Looking for gap year ideas and solutions? Take our quiz to find out more.
| +44 1672 519 922|

Whales, dolphins and turtles

Last week was Spanish and volunteering week. We took some of the children from the neighbourhood around Jakera surfing on one afternoon. They were such good fun and it gave us the opportunity to practice our Spanish. It was definitely one of my favourite experiences so far as the children’s energy and smiles were infectious.

On another afternoon we cleaned up the local neighbourhood again. It’s crazy how quickly the rubbish returns to covering the floor and the bins become chaotic again! On Thursday our volunteering was painting and making signs to try and prevent people from dropping rubbish. Alongside these signs myself and a few others made a big Jakera sign that we then concreted into the ground at the entrance to the town. Every time we go up to the ATM we see it and it’s nice to have a physical object representing the work we’ve done here so far.

Our other volunteer work last week was planting trees in the rainforest near Jakera. Recently I’ve seen a fair few areas being cleared of trees around Santa Teresa and it’s nice to know that we are attempting to counteract that. Last week we also visited an amazing rock pool which looked more like an infinity pool than something that naturally occurred. We stayed until sunset and the views were incredible - I haven’t yet got used to the gorgeous sunsets of Costa Rica! The skies are often bright orange, pink and purple, and mixed with the foreground of a white sand beach and palm trees is picturesque.

Saturday was the most incredible day as we went on a boat trip to Tortuga Island. The island itself was practically completely unspoiled and very pretty however it was the boat ride which was actually more incredible. On the way there we saw a large amount of dolphins swimming around the boat. Alongside this, we saw a huge whale completely breach the water, falling back with a enormous splash. We saw a couple more, smaller whales later on as well as a sea turtle. It was otherworldly - utterly incredible. We also got to snorkel off the boat, seeing so many different types of fish. The whole day was just amazing!

This week we headed off to Cirenas, the turtle centre about an hour out of Santa Teresa. We stayed in a log cabin in the rainforest with no WiFi - it was completely cut off from the outside world but I enjoyed that aspect of it. The place where we ate was a climb up a hill and the view was insanely beautiful - miles of rainforest with clouds covering the top of the hill peaks. Again, the sunsets were incredible!

The first morning we got to see turtles hatching as we were being shown around the hatchery. It was the most wonderful experience, seeing over a hundred turtles appear from underground and then being able to release them into the ocean. That night we did a patrol, finding turtle nests and getting the eggs before others. Turtle eggs are either stolen to be eaten or sold. On our patrol we found three turtles making nests and we got to help catch the eggs as they were laid. It was like being a midwife to the turtle and I can’t explain how amazing it was! We managed to save just under 300 eggs and nest them in the safety of the hatchery where they’ll hatch in a month or two. On our way back we got to release another 70 turtles into the sea that had just hatched. It was a tiring five hours but so so worthwhile! The next day we collected biomass to put around trees by the hatchery to ensure they continued to grow throughout the coming dry season. In the afternoon we planted papaya trees around the buildings at Cirenas. Unfortunately myself and four others fell ill for the rest of our time there but the others continued doing night patrols as well as early morning patrols and beach clean ups. This weekend we’re back at Santa Teresa, hopefully going surfing and spending time at the beach!

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

Jot a message below or call us on +44 1672 519 9222

Opt in below to help us keep track of your planning, so each time you talk to us you can pick up where you left off.

Yes please, let's keep life simple.