• TRAVEL UPDATE: We're open! Program reopening updates and answers to your questions about COVID-19 and our flexible booking policy.

Overview

Being a volunteer for the Turtle & Sloth Conservation Program in Costa Rica, you'll be working alongside the local staff who are already engaged in saving the lives of these animals. Over the last few years, there has been a massive decline in the number of turtles and now, they are on the endangered species list. If we don't act now, we might lose these animals forever.

This incredible project is located at a distance of about 30mins south of the small town of Quepos on Costa Rica's central Pacific coastline, roughly 1 hour south of Playa Hermosa and Playa Jaco and 2 and a half hours from San Jose.  Offering a relatively remote expanse of beach, largely unpolluted by noise and light, this is a popular nesting ground for thousands of sea turtles each year.  The most common species include Olive Ridley, Pacific Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill. 

Volunteers will be protecting and nurturing the turtle eggs laid across the beach during the nesting season - which is from August to February. Apart from that, volunteers will get to support the research and conservation work which involves counting turtles, measuring nests, collecting scientific information, and going for night beach patrols. They will also help protect turtle nests from human poachers, assist in the egg-harvesting programs, and help in the hatcheries. Volunteers may also get the fantastic opportunity to participate in the subsequent release of hatchlings to the sea!

Additionally, volunteers will also get to monitor local sloth populations to protect and conserve this species. Needless to say, it'll be an amazing opportunity to gain unique experience on conservation projects, learn more about the Costa Rican people and culture and travel to beautiful locations.

Apply Now Enquire Now

Program Requirements

Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. You need to have an open mind and a flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference. Participants must be fit and healthy at the time of joining the program and should be prepared to work outdoors and get their hands dirty. Participants in the program should have a keen interest and love for animal conservation work. Participants should have no criminal convictions and should provide a clean criminal background check report.

Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities

As a volunteer for the conservation program in Costa Rica, your major tasks would be:

  • Beach cleaning, night patrolling, monitoring the turtle eggs
  • Preparing and maintaining the turtle hatcheries
  • Assist the local staff and work on projects to improve the environment for nests and to make the hatchlings journey to the Pacific Ocean safer
  • Reforestation activities and maintaining the natural habitat for the sloths
  • Educate the local people about turtle trafficking and its consequences

Volunteer Work Schedule

Volunteers will have to take a flight to San Jose, from where they will be taken to host family accommodation in Santa Barbara de Heredia, 40mins north of San Jose. (Arrival is on Saturday)

On Sunday the local team will arrange your pickup from host family and transfer to the project location by public bus. A representative from the local project team will meet you on arrival at the bus station and take you to the accommodations to settle in. 

Monday: You will be taken to your project site and introduced to the project leader who will provide specific information about your role. 

Volunteers need to be flexible to work in this program, as the schedules are largely dependent on the season and breeding activities that take place. However, a general day would look something like this:

4:30 am - Beach Patrol

This is a year-round activity, even in the low season (March to July). Volunteers have to go for an early morning patrol of the beach to monitor and protect turtle breeding grounds.

8:00 am - Breakfast at the accommodation

Volunteers are usually free post-breakfast and can utilize this time by reading, exploring the local area, swimming or chilling on the beach.

1:00 pm - Lunch at the accommodation

Afternoon Volunteering duties Post-lunch, volunteers will be assigned various duties that mostly vary depending on the season. Usually, volunteers can expect to work for 2 - 3 hours each weekday afternoon completing tasks to monitor, preserve and care for sea turtles and wildlife (such as sloths, parrots, macaws, alligators and more) in the local area.

Evenings/Nights Free time/Night patrols

During the nesting period (from August through February) volunteers will be involved in night-time beach patrols to protect turtles, collect eggs and generally monitor the breeding grounds.

Living

Being an International Organization, we try to make sure that our volunteers are given the kind of comfort and flexibility they seek. In terms of airport pick up, stay, local travel or work and even city tour, we help our volunteers and facilitate everything for them.

Airport Transfer

Volunteers are picked up from the San Jose International Airport by the local coordinator or representative and transferred to the host family accommodation in Santa Barbara de Heredia for the first night. 

Accommodation

Upon arrival in Costa Rica accommodation is provided in a host family for a night.At the project site, participants stay at the volunteer house in Matapalo, where the rooms are dorm-style, shared among four volunteers. The house has all the basic amenities including western-style bathrooms, electricity, cold water showers, wifi, communal areas, and a well-equipped kitchen. Bedding is provided so volunteers need only bring toiletries and a towel. 

Orientation

All volunteers are given an Orientation beginning on their project start date. Orientation is conducted by the local staff at the project and covers topics such as  Project Overview, Rules and Expectations, Safety and Introduction to your project and placement.

Meals

At the host family, two meals a day are provided. While at the project, Breakfast and lunch are provided daily in the program. Dinner can also be arranged with the project site for a small fee or volunteers may enjoy dining out in the local area along with other participants.

During your Free Time

Volunteers are free to visit and see places during their free time or weekends The country offers unparalleled natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests, and a wide range of national parks and eco-tourism. In addition, Costa Rica has over 1,000 miles of gorgeous white-and-black sand beaches. 

Program Cost

Please Note: -An application fee of $199 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment)

What are you Paying for?

  • 24 hrs Assistance and support from VS Staff
  • Comprehensive Pre- Departure Information
  • Pickup from San Jose International Airport and transfer to accommodation
  • Bus transfer to Playa Matapolo and pickup from bus station
  • Orientation on arrival at Project
  • Dorm style accommodation at the project
  • Meals
    • Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)

What's NOT included?

  • Airfare 
  • Visa  
  • Vaccinations
  • Weekend trips and excursions
  • Any personal expenses
  • Travel insurance (available at nominal cost)
  • Post project stay in San Jose
  • Return travel back to San Jose

Program Dates

Months 2021 2022
January 0317 0216
February 0721 0620
March 0721 0620
April 0418 0317
May 0216 0115
June 0620 0519
July 0418 0317
August 0115 0721
September 0519 0418
October 0317 0216
November 0721 0620
December 05 0418

Available Filling Fast Not Available Past Date

 

 

FAQ's

FAQ's Application and Program Details
It is advised to apply for the projects once the volunteering/ traveling dates are decided as there are limited spots available. The application fee is valid for one full year and can be sent earlier than the desired period of volunteering, for timely confirmation of the seat. As soon as you decide the travel dates, we suggest you to apply for the program and hold your spot. We abide by the first come first serve policy.
Usually, it takes around 10-12 working days for the application to be processed and placement to be confirmed. After we review your CV and documents, your booking is confirmed and the booking confirmation is updated in your My Account and you can view the information in your account. The application acceptance depends on the availability of seats in the project as well as the eligibility criteria of the program (age, skills and experience etc.).
Below are the necessary requirements to participate in the Costa Rica volunteer projects:
Volunteers must be 17 years or older for Teaching, Childcare, and Spanish Immersion at the beginning of the program. For all other programs, you need to be 18 years or older.
Volunteers joining the medical volunteer project must be either Pre-Medical, Medical or Nursing student or possess other qualifications related to medical and nursing field. Medical professionals such as doctors and nurses are also welcome to join the program.
Volunteers need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment.
The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
The participant must be in good health.
Knowledge of Spanish (basic to intermediate) is necessary for all the programs.
Yes, you are welcome to take part in Costa Rica Volunteer Programs as part of a group. We welcome families, friends, high school students, college/university and corporate groups to volunteer together in the Costa Rica volunteer programs.
Yes, most definitely you can, as we believe that every participant brings something new to the project. If you do not have previous experience, we offer you the opportunity to have a great start with us. We make international volunteering easy – not only are our Volunteer Abroad opportunities rooted in offering you extensive support, but they are also very affordable.
Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The certificate is provided on request.
All volunteers have to arrive one day before their program start date. You can view your arrival dates here. Volunteers are picked up from the Juan Santamaria Airport by the local coordinator or representative and taken to the respective host family accommodations. On the next day, i.e. Monday, there will be an orientation session which will cover the program highlights and provide you details about the city. You will get to know about the local culture, marketplaces, ATMs, internet cafes and where to shop for your daily essentials. On Monday, volunteers would also be required to take a Spanish test to assess their Spanish knowledge.

To add to the project experience, you can also join the Spanish Immersion Week which gives you a crash course in Spanish and even tests your current Spanish skills which would help you in volunteering, and you would also get a chance to experience Costa Rican culture, learn cooking and Latino dancing before beginning the program. 

Note: Host accommodation is located in suburbs of San Jose in the Heredia and Santa Barbara areas, along with your projects placements. 

The Childcare, Teaching and the Medical Healthcare projects are located near San Jose, primarily in the areas of Heredia and Santa Barbara. 

The Turtle Conservation project is located in both Pacific and the Caribbean coasts.

The Wildlife and Animal Rescue Center is located 4km away from Puerto Viejo and 220km from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital.

Flights and Visa
Participants (most nationalities) require a Tourist Visa to travel to Costa Rica. Travelers from most countries can get a 90-day permit stamped on their passport on arrival.We advise you to check with your nearest Costa Rican embassy as well. 
Juan Santamaría International Airport is well connected with direct flights coming in from different destinations in the US and South America. For volunteers coming from North America, following Airlines are recommended:
US Airways 
Delta

For those flying in from Europe, direct flights are available, and the recommended airlines are:
Condor
Iberia
Health and Safety
Costa Rica is a tourist friendly and safe destination. Volunteering Solutions is very particular about the safety of its international volunteers. We have stringent selection criteria for host family accommodation. You will be given safety precautions and instructions by the local coordinator team during the orientation as well as in your Pre-departure handbook after you become an enrolled participant. Apart from that, we advise volunteers to consult their in-country coordinators before embarking on a weekend trip or going on a night out.
All participants are recommended to consult their physician or travel doctor before traveling to Costa Rica. To view the general list of vaccinations recommended for your travel to Costa Rica, click here.
Yes, for all participants, it is mandatory to have a valid travel medical insurance for their trip. Volunteers have the option to purchase Travel and Medical Insurance at a nominal extra cost from Volunteering Solutions.  To provide the best option to our participants, we offer comprehensive insurance coverage in collaboration with a leading insurance provider. 

If you already have a valid Travel and Medical insurance, you can email us a copy of the same. It is also advised to bring along the Insurance documents during your trip.
Connect with Past Volunteers
We encourage volunteers to get in touch with former Volunteering Solutions Costa Rica program participants and also other program participants joining our projects. You are recommended to join the Volunteering Solutions Facebook Page or Facebook Group to communicate with other participants.


To read alumni interviews from past participants, visit ?the Meet a Volunteer section on our website.
Accommodation and Living

Volunteers working in Turtle Conservation Project stay in ranger house, host family or volunteer house accommodations close to the project near the beach. Dorm-style accommodation is provided where you will be sharing rooms with other volunteers (same gender basis). Upon arrival in Costa Rica, volunteers are provided lodging in a host family accommodation in Heredia or Santa Barbara. After completing the orientation and project introduction on the first days, volunteers join their respective Turtle Conservation Project in either Pacific or Caribbean Coast. 

For all other projects, volunteers will be staying with host families. More details about the host families would be provided after you apply for the program. Volunteers would be provided meals 2 times a day. 

Volunteers working in the animal rescue center project in Puerto Viejo are provided accommodation in a hostel in San Jose on arrival. While at the project volunteers stay at a dorm style hostel accommodation. Meals are not included but volunteers cook their own meals at a fully equipped kitchen.

Unfortunately, the entire volunteering experience is as much about volunteering on your project, as it is about the cross-cultural exchange and community building. A lot of that happens through the accommodation that we have set up, where one can enjoy by being with like-minded people. Additionally, for safety reasons, all volunteers must live in the allotted accommodation.
Yes, however, you must inform us in advance and also mention about any dietary requirement in your application form. 
Depending on your project placement, you will get evenings and the weekends free to travel and explore the place. In the evenings, volunteers usually get together and go out for social gatherings, eat out or just relax at the volunteer house. Weekends are free for the volunteers and you can go for short weekend trips. There’s actually so much to do in Costa Rica. Visit Nicoya Peninsula, Arenal Volcano, Corcovado National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Tabacón Hot Springs, San José, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, Tortuguero National Park and much more. 
The local coordinators will be happy to help you with more information.
Your program fee does not cover your personal expenses. You will need to provide for yourself your personal expenses, such as bottled water, local transport, telephone, shopping, sightseeing etc. However, you should carry around $70-$80 per week for your basic personal expenses. This amount can vary and you would need a higher amount if you choose to go on weekend trips out of town.
Volunteers usually work for 4 to 6 hours a day depending on their program. You will have weekends off so you can travel on weekends. However, volunteers need to be flexible, open-minded and understand that work requirements can change as well on certain occasions.
You can change money upon your arrival at Juan Santamaria Airport or from the bank. There is a good network of ATMs as well.

Other Programs in Costa Rica

Got a Question? Write to us



Close

Change Country?

Looks like you're from United Kingdom/Europe. Visit our UK/Europe Website for a better viewing experience and to view prices in GBP.