- Listing Type: Summer Programs
- Destination: Costa Rica
- Program Delivery: Residential
- Provided By: Independent Provider
- Session Start: July, August, September, October, November, December
- Session Length: One Week, Two Weeks, Six Weeks, Four Weeks, Two Months, Quarter, Three Weeks, Five Weeks
- Entering Grade: 11th, 12th, PG, College
- Gender: Coed
- Category: Outdoor Adventure
- Selective: No
- Ages: 17, 18, 19+, 19
- Accreditation: Gap Year Association - Program
Head off the beaten track and onto a remote stretch of Costa Rican coastline to help conserve adult and baby turtles. Patrol the beach at night time to spot nesting mother turtles, and help to release hundreds of babies out to sea. Get involved in the local community, from teaching children to conserving the beaches to get a real glimpse of life in rural Costa Rica.
Where will I be based?
There are two project sites, each with its own charm and beauty:
The paradise beach project:
A buzzing little community of both Costa Ricans and American expats, this project site has a stunning white sand beach and plenty to keep you busy, with excellent surfing and other outdoor activites, and lots to explore.
The tropical beach project:
Volunteers here are spoiled with a beach front property in a close-knit community of about 100 residents. The beach is stunning, lined with coconut trees and facing a small fishing port over the estuary. This is a beautiful base, with great access to the beach, excellent surfing, strong community ties and a real opportunity to work with locals and improve your Spanish.
• Witnessing nesting turtles emerging from the sea at night under a glittering Milky Way
• Watching hundreds of baby turtles clamber out of their nest – and then releasing them back to the ocean
• Swinging in a hammock on a golden sand beach looking over the rolling waves – is this heaven on Earth?
• Meeting the locals, eating their yummy food and being welcomed into their friendly community
What will I be doing?
Working alongside an influential NGO, the local community and other volunteers, you will be protecting nesting turtles and their eggs, and ensuring that more adult and baby turtles can make it safely to the sea. The hard work of volunteers over the past few years has resulted in the survival of thousands more turtles.
Beach patrols and data collection:
By night you patrol the beaches, watching for nesting turtles coming up out of the sea. This is an incredible sight – one which many volunteers will never forget. Research and measurements on the turtles are recorded, and the eggs transported to a hatchery, where they can hatch in safety. This all takes place under the Milky Way, seen in incredible clarity due to the lack of light pollution.
Working in the hatchery:
By day and by night you check the hatchery for hatching turtles. As the turtles hatch, you collect data on the incubation period and hatching success rate. The research is linked to a worldwide study, and helps with global campaigns to end industrial fishing close to land. Baby turtles generally start hatching from early – mid August onwards.
Helping around your new home:
You will also be asked to do a few chores around the project house to keep it clean and tidy. Local children often pop by to practice their English and coax you into some of their games – you are encouraged to join them!
An important role for you as a sea turtle conservation volunteer is preserving the turtle’s nesting habitat and educating local people about the importance of this task. You can be helping with beach clean ups, teaching local children about sea turtle conservation, helping with a reforestation progrmame and assisting with any ad hoc research and data collection tasks. There is also the opportunity to travel to a local fishing village to learn about sustainable fishing, have lunch with the locals and take a mangrove tour.
• One night’s accommodation at a guest house in San Jose at the beginning and end of your project
• Simple beach-side accommodation in Costa Rican houses or cabins
• You will be sharing a mixed dorm with up to 5 other people
• Bathrooms are en-suite with refreshingly cool showers
• By rural Costa Rican standards, the accommodation is very good – but it may feel rustic to you!
Cost and Session Information
Duration: 1 – 12 weeks
Dates: Early July – mid December
Arrival day: Monday
Return day: Wednesday
Eligibility: General level of fitness required
You can volunteer here between mid-July to mid-December each year for 1 – 12 weeks.