The Turtle Conservation Program
Costa Rica has reopened to international arrivals. See the additional info. section for COVID-19 requirements.
This wonderful project was created with the goal of helping to preserve the amazing sea turtle. The Turtle Conservation Program works to conserve the future of this majestic creature, which through decades of indiscriminate human plundering, has been drastically reduced in number to a point where it is now on the endangered species list. Sadly, without the help of widespread conservation efforts, including environmental, research and re-education programs, the great sea turtle could be lost forever. Working with several of the main species of sea turtles to inhabit the Pacific, the main focus of this project is to protect and nurture the clutches of eggs laid across vital beach nesting grounds during the peak nesting season (August to February) and work on conservation and research projects at other times. The aim is to create safer nesting grounds, increase understanding and ensure more hatchlings make it to the Pacific Ocean to allow for the continuation of the species.
Additionally the program uses volunteer resources to monitor local sloth populations to protect and preserve this important animal.
Goals of this Project:
- To save the sea turtle from extinction
- Work on projects to improve the environment for nests and to make the hatchlings journey to the Pacific Ocean safer
- Research these wonderful creatures so a greater understanding of how to save them can be gained
- Monitor and protect local sloth populations
- Enable interaction between international volunteers and their local hosts.
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 work which involves counting turtles, measuring nests, collecting scientific information and night beach patrols. They will also help protect turtle nests from human poachers, assist on the egg-harvesting programs and helping in the hatcheries. Volunteers may also get the fantastic opportunity to participate in the subsequent release of hatchlings to the sea! Outside of the breeding season (which peaks from August to January), volunteers will assist with other vital conservation projects such as the development of infrastructure on the beaches, including building and lighting projects to mitigate the adverse effect of vehicle and human traffic on turtle nesting grounds, as well maintaining the beach environment itself. This is a wonderful program that has a direct impact on the safety of sea turtle populations on the Pacific Coast of Coast Rica. Volunteers will gain unique experience on conservation projects, learn more about the Costa Rican people and culture and travel to beautiful locations.
The Quepos location also offers volunteers the opportunity to assist with protection of local sloth populations and volunteers can expect to participate in sloth counts and monitoring activities.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Nightly beach patrols
- Preparing and maintaining the turtle hatcheries
- Hatchling release
- Beach clean-up
- Reforestation activities
- Monitor and protect local native species including sloths, parrots, macaws, alligators and more.
- Cleaning and maintenance of the project living areas
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years (17 with parental consent) and over who wish to give their time and energy to help protect and conserve the native wildlife of Costa Rica. This project is best suited to those who are either pursuing a career in animal conservation/zoological studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in this field. However, 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 incredible project is based 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 ½ hours from San Jose.
Playa Matapalo boosts a restaurant and store so everyday needs are well covered. Surfing and horseback riding are popular pursuits in the immediate vicinity and a stunning swimming hole and waterfall are a 30min hike from the site. Slightly further afield are Quepos town and Manuel Antonio National Park.
Offering a relatively remote expanse of beach, largely unpolluted by noice 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. The peak nesting and hatching season runs from August through February but turtles frequent the beach year round in varying numbers. A truly unique opportunity to witness this amazing natural phenomenon.
Start Dates & Duration
There are very few spaces left on this program in May and June. Please book early to avoid disappointment.
This project is available year-round and programs start every SATURDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 8 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Volunteers are collected upon arrival into San Jose and accommodated with a trusted host family in Santa Barbara de Heredia (40mins north of San Jose) on Saturday night.
Host families are experienced at caring for volunteers and will be happy to assist with information on the local area and advice on purchasing a SIM card and other essentials.
On Sunday arrangements are made for the journey (by public bus) to Quepos where volunteers are met by the local team. A full orientation session is provided by the Turtle Conservation staff onsite.
- Program Arrival Day: SATURDAY
- Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport, San Jose, Costa Rica (Code: SJO)
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this project will be accommodated in a Volunteer House in Matapalo. Rooms are dormitory in style and may be shared by up to 4 volunteers depending on the time of year and number of 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.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided daily and are included in the program fee. Volunteers are often expected to help with cooking and cleaning up (using a roster-based system), so everyone contributes at meal times – bringing a wonderful ‘family’ feel to this project. Nice!
*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.