Marine Conservation Program Costa Rica
Costa Rica has reopened to international arrivals. See the additional info. section for COVID-19 requirements.
This essential program aims to conserve Costa Rica's turtle, dolphin and whale populations, which have been decimated by human activities to the point of endangerment. Sadly, without preservation efforts, these incredible creatures may cease to exist.
During the nesting season (August - February) this program focuses on ensuring the survival of the majestic Sea Turtle; in particular the endangered Green and critically endangered Hawksbill. In conjunction with beach based conservation work, volunteers undertake boat trips to monitor and research Sea Turtle, Dolphin and Whale populations in the local marine area. A willing volunteer workforce is critical to completing the many tasks and ambitious goals of this program.
Goals of this Project:
- Save endangered sea turtle species from extinction
- Assist on projects to improve the environment in which sea turtles, dolphins and whales live, feed, breed and nest
- Rescue, rehabilitate and release turtles in need of assistance
- Monitor turtle, dolphin and whale populations with a view to protection and preservation.
- Research these wonderful creatures for a greater understanding of how to ensure their survival
- Enable inter-cultural exchange between international volunteers and locals.
How You Can Help
Volunteers play an integral role in achieving the goals of this project. Like many conservation programs funds are greatly lacking and a willing volunteer labor force is essential to its success. Those working on this program will support research and conservation efforts which involve monitoring and scientific data collection on sea turtle, dolphin and whale populations.
Protection of the Sea Turtle during the breeding season (August to February) requires nightly beach patrols to protect nests and eggs from human and animal destruction. Eggs are carefully collected and taken to the nursery for care and monitoring. Hatchlings are released back onto the beach to begin their epic journey to adult-hood! Volunteers may have the fantastic opportunity to participate in the rescue of injured turtles, rehabilitation and release of both hatchlings and recovered adults!
Outside of the breeding season volunteers will be involved in research, habitat improvement and rescue activities. This is a wonderful program that has a direct impact on the safety and survival of sea turtle, dolphin and whale populations on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Volunteers will gain unique experience on conservation projects, learn more about the Costa Rican people and culture and travel to beautiful locations.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Beach patrols to protect and conserve turtle hatching grounds, turtles and eggs.
- Undertake on-water research tasks to record population numbers and ecology data on turtles, dolphins and whales
- Habitat and food source monitoring and preservation
- Assist as needed in rescue, rehabilitation and release tasks
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over (17 with parental consent) who wish to give their time and energy to help protect and conserve the sea turtles of Costa Rica. The project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by one of local project leaders. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
This project is based on stunning Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica's South Pacific coast. Off the beaten tourist track, Osa is a veritable paradise and Costa Rica at its very best!
The Peninsula is dominated by the Corcovado National Park with its vast array of native wildlife including endangered species and Costa Rica's big cats. Guided jungle adventures can be arranged from Puerto Jiménez. Marine enthusiasts and beach lovers will enjoy the attractions of Drake Bay, Caño Island marine reserve and the surf beaches of Cabo Matapalo and Carate.
Puerto Jiménez is the peninsula's largest town and provides a great base for exploring the region, providing easy access to both the vast expanse of the Parque Nacional Corcovado for hiking and wildlife and the emerald waters of the Golfo Dulce for beaches and surf.
Immersing volunteers into its unspoilt natural beauty and providing a genuine insight into the 'Tico' way of life; Osa peninsula is the genuine article!
See the Additional Info. section for examples of optional excursions in the area.
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round with arrivals every SATURDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 4 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Our local team provide airport pick-up from San Jose on Saturday (or before 10am Sunday).
Volunteers are met on arrival and transferred to hostel accommodation if arriving Saturday. On Sunday volunteers are collected mid-morning and arrangements made for the bus transfer to Puerto Jiménez (a 10hour journey).
In Puerto Jiménez our local team meet volunteers off the bus and provide a full orientation session including information on the local area, obtaining essentials, local transport, optional excursions and of course placement specifics. This is a great opportunity to get information from Costa Rican experts and ask any last minute questions you may have.
- Program Arrival Day: SATURDAY (or SUNDAY before 10am)
- Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport, San Jose, Costa Rica (Code: SJO)
A domestic flight from San José to Puerto Jiménez is available through SANSA airlines for those who prefer to fly.
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this program are accommodated in Volunteer Apartments a short journey from the beach. Two houses are available and split by gender. Rooms are dormitory in style and shared by up to 4 volunteers.
Basic amenities are provided including western bathroom facilities with cold water showers, electricity, ceiling fan and free wifi. Bedding is provided but volunteers are responsible for towels and consumables such as toilet paper, soap, washing liquid and cleaning products.
Volunteers are provided 2 meals per day (breakfast and lunch) throughout the placement. Dinner is not included but can be arranged with the hosts, prepared yourself or eaten out at one of the local cafes or restaurants where you can try cheap and tasty local food. The meals provided are local cuisine and predominantly vegetarian.
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
Costa Rica entry requirements:
- All visitors must complete an Online Health Pass (pasa de Salud) 48 hours prior to travel to Costa Rica.
- Vaccinated arrivals, fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson can enter the country without mandatory travel insurance. The last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days before arrival in Costa Rica and vaccination proof must be provided on your health pass.
- All arrivals who do not meet the vaccination requirement must provide proof of travel insurance and include the details on their Health Pass.
International Insurers are accepted provided they can provide a certificate in English or Spanish stating:
1. Name of the person traveling.
2. Validity of the policy for the duration of stay
3. Minimum coverage of $50,000 for COVID related medical expenses
4. Minimum coverage of $2,000 for lodging expenses for quarantine or trip interruption.
Costa Rican policies: The following providers are accepted and the medical coverage minimum is reduced to $20,000:
- INS: https://www.grupoins.com/seguros-para-viajero/seguro-viajero-ingreso-costa-rica/
- Sagicor: https://tiendasagicor.com/en/
- BlueCross BlueShield: https://www.bluecrossblueshieldcr.com/rod
- Please check with your airline as they may require you to have a negative COVID-19 test result.
The following are available for booking directly with our local team.
Why not use this opportunity to improve your language skills! We offer both University credit Spanish courses and part time Spanish classes at affordable rates.
Want to get certified to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages? Just let us know and the local team will arrange for you to complete the qualification in conjunction with your volunteering placement.
4 DAY CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK GUIDED TRIP ADD-ON $450
Corcovado National Park is considered one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth, boasting 2.5% of the earth’s animal species. It is home to at least 367 species of birds, 140 mammals, 71 reptiles, 46 amphibians and 40 freshwater fish. This list includes four types of venomous snake, all four species of monkey found in Costa Rica, an enormous concentration of scarlet macaws (relative to other places in Central America), four species of turtle, peccaries, red-eyed tree frogs, harpy eagles, and a very small number of jaguars.Tapirs – rare animals that look like a cross between a horse and an elephant – are fairly common here, as well as sloths, toucans and pumas.There are many primary jungles (environments that have not been altered by humans) in and around the Drake Bay area. The Floating Tour adventure begins with a relatively short taxi ride to one of the best primary jungles located outside of Corcovado National Park.
LEARN TO SURF and YOGA are also available.