Volunteering in Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

Famous for its biodiversity, Costa Rica is home to several species of endangered sea turtle. Poaching and predators have forced native sea turtle numbers into decline but, with your help, we can reverse this trend. In Costa Rica, sea turtles are hunted for their meat and shells, and turtle eggs are a local delicacy believed to have aphrodisiac powers. Based on the beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, volunteers work with the local organizations to maintain protected sea turtles habitats and hatcheries.

As a turtle conservation volunteer, you will have an authentic back-to-nature experience, living in rustic beach dorms. It’s similar to camping on the beach in very basic conditions — there is limited electricity, no cellphone network and water is carried in daily by volunteers.

Program Video

The project has daytime and evening elements: during the morning, you will conduct activities such as documenting breeding, nesting and incubating turtle numbers, manning the hatchery and releasing newborn turtles. In the evenings, you will patrol the beach in search of newly-laid eggs that you will move to the artificial hatchery for documentation. You will also keep a watchful eye out for poachers and predators.

Read more about volunteering in sea turtle conservation and download our information brochure.

Quick facts

  • Program: Volunteer Costa Rica
  • Location: Playa Buenavista
  • Minimum Duration: 2 Weeks
  • Language Requirement: English
  • Airport Pick-up: Yes, for $75
  • Travel Insurance Not included
  • Suitable for Groups: Yes
  • Region: Alajuela
  • Project Site: Turtle Camp
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Accommodation: Beach Campsite
  • Meals: 3 Meals Daily
  • Start Dates: Every Other Friday
  • Suitable for Families: Yes

Your role as a volunteer

Sea turtle conservation volunteers live and work on a beach in Costa Rica, maintaining the beach project site and hatchery, documenting turtle numbers, releasing offspring and patrolling the beach for predators and poachers. You will also help compile vital data about sea turtles as part of an international monitoring project while protecting endangered turtle species for generations to come.

Tasks may include:

  • Building and maintaining artificial hatcheries
  • Transferring eggs and releasing newborn turtles
  • Researching and documenting important data
  • Site construction and infrastructure maintenance
  • Transporting food and water to turtle campsite
  • Assisting with shopping trips for supplies

Work schedule

Sea turtle conservation volunteers work six days per week, both in the daytime and at night. Research and maintenance tasks are carried out during the day and patrols take place in the evenings.

Journey to work

The turtle conservation work takes place on the same beach where volunteers live.

Closed dates

The turtle projects are open all year round.

Project Photos

Project Location

Project Reviews & Testimonials

Despite waking up early and being at the bus stop well before it was due, we waited and waited.

..and waited. A stream of buses passed us and we assumed that we just failed to signal or the bus driver did not stop. So plan B had us travelling to Nicoya and changing to another bus to get to Samara. So after a 4.5 hour bus ride we reached Samara. A series of phone calls then got us a taxi close to Playa Buena Vista.

Upon arriving in San Jose, we were all a little bit nervous.

The three of us has flown in together from Atlanta and it was our first time travelling alone, without school or family. I didn't really feel all the excited about the trip because I really didn't know what to expect. Once we had landed and got our bags, we tried to exchange some money into colones.

Our bedroom had 3 bunkbeds and it was quite small meaning that we had to keep all our rucksacks on the end of our bed.

This seemed like a pain at first but we soon got used to it. Being in a small bedroom meant that we soon made good friends with the three other girls in our room - Danalee and Kristy (from Canada) and Theresa (from Austria).

My time at the turtle conservation Costa Rica was the most amazing experience of my life.

I had a ton of questions beforehand and she answered them all and was so welcoming when I finally arrived in Costa Rica.

I ended up having some flight issues but she was able to work around them no problem to help make the rest of my trip simply amazing! Upon arriving at the turtle project, the staff and other volunteers were so friendly, I was able to easily fit in and learn what I had to do quickly.

Volunteering with uVolunteer was an amazing experience that allowed me to experience different areas of the country in a more intimate way.

I would fully recommend volunteering abroad to Costa Rica with uVolunteer if you are passionate about having new experiences, immersing yourself in another culture, and helping the environment and others.

During the environmental conservation project in San Ramon we received Friday, Saturday and Sunday off.

On our weekends all the volunteers planned fun trips around Costa Rica. Every week we had a group meeting where Ligia helped us plan and recommended the best accommodations and places to visit. It was very easy and very worthwhile to travel in our free time, I highly recommend doing so.

Costa Rica Information Brochure

If you are interested in joining the program in Costa Rica, you should download and read our destination guide.

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