Study Abroad Programs



#Ecological Restoration in Cuba

Program Description

This program is designed to provide first-hand experience in the field of Ecological Restoration. This course takes place on ‘La Isla de la Juventud’, where participants will live for three weeks in the beautiful town of Cocodrilo.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in three different ecological activities: monitoring and protection of the sea turtles nesting on the beaches; helping to clear the surrounding tropical forest of invasive species and playing an active role in underwater restoration of the town’s coral reef

We will also have real immersion into the local community; improving our Spanish and intercultural skills, building life-long bonds with locals, and enjoying the beauty of the Cuban lifestyle, reported to be one of the most ecologically sustainable in the world.

Course Objectives

To introduce students to some of the conservation challenges faced by our planet, taking Cuba as our field case study.

To become aware of our responsibility in caring for the environment and of the many ways in which we can make a positive impact. 

To help local biologists in their efforts to monitor and protect the populations of sea turtles

To understand the complexity and fragility of coral reefs, nature’s most endangered ecosystems, by actively participating in the restoration of Cocodrilo’s coral reef

To interact with locals, sharing traditional and modern conservation ideas and techniques we know today and learning from their approach and practices.

Program Components and Services

Turtle nesting sessions

Tropical forest activities

Restoration of coral reef 

PADI Open Water Course

Intercultural sessions

Program site: Cocodrilo Town

Academic field trip: La Habana

Academic field trip: Viñales

Language and Culture training

Seminar reflection and debate sessions

Half Board accommodation 

In country transportation

Community service opportunities

Health & Safety protocols

Program coordinator and orientation

Post-program counseling

*Not included: 

Air travel & travel insurance.

Orientation: Havana

The program starts with three days in the jewel of Cuba, La Habana, a city full of energy, history, and art. Guided by our multidisciplinary team, students can talk about their expectations, fears, and hopes for the program in a safe environment.

Walking through its streets we will understand the unique characteristics that define the Cuban culture, lifestyle, and present challenges. Meet locals and party like Cubans.

Turtle Nesting Sessions

La Isla de la Juventud is the nesting haven for three different species of sea turtle: Carey (Eretmochelys imbricata), Caguama (Caretta caretta) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

For a few days, we will move to the beach `Rincon del Guanal’, where turtles come out of the ocean to nest. There, we will patrol the beaches to mark and protect the nests the turtles make every night during nesting season.

We will mark as many turtles as possible for their future monitoring. As our numbers grow and the project finds resources we will carry out further studies from these monitoring techniques.

Tropical Forest Activities

In the tropical forest we will carry out several different activities.

We will mainly help clean the coastal areas of an invasive species of coastal she-oak (Casuarina equisetifolia), that is rapidly colonizing the beaches and replacing the local ecosystem.

In addition, we will carry out workshops to identify and monitor the local tropical forest diversity of birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

Restoration of Coral Reef

In this component of the program, our local experts will teach us underwater coral reef restoration techniques. This will complement the theoretical knowledge about issues of Ecological Restoration discussed throughout the program.

*To prepare for these activities a PADI Open Water Course will be included for everyone who is not a certified diver.

    Intercultural Sessions

    Intercultural Sessions are the backbone of the program across all the experiences lived in Cocodrilo Town, La Habana, and Viñales.

    These sessions will allow us: to reflect on culture and interculturality skills; bond with the local community and learn from a much closer-to-nature lifestyle.

    We will compare different cultural views in conservation and will expand our perspective of the unique Cuban culture.

    Program Site: Cocodrilo Town

    Cocodrilo is the last town on the southwest of la Isla de la Juventud, an island located to the south of the main island of Cuba. As one of the most remote corners of this incredible country, Cocodrilo preserves the slow and sleepy feeling of the fishing towns of the Caribbean. In this incredible location, facing west at the shore of the Caribbean Sea, you will have access to some of the most beautiful sunsets and people you could imagine.

    This small town offers few leisure activities so sport, music, and mingling with the locals will be some of our possibilities for our free time.

    Program Closing: Viñales

    In the 3-day visit to the heart of the valley we will experience rural and agricultural Cuban life.

    Participants will engage with local farmers and learn about tobacco, rum, coffee, or honey while taking strolls and horseback rides.

    We will enjoy the sunrise in a breathtaking lookout spot in the mountain and enjoy the music of Viñales nightlife.

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