Bali High School Expedition

Home to more than 400 species of reef building coral and large ocean dwellers like turtles, manta rays, and sharks, the waters surrounding the Indonesian isle of Bali hold some of the highest diversity of marine life in the world. Dive into this underwater realm, and discover the terrestrial side of the island’s tropical ecosystem while exploring terraced rice paddies and volcanic peaks.

June 24 - July 10, 2019
June 30 - July 16, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged a round-trip group flight between Los Angeles and Denpasar.

Trip Highlights

  • Snorkel at a World War II shipwreck, and help marine biologists monitor the health of Bali’s underwater ecosystem.
  • Photograph endangered sea turtles while volunteering at a local rescue center.
  • Stay at Ubud’s world-famous Green School—a sustainable campus made of living bamboo—and lend a hand on community service projects, from organic gardening to composting.
  • Visit the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center to lend a hand with their coral restoration project.

Itinerary | 17 days

Days 1-5

Upon arrival in Bali, drive to our guesthouse in the northeastern corner of the island—a remote, coastal area bordered by crystal-clear waters. Get to know your fellow students as we explore this stunning tropical paradise, and immerse yourself in Balinese culture. Meet local conservationists, swim among the vibrant corals of Tanjung Muntik Bay, and photograph ornate Hindu temples.

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Delve deeper into the surrounding marine world on underwater excursions. Learn advanced snorkeling techniques from dive professionals, and then put these new skills to use as you swim amid the wreckage of a World War II cargo ship just offshore, discovering intricate coral reefs and tropical fish. Identify marine species and employ cutting-edge photographic and scientific technologies to monitor and document the reef.

Back on land, volunteer with a community based program that keeps ocean waters clean through recycling and beach cleanup initiatives. Begin work on your On Assignment project, raising awareness about the need to protect these beautiful places.

Days 6-10

Trace Bali’s northern coast to the seaside village of Pemuteran, home to the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center. Here we’ll participate in local research projects aimed at preserving the surrounding tropical ecosystems. Learn how to assess reef health, and discuss the impact that our actions have on Bali’s marine habitats. Then work with local researchers on their coral restoration program. Use underwater photography to create a visual guide of the reef system, or study specialized clownfish populations that have evolved across the Indonesian archipelago. After the sun goes down, observe sparkling bioluminescence during a magical nighttime snorkeling excursion.

On shore, we’ll visit a turtle rescue center and photograph endangered sea turtles before helping release them back into the wild. Then embark on a full-day excursion to nearby Menjangan Island to snorkel or dive amid the reefs and coral walls.

Day 11-14

Head inland to the cultural hub of Ubud. During our time here, we’ll stay in a bamboo yurt camp on the campus of the world famous Green School. Located in the tropical forest on the banks of the Ayung River, the school offers immersive and hands-on experiences geared toward protecting Bali’s local communities and spectacular biodiversity. Work with other students on a variety of community service and conservation projects. Get your hands dirty in the organic gardens, helping to develop community composting facilities and cultivate native plants, or building structures using bamboo and other local and sustainable materials.

Take a break from your projects to explore the surrounding landscape on a traditional subak trek, and learn about these age-old canals, terraces, and temples that the Balinese use for water management. Try your hand at mepantigan, a combination of Balinese martial arts and dance; capture portraits of local community members while exploring vibrant markets and festivals; or venture into a nearby valley for a canyoneering excursion.

Days 15-17

Head to Serangan Island to seek out some of Bali’s best surfing spots and ride the waves with professional surf instructors. Wrap up the trip by presenting your On Assignment projects to your peers, highlighting the beauty and diversity of Bali’s marine and terrestrial habitats or some of the local efforts to help protect them.

Our high school expeditions are for students in grades 9-12, and offer opportunities to get out into the field and discover fascinating destinations across the globe through the lens of an On Assignment project. Each expedition offers a choice of two or three areas of focus, such as photography, geology, or wildlife conservation. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. A National Geographic expert joins for a portion of the trip (four to eight days) to share their insights, and inspire students with their passion for the work they do and the places they will discover. The group size ranges between 14 and 28 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
While SCUBA diving is not the main focus of this trip, students who are certified will have the opportunity to participate in up to four dives, dependent on weather and conditions. The supplemental fee for diving is $300.
In Ubud we stay on the campus of the Green School in sustainably built bamboo yurts. At all other locations we stay in small, locally-run guest houses or hotels.

Asha de Vos, Marine Biologist

Meet Our Experts

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Asha de Vos is a Sri Lankan marine biologist, ocean educator, and pioneer of blue whale research within the Northern Indian Ocean. Asha is the first Sri Lankan to earn a Ph.D. in marine mammal research; founded the nonprofit Oceanswell; and runs the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project, which is the first long-term study of blue whales in the region. She is passionate about inspiring the next generation of ocean heroes and through her work, hopes to change the current marine conservation model. Asha's work has been showcased by the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, WIRED UK, and TED. Asha will join both departures in Pemuteran.

On Assignment Projects

Create a photo essay depicting Bali’s spectacular biodiversity. Use an underwater camera to capture images of intricate corals and vibrant marine life— from swirling schools of jacks to swimming green turtles. Take portraits of Balinese farmers among emerald green rice terraces and learn about their sophisticated water management practices. Employ photographic storytelling to report on the work of local conservationists and researchers. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this On Assignment project.
Study Bali’s unique ecosystems alongside expert biologists and conservationists. Examine diverse coral species on diving and snorkeling excursions and use cutting-edge technologies to monitor the health of the reefs and assist researchers with coral restoration. Visit Ubud’s Green School and get your hands dirty in the organic garden; or learn to build with sustainable materials like bamboo.