Volunteer in Costa Rica: Pura Vida!

Experience conservation in the land known for its progressive environmental policies and rich biodiversity.

Help protect the area’s biodiversity by participating in a sea turtle preservation program on the Burica Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Along the way, we will work at an almond tree nursery to help support the endangered Scarlet Macaws and help at Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge.

Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Dates

Oct 19 – 28, 2021
Sept 6 – 15, 2022
Oct 18 – 27, 2022
or call 1-202-664-3027

Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Details

Look through the tabs below on the left for details about the project, the itinerary, price and payment, and gear list or to read reviews and prior trip reports

The Costa Rica Project work will focus on protecting endangered sea turtles which nest in Costa Rica. Global populations of sea turtles have decreased significantly in the last 30 years. While there were once many species of sea turtle, only seven remain today, and all of them are either threatened or endangered, two of them critically.

Our Costa Rica Volunteers will help protect the sea turtles which nest on the beaches in the community of Punta Banco located on the Burica Peninsula, 65 km south of Golfito, along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Project work will consist of late night and early morning beach patrols to locate, excavate, and relocate sea turtle nests to a protected turtle hatchery. Projects will include working in and around the turtle hatchery, recording scientific data, as well as beach cleanups inside the project area and surrounding rivers and beaches. The sea turtle projects will be carried out under the auspices of the Punta Banco Sea Turtle Conservation Project, a part of the Punta Banco Neighborhood Association responsibilities.

In addition to the sea turtle projects, the volunteers will assist in an almond tree nursery in Tárcoles. The red almond seed contributes to the coloring of the Scarlet Macaw and is their main source of food. The group will also help with trail maintenance at Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge.

Because local conditions and the project needs continually evolve, please remember that detailed project plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site and consider the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. Volunteer trips offer the opportunity to experience the land in a unique way not available to the average tourist.

Look through the tabs on the left for more details about the itinerary, price and gear list or to read reviews and prior trip reports

IMPORTANT NOTICE Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

Day 1 Meet the group in San José, Costa Rica.

Welcome to Costa Rica! Our trip begins at 5:00 p.m. with an orientation where you’ll get acquainted with your ConservationVIP® trip Leaders and fellow volunteers and get an overview about the exciting week ahead. Our group meets at the Park Inn by Radisson in San José, Costa Rica. After the orientation briefing the group will share its first dinner at the hotel (dinner and hotel lodging included).

Day 2 Travel to Savegre on the Pacific coast, stopping along the way at the Rio Grande de Tárcoles to work on Scarlet Macaw habitat.

After breakfast, we will load up our gear, board our private bus and drive for approximately 1-½ hours to an area near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. We will cross the Río Grande de Tárcoles and walk along the bridge to see the crocodiles. We will then drive into the Tárcoles community where we will begin work on an almond tree nursey. Almonds are the main food source of the endangered Scarlet Macaw. In the afternoon we will drive to the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge. Officially declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1995 by the President of Costa Rica, it is located in Savegre, near Dominical, along the Central Pacific Coast. Here we will check into our hotel and perhaps enjoy a short trail walk before dinner. (All meals and lodging provided).

Day 3 Volunteer at the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge and then Drive to Punta Banco.

After breakfast we will begin our work projects within the refuge. We may spend the morning clearing underbrush or maintaining trails, sandbagging around the almond tree nursery, or assisting on other refuge needs. After lunch, our bus will take us on a 3-hour drive to the end of the road in southern Costa Rica where we will check into our lodging for our five-night stay in Punta Banco. We will stop along the way to view wildlife and stretch our legs. In the evening, we will have an orientation briefing on the volunteer work projects ahead. (All meals and lodging included).

Days 4 – 7 Sea Turtle Conservation Projects in Punta Banco

During these volunteer project days, the group will participate in late night and early morning beach patrols to locate, excavate, and relocate sea turtle nests to a protected turtle hatchery. Project work will also include working in and around the turtle hatchery, painting signs, recording scientific data, as well as beach cleanups inside the project area and surrounding rivers and beaches. (All meals and lodging included).

Day 8 Journey to the Costa Rica Highlands

After breakfast and morning volunteer projects, we will say goodbye to our Punta Banco partners and journey north to the highland forest area near Cerro de la Muerte. This region is very likely the best place in the world for observing resplendent quetzals, birds so spectacularly beautiful they were considered divine entities by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. We will have lunch along the drive, then continue to our hotel in Cerro del Muerte. (All meals and lodging included.)

Day 9: Build quetzal nests, then return to San José

In the morning after breakfast, we will build quetzal nests that will be placed within the quetzal protection zone. After lunch we will drive to our hotel in San José, approximately 3 hours away. Our hotel is the Hotel Don Carlos, in the old historical section of San José where we will share a final dinner together in the evening. (All meals and lodging included.)

Day 10: Complete your trip to Costa Rica

The Costa Rica Volunteer Trip ends with breakfast. You may transfer to the San José airport for homeward-bound flights or opt to extend your stay in Costa Rica.

Note: Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including changes in the local project needs, weather, and terrain conditions.

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING AIR TRAVEL: Before purchasing your airline tickets, please check with us to ensure the trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.

$2,590 per person double (or more) occupancy for ten days; single supplement $600 (subject to availability – see below)

(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax adviser for details.)

Price includes:

  • all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10
  • all lodging: The lodging in Punta Banco may have up to 5 people per cabin; all other hotels are double occupancy, unless a single supplement is requested
  • all transportation as noted on the itinerary
  • gratuities for services provided to the group
  • project leadership and support staff
  • group tools
  • orientation and training

Price does not include:

Payment terms:

    A deposit of $500 per person is required at the time of signup; final payment is due at 90 days prior to departure. If participant cancels more than 90 days before the trip, the cancellation fee is $300. Cancellations requested 61-90 days before departure incur a $500 fee; at 31-60 days before departure, 50% of the trip cost will be forfeited. At 30 days or less, the trip cost is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Group Size: 8 – 12 plus trip leaders

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. The gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. View the Gear List.









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Average rating:  
 7 reviews
by Claire Curtin on ConservationVIP
Costa Rica Volunteer trip Sept 2021

Our work in the turtle hatcheries in Baru and Punta Banco were so rewarding. Releasing new hatchlings every day was pretty magical (and surprisingly emotional to see the little turtles start their journey to the sea). Then to learn about the quetzal nesting behavior, while under the steady gaze of a few male quetzals, was the perfect place to learn and watch. I will sing the praises of our guide, the trip leaders, the accommodations, and of course, the other fine folks who volunteered.

by Joan Kalnitsky on ConservationVIP
Unique and amazing

I had never traveled as a volunteer before and really had no expectations. This was an amazing opportunity and adventure. The balance of work and play was perfect, the gratitude shown by the local communities was phenomenal and sincere, and the feeling of fulfillment over the 10 days filled my soul.
Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!

by Dan Winfree on ConservationVIP
Costa Rica 2021

Great trip, great scenery, great food, great volunteers, and a GREAT amount of sweat! But every drop of sweat lost was well worth the effort to help preserve our own well being!

by ralph G isaacs on ConservationVIP
Another day in Paradise

This is a very active trip, working closely with the local population, in three very different areas. The main point of interest is Punta Banco, an idyllic place right on the ocean, teeming with birds, wildlife, and of course hatching turtles.

At Punta Banco, accommodations are basic, food is wonderful and hospitality off the charts. This September '21 trip is my second there and I certainly plan on going again

by Mudman023 on ConservationVIP
Making Environmental impact and having fun

October 2019- This trip allowed plenty of time for learning about the flora/fauna of Costa Rica while also immersing yourself in truly helping a local community in their efforts to protect their Olive Ridley sea turtle population. The trip offers a fantastic overview of Southeastern Costa Rican landscape and national parks. Group leaders Carol and David did an outstanding job with coordinating the agenda and having the intuition of distributing the required work so that everyone had a part in accomplishing our end goals. Our outstanding local guide Marco would really need a separate review in order to describe his enthusiasm, love for his country, and vast knowledge of the countries bird varieties.

Why did you choose this trip?
Having traveled with Conservation VIP before, I knew that their offerings filled my bill for environmental impact work as well as immersion into the local culture.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Travel light and you can really get by with one pair of long pants, three shorts, three moisture wicking T shirts + rain gear and zip up fleece jacket. Definitely bring binoculars.

What was the highlight of your trip?
The way our group of beforehand unknown travelers immediately were able to work together as one cohesive unit and tackle the tasks needed. Personally also adding 102 new bird species to my life list.

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by ConnieK on ConservationVIP
Making a Difference While Having Fun

This trip, more than almost any I've been on, had a wonderful blend of meaningful work, strong connections to the local community, spectacular wildlife experiences and a wonderful group of participants from many backgrounds, experiences and ages.

Why did you choose this trip?
I know Costa Rica and Conservation Volunteers International Program pretty well from past experience, so this was a winning combination.
What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Be flexible, be enthusiastic, be open to new experiences and new people. You'll never want to "just take a vacation" again!

What was the highlight of your trip?
Working with a great group of volunteers and trip leaders and a welcoming local community

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by Sloth on ConservationVIP
Experience Costa Rica and not just visit it

Doing volunteer work and experiencing 'Pura Vida' with the local people there really help to understand and appreciate the beauty of the country. Costa Rica is more than just zip lines and canopy tours (not that those are not fun) but if you really want to experience ecotourism and learn about the conservation efforts to preserve the abundant wild life there then this trip is for you. You'll get wet. You'll get dirty. You'll get tired. But you'll love every minute of it.

About Me
Casual Adventurer,

Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

Please click to view Trip Report PDFs.

September 2021
October 2019
October 2018
September 2018
December 2017












ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID-19 safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!

Because of continuing COVID concerns, we are restricting participation on this trip to people who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. Participants will also have to comply with any restrictions imposed by Costa Rica and your country of origin at the time of travel. While we expect that the restrictions will change between now and the time of travel, we cannot predict what those changes will be. Here is a link to the COVID information page on the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica website

While on the trip, participants will also have to follow procedures such as mask wearing and social distancing. More specific COVID related safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.







pura vida, volunteer in costa rica

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world’s landmass, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Nearly a quarter of the country’s lands are protected by national parks and other protected areas. Visit Costa Rica to experience the rugged, rain forested landscapes, jungles, stunning coastlines, and rich wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds.

  • Oxcart, famous in Costa Rica to transport coffee from the Central Valley to the port cities for export
    Oxcart, famous for coffee transport from the Central Valley to the port cities for export
  • Capuchin (a.k.a Cappuccino) Monkey
  • Quetzal meaning "precious" or "beautiful"

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