Volunteer expeditions
on the Kenya coast

The abundant coastline of Kilifi county is a marine biodiversity hotspot. Kuruwitu’s volunteer project is based around a beautiful, unexplored reef, just north of Mombasa, centred on diving excursions (in season), snorkeling and focused research.

Long white beach

Kuruwitu’s volunteer programme is based around a beautiful, unexplored reef, and marine biodiversity hotspot just north of Mombasa. The programme is situated at the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA), Vipingo.

KCWA was set up as the first Locally Managed Marine Area in Kenya has become a model to 20 other communities along the coast. They were winners of the 2017 Equator prize.

You will be able to get some first hand marine conservation experience and to fully understand the real threats to our oceans.

Rising sea temperatures, overfishing and lack of awareness threaten the vast array of threatened species currently dwelling in and around our reef.

Volunteers will also work to educate children about their impact on the ocean, and advance our work in developing alternative income generation to those villagers choosing to help preserve their family’s traditional ways of life.

Volunteers can participate in Marine field work, protecting turtles, improving fishing techniques, permaculture, local educational programmes, and coral gardening.

Please join us in our community-driven, sustainable, pioneering project year-round for a minimum period of 2 weeks.

Find out more about our programme:

Oceans Alive Expedition Guide »



Kenya is an easy country to visit with excellent transport links, fast communication, modern hospitals and a growing, vibrant economy. There is lots to see and do if you have some additional time there are many safari options to see Kenya’s magnificent wildlife, culture and spectacular scenery.


Our team works with expedition members in basic science, conservation and community welfare. These skills are then put into practice both in the sea and on the shore, at least five days a week, engaging with an array of vital projects.

Saturdays are unstructured to allow for any catch-up work and Sundays are left entirely free, so you have time to explore this fascinating part of the world. Alternatively, you can just relax, enjoy a meal at the beach club, snorkel or play volleyball.

Expeditions are run all year round and usually last for 6 weeks. However, some people want to stay for longer or shorter, so please contact us to discuss your needs, and we will see what we can do to accommodate you.

Kuruwitu is 40-km north of Mombasa and one hour’s flying time from Nairobi.

You will be working together with our sister organisation, Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA) at all stages of your trip and you will be adding value to this award winning community initiative.

One of the primary objectives of our programme is to survey and chart the unexplored fringing coral reefs and study their biodiversity and health inside and outside the marine protected area. We assess potential threats to these uncharted ecosystems and develop management plans with the local community to protect the vital marine resources. We lead expeditions on snorkelling trips within the marine sanctuary or diving trips beyond the reef.

During daily excursions, team members encounter octopus, brightly coloured clams, sea anemones, a large variety of corals and an endless array of marine species.

You will be also be involved with whale and dolphin identification trips - weather permitting.

Marine Activities include:

  • Beach-side seminars: teach team members how to identify marine species, calculate fish populations, re-plant coral and collect scientific data that will be used to develop conservation plans that will ensure these critical habitats remain healthy and productive for the future.
  • Turtle protection: You will work with the Turtles Alive team help and improve our existing efforts in turtle conservation. We have around 150 nests annually in our area with the main turtle nesting season being between May and August.
  • Fisheries monitoring: fish landing analysis forms a vital component of the long-term monitoring being developed by Oceans Alive in the co-management area. Once a week volunteers work with local data collectors to sample the species, and weight of all catches landed in on the Kinuni beach. Results of this monitoring programme are providing an unprecedented long-term data set which is enabling identification of temporal changes in landings. These findings inform the fisheries management in the region.
  • PADI qualification is available on request at an additional cost.

Another key objective of your stay at Kuruwitu is to learn about permaculture and how it can benefit the local villagers and help them improve on traditional farming techniques. Permaculture is a way of reducing dependence on marine catches and offers an alternative in the seasons it is too rough to fish outside the lagoon.

You will be working alongside members of the local community on our farm under the guidance of Benji our resident permaculture expert. We aim to enhance food security and elevate the traditional standard of living by making the most use of natural materials within the landscape. The farm is a demonstration and training model for other communities. Our land-based projects will involve some manual work and will give an excellent insight into local culture.

Land activities include:

  • Education programme: Sharing your marine and permaculture knowledge; helping with IT; developing English; CV writing; sports; and after-school games. We integrate conservation and health education and are organised in the form of workshops and activities which are fun, engaging and creative. The expedition team are more than welcome to assist in these activities which might include beach/ village clean-ups, field trips to local sites of ecological importance or an environmental awareness session in the classroom.
  • Village culture
  • Recycling and art
  • Swahili/English exchange lessons
  • Permaculture: we teach all organic and natural methods, strictly no use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Local cooking lessons
  • Working with the women’s group

The Oceans Alive expedition site is located on Kenya’s North Coast and boasts beautiful, diverse and unexplored terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Nearby towns include Kilifi, Watamu, Malindi all of which have their own fascinating history. The Kuruwitu area consists of small fishing villages of Sheriani, Vipingo and Timboni.

Kuruwitu, with its shallow lagoon, feels like a private tropical paradise. The fringing reef is unspoiled, and we have mapped out some fantastic dive sites. The waters of Kuruwitu are home to endangered marine turtles, migrating humpback whales, dolphin and more than 500 species of tropical fish and corals. Recently a pod of Orcas was spotted off the coast for the first time!

In between set programmes we offer visitors a wide variety of leisure activities from snorkelling to bird watching and trekking through baobab and indigenous coastal forests with huge cave systems.

We are based out of the Bahari Hai house on the Vipingo Ridge beach club plot on Kinuni beach. The site is patrolled 24-hours a day by Vipingo Ridge security and is very secure. The club is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday – Sunday until 6:30pm.

While the plot is very secure, guests should keep valuables out of site because the house remains open during the day. A safe is located in the manager’s room where items such as passports can be securely stored for the duration of a visit.

We operate a no-smoking policy at the house. If people want to smoke, they are free to do so on the veranda and in the garden. Please be considerate of other guests and dispose of cigarette ends responsibly.

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