SCUBA Dive, Sail, Explore the British Islands archipelago, and learn about Marine Biology, Hands-on!

Fascinated with the tropical reefs and marine creatures or interested in a career in the marine sciences? S.E.A. (Service, Education and Adventure) Voyages are a unique opportunity to earn environmental service hours and academic credit while adventuring throughout the amazing Windward Islands archipelago. S.E.A. voyages offer you a great opportunity to learn about marine biology, sailing, and SCUBA diving, and make the most of your summer on a rewarding and educational adventure of a lifetime!

SERVICE These voyages focus on coral reef related environmental service throughout the Windward Islands. Working with the marine parks and international monitoring organizations, we conduct surveys on wild dolphin populations, coral health assessments in the British Virgin Islands Marine Park, coral reef fish counts and project Reef Check.

EDUCATION Coral reef biology and ecology accredited education programs. Discover the deeply interconnected ways the coral, invertebrates, and fishes work together in amazing efficiency. Aboard your vessel are microscopes and lab equipment and a staff of enthusiastic marine biologists ready to teach you how to collect scientifically sound ecological data as you explore your interest in a science career or just enjoy learning about the unique aspects of the reefs creatures. Learn to identify the top 25 corals and their common ailments as well as over 100 reef fishes in preparation for conducting biodiversity surveys of the reefs for the Reef Check initiative and add to the project REEF database. During this process you will learn about coral aggression, learn to treat coral Black Band disease, and discover the different coral growth forms. The behaviors of coral reef fishes are as vivid as their colors, and you will learn about their unique methods of mate selection and attraction, avoiding predation, and finding and obtaining dinner. A big part of the protection of these beautiful coral reef communities is through the conservation efforts of the marine parks of the islands. The marine parks provide safe havens from the effects of fishing and commercial utilization of the reef's resources, but the park systems are limited in scope due to economic challenges of the islands. We assist the local marine park rangers to conduct surveys assessing the health of the reefs and compare survey results to those taken outside of the marine park protected zones. You develop your skills in implementing the accepted protocols and methods of conducting field surveys to assess the health of fish, coral, and dolphin populations. All educational programs are taught in a hands-on approach in which you gain knowledge by doing, seeing and experiencing.

ADVENTURE Sailing throughout the archipelago, diving the coral walls, pinnacles, and reefs, exploring shipwrecks, hiking through the rain forest jungles, exploring mountains, and experiencing the culture and beauty ashore is sure to satisfy the explorer within you. With lots of SCUBA and FreeDiving included, you can earn multiple PADI SCUBA certifications including Advanced, our distinctive Research Diver plus Night Diver and Underwater Photography. We live aboard sailing catamarans and sail the blue passages between the islands. You are the crew, learning to raise and lower the sails, navigate, be the helmsman, and drop the anchor all in time for volleyball, wake boarding, and kayaking.

These exciting 21 day voyages sail to all the islands in the British Virgin Island chain.

Trip Details

  • 21 Days
  • 5 PADI SCUBA Certifications
  • 28-32 SCUBA Dives
  • Sail Training and Seamanship
  • Leadership Skills
  • Watersports
    • Wake Boarding
    • Kayaking
  • Island Exploration
  • Rain Forest Treks
  • Marine Biology Program
  • Underwater Video Production

Choose a Date

  • June 15 - July 5
  • July 6 - July 26
$5590 USD Tuition all inclusive

This Voyage has been featured article in Sport Diver Magazine by two teen editors! -click to read-


PHOTO MOSAIC
of 2014 Voyage



2015 Voyage Photo Album


2016 Voyage Photobook
or as a Video Slideshow
British Virgin Islands

Day by Day

Day 1

Arrive into Tortola, the capital and largest or the islands, with beautiful white sand beaches and tall rugged mountains. Your first day is busy meeting your fellow shipmates, settling aboard and preparing for diving. Enjoy the pool and beautiful Caribbean atmosphere.

Day 2

After a sailing lesson and getting to know your 48-foot Leopard sailing catamaran, hoist your mainsail and point across the wind to Norman Island for snorkeling in the Pirate Caves (which were the inspiration for the novel Treasure Island). Check-out dives get you comfortable with your skills if it's been a while since you last blew bubbles underwater, or learn to dive in the calm and protected waters of Benures Bay and discover how easy and comfortable SCUBA diving is. You are settling into life aboard and having a blast.

Day 3

Now it is up-anchor and away for a lesson of upwind sailing inside the Sir Francis Drake Channel as we zig'n'zag around islands to Virgin Gorda. The protected Pond Bay offers an afternoon for water-sports opportunities and some of the best sunsets in the Caribbean.

Day 4

You learn about Night Diving and nocturnal marine life as well as conducting underwater research activities on coral reef and fishes and contribute to conservation projects. For those interested, we begin our optional Freediver training, learning relaxation techniques as we turn on our 'mammalian diving reflex'.

Day 5

We hike to the rocky intertidal for biology investigations and assist in a community service effort to clean up the shoreline from plastic debris and earn some community service hours while exploring fascinating tide pools. On the way back we fulfill many life-long goals in an action-packed extravaganza of a salt pond mud fight. A short sail to Mountain Point and we start developing our fish and creature identification skills with our resident marine biologist. Multimedia presentations and underwater communications units aid us in our knowledge quest of SCUBA and biology.

odyssey expeditions
Day 6

Up early to visit one of the most stunning sites in the BVI's, The Baths. Gigantic granite boulders and half submerged rocks line the southern seashore, creating grottos, tunnels, and arches - a wonderful place to swim, jump of rocks, and explore. Sandy beaches are lined with coconut palms, adding to the dramatic effect. Lunch is at Spanish Town, the second largest town (after Road Town), on the British Virgin Islands. Also known as The Valley, Spanish Town offers numerous shopping possibilities. Spanish Town was originally settled by Cornish miners, and ruins of the chimney, boiler house, cistern, and mine shafts can be seen. It served as capital of the territory until 1714, when the government moved their offices to Road Town. When our bellies are full we 'go to the Dogs' for some afternoon diving.

Day 7

Day of the Dogs. We start with a morning dive at "The Chimney" - Great Dog. It is a great place to fine tune those natural navigation skills. Project Ocean Survey, Bronco Billies, the Flintstones or Joes Cave follow. When we get our days allotment of nitrogen, it's time for a nice slow downwind sail to Marina Cay. A small island republic (Cuervo Nation) with tropical gardens and its own culture and a unique history. Famous for Robb White's Two on the Isle, a true-life love story mixed with Robinson Crusoe. Everyone visits the unique gift shop before heading to the beach restaurant for desserts. The "View-Master menu" is a throwback to our childhood and so is the tasty key lime pie.

Cooper Island Wreck Alley BVI
Day 8

Mangroves and Guana Island is great for water skiing, wake boarding, and kayaking in its perfectly calm waters. Underneath the surface we explore Grand Central Station cavern where nurse sharks are commonly seen (they don't bite). Hiking ashore brings us to a vista overlooking the Atlantic with expansive views. At sunset, be sure to sit with your friends at the front of your boat to watch for the green flash. Night dive in a rocky outcropping filled with a carnival of fishes and invertebrates.

Day 9

All of the sail training get put to use on our exciting tack'o'rama sail to Cooper Island. Introduction to diving the wonderful shipwrecks in what we call Shipwreck Ally. This quad pack wreck site consists of the Marie L, a cargo boat intentionally sunk in the early 1990s, and the Pat, a tugboat sunk a few years later that now lies up against the Marie L, the Beata (sunk in 2001) a large upright Tug and the Island Seal (sunk in 2009) a turtled barge. The Marie L. is a 75-foot long cargo boat, which was owned by a local family; she sits in 85 feet of water. The boats are sitting upright and are actually resting on one another with a narrow gap between them, which divers can swim through. The Island Seal lies upside down in the sand, allowing exploration of her hull and propellers, and divers can also swim through underneath the wreck. This site is also known for the life on its sandy bottom - conch run through this area (you can see their tracks), colonies of Garden Eels dance in the sand around the wrecks while southern stingrays doze, their eyes just visible beneath their sandy mantles.

Cooper Island Wreck Alley BVI
Day 11

We start with a before breakfast dive of the Wreck of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Companys RMS Rhone. This is one of the most highly rated shipwrecks in all the Caribbean. The wreck is situated on the lee side of Salt Island, spread out over a couple of acres. The Rhone, a 310-foot long iron-hulled steam-sailor, was built in England in 1865 and was sunk by a hurricane a mere two years later on October 29th, 1867. The Rhone was of a hybrid technology? powered by both sail and one of the earliest steam driven propellers. It looks exactly like people expect a historic shipwreck to look like. The long sleek lines of the intact bow section, lying on her starboard side in 78 feet of water, are clearly visible. The pointed bowsprit, the long iron mast, the lifeboat davits and even a signaling canon are easily spotted. Inside the wreck schools of fish flow around the support beams, shafts of light penetrate through portholes. On the "ceiling", a liquid mercury-like layer of trapped air cascades past beams covered with brilliant orange cup coral. Snorkelers floating on the surface above can easily see the huge propeller, the aft mast and a line of portholes. The Rhone is also a film star - she was the filming location for the treasure diving epic The Deep

You will investigate bioluminescence during night dives and witness the changing of the guard of the reef fishes from the diurnal herbivores to the nocturnal predators as we dive some of the worlds best reefs. Learn a bit about digital underwater photography as we continue our investigations in marine biology. Analyze the feeding habits and life cycles of the coral reef fishes and learn about fish count methods, transect lines, and other tools of marine research. The reefs here are optimal for perfecting fish identification while exploring their unique niches and behaviors. The sailing is fantastic, and we are becoming quite accomplished sailors.

Day 12

You continue developing your freediving skills, learning to easily and comfortably hold your breathe for three minutes or more and breath hold dive to over 60 feet!

We get to dive some of the clearest water in the BVIs today. Starting at Ginger Island we dive a 'Alice in Wonderland' named for the mushroom shape of the corals. These are deep dives so we will be working on the Deep Diver Specialty course. We move around Ginger's Backside which is almost always flat calm, providing a restful location for surface interval and second dive. Again, a huge healthy coral reef runs the length of the island starting at about 25ft under the boat and falling away to the sandy bottom at about 50ft. This is usually a very slow paced dive, giving the group plenty of time to explore the holes and ledges in the reef for lobster, octopus and the occasional turtle - also look out for small stingrays out on the sand. The days not done. We hoist the sails and we go up to the Bitter End Yacht Club for dinner and music.

Day 13

Trim your sails early for a fast sunrise sail taking us across the wind 20 miles north to fabulous Anegada. We make a race between the boats in getting their first, so sail fast! A "kick-back sand-attack" day of barrier reef exploration, flamingo spotting, beach volleyball and hammock siestas awaits. The reef is full of amazing arches and passages where we often see nurse sharks, sea turtles and manta rays.

Anngegada is the quintessential postcard-perfect paradise with palm-lined cays and white sand beaches. We assist the BVI Marine Park with REEF surveys as we explore the barrier reef, and watch hawksbill and green sea turtles forage in the shallow sea grass beds. Venturing ashore we spot wild iguanas and tortoises. We are getting quite adept at Freediving, with new skills you never thought possible! For the adventurous, try your luck waterskiing, or wakeboarding in the calm waters behind the reef. We dive at the remote bird nesting colony at Great Tobogo where spotted eagle rays and sharks glide overhead. You are learning quite a lot of the running of your catamaran and can now navigate, trim the sails, anchor, and watch the helm while learning all about sailing and seamanship.

Day 14

Departing the flat island of Anegada we are summoned, like all the marine life for miles around, to the 247-foot sunken freighter, the Chikuzen, where we blow bubbles under a spiraling circle of barracuda and jacks and watch for the massive 400-pound Goliath Grouper. This wreck beckons marine life from miles away and is a great place to get some awesome photos with a digital camera (helpful to get people to believe that the grouper really was that big!). You're not too old to play at Green Cay's Playgrounds, a dive site where we often come face to face with dolphins and see elegant eagle rays gliding by. Do a reef fish survey for project REEF and help science. Your team has really come together; it's time to go ashore for an evening of beach camp fire and limbo with reggae dancing and steel drums.

Day 15

From the cresent Cane Garden bay we hike to the top of the Virgin Islands at Tortola's Mt. Sage National Park and explore the rain forest permeated by the smell of its namesake. Lunch at Jimmy Buttet famous Rhymers Cheese burgers in Paradise Afternoon sail to Sandy Cay for some sandcastle building and exploration.

Day 16

Along the desert island of Tobogo, we hike to the bird colony to watch pelican, frigate, and tropic birds dive-bomb for fish. The diving is fantastic with sheer walls covered with black coral and sleepy nurse sharks slumbering under the reef ledges.

You will investigate bioluminescence during night dives and witness the changing of the guard of the reef fishes from the diurnal herbivores to the nocturnal predators as we dive some of the worlds best reefs. Learn a bit about digital underwater photography as we continue our investigations in marine biology. Analyze the feeding habits and life cycles of the coral reef fishes and learn about fish count methods, transect lines, and other tools of marine research. The reefs here are optimal for perfecting fish identification while exploring their unique niches and behaviors. The sailing is fantastic, and we are becoming quite accomplished sailors.

Day 18

Congratulations, you are quite the diver now, we finish up Freediver and Specialty certifications and head in to West End, the pastel enclave, to refill on ice-cream before performing a perfect series of fast tacks with your now smoothly operating crew beating upwind through the Narrows.

Day 19

While the end is near, the diving still gets better exploring a series of top sites we visit a secret wall of black coral and maybe drift-dive the crystalline blue-water south of Norman Island to spot big pelagics.

Day 20

The last dive before we sail back to home port. We have a farewell pizza bash ashore and reminisce with your new close friends on the fantastic adventures shared together.

Prerequisites

To take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, you must be:

  • A PADI Open Water Diver (or qualifying certification from another training organization)
  • For safety, all students complete a brief scuba Medical Statement (PDF) that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, you sign the form and you're ready to start. If any of these apply to you, as a safety precaution your physician must assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms that you're fit to dive.


What people say

"Thanks go to YOU and everyone at Odyssey for providing such an awesome experience for Robbie! He has been talking about it non stop. He loved his counselors, the dives, the beauty of the islands and his shipmates. I loved the fact that he came home safe and sound!! Cheers to a job well done." ~ Janet P.

"As expected, Allie had the trip of a lifetime, and was weepy for days and days after getting home, because she was no longer with her new best friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. She's really looking forward to sharing the photos. She loved everything about the trip and has kept in contact with her shipmates.
Thank you for walking me through everything when I was trying to pull it all together at such a late date; you made me feel very comfortable sending my child off on her journey, and I appreciated your time and accessibility, and the quality of the trip.
~ Jan S.


"This is simply a "Thank you". My daughter, Lauren, attended Odyssey nearly 6 years ago, and we're still hearing about it today. Now, she's in her senior year at UCSD, as bio major and philosophy minor. She's PreMed and plans to take her MCAT's at the end of this year. In the midst of that, she managed to squeak in her Divemaster certification. She often refers to that trip as her leap into "adulthood." It was her first trip away by herself, and the confidence she came back with, has remained constant. I often recommend Odyssey to other parents. We usually get props for being cool enough parents to let our daughter go, but in all honesty, we had initially sought out your program at the strong suggestion of our neighbor, a Marine Biology instructor. He appealed to my husbands frugal side by telling him to let her see the ceiling because marine biology as a major has a high drop out rate, and not a lot of transferable credit toward another major. My husband saw the cost of your course as an easier chunk to swallow than a couple of years worth of tuition. Had we known what an impact it would have on her, there would have never been any debating or hesitating." ~ Jamie H.

British Virgin Islands- Marine Science - SCUBA - Freediving Voyage

Teen Summer Educational Scuba Diving Marine Biology Camps

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