Service BVI AdventureBritish Virgin Islands
Preserving Paradise In the British Virgin Islands
A vision of paradise? Yes... yet the tourism it attracts threatens to upset the delicate ecological balance, and our core environmental projects are based around some of these issues...
This unique program is run as part of our GoBeyond service programs where you will live with the rest of your service team aboard a sailing vessel. Living aboard allows us to visit most every island while providing a perfect floating home. It's refreshing to be out on the water where there are cool breezes, and a great sense of camaraderie comes from working together as a crew.
While in Tortola, we work with a number of organizations. Working with the National Parks Trust we help to re-propagate the badly damaged mangrove systems, which provide sea defense as well as a protected nursery habitat for many juvenile marine species. We collect seedlings, replant them along exposed shores and monitor existing nursery sites and mangrove forests. We also make ourselves available to the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue organization. We do projects they have little time for, as they maintain readiness for their missions.
Thanks to the coral reefs, the waters surrounding the BVI are home to amazing sea life. The National Parks Trust has placed moorings in the most sensitive reef areas where the snorkeling and diving boats have, in the past, caused great damage with their anchors. As we sail our home from island to island, one of our projects is to monitor and provide feedback to the Parks on the condition of these moorings as well as information on number and types of craft utilizing this resource. It's another way we can help keep the reefs pristine while allowing safer access for all to explore undersea.
The Department of Environment and Fisheries is involved in many aspects of monitoring and protecting the environment in the British Virgin Islands and we work with them specifically in the tagging and releasing of sea turtles. Slick, Rapido, Maddy-Hazel-Bob and Wamza are just a few of the names Lifeworkers gave to the 250+ sea turtles we have tagged and released over the years.
At intervals, we visit schools and community centers to develop full days of activities and programming for the local children. Like kids everywhere, BVI kids love to play games, do crafts, play with magic tricks and make toy airplanes fly in loops. It's a lot of fun and everyone grows from working together and building friendships.
Other projects include church and community shelter painting, beach trash surveys for the National Parks Trust, community clean-ups as well as local construction projects with the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society.
While service work forms the core of our experience, you'll become an accomplished sailor as you and your team navigate the waters of the BVI. We'll also find ample time to snorkel the reefs, climb Mount Sage, barbecue on the beach, listen to steel bands as the day winds down and sleep in a hammock out on deck under a blanket of Caribbean stars.
Turtle Tagging in the BVI...
Voyage Blog Entry...
The Coral Island
Author: Gina D.
Our first day on the island of Anegada began with an exciting taxi drive through the island. Once we reached the Old Yacht Dock of Anegada, we were divided into groups for turtle tagging, iguana cage cleaning, and hiking.
I chose hiking along with some fellow shipmates, we hopped on a jeep-like vehicle and drove through a beautiful path, when we reached the beach we observed how much trash from all over the globe had ended on this remote area, while walking down the beach we kept an eye out for nurse sharks, which usually come here to mate. We then pulled out sandwitches we had packed earlier and had a picnic on the beach. Once we regrouped with everyone, we had sometime to walk around and enjoy Anegada's unique culture and cuisine.
The Vixen Point BBQ & Beach Party
Alumni Author: Chance S.
The highlight of my past session has to have been the Vixen Point BBQ and Beach Party. For the first week you've been doing a ton of service and growing close to your shipmates, and then at the BBQ you finally get to hang out with all of the other crews and see your friends on other boats. Start out by arriving by dinghy, getting some good food and as the sun sets, the music starts and the party begins. You have never experienced such an amazing party!
Capsizing a Pico...
Voyage Blog Entry...
Author: Hannah L.
After our delicious french toast breakfast courtesy of our chefs Ryan and Katrina, we raised anchor and set off to Muskmellon Bay. We couldn't have asked for better weather during the short journey; the sun was shining and there was a cool, steady breeze during the entire 1-hour trip. We arrived around 10 a.m. After rafting up with Grins, the other GoBeyond boat, we took dinghys around a nearby point to observe some seabirds that were nesting in a nearby cliff. After returning, we set up some 2-person sailboats called Picos and unpacked some waterskiing and wakeboarding gear. We spent the rest of the day sailing around the bay in the Picos, and waterskiing and wakeboarding behind the dinghys. We all enjoyed this day of fun and rest, but we are all ready and eager to continue with our community service projects tomorrow.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Author: Sophie R.
Today was exciting; it was the first time we got to launch off of our initial dock! After a boat talk with Mike, the director of Action Quest and GoBeyond, we walked over to a nearby healthy mangrove forest. It was amazing to see a thriving community of trees.
We learned that these trees are essential to the ecosystem due to the various roles it plays for local fish and habitats. Then, we finally took off from the dock; it was awesome motor-boating away! After a yummy lunch, we jumped into the water to check out the baby mangroves. In order to ensure a greater survival rate for these seedlings, past GoBeyond programs hammered cracked PVC pipes into the sand, and filled it with sand and water. Mangrove seedlings were then dropped inside, and our job today was to monitor the trees and make sure that none had died. We spent a while in the cool water measuring the height of the trees as well as taking out dead ones and putting in fresh seedlings. It was tough to get onto the boat again since the water was so beautiful, but it was finally time to do some sailing! We all worked together to get the sails up. We anchored in Savanna Bay on Virgin Gorda and had our first shower. We had to jump into the ocean, climb out to wash our hair, jump back in, and then rinse off with fresh water. The ocean water was so warm, and it was actually really fun to just jump off the boat to shower. Today was an incredible first day on the water and I know that it'll just get more and more fun. While we're all very tired, I know we can't wait to learn what we're doing tomorrow!
Just you, your shipmates and the power of the wind. Now, with the breeze in your hair and the helm in your hands, you realize how far you and your teammates have come. No longer passengers, you are crew – shipmates, staff and adventurers united for this awesome voyage...MORE > >
One of the best ways to travel is to work side-by-side with the communities and environments you’re immersing yourself in. We partner with local organizations that allow us to give back to the locations we visit while learning and growing ourselves. Whether it's combating invasive species, removing garbage from the beach, or simply bringing a smile to a child’s face – service oriented travel allows you to gain a new perspective of the world while having fun at the same time!MORE > >
ActionQuest visits some of the most incredible places on earth - the perfect settings for watersports, cultural expeditions, hiking and exploring. The sights you see on an AQ voyage vary according to the destinations you visit, and all are extraordinary.MORE > >
Other Cool Stuff
Think that's all we do at AQ? No way. Along with the beach BBQ's and reggae dance parties in the BVI, you'll learn to drive a dinghy, tie knots, splice a line, sail a laser and even cook for 15 people at a time! While the Galapagos and Ecuador voyages are filled with unpredictable, priceless moments of cultural exchange, service learning, and adventure. You’ll see striking scenery, improve your Spanish, taste new food, and make friends for life as you immerse yourself in an entirely new culture. Every moment of every day will be jam packed with cool stuff to do, see and experience...MORE > >
Presidential Volunteer Service Award
Actionquest and Lifeworks are certifying organizations for the President's Volunteer Service Award. The President's Council on Service and Civic Participation established the award program as a way to thank and honor U.S. citizens who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. Unique to Lifeworks is that upon completion of a program, most students have earned an impressive 100 hours of community service work and thus achieve the Bronze level of the President's Volunteer Service Award. U.S. citizen-students receive a personalized Certificate of Award, the official President's Volunteer Service Award lapel pin and a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama. NOTE: 1st and 3rd session of The Galapagos and Ecuador Adventures are not eligible for this award
VOYAGE ITINERARYPrevious Next
Day Description 1 Fly Day! - Students depart all points of the globe for the British Virgin Islands! Staff help transfer students in St. Thomas for connection flights and in Tortola for the bus to West End. After getting settled into the GoBeyond catamaran, the students' new floating home, students take a swim, get to know their fellow shipmates, whip up the first meal aboard, and gather for evening program introductions and orientation. 2 The First Sail - Students sail to Norman Island and receive their first basic instruction in sailing and knot tying. After an exciting first sail, students enjoy a snorkel through the once treasure filled "Caves." 3 Spyglass Mountain - Students wake up for the breathtaking (both in scenery and steepness!) sunrise hike up Spyglass hill. Students then set sail for Tortola for an afternoon visit to the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) to meet some enthusiastic children for some educational games, baseball and soccer. Night is spent under the stars for a lively Lifeworks Forum. 4 Cleanup at Savannah Bay - Morning sail to Savannah Bay. Students have an interactive lesson in marine biology and island ecology, a quick hike to a salt pond, and then start to work on cleaning up a once pristine beach! 5 The Beautiful Baths - Students explore one of the most famous natural wonders of the BVIs, and join together for some group building games on the beach. Afternoon sail, dinghy driving instruction and test, and another lively Lifeworks Forum night. 6 Bregado Flax and the Copper Mine - Students lead educational games and activities for a local school, before visiting a historic abandoned copper mine. 7 Turtling Day! - Students are introduced to turtle tagging and release, and start the chase! Afternoon sail to Vixen Point for a night barbeque and dance on the beach. 8 Anegada - Students embark for the long sail to Anegada, one of the most unique and least visited islands in the BVIs. Afternoon visit to the Anegada Iguana Center for a conservation project to protect these rare creatures. Evening movie night. 9 Anegada - Conservation project with the Anegada Iguana Center. Students hop on a fast boat whaler for a turtling day - "rodeo style" - with Rasta Jim! 10 Anegada - Students breakup into 3 groups for breathtaking hikes along the beaches of Anegada. Along the way, students help preserve these unique island beaches with garbage bags in hand, while also searching for and documenting important data on sea turtle nesting sites.
Day Description 11 Goodbye Anegada - Students have a more relaxing day as they sail to Marina Cay for an evening activity, of the inspirational type, with ActionQuest. 12 Play Day! - Sail to Muskmellon Bay for a "fun in the sun" day complete with water skis, wake boards, snorkels and laser sailing. 13 Turtling with YEP - Students lead educational activities for YEP while teaching local children to turtle tag. Evening barbeque at Sommer's Beach for delicious food and beach games. 14 Jost Van Dyke - Educational activities, games, arts and crafts day with the children of Jost Van Dyke. Students visit famous Foxy and tour the Preservation's Society sloop project, a fascinating work of cultural preservation. 15 Mount Sage Hike - Wrapped in the lush greens of Mt. Scenery National Park with views of the entire British and U.S. Virgin Islands, students conquer the highest peak in the BVIs. After a "Cheese Burger in Paradise" in the very spot that Jimmy Buffet is claimed to have written his song for, students join ActionQuest for a rousing sand castle building contest and great food and music under the stars at Sydney's. 16 Smugglers Cove Hike and Road Town Free Time - Beach cleanup day at Smuggler's Cove. Afternoon free time in Road Town, with the ever-so-popular evening at Roti Palace for this famed Caribbean cuisine. 17 Frenchman's Cay - Students spend the morning learning of the important work of the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue team, and get to work! Since it's solely volunteer run, VISAR has little time for building maintenance, and they rely on us for the help! Afternoon mangrove reforestion project with the children of YEP and the BVI Environment and Fisheries Department. Kids and adults alike love to hammer the PVC planting pipes into the soft shorelines! 18 Conrad - Students visit Conrad, the oldest original inhabitant of Peter Island. After a clean-up of this inspirational man's land, students head to Dead Man's Chest for another amazing day of turtle tagging. 19 Salt Island - Sunrise sail to Salt Island for a hike to the top, with majestic views of the islands, sea and the famed shipwreck of the RMS Rhone. Afternoon turtling and a sail to the Bight! 20 The Bight - Morning sunrise hike to where it all began - Spyglass Mountain - a perfect opportunity for reflection on the GoBeyond experience. Students return to West End for boat check out, and a grand final feast and closing at Pussers Landing. 21 So Hard To Say Goodbye - Students say goodbye to their new friends at GoBeyond. Without fail there is a mix of emotions - there is excitement to return home; there is sadness to leave. Students fly with the help of staff in the Tortola and St. Thomas airports, and head home to their friends and families.
Having said that, when on program we follow strict guidelines as to when students may use their cell phones. The environment we strive to create aboard relies heavily on each individual remaining focused on the group and our experience. Being tied to the modern world of "instant communications" can, in certain circumstances, be a hindrance to the personal and group processes aboard. We feel that there is ample opportunity to make calls during personal time ashore.
Please be aware that ALL cell phones (this includes iPhones, Blackberries, camera phones etc.) will be collected upon arrival to the program and held in safekeeping. Cell phones will be made available to students at times designated for making phone calls when we are ashore.
We encourage our students to call home when they have the chance, however, we do not require this, as our staff are usually busy with other activities such as stocking the boats with fresh food over this time. The old saying "you can lead a horse to water..." comes to mind, as some shipmates call home every time and some never call! In the BVI, there are ample opportunities, and the phone service is pretty reliable.
FLIGHTS & TRAVEL INFO
To learn about student travel to and from the British Virgin Islands, please click HERE to visit our Student Travel page
Here you'll find:
> Contact details for Leah Hernandez, our student travel coordinator
> Options on how to get to the British Virgin Islands
> Info on how we accommodate early arrivals or late departures
> What you should consider in terms of passports and visas