Sea Turtle Refuge

Babies off to sea!

Quick facts:

Where exactly is it? Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

What exactly will I be doing?  Working at the beach to ensure that sea turtles are able to come ashore and lay their eggs undisturbed.  Ensuring that hatchlings make it to sea without being eaten by predators.


The turtle refuge is one of the most popular beaches for turtle nesting in the world.  During “arribadas”  thousands of turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs at night.  Turtle nesting happens year round but is most active during the rainy season months of August to December.  During that time literally millions of eggs are laid.  Due to the vast number of laid eggs locals are legally allowed to harvest some of the them.  Researchers found that during an arribada (period of 3-7 nights where thousands of turtles come on shore) the eggs laid during the first few nights end up getting trampled and destroyed by other turtles coming ashore in the subsequent nights and therefore the locals are allowed to collect and sell them at certain times during the year.

Arribada =100,000s of turtles


  • Night beach patrols to ensure turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore to lay their eggs
  • Living just meters from the ocean
  • Days off to explore other nearby beaches
  • Learning just as much Spanish and culture from the locals as they learn from you in helping them protect the turtles.
  • Opportunities to make many new local and international friends


The primary activity at this site are night patrols to ensure turtles can lay their eggs undisturbed.  There are generally two shifts, one from 8pm to 12am and another shift from 12am to 4am.  During the day the volunteer is free to explore the beach area, hike in the nearby forest or lounge in the hammocks at the dormitory.  There are also day time activities such as working in the turtle hatchery, cleaning up the beach and creating educational materials for visitors to the area.

Starting Dates:

measuring sea turtle
Tailor made shells!

Start dates are on Tuesdays year round.  Volunteers should plan on arriving to Costa Rica on a Monday.  Volunteers arrive to the San José airport where they will be picked up and orientated in San Ramon, Alajuela the first night.  The next day they will take a local bus to the project site.  The trip is 6-7 hours and the volunteers will get to see the various landscapes and climates of Costa Rica as they journey out to the site.


Volunteers will stay in a shared dorm at the project site where they will receive three meals a day.  There is also the option to stay with a host family.  The dorm and lounge area has access to wifi.

Note: An 80USD key deposit is required upon arrival.  It will be returned when you leave.  Due to safety regulations it becomes costly to change all the locks when a volunteer fails to return the keys so please understand this policy.


Ages 14 and up (ages 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult).  Volunteers must come with the right

volunteer with baby turtle
New hatchling!

attitude and enthusiasm for their work.  They need to be open and outgoing in order to get the most out of their experience.

Spanish is not required however the more you know before the better.  There is the option to take classes before starting the project.

When Can I apply?

Placements are available throughout the year, however there may be a limited number available depending on the time of year.  It is advised to apply at least a couple months in advance to ensure availability.

Tasks as a volunteer:

  • Night beach patrols to make sure turtles are not disturbed as they lay their eggs
  • Monitor egg hatchery (seasonal) and make sure hatchlings make it to the sea unobstructed
  • Participate in beach clean ups and help maintain biological station

Services included:

  • Volunteer placement: Follow-up, assistance throughout the placement
  • Pre departure manual
  • In country orientation

    Beach cleanup
  • Accommodation/Meals
  • Airport pick up
  • Assistance 24/7 from local staff


Flights, visas, passports, and travel medical insurance are not included.  However we are able to help in arranging flight and insurance.  This placement also requires the submittal of a Police Background Check.

Optional Activities:

  • Spanish lessons before your placement
  • Weekend excursions to volcanoes, national parks, or other beaches

Request more info

Apply Online

See what it’s like volunteering in Ostional:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s