About This Trip
- Learn reef monitoring techniques and fish ID from local biologists.
- Snorkel and explore the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve and learn about its importance to the local community.
- Visit the offshore reefs of uninhabited Desecheo Island.
- Stay in the small surf town of Rincón and learn about the sea turtle conservation efforts at Tres Hermanos Beach.
This immersive volunteer vacation will sharpen your reef fish ID skills and get you familiar with field techniques that scientists use to evaluate the health of coral reefs. Working with local biologists you will explore the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve and support their efforts to monitor the health of the reserve.
There will be opportunities to learn about local sea turtle nesting populations, to help monitor coral reef restoration sites, and to compare the near shore marine reserve reefs with the offshore remote reefs of Desecheo Island. In between these activities you will meet local conservationists and biologists and have a chance to participate in a local cooking class, all while staying in the seaside surf town of Rincón.
Notes on Trip Costs
click to expand
Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Your expedition costs include fees that support conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods in the communities we visit, and Oceanic Society's earnings are invested back into our global research and conservation programs. In 2019, we also established our Expedition Impact Fund (EIF) as a way to grow our impact. The fund is seeded annually with money earned from our expeditions, and supplemented by donations from Oceanic Society travelers. Through the EIF, we award grants to our partners for their on-the-ground efforts to protect ocean habitats and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them.
Dates & Prices
B, L, D indicates the meals provided each day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
Day 1: Arrive Aguadilla, Puerto Rico transfer to Rincon
Arrive at Rafael Hernández International Airport (BQN) and take a taxi to group lodging in Rincon. Evening group dinner and briefing with local research partners. (D)
Day 2-3: Coral Reef Monitoring in Tres Palmas
The morning will begin with a briefing on the history of the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve followed by an exploratory snorkel to get an overview of the area. After lunch, we will hear a lecture about coral reef biology and ecology including threats to coral reefs which will set the stage for the week’s in-water activities. The following day will include training on how to monitor coral reef health and search for the presence of coral diseases within the reserve. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Coral Surveys, Fish ID & Puerto Rican Cooking Class
Enjoy a snorkel outing to practice your newly learned or improved fish ID skills. In the afternoon, we'll have a lecture to introduce Caribbean reef fish identification along with a guest lecture by a local scientist, and, in the evening, a Puerto Rican cooking class. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Desecheo Island
We'll take a chartered boat to Desecheo Island, 13 miles offshore. Desecheo is a small, uninhabited island that is a National Wildlife Refuge and a prime location for scuba diving and snorkeling. Our boat will take us to snorkel some of the reefs around the island, and we will compare fish communities and coral heath between Desecheo (offshore) and Tres Palmas (near shore). We will be joined by a local turtle biologist who will talk to us about his decades-long research on turtles in the area while we assist him with his monitoring surveys! (B,L,D)
Day 6: Coral Reef Monitoring
Today we will snorkel the reef to conduct fish community surveys using our fish ID skills and in the afternoon we will learn how to analyze all the data we’ve been collecting over the last few days. We will also meet another local scientist during a guest lecture. In the evening, we'll head to the Rincón Art Walk in the town's central plaza to see local arts and crafts and listen to music. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Waterfall Hike
In the morning and early afternoon, we'll hike to a secluded waterfall and enjoy a relaxing lunch there among the jungle. The afternoon will be filled with some free time for exploring the town and after dinner we’ll head out to a local drink spot for a traditional favorite served in a coconut (with or without rum, your choice)! (B,L,D)
Day 8: Depart for Home or Old San Juan
We’ll have breakfast together before we part ways. Transfer by taxi to Rafael Hernández International Airport (BQN) to fly home - or if staying on we can help you arrange transport from Rincon if needed, to your next destination. (B)
In Rincón we will stay in a two-family home, where each level has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen, living room, wifi, satellite TV and A/C. Each level has: 1 master bedroom with a queen bed and attached bathroom, 2 rooms that can be made up with 1 king bed or 2 twin beds. These two rooms have a shared bathroom. There is also an enclosed outdoor shower. The accommodation is walking distance to the marine reserve and located in a quiet, residential neighborhood.
Your expedition will be led by one or more of the following expert naturalist guides: