Sea Turtle Protection

Volunteer Work with Sea Turtles in Guatemala
Program Facts
Volunteer Work
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Booking No.


Program Type

Volunteer Work, Animal Welfare


Monterrico, Hawaii Region, Guatemala

Volunteer Responsibilities

Sea turtle conservation, patrolling on the beaches, securing sea turtle nests, environmental education, mangrove reforestation, cayman and iguana breeding, community projects

Work Hours

6-8 hours/day

Program Start Date

Year round, arrival on project site from Sunday to Thursday (ideally on a Sunday)

Minimum Stay

2 weeks

Minimum Age

17 years


Elementary Spanish skills. Book your Spanish course in Antigua in Guatemala with us.


No special skills required but you should definitively be an animal lover and have an interest in marine biology. You should be able to live a simple life and willing to work night shifts.


Shared room in Volunteer House




At the Pacific Coast about 3 hours from Guatemala City. The closest town is Monterrico, about 10 minutes by car.


Average of 25 °C (77 °F) year round, a little bit cooler at night. Subtropical climate, rainy throughout the year with peaks in June to September.


No special vaccinations required. Please ask your doctor for additional advice.


No internet at the project site. Internet cafes available in the nearest town Monterrico.

In-country Support

Volunteer coordinator at project site

24/7 Emergency No.

With the booking confirmation, you will receive our 24/7 Emergency Number where you can reach us around the clock in case of emergency.

Packing List

Comfortable work clothes, sun and rain protection, mosquito repellent (deet-free), towels


Enrollment possible at any time, with at least 2 weeks’ notice. (Download Registration Form)

Travel Health Insurance

Travel Health Insurance for Guatemala mandatory

*We would like to point out that in Latin America, especially in remote areas where many of our volunteer work projects take place, Internet and/or cellular radio systems do not always work reliably.

The Ecological Park on the Pacific coast of Guatemala offers several volunteer projects: a sea turtle project, a Cayman and iguana breeding project, and a mangrove conservation project. From time to time, the project also cares for other endangered animals, such as exotic birds, land turtles, and more.

Guatemala's Pacific coast stretches 250 kilometers (155 miles) between Mexico and El Salvador and is made up of volcanic plains where some of Guatemala's richest agricultural lands and largest farms lie. Because of this intense agricultural activity, the coastal plain - unlike the Petén region, whose forests have remained relatively healthy - has lost much of its original biodiversity. However, the coastal fringe, including mangrove-lined canals, lagoons and lakes, has remained relatively intact and houses a rich variety of marine and bird life.

The activities of the Ecological Park were originally initiated in 1993 as an attempt to counteract threats to the Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtle populations from overharvesting by local egg collectors. Despite their endangered status, virtually all sea turtle nests in Guatemala are harvested and the eggs are sold to restaurants or in markets. Turtle eggs are popular in Guatemala, as in other parts of Central America, as a supposed aphrodisiac, which is clearly not a basic need given the annual population growth rate of nearly 3%.

The park’s base for activities on the south coast is a 3-hectare (7 acres) park on the beach, 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) west of the village of Hawaii and 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) east of the beach town of Monterrico. The park is also negotiating with the Guatemalan government to establish a 3,500 hectare (8,600 acres) protected area centered in the mangrove wetlands of the area. The region's ecosystem consists of mangrove-lined estuaries, dry tropical forests, and volcanic sand beaches. Beaches have "high-energy" characteristics like most on the Pacific Coast: relatively steep and narrow, with strong waves and tides, but no reefs. The climate in the Hawaii area is hot with a rainy season between June and September. Days are hot, but breezy, and nights are calm and warm with occasional thunderstorms.

Under its project, the park solicits donations of sea turtle eggs from local collectors and then reburies the eggs in protected hatcheries. After an incubation period of roughly 50 days, the hatchlings are released into the sea. Over 12,000 eggs were collected in 1997, 10,000 in 1998, 14,500 in 1999, and over 16,000 in 2000. The park’s hatchery is the most productive of the roughly 14 sea turtle hatcheries in Guatemala. It also carries out research on these endangered reptiles. In an attempt to counteract the effects of unsustainable hunting and habitat loss, the Ecological Park breeds Spectacled Caymans (crocodiles, caimanus fuscus) and green iguanas for release in the mangrove forests.

The mangrove forests, wetlands, and coastal lagoons of the area are one of the last remaining natural areas on the south coast of Guatemala, and they are in urgent need of protection. It also monitors harvesting of mangrove wood and conducts local educational and reforestation campaigns. Together with the Guatemalan government and local communities, the park is working to establish a protected area of over 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) with the goal of conserving the natural resources of the area while at the same time working with local residents regarding sustainable development. The park, furthermore, carries out educational activities, such as lectures on litter, ecology, and endangered species. It also promotes interactive events, such as beach cleanups and baby turtle release "races" at local schools. It operates school hatcheries where students collect, bury, and release their own turtle eggs when they are born.


About GuatemalaVolunteering in Guatemala
Stay abroad in Guatemala? Read more about Guatemala and its people, and learn why this is a great destination for volunteer work in Central America.



The project in the ecological park in Guatemala is an integrated project that, while attempting to conserve the flora and fauna of the area, also tries to offer local residents economic alternatives to improve the quality of their lives. In addition to its educational activities, it organizes health projects (construction of latrines and wells) and offers training regarding the preservation and processing of fish products and eco-tourism. Volunteers may assist with these activities. Volunteers are hosted at the Sea Turtle, Crocodile, and Mangrove Conservation Project near the town of Hawaii (Guatemala, not U.S.), which is 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of the Pacific Coast beach town of Monterrico.

1. Turtle Conservation (Egg Collection and Hatchery Management)
During the egg-laying season (June-October) volunteers are formed into patrol groups and spend nights walking the beach in search of nesting turtles. Once the turtle is sighted and "claimed", volunteers wait until it has finished depositing to collect the eggs, transfer them, and then bury them in the hatchery. Volunteers also receive voluntary donations from local egg collectors and carry them to the hatchery. Once the eggs have been buried in the hatchery, the nest is marked and recorded in a log. Once the eggs hatch (mid-July to December), volunteers assist with releasing the hatchlings and excavating the nests to determine the hatchling success rate, which is usually over 90%. Hatchlings should either be released at night or early or late in the day. They should never be released during the heat of the day as there are more predators and the midday sun will dehydrate them. Basic research in turtle biology is also conducted, including measuring nest and sand temperatures, conducting nightly crawl counts, and monitoring and recording hatchling success rates. Volunteers take part in these research activities. Any other research ideas you may have are welcomed and appreciated.

2. Construction
The Ecological Park is still young and plans to expand its activities as a center of conservation in the south coast region of Guatemala. Volunteers assist with the construction of additional turtle hatcheries, including hatcheries in nearby schools, and constructing volunteer and research facilities at the park.

3. Environmental Education
We firmly believe that environmental education is one of the keys to conserving the wildlife of Guatemala, and at all of our project sites, we host volunteers who are interested in helping out in our Environmental Education Program. It is important to note that this requires a higher level of Spanish language knowledge. Volunteers assist with conducting environmental education activities in local schools, including teaching classes, developing curriculum, conducting beach clean ups, and operating school hatcheries.

4. Mangrove Reforestation
The mangrove forests lining the Chiquimulilla Canal are under constant threat by illegal loggers and fires caused by the cleaning of pasture for cattle. Volunteers assist with mangrove reforestation activities carried out in conjunction with local schools and conservation groups.

5. Cayman and Iguana Breeding
Crocodiles and other animals were once abundant in the south coast but are rapidly disappearing due to hunting and loss of habitat. Crocodiles and iguanas are bred in captivity on the grounds of the park and offspring are released into the nearby mangrove forests. Volunteers assist with feeding and caring for the breeding of Caymans and iguanas.

6. Community Projects
Successful sea turtle conservation efforts in other parts of the world have shown the need to work closely with local communities. This is especially true in a country like Guatemala, where the resources and the will of the authorities are lacking to impose more stringent conservation measures.

Although the turtle egg-laying and hatching season is from June to October, the most active time at the center, volunteers are needed at all times. Mangrove reforestation activities are carried out from December to February. For those interested in environmental education, the Guatemalan school year runs from January to November.

The Ecological Park includes a large central ranch house with a kitchen, office/library, second-story dormitory, a large, open common area with hammocks and tables, and a modern toilet and shower. There is also a small visitor's house where volunteers are welcome to sleep. Nearby are the crocodile and iguana reproduction pens and a water well. 63 meters (200 feet) away, just behind the coastal dunes, is the main turtle hatchery, holding tanks, and a lookout tower. There are 110V electrical outlets available. Accommodations are rustic but comfortable, and with the ocean breeze and roar of the surf in the distance, they make for an ideal atmosphere to relieve the stress of modern life and take in the natural wonders of the Pacific Ocean. The volunteer lodging includes a bed, shower, toilet, lockers, and kitchen. The dormitory is screened in, but some volunteers hang mosquito nets as an added precaution. Living in the volunteer house includes food. There is Internet service, shops, and restaurants in Monterrico, which is located 10 minutes away by bus.

Volunteer Work in Sea Turtle Protection in Guatemala includes:
  Consultation of our experienced staff
  Translation of application documents
  Volunteer work placement
  Orientation session on arrival
  Orientation kit
  Local support
  24/7 Emergency Number
  Shared accommodation in Volunteer House
  Airport pick-up in Guatemala City
  Airport drop-off in Guatemala City
  Overnight-stays in Antigua (transfer in/out)
  Advisery concerning adequate travel insurance
  Flight booking service (optional and for free)
  Certificate of participation

What’s not included:
  International flight
  Travel health insurance
  Local travels


Program / duration





Volunteer House

720 USD

905 USD

1,090 USD

185 USD

Application fee 120 USD to be added. One week corresponds to 7 days and 6 nights.



Travel Health   Insurance 

more info here

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Your contact
Julia Federmann
Julia Federmann

(+1) 954 762 7607
(+49) 7735 425 339
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This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   |   (+56-2) 2819 8274   |   (+1) 954 762 7607   |   (+49) 7735 425 339    |    Call

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