Pacuare Sea Turtle Volunteering

Pacuare serves as a habitat for leatherback, hawksbill, and green sea turtles. All of these sea turtles are endangered. Pacuare’s beach covers 4.4 miles (7.1 km) of sand, an area that does not get protection from the government. Every nesting season, which lasts from March until October, researchers and volunteers come together to make sure that the baby turtles hatch and get back to the ocean safely.

You’ll be working with a non-profit organization called Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST), which is part of the organization called the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). WIDECAST has worked to help conserve sea turtle populations since the 1980s. Locals help participate in the conservation program, as well as former poachers.

Volunteers get the chance to protect the nesting females that come to this beach. Daily beach patrols last from 8:00 pm until 4:00 am, divided into 4-hour shifts. You will look for sea turtles laying their eggs, and you will learn how to collect data for scientific research. When you find a nesting sea turtle, you will help get the sea turtle tagged and then collect the eggs. Your team will return to the hatchery with the eggs to keep them safe from poachers and animals as they develop.

After 60 days, the baby turtles will begin to emerge from the eggs in the hatchery. At this point, volunteers start monitoring the eggs more intensely. As soon as the turtles hatch, they need volunteers to bring them to the shoreline so they can quickly get to the water.

Depending on the season, volunteers at the research station can help with different types of maintenance around the center. Every year volunteers help rebuild the hatcheries, a process which includes some heavy lifting. Volunteers should feel confident in their physical condition before joining the program.

This is a short list of some of the volunteer duties:

  • Monitoring nests
  • Keeping ants, crabs, and dogs away from the eggs and the turtles
  • Taking temperatures and measurements of sea turtles
  • Helping with hatchery maintenance
  • Night Patrols
  • Beach cleanup

This is a hot, tropical climate with high humidity, so only bring clothing that dries quickly. Denim is not recommended since it will not dry in this moist climate. The only electricity is provided by the solar panels, and visitors must use power wisely. There is no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi in this remote part of Costa Rica.

During your stay you will stay in cabins at the research station. These are simple accommodations, with bunk beds and lockers (make sure to bring your own padlock). Your hosts will provide you with three meals a day, as well as tea and coffee. There are no cars or shops nearby, but during your free time you can explore the pristine beaches in the area.

What to Bring:

Money for transportation from San José, light clothing (no denim), insect repellent, sunscreen, anti-itch cream (for bug bites), closed-toed water shoes (like crocs), a water bottle, a raincoat, a day backpack, alarm clock, flashlight, camera, cell phone, personal first aid kit, and dark long-sleeved t-shirts along with dark, long pants for nighttime beach patrols..

What's Included:

Accommodations with a host family, three meals per day, training, equipment, scientific presentations.

Transportation

Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “More Time and Rates” for full details.

What to Bring:

Money for transportation from San José, light clothing (no denim), insect repellent, sunscreen, anti-itch cream (for bug bites), closed-toed water shoes (like crocs), a water bottle, a raincoat, a day backpack, alarm clock, flashlight, camera, cell phone, personal first aid kit, and dark long-sleeved t-shirts along with dark, long pants for nighttime beach patrols..

What's Included:

Accommodations with a host family, three meals per day, training, equipment, scientific presentations.

Transportation

Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “More Time and Rates” for full details.

Nearby Activities

Nearby Lodging