The Corcovado Foundation sea turtle conservation and volunteering program is now in its 11th year! We offer the opportunity for locals and volunteers to actively participate in the conservation of endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa Peninsula. As a volunteer you will take part in conservation, environmental education and ecotourism activities. You will meet new people and have the opportunity to immerse yourself in pristine wilderness and genuine Costa Rican culture.
This year, the Corcovado Foundation is proud to announce that the project in Drake Bay will be handed over to the local association ACOTPRO, as we focus on our new site in Rio Oro. Prior to 2006, 85% of sea turtle nests in Drake Bay were lost to poaching. Since then, the program has protected 90% of nests, tagged over 450 sea turtles and released over 77,000 babies into the ocean! The Corcovado Foundation has also paid over $30,000 in salaries to locals, and generated over $90,000 for families in the volunteering homestay network. The program has trained more than 50 residents in sea turtle conservation and hosted hundreds of volunteers.
Our successful strategy works to combine environmental education and conservation activities to give local communities a viable socioeconomic alternative to poaching.
Thank you for sharing your passion and experience about the turtle program, ecotourism and the community. It has been an amazing, enriching experience.
Volunteering for the 2016 Season
In 2016, the Corcovado Foundation will be handing over ownership of the sea turtle conservation program in Drake Bay to local association ACOTPRO! We will now be focusing on our new site in Rio Oro, but volunteers will still have the opportunity to visit our non-profit hostel in Drake.
Placements are available from
01 July – 31 December.
Minimum stay: Two weeks. In order to optimize the orientation and training process, all volunteers must begin their placements on Tuesdays. Volunteer training is carried out every Wednesday.
Requirements: Aged 18 or over, in good physical condition, with a basic Spanish or English. You must be friendly, communicative and able to work in extreme weather conditions for 4-6 hours per day. You must have a medical travel insurance policy for the duration of your stay.
Accommodation is at the Hacienda Río Oro eco-lodge in the community of Agua Buena, Osa Peninsula. Volunteers stay in mixed dorms with private bathrooms in a luxurious new tented camp at the site and accommodation includes three meals per day. The camp also has several communal areas with hammocks, football, volleyball, ping-pong and hand-wash laundry facilities. There is no ‘grid’ electricity nor cell phone reception at the site, however, the Hacienda Río Oro is equipped with solar panels and generators that provide lighting and power at night, and limited Wi-Fi internet is generally available for essential communications. Detailed information about arriving and departing can be found here.
About Río Oro
The program’s sea turtle conservation site is located at the Río Oro National Wildlife Refuge, the most important nesting beach on the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The beach receives around 3000 Olive Ridley and Green sea turtles each year, and the area is a pristine and remote wilderness paradise! Volunteers are practically guaranteed to see turtles nesting, and often they will see dozens during their stay.
About the Work
As a volunteer you will take part in sea turtle conservation activities, including night patrols, relocating nests, recording scientific data, tagging of turtles, nest exhumations and the liberation of hatchlings. You may also be required to work on eco-tourism, environmental education and construction activities.
What about Free Time?
We know that volunteers come not only to work but also to discover the incredible nature of the Osa Peninsula, and the program offers unforgettable tours and activities at two different sites. Hacienda Río Oro offers horse riding and kayaking and several farm activities, such as cheese making, and volunteers are free to trek around the trails surrounding the site. Additionally, the program provides free transportation to and from the Corcovado Foundation’s very own non-profit hostel Drake Bay Backpackers, which was created especially to support the program.
The hostel is located in the village of El Progreso, Drake Bay, and offers all of the most popular tours in the area, including Corcovado National Park and snorkeling or diving at the Caño Island marine reserve. All volunteers may choose to spend some time at Drake Bay Backpackers, and it is highly recommended that you plan to depart the program from Drake Bay so that you can take advantage of the hostel, relax and enjoy some tours during your last few days.
How much does it cost?
$35 per night, or $30 per night for volunteers staying 28 nights or more. This costs covers accommodation, three meals per day, training, and transportation between the two sites. It does not cover snack food, spending money nor arrival and departure transportation costs.
Important Note: There is an ATM in Puerto Jiménez, and so volunteers arriving to the program or transiting between the two sites will be able to draw cash out there. There is no ATM in Drake Bay, however the hostel accepts credit and debit cards in order to pay for any tours.
Please complete the Volunteer Registration Form and send via email to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 2 weeks prior to your arrival. You will receive a confirmation email, along with a comprehensive Volunteer Orientation Manual with detailed information about transportation, what to bring and what to expect.
Payment for your stay must be received before you arrive. In order to pay, please use this secure link and select ‘Volunteer Program’. Please note that payment for the first two weeks is non-refundable.