“We saw hundreds of turtles hatch”

General Impression

Overall Rating:    10 / 10

I had a fantastic experience volunteering in a Sea Turtle Conservation Center in La Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica. The place was rustic, the other volunteers were amazing (mostly solo travelers between the ages of 18 and 30, like me), and the workload was reasonable. We saw hundreds of turtles hatch & saw numerous mothers laying the eggs. It was a special experience and I’d love to go back.


Pura Vida! Costa Rica is an amazing, beautiful country. We often joked that we saw just as much wildlife at the project site than we did in the National Parks, and there’s some honest truth to it.

It’s a bit hard to get around via the public bus system, but that’s all part of the fun.

Project & Staff

The project & staff at Matapalo were awesome & the location was beautiful. I should note that there were some volunteers who clearly wanted to party more than volunteer, and that caused tension & drama between these folks and the staff. I was there during October, which was a great time of year to be there.


1. As mentioned above, this probably isn’t the best trip if your biggest priority is to party (be honest with yourself). There’s only one bar in the area & it closes at 9pm, so you’re probably better off going to a city for more fun nights. Also definitely better to not have a shift schedule that ties you down - but if you’re in it for the turtles and immersion, then this program is awesome.
2. Going solo is 100% okay - it’s what most people do. Most folks were between the ages of 18 & 35 and came from the US, France, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, and England (plus a few more). Everyone was kind, welcoming, and easy to get along with when I was there. I expect it’s like that all the time.
3. People were spending anywhere between 2 weeks & 3 months, with the most common being 2-3 weeks.
4. Beware of the rip tides. The ocean in Matapalo is dangerous which limits ability to swim past the shallow part of the ocean.