Being a volunteer at the Turtle Rescue Center in Costa Rica, you'll be gaining immense awareness about the threat issues like activities of the poachers, problems caused by pollution, etc that are causing an alarming decline in the turtles hatching on this beach.
Volunteering Solutions is working in association with a local Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center that started operating in 2012, aiming to protect the turtles and maintain an ecological balance in the region. Volunteers will be involved with the behavioral study and care of rescued adult turtles as they recuperate in tanks with the guidance of an on-site vet. There is no electricity in the project. There’s solar power to pump water from our well and it provides lighting in public areas only.
A perfect program for animal lovers, this program would give you an opportunity to gain first-hand work experience and contribute towards protecting the biodiversity of Costa Rica.
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.Participants should be prepared for physically demanding work as you have to walk for several hours on the beach in all weathers looking for nesting adult turtles. Volunteers need to be responsible, flexible, patient and proactive.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
As a volunteer for the Turtle Rescue Center Program in Costa Rica, your major tasks would be:
- Patrolling the beaches at night
- Manage the hatchery and care for recuperating adult turtles
- Cleaning the facilities and different areas within the rescue center
- Assisting the local staff members and turtle protectors
Volunteer Work Schedule
Given below is a suggested plan, and might change according to circumstances :
Day 1, Sunday: Arrival in San Jose
Pickup from the airport and transfer to a hostel accommodation in San Jose.
Day 2, Monday: Transfer to Project
You'll be taken to the bus station from where you'll be boarding a bus to Bataan, a small banana plantation town approx. 2.5hrs away from San Jose. Our program coordinator will meet you at Bataan, from where you'd travel all together in a 4WD for 40 minutes through banana plantations to the dock and then by volunteer shuttle boat through the canals to the turtles center. On arrival, there will be a brief Orientation Session to give you an idea of the designated tasks.
Days 3 to Day 8, Tuesday to Sunday: Working at the project site
You'll be working at the project site for these five days. Duties go from patrolling the beaches for turtles at night (in all weathers) together with the local inhabitants, managing the hatchery, and caring for recuperating adult turtles in the turtle rescue and rehabilitation center. In addition, you will be involved with the day-to-day operational duties of running the project. In your free time, you can relax and enjoy the beach life, soak in the sunshine and take a dip in the turquoise waters.
Day 9, Monday : Return back to San Jose or continue program
Those participants who are doing the program for a week will be taken back to San Jose this morning, around 10.30 AM. Others will continue with the program further.
Things to Consider
Project Dates – The project is available from March – August only.
Project Location – Please note that the programme is situated on a remote isolated beach on the Caribbean coast. While volunteering in Costa Rica you will spend all of your time on this project, but you will have the chance to explore and travel to other parts of the country either before or after your program. We can suggest and help you organise some wonderful trip options.
Electricity at the Project – Due to the remote project location, there is no mains electricity on the island. There are some solar panels to generate a limited supply of electricity, this is required to power the generators for lighting and other appliances that are required and pump water. Volunteers are recommended to bring any small mobile solar chargers to charge their appliances.
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.
Volunteers are picked up from the San Jose International Airport by the local coordinator or representative. Those volunteers who are arriving overland or are already in Costa Rica will be picked up at a meeting point decided beforehand in San Jose.
Upon arrival in San Jose, participants are picked up from the airport and provided accommodation for a night in a hostel. The project is situated at a distance of about 2 and a half hours from San Jose, at a beautiful isolated beach on the Caribbean coast. Right behind the project site lies, what people call, The Amazon of Costa Rica: a mangrove rainforest, rivers, canals, and lagoons. You will be provided with a dormitory-style beach cabin that accommodates up to 6 people.
All volunteers are given an orientation before starting the program by the project coordinator.Orientation is conducted by the local staff and covers topics such as Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities, Rules and Expectations, Safety and Introduction to your project and placement.
Three meals a day are provided and refreshments such as tea and coffee are provided at the volunteer house.Participants having any dietary requirements need to inform in advance since the project is located at a remote location.
During your Free Time
After volunteering volunteers can fish, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in a hammock, play several board/card games, play soccer or volleyball, hike or interact with other volunteers from around the world.
Please Note: -An application fee of $229 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of £179 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of $299 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) 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
- Accommodation in San Jose for one night
- Transfer from San Jose to the project on Carribean Coast
- Accommodation in dorms at the project at the project
- Return travel back to San Jose
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- Trips and excursions
- Any personal expenses
- Travel insurance (available at nominal cost)
- Post project stay in San Jose
- Return Airport Drop
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.
When do I need to arrive in Costa Rica for my program? What will happen once I arrive in Costa Rica?
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:
For those flying in from Europe, direct flights are available, and the recommended airlines are:
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
How can I connect with past Volunteering Solutions Costa Rica alumni as well as other former and current 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.