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 $820 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
Who is this program suited to?
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.
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”My experience in Costa Rica was unforgettable, I met so many people from different parts of the world and learned so much.”
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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
Depending on your placement, you’ll stay at a dormitory-style volunteer house or at a homestay with a local family. Some accommodations are alongside the beach, while others are only a short walk away from the coast. You can expect to share these spaces with other volunteers.
In these remote coastal locations, conditions are basic but comfortable. You can expect to find yourself sharing a bedroom and western-style bathroom with other volunteers. Showers will be cold but bedding is provided.
WiFi availability is limited at the Turtle Conservation sites, so we recommend purchasing a local SIM card with a data plan 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||$820 Equivalent to $59/day|
|3 weeks||$1,180 Equivalent to $57/day|
|4 weeks||$1,505 Equivalent to $54/day|
|5 weeks||$1,785 Equivalent to $51/day|
|6 weeks||$2,065 Equivalent to $50/day|
|8 weeks||$2,625 Equivalent to $47/day|
|10 weeks||$3,185 Equivalent to $46/day|
|12 weeks||$3,745 Equivalent to $45/day|
|16 weeks||$4,865 Equivalent to $44/day|
|20 weeks||$5,985 Equivalent to $43/day|
|24 weeks||$7,105 Equivalent to $43/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
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- 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, such as lunches (except for Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation volunteers), in-country tours, and Spanish language lessons.
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 on Saturday, so no extra nights of accommodation will be needed if you participate directly before or after your volunteer program. Please note that your meals are not included on this trip.
This Mini Adventure includes:
- Visit to Tour to Arenal Volcano and Hotsprings
- 3 days/2 nights trip to Manuel Antonio (accommodations and transportation only)
- San Jose city tour and buffet dinner and cultural night
- Catamaran Tortuga Island Cruise
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 (accommodation is included from Saturday to Saturday), so no extra nights of accommodation will be needed if you participate directly after your volunteer program.
This Mini Adventure includes:
- Visit to the Manuel Antonio National Park
- Rainmaker tour and canopy walk and zipline
- White water rafting
- Nauyaca Waterfall hike
- Trimaran Sunset Sails tour
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. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Costa Rica at the program orientation. 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: $145 per week
- 1-hour Private Classes: $225 per week
- 2-hour Private Classes: $455 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 within 72 hours of travel
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).