Airbnb are looking for five would-be islanders to help The Bahamas become more sustainable. Could this be the sabbatical of a lifetime?
It’s still January, which means we’re still dreaming of a life less grey and gloomy. We know it’s cliché, but right now there’s nowhere we’d rather be than a desert island, basking in the sun and sand.
But although a holiday in The Caribbean sounds like, quite frankly, a dream right now – imagine if you were offered the opportunity to change up your routine and make a difference. We can all fantasise about booking some last-minute winter sun, but wouldn’t it be special to swap the daily grind for something meaningful, instead of simply running away it?
This is what Airbnb is offering with its sabbatical programme, providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for five people to spend two months living in The Bahamas to contribute to the restoration efforts across some of the islands.
Airbnb have partnered with the Bahamas National Trust, a local non-profit organisation that protects 32 national parks in the country, to create an itinerary of crucial work that needs to be done to ensure that the islands can grow their tourism industry, which is currently critically struggling and provides much of the income for the islanders.
The five winning applicants will get to experience the wonders of The Bahamas to its fullest, including travelling around many of the 700 islands, exploring pink sand beaches, the world’s largest reef systems and even spending time in areas of extreme natural beauty which have rarely been visited.
But they’ll also be able to give back to the beautiful place that for two months they’ll be calling home. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, there’s not only work to do in repairing the islands but much of the tourism opportunities have been destroyed. These honorary islanders will get to work side-by-side with locals to pave the way toward a more sustainable future for The Bahamas, bringing back traditional practices rooted in agriculture, ethical fishing, and coral reef revitalisation.
Over April and May, participants will embed themselves into the three beautiful island destinations of Andros, Exumas, and Eleuthera and work alongside underwater and travel photographer, Katie Storr, to create a coral reef restoration program in North Marine Park.
They’ll also work with free diver Andre Musgrove to replicate The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park ecosystem in other waters around the area, that have been overtaken by invasive species. They will learn from Omar Mcklewhite, a master gardener, about propagation techniques for the native trees and establish a bush tea farm on Eleuthera. They will also research native species, practice traditional pineapple farming and have a go at harvesting sea salt.
“As The Bahamas rebuilds, it’s a privilege to work together with the Bahamas National Trust to support and shine a spotlight on a nation whose economies are benefited by tourism,” said Chris Lehane, Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications of Airbnb.
“To continue these efforts, we’re also pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism to promote tourism to the country through Airbnb even beyond the Bahamas Sabbatical. This is a special place and anyone who has spent time on any of the islands that make up the nation is moved by the air, the sun, the beaches, the food, the communities and most of all the people.”
Oh, and just to sweeten the deal, your flights to The Bahamas, accommodation and majority of your expenses (including travel and food) will be covered by Airbnb.
So, if you’d like to apply, just bear in mine that you must be over 18, available to be in The Bahamas for two months from April to May and be able to speak good conversational English. Check out the full application process, and start living your best island life!
Images: Unsplash - Jared Rice/ Airbnb - Jessie Ray