sea turtle conservancy – costa rica


Sea Turtle Conservancy – Tortuguero, Costa Rica

The black sand beach of Tortuguero draws the largest nesting population of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, in the Atlantic Ocean. Weighing up to 420 pounds, green turtles are among the largest sea turtles in the world. The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) has studied and protected these incredible animals for over 60 years, and their findings have been essential for the creation of Tortuguero National Park and the approval of sea turtle protection laws. STC continues to work tirelessly to preserve sea turtles populations, while gaining more information to support our understanding of their ecology. Long-term tagging and data collection during nesting months facilitates monitoring of the nesting population to evaluate the survival status of the species.

Through this expedition, you will get the opportunity to work side by side STC’s researchers in one of the least accessible places in Costa Rica. During your stay, you will be at the forefront of STC’s conservation efforts by helping researchers collect data, conducting nest surveys and inventories, and partaking in night beach patrols.

After supporting STC’s work, we will venture to Arenal Volcano area—one of the most famous regions in the country. Here you will get the opportunity to hike, zip line and further explore Costa Rica’s beautiful jungles. We hope you join us on this adventure of a lifetime!

2024 DATES

August 10 – 17

August 31 – September 7


$4,000 – $5,000 


  • Participants must be 15 or older. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Trips are led by one or two highly skilled Expedition Leaders and are capped at 10 participants.

What Will YOu do?

Nightly Beach Patrols

Work as part of a nesting survey team to help tag and record data about the nesting turtles. This includes measuring turtles, counting eggs, and marking nests. The presence of tagging teams on the beach also acts as a strong deterrent to illegal hunters and egg collectors. Night patrols occur with shifts of 8 pm – 12 am and 12 – 4 am.

Morning Nest Surveys

Walk the beach in the mornings to check the status of nests marked during previous night patrols.

Nest Inventories

Assist with determination of nest survivorship and hatching success through nest inventories.

Who can participate?

Eco-Volunteers must be 15 years or older (under 18 must be accompanied by an adult). Participants will be required to obtain a scientific passport prior to traveling. Note this process can take up to 8 weeks.

Documents Needed Prior to Travel

  • Signed Risk Agreement
  • Completed and signed Health Form
  • Digital passport style head shot photo (above shoulders, white background with no glasses or hats)
  • Digital scan of the photo & information page of your passport
  • Completed Word document Resume/CV Form (please type and email as a Word document, should be very simple/basic since it is being translated into Spanish, template will be provided)

The photo, passport scan, and CV Form are  required by the Tortuguero National Park officials so they can provide you with a Scientific Research Card that identifies you as an STC Eco-Volunteer and not a tourist.

Sample Itinerary

Please note that this is a sample schedule and activities may vary depending on the specific dates, length of trip etc.

The mission of our trips is to deploy sustainable solutions to support our partners’ conservation goals while fostering eco-conscious tourism and promoting education. A percentage of your payment is a tax-deductible donation that will help us deploy sustainable technologies to STC.

Day 1 (Saturday)

  • Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica. Overnight at a hotel in San Jose near the airport.

Day 2 (Sunday)

  • Take an early morning flight to Tortuguero on Sansa Air. Arrive in Tortuguero at 7:40 AM, and then take transfer via boat from the airstrip to lodging. There are two accommodation options – the Scientific Research Center at STC, which has quite basic amenities, or Mawamba Lodge, a resort which is located a short 10 minute walk from STC.
  • After settling into accommodations, you will receive an orientation session about the Sea Turtle Conservancy, its mission, and the various activities you will be involved in during your stay.
  • Enjoy a welcome dinner in the evening. After dinner, participate in a training along the beach, helping to identify nesting turtles, collect data, and ensure their safety.

Day 3 (Monday)

  • In the morning, receive an introduction to STC. Learn about sea turtle species found in the area, their life cycles, and conservation challenges they face. You will also be briefed on the specific conservation projects at STC.
  • In the afternoon, take a hike through Tortuguero National Park, looking for wildlife with a guide.
  • After dinner, participate in a night patrol along the beach, helping to identify nesting turtles, collect data, and ensure turtles’ safety.

Day 4 (Tuesday)

  • Relax in the morning and enjoy some time wandering around Tortuguero on your own.
  • In the afternoon, enjoy a peaceful canoe tour through the beautiful Tortuguero National Park, observing wildlife such as monkeys, caimans, and various bird species.
  • In the evening, participate in a night patrol along the beach, helping to identify nesting turtles, and ensuring their safety while collecting data.

Day 5 (Wednesday)

  • After breakfast, accompany researchers on a nesting activity survey, observing and recording data on turtle tracks, nesting behavior, and nest locations.
  • In the afternoon, visit the village of Tortuguero and learn about its history and unique blend of cultures from locals. In the village, you will have the opportunity to buy refreshments and souvenirs.
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner from STC in the evening.

Day 6 (Thursday)

  • Leave STC in the morning, starting with an hour and a half boat ride to La Pavona Pier. From there, drive 3 and a half hours to La Fortuna to the Arenal Volcano region
  • After settling into accommodations in the afternoon, venture out a short hike to La Fortuna Waterfall.
  • Night at a resort in La Fortuna.

Day 7 (Friday)

  • In the morning, hike on the 1968 Arenal trail to see the spectacular Arenal Volcano. This trail provides excellent views of the volcano and of old lava flows from the 1968 eruption.
  • After lunch, venture out on an exhilarating zipline experience, enjoying magnificent views of the jungle. Take a visit to the Eco Termales hot springs in the late afternoon to relax in some of Costa Rica’s most renowned natural thermal pools.
  • Night in La Fortuna

Day 8 (Saturday)

  • Leave for San Jose International Airport in the morning via car transfer. The drive is 2 and a half hours. International flight in the afternoon.

Additional Information

Some more info about STC:
Mawamba Lodging in Tortuguero:
Sansa Airlines: Costa Rica domestic airline. Scheduled and charter flights (

Follow us on Social Media