Volunteering projects in Costa Rica


The Global Volunteer Network currently has opportunities to work in turtle rescue projects along Costa Rica\’s Pacific coasts.

There are a variety of programs working with two species of turtles, the Leatherback (Baula) and Olive Ridley; between them these programs run through most of the year.

Both species\’ populations are in sharp decline due to over harvesting of eggs, beach development, fishing, pollution, and being killed for their meat and leather.

The programs give you the chance to make an important contribution to the preservation of these species. This includes assisting NGOs and local communities who carry out conservation work. You will also gain first-hand knowledge about Costa Rica\’s biodiversity and its culture.

Program Location

The programs are based in various locations along Costa Rica\’s Pacific coasts (according to season). If a volunteer plans to stay in the country more than a month, they can be offered the challenge of working on other conservation projects.

Costa Rica Program

Volunteers will work with Leatherback turtles (Baula) between January and February and Olive Ridley Turtles between August and December. The Leatherback turtle is the biggest marine turtle in the world, weighing as much as 1,900 pounds and reaching nine feet in length. Their name is indicative of their backs, which are actually not a shell but a pliable thick leather-like skin. The Olive Ridley, \’Lora\’ or Carpintera is the smallest of its species, weighing in at 75 pounds and measuring only 2 feet.

These programs are run by NGOs which employ biologists, with volunteers being supervised by trained personnel, who will pass on their expertise to volunteers on site. The work is very \”hands on\” and involves close contact with the turtles. Volunteers are not required to have particular biological knowledge, and so the projects are both rewarding and educational. Volunteers are often required to work at night, when turtles lay their eggs, and demanding work during the day under the heat is also needed. Accommodation is very basic, and some of the facilities are built only for the turtle season.

Volunteer roles include beach patrolling, clearing the beach of obstacles, preparing nests, relocation of nests, handling eggs, helping to release baby turtles in season, counting and recording eggs, taking temperatures in nests, repairing protection around nests, and recording the number of turtles arriving. Hours of work can vary, but volunteers may have to work both night and day shifts. In this case the shifts are on a rota basis, where each person will work shifts of 2-4 hours and then rest. Volunteers will work 6 days a week, with one free day during which they can leave the reserve. Days off are negotiable with the director of the project.

In addition, we also offer non-turtle projects for longer-term volunteers who may participate in more than one project during their time in the program. These include working with eco-cooperatives, at national parks and teaching English in local schools.


Program Requirements

As a volunteer in Costa Rica you must:

  • be at least 18 years of age, and not older than 60 years of age
  • know at least basic Spanish – this is essential because not all park rangers speak English
  • have no health problems

If you are interested in joining this project and would like further information, please click here

To view other Global Volunteer Network projects, please visit their website http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/