This is the perfect program for teens who want to learn about and help with conservation efforts! You will travel to both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica while working with like-minded peers in an effort to protect the country’s sea turtle population. Healthy oceans need sea turtles to help maintain their complex ecosystems. Every day will be different as you help with various sea turtle conservation tasks such as scientific research, egg incubation and mangrove preservation. Afternoons and evenings will be just as hands-on and unique with harbor patrol, hatchling rescue and collecting and re-burying sea turtle eggs. There is so much to be done as you help to protect this endangered species. Outside your volunteering time, you will experience amazing adventures from whitewater rafting to a sunset catamaran snorkel cruise. Your volunteer program in Costa Rica will be forever memorable and impactful!
About This Program
What It's Like
The perfect balance of meaningful service projects, cultural immersion and unforgettable adventures.
This program requires an open mind to experience a different culture, new foods and basic lodging.
25 Service Hours
A letter of completion detailing the program's service hours and projects will be issued after the program.
Everybody participates together in each project. Specific projects are confirmed in late spring and are similar to those described.
A professional guide accompanies the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Hotels & lodges.
Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
Up to 24 participants.
• Support sea turtle conservation efforts, including nesting, data collection, and protection.
• Work at a hatchery aiding with egg incubation, measuring, and releasing hatchlings.
• Volunteer at an animal sanctuary, home to sloths, ocelots, macaws, toucans, crocodiles and much more.
• Snorkel and discover ocean wildlife on a sunset catamaran cruise.
• Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure.
• Learn to surf with professional instructors.
• Enjoy the refreshing waters of the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
• Learn how to salsa at a Latin dance class.
At the Caribbean side of Costa Rica in Pacuare, work at the nesting beaches of Leatherback and Green sea turtles. Do nightly and daily patrols and spend time at the hatchery. On the Pacific side in Osa, support field work for the Hawksbill sea turtles through monitoring, tagging, taking measurements, and much more!
About LAST LAST (Latin America Sea Turtles) are an expert network of biologists, community leaders and educators committed to a regional and sustainable approach to manage the conservation of Costa Rica’s depleted sea turtle populations. LAST is the Costa Rica branch of WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network) which comprises more than 40 nations and territories.
Help out with various duties around the Rescue Center that may include deep cleaning cages and building stimulating tools and toys for animals. You may get hands-on work with many different animals including but not limited to monkeys, sloths, kinkajou, coati, raccoons, possums and exotic birds.
About Rescue Center Costa Rica The Rescue Center Costa Rica is dedicated to the protection of endangered Costa Rican wildlife. Their goal is to ensure the welfare of injured animals and help them recover from their physical and psychological wounds. They rescue, rehabilitate and when possible release the animals back to their natural habitat.
Kick off your summer with a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! Taste famous and delicious Costa Rican coffee while learning how it’s grown by the comic troupe at Café Britt and join a Latin dance class.
Relax on sandy beaches, go on a sunset sail cruise and enjoy a guided tour with your close friends at this incredibly beautiful National Park. In addition, hike through its lush rainforest and view iguanas and the rare white-faced monkeys. Maybe you’ll even see a sloth! Go on a day trip to Dominical and get set for professional surf lessons, you’ll be on the board in no time.
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Irazu Hotel is centrally located near downtown San Jose. Amenities include air conditioning, internet access and swimming pool to enjoy.
Pacuare, Costa Rica
Your base in Pacuare is basic and simple with no air conditioning. Electricity comes from solar panels and you sleep in bunk beds with mosquito nets. It’s a more rustic stay near the beach where you will be doing your volunteer work.
La Palma, Cost Rica
Located close to our service project in the town of La Palma, Delfines del Golfo has air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a swimming pool.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Villabosque Hotel is a great place to relax! There’s a beautiful swimming pool with a panoramic view of the rainforest. Amenities also include air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, a restaurant and a lounge area.
Flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
Participants on this program have the option of joining us on a chaperoned flight to San Jose that will depart from either a NY/NJ and/or South Florida area airport, determined in the spring. Our staff will be with you from check-in onward. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to help you arrange connecting flights at suitable times. If you prefer, you may meet us in San Jose and we will help you coordinate your flight and times and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
Return Flight Home from San Jose, Costa Rica
For your return from San Jose, we offer a chaperoned flight back to the USA. You may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after clearing customs and immigration in the USA, or you may fly from San Jose to your home city and our leaders help you check in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
Where We Stay
We carefully select clean and comfortable accommodations with the needs of our students in mind. While our volunteer programs do not stay at luxury resorts, we do know that a good night’s rest, in your own bed, is key to performing your service hours well and having enough energy to enjoy the day’s activities. For this reason, and also to maintain the close group bond and to uphold the quality of this program, we do not offer any homestays.
Meals & New Cuisines
Eating well while away from home is an important part of a summer’s success. We understand how it helps our travelers feel secure, happy and looking forward to their day. Part of your travel experience will be immersing yourself in the local cuisine and culture, so please bring with you an open mind and a willingness to try new things. For example, Costa Rican traditional cuisine offers plenty of rice, beans, meat dishes and tons of fresh fruit, but don’t worry, they also have North American style options on the menu.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive experience in this area.
It’s generally okay to drink tap water in Costa Rica, except for a few select areas. As a precaution, we will provide purified drinking water in large containers so that travelers can fill up their reusable water bottles as needed.
Community Service in Pacuare
The remoteness of Pacuare beach, the beautiful environment of the surrounding rainforest and the basic living conditions at our volunteer site offer the opportunity for an unparalleled experience for participants. Our three days spent in Pacuare will be a highlight for participants who are open minded about the rustic experience this location offers. Our community service happens primarily at night between the hours of 7pm and 4am where students will work in small group rotational shifts with a LAST researcher patrolling the beach. Beach patrol shifts generally last 4 hours. Participants should expect to be walking the beachfront for most of this 4-hour shift (up to 9 miles) as they look for nesting turtles, find nests, collect and relocate eggs. Evening shifts may also be spent in the hatchery guarding nests and releasing baby turtles. During the day, participants will have the opportunity to sleep as well as help with basic tasks around the volunteer site including cleaning, gardening, kitchen work, painting, beach cleaning etc.. Late afternoon naps, in preparation for the night patrols, are recommended and encouraged.
The accommodations are rustic. Electricity is generated from solar panels; showers are cold but quite refreshing given the warm and humid temperatures. Participants should expect to not be able to use their cell phones while in Pacuare. There are bugs and insect repellant cannot be used during night patrols due to sea turtle sensitivity. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, though limited in the modern comforts, allows our group to connect with nature, creating the best environment for making a difference in the life of these amazing creatures – the marine turtles.
We recommend you follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and consult with your physician for current immunizations and medication required for travelers to Costa Rica. These recommendations may change from time to time. We will send you detailed information in March (or upon enrollment if later) regarding the current recommendations for this itinerary.
You will only need one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in the packing list that will be sent to you prior to departure. Every week you will drop off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
Included in your program tuition is all lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, recreation & entertainment listed, airport transfers in designated times, gratuities & taxes.
Not included is transportation to and from the program and personal spending money for snacks, souvenirs, and laundry. We also make available optional travel insurance that is not included, but highly recommended.
Please contact us with any questions. We are happy to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I need to contact my teen during the program?
Participants may bring their cell phones so parents may call and message their kids directly. You may also contact our Communication Centers which serve as the official link between programs on the road and parents. We are staffed every day during the summer and have somebody on call for after hours emergencies ready to assist you 24/7.
Who are the staff and what are their qualifications?
Our staff are educators, guidance counselors, coaches, college and university students, former camp counselors, residence life coordinators, community volunteers, world travelers, and other leaders with diverse backgrounds. Many are former participants themselves who couldn’t get enough of the Westcoast experience! Learn more about our summer leaders.
How are roommates assigned?
On our Active Teen Tours, Global Adventures and Community Service programs rooming rotation is as follows:
Giving everyone a chance to make new friends creates a cohesive group and one of the most warm and welcoming social environments in our industry! To promote this we’ve found the best system is for the program director to assign the rooms for the first and second stops. For the first stop, independent travelers room with other independent travelers and any friends who enrolled can room together. All participants will be assigned a different roommate for the second stop. Roommates are assigned based on gender identity. After the first two stops, choice of roommates is always up to you!
On our Pre-College Enrichment programs & Career Experiences rooming is as follows:
We assign independent travelers with another independent traveler for the duration of your stay. Any friends who enrolled together can room together. Roommates are assigned based on gender identity.