Grab your snorkel gear and dive into a marine adventure where you will work to protect the lives of dolphins in the Eastern Dominican coast. You will live in the stunning Bayahibe bay and become a part of the Fundemar team. The Fundemar organization was founded in 1991 as a response to the capture of dolphins by a local marine amusement park. You will have the rare opportunity to observe dolphins and help conserve their natural habitat. This is not a dolphin performance park or “swim with dolphins” attraction, but rather an environmentally focused conservation attempt in response to it.
After establishing an understanding of eco-friendly preservation of marine life, you will be trained in GPS monitoring and cataloguing to properly examine dolphin interaction and social patterns. This will allow you to truly see how these curious creatures live in the wild and be trained by professionals to do your part in their conservation. Your beachside marine biology project will also include water quality testing and coral reef restoration. The white sandy coast will be your home and your bathing suit will serve as your uniform.
Not only will you work with marine professionals, you will also meet local communities to spread awareness of dolphin conservation and partake in their culture. Create a marine themed activity camp for students from a local school and teach them all that you’ve learned about protecting the sea – all while they help you improve your Spanish skills. Immerse yourself in the Latin rhythms of the Dominican Republic, dance a step or two of merengue, and live it up as you help out. You’ll also visit the historic area of Altos de Chavon where you will wander through the cobblestone avenues and learn about traditional artisan crafts.
To top off your tropical stay, spend the last few days in the Punta Cana resort area learning about their conservation efforts at the Ecological Foundation and exploring more of the country’s 800 miles of coastline. Spend your days playing water polo, volleyball, playing in the lagoons, or simply enjoying paradise at your feet. Once your seaside adventure winds down, show off your new tan in the city of Santo Domingo where you can shop for souvenirs at a bustling market and enjoy a final dinner concluding with typical Dominican festivities.
Depart the United States for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Upon arrival at the Santo Domingo airport you will be greeted by your Rustic Pathways Staff. From here you will head over to the hotel rented out by Rustic Pathways where you will meet the other students on your trip and spend your first night.
Begin your first day with a tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the first university, cathedral and hospital in the Americas. Take a guided tour of the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. After lunch head to the Tres Ojos caverns; an underground network of caves and pools that were once used by the Taino Indigenous group as a safe haven from hurricanes. At the end of your tour you will head out and settle in to your new home in the beach town of Bayahibe!
The ocean will welcome your first day of service with a gorgeous sunrise as you head over to the Fundemar offices to meet the team after breakfast. Get an introduction to the organization and the work you will be doing to protect the lives of dolphins and marine life. You will begin your marine training right away as you familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll be using. Learn to properly document dolphin sightings, take water samples, and lay your own line for coral reef analysis. After a typical Dominican lunch, head to the water to get your feet wet and discuss the importance of ecosystem interactions in the sea. Play a pickup volleyball match with the group and the locals before heading over to dinner.
On Friday you will meet the Fundemar team after breakfast to go over the techniques you learned the day before. Go out on your first day at sea to put your new knowledge to use. Start with either dolphin monitoring or reef analysis. You will head back to shore for lunch but hit the water once again to continue your seaside work. Afterwards have time to relax on the beach and take in the tropical sights. On Saturday you will continue your work from the day before and end up at Isla Saona – a breathtaking island which has been left mostly untouched and is also a place popular with daily dolphin migrations. After service head out to learn a little bit more about Dominican music, dance, and culture from the community.
After breakfast in Bayahibe you will drive over to Altos de Chavon, a striking village created by a former set designer inspired by medieval European architecture. Wander through narrow cobblestone roads and gaze at the town’s cultural amphitheater. Spend the day learning more about typical handicrafts from the area and how they are made.
Resume your work in the water by monitoring an area near the small island called Catalinita. Spot dolphins and document their social patterns. Afterwards, visit the mangrove area off of the national park’s coast and see how this ecosystem fits into the larger scope of dolphin survival.
Continue the same marine work from the previous day. Spot dolphins and document their social patterns. Afterwards, visit the mangrove area off of the national park’s coast and see how this ecosystem fits into the larger scope of dolphin survival. In the afternoon, try to keep your balance during your paddle boarding lessons. You’ll enjoy the sea in a different way as you make your way to a hidden cove on your board.
Monitor the marine area on your way to Catalina Island. Make your way to the Bayahibe shore and clean up the area to keep debris from disrupting the sea-life in the area. Afterwards, hike over to the national park and learn more about their efforts to protect the environment.
Continue your work monitoring dolphin activity and restoring coral reefs. Gather water samples in your work zone to take back with you to the Fundemar office. After service, make your way to your dance lessons where you’ll find a new appreciation for the country’s merengue, salsa, and bachata beats.
Arrive at the Fundemar office after breakfast and analyze the water samples you obtained from the day before. You’ll be able to see the condition of the water and learn how that impacts marine life. To further understand the connecting ecosystems, visit the springs in Padre Nuestro that bring water to the ocean. Here you will also get to see the cave paintings of the ancient Taino people who lived in the Dominican Republic.
Visit a local school of eager students where you will lead an conservation themed camp to spread awareness for the protection of the environment in the community. Work on dolphin related arts and crafts with the kids and play games with the group as you remember what it’s like to be a kid again! After camp, gather together with the Fundemar group to go over a final reflection highlighting everything you learned about the environment.
After breakfast, say goodbye to Bayahibe and hop on the bus that will take you to the resort town of Punta Cana. Settle into your hotel, then pack up your beach gear to visit the stunning Macao beach.
After a relaxing Sunday and breakfast at the hotel, visit the town’s ecological foundation to learn how they are supporting their environment, through community gardens and uniquely designed compost piles. After the tour, make your way back to the hotel and take a dip in the nearby lagoons. If you’re feeling up for it, join a water polo match or a few dance lessons.
Enjoy the morning strolling around the local Punta Cana village shops. Have lunch at a local restaurant and then head back to Santo Domingo for our final night in the Dominican Republic. Enjoy a special dinner and dance show, at a typical Dominican restaurant and take part in a night tour of the city.
If you are heading home, you must say your last goodbyes to your new friends and head off to the airport bright and early in the morning. If you are heading off to another Rustic Pathways program in Latin America, get ready for more adventure!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
Please do not over pack!
A small backpack is the best Carry-on
-A medium sized duffle bag or large backpack work best. Wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can be easily carried like a duffle over rough terrain.
Clothing Items- Please bring at least a few outfits that can get dirty or destroyed for service projects or adventure activities.
Please pack all items that can leak in a plastic or ZIPLOCK bag.
*Note see the following link for ideas on small, personal first aid kits.
Direct flight from New York to Santo Domingo takes approximately 3-4 hours.
Yes. All flights between the Dominican Republic and the USA will have a flight
leader starting in New York. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as New York. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru will not be escorted.
Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 30 day tourist visa upon entry into the Dominican Republic, for the cost of $10. STUDENTS MUST HAVE $10 UPON ENTRY TO PAY FOR THE TOURIST CARD.
During this trip, students will visit the areas of Santo Domingo, Bayahibe, Isla Saona, La Romana, and Punta Cana.
Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information. Please check the Center for Disease control website for more information.
On Tuesday afternoon students will return to Santo Domingo. They will have a special night out in Santo Domingo and then head to the airport for a morning flight home on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening students transferring to other programs in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica, Panama, or Peru. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will stay at a hotel Tuesday evening and join their new trip on Wednesday morning.
There will be various locations that students stay at/visit during this trip; therefore participants should expect several bus rides throughout the week. The shortest distance will be a one hour bus ride, while the longest ride will take up to about 3-4 hours.
This program takes place in a few locations in Santo Domingo and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic.† Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers.
This program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with their guides and the local community.
Students will work with a marine conservation organization called Fundemar and take part in dolphin monitoring (from a boat at sea using GPS technology, cameras, and reports), coral reef analysis and restoration (snorkeling and laying down their own segmenting lines, using a species checklist, and working on the wire frames for restoration), beach cleanup, water quality testing, and conservation awareness projects at a local school.
This program is appropriate for most physical activity levels. Students should be prepared for medium physical activity including short hikes and some manual labor during the service projects with a lot of time spent in the water.
There will be several optional activities offered during the trip. Students need to have extra allowance money if they wish to participate in any of these listed activities and should also have some extra for souvenirs, additional snacks or soda from the local grocery stores.
All activities are included in the cost of the program except for the following:
Paddle Boarding = $40
Occasionally Rustic Pathways staff identify new opportunities throughout the summer that we feel will enhance the students overall experience and we will offer students the opportunity to participate at an additional cost. Optional or included activities may also be canceled at the staffís discretion.
Students will be eating traditional Dominican food prepared by local cooks and restaurants. Breakfast may include plantains or toast with eggs, fruits and cereal. Lunch and dinner will be typical dishes which consist of rice, beans, salad and a meat/seafood dish or veggie dish.
Tap water in the Dominican Republic is not recommended, we will provide bottled water for our students throughout the course of the program.
During their time in the Dominican Republic students will stay in a different hotels and lodges along their travels.
All accommodations will have western style toilets and showers. Hot water may not be available.
There are typically more girls than boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week.
Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 5 students. On the program, there will be three guides. Our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our Country Director and a full background check.
All of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through the program. Laundry may be available at some of the hotels, at an extra cost.
Students will have limited to no access to internet during the program. They will be able to purchase international phone cards in the Dominican Republic, which can be used to call home. We will facilitate at least one call a week to parents.
While it is very likely that you will see Dolphins, it is not something we can guarantee. Students should not expect to play with Dolphins, as this is a strict conservation program geared at addressing the issues at the core of Dolphin conservation.
Contact Us: For more information about The Dolphin Conservation Project you can email email@example.com.
The Dolphin Conservation Project combines well with the following programs.
Ages: 15 to 18 years old
Length: 16 days from the USA
Hours: Up to 50 hours awarded
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Please check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing and specifics.
|Departs Tue||Returns Wed||Availability|
|18 Jun||3 Jul||Sold Out|
|25 Jun||10 Jul||Sold Out|
|2 Jul||17 Jul||Sold Out|
|9 Jul||24 Jul||Limited|
|16 Jul||31 Jul||Sold Out|
|23 Jul||7 Aug||Limited|
|30 Jul||14 Aug||Very Limited|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now
Due to popularity of this program, many sessions are sold out. Please provide us with your email address, phone number, and desired departure date and we will contact you with more information about program availability.Submit