Costa Rica Volunteer Trip

Enjoy stunning beaches and highland forests, immersed in local communities while protecting Sea Turtles and Scarlet Macaw and Resplendent Quetzal habitat! Bring your camera!

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. In our travels we will also work at an almond tree nursery to help support the endangered Scarlet Macaws, help at Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge and build nests for Resplendent Quetzals.

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Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Details

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The Costa Rica Project work will focus on protecting endangered sea turtles that 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’s 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 or other projects 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 trip leaders and local guide and your fellow volunteers and get an overview of the exciting days ahead. Our group meets at the Day 1 hotel 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 the Scarlet Macaw’s 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 with 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,  where we check into our hotel and 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.

$2,995 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. The payment and refund policy can be found here.

Group Size: 8 – 12 plus trip leaders

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Average rating:  
 21 reviews
 by Eidell Wasserman
Fantastic Experience

What a great trip. A wonderful way to experience the real Costa Rica while doing important conservation work. This was my first trip with Conservation VIP, but certainly won't be my last. As I write this review, I am still in Costa Rica, enjoying an extended vacation. The volunteer portion of my trip has surpassed my experiences as a tourist. After our work days, we had time for exploring the local flora and fauna. Our gude Alex was incredibly knowledgeable. I saw more animals and plants on our hikes with him then on the subsequent tours that I paid for! The work part of the trip was difficult, but incredibly rewarding. I have shown my videos of turtles hatching and being released to several guides here who have never seen this! So, if you want to have experiences that not even locals have, join this trip! BTW, you will have amazing homemade meals, way better than the overpriced restaurants in Costa Rica.

 by Thomas James Iraci
Costa Rica, Pura Vida!

"Pura Vida" is a common phrase in Costa Rica. The direct translation is pure life. It means, everything is great, life is good, and nothing is worth getting stressed out about. That's a great way to describe this trip. This was my third Conservation VIP trip and like the others it was a fantastic and unforgettable experience. We saw some wonderful scenery in this Pacific Ocean side of the country. A highly knowledgeable and fun to listen to guide, Alex, was one of the highlights of this trip. His knowledge of the flora and fauna of this beautiful country was endless! His energy was contagious. I learned a lot about this amazing country. What makes this trip really special is the rare opportunity to see an olive ridley female sea turtle return to the same beach where she hatched many years ago and lay eggs. This takes place mostly at night and it's an amazing process to watch. It's amazing to think that these turtles enter the ocean newly hatched and over the years these female turtles defied the odds and return to their birthplace to lay eggs. We also had the experience of a lifetime in participating in a hatchling release. The project was helping a small and somewhat isolated Costa Rican village, Punta Banco, finish building a turtle hatchery. A conservation group made up from these local residents are constructing hatcheries along the shore. The eggs are collected and transferred to a safe, free from predators, hatchery. We had the unique opportunity to participate in the hatchling release where they are safely released to their new home. It is a rewarding experience working alongside these wonderful Costa Rican people. Working together for a common purpose and forming friendships that I hope will last for years to come.

 by Barbara Kennedy
Touched my Heart and Soul

Though I've traveled around the world, I think this trip had more impact on me than any other. To have the privilege to witness and participate in the mysterious and wondrous cycle of watching a olive ridley sea turtle come ashore and lay her eggs, to building habitat for the eggs safe from the dangers of predation and poaching, and watching the turtles hatch, to releasing the hatchlings on the beach and seeing them in a mad scramble to the ocean touched my heart and soul deeply. It connected me back to the sheer wonder of life on this planet, and how perfectly it has adapted itself to its environs.
The other best part, was working along with the lovely and dedicated Costa Ricans who have dedicated themselves to protecting the sea turtles that land of theses beaches. We parted, reluctantly, as good Friends.
And the last best Part is that ConservationVIP made this trip through Costa Rica easy and fun, arranging all the details with comfortable lodging, good food, transportation. and a fabulous Costa Rican guide, Alex, who kept us laughing, and amazed with his 6th sense for spotting wildlife. Our CoservationVIP trip leader Carol, worked behind the scenes to keep the trip running smoothly.
I heartily recommend this trip!

 by Cindy T
Costa Rica Volunteer Trip 2023

The trip to Costa Rica is not my first volunteer trip with Conservation VIP, but it may well be my favorite! Every trip I've done with this organization has been amazing - but this trip touched my heart in a new way. We witnessed a female Olive Ridley sea turtle lay her eggs in the dark of night, having traveled thousands of miles to find the beach upon which she was hatched. As the dawn broke the next morning, we had the incredible opportunity to watch as a new batch of baby turtles were released into the ocean to begin their own adventure. It brought me to tears - the full circle of life. The efforts of this little village of Punta Banco are helping to ensure the survival of these amazing creatures. Assisting with those efforts filled my heart. Planting trees for the macaws and putting up a nesting box for the Quetzel was frosting on the cake. As was the amazing birds and animals we saw thanks to our amazing guide Alex!

 by Susan R
Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Sept 2023

Going to Costa Rica was my 5th volunteer trip with ConservationVIP and that alone should tell you something. This trip far exceeded my expectations in every regard. Although I had the itinerary, read the reviews and had recommendations from former fellow travelers nothing prepared me for this wonderful experience. It was so gratifying and uplifting to work with the communities that we visited. The people were warm, welcoming and appeared to be sincerely happy to see us come and support their efforts of conservation. We got to experience their Independence day celebrations (9/15) at their schools and even joined in a Bingo fund raiser. Alex was an exceptional naturalist and guide who was eager to share his knowledge and love for his country. He was fun and so talented. With over 30 years of experience, he simultaneously educated and entertained us. Cergio, our bus driver who like Alex worked beside us throughout the trip was so helpful and caring, in addition to being an excellent driver. Every day was fun despite the hard work, sweat and a few minor muscle aches. The food was excellent and abundant. The accommodations despite the lack of a/c were basic and comfortable. Working with the sea turtle hatchlings was the highlight of the trip for me. Seeing the mama turtle dig her nest, deposit her eggs and then return to the sea was quite an emotional moment. It was surpassed only by later witnessing the eruption of hatchlings emerging from a nest in the hatchery, their subsequent release on the beach and their journey to the sea. Many tears of joy and awe were shed on this trip. I wish to thank Carol for her dedication , commitment and experience in leading our group. Her many years of passionate service to ConservationVIP volunteer trips is inspiring and contagious! Her goal is to keep us safe, get the work done and have some fun in the process. We had a super group of volunteers. Some new, some seasoned, some young, some mature but all were enthusiastic and hard working. We became more like a family than just fellow travelers. Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime and a unique travel opportunity that few have the privilege to experience. Thank you CVIP for providing this for us!

 by Janet K
Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Oct 2022

This was a great experience! The group was very cohesive and fun, the leaders were all very enthusiastic and grounded. Amazing wildlife and good food were bonuses that made each day a pleasure, even with all the rain! Thanks!

 by Nancy O
Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Oct 2022

Educational, meaningful opportunity to leave this planet a little better for having lived on it. Conservation VIP communications and logistics are well executed, and the service projects are integrated into the communities served. This is seamlessly coordinated by the Costa Rican guide, Marco. His personal commitment to and extensive experience in ecological restoration and his deep knowledge of his country's geology, history, culture, flora and fauna provide an intimate insight afforded to few foreign travelers. Hats off to Sergio, our competent and kind driver, and to Kelly and Janice for their patient and compassionate leadership,

 by Pam P.
Costa Rica Volunteer Trip Oct 2022

Amazing trip! Great balance between learning about the beautiful country of Costa Rica and working for it's wildlife conservation. The work with macaws, sea turtles, and quetzals was sometimes challenging, but the reward was in seeing all these animals and more, up close and in the wild. Marco, our Costa Rican guide, has an encyclopedic knowledge of his country, the environment, history, and the animals - there wasn't a question he couldn't answer and his discussions really added depth to the experience. Our Conservation VIP guides were organized yet flexible, invaluable given the dynamic environment of the country and the sometimes capricious nature of our work. Definitely a worthwhile adventure.

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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.


Please click to view Trip Report PDFs.

September 2023
October 2022
October 2021
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.

  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Releasing Sea Turtle Hatchlings
  • Taking a trip

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