Volunteering Details

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The role of volunteers
Volunteers are crucial to the success of our hawksbill program, serving as personnel to ensure optimal conservation efforts, while also generating funding essential to local community members and the project.


As a future volunteer, you will also participate in increasing local awareness, demonstrating the importance and benefits of protecting hawksbill turtles and marine resources in general. Aside from working directly with the turtles, volunteers also have the opportunity to get involved in other local ecological and social projects, providing unique cultural and educational experiences for both volunteers and locals.

Our volunteer program was initiated to extend the unique opportunity to participate in our work to people like you. It offers you a once in a lifetime experience to participate in a successful, grassroots, community-based hawksbill sea turtle conservation project, while also moving the program towards financial sustainability. Volunteers come from all over the world and from all walks of life. Team members often forge strong bonds with one another, leading to friendships that last a lifetime! 

Make a difference and have an unforgettable experience! Learn more about volunteer duties and see how a typical day participating in conservation activities looks like by visiting the Work Description page. Visit our Prices & Payments page for detailed information about the prices and fill out the Volunteer Form to sign up today!

Before you apply, be sure that you have read our "special considerations" section below. We need volunteers to understand and be aware of what volunteering in our program really entails! 

Remind: volunteering on our program is hard work; an opportunity to make a difference, participate in scientific research and meet new people. 

Releasing hatchlings


  • Physically in good condition. 
  • Being able to work in remote areas under basic conditions.
  • Minimum age is 18 years old.
  • Travel & Medical insurance.
  • Available for a minimum of 1 week.
  • Able to converse in Spanish is advantageous, but not a requirement.

Project Dates

  • The project runs from April 15th to September 15th.
  • Volunteers can start on any day during this period, but must stay at least one week.
  • Your specific start date should be indicated on the volunteer form.
  • There is no deadline for submitting your application form.
  • Check our prices & payments page to see disccounts according the duration of your volunteering.

Discover more about our projects sites and volunteer accomodation facilities by visiting the individual project pages of Estero Padre Ramos and Bahia Jiquilisco


What to bring:

- Headlamp (recommended) or flashlight with built in red light or a red light filter.
- A small backpack is very useful for daytrips, tours and/or excursions.  
- Dark long pants and long-sleeved shirts for field work (quick-dry material recommended).  
- Lightweight and comfortable training shoes (they will get sandy and wet) and sandals.
- Dark poncho or raingear (we highly recommend a good quality rain jacket).
- Dark waterproof pants can make patrolling in the rain more comfortable.   
- Swimwear and quick-dry towel.   
- Biodegradable soap and hand disinfectant gel.   
- Water bottle.      
- Insect repellant.
- Sunscreen and hat. 
- Watch (preferably water resistant and built-in light)
- Portable alarm clock (important for waking up for night shifts). 
- Personal First Aid (if you are require specific medication, be sure to bring enough with you for your whole stay at the project).  
- Photocopies of your passport and travel insurance.
- If you bring electronic items, take strong measures to keep them dry (dry bags, sillica-gel).
* Headlamps with red light are necessary for night patrolling to encounter nesting turtles. This is important since the use of red light is less disturbing for turtles.


Important Considerations  (please read!)

The idea of working to help save critically endangered hawksbills is a very romantic one. However, the reality can be a very different and hardworking experience. If you decide to volunteer, please consider the following:

  • Much of the work is done at night between the hours of 7pm and 5am. While on night patrol you may walk up to several km, with limited use of flashlights.
  • There may be times when you will be asked to work both during the day and at night. This could include a night patrol and a daytime hatchery monitoring shift.
  • Our projects sites are located in the tropics. This means it is hot, very humid and it rains frequently, sometimes heavily.
  • Turtle night patrols will also take place during the rain.
  • There will be some nights when there are no turtles nesting, but patrols will still take place. We cannot be sure when or if turtles will emerge to nest.
  • There are mosquitoes in the area (but no Malaria), you will get bitten!
  • Accommodation facilities at the project sites are basic.

Past comments from turtle volunteers include “The work was so hard”, “There was nothing to do during the day”, “Too many mosquitoes” and “Too hot, couldn’t sleep”.

We are not trying to discourage you. Quite the opposite, working with turtles is an unforgettable and often life-changing experience! However, you have to keep in mind that volunteering is hard work and the experience is not for everyone.


Please think about these points before volunteering!


Still want to help us save critically endangered hawksbill turtles? Fill out the Volunteer Form and reserve a spot today!


Our research and conservation is implemented using innovative and fascinating work methods. Click HERE to know more about our work principles and volunteer duties.

Accomodation & Food 
There is electricity and running water at the project sites, but living conditions are simple and volunteers should be prepared to live under these same conditions. Lodging consists of simple cabins or dormitories that are comfortable, but rustic. Volunteers are expected to mantain the common areas clean and participate in general housekeeping chores. Volunteers should also be aware that people in these communities have different cultures and standards of living than those one might be used to, it is important to have an open mind, be adaptable and bring a positive attitude. Each room has fans and a limited amount of closet space for personal items. The bathroom and shower are shared by all volunteers and do not have hot water. Luckily, due to the warm climate it means the cool water is not really a problem. Each room/cabin is lockable and secure. Highly valuable belongings can be stored in our on-site project operational center. 
The cuisine at the projects offers you delicious local dishes for lunch and dinner, provided daily by local program cooks. Typical dishes include rice, beans, plantains, fish, chicken and fresh-squeezed juices. Breakfast is usually prepared on your own with the products from the kitchen, since the varying work schedules makes it difficult to eat breakfast together. Purified water, coffee and tea are always available at the kitchen. We can easilyprepare vegetarian and vegan diets, as well as various allergies. Please, be sure to inform us of your dietary requirements in your volunteer form.

  • Estero Padre Ramos project facilities
Our turtle research station house is located in the town of Padre Ramos, a community within the Estero Padre Ramos estuary and from with the Nature Reserve got its name. We rent the station house from a local ecotourism group, allowing us to accommodate program volunteers and support local community members. Accommodation in the station houses consists of single or shared rooms (2 volunteers) with single/bunk beds.  

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  • Jiquilisco Bay project facilities
Our turtle research station house is located in the town of La Pirraya, a small fishing village the island of San Sebastian, within the Bay of Jiquilico. We rent the station house from a local fishing cooperative, allowing us to accommodate program volunteers and support community members. Volunteers share room with at least one other person in one of the small cabins. The shared shower and toilet is located nearby to the cabins.

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Through close collaborations between coastal community members, scientists and policy makers we aim to bring hawksbill turtles back from the brink of extinction in the eastern Pacific Ocean

Copyright 2013, Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative - ICAPO