Costa Rica Sea Turtle Volunteer (Pacuare- Caribbean Cost)!
Are you interested to save endangered sea turtles? Would you love to see a mother come ashore onto the beach she hatched on and lay her eggs? Would you like to help baby hatchling turtles as they bravely make their way out to sea? Join this amazing sea turtle conservation program in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica is a sea turtle lover’s paradise. The spectacular Caribbean Coast where you’ll be volunteering is prime nesting beach habitat for amazing endangered sea turtles like the Green, Hawksbill, and the massive 7-foot long leatherbacks, the most common species you’ll encounter on your volunteer adventure.
Sadly, sea turtle numbers are plummeting worldwide, and all of these incredible species are in danger of extinction. Hunting turtles for meat and shells and eating the eggs as an aphrodisiac is a big part of the Caribbean culture, and though it’s now outlawed, more work is needed to educate the locals to protect the sea turtles and help save them.
Do your part to help preserve the next generation by joining Costa Rica turtle conservation volunteer program!
Volunteer Responsibilities & Impacts
From March-October, during sea turtle season at this Caribbean nesting beach, you will join scientists, fellow volunteers, and reformed egg poachers and sea turtle hunters from the local community who are now dedicated to helping protect the eggs and allowing the babies to make their way out into the ocean home.
As a Costa Rica sea turtle volunteer, you’ll be making a huge impact on conserving endangered sea turtles since you’ll be working at a grassroots level with the Caribbean locals who were a part of the problem but have now become a driving force for positive change. You’ll also learn lots of scientific field research techniques, and gain experience!There are a variety of exciting activities you’ll be getting involved with:
Nighttime Beach Patrol
Nesting mothers come into shore at night to lay their eggs, so you’ll patrol the 14 km beach in dark clothing with your red headlamp searching for them. When you locate a turtle laying eggs, you’ll collect data, tag the turtle, and mark the location of the nest. Once the eggs are laid, you will help bring them to a hatchery where a new nest will be dug for them.
Each patrol lasts about four hours and happens between the hours of 7 pm-4 am. A lot of the work volunteering with sea turtles in Costa Rica is done at night, so be up to work some odd hours and sometimes sleep during the day. The sand is wet and soft, so you should wear shoes like Crocs and be in pretty good physical condition to go on night patrols.
Early season volunteers will pitch in building a new hatchery. New nests in the sand are dug to incubate, protect, and observe the sea turtle eggs. A lot of data collection will take place here, both with the nests and the hatchlings.
When the babies begin to emerge (around 60 days from the time the eggs were laid), the nests must be checked every 20 minutes to look for hatchlings. At high tide, you and your fellow volunteers will take the courageous young turtles and release them into their ocean home!
Many members of this project are locals from the nearby community that once poached eggs or hunted turtles. Through education and the empowerment of this unique volunteer project, these former poachers have now realized the grave error in their long-standing cultural tradition. What’s more, they’re now fighting to save the turtles.
Educate and inspire other members of the local community to respect and protect the endangered sea turtles that come to nest on the beach they share with them. Spread positive change and open people’s minds at a grassroots level to really make a difference while volunteering in turtle conservation program in Costa Rica.
Sea turtles can become entangled in nets or fishing line, and often accidentally ingest plastic thinking it is jellyfish. Help clean up the beach and do your part to cut down on the major trash pollution humans are creating worldwide.
Help out with daily tasks around. You might be gardening, cleaning, painting, or helping out with maintenance.
Rescue & Rehabilitate Injured Sea Turtles
Another vital part of this project is a field rescue center for injured sea turtles. If an injured turtle is found or brought in, volunteers will pitch in as it is examined, treated, and then held in a tank as it undergoes rehabilitation. Once the turtle is healthy and ready to go, it’ll be released triumphantly back into the ocean where it belongs.
Skills and Qualifications
There are no specific qualifications required to volunteer in Costa Rica in sea turtle conservation program other than being 18 years of age, and passionate about helping endangered animals. You’ll have to be willing to work in hot and humid conditions, sometimes in the rain, and often at night and with a varying schedule.
The project site itself is very remote, only accessible by boat, and has no electricity. You’ll be completely off the grid and living in nature, so be prepared to unplug and deal with somewhat rustic conditions. However, if you buy a local SIM card in town before you come, you can access the internet on the beach and stay connected to the outside world.
Spanish will be very helpful while volunteering conserving sea turtles in Costa Rica, particularly when working with the locals, but speaking the language is not required. If you’d like to work on your Spanish while you’re in Costa Rica, ask us about our language programs that allow you to learn while you travel.
Your schedule at this project will be quite variable. On the nights you go out on beach patrol, you will work between the hours of 7 pm- 4 am. You’ll be given plenty of time to rest, but you’ll take shifts as there are also daytime activities, including work in the hatchery and doing things around the camp.
Costa Rica Sea Turtle Volunteer: Dates and Fees
Dates: Volunteer in Costa Rica
All volunteer programs in Costa Rica start every Monday of each month. However, if there is travel constrains, you can start any project on any day.
Fees: Volunteer In Costa Rica
Global Crossroad is committed to offering the most affordable and highest quality volunteering programs in Costa Rica. We strive to keep our costs low. The humanitarian side of the business is our passion.
Global Crossroad's volunteer program in Costa Rica application and registration fee cost US $299. The application fee covers the cost of advertising, program promotion, and office expenses (rent, utilities, and staff salaries in USA office).
In addition to the application fee, you are required to pay a weekly program fee. You will pay your weekly fee directly to the country coordinator, who in turn will allocate it to your host family, project and other in-country support we offer to our volunteers. This way, the fees that you pay will benefit those who rightfully deserve them, and not for company profit.
Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day »
No Spanish Language Program with the Turtle Conservation Project
Wildlife Conservation Program - Transportation from Airport Juan Santamaria $80/one way
How your fee is allocated?
Program fees cover:
- Accommodation (host family)
- Food (local food 3 times a day)
- Airport Pick up/Transfer
- Program Orientation
- In-country support
- Personalized project
- Pre-departure information
- Certificate of completion
- Fundraising ideas and letters
- Discount for returning volunteers
Program fees exclude:
- Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
- Daily transportation
- Airport return transfer
Osa Peninsula (Airport Pick up and Transportation)
The Osa Turtle Conservation site is 100 miles from San Jose. Here are the details of the airport pick up and transfer fee.
- Airport Pick, first night at a hotel in San Jose $45
- Sanjose to Punterenas by bus $8
- Punterenas to Osa by bus $6
You will pay your airport pick up/transfer cost directly to staff in Costa Rica
Pacuare (Airport Pick Up and Transportation)
Pacuare Turtle Conservation site is 80 miles from San Jose. There are two options for you to choose from.
Option one- organized by IFRE Volunteers
- Airport Pick, spend the first night in a hotel in San Jose $45
(If you arrive before 2 p.m. you can go directly to the project by taxi without staying in a hotel.)
- San Jose to Pecaure in a private taxi $150
- The boat transportation cost is 35$
Option two- travel by yourself to the project
If your flight arrives early in the morning, or before 10 a.m., you can choose to go to the project directly by public bus
- San Jose to Siquirres $6
- Siquirres to Las Vegas de Imperio $3
- The boat transportation cost is 35$
Bus Departure time from San Jose: 11 a.m.
Directions - traveling to your project
- From the Gran Terminal del Caribe of San José, take the 11:00 a.m. bus to Siquirres. You will arrive at Siquirres around 1:15 p.m.
- From the terminal at Siquirres walk to La Estación Intercantonal, also called Parada de los Calvos, (300m). (If you are not sure, just ask people where you can get on a bus to Las Vegas de Imperio).
- Take the 2:30 p.m. bus to Las Vegas de Imperio, getting off at the last stop.
- A staff member will be waiting for you there. The boat transportation cost is 35$ per person, both trips.
You will pay your airport pick up/transfer fee directly to staff in Costa Rica: Map
Gran Terminal del Caribe of San Jose: Map
Terminal of Siquirres: Map
Las Vegas de Imperio: Map
Project location: Map
The volunteering overseas in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program (usually the first or third Monday of the month) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for the additional expenses, which would typically be around $30 a day for room and meals at a hostel.
Accommodation and Meal
Our Costa Rica sea turtle conservation volunteering opportunity is located on a beautiful, remote beach between a canal and the ocean, accessible by boat. There is a small local village nearby. You’ll be living without electricity in basic shared housing with fellow volunteers and provided three basic local meals per day. We recommend bringing a mosquito net.
Free Time and Weekend Exploration
Given the remote nature of the project, much of your free time will be spent with fellow volunteers, enjoying the beach, and exploring the surrounding jungle which is home to a wide variety of wildlife. On your days off, explore the vibrant and unique Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Don’t miss nearby Tortuguero National Park, also a great place to view wild sea turtles!
Safety and In Country Support
We have your safety in mind at all times when planning your Costa Rica sea turtle conservation volunteer experience. We work only with trusted local partners, offer safe housing and food along with insurance and airport pickup, and have a very helpful and professional in-country team to help you every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs:
You know you’re ready to help sea turtles in any way you can, but you probably have a few questions about how this whole volunteering abroad thing works. Global Crossroad has been helping volunteers just like you have safe and meaningful experiences abroad since 2003 in 20 countries around the world. We’re here to help guide and support you.
Here’s some info to help answer your questions:
Arrival and departure
You’ll fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Your airport pickup is included in your volunteer fee, and we’ll have someone waiting for you when you land who will take you safely to your accommodations.
When you complete your sea turtle volunteer program in Costa Rica, you will need to arrange your own departure transportation as it is not included in your volunteer fee. Just speak to the local project staff if you need advice on booking a taxi to the airport.
Costa Rica Sea Turtle Volunteer : Visa
You may be eligible to simply ask for a visa stamp after your arrival at the airport in San Jose. However, do your research to learn the requirements for your home country. Most volunteers will be eligible for a 90-day tourist visa. Research the visa requirements at the official Immigration site of Costa Rica:
You don’t want to get sick when you volunteer to conserve sea turtle in Costa Rica, so international travelers should always get vaccinated. Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your trip. You should be up to date on your routine vaccines, as well as Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid. can also find information on CDC website.
What should I bring?
- Dark clothing for night patrol, long sleeves and pants w/lightweight fast drying fabric
- Headlamp with red light to protect turtle’s eyes
- Waterproof, closed toed shoes like crocs
- Sunglasses and Sunscreen
- Fast-drying towel
- Unlocked cellphone for local SIM to access internet
- Bug spray
- osquito Net
Why Costa Rica Sea Turtle Volunteer?
Gain valuable experience in the field
Learn and practice valuable scientific field research techniques like tagging, relocation, biometrics, and more! If you’re pursuing a career in a related field, this exciting volunteer opportunity with sea turtles in Costa Rica looks amazing on your resume!
Help save sea turtles!
Each nest saved from poachers has up to 100 eggs. That seems like a lot, but when you think about how only 1 in 1000 sea turtle hatchlings ever makes it adulthood even without poachers, you can see what a big difference saving all these nests can make on the endangered sea turtle population!
Educate locals and change the world at a grassroots level
As a Costa Rica sea turtle conservation volunteer, you’ll be educating locals that have historically hunted sea turtles and eaten their eggs. These are the people who are putting the turtles at most risk, and if you can change their minds, you can stop the problem at its source. Inspire locals to conserve and protect sea turtles!
Travel abroad with a purpose
Maybe Costa Rica is long been calling your name, and you’re ready for a tropical adventure in paradise. Get away from it all to a remote beach and spend your vacation dollars and time on helping save an endangered species.
Contact Global Crossroad today to learn more about helping sea turtles in Costa Rica!
Other Volunteer Opportunities Available in Costa Rica:
No matter your passion or interests, we offer a variety of life-changing, volunteer programs in Costa Rica such as
For more information on our exciting programs in Costa Rica, contact us today.