Costa Rica – Sea Turtle Conservation

Become involved in every aspect of sea turtle conservation on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica! As a volunteer in 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. During peak months from July to November, you may witness over 300,000 sea turtles nesting during each arribada.


Program Highlights:

  • One of GoEco’s 10 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs
  • Gain hands-on experience in marine and wildlife conservation.
  • Volunteer for sea turtles during any time of year on the 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 two weeks commitment (itinerary subject to change):

Arrival Day, Sunday before noon: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). A representative will transfer you to your new host family, followed by an orientation meeting about safety, traveling, and volunteering in Costa Rica.

Monday – Friday: After receiving specific travel directions, you will transfer by bus to the sea turtle project and settle in your new home (bus tickets paid locally with the help of project coordinator). On-site orientation is on a Monday or Tuesday, followed by meaningful volunteer work at the sea turtle project through-out the week.

Saturday-Sunday: Weekends are usually off. However, if an arribabda coincides with the weekend, then your days off will switch. Transfer back to San Jose is on your last Saturday at the program. You will spend one night in San Jose with our host family, and on Sunday, catch your flight home.


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.


IMPORTANT NOTE: For those doing the Spanish Culture week in December 2023, the school classes will be closed on the weeks of Dec 17th, 25th and January 1st. The Classes will re-open on the week of January 7th 2024.


Location icon Location of the Project: Ostional Beach, Nicoya Peninsula (Pacific Coast)

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Beach patrolling, nest relocation, building hatcheries and assisting new hatchlings

Age Age:  18-49

Important Note Important Note: 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 increase your chances.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: A private room while staying with a host family in San Jose and a shared room in a volunteer house during the project. If the volunteer house on the Pacific program is full, you may be placed in a host family near the project location.

Food Food: Two meals per day during orientation week and three meals per day during project

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport pickup is provided upon arrival to San José

Orientation Orientation: You will receive an on-site orientation in San Jose before departing to the volunteer location.

Support 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 and personal expenses
  • Lunch during orientation week
  • Daily transportation by bus to/from the language school (approx. $1-2 USD per day)
  • Transportation to volunteer site from San José after orientation week (around $15 for a public bus or $175 for a private transfer, one way)
  • Departure transfer from homestay to airport on the last day (around $35, if desired).

One of the most popular eco-tourism destinations is Costa Rica. The country contains 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.

The volunteer program is located on the Nicoya Peninsula, in the cantons of Santa Cruz and Nicoya, approximately 360km from San Jose.

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 an excellent sea turtle project on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.


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. In 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. From November to March, green and leatherback sea turtles also nest here in small numbers and volunteers move their nests to a protected hatchery.


Volunteer tasks 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.


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.

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 on Montezuma Beach, Romelia Wildlife Refuge or the Caribbean Coast.

Internet icon Internet: Wi-Fi is available in the common volunteer area (connectivity and speed may vary because of the remote location).

Accommodations icon 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. If the volunteer house on the Pacific program is full, you may be placed in a host family near the project location. This host family option can be requested as well for a private room alternative (availability is limited)

Food icon 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.

Please note the project’s minimum requirements:

  • GoEco interview
  • This project recommends all participants to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • 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
  • Official statement of good heath from a Doctor
  • Health insurance requirements
  • 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 the 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$480 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)
  • 2-6 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 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:

  • 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)

Volunteer Experiences

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