Green Life Volunteers

Work in Turtle Conservation

Bahia de los Piratas, Costa Rica show on map

Non-profit | Green Life Volunteers

Do you love wildlife conservation? Would you like to live and work on a beautiful Costa Rican beach? Then become a volunteer on our amazing Turtle Conservation projects! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

The project

We collaborate with Costa Rican turtle conservation organizations with years of experience with volunteers and sea turtle conservation. They are in urgent need for more help! They receive thousands of sea turtles each year – but they have few volunteers to help cope with the amount of eggs and turtles. 

Turtle eggs are being poached in Costa Rica and sold illegally on the black market. Many people will "hunt" for eggs on the beaches, and collect them. There are also many other natural dangers such as stray dogs digging up turtle eggs to eat, and so do vultures and other wild animals. To prevent this, turtle projects collect eggs and place them into a safe enclosed place close to their headquarters, called a "hatchery". The eggs will mature there and then when baby turtles are hatching, they are carried and released into the ocean. With your help, more sea turtles will make it into the ocean and have the chance to fight for survival and mature into a fully grown turtle. 

Mainly four sea turtle species arrive at the beaches of Costa Rica:  Leather Back Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), Green-turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Olive-Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).

The location

The project locations depend on seasonal availability - we offer projects on the Pacific Side in Costa Rica and Caribbean side. You'll be placed where help is most needed at the time you'd like to volunteer. The sea turtle projects are always closely located to the beaches where turtles arrive, and where you'll patrol the beach. 

You will be living with other volunteers and project staff and sharing dormitory style accommodations with them. There is usually a large common area where you'll eat together, a kitchen, and bathrooms (cold showers, but it's so warm in Costa Rica that you'll WANT a cold shower!). 

Our volunteers

As a volunteer you'll work with other volunteers and the project staff. There is often also researchers/ biologists on site that you'll be helping with ongoing research. 

An ideal volunteer on this project has a passion for animal conservation and biology, enjoys physical labor and loves being outdoors! You should be 18 years of age or older to participate. You don’t have to speak Spanish for this project, as project staff and other volunteers speak English. 

You need to be willing to walk the beaches for hours during patrols, and also sit still for hours watching the hatchery. You need a special flashlight with the option of a "red" light. Turtles do not like white light and you would not be able to switch your torch on with white light during patrols. You should also bring your own bedding and a towel, as the organization does not provide those. 

Typical day

The typical day can change and vary for every volunteer. You will be given certain "shifts" to work, which will be mainly night-patrols since sea turtles arrive and lay eggs typically at night. A shift will usually be around 4 hours long, and can start from 8pm-12 midnight, and from midnight to 4pm. You'll have to be flexible and able to sleep during the day. There is also work during the day, such as watching the hatchery if a turtle nest is close to it's hatching date. If turtles hatch, they have to immediately be relocated to the beach. Usually you won't be on a shift alone ever, there is project staff or other volunteers with you on shifts.

  • Patrol beaches at night
  • Move nests to hatchery and prepare the nests
  • Mark turtles that are nesting and that are trying to build a nest or are returning to the ocean
  • Search for marked turtles and gather data regarding the percentage of turtles that return to the beach during “arribada”
  • Count all turtles that arrive at the beach
  • Help the most amount of baby turtles to get safely into the ocean
  • Help build a watering system to help the hatchlings develop during the dry months
  • Help patrol the beach to protect nests from illegal extraction and predators
  • Taking the sand’s temperature in specific sections of the beach in the morning, at noon and at sunset
  • Gather information regarding egg development (or lack of) in all the nests and the and check for the presence of organisms inside them
  • Help extract and pack the eggs that are sold legally (only 1% of all the eggs laid are allowed to be sold).
  • Translate documents for the office

  • Examples of other activities you may participate in:

    • Clean the beach of tree trunks and other debris that has been washed on the beach
    • Clean the beach of all unwanted vegetation that takes over the nesting areas reducing the space available for turtles to nest
    • Plant trees in different areas of the beach and the town
    • Help with infrastructure activities like building schools, bridges, roads and other similar community activities

Details on Arrival

You can start this project anytime, whenever is convenient for you. We don't have specific start dates. But note that you'll be placed in a project depending on the season - the best season for the Pacific Coast Project (Nombre del Jesus) is from July - March, and the rest of the year we have our turtle projects on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica (from February - July).

Free-time activities

The project locations are usually on a remote beach in a quiet town. However, there is always some fun outdoor activities to do - depending on your project location. You may be able to go snorkeling, kayaking, horse riding, surfing, or do other water sports. There is always a place nearby to hike the jungle - please ask the project staff what there is to do, and how you could arrange to do it. Sometimes you will have to hire a guide to do an activity with you (such as horseback riding or snorkeling), and other activities you can do for free on your own (such as hiking or surfing).

Water Sports
Swimming
Sightseeing
Diving/Snorkling
Hiking
Riding

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 English (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 18:00 - 06:00

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 Green Life Volunteers 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 Green Life Volunteers.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Green Life Volunteers (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 Green Life Volunteers

An organizational fee is included in the first week’s fee and covers the “behind the scenes costs”, such as staff salaries, office space rental, transaction and bank fees, and more. Our weekly fee for additional weeks covers the costs of your host family or project accommodation and food, the local staff on your project, and a donation to help with the daily running costs of the program you will help on.

Not included in our fee are your first and last night in San Jose in a hostel, travel to and from the international airport (airport shuttles are around 30$ each way to San Jose - We can set this up for you, just ask us during sign-up), travel to the project site (usually by public buses, which are from around 10-16$ one way), national/ International flights, travel insurance, visa costs, Any additional food or snacks besides the host family meals, extra-curricular activities.

Accommodation

The turtle projects offer shared mixed-gender dormitory rooms with bunk beds. You’ll share the accommodation with your fellow volunteers.The room is usually large enough for around 6-10 people per room. Bathrooms are shared with other volunteers, but you can use them privately on your own (and lock the door). There are usually large showers but note they may be cold water - although in Costa Rica you really do not need hot water as it is so hot outside you'll want to shower with cold water!
There are usually a large common room and kitchen for volunteers and staff to share. There is also relax-areas often with hammocks or chairs, for you to hang out at in your free time.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

You'll receive 3 cooked and prepared meals a day, and often small snacks in between for "Coffee Time". Food is Costa Rican typical food cooked for you and prepared by a local chef who is part of the program staff. You’ll all eat together in a common space at certain hours. Breakfast is usually around 8am, lunch is around 12pm, and dinner is around 6 -7pm. Meals are always taken together with the project staff and other volunteers. The organization can accommodate vegetarians and vegans, and special allergies or dietary requirements. Just let us know your dietary needs during your sign up. 

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
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.
Vaccines
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)
1 week (min. stay)
$599.00
2 weeks
$828.00
3 weeks
$1,057.00
4 weeks
$1,286.00
6 weeks
$1,744.00
8 weeks
$2,202.00
19 weeks (max. stay)
$4,721.00
Average fees
$424.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Bahia de los Piratas/Costa Rica between 1 week and 19 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Green Life Volunteers 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 Green Life Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Americas Central America Costa Rica  Bahia de los Piratas, Playa Nombre del Jesus

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

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