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Marine Conservation Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary
This project is currently not accepting applications.
Check out this similar project in Belize

Marine Conservation Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary

Ready to make a splash as a Marine Conservation volunteer in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Marine Conservation project sets volunteers up with this exciting opportunity to help restore and protect the coral reefs of Ochos Rios. Volunteers will gain experience in scuba diving and marine conservation while supporting reef life and the local community that partly depends on it for their livelihoods.

  • Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from £443 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Use your scuba diving skills to help to restore coral reefs

  • Discover Jamaica’s rich and vibrant culture

  • Stay with other volunteers near James Bond Beach in St Mary

Key information

Protect & preserve precious marine life
Based at Ochos Rios
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from £443 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 4 weeks
Blue Hole and other tours available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are passionate about marine conservation. Experienced scuba divers who are certified and have completed at least 20 dives can contribute to conservation work immediately. If you are not an experienced diver, there are options to train, upskill and gain certification in Jamaica.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Coral reefs are an attraction in tropical countries all over the world, but are sadly being damaged by a range of human factors and the effects of climate change. On top of that, marine debris represents a significant threat to the ecosystem and is having a devastating impact on marine life in Jamaica. Volunteers are able to help to reduce these effects by using scuba diving skills to help with important conservation efforts.

As a Marine Conservation volunteer in Jamaica you’ll focus on the restoration of the coral reef in Ocho Rios. You’ll support marine life and local community through a range of initiatives, including:

  • Dive tasks: Coral cleaning and monitoring, removing invasive species, transplanting, coral surveying and data collection. Volunteers typically complete 2 dives per week (subject to weather).
  • Site maintenance: Beach cleans to remove damaging litter and other waste, and helping with ground beautification of the local area, through painting and other maintenance tasks.
  • Administrative tasks: Update records, help with preparing written reports, planning, monitoring and data evaluation, website and social media.
  • Community outreach: Help to improve environmental awareness in schools and community groups in order to proactively assist conservation efforts.

Volunteers are required to bring their own mask, fins and rash shirt. Bringing your own wetsuit and regulator is optional. Scuba tanks will be provided.

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 Marine Conservation volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?

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

  • Supporting local efforts to protect marine life
  • Learning about environmental issues and solutions
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining scuba and marine conservation experience
  • Immersing yourself in Jamaican culture
  • Exploring Jamaica’s coral reefs

Volunteer requirements

  • You will need to have completed at least 20 dives before starting conservation efforts. If you haven’t, you can upskill in Jamaica before starting on the volunteer project (less experienced divers will require a 2 week minimum stay, US$550 for PADI open water certification and $250 surcharge for additional supervision).
  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
  • Volunteers need to bring their own laptop.

This project is currently not accepting applications.

Check out this similar project in Belize, Belize

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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!

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”Volunteering was one of the greatest decisions I have made. It is a perfect reason to escape for a solo trip and to help others at the same time. I have really grown as a person, and made unforgettable memories with new friends.”

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Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica with IVHQ


On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.

Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.


You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Break for lunch.
1:00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3:30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, go sightseeing or do some shopping.


With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.

The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like James Bond Beach; the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.

The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.


A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.

For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between US$5 (approximately £4) and US$25 (approximately £21) per meal.

For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for US$79 (approximately £66) per week. You can book this via your MyIVHQ Checklist once you have registered for the Jamaica program. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know about any dietary requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.

Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.


1 week £443 Equivalent to £63/day
2 weeks £779 Equivalent to £56/day
3 weeks £1088 Equivalent to £52/day
4 weeks £1379 Equivalent to £49/day
  • 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.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £277) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$400 -$500 per week to be sufficient for additional expenses.

The Blue Hole is located in St Ann, Jamaica, and is a perfect 2.5 hour excursion for outdoor adventure enthusiasts looking to spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

This excursion cost US$51 (approximately £43) per person and operates every Wednesday. This fee includes your entrance fee, transportation, a locker, and a personal guide for your 2.5 hour visit.

The Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon experience is a 4.5 hour tour where you will visit the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island. You’ll participate in a guided tour of these caves with a swim in the glowing water of Luminous Lagoon, one of only a few like it in the world. This natural wonder offers a once in a lifetime experience.

This excursion costs US$108 (approximately £91) per person which includes your entrance fee, transportation, boat tour and a personal guide for your visit.

Learn the latest Jamaican dance moves with a local reggae professional during a reggae dance class with your fellow volunteers!

This activity costs US$25 (approximately £21) per person and the dance class will take 1.5 hours to complete.

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert alongside your fellow volunteers; you’ll be sure to impress everyone back home!

This activity costs US$25 (approximately £21) per person and includes a professional instructor, ingredients, and a complimentary beverage for the cooking class which will take 2.5 hours to complete.

Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to sign up or to get more information about any of these activities and tours.

Check what's required to visit Jamaica

Check out the widget below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Jamaica, based on your country of residence.

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

Capital Kingston
Population 2.9 million
Languages English
Currency Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate

The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.

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How to get started

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