Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Costa Rica to help protect and save these magnificent species!
Volunteer at the Costa Rica Sea Turtle Conservation Project and assist in helping to preserve Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity by protecting the nests of magnificent endangered sea turtles and releasing turtle hatchlings into the wild.
“You’re guaranteed to leave with some of your greatest memories.”
Maria, Teacher, Ireland
Volunteer with Turtles in Costa Rica to help save species of sea turtles by protecting their nests from poachers. Located on two pristine beaches on the coast of Costa Rica, this project is the perfect opportunity to enjoy tropical paradise while volunteering with turtle rescue and release! Be a part of important Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica sea turtles are under threat from poachers who raid beaches searching for turtle nests so they can poach and sell their eggs. The trade of sea turtles' meat, shells and skin is still common, posing further threat to the species. The project focuses on conserving 4 species of sea turtles common to the area - the Pacific Black, Olive Ridley, Leatherbacks and Hawsbills. The project's main object is to protect sea turtles by alleviating both human and natural threats to the species.
Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Costa Rica and assist with beach patrols looking for turtle nests to protect the eggs, and laying mothers from poachers! Volunteers also assist in the hatchery and with turtle releases!
The Project: The project focuses on the conservation of four species of sea turtle - the Olive Ridley, Pacific Black and the occasional Leatherbacks and Hawksbills. The main objective is to alleviate the natural and manmade threats that affect sea turtles’ nests on the beaches in Costa Rica.
Project Location: The project is located on two pristine beaches on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.
Main Volunteer Activities: Night Beach Patrols for Sea Turtles, Relocation of Nests, Maintenance of Turtle Hatchery, Releasing Hatchlings.
Hours: 6 days per week, 6 hours per day, usually a combination of day and night shifts.
Duration: Volunteer placements are year-round and for 1 to 12 weeks. Nesting season is June to December. In the off-season of January-June, it is rare to see turtles.
Accommodation: Shared rooms, in simple, rustic conditions just minutes from the beach.
Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers at this project must be aged Aged 18+, with a passion for animal welfare, and have a reasonable level of physical fitness.
Volunteer Placement Fee: From UK£750 / US$895
This wonderful project was set up to improve the chance of survival of these beautiful marine creatures which are seriously under threat from poachers who trade in the turtles’ eggs, meat, skin and shells, from the destruction of their natural habitat and from accidental capture in fishing lines. The project’s main objective is to alleviate the natural and manmade threats that affect sea turtles’ nests on the beaches in Costa Rica.
How the project is helping
Beaches are patrolled on a nightly basis during nesting season to protect sea turtles from poachers, predators and other threats. All identified nests are removed to hatcheries where the eggs are protected until they hatch and the tiny hatchlings can be safely released into the ocean.
Unfortunately without programmes like this, the extinction of these wonderful and ancient sea turtle species could be imminent. The programme gives hatchlings the opportunity to successfully grow into mature sea turtles and hopefully, the females will in turn return to the same beaches to nest once they reach maturity
Why the project need volunteers
Volunteers at this project play a key role in ensuring the safety of hatchlings and therefore the future of Costa Rica’s sea turtles. Without state funding, the project relies volunteer support, private donations and grants to be able to undertake its vital work in protecting these amazing, but sadly endangered sea turtles.
Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Costa Rica to make a difference and support the local staff in their mission to save the sea turtles.
Typical Volunteer Duties
Volunteers work six days a week with one day off for relaxing and sightseeing. You will normally work during the day and at night with specific work schedules varying depending on the needs of the project. Each day, you will undertake a range of duties at the project – beach cleaning, maintenance on the hatchery etc and will normally also have one night shift for beach patrol for turtles OR a shift working in the hatchery to monitor nests and release hatchlings.
There is always a range of tasks to be carried out by volunteers and other general volunteer duties may include:
- Releasing baby turtles into the ocean.
- Beach cleaning
- Construction of hatchery
- Nocturnal Beach Patrols to look for nesting adult female turtles and data collection
- Collection of data relevant to nesting activity (collection and transferal of eggs to the hatchery, tagging and measurements of turtles Maintenance of infrastructure and surroundings).
- Registering information about the hatchery and exhumations (digging up nests that have not hatched)
- Monitoring and security of hatchery
The daily volunteer schedule includes:
9-10am: Cleaning Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom and Common Areas (Volunteers are expected to maintain the common areas clean)
11-1pm: Free Time
2-5pm: Hatchery Shift
9-12am: Night Patrol
*volunteers generally do EITHER the hatchery shift OR the Night patrol but not both.
Please keep in mind that the activities will vary depending on the time of year. The main conservation work done directly with the turtles takes place from June to December. If you come to the project at the beginning of the season or during the off-season you will be doing more preparation work to ensure that the facilities and beach are ready for the reception of nests in the hatchery.
If you come during nesting season most of your time will be spent on night patrols and transferring nests into the hatchery. Coming at the end of the season you will likely not see mother turtles lay eggs but will mostly be working to release hatchlings into the ocean.
Please be aware that nesting dates and numbers are never exactly the same each year so there is no guarantee you will see turtles during the start and end of the nesting season.
The project sites are located within about a 20-30 minute walk of small local towns where you can find basic shops and local restaurants depending on the location. Other tourist services like banks and bars may be located slightly further away via taxi or local bus.
For this project you need to fly to San Jose, which has direct flights from many cities including Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Charlotte, Madrid. Volunteers should arrive Monday to Thursday for this project, they will spend one or two nights in San Jose before being transferred to the project.
Costa Rican beaches generally have a strong undercurrent so you are advised to swim with caution. However, they do make for excellent surfing and local surfing lessons are available. Depending on your exact placement location you will also be close to mountains, mangroves and tropical rainforest.
Volunteers live in shared houses that consist of shared bunk rooms, shared toilets and cold water showers, and a large common area only a few minutes from the beach.
You may spot native wildlife near the project and can doze off to the sounds of exotic birds and ocean waves. Rooms are well ventilated and whilst windows are screened it is recommended that you bring your own mosquito net.
Social activities such as movie nights and pizza nights are occasionally organized by volunteers. You can also go out for dinner to the local town on your nights off.
Three meals per day are prepared by the project staff and are based on a Costa Rican diet of beans and rice. Breakfast is generally Gallo Pinto - a traditional Costa Rican dish of rice, beans and eggs. Lunch and dinner consist of beans and rice with salad and a meat or fish dish. Vegetarians and volunteers with other dietary restrictions can be catered for, just let us know in advance of your placement.
There are no washing machines or dryers at the project. Most volunteers wash their clothes by hand or take them into town where there are commercial laundry facilities. It is best to bring lightweight clothing as it dries more easily in the humid conditions.
Free Time at the Costa Rica Sea Turtle Project
Volunteers will have one day off per week to enjoy the amazing culture of Costa Rica and the beautiful scenery, beaches, wildlife, waterfalls and rainforest near your project location.
There are also many sightseeing and touring trips available before or after your placement throughout this amazing country including the following:
- Chill out on the beaches and rainforest of the Nicoya Peninsula.
- Visit El Arenal, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes.
- Enjoy wildlife and bird spotting in the Manuel Antonio or Corcovado National Reserves.
- Marvel at the unique biodiversity of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
- Indulge in surfing and nightlife at the Caribbean village of Viejo Puerto de Talamanca.
- Spot crocodiles, jaguars and sloths in the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.
- Bathe in the hot springs at Tabacon near El Arenal Volcano.
- Snorkel in crystal clear waters off Isla Tortuga or many of the other beautiful beaches.
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Included in your volunteering package are all accommodation on site at the sanctuary, all main meals and free airport collection and transfer to the sanctuary.
√ Free airport pick up from San Jose International Airport
√ Return Transfer from San Jose to the project location un-escorted on public Transport
√ Accommodation for the duration of your stay (Including first & final nights' accommodation in San Jose).
√ Three meals a day at the project.
√ Induction on arrival
√ In-country support from local staff.
√ All necessary project equipment and materials.
√ All project training by experienced project staff.
√ Project donation.
As a UK registered Charity, Globalteer is required to be financially transparent to our donors. You can therefore see a full breakdown of where your money goes and our independently audited accounts by clicking below:
To discover why you should consider choosing Globalteer, please visit the following page:
Why do we charge a fee for volunteering?
Globalteer requests a donation from volunteers to allow us to achieve our charitable objectives and support our partner programmes. In return, Globalteer provides volunteers with an amazing, responsible and ethical volunteer experience. Ensuring that your placement is responsible as well as rewarding, safe and enjoyable takes a good deal of work.
A summary of Globalteer’s total expenditure for the last financial year is shown below:
Donations and Grants 60% – This includes a share of volunteer placement fees, grants we have secured for our projects and donations managed by Globalteer that are made by individuals and groups to our projects and partner projects.
Support Costs 29% – This includes volunteer accommodation, volunteer transport, support staff costs, travel costs and some volunteer meals.
Operational Costs 11% – Costs of running Globalteer.
What’s not included
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Medical and travel insurance
- Vaccinations and inoculations
- Meals, drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- Personal kit
- Visa costs
What do everyday items cost?
The official currency of Costa Rica is the Colon, and there are approximately 750 Colones to the pound and 570 Colones to the US dollar. The cost of living in Costa Rica is low compared to most countries in the developed world. The costs of some typical items are:
- Bus ride up to half an hour - 800 Colones
- Taxi journey up to 10 minutes - 5,000 Colones
- Meal in a market - 5,000 Colones
- Bottle of soft drink - 800 Colones
- Coffee - 2,000 Colones
- Meal in a restaurant - 10,000 colones
- Bottle of domestic beer - 2,000 colones