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Costa Rica - Sea Turtle Conservation

Journey to the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica to help sea turtles in their fight against human poachers and erosion of their nesting sites. Meet other like-minded volunteers and experience the thrill of returning thousands of baby turtles to their ocean home.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectVarious locations on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts
Project LengthMin 3 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Arrival AirportJuan Santamaria International Airport
Volunteer WorkBeach patrolling, nest relocations, building hatcheries, and assisting new hatchlings
Age18 - 49
Spanish At least basic knowledge of Spanish (Contact your GoEco advisor to discuss option of additional language classes if a complete beginner)

What's Included

AccommodationCabin, tent, or volunteer house depending on project location
FoodTwo meals a day during Spanish course and three meals a day during project
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersProvided on arrival and departure days
Orientation Spanish courses, cultural enrichment, and immersion for the first week in San Jose
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, visa (if required), personal expenses, lunch during 1st week Spanish course, daily transportation to and from project (approx. $2.00/day), transportation to project site from San José after Spanish course (depending on location, approx. $18-$74 round trip), transportation from project site to San José for departure (approx. $9 to $15)


Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular eco-tourism destinations, primarily because of its incredible biodiversity (it's estimated that Costa Rica may contain as much as 6% of the worlds plant and animal species!). Costa Rica aptly translates to rich coast in Spanish for its diverse landscapes, which include rain forests, tropical and temperate forests, volcanos, beaches, high mountains, and marshy lowlands.


About the Project

The main goal of this project is to ensure the protection of various turtle species on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica. These turtles face numerous threats, including poachers and, more recently, erosion. Each season, this project recruits volunteers to help with research and conservation work, such as night patrolling, working in the hatcheries, collecting eggs, and rescuing turtles.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Volunteers are placed at specific project locations either on the Pacific or Caribbean coast according to demand and time of year. Placements will be assigned during the orientation meeting in Costa Rica.


Orientation and Spanish Courses

The first week of this minimum three-week program consists of Spanish lessons (5 hours/ day, Monday - Thursday schedule total) and cultural enrichment activities to facilitate communication at your project and help you acclimate to Costa Rica. During the Spanish course, you will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversational skills.  Participation in the orientation week is mandatory.  

On the first day of your Spanish course, you will take an oral exam to determine your current language level. After you register and submit your application, you will also submit a written exam. Both the oral and written exam will be taken into consideration to determine which class you will placed in upon arrival.  During your orientation week, you will also be assigned your project location.

Here is an example of an orientation week schedule:

9:00 am - 12:00 pm                                              Spanish classes
12:00 - 1:00 pm                                                     Lunch break
1:00 - 3:00 pm                                                       Spanish classes
3:00 - 5:00 pm (Mon.-Thurs.)                              Latin Dance classes
3:00 - 4:00 pm (Tues.)                                          Yoga Class
3:00 - 4:00 pm or 4:00 - 5:00 pm (Wed.)          Costa Rican cooking lessons
4:00 - 5:00 pm (Tues. & Thurs.)                          Additional conversation sessions

If you speak basic or no Spanish, you'll need to enroll in extra Spanish lessons for an additional fee.  

If you speak fluent Spanish before coming to the project, an exception may be made to waive the language course (though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience). Your fluency will be determined by your written exam and during your phone interview. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Your tasks will vary according to the season and the needs of the project.  It's important to come with an open-mind, motivation, and flexibility to cope with unexpected changes. The majority of your tasks include:

  • Monitoring sea turtle nesting activity (night patrols and morning surveys)
  • Installing signs at the beaches regarding location and adaptation of the hatchery
  • Building hatcheries
  • Patrolling the beach to look for sea turtles and their nests either during the day or the night (done in 4 hour shifts)
  • Collecting eggs found on the beach and taking them directly to the hatchery (vivero) for their protection
  • Collecting information in the hatchery
  • Releasing “neonatos” (baby sea turtles) from the hatchery into the ocean
  • Maintaining the facilities of the project
  • Keeping the beach clean and free of debris
  • Participatingin any specific environmental projects developed by the community
  • Assisting in community-oriented activities to improve local facilities
A typical day: After breakfast around 7:00 am, you'll assist with a variety of chores in the hatchery or on the beach from 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM. After a break for lunch, your afternoon chores starts at 2:00 pm; depending on project needs and weather conditions, you will be assigned to carry out work ( at facilities, hatchery, beach etc.) Dinner is served at 6:00 pm. If you're assigned a night patrol, you'll help search for turtles and their nests and gather eggs to deposit in the hatchery from 8:00 PM until 500 AM. You'll have one day off a week to spend as you wish. 


For an additional $200 volunteers can join this project as an Intern. Internships are designed to provide participants with professional experience for career exploration and development. To ensure a valuable experience, you need to join this internship for a minimum of 4 weeks.  An intermediate level of Spanish proficiency is usually required and, regardless of the Spanish level, at least one week of Spanish Immersion course and orientation prior to the start of the program is recommended.
This Internship program includes accommodation in San Jose with a host family for your first week (2 meals included), accomodation at your respective project site - which could include cabins, tents, or a volunteer house, Spanish course, orientation,  bi-weekly follow-ups and 24/7 support during the program with a final evaluation. Interns will be required to work 6 days per week.

Living Arrangements 

Accommodations: During your orientation, you will stay with a host family in San José who will provide you with a comfortable, basic room in their home, which is a short bus ride away from the language school. Your accommodations throughout your volunteer placement will vary depending on your location, and may include cabins, tents, and volunteer houses. Facilities are rustic, basic, yet comfortable, with shared rooms, showers and bathrooms. 

Food: During your orientation week, you will be provided with breakfast and dinner. Throughout your volunteer placement, you will be provided with three meals a day, which consists of typical Costa Rican dishes, including rice, beans, pasta, red meat, vegetables and fruit. 

Internet: Internet is not available at all the project sites, however, there will always be an available mode of communication for volunteers to use. 


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18
  • Basic Spanish knowledge. If not, you should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons
  • Physically fit: the 3-4 hour night patrols and daytime monitoring require hard physical work
  • Good eyesight for night patrols conducted with special artificial lighting
  • Physically able to walk 5-15 km per night (even when raining)
  • Adaptable to high temperatures and humidity
  • Able to cope with remote locations and rustic living conditions ( volunteer dorms with bunk beds, share shower & toilet facilities, you may find a wide variety of smaller animals in the surrounds) 
  • Flexible and open - minded to carry out a vriety of tasks, depending on project needs

Please note: Once your booking is confirmed, you will receive an e-mail with detailed information regarding the sea turtle conservation projects.Our partner in Costa Rica will also contact you 1-2 weeks before arrival in order to conduct a brief, pre-departure interview via skype. On arrival in Costa Rica you will attend a general orientation meeting as well as a presentation session with the local placement team.



Here's an excerpt of Marie's experience:


"This trip was sincerely dreamlike. I loved every bit of it.The organism is really efficient and quick to answer when you have any questions. The trips from the airports and schools or to the projects are well organized so you don’t have to worry. The welcome from your local family is warm and kind. You will never lack anything with them."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Denisse's experience:


"I learned how to stop worrying about unimportant things that take up most of my time, I met amazing people, I saved over 400 turtle eggs and released over 150 baby ones, and I had the time of my life."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!



Here's an excerpt of Lindsay's experience:


"At night, the stars and moon were so bright we didn’t need flashlights and the waves glowed yellow from plankton. The next three weeks were filled with hard work during the day (building the hatchery, cleaning the beach, maintaining the land) and beach patrols at night. We collected eggs from and tagged six turtles in my time. We had each weekend off and would travel to nearby beaches. We were given breaks throughout the day and would spend them exercising, relaxing on the beach and playing games."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Rodrigo's experience:


"The beach there is excellent for people who like to surf on their down time. The beach itself is beautiful because you can see the ocean intact without ships or oil rigs to ruin the view. The vegetation is so lush that every time you step onto the beach you enjoy a very rustic and prestigious view that many people could only dream of."

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Cassie's experience:


"Seeing the turtles in their natural habitat was a truly amazing experience. Watching them crawl up to the same beach they were born on to lay their own nests was awe-inspiring and I really loved collecting data to ensure their continued survival and protection."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Ashlyn's experience:


"The nights were when the fun work began. We took shifts patrolling in groups for sea turtles. I never imagined that I would be excited to wake up at 1 am to work, but getting to witness a sea turtle lay her eggs was such an incredible experience that I actually looked forward to the early mornings. Watching these sea turtles was one of the most beautiful events I have ever witnessed."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Lior's experience:


"At night we would patrol the beach and look for sea turtles that had come ashore to lay eggs. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark it became easier to spot the silhouettes of turtles and large logs blocking our path. We had to look at the sand carefully and try to find turtle tracks so we could follow them and find the eggs. We would mark where the eggs were on the beach or move them to a safe place. This was nature at its best!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Amanda's experience:

  "The first day I arrived for volunteering in Costa Rica, I went swimming. The beach at Camaronal seemed out of this world, the sand was black and I had never seen a black sand beach before. There was driftwood everywhere; it was amazing to think that hundreds and thousands of sea turtles lay their nests on this three kilometer beach.!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Sam's experience:

  "Before I volunteered with GoEco in Costa Rica last summer I was on the fast track to law school and to becoming a lawyer. However, my experience at the Costa Rica – Sea Turtle Conservation project, helping sea turtles on the Pacific Coast, has changed that forever. I am no longer interested in limiting my life to domestic law, but have broadened my horizons to consider the entire world!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Whitney's experience:

  "I’ve never been a morning person, so rising at 3am didn’t seem appealing at first, but the morning patrol was always my favorite. At least during my time on the project, the morning patrols were much more active. Baby turtles were hatching from their nests, and we helped them down to the ocean so they could avoid beach predators. Only 1 in every 1000 turtles lives to adulthood, so saving those that actually hatched, from a beach massacre was important!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Alexis's experience:

  "Eeveryday, something new and exciting would make that day the best day ever. Being waken up by the sound of screaming monkeys in the morning, walking in jungles and seeing dozens and dozens or wild green parakeets in the trees, discovering the sweet taste of Tamarindos and all the other delicious fruits and wonders the trees and vegetation have to offer, seeing baby turtles dig themselves out of the sand and run to the ocean – the list never ends."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Erez's experience:

  "Overall I found the experience volunteering in Costa Rica to be incredibly positive... Sometime we even saw the female turtles in action laying their eggs. The weather in the tropics varies a lot – we had a mix between hot sun and rain storms.  Our living conditions were pretty basic, but that’s what I had expected off in the jungle of Costa Rica.  The food however, that was awesome.!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!

"I spent 6 weeks at Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, and enjoyed every minute of it! It was the most rewarding experience and I have made some long lasting friendships, despite only getting to know people for such a short time. The rangers were helpful and friendly, which made the time there all the more enjoyable.... Camaronal was a fantastic experience and I look forward to returning one day in the near future! Pura Vida and Yay Costa Rica! :)"

-Alice, GoEco Volunteer 2011, New Zealand

"My volunteer trip to Costa Rica has been great. I am well adjusted to the climate in Costa Rica now and really enjoy the experience of living on the Camoranal turtle reserve. I have seen hundreds of little turtle eggs and have learned a lot more about their species and ways of preserving them. The reserve is very peaceful and the view of the mountains is amazing."

-Jonathan GoEco Volunteer 2011, United States

"I absolutely loved going on this project, I would have stayed for longer if I didn't have to go home. It was so different being able to work with people from around the world and so many different animals that I never thought I would be able to handle or really do anything with."

-Mara, June 2011

"It was one of the most important, life-changing experiences I have ever had."

-Cindy, April 2011

"Costa Rica is the farthest south I have traveled and was the first time being there.  I enjoyed the culture I experienced.  I enjoy meeting new people. I felt we were making a contribution without greatly disturbing the natural balance of the circle of life. Human interference is a big problem when it comes to poaching, so I feel we as conservationists should be allowed to interfere just as much in order to correct our fellow man."

-Nicholas, February 2011

"I spent 6 weeks at the Costa Rica Sea Turtle project, and enjoyed every minute of it! It was the most rewarding experience and have made some long lasting friendships, despite only getting to know people for such a short time :) The rangers were helpful and friendly, which made the time there all the more enjoyable."

-Sherry, December 2010

For More Information visit the blog of Margy, another GoEco volunteer: http://margysaur.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/turtle-power/



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