General Information

Climate

The sea turtle nesting season coincides with Costa Rica’s rainy season so it usually rains most days, if even just for 10 minutes, but there are more than plenty of sunny days, as well. Daytime temperatures range from mid-70 when overcast to low-90’s when the sun is out. The weather can change very rapidly. Rain storms can pop up out of nowhere and disappear as suddenly as they arrived. Humidity is very high and cotton clothes should be avoided because they never dry completely. Playa Caletas is different as the nesting season as it is longer at than the other beaches, during the months of July until November this beach receives a lot of rain, from November until February temperatures can reach 100 and there is no rain.

Diet

In San Miguel there is a cook who will prepare meals for the volunteers. In Caletas, Corozalito, and Costa de Oro all Pretoma personnel cook their own meals. Three meals are provided per day. Snacks can be bought at the local general stores. Food in Costa Rica is simple.  Meals often include rice and beans, other common items include tortillas, salads, chicken, fish, pork, beef, pastas, soups, pancakes, cereals, sandwiches, cheese, fruits, veggies and fresh-squeezed juices. Vegetarians generally should have no problems with the diet.

Visa

You will be granted a 90 day visa upon your arrival to Juan Santa Maria International Airport in Costa Rica. Note:  Please remember that you will be expected to stay at the project site for the duration of your time with the project.  Any travelling should be scheduled prior to or after your time with the project.

Travel Insurance

Pretoma does not supply any insurance policy to volunteers. Each volunteer is responsible for obtaining their own personnel insurance before arriving in Costa Rica.

Money and Currency Exchange

The closest ATM to the beach projects is an hour bus ride away, so it important to BRING CASH WITH YOU to the projects if you are planning on buying snacks or supplies at the local general stores, or participating in tourist activities. The Costa Rican currency is the colon (¢), its value to the US dollar changes daily (US$1.00 = ¢500). Click here (http://www.x-rates.com/calculator.html) to calculate the current currency conversion rate for your country. It is a good idea to change some money upon your arrival at the airport. You can also change money at one of the Costa Rican banks in San Jose. Just take your passport and be prepared to wait in line. Banking hours are generally from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Bank cards can be used to withdraw cash at several banks or ATM’s (ATH’s) in San Jose. Some banks charge a conversion fee when you change money or use an ATM card. We also recommend that you bring US dollars, as other currencies can be difficult or impossible to change. Make sure dollar bills are not ripped or stained, as the banks will not change those. If you decide to change or withdraw money, be sure to do so prior to heading to the project site as it is virtually impossible once there.

Electricity

Electricity in Costa Rica is 110 Volts (same as the U.S.).  If you travel to Costa Rica with a device that does not accept 110 Volts, you will need a voltage converter or transformer. Outlets in Costa Rica only accept Flat blade plugs. If your appliance’s plug has a different shape, you will need a plug adapter

Medical & Health Services

Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America, so health need not be a major concern of the traveller. However, you might want to consider getting international medical insurance coverage through your provider.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Vaccinations are not needed for Costa Rica.
  • The water in Costa Rica is safe to drink throughout most of the country.
  • The project site is off the beaten path and although there are nearby community health clinics, they are only open from time to time. The major hospital, with ambulance service, is about an hour and a half drive away. It is recommended you bring a well-stocked personal first-aid kit.

What to Bring?

  • LED head lamps with red light are obligatory , rechargeable batteries are recommended (we have chargers)
  • Good-quality poncho or rain jacket
  • Alarm clock (battery powered)
  • Waterproof wristwatch
  • Water bottle
  • Backpacks are better to bring than suitcases
  • Quick drying clothing for a warm tropical climate (cotton takes a long time to dry) that you are not worried about ruining
  • Black clothes for the night beach patrols
  • Long, light-weight pants for night beach patrols, to protect legs from sandfleas
  • Sturdy shoes for walking the beach at night (water shoes/booties work great for the beach walks) and hiking in the area (bulky hiking boots are not necessary)
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Swimsuit
  • First-aid kit
  • Insect repellant
  • Mosquito netting is recommended
  • Bath towel
  • Easy-to-pack hammock will make the days at the beaches a lot more comfortable, but is optional
  • Waterproof sunscreen (the rays are powerful)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Camera
  • Things to share with local kids are welcome
  • International calling card
  • Photo copy of passport
  • Forms of entertainment: books, games, music, guitar, paints, surfing equipment, soccer balls, etc.

Wish List

Many items utilized within our projects, both for work and play, are expensive and hard to get in Costa Rica. Participants that are willing to bring and donate any of the below items would be asisting our efforts significantly

  • Latex gloves: available at pharmacies
  • First-aid Kits / items
  • AAA rechargeable batteries
  • Headtorches with red lights
  • Waterproof (write in the rain) Notebooks
  • Small backpacks
  • Hammocks
  • GPS
  • Cameras
  • Alarm clocks
  • Anything else you think would help
  • White board and permanent markers
  • Rain gear for our local patrollers

For a more detailed list of donation items our projects always need, please refer to the Wish List below:

Turtle Trax Project Wish List