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Turtle Conservation Volunteer Project - Costa Rica

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 Caribbean Coast where the turtles come ashore during nesting season.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from £751 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

Key information

Protect and help populations of endangered turtles
Based on the Nicoya Peninsula or Caribbean Coast
Local homestay or volunteer house accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from £751 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 24 weeks
See Costa Rica's amazing marine life
Up to 7 hours volunteering a day, 5 to 6 days a week

This program is ideal for:

Hard-working individuals who love nature, the marine environment and being part of rewarding volunteer work in a remote coastal setting.
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

Conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without the community around them, this is why volunteers also play a key role in supporting initiatives benefitting the community where projects operate. In addition to turtle-related tasks, volunteers can also expect to:

  • Run informal English lessons for host families, local children and patrol guides
  • Join light construction and beautification activities at local school and community centers
  • Assist at local school’s nutrition center

It is also important to note that the work is fairly physical and the volunteer schedule is 5 to 6 days a week for 4 to 7 hours per day. Volunteers also need to be comfortable with walking up to 4 hours at night doing night patrols.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

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

Volunteer requirements

  • 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.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

RG
Raffaella Gurini
14 Feb 2024

I learned so much about the culture and the turtles and I met so many amazing people! We had so much fun! It’s an amazing experience, an adventure of a lifetime! It changes the way you see other people, the world and even yourself in the best possible way! Just be open minded and flexible and take the next step! You won’t regret it!

...
KT
Keira Trudgill
18 Jan 2024

I gained so much confidence from this trip, I feel more independent and capable of solo travelling. At first, I was very nervous to travel so far from home, especially as I did an add-on week by myself, but the staff were so helpful from when I first applied, to when we got back home and prepared us for what we would be doing and what we needed to do to prepare. They answered all our questions and made us feel comfortable and at ease. I learned so much about Costa Rican culture and also the wildlife and country itself. I left with a greater appreciation for the environment and other cultures. The advice I would give is to go with an open mind and be open to trying new things. It really was a life changing experience and I would say if you are not sure whether to apply or not you should definitely go for it! I loved it and would definitely do it again.

...
CM
Cassandra Merino
16 Nov 2023

As a first-time solo traveler and volunteer, I would say to anyone who asked me to 100% go on a volunteering trip and experience it, especially if they find themselves in a time of doubt when thinking of what step to take next in life. When I applied to the program, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to take a gap year and experience new things and travel. I chose a program in Costa Rica because it is a country I had been wanting to visit for a long time and I had been told it is a very friendly country so I thought it was perfect for my first solo trip.

At the beginning of my trip, I had a hard time adapting to the slow life at my conservation site. I felt a huge impatience seeing all of my friends back home start uni, meanwhile, I felt like I was chilling at the beach and falling behind in life (which was not the case at all). As time went by, I realized that life is not supposed to be rushed through and that everyone experiences it differently. I had the opportunity to go to a beautiful town in Costa Rica and work firsthand in nature helping turtles, cleaning up the beach and park, and teaching English to a group of children and I decided to make the most out of it. Little by little I could start telling that my work there was making an impact even if it was small.

By the time my stay came to an end, I realized how much I had gained from this experience. I made amazing friends from all ages and parts of the world, I learned a lot about turtles, I got to experience solo traveling and lose the fear of being alone, and the biggest lesson I learned was how important it is to enjoy every second of life and not rush through it.

I loved volunteering and solo traveling and can't wait to do it again! It was an unforgettable experience and I am very grateful for everyone involved in the organization of the trip to make it possible for me to live such a magical experience.

...
RI
Rachel Ing
06 Sep 2023

I gained so much from this experience and have already recommended IVHQ to all my friends at home!

This project had a huge impact on me as a person! IVHQ, and the local teams all worked together to take the pressure off of travel admin and organising things, which really allowed me to focus on the friends I made out there, living in the moment and appreciating the country I was in.

It was such a great opportunity to travel, see an entirely new country and immerse myself in their culture, meet new people, and help wildlife that I would never have the chance to see at home, all with a great support network behind you if anything goes wrong or you need help with something! I cannot recommend this program enough, it is a trip I will never, ever forget and was so worth the money!

...
MM
Mary Mateo
07 Nov 2022

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.

...
MF
Madisen Farrington
12 Apr 2022

The program for Turtle Conservation is amazing! There is genuinely nothing like watching sea turtles lay eggs in your hand or releasing the baby sea turtles at sunset almost every night. The way of life there was also something magical in itself it’s like you can feel the stress lift off of you. I don’t think many experiences in the world are this beautiful and I would definitely go again! Also with all the help you receive from staff you have nothing to worry about everyone I’d extremely helpful and has your back the whole time, which was very important to me as a female solo traveler!

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

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Turtle Conservation volunteer abroad project in Costa Rica with IVHQ

Location

There are a few locations for IVHQs Turtle Conservation volunteer project along the Nicoya Peninsula and the Caribbean 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 Caribbean 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 travelling 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 socialising. You’ll also have a mini-orientation when you arrive at your placement.

Volunteer schedule example

Weekdays

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. Community work tasks may also include English lessons and beautification projects.
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

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 Caribbean 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.

Meals

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.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks £751 Equivalent to £54/day
3 weeks £1054 Equivalent to £50/day
4 weeks £1328 Equivalent to £47/day
5 weeks £1568 Equivalent to £45/day
6 weeks £1809 Equivalent to £43/day
8 weeks £2291 Equivalent to £41/day
10 weeks £2772 Equivalent to £40/day
12 weeks £3254 Equivalent to £39/day
16 weeks £4216 Equivalent to £38/day
20 weeks £5179 Equivalent to £37/day
24 weeks £6142 Equivalent to £37/day
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised 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 Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £273) 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 GBP.
  • 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.

Free-time experiences & tours in Costa Rica

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Costa Rica! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Costa Rica program.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

£763
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followrd by a Coffee Farm experience.

£182
Mini Adventure  - San Jose
Mini Adventure - San Jose

Experience a comprehensive 6-day Mini Adventure, featuring Arenal Volcano, the Britt Coffee Tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, whitewater rafting, and a visit to the pristine Tortuga Island.

£1042
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

£763
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followrd by a Coffee Farm experience.

£182
Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose
Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose

Experience an adrenaline-filled journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator,” xperience an exhilarating journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator”.

£119

Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximise 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 £120) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: US$225 (approximately £186) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: US$455 (approximately £377) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

Safety and support with IVHQ

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.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

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).

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How to get started

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