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Costa Rica Turtle Conservation and Surfing

  • In Brief
  • The Project
  • What to Expect
  • Reviews
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Costa Rica Turtle Conservation and Surfing Costa Rica Turtle Conservation and Surfing Costa Rica Turtle Conservation and Surfing
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Set between tropical Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most breathtaking countries in the world. Even though it covers just 0.03% of the world’s landmass, it is home to an incredible 500,000 species including jaguars, spider monkeys and five species of turtle.

Join this incredible project to discover a world of fragile beauty and help safeguard Costa Rica's precious wildlife and unique habitats for future generations while surfing world class waves that pound the coastline.






  • Gain a lifetime of incredible memories
  • Visit this tropical paradise of Pura Vida
  • Work with endangered sea turtles and learn to surf at world famous breaks


  • Minimum age of 18 years
Airport Pickup Beach Emergency Physical Ground Transport Hotel Meals Coastal
Location Costa Rica
Activities Sea turtle monitoring
Constructing hatcheries
Turtle nest protection & beach patrols
Releasing sea turtle hatchlings
Maintaining the facilities & shelters
Planting trees
Surfing lessons
Transport Airport pick-up
Accommodation Homestay / Volunteer house

Before you go Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Advice on visas & equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
In-country Accommodation
Airport pick-up
Surfing lessons (5 x 1.5 hour lessons)
Local orientation and training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ backup


Four different species of sea turtles can be found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback.  The aim of this project is to help protect and preserve some of the few natural nesting sites of these turtles that do not hold an official category of protection from the Costa Rican government.

In danger of extinction as a result of human activities such as infrastructure development, light pollution, transportation of vehicles and the capture of adults, the future of sea turtles is becoming increasingly dependent on the protection and conservation of important nesting sites. Volunteering on this amazing programme could be your opportunity to play a part in securing the future of these fascinating and enigmatic creatures.


As a volunteer you could be involved in a range of activities such as observing and monitoring the nesting dynamics of female sea turtles and constructing hatcheries where at risk nests can be relocated. You will also be required to patrol the beach during the day or night which, depending on the season, can last anywhere from two to five hours.

Other activities could include marking adult turtles, releasing hatchlings (depending upon season), maintenance of the centre’s facilities and shelters, beach clean-ups and tree planting projects as well as a range of scientific data collection and monitoring exercises. You will be assigned to one of four possible project locations so if you are travelling with a friend don’t forget to let us know so that we can ensure you will be based at the same location.

For your final week of your project you will transfer to the popular town of Tamarindo, famous among surfers for its vibrant night life, to join an intensive surf course including five one-and-a-half hour lessons between Monday and Friday (one lesson each day), and plenty of time to practice.  You will have use of the surfboard for the duration of this week.    

Turtle conservation project locations available include:

Northern Section of the Caribbean Coast 

This project runs from mid-February to July for Leatherback sea turtles (high season in May), and from June to November for Green sea turtles (high season in September).

The project is located on an isolated Caribbean beach, covering 7 km of coastline in front of tropical rainforest and several coastal lagoons surrounded by palm swamp forests. The beach is part of the 50 km stretch between the Tortuguero National Park (famous for its sea turtles) on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast and the harbour of Limon. It is surrounded by an intricate system of fresh water channels. The area is famous for being the nesting site for many Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles who come to lay their eggs here. The local community, known as the Nuevo Pacuare, participate as local conservation assistants taking volunteers to help them address some of the threats to the sea turtles like marine debris, erosion and also poaching.

You will be staying in shared, dormitory style accommodation in volunteer cabins that can sleep up to eight people.  There is no electricity but there is a solar panel that provides lighting in the common area.  Access to the project is by boat.  Facilities are available in the nearby town.

Santa Rosa National Park

Project runs between July and March, high season September to October for Black and Olive Ridley turtles.

This project is located to the South of the Santa Rosa National Park in the Guanacaste Conservation Area of the north Pacific region.  It has an extension of 1.4 km and is surrounded by mangroves that provide a vital habitat for an array of bird species, and other animals.  This location has been identified as a nesting site for both the Loggerhead and Olive Ridley sea turtle, which ultimately led to the establishment of the conservation project in this area to help protect these incredible species.  Despite being a relatively small beach that is quite isolated, this site still experiences problems with poachers and erosion, underlining the need for the conservation work of our volunteers.  

You will be staying in shared dormitory style accommodation.  There is no electricity but there is a small solar panel that provides lighting for the common area and also the opportunity to charge batteries for your camera.

Camaronal National Park 

This project runs all year round.  High season May to November, low season December to April. Turtle species frequenting this location include Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Black turtles.
The project is located in the Camaronal National Park, in the Guanacaste region. Of the seven species of sea turtle that can be found throughout the world, four of them can be found at this site, including the Olive Ridley, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill and the Black sea turtle. Each of these species is endangered, so the Camaronal National Park is one of very few places around the world where travellers can view these impressive creatures.  Access to the refuge is limited and at night there is the possibility of participating on a guided patrols of the area.
Here you will be living in shared dormitory style accommodation (volunteer house) with electricity and drinking water.

Playa Hermosa National Park 

This project runs from mid-August to December, high season is September for the Olive Ridley.
The Project is located in the Playa Hermosa National Park. There are four permanent park ranger staff that collaborate on the sea turtle protection project which is located 106 km from San Jose on the Pacific coast, close to the Carara Biological Reserve.  Because it is a national park (wildlife refuge), access to the public is limited meaning only rangers and volunteers are permitted onto the beach at night for patrolling.
You will be staying in shared dormitory style accommodation with your fellow volunteers (4 to 6 people per room).  There is electricity.


You will be met upon arrival at San José Airport on the Sunday by a helpful local staff member, who will escort you to your accommodation. During the first few days you will attend an orientation and introduction to the life, culture, language and projects in Costa Rica. After this you will be given instructions for how to reach your project site by bus, please be aware you will be responsible for covering the cost of this (approx. $40).


During your orientation period in San Jose you will be staying with a warm and welcoming homestay family for your first two nights before transferring to the project site.  Once at the project you will be staying in dormitory style shared living accommodation with your fellow volunteers which is the standard across all four potential sites.  Accommodation will be basic but of course clean and comfortable.  You will need to bring along a sleeping bag and pillow as these are not provided.   

Throughout your time in Tamarindo you will be staying in shared living accommodation (three per room) at a basic hotel with a swimming pool.  


During your orientation period in San Jose you will be provided with two meals per day (breakfast and dinner).  Whilst you are on the turtle conservation project you will be provided with three meals per day.  Whilst staying at the hotel in Tamarindo for the surfing element of this course you will be provided with breakfast only.  Meals will mainly consist of beans, pasta, rice, meat, cereals and a variety of vegetables and seasonal fruits, typical Costa Rican food characterised by gallo pinto. 

An awesome project  | 20 May 2017
This project was awesome because I could help on the turtle conservation project and surf every d...

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Pura Vida - Pure Life!  | 8 Mar 2017
I stayed in Camaronal a wildlife refuge on the pacific side of Costa Rica for my first 3 wee...

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You will have free time at each of the locations although this will vary slightly depending on where you are based. You will not be allowed to leave the project during your free time in the evenings with the exception of your day off.

You will be given one day off each week which will be arranged with your project coordinator. There are plenty of options available to you, whether you are interested in day trips such as kayaking or wildlife trips or you simply wish to head into town to use the internet, bars and restaurants. There is also the opportunity to kick back and relax and enjoy some of the many beautiful local beaches.

Evenings can be very laid back and quiet, so you may wish to bring along a good book or a pack of playing cards to play by candlelight when you are not on shift.


3 weeks £ 999

4 weeks £ 1,369


Weekly (orientation is on the first Monday of the month so please try to arrive on the Sunday before).  Please refer to the turtle season dates detailed in the 'What Will I Be Doing?' section.

This project is not available during following dates:

May 1st (Monday) - Labor Day

August 15th (Tuesday) – Mother´s Day

September 15th (Friday) - Independence Day
October 12th (Thursday) - Day of the Americas


You can join this project for a minimum of 3 weeks.


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support & documentation
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Advice on visas & equipment
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt


  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Airport pick-up
  • Ground transfers & in-transit accommodation
  • Local orientation
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ backup


Nearest airport(s): San Jose Juan Santamaria Apt (SJO)



Flights are not included in our project costs. However, Frontier have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with Frontier. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.


For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.


You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.

Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

To apply for this project, or to register your interest, just click on the orange "Apply Now!" button at the top of the menu. Fill out and submit a short application form and then one of our advisors will give you a call back to answer any questions and to progress your application if you wish to continue.

There is no obligation when making an application, and you do not need to pay anything at this point.