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The volunteer program takes place in the Romelia National Wildlife Park, near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. This remote coastal jungle boasts a rich ecosystem, with over 57 species of birds, 26 species of reptiles, and 26 species of mammals.
The volunteer base lies 30-50 minutes walking distance from Montezuma, a popular tourist town (5 hours from San Jose), accessible via a boat/ferry ride across the Nicoya Gulf.
Since 1998, the Romelia Wildlife Reserve protects the diverse flora and fauna of the area, covering around 224 hectares. The program focuses on protecting coastal and marine ecosystems, particularly the nesting areas of sea turtles, during their prime nesting season of July to December. As a volunteer, you will gain the opportunity to join a dedicated team of conservationists and experience a remote jungle ecosystem teeming with wildlife. Your volunteer work tasks may include:
Important Note: Please note that the activities may vary each week, and the local team requires volunteers to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the project. The longer you stay volunteering with the program, the more involved and diverse your activities become.
Arrival Day: Upon arrival, volunteers will register, receive their keys, meet staff, tour the station, and get a brief about the project over dinner.
Example of the Daily Schedule (subject to change):
08:00: Breakfast (Coffee, fruits, breads)
10:00: Morning work (1-2 hours): station maintenance, beach clean-ups, data entry, varying with weather
12:00: Vegetarian lunch (rice, beans, picadillo, soups, and guisos)
15:30: Afternoon work (1-2 hours): similar tasks as in the morning
18:00: Self-serve dinner time with cookies, pancakes, and coffee
19:00: Nightly patrol (4 hours), contingent on tide, moon cycle, and daytime activities. On weeks with early morning activities (05:30), there are no night patrols.
Weekends: Volunteers have one day off unless it coincides with turtle arrivals. In such cases, they will shift the day off.
Seasons: The Romelia project runs throughout the year, with the turtle nesting period spanning from May to late November/early December. The height of this season lies between August and November when turtles continue to nest and hatchlings emerge.
Note: It’s important to know that while the seasons stay mostly the same all year, factors like water temperature, late rains, and changes in the weather can affect how many turtles come to Romelia beach. During the busy times, you may see around 4-5 turtles each night, but we can’t promise this will happen every time. Some nights during the busy season, you might only see 1 turtle nesting, and sometimes we might not see any at all.
During the non-nesting season (January-April), night patrols cease, and the focus shifts to the hatchery. Volunteers ensure that all eggs have hatched, carry out an exhumation and data collection process for those that didn’t hatch or died in the nest. Afterward, the hatchery’s sand is replaced to prepare for the upcoming turtle season, with careful attention to remove any plastic or other contaminants. This task is physically demanding and can extend beyond a month. Additional duties during this period include beach cleaning and community work.
Alternative Placements: This volunteer program fills up quickly! In case your requested date is full, we can also place you with excellent Sea Turtle conservation programs in Ostional (open all year round), Montezuma (open all year round), or the Caribbean Coast (open from March – August each year).
Internet: The program lacks Wi-Fi connectivity. Mobile phones with a SIM card might offer restricted access to the cellular network (SIM cards are available for purchase in San Jose). For Wi-Fi access and additional amenities such as restaurants, clinics, and supermarkets, the nearest towns are Cóbano and Montezuma.
Laundry: A sink for hand washing clothes and drying line are available on site.
Accommodations: During your stay in San Jose, you’ll stay with a welcoming host family, just a short bus ride away from the language school. They will provide you with a comfortable, private room in their home. Once you move to the volunteer program station, the accommodation is basic but comes equipped with all essential amenities. The volunteer dormitory features seven beds, two toilets, two showers, a living area, dining area, and a kitchen. Please note that the station does not have a refrigerator, and electricity is available for an hour each day through a transformer. We encourage volunteers to bring their personal chargers to ensure they can keep their devices powered during their stay.
Food: While staying with our host family in San Jose your first week, you’ll be provided breakfast and diner. During the volunteer placement, you’ll enjoy three meals a day, every day of the week, prepared by friendly local cooks. They can accommodate dietary restrictions, including allergies, and offer a variety of Costa Rican dishes, mainly vegetarian. You’ll also have access to fruits and cold water outside of mealtimes.
Volunteers can enjoy various activities during their free time with close access to Montezuma town and stunning beaches. Extra activities are not included in the program fee and thus volunteers have the freedom to choose to spend their free time as they wish. Activities available in the area: Montezuma waterfall, Cabo Blanco Reserve, El Chorro waterfall, Boat trip to Tortuga island, Horseback riding, Zip lining, Yoga and wellness retreats, Surf lessons.
We recommend traveling around Costa Rica before or after your volunteer placement. You can either explore the country on your own or simply join a tour. Here are a few popular options that you can book with us in advance (subject to availability):