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 - 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.
The ARCAS volunteer guidebook, available in the Publications section goes into further detail about the responsibilities and expectations of volunteers, but below are general guidelines about volunteering at the Sea Turtle Conservation project in Hawaii.
Fees and Reservations
Volunteers are asked to pay $75.00/week at the Hawaii Project which includes just the lodging. Under Plan Completo, an additional $200 is charged which includes airport pick-up and transfer to and from the project site, a reservation and two nights hotel in Antigua. ARCAS provides lodging, including bed, sheets, showers, toilet and lockers and a full kitchen. There is mosquito netting on the walls, but you should bring an individual net for added protection.
For volunteers who want to improve their Spanish and have a more typical Guatemalan experience, ARCAS arranges home stays with local families at roughly the same cost as staying at the Parque. Contact us at
for more information.
The Volunteers at Parque Hawaii usually take turns cooking dinners, making for very interesting, lively meals to stock up on calories that are quickly burned off on nightly beach patrols. Volunteers that want to improve their Spanish can also eat with local families at roughly Q20 ($2.50) per meal. Local stores carry basic food items but there is a limited supply of fresh fruits and vegetables and you may want to buy these and other items in the nearby towns of Monterrico, Taxisco or Chiquimulilla. Fish and shrimp are of course available on a seasonal basis. There is bottled drinking water at the Parque and a refrigerator.
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.
Although the sea nesting and hatching season runs from June to November and is the most active time at the center, volunteers are needed at all times. 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.
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. You can also rent a pick-up for @Q40. If you don’t have a lot of weight and are in good shape, you can walk along the beach (easiest at low tide and in the early morning or late afternoon but carry lots of water, the heat can dehydrate you quickly).
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. To make a reservation, call Don Quijote travel (Walter) at 5659-8397 or STA at 7832-8581. For an extra fee, the shuttle will many times take you the additional 8 kms from Monterrico to Parque Hawaii. Otherwise, take one of the 5X daily local buses that drive past the Puesto de Salud in Monterrico or rent a pick-up taxi.
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, $20 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. Contact us at
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
for more info!