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Sea Turtle Conservation Program

Thank you for your interest in participating in the Sea Turtle Conservation Program.

You have chosen a great time to get involved, since the 2015/16 season will be the most ambitious and exciting in the history of the program! We now offer volunteers the chance to work with sea turtles at two important nesting habitats in the Osa Peninsula: Drake beach and Río Oro beach. As a volunteer you will take part in various conservation activities, including night patrols, working at the hatchery, relocating nests, recording scientific data, releasing baby turtles, construction, ecotourism activities, and environmental education. You will also meet lots of new people, have time to explore the pristine wilderness of the Osa Peninsula, and have the opportunity to immerse yourself in genuine Costa Rican culture.

Please find below basic information about the program and instructions of how you can become a volunteer.

More detailed information can be found by downloading the Volunteer Orientation Manual and by taking a look at this short video. You can also keep up to date with the daily progress at:

Please don’t hesitate to contact Rob at if you have any questions or require any additional information. We look forward to receiving you at the program!

Location: The program headquarters are based at Drake Bay Backpackers, a non-profit hostel created by the Foundation especially to support the program. The hostel is located here in the village of El Progreso, Drake Bay. All new volunteers will initially stay at the hostel while they receive their training and orientation, after which they may choose to work at either (or both) of our two conservation sites: Drake beach and Río Oro beach.

Drake beach: The program has worked with the community in El Progreso to protect Drake beach since 2006, saving over 90% of the turtle nests and releasing over 70,000 babies into the ocean! The beach receives around 200 Olive Ridley sea turtles each year, and the program runs a vibrant community-based project involving over 30 locals who help to protect the turtles from poachers. Volunteers can choose to stay in a mixed dorm at the hostel or in a private room in one of our tried-and-tested homestay houses in the village. Both options include three meals per day, and the homestay houses are highly recommended by previous volunteers.

Río Oro beach: The program’s brand new site at Río Oro beach offers volunteers the chance to protect one of the most important nesting beaches on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The beach receives around 2000 Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and even Leatherback sea turtles each year, and the area is a pristine wilderness paradise. This conservation site is much more remote than Drake beach, and there is no electricity nor cell phone reception. The field station is equipped with solar panels that provide lighting and power a radio for essential communications only. Accommodation is in a mixed dorm in a tent camp close to the beach, and includes three meals per day. Given the National Wildlife Refuge status of the area, there are restrictions as to what volunteers may take to the site during their stay.

Placements are available: from 01 July – 15 December (Drake), and from 01 July – 31 March (Río Oro).

Duties: As a volunteer you will take part in various conservation activities, including night patrols, working at the hatchery, relocating nests, recording scientific data, tagging of turtles, nest exhumations, liberation of hatchlings, construction activities, environmental education and ecotourism activities.

Free time: As a volunteer you will be assigned one free day each week, during which you may choose to take advantage of the tours and activities offered by the hostel, spend time with your host family, or just relax at the hostel or on one of the many beautiful nearby beaches. At Río Oro beach there are fewer scheduled daytime activities, and so you will find that there is more opportunity to explore the area and discover the wonderful nature of the Osa Peninsula.

Costs: The cost for volunteering at the program is $30 per night, or $25 per night for volunteers staying 28 nights or more. This costs covers accommodation, three meals per day, training, and transportation between the two conservation sites. It does not cover snack food, nor transportation to and from the program upon your arrival or departure.

Transportation: We recommend that volunteers travel by ‘bus and boat’ or by plane to reach the program. A cheaper ‘bus only’ option also exists but is less reliable during the rainy season, and is better suited to travelers who are confident in speaking Spanish. Please read the information regarding transportation on p15 of the Volunteer Orientation Manual.

Minimum stay: Two weeks.

Requirements: We are looking for volunteers aged 18 or over, in good physical condition, with a basic knowledge of Spanish or English. Volunteers need to be friendly, communicative and able to work in extreme weather conditions for 4-6 hours per day. Volunteers must have their own travel medical insurance policy for the duration of their stay at the program.

How to apply: In order to participate in our volunteer program, please complete the Volunteer Registration Form and send it by email to at least 2 weeks before the start of your participation.

How to pay: Payment for your stay must be received before you arrive. In order to pay, please use this secure link and select ‘Volunteer Program’ button: Please note that payment for the first two weeks is non-refundable.

Money matters: There is no ATM in Drake Bay, so you should make sure that you bring enough cash for the duration of your stay at Drake beach. There is an ATM in Puerto Jiménez, and so volunteers transiting between the two sites will be able to draw cash out there. Payments for extending volunteer placements may be made by credit card at the hostel in Drake Bay. Please read the information regarding money matters on p14 of the Volunteer Orientation Manual.

Accommodation in San José: We recommend the following accommodation options in San José:
Hostel Bekuo, Telephone: +506 2234 1091.
A funky and cozy favorite in the safe and convenient area of Los Yoses. The staff are super helpful and the hostel has tons of backpacker info and facilities, including a pool table, lounge, kitchen and garden.
Hostel Urbano, Telephone: +506 2281 0707
Similarly well-equipped with pool table, lounge, kitchen and garden, the hostel is less cozy but more modern than Hostel Bekuo. It is located in the heart of San Pedro, a trendy university area.
Hostel Shakti, Telephone: +506 2221 4631
A hidden secret just a block South of San José center, this converted guest house is great value and offers beautiful rooms and dorms. It offers a more tranquil alternative to the other hostels and has its very own vegetarian restaurant downstairs.

Volunteer Opportunities