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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 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 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.
Volunteer tasks may include:
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: Wi-Fi is available in the common volunteer area (connectivity and speed may vary because of the remote location).
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 accommodation provided. 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: 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 note the project’s minimum requirements:
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:
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: