Marine Conservation Costa Rica

Sea Turtle, Dolphin and Whale Volunteering

Marine Conservation Program Costa Rica

OPEN NOW!

Costa Rica has reopened to international arrivals. See the additional info. section for procedures in place.

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 

Requirements

17yo+

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:

Project Location

Costa Rica, Puerto Jiménez, Osa Peninsula

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 a sample of weekend excursions.

Start Dates & Duration

Minimum 1 week

This project is available year-round and programs start every SUNDAY. 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.

For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.

Arrival & Orientation

Breakfast / Lunch , Airport Pickup Included

Our local team will meet with volunteers in San Jose and arrange transport to Puerto Jiménez by public bus.  

The bus departs San Jose at 10am so volunteers must either fly in prior to 10am Sunday or arrange accommodation in San Jose Saturday night from where they will be collected on Sunday.

Volunteers are met off the bus in Puerto Jiménez and taken to the accommodation to settle in. On Monday a full orientation session is provided to cover all aspects of the local area and placement. This is a great opportunity to meet the program coordinators and other volunteers and ask any last minute questions.  

  • Program Arrival Day: SUNDAY prior to 10am
  • Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
  • International Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport, San Jose (code: SJO)

Accommodation & Meals

Volunteer House / Meals Included

Volunteers on this program are accommodated in Volunteer House accommodation a short bike ride from the beach. Two houses are available and split by gender. Rooms are dormitory in style and shared by up to 4 volunteers. 

All of the basic amenities are provided including western bathroom facilities with cold water showers, electricity, ceiling fans and free wifi.  Bedding is provided so volunteers need only bring toiletries and towels.

Accommodation Puerto Jiménez  Kitchen Puerto Jiménez   Bathroom Puerto Jiménez

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. 

Fees

From USD 469
Program fee:
Different currency?
USD 469

That’s just USD 67 per day* for:

  • Airport pick-up on arrival
  • Orientation & full safety briefing
  • Accommodation (as specified above)
  • Food & Meals (as specified above)
  • 24/7 local support network
  • Project placement & onsite supervision

*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.

Additional Info

Costa Rica entry requirements: 

  • All visitors must complete an Online Health Pass (pasa de Salud) 48 hours prior to travel to Costa Rica. 
  • All visitors must provide proof of travel insurance and include the details on their Health Pass.  The insurer must provide certification issued in English or Spanish, noting the following:
    1.  Validity of the effective policy for the duration of the stay in Costa Rica.
    2.  Guaranteed coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID 19 of at least US$50,000.
    3.  At least US$2,000 coverage for lodging expenses due to pandemic illness or trip interruption/cancellation due to illness.
    Approved insurers are:
    Grupo INS
    Sagicor
    BlueCross BlueShield
  • Visitors do not need a negative COVID test or COVID vaccination and are not required to quarantine or self-isolate on arrival. 

The following are available for booking directly with our local team.

4 DAY CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK GUIDED TRIP ADD-ON

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.

RIO CLARO WATERFALLS TOUR

After about an hour and a half of trekking with your informative guide, the group will arrive at the best of 6 waterfalls in the area. After hiking through the jungle and experiencing the awesome bio-diversity, swimming in the cool water here is simply perfect- deep pools carved out over millions of years, surrounded by jungle and volcanic rock jumps. Understanding that few tourists go beyond “Sirena Ranger Station, Cano Island, and Day at the Beach”, you can probably paint your own picture of how unspoilt this spot is. The sounds of water crashing and jungle living from all directions is a truly meditative experience.After the swim, a snack is offered and the group will take another 5 minute walk to where the stream joins the infamous Rio Claro (Clear River). Zip-up life jackets are provided and worn upside down with legs protruding through the arm holes. Picture the jacket’s head hole located between your legs and you’ve got the idea! This fashion statement has 2 functions: a floatation device; and protection for your bum and torso. It is always encouraged to go feet first but the life jacket’s protection is convenient in cases where you find yourself mesmerized by the passing jungle canopy above. Eventually the ocean is upon you and you’ll find yourself on a spectacular surfing beach. After enjoying this scenic piece of paradise, the group walks the beach trail alongside approximately 10 other beautiful beaches.

Keen to learn Spanish?

Why not use this opportunity to improve your knowledge of Spanish and really get immersed in the local culture during your volunteering placement? We can offer part time Spanish classes at affordable rates. 

Learn to Surf and Yoga classes are also available.