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This program is open to international volunteers!

Become involved in every aspect of sea turtle conservation on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica!  As a volunteer on our Pacific location, you may experience the natural phenomenon of the arribadas. During this monthly event, thousands of olive ridley sea turtles emerge from the ocean over a short period to nest on the beach.

With an average of about 200,000 turtles nesting each month in the high season, we are offering a 4th week Grant on the program to help ensure that your time there has the most impact. Schedule a call with us to find out how!

 
Program Highlights:
  • Gain hands-on experience in marine and wildlife conservation.
  • Volunteer for sea turtles during any time of year on the Caribbean or Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
  • Live and work on a pristine tropical beach with volunteers from around the world.
  • Add Spanish classes before you volunteer with one of the best schools in San Jose.
  • Travel during your free time and visit natural wonders, such as the Arenal Volcano National Park.
 
Your Schedule at a Glance - minimum one week commitment (itinerary subject to change):
 
Arrival Day, Saturday or Sunday morning: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). A representative will pick you up and take you to your new host family. 
 
Days 2, Sunday: You will attend an orientation meeting on Sunday about safety, traveling, and volunteering in Costa Rica. During your free time, you can explore sites in the city, our team will assist you.  
 
Day 3,  Monday: After receiving specific travel directions, you will transfer by bus and boat (if needed) to the sea turtle project and settle in your new home. Please note that we work on two excellent projects. Based on availability and nesting season, we will help you decide where to volunteer before you arrive in Costa Rica. 
 
Weeks 1-2: On-site orientation on Monday / Tuesday and meaningful volunteer work at the sea turtle project. Depending on the placement, volunteers get some time to relax during the week. Departure is on a Saturday and you will stay with your host family in San José before flying home or you can travel straight after the project.


We highly recommend! 
Join our Spanish language immersion week before you volunteer. Stay with a local family and gain essential Spanish skills to interact with staff and other volunteers. See "Travel Highlights" below for more details. 

Planning to come for one month or more? Combine this project with our Animal Rescue and Conservation program, for a diverse wildlife experience. We will assist with the transfers.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
 
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Location of the Project:  Various locations on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, assigned according to demand and time of year. Placements will only be assigned during the orientation session in Costa Rica.
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Project length:  Minimum 1 week - Maximum 12 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
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Volunteer Work:  Beach patrolling, nest relocation, building hatcheries and assisting new hatchlings
Age:  18-49
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Important Note:  We will assign your sea turtle placement before you arrive in Costa Rica. We can't guarantee that you will witness the "arribadas" or "mass nesting" on our Pacific location. Therefore, we recommend a commitment of at least 4 weeks to significantly increase your chances. GoEco will give you the 4th week for free!

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Private room while staying with a host family in San Jose and shared room in a volunteer house during the project. If the volunteer house on the Pacific program is full, you will be placed in a host family near the project location. This host family option can be requested as well for a private room alternative.
Food:  Two meals per day during orientation week and three meals per day during project
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Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival to San José
Orientation:  You will receive an on-site orientation in San Jose before departing to the volunteer location.
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Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visa (if required), travel health insurance, lunch during orientation week, daily transportation to and from language school (approx. $1.50 USD/day), transportation to project site from San José after orientation (depending on location, approx. $50-$80 round trip), taxi from bus terminal to the home-stay for last night in the city ($10-$12), personal expenses, two t-shirts for the pacific project ($20 each), $35 for a departure transfer from home-stay to the airport.
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular eco-tourism destinations, because of its incredible biodiversity. It is estimated that Costa Rica may contain as much as 5% of the earth's plant and animal species! Costa Rica translates to "rich coast" in Spanish for its diverse landscapes, which include rainforests, tropical and temperate forests, volcanoes, beaches, high mountains and marshy lowlands.
Costa Rica is the ultimate place to volunteer for sea turtles. Five out of the seven species of sea turtles on earth make their nests on the tropical beaches of Costa Rica. Sea turtles have existed for over 150 million years on our planet. Yet, their populations have decreased over the past century, because of egg poaching, costal development, plastic pollution and other human related causes.  Pristine beaches are essential for sea turtles to lay their eggs and survive for future generations. We need volunteers to help dedicated local staff safeguard and research this cycle of life.  

GoEco works with two excellent sea turtle projects on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica. We will assign your placement before you arrive,  based on availability and the needs of each project.

Ostional Beach, Nicoya Peninsula (Pacific Coast)

This wildlife and marine refuge is where the natural phenomenon of the arribadas occurs. The direct translation means “arrival by sea” and it refers to the synchronised, large scale nesting of olive ridley sea turtles. This event happens roughly once a month over a 4 to 10 day period. Thousands of sea turtles emerge from the sea to dig nests and lay their eggs. On peak months from May to November, you can witness an average of 200,000 sea turtles during each arribada. The science behind it is still being researched and is not fully understood yet. From November to March, green and leatherback sea turtles also nest here in small numbers and volunteers move their nests to a protected hatchery.

Barra del Pacuare - (Caribbean Coast)

This program is in a remote location; the closest town is one hour away. To reach this location, volunteers travel by boat through canals leading to the beach, offering a view of the fabulous tropical vegetation and wildlife. Leatherback, green and a few hawksbill turtles nest at this site. This project has a minimum duration of two weeks and is four hours from San José. Please note this location has very limited electricity from a solar panel.

Pacuare turtle nesting season is from March to October:
  • March–July (high season in May): leatherbacks turtles
  • July - October (high season in September): green turtles
  • May–October: hawksbill, few

Volunteer tasks at both locations may include:
  • Patrolling the beach to look for sea turtles and their nests, either during the day or the night (four-hour shifts).
  • Measuring the length and width of the nesting sea turtle’s shell (carapace)
  • Assisting with data collection of population dynamics, hatching success and nest excavations
  • Collecting eggs found on the beach and taking them to the hatchery for their protection.
  • Installing signs at the beaches about the location and adaptation of the hatchery.
  • Releasing “neonates” (baby sea turtles) from the hatchery into the ocean.
  • Construction and maintenance of the hatcheries (when necessary).
  • Maintaining the facilities of the project.
  • Keeping the beach clean and free of debris.
  • Taking part in any specific environmental projects developed by the local community.
  • Assisting in community-oriented activities to improve local facilities.

A typical day: Breakfast is at 7:00 AM. From 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM, you’ll assist with a variety of chores at the hatchery or on the beach. After a break for lunch, afternoon chores begin at 2:00 PM. These assignments will depend on project needs and weather. Dinner is at 6:00 PM. If you’re assigned to night patrol (8:00 PM until 5:00 AM) you’ll help search for turtles and their nests and gather eggs to bring to the hatchery. You’ll have one free day per week to relax on-site. 

Note: Dynamic health regulations at the projects may require volunteers to stay on site or nearby during their free time. You can also accumulate your days off and travel after the program.

Internship option: For an extra fee, qualified volunteers can join this program as an intern. To ensure a valuable experience, interns must join this internship for a minimum of four weeks (we recommend two to six months). An intermediate level of Spanish is required. Please contact us to discuss this option. 
 
Internet
Internet:  Internet is not available at all of the project sites; however, there will always be an available mode of communication for volunteers to use.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  During orientation week, you will stay with a host family in San José, which is a short bus ride away from the language school. They will provide you with a comfortable, basic private room in their home. Your accommodations throughout your volunteer placement will be in a volunteer house with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Facilities are very rustic, and are built for adventure, not comfort. The photos below provide examples of the types of accommodation provided. If the volunteer house on the Pacific program is full, you will be placed in a host family near the project location. This host family option can be requested as well for a private room alternative.
Food:  During orientation week, breakfast and dinner are provided. Throughout your volunteer placement, you will be provided with three meals per day, which comprise typical Costa Rican dishes, such as rice, beans, pasta, red meat or poultry, vegetables and fruit. Check the packing list for items you may want to bring to the project, such as snacks, which you can buy in the city before your trip.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
  • GoEco interview 
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Basic Spanish knowledge. Beginners should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons for an extra fee.
  • National Police Clearance Document
  • Physically fit: the three-four hour night patrols and daytime monitoring require hard physical work
  • Good eyesight for night patrols conducted with special artificial lighting
  • Comfortably able to walk 5-15 kilometers per night (even when it's raining)
  • Adaptable to high temperatures and humidity
  • Ability to cope with remote locations and rustic living conditions (volunteer dorms offer bunk beds, shared showers and toilets) 
  • Flexible and open-minded in order to carry out a variety of tasks, depending on project needs
Spanish Immersion Week 

Join our Spanish language immersion week before you volunteer. Live with a local family and gain essential Spanish skills to interact with staff and other volunteers. 
Extra fee: US$450 for one week, this includes:
  • Airport pickup 
  • Orientation sessions to prepare for chosen volunteer project 
  • Lodging with a host family in a private room 
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 20 hours of Spanish lessons, 5 hours a day (Mon-Thu)
  • 1-3 students per classroom with one instructor 
The Spanish course starts every Monday, so you can arrive in Costa Rica on Sunday. Classes are conducted from 9 to 12 noon, one hour for lunch, continue from 1 to 3 pm (total 5 hours a day, Mon-Thu). Evenings and weekends are free to enjoy the city or travel in Costa Rica, see tour options below. 

Tour options

We recommend traveling in 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:  
  • Arenal Volcano and hot springs, one day (transportation, lunch & dinner & entrance to springs )
  • Doka coffee plantation, Poas Volcano &  La Paz waterfalls  (transportation & lunch) 
  • Irazu volcano, Orosi valley & Lankester gardens (transportation, tour & lunch)   
  • Sun & white sand beaches (Carara National Park, Punta Leona: includes breakfast, lunch, transportation)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park, lovely beach on Pacific coast (includes transportation, breakfast, lunch). 
  • White river rafting (includes transportation, breakfast & lunch)
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