Spend two or four weeks on a unique and once in a lifetime experience helping the endangered turtles in Costa Rica.
Starting with a weekend in the country's capital, San Jose, you'll travel down to the gorgeous Pacific or Caribbean coastlines to settle in to your accommodation and watch the sun set by the sea.
Besides being a beautiful island, Costa Rica's beaches provide nesting sites for four species of endangered sea turtles. They return each year to lay their eggs but egg poachers and increasing levels of pollution continue to thwart these animals' survival. Only a tiny fraction of the eggs laid make it to adulthood anyway, and the turtles take years to mature and reproduce so the turtle population is becoming extremely threatened. Working with a local award-winning initiative, you will be involved in a variety of tasks that not only focus on the turtle population itself but also educating the local community and raising awareness on the importance of conserving the species.
Locations: San Jose and either the Pacific or Caribbean Coast
Experience Length: 2 weeks (with an optional 2 week extension)
Work Type: A variety of projects ranging from clearing beaches, night patrols, working in the hatchery and community education. You will be working six days a week with one day at leisure.
Arrival Airport: San Jose International Airport (Code: SJO)
Finish Date: The program will end at your project location (Pacific or Caribbean Coast) on the Friday either two or four weeks after your start date (depending on the duration you book).
Recommendations: Healthy, no maximum age, minimum age is 18 unless accompanied by an adult aged 18 or over (or have parental/guardian consent aged 17). Open-minded and willing to be accepting of a very different culture.
With limited spaces, the exact cost of the 2 week experience is US $1350 but if you register in the next 7 days we can squeeze it down to US $1250 which comes in at about US $90 per day. The two week extension is US $750.
This goes towards covering everything from in-country transport and accommodation, to project fees and staff support. Please note that your international flights are not included in the above price.
To secure your spot you pay a deposit of US $250 (you can then pay the rest in weekly instalments or in full a couple of months before you travel). We also provide you with a comprehensive travel guide which covers everything from what to bring to travel insurance and international flight recommendations.
Our partner in Costa Rica works with local biologists at reserves along both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines who are focused on preserving endangered Olive Ridley, Leatherback Black and Green turtles.
All projects are located on the gorgeous beaches of either the Pacific or Caribbean coastlines (depending on season), where swimming, surfing and local culture flourishes. You will be staying amongst and working with a very poor local population in a rural setting.
For those volunteering on the Pacific Coast, you will work mainly with Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles. On the Caribbean Coast, you will work mainly with the Leatherback turtles. Both species of turtles have been hunted extensively for their meat and leather, with numbers yet to recover from centuries of over-exploitation. The additional factors of habitat loss due to human settlement and increasing levels of pollution have led to a very limited number of key breeding so efforts to protect them are vital.
These projects normally include sustainable egg harvesting programs, overseen by the Costa Rican government, that feed or provide income to the local communities, designed to prevent other forms of harvesting and poaching. Volunteers will provide support to biologists, biology interns and/or locals who are involved in managing the turtles nesting grounds. You will be taking part in a variety of projects including night beach patrols, tagging turtles, relocating nests into hatcheries, and turtle and egg counts.
Without the help of our amazing volunteers and dedicated in-country teams, these turtles could eventually die out due to the lack of conservation and education in the country. By playing your part on this 'hands-on' project, you will be giving these beautiful creatures a fighting chance of survival and ensuring that the population thrives for generations to come.
1 October 2017 (4 spots left)
5 November 2017 (5 spots left)
3 December 2017 (5 spots left)
7 January 2018 (full)
4 February 2018 (4 spots left)
4 March 2018 (3 spots left)
1 April 2018 (2 spots left)
6 May 2018 (5 spots left)
3 June 2018 (2 spots left)
1 July 2018 (full)
5 August 2018 (2 spots left)
2 September 2018 (2 spots left)
7 October 2018 (3 spots left)
4 November 2018 (4 spots left)
2 December 2018 (3 spots left)
Every day on this project is unbelievable and unforgettable - guaranteed! Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite:
- If you arrive into San Jose's international airport (SJO) on the official start day, we'll arrange for you to be met and transferred to your host family to start your adventure
- Two nights bed & breakfast in a host family in San Jose
- In-depth orientation in San Jose
- Walking tour of San Pedro - the historical hangout in the heart of downtown San Jose
- Transportation from San Jose to your project location (either the Pacific or Caribbean Coast, depending on the season)
- Accommodation with a local host family or on reserve accommodation (mixed sex dormitories)
- All volunteering project materials and guidance
- Daily support from our award-winning team of coordinators
- Detailed pre-departure information to help you prepare for your time with us
San Jose: Volunteers will be accommodated in a local home stay house. All families selected for this are pre-approved and have been hosting volunteers for many years. Accommodation includes breakfast and dinner, a shared room (twin, triple or quad share) and shared bathroom facilities. Volunteers will be given a key to the house and are free to come and go as they please but must respect the routine and rules of the house they are staying in.
Project site (Pacific or Caribbean Coast): Whilst at the project site, you will either be accommodated with a local family (as above) or on reserve accommodation in mixed-sex dormitories. During the week, you will be required to remain on the reserve at all times and may be required to make a USD $80 deposit for the reserve keys.
Housing rules have a strict no alcohol or drugs on the premises at any time.
Local Costa Rican food is provided at breakfast and dinner at the home stay in San Jose. Lunch is not included and volunteers should budget around USD $5-$8/day for this. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided whilst at your project location.
- Minimum age of 18, unless accompanied by an adult. Aged 17 is acceptable only with signed consent from a parent or guardian
- Good level of fitness (beach patrols require a lot of walking!)
- Enthusiasm and flexibility - schedules can change without notice due to uncontrollable factors
- Willingness to get your hands dirty and work as a team
- An open respect for other cultures and customs
- Travel and medical insurance
- All accommodation
- All in-country transport
- 24/7 support
- Project donation and supplies
Turtle Volunteer Experience (14 days)
US $1250: US $90 per day
Turtle Volunteer Experience 2 week extension
Please note that your international flights are not included in the above price.
To secure your spot, you pay a deposit of US $250 - you can then choose to pay the remainder in weekly instalments or as one lump sum a couple of months before the experience starts. Once you have made the deposit payment, you will receive a comprehensive experience guide which covers everything from what to bring, to travel insurance and international flight recommendations.
- International flights
- Spending money
- Travel visa - if required; please check with the Consulate or Embassy closest to you
- Meals and drinks, other than those stated in the above description
- Travel and medical insurance
- Onward transport from your project location at the end of your placement (you should budget around USD $5 - $10 for the taxi ride back to San Jose)
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is the gateway to both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts. The city is located in the Central Valley and lies between three volcanoes. It's a very modern, cosmopolitan city, offering a great selection of nightlife, theatre and tourism options.
It is relatively easy to navigate your way around Costa Rica, and the public transport is considered the best in the whole of Central America. San Jose offers something for all visitors, from low budget traditional meals starting from USD $4 to expensive international cuisines.
On arrival into San Jose, because it's so easy to become lost in a world of sensory overload, our team will collect you from the airport and transfer you to the starting point, your centrally located host family. You'll have plenty of time to rest, refresh and settle in before your orientation and getting started.
If you plan to arrive into Costa Rica early, you may need to make your own accommodation arrangements until our official arrival day. Please speak with the team and we can confirm this for you.
There are great online resources for finding cheap flights, such as www.skyscanner.com or www.google.com/flights. If you would like to speak to an agent you can use our preferred agent by clicking on this link STA Flights.
Please book a flight that arrives into San Jose's international airport (named Juan Santamaria with airport code SJO) on your chosen arrival date.
If you arrive into Costa Rica before your chosen arrival date, you may need to make arrangements for your early accommodation, but just get in touch with our team who can give you more details.
When you have your flight booked, you must send us the flight number (usually a code consisting of two letter and three numbers. For example, BA009) and the arrival time. Without this information, we cannot collect you from the airport and that would just suck!
It's also a great idea if you can send us a number for a mobile or cell phone that you plan to bring with you so that we can contact you if for some reason we're unable to locate you at the airport.
Your project will end either in San Jose or Manuel Antonio (depending on where your placement is). Of course our team will help you to organise transportation for where you need to get to next but you will need to pay for your onward travel yourself.
The 'Colon' is the official currency of Costa Rica and money-wise, the best thing to do is to bring an ATM or major credit card as well as some US Dollars to exchange. ATMs are easily accessible in major cities and tourist areas and generally dispense both colons and dollars.
As we're not medical professionals, we're not permitted to give medical advice. However, most travel clinics suggest having the following vaccinations: Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Polio, and Typhoid.
Please do seek medical advice from your GP or local medical travel clinic for the most up to date information.
To confirm your place on the program, we just require a deposit of USD $250. This is one of our most popular programs and does have limited numbers so to ensure you can get a placement confirmed, we suggest sending this deposit as soon as possible. Once we have received your deposit, your placement will be confirmed by email. If you haven't received that email in 48 hours, please check your spam or junk folder.
We require your placement to be paid in full a couple of month before your arrival date. We can set you up with a weekly payment plan if you prefer - just contact our team to make that happen
Throughout your project, you will be accompanied by award-winning teams of coordinators and guides. They are there to help you understand the Costa Rican culture and customs, to help you with arrangements, answer any questions and to ensure that you enjoy your time to its fullest. If at any time you feel unsafe, either in general or on your placement, we urge you to speak to your coordinators immediately. In almost all cases, whatever the issue is, we will be able to get things resolved quickly and with minimum effect to your placement.
We have been operating for over 15 years, have placed over 25,000 people and have an experienced team with a wealth of knowledge and passion! But don't just take our word for it - if you visit our website Verification page where you can see our accreditation and view over 1000+ reviews.