The project is situated on an isolated Caribbean beach in Costa Rica, 1 km north of the mouth of the Pacuare River. It covers 10 km of coastline and has a total surface of 800 hectares. The beach is part of the 50-km stretch between Tortuguero National Park (famous for its sea turtles) and the harbor of Limón. The area is not only unique in every way, but also famous for being the nesting site for many Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles who come to lay their eggs here.
The project, in which the majority of the inhabitants of the area participate, has the following main objectives:
1) Volunteers can help with the realization of the protection of the sea turtles by patrolling the beaches, manning the turtle hatchery together with the local inhabitants and supporting the work of the turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre.
2) The project also provides an income for as many inhabitants as possible by using the locals as guides during the patrols. During these patrols the guides, together with the volunteers, watch the sea turtles lay their eggs. After a sea turtle has finished the egg laying process, the eggs will be taken by the volunteers and transported to a central hatchery for reburial and study and release when hatched.
The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is the most critically endangered of the marine turtles and is also the largest, as the biggest individual turtles can exceed 540 kg. Leatherback turtles are generally not killed by poachers for their meat, but rather for their eggs that are among the most desirable turtle eggs, mistakenly believed by many to have potent aphrodisiac powers.
Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are not actually green, but take their name from the color of their body fat. These turtles are hunted for both their eggs and their meat, which is widely held to be the most delicious of all the sea turtle species.
The project is open between 01 March and 31 August which is the adult turtle nesting season.
Volunteers can help with the realization of the project's objectives by patrolling the beaches for turtles at night (in all types of weather) together with the local inhabitants, manning the hatchery and caring for recuperating adult turtles in the turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre. In addition you will be involved with the day to day operational duties of running the project.
Volunteers work around 5 hours daily. Working hours are irregular due to turtle activity happening at night, and no two days are the same! Please also note that rest days are coordinated on spot as you require, usually after 10 days of volunteering.
Anyone who is enthusiastic and open-minded is welcome. On average you are with around 15 others at the project. Our volunteers come from all over the world and are between 18 and 65 years old. The work can sometimes be physically demanding as you have to walk for several hours on the beach in all types of weather looking for nesting adult turtles so you should be fit!
- Dark clothes to patrol
- Headlight with red LED light option
- Battery operated alarm clock
- Extra batteries
- Hiking/training shoes (dark in colour)
- Mosquito/insect repellent and coils
- Thick long socks (for the sand fleas)
- Anti-itch cream/antibiotic cream
- Basic first aid kit
- Rainwear (poncho/lightweight rain jacket in dark colours)
- Sun hat or cap
- Water bottle
- Playing cards
- Mosquito net
- Big plastic bin bag to cover backpack in case of rain on the boat
No Spanish is required, but the project has a language school that offers volunteers an accelerated intensive Spanish course for beginners and those wanting to improve their language skills.
You can take 6 purposefully prepared, high energy, fun and intensive lessons that last approximately 1 hour each. Further study is expected in preparation for the next lesson. The course is taught in English and apart from a pen, notepad, English to Spanish dictionary and a desire to learn, all that is asked, is that you speak a high level of English.
The course is set around volunteering hours and is available from March until the end of August. The course costs USD $80 and is paid locally. You can inform us on your interest in participating in the classes upon arrival or when requesting the reservation, however, please note that the course will be coordinated on spot.
Volunteers will have to be minimum 18 years old.
The project is alcohol and drug free.
If you are travelling to Costa Rica from certain countries, you may need to show a Yellow Fever certificate on arrival. Please make sure you check if you need to get one.
There is no electricity on site. There is, however, a solar power to pump water from our well and it provides lighting in public areas only.
Internet / Mobile phones
There is no internet access so please let your family and friends know that you will be out of contact during your stay.
There are some spots around the island that sometimes, with much patience, provide you with a small signal that is enough to send/receive text messages. No guarantees.
Vaccinations are a personal decision. We recommend to check with your doctor as to what is recommended for Costa Rica so you can make an informed decision. Coming from other Latin American countries, Costa Rica does require a yellow fever vaccine certificate.
From the project it takes just under an hour but a basic first aid kit helps.
After volunteering you can fish, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in a hammock, play several board/card games, play soccer or volleyball, hike, make friends with co-volunteers/world travelers and of course learn Spanish.
Are there shops nearby?
The project is located in the jungle on an isolated beach with no shopping options. On arrival in Bataan there is the possibility to do some last minute shopping at a supermarket before we head off by taxi and boat to the project.
Is possible to wash clothes at the project?
The project provides washing powder, buckets and sunshine for hand-washing, or for a small fee the locals will wash it for you.
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities.