A large part of Bonaire’s tourists arrive on the island with dive gear in tow, ready to jump in and explore the reefs. Some come for the surfing – windsurfing or kitesurfing that is. And others arrive on a massive ship, take part in an activity or two, and leave by sunset the same day. One thing they all have in common is an agenda – a mental list of the many things they want to do during their short stay in paradise.
What often strikes me is the frequency by which these land-based tourists inquire about volunteer opportunities on the island. Some stay for only one or two weeks, yet they selflessly give a precious block of their vacation time to help one of the island’s many causes.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of organizations that welcome tourists who seek to donate their time.
Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire
The mission of Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRF) is to develop affordable, effective strategies for protecting and restoring the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals along the coastlines of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. In order to accomplish this mission, volunteer scuba divers are always needed. Prior to volunteering, divers must become a certified Padi Coral Restoration Diver. The course is designed with tourists in mind, and it’s both educational and fun (I’ve taken the course, and I wholeheartedly recommend it).
Email – info@crfbonaire
Phone – (+599) 717-5080 ext. 528
Coral Restoration Foundation nursery at Klein Bonaire
Cleaning the algae from a tree in the coral nursery
Divers in the coral nursery on Klein Bonaire
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has been protecting Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles since 1991. Their mission is to “connect people to sea turtle conservation in ways that inspire caring for nature”. Among the ways that tourists can help are to participate in fishing line cleanups and beach cleanups. For more ways to volunteer, visit http://www.bonaireturtles.org/act
Local Hotline – 780-0433
Phone – (+599) 717-2225
Klein Bonaire Reforestation
In 2006, STINAPA initiated a reforestation project on Klein Bonaire, with the goal of restoring the island’s once-dense flora. Volunteers are always needed to help care for the young plants and trees.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook private message to Elsmarie Beukenboom
A young plant receives water on Klein Bonaire
Volunteers hard at work at the Klein Bonaire base camp
Quarterly Clean-up Dives Hosted by Dive Friends Bonaire
Dive Friends Bonaire hosts a clean-up dive on a quarterly basis. Scuba divers can volunteer to remove trash and fishing line from a rotation of sites in downtown Kralendijk. As a thank you to the volunteers, a barbecue is held that evening at the Dive Friends location at Hamlet Oasis.
The next 2015 clean-up dive will be held on October 17th.
Email – email@example.com
Facebook – Dive Friends Bonaire
Animal Shelter Bonaire
The animal shelter of Bonaire is where the island’s homeless cats and dogs find a loving refuge. Animal-loving volunteers work tirelessly to see that the animals are well cared-for, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and provided with necessary health care. The shelter is always looking for volunteers and donations of cash, food and supplies.
Facebook – www.facebook.com/animalshelterbonaire
The Shelter’s new Cat Palace
The cats enjoying their new palace
Have you volunteered during your trip to Bonaire? Do you know of other Bonaire-based organizations that welcome tourist volunteers?