Turtle Conservation Volunteer Project - Costa Rica
Eager to do Turtle Conservation volunteering in Costa Rica? International Volunteer HQ’s Turtle Conservation project is an exciting opportunity for volunteers to support the survival of these magnificent and endangered creatures. Volunteers will gain skills and experience related to sea turtle and marine conservation while based on either the stunning Nicoya Peninsula or on the Carribean Coast where the turtles come ashore during nesting season.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from CA$1264 for 2 weeks
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Protect endangered sea turtles and their nesting grounds
Explore Costa Rica’s stunning natural environment
Stay with other volunteers near the beach or together in a homestay
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Turtles are truly extraordinary creatures and beloved all over the world, but the reality is that many species are critically endangered. Costa Rica is home to several types of protected turtle, including the Leatherback, Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill. While these turtles produce thousands of hatchlings, only a few reach adulthood. IVHQ’s Turtle Conservation project aims to support and protect living turtles and help more hatchlings survive in order to boost the turtle population and make sure they thrive for many years to come.
As a Turtle Conservation volunteer you will assist the local team with a range of tasks that contribute to the protection and survival of the turtles. You will likely work a combination of day and night shifts, and tasks will vary depending on the time of year. Your activities might include:
- Beach patrols
- Building hatcheries to protect eggs from predators
- Locating nesting female turtles and monitoring behaviour
- Collecting turtle eggs for protection measures
- Counting and tagging sea turtles
- Replanting mangroves
- Beach clean-ups
It is also important to note you’ll be volunteering for six days a week.
Why do Turtle Conservation volunteering in Costa Rica with IVHQ?
When you volunteer with turtles in Costa Rica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Helping to protect and increase the sea turtle population
- Living near remote beaches in Costa Rica
- Practicing your Spanish
- Learning about sea turtle care
- Gaining marine conservation experience
- Immersing yourself fully in the Costa Rican culture
- Getting off the beaten track & exploring rural Costa Rica
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team.
- All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Costa Rica photo gallery
”I have nothing but good comments about the whole process! My Program manager was amazing - and she always answered emails in a timely manner. She always gave me the proper resources and info that I needed in order to plan the trip which was super helpful. The local team was fantastic! They were approachable and always checking in on me throughout the week. I... felt safe and well-supported and they always did what they could to accommodate any challenges that happened during the 3 weeks that I was there. Not only was I able to see how schools worked in Costa Rica, but I was also able to pick up Spanish at a faster rate because I was fully immersed into the language! I loved seeing the kids because they were so welcoming and they seemed to like it when I was there helping at their classrooms! I LOVED THE HOMESTAY!! At the Manuel Antonio Homestay, it was nice being surrounded by a group of people my age. The host family was lovely, and were very accommodating and did a very good job in keeping the place clean. I consider myself as an introvert but this whole experience put me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible! Everyone there WANTED to be there and it was great being surrounded by people who had the same perspective as you. Realizing that the world is so big and full of so many different types of people! I realized that living a materialistic life wasn't my cup of tea and I wanted to go forward in life trying to experience different things in different places and meet as many people as I could! You'll have the time of your life, and you're going to come out as a completely different person in the best way possible. You'll make friendships that cross boundaries and memories that will last a lifetime.” read more
Read reviews from Turtle Conservation volunteers in Costa RicaSee more reviews
There are a few locations for IVHQs Turtle Conservation volunteer project along the Nicoya Peninsula and the Carribean Coast. Despite being on opposite sides of the country, these beautiful places both boast fantastic opportunities to get off the beaten track, see rare wildlife, enjoy breathtaking natural scenery and discover Costa Rica’s incredible coastlines.
The Nicoya Peninsula also has some of Costa Rica’s best surf beaches, while the Carribean Coast offers the unique chance to volunteer in a place so untouched that it only bears the faintest traces of human development.
Arrival and orientation
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose on the Sunday before your start date. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in San Jose where you’ll spend a couple of nights. This is included in your Program Fee.
Turtle Conservation project volunteers stay in San Jose until Tuesday morning when they take a bus to their placement; this is included in the Program Fee (as is your return at the conclusion of the program).
If you are traveling in Costa Rica prior to your program, a local pick-up can be arranged or you can meet the local team in San Jose on the Sunday before your program starts.
Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Costa Rica – an introduction to Costa Rica, its customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Costa Rica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. You’ll also have a mini-orientation when you arrive at your placement.
Volunteer schedule example
Please note, schedules can vary as projects take place in either the morning, afternoon or evening so volunteers should be flexible. A typical volunteer schedule might look like this:
|7:00 - 8:30 AM:||Breakfast at the volunteer house or homestay.|
|9:00 - 11:00 AM:||Join the local staff and receive a duty roster and plan for work. Some tasks may include, but are not limited to: Hatchery cleaning, painting and repairing the hatchery, measuring temperatures of nests.|
|12:00 - 3:00 PM:||Lunch and free time.|
|3:00 - 5:00 PM:||Resume placement work. Tasks can include but are not limited to: beach cleanup, maintaining a clean area for nesting turtles, collecting data and planting native trees along the beach, measuring erosion on the shoreline, maintenance and upkeep of plants/trees/mangroves.|
|6:00 - 7:00 PM:||Dinner|
|7:00 - 11:00 PM or 11:00 PM - 3:00 AM:||Night patrols. Patrolling the beach to spot nesting turtles, tag turtles, count eggs in nests.|
Weekends on the Turtle Conservation project can be spent discovering the wonders of the natural environments of Costa Rica. While you won’t find many shops, restaurants or tourist attractions at the placement locations, there is still plenty to explore, see and do as well as boundless opportunities to relax and recharge.
On the Nicoya Peninsula you’ll find wildlife reserves, secluded surfing spots, palm-lined beaches, yoga classes and wellness resorts, while on the Carribean Coast you can enjoy a spot of sportfishing and tour canals where you might glimpse toucans, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and other exotic animals.
Accommodation and WiFi
On the Turtle Conservation project volunteers can expect either at a dormitory-style volunteer house or a local homestay near the Turtle Conservation project site. Typically the rooms are made up of single beds and bunk beds. Both types of accommodation have basic amenities where you will be sharing a room with up to 8 other volunteers of the same gender. However, we do have one conservation site that has mixed gender dorm rooms. Washrooms are shared by all volunteers, and have flush toilets and cold water showers. You will need to bring your own towel and toiletries, but bed linen will be provided.
Volunteers can expect to be in small, remote villages 6 - 9 hours outside of San Jose along the Nicoya Peninsula or Caribbean Coast. Some of these villages are surrounded by dense jungle and dirt roads. This can sometimes result in added dirt/dust in the accommodation which the host family will do their best to keep clean. Due to the tropical environment you can also expect a variety of critters (insects, spiders, etc.) to be present.
WiFi is unavailable at the Turtle Conservation site, so we recommend purchasing a local SIM card for an unlocked mobile phone during your program orientation in San José if you want to keep connected.
Volunteers on the Turtle Conservation project are served three meals a day. These will be mainly Costa Rican style dishes and light vegetarian meals like:
- Rice, beans, plantains fresh fruit and vegetables
- Gallo Pinto - rice and beans that are pre-cooked and then fried together with other ingredients, typically vegetables
Breakfast can include fresh fruit, toast, and eggs. Tea, coffee, and toast will be available throughout the day. Purified drinking water is also available in the volunteer house; we do not recommend that you drink the tap water.
If you have special dietary requirements, please let us when you apply so that we can make arrangements for you. However, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home and need to be as flexible as possible. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|2 weeks||CA$1262 Equivalent to CA$90/day|
|3 weeks||CA$1785 Equivalent to CA$85/day|
|4 weeks||CA$2259 Equivalent to CA$81/day|
|5 weeks||CA$2675 Equivalent to CA$76/day|
|6 weeks||CA$3091 Equivalent to CA$74/day|
|8 weeks||CA$3923 Equivalent to CA$70/day|
|10 weeks||CA$4755 Equivalent to CA$68/day|
|12 weeks||CA$5587 Equivalent to CA$67/day|
|16 weeks||CA$7251 Equivalent to CA$65/day|
|20 weeks||CA$8914 Equivalent to CA$64/day|
|24 weeks||CA$10578 Equivalent to CA$63/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Discounts on language lessons
- Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of CA$429 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses. For Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture projects, volunteers can bring less spending money as the location is remote and all meals will be provided.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
We believe that no volunteer adventure would be complete without experiencing the natural wonders of your host country. That’s why we offer volcano and coffee plantation tours, surfing lessons, mini adventures and more, exclusively available to IVHQ volunteers in Costa Rica as affordable add-ons.
Please note that volunteers on the Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture projects are only able to do the following add ons before or after their program, not during.
Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to book or get more information about any of the following activities and tours.
Your half day Volcano Tour will take you to either Poas or Irazu volcano, depending on the weather. Both are active volcanoes with exciting thermal activity and stunning scenic views. There are short walks to the volcanoes, so it’s not strenuous, but we do encourage sturdy, closed toed shoes for the journey.
Arenal Volcano is one of the youngest and most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Located in the small pueblo of La Fortuna, the entire area is a paradise for adventure lovers and nature enthusiasts. On the way to La Fortuna, the tour stops in a visit to the artisan pueblo of Sarchi. At Arenal, participants have 3 hours of free time to enjoy the hot springs. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, lunch, and dinner included. Pick up at accommodations at 7:00 AM. This tour is 15 hours long. Note, this tour ends at 10:00 PM.
Volunteers spend a full day exploring La Paz Waterfall and gardens and an expansive animal sanctuary, followed by a Paos Volcano Tour and Coffee Plantation Tour. This full day includes breakfast, lunch, private transportation, a local bilingual guide, and all entrance fees.
The Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots into a 1-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified bilingual tour guide for each trip, using San Jose as your home base between tours.
This 6-day adventure complements your volunteer experience, without the stress of trip planning! It will begin on Sunday and finish the following Saturday morning, and accommodation is included from the Saturday before your adventure begins. Please note that your meals are not included on this trip.
This Mini Adventure includes:
ARENAL VOLCANO & HOT SPRINGS Arenal is a majestic active volcano in the northern part of Costa Rica. En route, you stop at Sarchi, a town known for its beautiful and intricate Costa Rican arts and crafts, and souvenirs. You enjoy a typical lunch overlooking Arenal volcano at La Fortuna before relaxing at the Hot Springs Resort & Spa. Wade and swim in mineral pools filled with naturally hot water from volcanic springs. After a delicious buffet dinner, you head back to San Jose.
BRITT COFFEE TOUR Learn how Café Britt changed the course of history and coffee beans in Costa Rica! This tour shares the story behind Costa Rica’s most famous gourmet coffee. The guided tour lets you trace the process of coffee production from bean to cup and discover how Costa Rica’s unique micro climates and fertile soils create the ideal conditions for growing the world’s best coffee beans. You also learn from the experts how to prepare coffee using traditional methods. Of course, the tour culminates in a coffee tasting! Bilingual guide and entrance fees included.
ZIPLINING This canopy tour takes you on an exhilarating, zipline adventure through lush, green canopy and across the majestic Cataratitas River. The tour also includes the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator” — thrilling features that provide added adrenaline and panoramic views of the surrounding area. There is a safety orientation by expert, bilingual guides before setting out and participants quickly gain confidence on the course of 12 different zip lines and 18 tree platforms. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, and lunch included.
ANIMAL SANCTUARY & LA PAZ WATERFALL GARDEN The tour begins with a drive along the Panamerican Highway and passes by the Agriculture Monument, the Monument to Juan Santamaria, and the famous Mango Park. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a nature park and wildlife sanctuary where participants hike along natural and manmade trails in the rainforest, trekking from waterfall to waterfall. In the wildlife sanctuary, participants visit the largest butterfly observatory in Costa Rica, an impressive hummingbird gallery, serpentarium, and see monkeys, birds, and big cats. The tour ends with a delicious buffet lunch. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, and lunch included.
WHITEWATER RAFTING The Pacuare River is a truly memorable whitewater rafting adventure! This tour combines nature, wilderness, and excitement. Rio Pacuare runs through a true river gorge and is flanked by steep rock and filled with wildlife and cascading waterfalls along the route. The whitewater includes Class III, IV, and V rapids and it is an exciting descent! Along the way, there is a buffet lunch served on the river bank. Before starting the adventure, there is a safety orientation so everyone understands the basics of rafting–no previous experience necessary! During the route, professional photographers take pictures and shoot videos, which can be purchased at the end of the trip. All equipment is provided, including helmet, paddle, and lifevest. Expert bilingual river guide and lunch included.
TORTUGA ISLAND Tortuga Island is located 22.2 km (12 miles) off Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The island is a 48.5-hectare (120-acre) protected nature reserve It has an area of 120 acres, as it remains a protected forest; and is recognized as an “Ecological Blue Flag site” due to its pollution-free, crystal clear waters that are free of pollution. On the trip out to the island, participants may spot dolphins, sea turtles, and aquatic birds. On the island, participants bask on the white sand beaches, take a swim in the ocean, hike the nature trails, and enjoy lunch. Breakfast and lunch included.
If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with your Program Manager once you are registered for the program.
The Beach & Jungle Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots into a 1-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified bilingual tour guide for each trip, using Manuel Antonio as your home base between tours.
The Beach & Jungle Adventure week allows volunteers based in Manuel Antonio to really explore the beauty of this stunning part of Costa Rica. This 6-day adventure complements your volunteer experience without the hassle of arranging your own trips and accommodations. It begins on Sunday and finishes on Friday, and accommodation is included from the Saturday before your adventure begins.
This Mini Adventure includes:
MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK Manuel Antonio National Park is considered one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica! You visit pristine beaches and coral reefs amid the natural wonders of the tropical rainforest. You make a short hike into the jungle and from there can choose to relax and enjoy the beach, sunbathe, or trek through the park’s trails. In the park, there are multiple species of monkeys, iguanas, birds, and sloths. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, and snacks included.
RAINMAKER JUNGLE TOUR Rainmaker Park is a private biological reserve originally created for scientific research. The Park is located approximately 30 minutes from Manuel Antonio. The tour begins with a short hike through the rainforest, looking for birds, insects, and amphibians, as you trek over hanging bridges and natural trails up to the top of Rainmaker Mountain–at the summit, there is an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean! The hike continues on trails and through the Canopy Walk bridge system spanning 250 meters (1/4 mile). The suspended bridge design permits minimal forest impact, while giving hikers the opportunity to explore the rainforest from a bird’s eye view. The tour also includes a visit to several waterfalls and a refreshing dip in a natural pool. The tour ends with a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, and lunch included.
CANOPY ZIP-LINE A beautiful zipline adventure in Costa Rica! The tour begins with a short 20-minute drive to Santuario Park, which is an extensive primary rainforest. The zip lines are long and fast and Santuario Park Canopy has the third-longest cable in the world–approximately 1.6 km (1 mile) long. The tour has over 3.6 km (2.2 miles) of total zip line across 10 lines and 14 tree platforms. Other activities include nature walks, hanging bridges, and a rappelling activity. Bilingual guide and lunch included.
JUNGLE NIGHT TOUR The most beautiful concert, led by the orchestra of nature, begins when the sun goes down. Walking on safe trails, this guided tour, takes you on a magical experience through the nocturnal forest in search of the night-active fauna characteristic of the area, and learn about the flora that sustains the forest life. Take advantage of your guide’s experience spotting the hidden wonders of the forest and take beautiful photographs aided by the UV light and flashlights included.
WHITE WATER RAFTING The tour begins with a 1-hour drive from Manuel Antonio past rural villages and palm tree plantations. The Savegre River is considered the cleanest river in all of Central America–the river originates at the top of the San Gerardo Dota mountains and runs super-cold. The trip is filled with the incredible landscapes and natural waterfalls of the rainforest. Class II and III rapids. There is a safety orientation so everyone understands the basics of rafting–no previous experience necessary! All rafting equipment, an expert river guide, and snacks are included. The activity includes snacks and a typical Costa Rican meal after the tour.
NAUYACA WATERFALL Nauyaca Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s most iconic natural attractions! The tour begins with a 1-hour drive, followed by a 4.8 km (3 miles) hike back to Nauyaca. At Nauyaca Falls, most hikers love to take a refreshing dip in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Time and weather permitting, the hike may also include a stop at Portalón Waterfall. On the way back to Manuel Antonio, participants enjoy a delicious, traditional Costa Rica lunch. This is a scenery-rich tour and participants always take amazing photos! Bilingual guide and lunch included.
SUNSET SAIL TOUR This is an amazing ocean tour sailing along Manuel Antonio’s gorgeous Pacific coast. Participants enjoy free-flowing drinks and snacks at the onboard bar during the cruise to Biesanz Beach. Along the way, participants may be able to spot sea turtles, dolphins, and migrating whales (seasonal). At the beach, participants can swim, snorkel and explore. Bilingual guide, lifevest, snorkel gear, drinks, and lunch included.
If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with your Program Manager once you are registered for the program.
Enjoy a half-day tour of the Britt Coffee Plantation, a working coffee farm, led by your own expert guide. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the coffee production from plant to cup, and enjoy a coffee tasting at the end of your tour.
The Scuba Certification program takes place in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Spend the week learning how to scuba dive with PADI certified instructors on the beaches of Costa Rica. The price is inclusive of your pick-up in San Jose and transportation to and from Manuel Antonio, along with your housing for 6 nights in a private room with a host family who will provide you with breakfast and dinner.
The Surf program is based in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and is an exciting week-long opportunity for you to learn how to surf some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Your price includes your pick-up in San Jose and transportation to and from Manuel Antonio, along with your housing for 6 nights in a private room with a host family. This is also inclusive of breakfast and dinner.
Enjoy a day white water rafting alongside an expert guide along the Savegre or Naranjo river, and experience class I, II, III, and IV rapids. To join this excursion you must know how to swim and must be comfortable around swift-flowing water. Your rafting guide will provide a brief safety orientation and information about navigating the river, and all rafts will be followed in the river by safety guides in kayaks.
Spend a half-day zipping your way through the jungle on a zipline tour led by professional guides. You’ll have the chance to glide over raging rivers, jungle canopy, and interact with wildlife throughout your journey. Participants must be comfortable with heights and please note that meals are not included.
How to book IVHQ’s recommended add-ons:
When you apply for an IVHQ volunteer program, make a note of which tours and add-ons you’re interested in on your application form so we can check availability and prices for you.
Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on the tour(s) you have chosen and help you organize your trip.
Spanish language lessons
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximize the benefit of your program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. Please note these lessons are not available on the Holiday Experience, Eco-Agriculture or Turtle Conservation projects.
San Jose Language Lessons:
- 2-hour Small Group Classes: US$145 (approximately CA$208) per week
- 1-hour Private Classes: US$225 (approximately CA$323) per week
- 2-hour Private Classes: US$455 (approximately CA$653) per week
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Costa Rican Colón (CRC)|
Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 71°F (21.7°C) and 81°F (27°C). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 69°F (20.6°C).