Volunteer Experience | Environmental & Wildlife

Costa Rica: Volunteer Sea Turtle Conservation and Whale & Dolphin Monitoring

Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica


LocationPuerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. 

Duration: 1-4 weeks commitment

Cost: from £760 GBP Project Fee for the 1st week – see Costs tab for more information

Includes: 3 meals a day, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations


  • Hands-on experience in conservation efforts, including options for research, environmental education and community projects.
  • Collect data about nesting dynamics, relocation of eggs to a “hatchery”, collect data on hatchlings and release of hatchlings
  • Costa Rica offers amazing experiences such as surfing in the South Pacific coastal region, visiting Marino Ballena National Park, relaxing on the endless beaches, hiking to waterfalls, enjoying great healthy food
  • Immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture at our locally-owned accommodation – just minutes walking to the beach
Costs Explained


The main threats to sea turtles on this public beach are caused by humans: egg poaching and hunting nesting turtles are contributing to a population decline of all species. Especially in the Caribbean, the consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs or the utilisation of turtle shell for jewellery production is rooted in long-lived local traditions and a strong belief that sea turtle eggs serve as an aphrodisiac. On top of these dangers, sea turtles also face the negative effects of global warming and contamination, which results in nest and habitat loss due to beach erosion or entanglement in fishing gear and trash.

Through the involvement of local inhabitants of this very isolated, small community, this sea turtle project provides not only a unique opportunity for you to experience a community-based Costa Rican conservation project but also offers a legal and sustainable revenue for community members. The data taken from nesting females improves our understanding of their behaviour and helps coordinating conservation efforts worldwide

Daily Life

Night Patrols

It is important to remember that sea turtles always come first. This may mean working long, hard hours under hot and humid conditions; but in the end, it is worth it!

A group of volunteers, led by an experienced patrol leader, walks one of the sectors of the 7.1km long beach searching for nesting females. An average night patrol will take 4 hours but can last longer in case of sea turtle encounters. Once a turtle is encountered on a night patrol, the volunteers work directly with it, taking carapace and nest dimension measurements, collecting eggs and collecting data. The collected eggs will be relocated on the beach or taken to the hatchery where the volunteers on shift will build a new nest and rebury the eggs. The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification information (tag number) are then recorded by the hatchery attendant for further data analysis, for example determining hatchling survival rate.

This project applies a non-confrontation policy with poachers while patrolling the beach. Encounters with poachers are likely during turtle season but no communication or interference has proven to be the best way of dealing with illegal activities, as we are a conservation organization and not the police.

Hatchery Duty

The main tasks in the hatchery will be relocating nests (as described above and after having had thorough training), monitoring nests, keeping predators out (ants, crabs, dogs), taking temperatures and measurements and releasing hatchlings. The approximate incubation time for all sea turtle eggs is 60 days, therefore midway through the season the duties of the hatchery volunteer increase as the hatchlings begin to emerge. At this time, all nests in the hatcheries must be checked every 20 minutes during day and night. If hatchlings are encountered, they must be counted and released in the evening to an appropriate location along the high tide line and observed until they reach the sea. All work must be done according to standard protocols and rules and only after receiving training.

Day time work

Day time work will be for more or less two hours in the mornings, and can include beach cleanups, or involvement in small projects, maintenance of the equipment, including initial construction of the hatcheries amongst others.

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Travel & Accommodation

You will be met at San Jose International Airport by a project representative and brought to the HQ by minibus. If your flight arrives in the afternoon, you will need to stay at a hostel in San Jose, which we will arrange for you.

Once at the project, you can choose between staying at our HQ accommodation, or if you want to experience proper Costa Rican life and improve your Spanish, you can stay with one of our Homestay families. Please let us know beforehand which option you would prefer.

Host Families are well-screened and offer participants a shared bathroom, private bedroom, electricity, and running water.

Headquarters housing offers participants shared bathrooms, hostel-style bedrooms, electricity, running water, and WiFi.

You will get three traditional meals per day at either accommodation. Breakfast Included: typical Costa Rican gallo pinto, toast, and eggs as well as pastries and pancakes on some days.

Vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free options are available.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18
  • Be keen and enthusiastic to get involved in the project
  • Ability to work within a team environment
  • Minimum 1 week commitment
  • Police check (or equivalent) showing that you have no previous criminal convictions
  • Signed medical form
  • Fluent English skills
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flight & visas
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Duration Price (GBP)
1 week £760
2 weeks £1,135
3 weeks £1,510
4 weeks £1,885
Additional weeks £375

* 30% deposit required to confirm your place. The balance will be due 4 weeks prior to your departure.
** For the latest currency conversions, go to xe.com.
*** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee

What’s included
  • Airport pickup & transfer to the project (including first night stay in hostel)
  • Bus ticket back to San Jose from the project
  • Program Coordination & Logistics
  • Staff Support Pre-arrival via Information and Orientation Guides
  • Staff Support Emergency and 24/7 In-Country
  • Accommodation and 3 Meals Daily
  • Certificate of Participation in Program including Volunteer or Internship Hours
  • Resume Support upon Completion of Program
What’s Not included
  • Additional meals, drinks, and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

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We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

Note: Map coordinates are approximate