Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Volunteer
Do you dream of working with sea turtles? How would you like to travel to Costa Rica and join a team of scientists researching these amazing animals? This turtle conservation program with IFRE allows you to do just that and more!
Sea turtles have been living and thriving in the world’s oceans for more than 150 million years, but today they are in danger of extinction. Each sea turtle species uniquely affects the diversity, habitat, and functionality of its environment, and they play a vital role in maintaining the health of the oceans. Sea turtle project in Costa Rica is managed by both local and international environmentalists and biologists.
The primary focus of this projects is to increase the birth rate and survival of baby sea turtles. The project also works to collect data and educate the local community about sea turtles and the marine ecosystem.
Turtle Conservation project is located on both the Caribbean (Limón area) and Pacific (Nicoya peninsula) coasts. Volunteer responsibilities and duties vary greatly from project to project. Program supervisors let you work as independently as possible based on your Spanish language skills, commitment level, and expertise. You are expected to take direction and follow the work plan that the conservation project dictates. As an international volunteer, you get involved with hatchery management, beach patrols, beach cleanup, data collection, and community outreach.
Volunteer Responsibilities & Impact
Costa Rica Turtle Conservation volunteer project is located in rural beach areas often alongside impoverished communities. Volunteers provide support to the biologists, biology interns, project staff, and locals involved in protecting turtle eggs and maintaining the turtle nesting grounds.
Please be aware that these projects often include sustainable egg harvesting programs that feed or provide income to the local communities. These programs are designed to prevent over-harvesting and poaching and are overseen by the Costa Rican government.
You’ll have the opportunity to do beach patrols (day or night) to search for nesting turtles, tag and/or count turtles, move nests into protected hatcheries, count or collect eggs, help with beach cleanup, join community outreach programs, and/or do project upkeep and maintenance.
Skills and Qualifications:
Having a foundational understanding of the Spanish language is not required but recommended. Bringing a "go-getter" attitude helps to ensure that you are as deeply involved as you want to be. We strongly encourage you to take a proactive approach towards volunteering – be outgoing and ready to pitch in wherever and whenever you can. Remember, being consistently present and respecting the schedule helps to create the best possible impact on both you and your project.
Beach patrols require a lot of walking in the sand. You should be physically fit and prepared for this.
First and Second Day: Sea Turtle conservation projects are located offsite and away from our headquarter offices in San Jose. Offsite projects do not have reliable internet access, but there is a phone in case of emergency. Our Field Managers check in with you by phone and in person throughout your program.
If you are scheduled to work at the Sea Turtle Conservation project, you receive your orientation on Day 1, followed by an orientation specifically for your conservation project. During your orientation, travel to/from your project is clearly explained and you receive your transportation tickets, which are included in your program fees. Depending on your project and bus schedules, you leave for your volunteer placement on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. Note that offsite volunteers who arrive on Monday instead of Sunday may not arrive to their volunteer site until Tuesday or Wednesday. At the end of your program, your transportation back from your project site is also included in your program fees. Volunteers usually return either Friday night or very early Saturday morning.
Weekdays: Your volunteer work officially begins on the second day, and your daily schedule will vary according to your specific placement. A typical day may follow this pattern:
7:00 to 7:30 AM: Start your day with a traditional Tico breakfast shared with your host family. This may include gallo pinto, a beloved national dish featuring rice and beans infused with signature spices and flavors, along with eggs, tortillas, fresh juice, and café con leche.
7:45 AM: Depart from your host family's residence and travel to your project site. Enjoy your fulfilling day as a volunteer in Costa Rica!
12:00 PM: Take a break for lunch. You can either return to your host family's home or bring a packed lunch with you. Use this time to connect with fellow volunteers and build friendships with people from around the world.
3:00 PM: After completing your volunteer duties, your evenings are free to explore. You can choose to relax with your host family or team up with fellow volunteers to explore the surrounding areas.
6:45 PM: Every evening, you'll share a traditional dinner with your host family. Immerse yourself in the local culture, practice your Spanish language skills, and make the most of your time in this captivating country.
Volunteer Program Fees (US$)
IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.
Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.
We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured, we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.
Volunteer Program Fees (US$)
Because this is an off-site project, it is not possible to add Spanish Immersion Classes to this program.
The volunteering in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses from the first day of the program 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.
Program Fees Cover:
- Shared Accommodation with a host family or in dormitory-style accommodations, from Sunday to Saturday
- 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner) when in San Jose, 3 meals per day when at the Sea Turtle Conservation project
- Airport Pick up
- In-country support
- Program Orientation, Walking Tour, Safety Presentation
- Project Management
- Volunteer Certificate
- Discount for returning volunteers
- Letter of Recommendation (upon request)
- Emergency contact 24/7
Program Fees Exclude:
- Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
- Daily transportation
- Airport return transfer
- Extra nights of housing (can be booked at an additional cost)
Meals and Accommodations
Our volunteers in Costa Rica will stay with one of our socially respected and experienced host families while in San Jose, and with either a host family or in a dormitory-style accommodations at the project site. Both options will offer you a home away from home and a great chance to immerse yourself in the culture. The host families and project staff have experience with hosting international volunteers and accommodations are located in safe neighborhoods.
You will be sharing a room with other volunteers of the same gender. Volunteer rooms are basic, clean and comfortable, and you will have access to showers, hygienic toilets and electricity. The volunteer project may be walking distance from the accommodation or require public transportation.
Volunteers will be provided with 2 local meals a day (breakfast and dinner) when in San Jose, and they will be provided with 3 local meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) when at the Sea Turtle Conservation project site, due to its remoteness. We accommodate all dietary restrictions, diets, allergies and preferences without any extra charges. Make sure you let us know early so we can communicate this to your host family or project staff.
Free Time and Weekends Exploration
San Jose, Costa Rica has a lot of cultural offerings like museums, theaters, live music, great restaurants, and a historical downtown shopping area. The city is perfectly located for day and weekend trips to surrounding areas like volcanos, the cloud forest, rainforests, beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and more.
Safety and in Country Support
Your safety is IFRE’s number one priority, and we make sure you have a successful and secure volunteer abroad experience. We make sure you have safe housing and a welcoming host family to help you navigate the local area, work with respected organizations, offer health coverage, and also provide the support of our dedicated in-country team available to you at all times.
Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Volunteer-FAQs
You probably have a few lingering questions about your trip. We get asked questions by prospective volunteers every day, and we’ve compiled some helpful answers here in one easy to find spot. Here’s a list of helpful information we think you should know when traveling with us:
Arrival and Departure
You will fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Please make yourself sure you have provided us your final flight information. Our representative will be waiting you at the arrival point for your pick up on the schedule date and time. Contact us as soon as possible if you miss your flight or the flight is delayed. We will arrange a new pick up schedule for you.
IFRE doesn’t offer departure transport services.
You will need a tourist visa in order to volunteer in our turtle conservation volunteering project in Costa Rica. Costa Rica provides a 90 day tourist visa; and you can extend further up to 90 days depending on your interest and need. You can simply visit immigration office in your country to secure visa or can also get visa in the airport. However, on arrival visas are only available for some nationalities. Please visit Immigration site of Costa Rica to know the Costa Rican visa policy in details.
Before you head off to Costa Rica, make sure you meet with a doctor to discuss your trip and get up to date on needed vaccines.
You can also find the information on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Global Health Canadaor in Travelers' Health United Kingdom. You should be up to date on your routine vaccines, as well as Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid.
For further readings:
Can I volunteer at the project year-round?
Yes. While most sea turtle projects are only available during nesting and hatchling season, thisCosta Rica sea turtle research volunteer project is unique. Instead of only studying nesting mothers, we are trying to get an accurate picture of the overall life of sea turtles in the water, where they spend 99% of their time. As a result, you can join us year-round!
What kinds of sea turtles will I be working with?
You will work with both the Pacific Green Sea Turtle and the critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle.
What should I wear?
Pack for hot weather and working in dirty conditions. Denim never fully dries in the humidity, and you definitely won’t want it for your work clothes. We recommend lightweight, fast-drying fabrics. You’ll want shorts and t-shirts, and lightweight long-sleeves and pants.
Bring a pair of flip-flops, some sneakers or boots for hiking, and waterproof closed toed shoes like crocs for beach work. A headlamp with a red light is recommended in case you need to work with the turtles at night.
Our project is located right on the beach, so make sure to have a couple of swimsuits, a sun hat if you need it, a pair of flip-flops, and some sunglasses. Although not apparel, a healthy supply of sunscreen and bug-spray will serve you well!
Why Costa Rica Turtle Conservation Volunteer?
Volunteering with the sea turtles in Costa Rica is a great way to gain insight into conservation research and fulfill your passion for marine animals while on an exciting adventure in Costa Rica.
Gain professional experience in the scientific field
If you are pursuing a career in the scientific field, you will gain amazing professional experience that looks great on your resume. You’ll learn different data collection techniques like live capture, tissue sampling, tagging, biometrics, and more.
Contribute to groundbreaking research
Nearly everything modern science knows about sea turtles is derived from research performed on nesting mothers. Since turtles only spend 1% of their lives on land, there is a lot left to still learn! With the discovery of the sea grass meadows in the Golfo Dulce as recently as 2012, this area offers unprecedented access to study the turtles during all phases of their life and in the water.
Help protect endangered species
At our Costa Rica sea turtle volunteer project, the data collected by you and our team of scientists will help better protect endangered sea turtles and understand the threats they face in their underwater environment.
Travel with purpose
You’ll have the chance to travel to the exciting destination of Costa Rica, but you’ll also be making a huge difference while you’re there! Instead of just going on vacation, you are going to work alongside scientific professionals and contribute to important sea turtle research in paradise.
Work with sea turtles up close
If you love sea turtles and can’t wait to learn more about them up close and personal, this is the project for you. From helping collect turtles and gathering research to assisting in the rescue and rehabilitation center for injured animals, your dreams of working hands-on with sea turtles will come true when you join us.
Contact IFRE today to get started planning your Costa Rica sea turtle research volunteer trip!
Other Wildlife Projects in Costa Rica
You can make a difference for animals in Costa Rica with many different IFRE projects. You can
take part in wildlife research and much more!
Contact IFRE today to find the perfect wildlife project for you!
Other Sea Turtle and Wildlife Projects Worldwide
The planet’s wildlife is in critical danger all over the world, especially the critical sea turtles. IFRE arranges wildlife and sea turtle conservation projects all across the globe to help solve this problem, and we need passionate animal lovers like you to volunteer! Check out the list below for some of our most popular wildlife and sea turtle projects: