Picture this: arrive by ferry boat at the lush, green Greek island of Alonissos. Disembark at Patitiri, the picture-perfect port and main town of the island. You are at the heart of the National Marine Park of Northern Sporades. A hideaway for dolphins, the extremely rare Mediterranean Monk Seal, and birds like Eleonora’s falcon. In this idyllic setting (the Mama Mia! movie was shot in this part of Greece) you become part of the dolphin conservationist team. The coming week you will assist researchers at sea during daily dolphin tours. Check out this video
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Join this unique opportunity to volunteer in a dolphin conservation project in the Greek National Marine Park of Alonissos. The 4 species of dolphins that can be found in Greek waters are under threat. Your help is needed to obtain a deep knowledge of their behavior and of their population status and trends. Assist researchers with daily dolphin tours aboard the well-equipped vessel. There is a kitchen and lunch will be prepared aboard (or a tasty takeaway). You will stay in a house on Alonissos with the other participants. Or you book your own accommodation and participate at a discounted rate.
Get introduced in the field station on Alonissos Island to research methods such as dorsal fin photography and GPS recording. During the evenings there will be lectures by the field biologists on dolphin life history, behavior, and identification, threats faced by marine mammals, and marine research methods.
However, it is not all work that awaits you here. There is time to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the island, mingle with the locals, savor the yummy local delicacies, swim and snorkel and walk on the old footpaths of the islands in the National Marine Park.
This vacation is suitable for families, solo travelers, couples & friends. Children as young as 11 years old can participate. Group sizes of up to 10 persons.
Check out a trip report of the Volunteering Holiday with Dolphins in Greece
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Alonissos Island|
Stay at the fully equipped project house at Patitiri, the main port of Alonissos. The house can host up to 6 people. it has two bedrooms (1 room sleeps 4 and 1 room sleeps 2), a bathroom and a separate room with a shower, a fully equipped kitchen, a library, and a big porch with a dinner table, viewing the sea. It is possible to have your room with your travel partner(s). Clean sheets and towels are provided. You can get an accommodation upgrade if you wish and pay a supplement.
You can get to Alonissos by boat, from these ports :
- Skiathos Island
Skiathos is also an island of the Northern Sporades. You can get to Skiathos by plane and then by boat (2 hours) or fast ferry (1 1/2 hours) to Alonissos.
Volos is 358 km away from Athens and 212 km from Thessaloniki, about 4 and 2 1/2 hours drive respectively, on the national highway. You can arrive at Volos by bus, car or directly by plane to Volos airport. The trip by boat from Volos to Alonissos takes approximately 5 hours and by catamaran (fast ferry) some 3 1/2 hours.
Thessaloniki has a port with a direct connection to Alonissos Island. You can get from Thessaloniki airport to the port by taxi. This is roughly a half-hour ride, at 20 EURO per ride.
Mantoudi port is located on Evia Island, at a distance of 140 km from Athens. There’s a public bus service from Athens to Mantoudi. From Mantoudi to Alonissos is less than 2 hours by ferry boat.
On this first day, you arrive by ferry at Patitiri, the port of Alonissos. Meet and greet the marine biologist of the team. Together you walk to your accommodation for this week. In the evening you get your briefing & introduction on Dolphin Conservation in the field station on Alonissos Islandto dolphins and research methods, such as dorsal fin photography and GPS recording.
Around 8:00 am we wake up, have breakfast at the porch of our house, with a stunning sea view. Get prepared for the dolphin tour!
Depending on the day’s outcome, usually around 12:00-13:00 there is a lunch break. We cook and eat on board (or enjoy our ready meal), whereas there is also some time for swimming and snorkeling to admire the rich underwater life in this protected marine zone!
There’s plenty of free time to chill and plan your own activities. Maybe visit the narrow paved streets of the port, visit other villages of the island (few Greek villages match the beauty of Chora), or soak up the sun on one of the fabulous beaches. With rare Eleonora’s Falcons and Dragonflies circling overhead.
18:00 – 20:00: This is your opportunity to become a marine research scientist!
We will meet at the Information Center, and depending on how well our day went, and what material we have to work with we can practice our Photo-identification skills. Alternatively, you attend Eco Educational Seminars or Nature Documentary screening.
Around 20:00 it’s time to savor Greek food, either by cooking in the kitchen of our Project House or by visiting some of the local taverns!
Say goodbye to the team and the other travelers. Please make sure to leave the Dolphin Project House before 4 PM on Sunday. Leave by ferry boat, sail either to Volos, Thessaloniki, Mantoudi or Skiathos Island to catch your flight.
Alternatively, you can extend your stay. The possibilities are endless.
It was a great holiday on a beautiful island. Everyone was very helpful and friendly. We saw dolphins for an hour on the first 2 days and also a seal and a turtle. We had a good introduction to dolphin and seal conservation from Kimon and enjoyed the time on the boat every day swimming in some beautiful beaches.
I´ve just read all the other reviews and have little to add! I completely agree with everything said about the team, the project, the beauty of Alonissos and the competence, charm and enthusiasm of Kimon! We were lucky enough to see dolphins on four of the five days we were out on the boat – three different species and lots of close encounters (we tried to keep a distance but they wanted to bow surf). My sons really enjoyed helping with the note-taking about the pods that we saw, their size and behaviour, and we all enjoyed searching the seas for dolphins, observing them and swimming in beautiful coves before eating the delicious lunches provided. Thank you so much to Chantel, who was so quick to respond to any questions or doubts, and really flexible; and to Kimon, Kostas and the MOm team.
(I would second the opinion that the share house might be a bit challenging for anyone used to privacy and comfort – it was very hot, so be prepared!)
Absolutely great holiday. we went out daily with the wonderful Kimon and Kostas. We spotted dolphins on all but one day, and helped identify and record them, as taught by the ever knowledgeable and helpful Kimon, (marine biologist). When not searching for or recording dolphins we stopped in a bay for a glorious swim, snorkel and lunch. Late afternoons we’d have a short talk or video about dolphins, seals and marine life in general.
We also interspersed the trips with a couple of dives (Alonnisos is known for its diving), which was an added bonus.
We had a fantastic week joining MOms project with dolphins and seals and had luck to see both of them during our daily trips. Amazing!! Heartful thanks to Kimon and Costas for their overwhelming experience and knowledge sharing with us. Delicious lunch meals at perfect locations to relax and snorkeling.
Last, but not least, there were so many amazing impressions in this beautiful marine area… the hidden beaches, the smeel of the pine trees, the small islands, the monastery…
So happy to support such great projects and will follow next year too 🙂
many thanks to all of you
Our time (mid-August) with the Dolphin Project in beautiful Alonissos was perfect. We were made very welcome by the MoM team, especially Kimon who radiated enthusiasm and knowledge and kept all volunteers involved. We enjoyed the routine of dolphin spotting from the boat, the lunchtime snorkeling in secluded bays (and the lunches!), and my teen lad also loved the chance to help with ID work on dolphin photos taken by Kimon. It was a thrill of course to see wild dolphin behaviour so close-up. A great holiday and great way to learn about marine conservation!
What a great experience! We could not see the dolphins because it was too hot (it was the beginning of August) and the excessive heat moved the animals offcoast (we strongly suggest choosing the period June-mid July). But we had theincredible, unique opportunity to see a monk seal calf quietly sleeping on a sandy beach, just in front of us, on the first day of our vacation! The overall rating is top because we realized that our vacation was at the same time giving the opportunity to actively, concretely develop a project of nature conservation. And the coordinator of the activities, Kimon, is a really nice person and an extremely competent scientist, very passionate for his job. We had very interesting an productive discussions on cetacean behavior, methods to improve data collection but also on life in general. We understood the success of MoM’s activities, in terms of conservation and increase in the population of animals in the marine park, and we are proud of having being part of it. We are actively advertising MoM’s activities and this type of responsible vacation
Kimon, the marine conservation team leader, made the holiday for us with his tireless efforts to ensure we had a great time, even on bad weather days when we couldn’t get out on the water. These five stars are due to him and the conservation team – friendly, kind and fun. Alonissos is an exceptionally beautiful island and a joy to explore, if you like walking and great views. My boys enjoyed the nightlife with the conservation team the most! The accommodation is perfect for young people; I found it a little challenging at times to be sharing a room as I’m not used to it but there is accommodation available on the island if you prefer. Overall a very memorable and joyous holiday.
I had a fantastic holiday. Kimon was a wonderful and knowledgeable guide and ensured that even on days when the weather meant we couldn’t go on the boat to look for dolphins, other activities were arranged. The island has a lovely welcoming feel to it and the people both at MOm and on the island in general are very friendly and keen to make sure you have a good time.
My friend and I had the most wonderful time in Alonissos! We had the luck to be in a great team with other two Greek girls who volunteered with us that week, our chaperone/marine biologist Kimon and the kind captain Kostas. Every day we went on the boat and discovered new beautiful places, snorkeled in emerald water, had excellent Greek food, and learnt about cetaceans. Due to strong wind we didn’t have good encounters with dolphins until the very last day when the wind finally calmed down and we could monitor a pack of 7 dolphins for almost an hour. It was fantastic! This holiday will stay forever in my heart. Thank you Chantel and thank you MOM!
Thank you so much for your help we had a fantastic time!! Team is great and Kimon was absolutely amazing.
Overall holiday review and rating: An excellent experience !!! We didn’t want to leave. 5 *****
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