Coronavirus, lockdown and beyond. Keep the dream alive. Book now, pay later. FIND OUT MORE.

Costa Rica Turtles

Turtle + Forest Conservation


Itinerary Options

Let's go

Looking for more flexible dates?See our current dates

Let us know your details below and we'll be in touch with options?

Protect Costa Rica's Turtles and Forests

Get ready to do your bit for the environment

This country may be small, but this peaceful, sun-drenched corner of Central America holds over 5% of the world’s biodiversity, boasting more national parks per square metre than any other country in the world and is home to some of the most important nesting sites for endangered turtles.

But like all good things they are in danger with deforestation, poaching and littered seas. It is time for us to help make a difference and help the communities fight back and protect what they have, before it is too late.

Venture out to Costa Rica to help the local communities protect and preserve their turtle breeding sites and their tropical forests.

Program Itinerary

You will base yourself just up from the beach in our house called 'Jungle Camp', with a team of leap volunteers all focused on valued community run conservation projects.

The following is a sample itinerary.


Jungle Camp

Touch down in Costa Rica

You will be met at the airport and taken for your 1st night in a hostel in San Jose. The following morning you will be transferred by minibus on a multi-logistical transfer to the Nicoya Peninsula – so get prepared… and stay awake as its a stunning journey.

Your ultimate destination is our Leap house called 'Jungle Camp', based next to the lively 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.

Here you will spend 3 weeks conserving turtles and helping with forest and community projects, before exploring the town which comes alive with funky surf shops, cafes, restaurants and nightspots for every taste and budget.

Surf and Spanish Lessons
While you're based at the Jungle Camp you will have the option to join a few Spanish lessons, (tailored to all levels) and join in some group surf lessons where you'll learn some basic skills and water safety so you can take advantage of the amazing surf on your door step.


Your base will be at our house called 'Jungle Camp' which is just a 10 min walk from the beach. The house is simple but super stylish centred around a swimming pool set in tropical gardens.

Bathrooms have western style toilets and showers with hot and cold water.


Breakfast and lunch only.
Dinner is not included. Most volunteers either eat in one of the local restaurants or cook whatever they want in the camp kitchen.

Wk 1

Playa Carmen Turtle Conservation

Protecting the turtles

Your first week will be spent helping the community run turtle project at Playa Carmen which is just along from your base at Santa Teresa.

You’ll be protecting the eggs and hatchlings of Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species, who visit these ‘semi intensive’ nesting beach at night to nest. The principle objective of the project is to protect adult female turtles that frequent Playa Carmen, and their nests, from human predators and wildlife, natural events such as beach erosion and flooding due to high amounts of rainfall in nesting season. This is achieved by the construction of a ‘hatchery’.

Your jobs will include hatchery maintenance, beach cleaning, night patrols to look for nesting female turtles (in season), transport of food and water, collection of data and releasing baby turtles in to the ocean (in season).

Turtle Season
The official turtle season, including nesting, on the Pacific coast runs between June 1st and end of January.

In the first few months of each new season, generally only nesting adult turtles are seen. Towards the end of the season, only baby turtles will be seen by volunteers.

The non-turtle months are February – April but there is still a lot of work to be done in the hatcherys.

Wks 2 - 3

Santa Teresa Forest Conservation + Community

Conservation and Community Projects

During your next 2 weeks you will get stuck into a mix of the following community led projects:

Beach Clean-ups
The beaches around Santa Teresa are stunning and have been awarded the "Blue Flag status" giving them international recognition. However, keeping the standards high is an ongoing battle which involves the whole local community to lend a hand with the weekly beach clean-ups.

Forest Conservation and Guided Hikes
Here you will help with the upkeep of Santa Teresa’s neighbouring tropical forest whilst learning about the biodiversity of flora and fauna in this special part of the world. Jobs will include: cleaning debris from streams, maintaining the trails and planting trees in the forest nursery before venturing out for the occasional night-time hike to check on the nocturnal wildlife.

Community Projects
You will become a valued part of the community by teaching the kids to swim and helping them with after school art classes at jungle camp, as well as educating them about the dangers of plastic pollution as they join you in beach clean ups.

Spanish Lessons
Please note that during your time here it is possible to have daily Spanish lessons, tailored to suit all levels, aimed to help you communicate with the communities. These lessons are optional and if you prefer you can choose to do more project work.

Program Details & Costs

Please note the January departure is the most popular as it's prime turtle hatching season. We advise anyone who is interested to fill in a booking form to reserve their place. We are not asking for any deposits until the world has started to heal.

You will be joining a team of leapers who are already out there, on our 8 week program, so easy to slot in and flexible to extend if you want to stay longer.

Jan, Apr & Sept programs start on:

2020: 10 Apr, 11 Sep

2021: 15 Jan, 13 Apr, 10 Sep


3 Weeks
1 weeks turtles + 2 weeks forest conservation and community
2020: £19012021: £1946

Summer program starts on:

2020: 9 Jul

2021: 14 Jul


3 Weeks
1 weeks turtles + 2 weeks forest conservation and community
2020: £19012021: £1946

Your food

Please note that we only provide breakfast and lunch in Santa Teresa. 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.


Flights: £800 (depending on time of year and availability)

Spending money: Approx £60 per week

Dates Don't Suit?

Don't worry we have other program options in Costa Rica - our 10 week program which includes turtles, Spanish, surfing and Monteverde or a another 3 week option which includes an adventure inland to the cloud forest of Monteverde.

Beach Life

Bliss. You will be living right on the beach down the road from a hip surf town.

Social Life

The house can accommodate up to 25 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

The Bigger Picture

Be part of the worldwide push to protect the turtle and preserve the forests.


Spend 3 weeks in one place focusing of conservation issues.

Monday to Friday

Expect to be busy with your projects 5 days per week for about 5 hours a day.


Weekends will generally be free time. You’re welcome to stay and chill at the Jungle Camp or head off for a change of scene.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Downtime in one the local yoga retreat.
  • Learn to surf in Santa Teresa.
  • Spend a day white water rafting
  • Kayaking & Snorkelling around the coast line.
  • Jungle Canopy Tour - best do this in Monteverde.
  • Whale and dolphin watching.
  • Horse ride through the forest.

Jakera 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 Jakera 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 a great relationship with ASVO – one of the leading NGO’s tackling the plight of the turtle on the Pacific coast. They now take our volunteers as part of their program, as they have consistently turned up and got stuck in.

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

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been getting up to...

Painting signs, recycling and turtles Lucy Dickens

So the first week of our stay in Costa Rica at Jakera is done. In my opinion I feel it has gone slowly but for others it’s gone quite fast. Our first day was just travelling from the airport to Jakera. It was a LONG journey, mini bus then a ferry and then a mini bus again. But the next day was great it was a free day but most of us all went out to watch the sunset and for dinner. The sunset here is so beautiful!

A lot of us have tried various restaurants and some have been amazing and some not so much. But while we’re here why not try something new and not order a burger?

Spanish lessons. I’ve started to really enjoy our Spanish it’s so nice to be able learn the language whilst we are here. We have different groups based on your level of understanding but we all have them in the morning.

One of the projects we have been doing is creating signs for the beach on littering, recycling, no vehicles on the beach and rocky areas. To finish them it took us maybe 3 days as we had to let the paint dry so we could go over to outline it.

Our turtle watches. I’m afraid to say we have not seen any baby turtles yet as they haven’t hatched. We hope they will in the next day or two. We all take 3 hour shifts everyday from 6am till 12pm. The shifts were uneventful and slightly painful sitting for 3 hours with no turtles. But hey they will come some day!

We also have had a trip to another beach to teach some kids how to surf. When I say the word teach I use it loosely, we took them out spun them around and then pushed them when a wave came. It was a lot of fun being able to help them out and play with them though.

Hopefully we will see turtles next at Montezuma. Until then it was lovely chatting with you!

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

We began building our own turtle hatchery at Banana Beach in Santa Teresa on Monday. Jakera decided they would like to take on the mission of helping out the turtles themselves. With our shovels and rakes we cleared out an area and began digging as well as made signs for the new hatchery. We spent a couple of our mornings this week surfing. With the help of Chris, we rented a couple of surf boards, got up early in the morning and headed down to the beach. Since Henry surfs almost daily back home in California, he acted as our surf instructor and helped us attempt to catch a couple of waves. Also, this week Kat and I attended another yoga class. This one was also at sunset. The yoga classes always make us feel very relaxed and, while some of the stretches may be strange or difficult, it’s very enjoyable.

On Friday, as a group, we decided to take a short weekend trip to a town called Tamarindo. I was impressed to see paved roads and sidewalks. The first day we arrived, we didn’t waste any time finding a place to eat lunch. As we explored the new town and the new night life, we started the night off with a toast to our friends that couldn’t be there with us and to the ones that have already made their way back home. Saturday was spent relaxing at the beach and visiting the shops in town.

Sunday, we booked a boat tour on the river. Tamarindo is known for its crocodiles and we saw a few, we also were able to see monkeys, different types of birds and iguanas. To see the monkeys our guide had us get off the boat and walk through the jungle. We also discovered a new kind of insect this weekend. Our time in Tamarindo was a great way to spend the weekend and I felt that we were able to bond in a different kind of way than before. The next day would be spent going back to Santa Teresa for a final week before we all head our separate ways back home.

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

Monteverde has been a very different experience, since we got to work in a variety of places!

For the first week, we helped out at a local school with their gardening project. There were multiple different beds that needed work, as well as a cute car tyre garden that we created! The best part of that week was working together. The tyre garden came together from nothing with everyone helping in different ways. It was nice to have a project to work on from start to finish, and at the end, we left our mark, with everyone painting their hands and leaving handprints! We had lots of fun and did lots of work! The kids at this school were just as welcoming as the last school, and we played games with them during free time. The kids were always willing to help, and insisted on grabbing our shovels and paint brushes and being a part of the team!

In our free time, we got to explore the Monteverde Reserve, discovering beautiful overlooks and an amazing suspension bridge! It was wonderful to be able to actually get to know the trails that we worked on, and we loved the forests so much we went back for more, doing hikes over and over again and making sure everyone in the group got to see it.

Last weekend, we found out about some natural hot springs nearby and a group of us braved the long, slippery walk down to relax in them! It was definitely worth the hike- the view of the hills was incredible, and the hot springs were two levels high and right next to a beautiful waterfall. We spent the entire afternoon there, leaving right as it started to rain.

We’re very excited for our reforestation work next week, look out for more info and pics on it soon!
When we aren’t working, we’ve been exploring Santa Elena, finding great restaurants and ice cream shops! The area is beautiful, but walking the hills every day wears us out, so we’ve had early bedtimes here. The host families we’re staying with have been incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and we’re trying to practice our Spanish more with them!

"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

Got a burning question?

Got a burning question you can't find the answer to? Filled with panic about organising your gap year? Or maybe you just fancy a friendly chat and some advice about your options? We're here to help.

Or give us a call on +44 1672 519 922

And chat with one of our (very friendly and knowledgable!) team

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.