trip. Though it was short, only two weeks in duration, it was right up at the top in terms of meaningfulness, effective organization, variety of experiences, excellence of local staff, and easy availability of a wide variety of educational, historical, interesting and pure fun activities! The Sustainable Coastline project, in concert with at least three other non-profit organizations devoted to specific aspects of restoring and maintaining original Polynesian conditions, takes you from the mountain tops to the sea and you are working in the same ways on the same things in the same places as did the ancient Hawaiians. There is nothing else like it in the world!.. Russ Livingston, American, 72, volunteered in Hawaii for 2 weeks
You’re excused if you haven’t heard of the small Indonesian island of Simeulue, just off the west coast of Sumatra. It’s certainly Indonesia’s best kept secret, with the shores of the pristine Indian Ocean lapping on the doorstep of your accommodation and an ecosystem boasting coral reefs, birdlife and turtles, Simeulue is a treasure trove of natural beauty. On the Indonesia volunteer program, work is focused on supporting marine and bird surveys, turtle patrols, community development and beach clean-ups. Put the phone on airplane mode and forget your watch, as Simeulue offers an island getaway where you can get in touch with your roots, soak up sun and surf whilst immersing yourself in island life.
This volunteer program is built for volunteers over the age of 30 and family groups, so it’s the perfect option for young professionals, senior volunteers and families with young children.
This volunteer program was a truly unique experience for our family. Our kids, 5 and 7 years old were engaged in a variety of activities alongside the local children which meant that they were contributing to the community in a valuable way whilst having loads of fun. From beach clean-ups, to English lessons, and conservation education, as a family we participated in very well organized volunteer activities. What is so unique about this program is the balance between work, and play. The stunning beach setting and authentic accommodation made it an amazing destination… Sophie Braggins, New Zealander, 34, volunteered in Indonesia for 1 week
With 333 beautiful islands, there is no doubt that IVHQ’s volunteer program in Fiji is the ultimate island vacation for volunteers. You’ll have plenty to explore in your free time and tick a few of those remote islands off your to-do list. Alongside other international volunteers, you’ll have the opportunity to participate on one of four community projects in Suva, including Teaching and Sports Education, Kindergarten and Construction and Renovation projects. When you volunteer in this Pacific nation, you’ll be immersed in the Fijian culture and master the art of ‘island time’. Hopefully you’ll leave a little more zen and with a changed outlook on life. The Fijian archipelago boasts some of the best beaches in the world, balmy water, top surf breaks and freshest fruit. The natural joys of life are meant to be enjoyed here and volunteers work to have a positive impact within the local community.
Our local community, who we were renovating a kindergarten for, threw us a thank you dinner. It was by far my favorite night. I never went to Fiji with the purpose of working for a thank you. However, having that dinner and seeing how appreciative they were, made it that much more worthwhile. It was a special night where they sang for us and showed us special insights into their culture that I would not have experienced otherwise. Come to your program with an open mind and no expectations. It is a better experience than you can ever imagine, and will only be hindered if you expect it to be like your home. Be open to their life style and the idea that Fiji-time, slowing down, is different, but a great change… Cyndee Sanders (IVHQer in Fiji)
New Zealand offers a unique island nation experience for volunteer travelers who are passionate about conservation. As an volunteer in New Zealand, you’ll be based in Auckland, working alongside an award-winning conservation charity to support Coast and Waterway Conservation or NGO Support projects. With the stunning beachscapes, friendly locals and comfortable climate, New Zealand channels the typical island vibes! Auckland is the perfect home-base to explore the rest of what New Zealand has to offer. Being the largest city in the country, it’s a hub of transportation options and tour opportunities. Grab the ferry over to Waiheke Island to enjoy a bike ride or walk around the island, finished off with a meal at one of the local wineries. Take a long weekend to the South Island - Queenstown is a favorite with travelers, offering beautiful backdrops and a ton of adventure activities, like jet boating or bungy jumping! New Zealand is ideal for solo volunteer travelers and first-timers too - see 9 Reasons New Zealand Is Perfect For First Time Volunteer Travelers to find out why!
I had an amazing time in New Zealand. The Coastline Conservation Program was so much fun and definitely worth the early morning starts. I was made aware of the ways we are harming our environment and how we can make a difference by making small changes… Colleen Bernal (IVHQer in New Zealand)
White sand beaches, cascading rice paddies, lush scenery and a bounty of activities - what’s not to love about beautiful Bali?! If you want an action-packed volunteer experience, or time to enjoy world-famous beaches - Bali will work! Even if you’re coming alone or bringing your entire family - Bali is a fit! The volunteer project choices are plentiful - with Teaching, Construction and Renovation, Turtle Conservation, Environmental Education, Healthcare Education and Kindergarten placements on offer. The program is based in the the cultural center of Ubud, except if you opt for the Turtle Conservation project, in which case, you’ll be based on the island of Nusa Penida and have the beach as your backyard. With Bali being one of IVHQ’s most popular programs, you’ll become fast friends with like-minded volunteers from all over the globe.
Choosing to be a part of this experience will change the way you look at the world. It was the most rewarding experience of my life and I hope to participate in many more experiences with IVHQ! Embrace the people within Bali. They are such good people. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions, they love helping you learn about the culture that they are so proud to be a part of… Payton Middleton (IVHQer in Bali - Ubud)
If you’re after a truly unique Balinese experience and want to get off the beaten track, IVHQ’s Lovina-based program is made for you. While located on the coast, Lovina is the polar opposite of its well known counterpart, Kuta, in the south west of Bali. You’ll leave Lovina knowing that you’ve experienced a special insight into Balinese life and had a positive impact on the people, community and environment you’ve come to know and love. The tranquil beachside setting and knowledgeable local team make it a volunteer program well suited to young travelers, as well as families, or older adventurers who want to kick back and quickly become part of the local community. If you are looking for a destination to unwind, while making a positive impact then the volunteer program in Lovina is the perfect option for you.
I had a fantastic time in Lovina, the support team were lovely and made me feel like part of the family. I loved meeting the children in the schools and seeing them enjoying the lessons given. I also loved the opportunity to be able to travel at the weekends and I met lovely new people at the placement and made some great new friends. Great personal experience, would highly recommend volunteering, the memories of people I met and the children I taught is something I will never forget… Sandra Sillett (IVHQer in Bali - Lovina)
So you’re looking for the island vacation ideas? How about a destination with 7000 islands at your doorstep? The Philippines is a hidden gem waiting to be explored! When volunteering in the Philippines with IVHQ, you’ll be based in the Aborlan District, a laid-back small community outside of Puerto Princesa City. Volunteers here can support Kindergarten, Teaching, Construction and Renovation, or Environmental projects. So if you’re wanting to get off the beaten track, live by the sea, and immerse yourself in a new culture, the Philippines program is perfect for you! On the island of Palawan, you can treat yourself to swimming, snorkeling, diving or chilling under a waterfall - and that is just on one island! Imagine the wonders waiting for you, and you can do it without needing to spend up large! Budget airlines make island-hopping within the Philippines, or to nearby countries cheap and easy.
Volunteering in the Philippines is one of a kind - some said that they feel at home as soon as they arrive in the Philippines. It is a dynamic place, filled with happy and warm people and that’s what makes the Filipinos one of a kind in this world. Be amazed not only with the great scenery and environment but with the great hospitality and friendliness of the people. It is a place where you will feel very welcomed and won’t be made to feel like a complete stranger. This volunteer experience has been a life changer for me and I can’t express how glad that IVHQ was there to make it happen! I won’t promise, but this volunteer experience is not the last with IVHQ… Francis Carlo Hofilena (IVHQer in the Philippines)
Another awesome island to tick off the bucket list is Sri Lanka. With an abundance of wildlife, national parks, beaches, historical sites and and no shortage of tourism activities, there’s always something to keep you busy. Volunteers are either located in the sacred city of Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, or within the Wasgamuwa National Park. Here you can choose from Teaching English, Special Needs Care, Rural Community Development, Childcare, Medical, Elderly Care, Temple Renovation and Wild Elephant Conservation. The people are friendly, traveling around is easy, the food is tasty, and it’s incredibly affordable - making it an all-round perfect destination and great for solo travelers.
Before I even began my placement the coordinators were extremely helpful and considerate. They genuinely care about your volunteering experience and will go great lengths to make sure you make the most out of your trip! The orientation week was awesome and really helpful in getting used to the culture shock that came with visiting a foreign country. I feel like a totally different person since volunteering, I feel more confident and capable of my own abilities… Alicia Schulz (IVHQer in Sri Lanka)
If you love being close to the ocean, stop your search and volunteer in Madagascar! Crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and welcoming local communities, make this destination so special. It’s no wonder this program rates as one of the most popular destinations for volunteers of all ages. It’s the unique project options which also make Madagascar such a stand-out destination, with the choice between diving into Marine Conservation, Forest Conservation, Teaching, and Construction and Renovation projects. The hut-style accommodation set against a hillside adds a real community feel to your entire experience and you’ll make new friends and connections for life from the minute you arrive.
My times in the village with the locals were so undeniably rewarding and special that I will never forget them. I made so many great friends during my time there, not to mention to friendship I made with the staff on camp - Nosy Komba is a special place filled with special people. The Madagascar program is so amazing and all the local staff put 100% into the running of it and are some of the most inspiring and brilliant people I have ever met… Kelly Wilson (IVHQer in Madagascar)
Whether you’re looking for short-term volunteer program or a longer-term opportunity, IVHQ and our local teams will ensure that you are contributing to impactful projects by building on the work of previous volunteers and paving the way for those to come. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.
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