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Costa Rica Leatherback Volunteer Vacation

Participate in the conservation of an ancient, giant sea turtle

Pricing From: $1,195 USD per person

Duration: 7 days

Operator: EcoTeach

Spend 4 nights working with giant leatherback sea turtles and local researchers at Estacion Las Tortugas.  Patrol nesting beaches at night and relax and explore the rainforest during the day.  An optional extension to the South Caribbean includes pristine beaches and indigenous reserves.


Day 1 - Arrive to Costa Rica

Our guides pick you up from the airport and take you to Francisco's Lodge, a comfortable hotel in a country setting, to get a restful night’s sleep before an early start. 

Day 2 - Leatherback Turtle Research

After breakfast, board your group’s private bus for a three hour ride to the Caribbean coast. After a short boat ride to the research station, enjoy a turtle presentation and training. Learn more about volunteer activities here.

Please note that Las Tortugas is a fairly remote and isolated research station. The rooms are very basic (one step above camping) and volunteers are expected to participate in cleaning up dishes after meals. The station has limited electricity (from solar panels) and no hot water. Bathrooms are shared between two rooms. Meals are simple and often include rice and beans (vegetarians are easily accommodated).

Days 3 - 5: Turtle Research & Conservation

For the next four nights, you will spend four hours each evening walking the turtle nesting beach in search of leatherback turtles. When you find one, you will help local researchers measure them, move the eggs to a hatchery (where they are protected until hatching), and collect data on the turtle.  Later in the season (mid-May - June), you will have a chance to see and work with hatchlings.

As the volunteer work is focused on night patrols, there is a lot of downtime planned during the day. Daytime activities include a boat ride on the rainforest canals to look for wildlife including sloths, monkeys, caiman, and more. You can also visit the small Turtle Museum to learn more about these amazing creatures or relax in a hammock and listen to the sounds of the jungle! At times there may be other volunteer activities, including beach cleaning or working in the egg hatchery.

Day 6 - Return to the Central Valley

Following lunch, we'll board our bus and return to Francisco's near San Jose for a celebratory final dinner.  Along the way, we'll stop at a unique buttefly farm to learn about these amazing insects and other wildlife.

Day 7 - Departure

We’ll return home with a new appreciation for the hard work of conservation and to share our experiences with our friends and family.

Two Night Optional Extension to the South Caribbean

Want to see more of Costa Rica and relax after volunteering?  If so, take an extra couple of days to visit the beaches and indigenous reserves of the Talamanca Region, less than 3 hours by bus from Las Tortugas.

You will stay at the lush and relaxing Goddess Garden in Cahuita for two nights.  Visit Cahuita National Park, one of the nicest beaches in the country and home to coral reefs, monkeys, and more. Lunch is on your own to explore the traditional local restaurants.

The next day, you'll visit the remote Bri Bri Indigenous Reserve.  EcoTeach is the only company to have permission to visit this reserve and have supported many development programs here.  Drive up into the mountains and hike 1.5 hours deep into the reserve to learn about indigenous life including growing cacao for chocolate and eating a traditional lunch.

The following morning, return to San Jose and rest up for your flight home the next day.

Prices & Dates

Dates: 2015 dates coming soon (March - June). Contact us with the form on the right to be notified when new dates are ready.

Duration: 7 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Pricing From: $1,195 USD per person

Price Notes: Pricing depends on how many people sign up for each date. The trip is open to both individuals and groups, we can try to match individuals with others to get lower prices. 2015 pricing will be updated soon.

Included: Includes all in-country transportation, meals, lodging, activities, guides, and a donation to turtle conservation.

Excluded: Airfare to Costa Rica, personal items, and tips for the guides.


Conservation Impact:

This trip generates approximately $425 pp in benefits to sea turtle conservation, including fees, donations, and in-kind volunteer work.  This amount represents approximately 38% of the trip cost ($1,125).

Benefitting Organization:

Estacion Las Tortugas - Founded in 2000 by conservationist Stanley Rodriguez, this research station is located along the northern Caribbean coast, about 10 miles north of Limon and south of Tortuguero National Park. SEEtheWILD will donate $50 per person who goes on this trip to Estacion Las Tortugas.

Featured Animals: Leatherback


Watch leatherback turtle hatchlings scurry to the sea
© Neil Osborne
Help researchers protect Costa Rica
© Neil Osborne
The South Caribbean has some of Costa Rica
© Neil Osborne
Kids learning about a poison dart frog

Call us at 800-215-0378 Mon - Fri
9am to 5pm
Pacific Time

SEEtheWILD Promise

All of our trips & volunteer expeditions:

  • Directly support wildlife conservation
  • Educate travelers about wildlife
  • Support local communities
  • Reduce environmental impact

Learn more about our conservation tourism policies