Before the establishment of The Happy Turtle Project, 100% of the turtle population on this nine kilometre stretch of island paradise were being poached. Since Happy Turtle began, this percentage has halved!
This has all been achieved with the help of volunteers educating the local community, patroling the beaches and manning the hatchery. Your efforts and help at this project will be greatly contributing to the protection of these species.
- Beautiful Caribbean beachside location
- Have the chance to release turtle hatchlings into the ocean
- Wake up in a real life Jungle Book with tucans, sloths and many other exotic animals
- Play a vital role in protecting three different species of sea turtles from local beaches and beach pollution
- Meet like-minded people from all over the globe
- 15 nights accommodation (includes one night hotel accommodation in San Jose)
- Private airport pick-up and bus transfer out to the project
- Private boat transfer to the island
- Three meals for 14 days while at the project, including breakfast in San Jose
- Support from our volunteer specialist right up until you arrive at the project
Opportunities to undertake a Spanish language course
What Is The Application Process?
After completing an enquiry form on our website you will be contacted within 48 hours by one of our volunteer specialists, and you will be given a detailed insight into what day-to-day life as volunteer at the Happy Turtle Conservation Project is like. All questions will be answered in detail and expectations of what to expect will be set. Volunteering, especially in a foreign country, is not for everyone, so it’s important you understand the ins and outs of the journey you’re about to embark on.
Our volunteer specialists have personally visited Happy Turtle, so feel free to ask any questions. Once you have been deemed suitable for our project and you are content with the adventure ahead, you will be required to make payment in full before your booking is set in stone. We also have the option available for you to pay a deposit and monthly installments thereafter.
About The Happy Turtle Project
The Happy Turtle Project is a turtle conservation program based in Costa Rica, aiming to protect the local sea turtles through the help of volunteers. The participation of volunteers also contribute to the improvement of the living conditions and education of the local inhabitants.
By helping to generate an income for the locals through an affordable turtle volunteer program, we hope to take away the necessity for them to poach the turtles and their eggs.
Where Is The Happy Turtle Project Located?
The turtle conservation project is almost four hours travelling time away from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, and is located on the Caribbean coast approximately one kilometre north of where the River Pacuare enters the Caribbean sea.
The Happy Turtle Project is situated at a beautiful isolated beach. Right behind where the project begins lies what people call 'The Amazon of Costa Rica', a mangrove rainforest, rivers, canals and lagoons. They form a unique area to visit and one can only get there by motor boat.
What Will Your Role Be As A Volunteer?
You will help with the realisation of the projects’ objectives by patrolling the beaches (Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica) for turtles at night (in all weathers) together with the local inhabitants, manning the hatchery and caring for recuperating adult turtles.
In addition you will be involved with the day-to-day operational duties of running the project.
Is This For You?
Anyone who is enthusiastic and open-minded is welcome at the Happy Turtle Project. On average you are with around 15 others at the project.
Our volunteers come from all over the world and are between 18 and 40 years old. The work can sometimes be physically demanding, as you have to walk for several hours on the beach in all weathers while you look for nesting adult turtles, so you should be physically abled.
You will be lodged in a dormitory style beach cabin that sleeps up to six people. It’s amazing to hear crashing waves in the evenings, before you wake up to beautiful Caribbean beachside views the next morning.
Besides the local & international meals three times a day, there is tea and coffee available all day. Furthermore, we have our own fresh water source. Please note all of our meals are vegetarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the daily activities?
You can help with the realisation of the project objectives mainly by patrolling the beaches at night (in all weathers) looking for adult nesting turtles (together with the local inhabitants) in shifts, manning the hatchery, and working in the turtle rehabilitation centre taking care of any turtles that maybe unwell. There are daily operational duties too. This means that you will be working irregular hours – no two days are the same!
In which months am I welcome?
March through to August.
Whats the minimum length I am required to volunteer for?
14 days is the minimum, and you are allowed to stay for up to three months. Ask your volunteer specialist about this, should you wish to stay longer.
Do I need a visa on arrival to Costa Rica?
No, you do not require a visa for Costa Rica. However, you are required to show proof of a prepaid bus or plane ticket out of Costa Rica.
Is there alcohol available at the project?
The Happy Turtle Project is alcohol and drug free. Just think of it as a good detox for your body.
What do I have to bring?
- Some dark coloured clothing for patrolling
- High factor suncream
- Mosquito spray/repellent
- Rain clothing
- Head flashlight (with red light option for turtle work) with batteries
- Good shoes/training shoes (old ones are best as they will get wet and sandy)
- Alarm clock (battery operated)
- Books/playing cards
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Black bag for your backpack, should it rain on the boat – rain is usually very heavy and starts suddenly
- Anti-itch cream
Thick, long socks
Do I need vaccinations?
Vaccinations are a personal decision. Check with your doctor as to what is recommended for Costa Rica so you can make an informed choice.
Are hiking shoes a must, or is it possible to use firm training shoes?
That depends... some people like hiking shoes and others like training shoes. You have to imagine that the sand is not hard, but very soft (old ones are best as they will get wet and sandy).
Can you make sure I am in the same dormitory as my friend/partner?
Depending on space we can usually make this happen, as long as you mention this on arrival to the project.
Is there a medical service nearby?
We can get you to a hospital in just under an hour, but a basic first aid kit helps.
What about travel/health insurance?
Travel/health insurance is highly recommended **TWHC offer travel insurance HERE.
Do you have electricity?
No. There is solar power to pump water from the well and it provides lighting in public areas only.
Do you have internet access?
No. Please let family/friends know that you will be out of contact during the period of your stay.
What can I do in my spare time?
After volunteering you can fish, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in a hammock, play several board/card games, play soccer or volleyball, hike, make friends with co-volunteers/world travellers, and of course, learn Spanish.
Do I have to speak Spanish?
No, you don’t have to speak Spanish! But we suggest that you at least try to learn it. It makes it easier to communicate with the local inhabitants, because they hardly speak any English. You can download a list of important words before arriving, and you may participate in intensive Spanish lessons fitted in around volunteering.
Are there shops near the Happy Turtle Project?
We are located in the jungle on an isolated beach with no shopping options. On arrival in Bataan there is the possibility to do some last minute shopping at a supermarket before we head off by taxi and boat to the project.
Will my mobile phone work at (or around) the project?
There are some spots around the island that sometimes, with much patience, provide you with a small signal that is enough to send/receive text messages. No guarantees.
Is there a phone connection?
Not yet. You will receive emergency contact details for your family in your reservation confirmation email after booking.
Where should I go after I arrive in Bataan?
You will be met at the bus stop in the centre of Bataan. If you arrive from Limon you will need to cross over the street to the San Jose bus stop and we will meet you there at 11.30am. WE ALWAYS MEET THE BUS.
I reserved for three weeks but I might leave after two weeks... can I?
Breaking your commitment sometimes has negative effects on the turtles, local community and your co-volunteers. If you are undecided as to whether this volunteering opportunity is for you we recommend making a short reservation with a view to extending if you love it.
Are flights included? Which airport do I need to fly to?
Transportation costs to and from Costa Rica are your responsibility. You will need to fly into San Jose International Airpost Costa Rica (SJO).
What shouldn’t I bring to the Happy Turtle Project?
I am a young female who has never travelled alone before and I love the thought of helping to save turtles, but am a little nervous about the trip...
Many of our volunteers fall into this category, and we have taken this into account by giving you all the necessary information you need to get here safely in your confirmation email.
Can I wash my clothes at the project?
We provide soap powder, buckets, and sunshine for hand-washing, or for a small fee, we will wash it for you.
My flight home is on the day I arrive/leave the project. Is this OK?
We NEVER recommend leaving or arriving on the same day that your flight is scheduled. Costa Rica suffers extreme rains which sometimes results in long delays in traffic which could result in you missing your flight home. As you are usually replacing volunteers who have just left the project you will need to begin working with the turtles the night you arrive. Arriving tired to the project after flying is not a good idea.
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