VOLUNTEER SURF & SAVE TURTLES
15 days from
DEPARTS SAN JOSE to SAN JOSE
- Tour Code:
- Costa Rica
- Budget Lodging
- Age Range:
- > Living the beach life on the beautiful Pacific coast
- > Learn to surf and practice your new skills every day
- > Play a part in helping conserve the local sea turtle population
The projects are run by ASVO - the Costa Rican Volunteers association. The main goal is to protect nesting female turtles and their eggs from illegal poachers, by relocating nests to a safe hatchery and guarding the eggs until they hatch. They release as many baby turtles into the ocean as possible to boost declining populations of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. The projects involve local people and school children, to create awareness about the threats to turtles.
Enthusiastic and committed volunteers assist the project's permanent staff, allowing them to increase the level of conservation work they can achieve. Not only will your efforts impact on turtle conservation immediately, but through assisting with the research your work will continue to support turtle survival well beyond your stay. This is your opportunity to play a part in an ongoing struggle to save a remarkable piece of Costa Rica's heritage.
- > Work on an established conservation project
- > Professional travel service, preparing you for your volunteer experience
- > Thorough orientation on arrival and ongoing support from the in-country team
- > Access to a 24 hour emergency phone number
- > Free airport pickup by an in-country representative
- > Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included
- > 3 nights hostel + 11 nights accommodation in a multi-share dormitory room on-site at the project.
In addition to the dates advertised, there are often alternative dates available - please contact us for further information.
You will join other volunteers from our sister company on this project.
Our Costa Rica trips
This volunteer program can be combined with our small group adventure trips in Costa Rica. Choose from the following tours.
> Surf & Volcanoes - 10 days
> Reef & Jungles - 11 days
> Costa Rica Panama Trail - 21 days
Information and Itinerary
You will be based on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, either in Buenavista (2.5km from the town of Samara on the Nicoya Peninsula), or further south in Matapalo. Both projects are in isolated locations, giving you the chance to get back to basics and appreciate the natural beauty of coastal Costa Rica. Bliss!
Buenavista to civilisation takes about 45 minutes on foot so you'll never be too far away from anything you might desperately need or somewhere to enjoy your day off. In Matapalo village there is a small convenience store which sells everything from batteries to cold drinks and snacks. There is also a local restaurant serving great smoothies, and available internet connection.
Usually 6 days a week. Hours are flexible and may involve shifts both during the daytime and in the evening or a night shift with other volunteers. One day off during days 4-14, to be arranged with the project staff.
Please note that the main project start date is Sunday. If you are joining a volunteer project after a tour in Costa Rica (normally ending on Friday, Saturday or Tuesday), then we can advise you on alternative joining arrangements to make sure you arrive on time and are still able to have an orientation session with the in-country team.
Day: 1 Arrival into San José International Airport
If you join the project after the end of your tour, you will make your own way to the arrival accommodation (approx 1 hour transfer across San José). If you are joining the project directly from an international flight, you will be met at the airport by a member of our friendly Costa Rica team, and taken to our Alajuela hostel where you'll be spending your first two nights.
If you arrive before 6:30pm a tasty welcome dinner is provided, and the rest of your time is yours to spend as you choose - exploring Alajuela, getting to know your fellow volunteers or catching up on some sleep! The hostel is just a short distance from bars, restaurants and banks.
Day: 2 Orientation
At 8:30am a member of the in-country team will pick you up and take you to our local office for orientation. This will give you a good insight into Costa Rica and our projects - the culture, things to do and see, what to do in case of an emergency, how to get to your project and much more! It is also a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and ask the team any questions you may have. You'll then be given some lunch and will have the afternoon free to explore or relax.
Day: 3 Transfer to the project
After an early start you'll transfer from Alajuela hostel tothe area or Matapalo or Buena Vista which will be your base during your project. The transfer will normally be on public transport and will take approximately 5-6 hours and you will then have some time to settle into your new way of life going back to nature! You can spend the rest of the day meeting the project staff and getting to know your surroundings.
Both project sites offer basic accommodation. The house at Buenavista is actually on the beach, whilst at Matapalo the volunteer accommodation is nestled amongst lush tropical trees just a minute's walk to the beach. Bedrooms and bathrooms are shared and everyone will be living closely alongside each other. You must be prepared to live in close quarters with others of all ages and nationalities. You'll have a bunk bed, and you'll need to pack your own sheets or sleeping bag and a pillow. Both sites have running water and Matapalo has electricity, although Buenavista does not (but has candles a-plenty). Whilst the accommodation is beautifully basic the locations are basically beautiful and you'll soon realise that forgoing the luxuries of home for a while is more than worth it to live day and night in a secluded paradise.
Day: 4-14 Project Life
Providing you can swim, love the outdoor life and have a passion for animal conservation, you will make a big difference and a lot of friends!
Your days will be filled with a combination of surfing lessons, supervised surf practice and turtle conservation. You could get involved with night beach patrolling (a 4 hour shift at either 11pm or 3am), research gathering and preparing turtle hatcheries. There will also be daytime activities such as beach cleaning, camp maintenance, hatchery duty (shifts lasting from 2 to 6 hours), manual labour ranging from building hatcheries to construction work to maintain the facilities at the camp.
You'll be taking part in some physically demanding work! You'll be testing your body in a combination of surfing during the day then beach patrolling at night, walking long distances on beaches lit only by the moon. But when you see your first turtle or catch your first wave, it makes it all worthwhile! You'll have plenty of down time to catch up on your sleep.
It's important to be willing to get stuck in; small things like general maintenance are important to the team here, so always think of the bigger picture!
You can also expect two 1 hour of formal surf lessons per week. After this there are periods of supervised practice for 1 hour each day - be careful not to tire yourself out too much so you have energy left for the project work! Surfing is a great sport but it is hard work and you'll soon develop aches in new muscles you never knew you had!
You will also have one day off during the project to be arranged with the staff, when you are free to explore. You can visit nearby towns to access the internet, visit the local shops and enjoy a nice meal or cold beer. Underwater explorers can indulge in some diving or snorkelling and those more comfortable on dry land can take a horse riding trip, visit a stunning National Park or just chill out. You can easily arrange excursions locally. There is a yoga retreat in the area to totally unwind, or the surfer town of Dominical - where you can go zip lining, party in one of the many bars, or catch the perfect waves and chill on the beach... it's a hard life!
Whilst taking part in the turtle project, you'll need to wear dark clothes on the night patrols and avoid wearing mosquito repellent as it deters the turtles. We'd recommend you looking into alternative methods of mosquito repellent though (such as wrist bands) as there are plenty of mosquitoes in the area who come out to play at night. You should bring clothes that you don't mind getting wet and dirty, and a swimsuit or two is a must!
Day: 15 Fond farewells...
It's time to bid a fond farewell to your new friends, and head back to San José or off for further adventures! On departure day you will make your own way back to the hostel in Alajuela. Directions for this are given inside the Welcome Pack you'll be given in Costa Rica.
We offer one free night in the Alajuela hostel before departure if you require (e.g. if your flight leaves early Sunday morning, you can stay in Alajuela on the Saturday night). The Alajuela hostel is also able to offer return transfers back to the airport. And don't forget that the in-country team are also there to help you if you need any advice!
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