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Volunteer in Indonesia with International Volunteer HQ

Volunteer in Indonesia

Volunteer in Indonesia with International Volunteer HQ, the world's most affordable and trusted volunteer organization. Volunteers are based on the island of Simeulue, off the west coast of Sumatra. You can choose to volunteer for 1, 2 or 4 weeks and volunteer opportunities are focused on island conservation and community development.
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Watch IVHQ volunteers abroad in Indonesia

At a glance…

  • Available year-round
  • Family-friendly conservation volunteer work
  • Program based within a conservation resort on Simeulue Island
  • Program fees include return flights from Medan to Simeulue, airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
My husband and I wanted an experience with our children that was meaningful and fun. We chose the IVHQ program in Simeulue, Indonesia because of the focus on supporting local communities in the areas of social enterprise, environment, education and conservation. The tropical climate, white sand beaches, surf breaks and natural beauty of the island made it a very special destination. Our volunteer program was well considered and diverse, which meant our children were super engaged with the experience. The accommodation and facilities allowed us to relax and enjoy some quality holiday time in Simeulue as a family. We would highly recommend this volunteer program.
IVHQ Volunteer - Sophie Braggins
Sophie Braggins
Nationality: New Zealander
Age: 34
Destination: Indonesia
  • Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Indonesia to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
  • Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Indonesia will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
  • Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
  • Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
  • Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
  • New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
  • Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Indonesia with your new-found friends.

The IVHQ Indonesia volunteer program is based out of a eco-minded surf resort on Simeulue Island, a beautiful tropical paradise off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

The volunteer program begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and you can choose to volunteer for 1, 2 or 4 weeks.

If you are volunteering for 2 weeks or longer, you will have the opportunity to participate in volunteer work on Bangkaru Island. The island is located to the south-east of Simeulue within the Banyaks archipelago. Bangkaru is an uninhabited island with untouched primary rainforest, adjacent to white sand beaches fringed with coral reefs. Here you will be conducting sea turtle patrols on Amandangan Beach (turtle beach) which stretches for 1 mile (1.7 kilometers).

This program is for volunteers 30 years or over and families. Family members under the age of 30 years are able to join with their parent/guardian who is over the age of 30. If you are under 30 and would like to volunteer in Indonesia, you can join IVHQ on our popular Bali - Ubud or Bali - Lovina programs.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check.

English is the spoken language on the IVHQ Indonesia volunteer program. While community development initiatives within local schools will be carried out in English, some of the younger children will only speak Bahasa Indonesian. Fluency in Indonesian is not a prerequisite for the program, however we recommend that volunteers learn some basic Indonesian prior to departure, as this can help immensely in communicating with local people.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

Island Conservation

When volunteering on the Island Conservation project in Indonesia, you will play an important role in supporting a range of conservation activities to help preserve the eco-systems and species on the island of Simeulue. This project is well suited to volunteers and families with an enthusiasm for eco volunteering and helping out wherever your support is most needed. Your volunteer work can include bird tracking, organic gardening, community development projects and turtle conservation efforts (if you are volunteering for 2 weeks or more). You can learn more about the volunteer work below.

If you are joining the program for 2 weeks, you will spend 1 week on Bangkaru Island and if you are volunteering for 4 weeks, you will spend 2 weeks on Bangkaru Island where a turtle nesting site is based. The nesting site has a high level of poaching and you will be assisting the turtle rangers with their nightly and morning patrols and environmental surveying. This includes logging the GPS coordinates of nests, monitoring lizard predation, searching for evidence of poaching and helping to remove barnacles from sea turtles.

Community Education: Volunteers work alongside local teachers and support English language development and provide cross-cultural learning opportunities for the students. Secondly, volunteers provide assistance at the kids’ club at the volunteer accommodation, which offers tutoring and youth development activities to strengthen community ties and support positive future opportunities for the children.

Bird Surveys: Simeulue is home to over 200 bird species, with up to 20 of these being either endemic species or subspecies. The data collected by volunteers is put towards a species list for Simeulue which can then be used to measure the increase or decrease in species diversity and relative abundance over time.

Organic Gardening and Community Developments: Volunteers support organic gardening efforts on Simeulue to help provide a sustainable source of food for the program, while reducing the food miles of the eco-resort. The long-term goal is to transfer the concept to other areas to help improve local nutrition within the region.

Marine Surveys: Marine surveys are conducted by volunteers to identify changes in the local marine environments. Through assessing keystone species of fish, invertebrates and the marine substrate over an extended period of time, anthropogenic impacts and trends can be monitored.

Marine Debris Survey: Marine debris is detrimental to a number of species and fatalities due to ingestion or entanglement are common to a wide variety of marine species, including sea turtles. Volunteers are involved in the removal of rubbish and the clearing of debris from beaches as part of community engagement programs on Simeulue, and to assist with sea turtle nesting on Bangkaru.

Spotlighting: Volunteers can also be involved in spotlighting activities, which is an effective way of identifying a wide variety of nocturnal species located in a given area. This activity is useful to spot the elusive and endemic Simeulue scops owl, as well as lesser mouse deer on Bangkaru.

Camera Trapping: Camera trappings are used to identify animals inhabiting both Simeulue and Bangkaru. This provides an overview of what lives in the forests and this information can be used by volunteers to monitor population increases or decreases over time.

Turtle Patrols (2 and 4 week durations only): There is one night patrol and one morning patrol every day on Bangkaru, and you may sign up for one or two patrols per day. On the night patrol, you will be accompanied by one or two staff members, but you may go on the morning patrol with another volunteer. The daytime will mainly be spent resting and preparing for the night patrols, however you will be required to assist in the marine debris and environmental surveys, as well as some camp management (keeping communal areas and rooms clean and tidy). There will also be plenty of time for leisure activities, including snorkeling, reading or photography, but your focus will be the sea turtle conservation program. Please note that taking photographs of turtles is not allowed during night patrols.

Hatchery Operations (2 and 4 week durations only): We are affiliated with a local Sumatran hatchery and as a volunteer, you will be involved in the feeding the turtles, cleaning the hatchery, and helping with administration activities like raising funds.

Please book your flights to arrive at the Medan, Kualanamu International Airport (KNO). The local team will arrange your flight from Medan to Simeulue. As there is only one flight per day at 1.15pm from Medan to Simuelue, an overnight stay in Medan may be required and our local team can assist you with booking this. The round-trip flight cost from Medan to Simeulue is included in your Program Fee.

Once you arrive in Simeulue, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our Indonesia team at the volunteer accommodation on Simeulue Island. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Indonesia – Introduction to Indonesia, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement.

Orientation Upon landing, you will meet one of our friendly staff who will take you to the volunteer accommodation. Here you will be shown your room and you are free to explore the resort. After dinner, your orientation to the program will begin.

A typical volunteer day on Simeulue Island:

8.00 AM Breakfast is served at the volunteer accommodation.

9.00 AM Volunteers typically begin work for the day on the Island.

12.00 PM Lunch is served at the volunteer accommodation.

1.00 PM Volunteers resume work on the Island.

7.00 PM Dinner is served in the communal area at the volunteer accommodation.

A typical volunteer day on Bangkaru Island:

7.00 AM Breakfast is served at the volunteer accommodation.

8.00 AM Morning patrol of the turtle beach to collect data on nesting events from the previous night and to look for hatchlings (This may occur earlier to have a better chance of finding hatchlings).

12.00 PM Lunch is served at the volunteer accommodation.

1.00 PM Volunteers resume work on the Island.

7.00 PM Dinner is served at the volunteer accommodation.

8:00 PM Evening patrol on Turtle Beach.

Please note, this schedule can vary depending on the project that the volunteer is participating on.

Simeulue: Volunteers on Simeulue will be accommodated in restored ‘Tsunami Houses’, dwellings supplied as aid relief to Acehnese post the 2004 earthquake. These have dormitory-style bedding arrangements, so you can expect to share a room with one or two others. The resort overlooks a world-class surf break, ‘The Peak’, and is backed by a steep hill which has an abundance of clove, nutmeg and lime trees.

Pulau Bangkaru: The living conditions on Bangkaru are basic but comfortable. The accommodation is surrounded by jungle and fronted by a white sandy beach. Volunteers are accommodated in dormitory-style rooms with basic amenities and can expect to share a room with one to two other volunteers. You are requested to help conserve water by limiting shower times, as resources are sparse during dry season.

WiFi is available Simeulue between 5pm-7am, however it is extremely slow and unreliable. We recommend bringing an unlocked phone and purchasing a SIM card when you arrive on the island. There is no internet access or phone communications on Bangkaru. There is a satellite telephone on site in Bangkaru in case there is an emergency, however it is unavailable for personal phone calls.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided on the program. Vegetarian diets can be catered for and we ask that you make a note of any special dietary requirements in your application form, so our local team can prepare for your arrival. On Simeulue, the local team offer western fusion cuisine, whilst on Bangkaru we are completely self-sufficient and this offers more locally-orientated meals. Indonesian cuisine commonly consists of rice, fish, vegetables, noodles, beans, and pasta. If you are vegetarian, it may be wise to bring vitamin tablets, or other food supplements to meet your dietary needs.

There are a range of activities to enjoy on both Simeulue and Pulau Bangkaru in your free time, it’s not all about surveys!

You are welcome to enjoy the world-class waves on your door step in your free time, along with snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding down the Sumatran river.

Yoga classes also run every morning and afternoon at the volunteer accommodation with an experienced yoga teacher who can help you unwind after a day of volunteering!

There are many beautiful hikes and river walks that can be explored, plus waterfalls that are only a 30-minute drive away. Or opt to take a walking tour through one of the local villages, exploring the local shops, cafes and mosques.

Further afield, Minchou Island is a 30-minute boat ride from the volunteer accommodation and is one of the best beaches in the area with snorkeling, perfect white sand beaches, and a secret cave to explore.

Capital Jakarta
Population 237.42 million
Languages Bahasa Indonesia
Currency Indonesia Rupiah (IDR)
Time zone UTC+07:00

Weather and climate: In Simeulue and Bangkaru, the rainy season is between September and January, although being so close to the equator, the weather can be highly variable. If you are volunteering during this period, make sure you bring a reliable rain coat and some warm clothing. The temperature can get to 18°C during the night and up to 30°C during the day. Patrols do not get cancelled during rain, so be prepared to get wet on occasions. The dry season is predominantly between February and August. Be prepared to get hot and sweaty. However, always be cautious and abide by the local dress code.

Dress Code: When leaving the volunteer accommodation, make sure that you dress modestly. This means no bikinis or tank tops (t-shirts are acceptable), and trousers should cover the knees. On Bangkaru, the dress code is less strict. There are beaches that are ok for sunbathing and bikinis. However, be considerate when you are around the local staff.

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