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June 30 - July 18, 2019
July 21 - August 8, 2019
Join us in Belize for 19 days on our teen SCUBA community service trip and marine conservation program in Belize, a postcard worthy destination beside the clear turquoise sea.
Elise enjoyed everything about the program. The size of the group was perfect and she really clicked with the leaders and other participants. She loved the SCUBA diving and living on the small island. This trip helped Elise confirm that she wants to study marine biology in college.” - Parent of Elise A., Belize: Gud Mawnin
We begin with our PADI SCUBA diving courses earning an Open Water certification, building on existing skills with Advanced Open Water or Rescue Diver, or obtaining additional specialty certifications depending on your level of experience.
Our certification allows us to be hands-on above and below the water in a range of possible environmental service work: fish identification studies, aquatic life tracking, capturing invasive lionfish, and more.
In the Cayes of Belize, we island-hop, explore the barrier reef, hike fine coral sand beaches, snorkel, explore the pyramids of the ancient Mayans, river-tube through the rainforest and explore the pristine jungle in the heart of the Belizean wilderness. Join us, and, as they say in Belize, “Wait bruk down bridge” — Don’t wait too long!
Keep scrolling to learn more about this exciting teen SCUBA community service trip and marine conservation program in Belize!
Belize is well known as a diver's paradise featuring 190 miles of coral reefs, frequent whale shark sightings, nesting hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, and a wildly diverse fish population. Warm waters and cool ocean breezes make this an ideal location for PADI Open Water or continuing education courses.
Experience the lush greens of the jungle while kicking back and relaxing on an inflatable tube!
Invasive lionfish out-breed, out-compete, and out-live native fish and other marine species. They cause immeasurable consequences that affect food security and the economies of over a hundred million people. We will participate in a lionfish eradication program and work with marine biologists on queen conch surveys, lobster surveys, commercial fish surveys, and reef health surveys. In addition, we will document coral reef bio-diversity and attend classroom sessions on ocean ecosystems.
Majestic, curious, and huge, whale sharks are also remarkably gentle. Their mild nature makes swimming with them even more special. Some even seem to be asking to be petted as they glide past.
A beautiful and idyllic private island (caye) in the South of Belize, this true “castaway” coral caye is 36 miles from the mainland.
With a coastline that extends 270 miles along the gorgeous Caribbean Sea and enticing warm turquoise waters in the cayes running along the barrier reef, Belize is the perfect haven.
Some of the best chocolate in the world originates from Belize. Mayan kings used cacao seeds as currency and in a warm, spicy, sacred beverage. It is traditionally flavored with ground black pepper, chili, spices, and sweetened with forest honey, then served hot or cold.
In a thatched roof hut in the heart of the Garifuna community, learn about their history and culture while expressing yourself through traditional drumbeats and dancing.
Sometimes referred to as “Big Hat,” referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stela sculpture found on site depicting one of the site's ancient kings.
As varied and rich as the many cultures that make up Belize, the food can be as peppery and fiery as the tropical sun or as cool and refreshing as crystal Caribbean waters.
Environmental service projects, native species protection.
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total number of hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Marine Conservation Service and Research:
Lionfish Population Monitoring and Control (spearing)
Queen Conch Surveys
Commercial Fish Surveys
Reef Health Surveys
Whale Shark Monitoring
Coral Reef Bio-Diversity
Classroom Sessions on Ocean Ecosystems
Jungle: Float the Rio Grande
Hike: Machaca Forest Reserve, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Snorkel: Tom Owens Caye, Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve
Explore: Nim Li Punit Mayan Ruins, Jaguar Preserve
Classes: Mayan chocolate making, Garifuna drumming, Mayan art and cooking
While on the island off the coast of Placencia, we sleep in bunkbeds in a private dormitory. During our first weekend inland, we sleep in bunkbeds at a jungle lodge. In Punta Gorda, we stay in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Full showers will be available every three to four days, and while near the ocean, participants will be swimming and rinsing off daily.
Tuition (Airfare and baggage fees not included)
A leader-escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader in and out of Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Please contact our office for details.
There will also be a staff member on-hand in Belize City, Belize (BZE) if you wish to fly direct.
Additional in-country group flight is required and is not included in tuition.
Join in on the fun! Check out #BelizeRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
We travel to Placencia, load our belongings onto the ferry and head east to the Sapodilla Marine Reserve on the southernmost section of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Considered by many to be the most beautiful range of cayes (islands) in Belizean waters, this UNESCO World Heritage Site covers more than 48 square miles and includes 14 cayes.
Shallow fringing reefs wind their way around the outside of the sand and mangroves as they slope away toward the outer coral islets. Inside the shallowest area – a depth of just 15 feet – angelfish, snapper, parrotfish, butterfly fish, and a host of other reef-dwellers reside. Beyond the lagoons with their sandy bottoms and lush beds of seagrass, the depth increases; swirling colonies of lettuce coral and stands of staghorn coral create an underwater fantasyland that is colorful and teeming with larger fish such as schooling jacks and spadefish.
We settle in on the small private Coral Caye, our island home for the next two weeks, while we work toward our PADI SCUBA diving certifications. No diving knowledge is required. Depending on your level of experience, each individual will have the opportunity to work toward their Open Water, Advanced Open Water diver, Rescue Diver, or Specialty certification.
Once we have completed our training, we dive into our service work: identifying, tracking, and cataloging the species of animals and coral to better understand reef growth and how to sustain a healthy underwater environment.
Advanced divers have the opportunity to assist in the eradication of the invasive lionfish, a species that poses one of the greatest threats to the sustainability of coral reefs throughout the Caribbean. Lionfish, an insatiable predator native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, was accidentally introduced in the 1980s. Little more than five years after its first sighting in Belizean waters, this fish has devoured its way through much of the region’s marine biodiversity. We will be able to dissect these creatures to better understand what they eat and how they have adapted to life in the Caribbean. Our work with Marine Biologists also includes participating in queen conch surveys, lobster surveys, commercial fish surveys, and reef health surveys. In addition we will help document coral reef bio-diversity and attend classroom sessions on ocean ecosystems.
Weekends are spent on the mainland taking Mayan cooking and art classes and discovering the rich culture of Belize in addition to exploring the Cockscomb Forest and Jaguar Nature Reserve. We learn about traditional Mayan chocolate, and how it is made from the cacao bean gathered from the Theobroma tree in the jungle. We hike and gather pods, roast them over the fire, grind them into powder, mix with warm milk and sugar, and then enjoy!
Another fascinating tradition that has lived for centuries throughout southern Belize is the Garifuna culture, which we experience through drumming. We explore the beautiful land of the mundo Maya and walk through the pyramids, marveling at the wonders of this advanced civilization. We have a chance to snorkel and swim with whale sharks – big floating teddy bears!
We ferry back out to our caye and continue our work, diving and snorkeling through endless colorful sea fans, tropical fish, sponges, and through the clearest aquamarine water on earth.
We share our last week relaxing at our group homestay enjoying the sights and sounds of the Caribbean Sea. Early the next morning, we soak up one last look at our surroundings before transferring back to Belize City and onward to our final destinations.
Arrive in Belize City. Board our group flight to Placencia.
Take the morning ferry to Coral Caye. Spend the first half of week in SCUBA certification classes. Use new diving skills to assist local scientists who study the reef ecosystem. Identify and hunt invasive lionfish.
Regaining our mainland legs, we spend time inland in some of Belize's most gorgeous jungles, lending a hand with forest projects while night hiking to spot wildlife, tubing down the river, and exploring waterfalls.
Return to Coral Caye to continue SCUBA service. Dive twice (or three times) a day, conducting lobster, conch surveys, commercial fish surveys and report Whale Shark sightings. Data will be vital to scientists protecting the reef ecosystem!
Transfer to Punta Gorda, learning about traditional ways of farming cacao and the process of making chocolate. Spend two days on a Mayan farm to learn about sustainable agriculture. Step back in time at the ancient ruin sites of the Mayan empire, learn Garifuna style of drumming, and make the most of the unique group homestay opportunity.
Board the flight back to the U.S. to say final goodbyes after the trip of a lifetime!
Students enrolled are required to complete the PADI eLearning course for their certification level before the first day of the trip. This separate fee is paid directly to PADI and allows for more time underwater diving! Courses will be completed on the island with the confined and open water dives and a skills review. Prices for each course are listed below.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Belize. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor.
To receive an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200, and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
In-country flight, from Belize City to Placencia on the same day as arrival to and departure from the program, will be booked and invoiced by RLT, in addition to the tuition.
This program offers an optional leader-escorted flight in and out of Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for those families who are interested.
If you wish to have your participant fly directly into the starting location, please call the office for details.