Saving Costa Rica's Pacific Sea Turtles

This particular project offers four locations for conservation travellers to choose from, all along Costa Rica's popular Nicoya Peninsula, located south of surf mecca Tamarindo. One week rates are less than $500 USD/per person, and include lodging, all meals, training, and a small contribution to ongoing sea turtle conservation efforts.

Being able to speak Spanish is not necessary for participating at this project. There will always be a Spanish speaking coordinator on site to help with local communication. There are few members of the communities who speak English, so knowledge of Spanish is useful, but not imperative by any means.

We recommend a minimum stay of 2 weeks at the projects for several reasons. First, it is much more likely for volunteers to see a turtle in this time frame, as their nesting activity levels fluctuate from week to week. Second, this allows enough time to really experience the culture and explore the surroundings of the towns where are projects are based. Finally, 2 weeks is enough time to get to know the other participants at the projects. Working in such a tight-knit, unique situation;  team members often form strong bonds, leading to friendships that last a lifetime!

The program runs annually from mid-June to mid-December, with the peak sea turtle nesting season coinciding with Costa Rica’s green season where rain is frequent, if even just for 10 minutes, and it usually comes down later in the afternoon. With that said, there is still plenty of sunshine on this coast. Daytime temperatures range from mid-70 when overcast to low-90’s when the sun is out. The weather can change very rapidly. Rain storms can pop up out of nowhere and disappear as suddenly as they arrived. Humidity is very high and cotton clothes should be avoided because they never dry completely.

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What to Expect?

Volunteers accompany the project team on nightly 3-hour beach patrols.  One purpose of these beach walks is to encounter nesting sea turtles and record scientific data. This information is used to gain an understanding of sea turtle reproductive behaviour, and improve our conservation strategies in the future. Another objective is to find sea turtle nests, collect the eggs, and move them to a rescue hatchery where they are protected from poaching.

Additionally, volunteers help monitor and maintain the hatcheries to ensure that incubation conditions are optimal for egg development. Once the hatchlings emerge from the nest, project participants release the hatchlings onto the beach, and protect them from predators as they crawl out the ocean. Along with the turtle tasks, volunteers are expected to help with station house maintenance and cleaning. Team members live in close proximities, so it is important to keep the living areas clean and functional.

There are additional opportunities available for volunteers such as helping out at local schools and assisting in climate change or beach garbage monitoring studies. If interested, please specify interests on the application form.

Since the majority of the turtle work is done at night, there is normally plenty of free time during the day for volunteers to relax and catch up on sleep. Additional activities depend on what is available at each beach project, and include surfing, body-boarding, swimming, animal watching, and exploring close-by estuaries and tide pools.


  • Program ID: # 2556
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
    2 Weeks to 1 Month
  • location:
    Nicoya Peninsula
    Costa Rica
    9° 47' 14.5248" N, 85° 16' 24.924" W
  • Fitness level:
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
  • Costs From:
    Less than $500
    $500 to $1000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
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