Global Nomadic

Marine Park and Animal Rescue

Esparza , Costa Rica show on map

Agency | Global Nomadic

Discover the breath-taking beauty and exotic wildlife, make unique experiences like cleaning a shark and contribute to the rehabilitation of marine animals in Costa Rica! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

The country 

Costa Rica, a piece of tropical paradise in Central America, is known for its sun-kissed beaches with waves perfect for surfing, stunning sunsets, misty crater lakes, exciting paths and hiking trails, breath-taking waterfalls and white-water rapids. Costa Rica’s culture bears heavy influences by its Spanish colonizers but parts of it have other strong influences as well, such as Jamaican and Mayan. A small, yet enchantingly varied country, Costa Rica and its inhabitants invite all visitors to embrace its unofficial motto - ‘pura vida’ (“pure life”) and to enjoy numerous adventures and diverse nature. ‘Pura vida’ can be used as a greeting or a farewell, just to say “that’s great” or “all is good” and it expresses the positive outlook on life of the local inhabitants, also known as “ticos”.

With no real summer or winter, and a rainy season between May and November, you can enjoy temperatures between 21°C and 27°C all year round. In the central valley, temperatures are slightly lower than in the coastal areas. The Pacific Coast, especially its northern part (known as the Gold Coast), is hot and dry throughout the year while the Caribbean coast is hot and moist with rainfalls during most of the year. The highlands around Monteverde are filled with mist most of the year due to the high altitude and the lowlands have a nice warm climate. The Central Valley, which includes San José, is believed to have the best climate in the country.

The region

This project takes place in Esparza, a medium-sized agricultural town nestled in the mountains above Rio Barranca, in the Central Pacific Coast area. First inhabited by the Huetar and the Chorotega who fled from Mexico 1,500 years ago, Esparza was founded by the Spanish in 1577 which makes it the second oldest town in the country. Esparza is the second largest canton in the province of Puntarenas and has a rich history including legends of hidden pirate gold. The town is relaxed and off the tourist trail but close to beaches for surfing and relaxing, Carara national park and Puntarenas’ marine park and newly renovated marina.

The project 

The main purpose of the rescue centre is to return animals to the wild, many of whom have been mistreated or neglected. Here you can get involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of sea birds, mammals, and reptiles as well as rare marine animals, which otherwise might have died due to a disease or accident. At the aquarium, whose goal is to educate locals and tourists about the importance of marine conservation, you can work behind the scenes to clean and feed the animals including docile sharks and sea turtles. Both at the rescue centre and at the aquarium, you will be working with the local staff and you will receive on-site training.

Typical day

Monday to Friday you will have a flexible schedule with 4-6 working hours per day usually starting at 9:00 a.m and finishing around 4:00 p.m, including a lunch with your co-workers. Your daily tasks may vary greatly including:

  • periodically scrubbing larger marine animals in order to remove algae
  • monitoring temperature and pH levels in the tanks
  • cleaning the glass tanks
  • feeding the animals.
  • you may also be involved in constructing new enclosures for the rescue centre as well.

The schedule may be subject to change since Costa Rica is a tropical country with occasional violent storms, heavy rain and floods. Please note that during public holidays there may also be disruptions in the program.

Details on Arrival

Project is on-going, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability.
Placements start each Monday.

Free-time activities

There is a weekly evening activity such as dancing lessons, cooking lessons, Spanish lessons or a trip to a tourist destination or a nearby town. On a weekend, every month, there is an organized trip to a tourist destination - a beach, volcano, waterfall, canopy, ziplining, horse riding and more. Esparza and Puntarenas have a lot to offer in weekend activities for all budgets. You can also get involved in local events and fiestas. Enjoy some of the best scenery in the world and hop on the Panamerican highway to discover the rest of the American continent. From Puntarenas you can take a scenic ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula and its many secluded beaches.
Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak Spanish (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
A strong interest in the work and a readiness to get your hands dirty are needed.
You cannot be allergic to seafood.
Necessary vaccinations.
Necessary flight & visas.
Full travel & medical insurance.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 16:00

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Global Nomadic cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Nomadic.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Global Nomadic (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Global Nomadic
  • Accommodation
  • Food & Drinks
  • Airport Pickup
  • Orientation
  • in-country support
  • project activities
Airport Pickup at Juan Santamaria International Airport

The accommodation is near the project, on the coast, 100m from the sea. You will stay at one of the two newly built eco houses - Jaguar House and Toucan House. The two houses accommodate up to 22 people. The rooms are single gender and are mostly equipped with two bunk beds so they sleep a maximum of 4 people. Bed linens are provided; however, you need to bring your own towels. One room per house has a bunk bed with a double bed under a single bed so it can accommodate couples or small families. Both houses have western style toilets and cold showers which is very refreshing in the heat. The two houses have washing machines and you can hang your clothes to dry - it’s quick with these temperatures! To keep cool there are two fans in every room and all windows are fitted with mosquito screens so you can sleep uninterrupted by the annoying buzz. For extra security, you can make use of the lockable doors. If you prefer a private room, you can arrange one for an additional cost before arriving at your program.

You can relax together with your fellow participants in the communal areas/games room and use the free WiFi. The large garden welcomes you with tropical plants including coconut, papaya, banana and citrus.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

During your stay you will have three meals on the weekdays and two on the weekends consisting mainly of a mix of traditional and modern Costa Rican food. Most dishes include fish or chicken, pork or beef, but vegetarian preferences are also taken into consideration.

Within 300 metres of the centre you can find shops and a 15 minute walk away are bars, restaurants and an excellent public pool. An ATM can be found a kilometer away as well as in town, 2 kms away. There are also more shops, bars and restaurants in town.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Costa Rica provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Costa Rica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Costa Rica.
Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,000
4 weeks
$ 2,000
24 weeks (max. stay)
$ 12,000
Average fees
$ 500 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Esparza /Costa Rica between 2 weeks and 24 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Global Nomadic will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Costa Rica.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Global Nomadic during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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