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Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Conservation + Surfing + Spanish


Itinerary Options

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Costa Rica Volunteering and Spanish

Plastic, Turtles, Spanish and Surfing

Embrace the ‘pura vida’ and join a team of volunteers on a planet-saving adventure that’ll take you right to the heart of Costa Rica, where you’ll meet a nation of fiercely proud and fun-loving ‘Ticos’, whilst exploring the Pacific coastline and stunning cloud forest.

Your time will be spent on a unique mix of community and conservation projects which fall under our “Plastic Oceans” umbrella intertwined with adrenaline adventures in the cloud forest, surfing and learning to speak Spanish.

The Plastic Oceans projects are all community led and focus on finding unique and dynamic solutions to counteract the plastic washed up on the beaches which is a relentless battle. From beach clean ups to the creation of recycling stations, to turning micro plastics into stylish homeware - you will see how impactful community collaboration can be. You will also experience working at 2 contrasting turtle sanctuaries where you will with hatchery maintenance and nest relocation.

This is how the Plastic Ocean programme rolls...

Costa Rica's Programme Itinerary

This 5 week programme delivers a dynamic and varied experience as it includes contrasting locations and projects to keep you on your toes. Please note the order of events may change depending on the time of year and in 2024.


Santa Teresa

Welcome to Santa Teresa

Your first night will be spent in San Jose, where the team assembles, before starting your journey to Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula, the next day.

Your main base will be at Jakera Camp, based in the lively, hip beach town of Santa Teresa, world famous for surf breaks across beaches so pristine, uncrowded, and seemingly endless that they are regularly listed in the ‘World’s 10 Best Beaches’.

Jakera Camp is a jungle paradise, overlooked by a rich tropical forest bursting with wildlife including capuchin and howler monkeys. You’ll love it.

After a day of surfing, brushing up on your Spanish, and volunteering, you’ll have time to explore the town which comes alive with funky surf shops, cafes, restaurants and nightspots for every taste and budget.


Jakera Camp is a buzzing place - lots of bungalows dotted around the tropical gardens and swimming pool with central hub where you eat and chill out. Single sex dorms with bunk beds and western style bathrooms. Approx. a 10 minute (800 m) walk to the beach. At the turtle sanctuary expect very rustic bungalows, bunk bed dorms, cold-water showers.


Jakera Camp - breakfast and lunch only. Dinner is not included. Turtle sanctuary - all meals included.

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Wk 1 - 3

Jakera Camp Spanish + Surfing + Projects + Turtles

You first 3 weeks will be a dynamic mix of:

Plastic Ocean Projects
Having been introduced to the amazing beaches around Santa Teresa, the recreational opportunities are clear. However, beaches need to be maintained to keep them clear of debris which cause harm to people and wildlife. You will help the community with beach clean ups, creating recycling collection points and help at the recycling centre.

Turtle Conservation
Turtle conservation is a key part of this program, and you will see the damaging affects the plastics have on the turtles and their nesting sites, especially along the high tide line, where lots of micro plastics get deposited.

During you time at Santa Teresa you will nip off to spend 4 days at a nearby turtle sanctuary to help protect the eggs and hatchlings of the Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species, who visit these ‘semi-intensive’ nesting beaches at night to nest. Your jobs will include maintenance of the hatcheries, beach cleaning, night patrols and releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

Spanish Lessons
You will have two x 45 minute Spanish lessons each weekday, tailored to suit all levels.

A surf instructor will teach you the basic skills required to get you surf safe.

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Wk 4

Samara Beach Turtle Conservation

Welcome to Samara Beach, which is one of those cool, hip local hangouts with a great surfing vibe.

What we have planned here is to stay beach side for 7 days, but within this time you will nip off for 3 days to live and work in the Bueno Vista Turtle Sanctuary. They can only take 12 at a time so you will split into two teams and head out back-to-back. Whilst you’re at the beach – you will have some down time combined with a yoga and surf class.

AVSO is one of Costa Rica’s main wildlife conservation NGOs. Their Bueno Vista base is also focused on the preservation of the Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species.

Typical jobs, like before, will involve the maintenance of infrastructure, beach cleaning, night patrols, collection of data and releasing baby turtles into the ocean.


Samara beach – hip little hostel.
ASVO, Bueno Vista – you’ll live in a very rustic bungalow – one large mixed dorm, with basic cold showers and WC.


Samara - 2 meals a day. Supper out and about.
ASVO - all food included.

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Wk 5

Monteverde Cloud Forest Adventure

Your final phase will take you to the stunning and unique cloud forest - set on top of the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide. It is a place of coffee plantations, monkeys, and stunning views. You’ll stay in the little town of Santa Elena, which is filled with hip little restaurants and artisan shops.

Due to its high altitude, 4,662 ft, Monteverde receives a steady supply of clouds and fog which catches on branches of the tallest trees and drips down to other organisms below. This helps to support the complex ecosystem that harbours over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species, and over 2,500 varieties of plants.

Everyday there will be an activity to explore the cloud forest, usually in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for extra trips – such as the zip wire challenge, horse riding and bungee jumping.

So much to see and do, and you can decide what to do when you get there.


Local hostel, dorm style accommodation – hot and cold showers.


2 meals a day. Supper out and about.

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Did you know?

Onward travel has never been so easy

Book a programme with us and you will receive a complimentary 12 month subscription to our Backpacking Advice Hub. This Hub is your one stop shop for all things travel advice, itineraries, handy insider hints and tips to really get the most from your travels. It is a must-have resource for independent travel post-Leap.

Our teams never want to come home post-programme and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - making the most of their gap year. Costa Rica is perfectly placed to add on a phase in Guatemala, Mexico and Panama. Call us and chat through your ideas.

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Costa Rica Leapers learning to surf on beach.
Costa Rica Plastic Oceans
Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Costa Rica's Details & Costs

Max team size of 24 per departure. If you are under the age of 18 at the point of travel - please call us to discuss before booking.

Download Itinerary

Options and costs

Whats included?

Your food

Please note that we only provide breakfast and lunch at the Jakera Camp in Santa Teresa, Monteverde and Samara. While in Santa Teresa previous Leapers have chosen to combine eating out in with cooking in the house kitchen which is fully equipped and has everything you need, so it's possible to eat cheaply and cook easy food. When in Monteverde and Samara you will have to budget for dinner in a restaurant, no self catering option. There are lots of 'eating out' options to suit every budget.

Beach Life

You'll spend most of your time based on or near the beach, with some surfing lessons thrown in on the of the world's best surf breaks.

Buzzy Teams

Expect teams of between 15-24, leading to a guaranteed social life - you'll work hard and you'll play hard.

The Bigger Picture

Be on the front line of reducing plastic pollution, and get firsthand experience in marine conservation.

Language Development

Learn Spanish or practice the skills you already have; perfect for cultural immersion and anyone wanting to continue travelling around Central/South America.

Monday to Friday

Expect to be busy 5 days a week for about 5 hours a day.


Weekends will generally be free time.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Spend a day white water rafting.
  • Kayaking & snorkelling around the coastline.
  • Jungle canopy tour - best to do this in Monteverde.
  • Whale and dolphin watching.
  • Horse riding through the forest.
Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Jungle Surf Camp - it's so much more.

Our Costa Rica program is run by the dynamic Chris Patterson who together with his wife, family and team have created the Jungle Surf Camp on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Chris has run travel and Spanish courses since the 1990’s and has become increasingly passionate about the crisis of plastic waste in our waters and the damage it is doing. Seeing dolphins and turtles time and time again, washed up on the shoreline wrapped up in discarded fishing nets was enough to break him into action.

So, Chris now welcomes volunteers into his home, lovingly named the Jungle Surf Camp, who will set about learning Spanish with the aim to get out into the community to bang the drum about plastic. Backed by the Oceans of Plastic campaign and documentaries he wants our leapers to teach, explain and steer changing attitudes.

Practically, he has set up village recycling stations and organises rubbish collections, he encourages supermarkets to stop using plastic bags and beach bars not to use plastic drinking straws... simple initiatives, but together will help enforce the message and give practical meaning to the bigger picture. Community beach clean-ups are also now part of everyday life and blue flag awards are being handed out.

Chris has also built great relationship with the local turtle sanctuaries, enabling all our volunteers to help.

Chris and the combined efforts of all the volunteers are making a difference but it can't stop now the momentum is rolling...

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Watch our videos

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Spanish + surfing + turtles + environment

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Leap team highlights

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

Team highlights

"One of my favorite memories from my trip to Costa Rica was the first time I released a baby turtle into the ocean"

I was immediately lucky because most baby turtles crawl out of their nests in the dead of night, so you don't get to enjoy the sight of seeing them walk to the water when it's so dark out.

When I saw my first baby turtle it was just before the sun went down, so it was still incredibly bright out! Watching all the babies push their little flippers against the sand as they fight to get to the water is something else. They are so excited to be alive! It's something so wonderfully inspiring that I will always remember.

- Madison

"This experience was life changing."

Although this is from a personal point of view, I wanted to share the great personal development this trip gave me. I believe travel and unknown/unusual environments affect and shape any individual.

It altered my being in a way i find hard to articulate, it changes you and challenges you that no 9-5 working existence ever could.

- Olivia

"You changed my life"

I love Jakera more than anything and you guys changed my life so much. I am forever in debt to all the things I have learnt here and the people I have been lucky enough to meet. Thank you to every single person at Jakera.

- Jack R

"Best food!"

The best food I have ever eaten in my life

- Jack

"The Leap were very thorough"

I spoke to The Leap and they gave me thorough information regarding what to take and what to expect. If I didn't have anything Chris at Jakera would always help me get what I needed.

- Kit P

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

"You felt prepared"

The daily schedule was always written out at the start of the day, so you felt prepared for what was happening when.

- Mimi

Costa Rica Plastic Oceans

"Easy Peasy with The Leap"

You guys always answered questions so fast! Zoe is outstanding!! Made travelling during a pandemic easy peasy

- Hanna


Hi to all at The Leap,

This is a bit late but a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in organising Herbie Purces Costa Rica trip. In his own words “it was insane”.

So wonderful they had a “normal” experience in abnormal times.

Our thanks again

- Gwen Purce

"I cannot recommend enough to all of my friends"

To everyone at The Leap

Archie had the most wonderful six weeks, probably the best he has had so far in his life! We are so glad we chose The Leap to begin his adventures travelling. He said all the Leapers were great people and really fun to be with. The experiences were just incredible and learning about the plastic and turtles fascinating. I think he has made some friends for life and if he ever returns from his travels we will hear lots more about it. Archie really liked Amelia and said she was fun, supportive and a wonderful leader. Just a really fabulous experience which I cannot recommend enough to all of my friends. In a couple of years my daughter will be coming to join a trip on The Leap. Thank you so so much.

- Henrietta Mogg

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Yes please, let's keep life simple.