Hawaii Volunteer Guidelines

It has been ARCAS’s experience - both in its volunteer program at the Rescue Center in Petén and its Sea Turtle Conservation Program in Hawaii on the Pacific coast - that the best way to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the volunteer experience is rewarding for both parties is to adhere to several general guidelines.
Below are general guidelines about volunteering at the Sea Turtle Conservation project in Hawaii.

Fees and Reservations
Volunteers are asked to pay $175/week at the Hawaii Project which includes food and the lodging. Under Plan Completo, an additional $200 is charged which includes a reservation at the project, airport pick-up and transfer to and from the project site, and two nights hotel in Antigua. Volunteers at the Parque Hawaii are provided with bedding, mosquito nets, showers, toilets, American-style 110 electricity and lockers, and for an additional cost, internet service. Banking services and ATM machines are available in Monterrico, 8kms away.

For volunteers who want to improve their Spanish and have a more typical Guatemalan experience, ARCAS can arrange home stays with local families at roughly the same cost as staying at the Parque.
Three meals per day and bottled drinking water are provided. Local stores carry basic food items but there is a limited selection of fresh fruits, snacks and toiletries so you may want to bring these with you. Please don’t bring any food into the dorms as it attracts unwanted visitors.
The ARCAS Hawaii volunteer experience is as much about cultural exchange as it is about wildlife rescue. After all, only through changing the attitudes of locals and convincing them that sea turtles are worth more alive than dead can we encourage them to collaborate with our conservation efforts.

We encourage volunteers both in Petén and at the Hawaii project to make the effort to learn as much Spanish as possible before coming to volunteer. Unlike the Rescue Center in Petén, the Parque Hawaii receives many local visitors and there are plenty of chances to interact with locals during daily volleyball and football games, fishing, etc.
The sea turtle nesting season runs from July to November, with peak months in August-October, though there are solitary nesters all year around. We release hatchlings from late August to late January. Mangrove reforestations are carried out in December and January. Other reforestation activities are carried out in May-July.

For those interested in participating in environmental education, the Guatemalan school year runs from January to November. We also conduct permanent scientific monitoring of the local mangrove ecosystem and volunteers can participate in that. Local community development activities are carried out year-around.

Getting to Hawaii

When you have made your travel plans, please send us a short e-mail letting us know your itinerary.

If you are on a tight budget or want the “chicken bus” experience, take the “Cubanita” bus from the La Terminal de la Zona 4 bus station and market in Guatemala City to Taxisco-Chiquimulilla. Get off in Taxisco and transfer to the La Avellana bus. In La Avellana, take the public ferry across the Chiquimulilla Canal to Monterrico. From Monterrico, take the public bus the 8kms or 20 minutes to Parque Hawaii, which is about one kilometer before the village of Hawaii.

There are also public buses that run from Guatemala City to Antigua to Puerto Itzapa and then Monterrico. The entire trip from Guatemala City to Hawaii via chicken bus takes at least 4 hours and costs about Q40. Most buses leave in the morning. Don´t start your trip after midday.

Apart from the chicken bus, we recommend taking a tourist shuttle van to Monterrico. Daily shuttles leave Antigua, Quetzaltenango and Panajachel @8AM arriving in Monterrico @10.30 for $10. They will pick you up at your hotel. Return shuttles from Monterrico to Antigua leave at 3PM. To make a reservation, call STA at 7832-8581 o Don Quijote travel at 5659-8397.

If you are planning on coming to Hawaii to volunteer, think about fundraising among your friends and family before you come to raise money for the Sponsor-a-Nest program. Under this program, donations are used to buy whole sea turtle nests on the beach.

Typically, $25 can buy a whole nest of roughly 100 eggs. ARCAS staff and volunteers wait until the price for sea turtle nests drops (usually during the height of the nesting season, August-November) and then go out onto the beach and buy whole nests from local collectors. These eggs are then buried in the Hawaii or El Rosario and 50 days later, the hatchlings are released into the sea.

Take part in this direct conservation effort. Hit the Donate Now button on our main page or contact us at [email protected] about making a donation. You can also buy a nest as a gift for a friend or family. Help us to save these beautiful but threatened creatures!

Check out our Eco Tourist Options on this site or email us at [email protected] for more info!

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