Anne Smellie, from our leading turtle conservation holiday supplier, Oyster Worldwide gives her tips on planning and booking a turtle conservation holiday:

Work tips

"On a turtle conservation project, you will be doing something every day, but you’ll also have a full afternoon to relax or explore. You need to be prepared to be hands-on, but you don’t have to commit to a long term placement. We’d ask for a minimum of a week and that can be factored into a two-week trip for holidaymakers that want to do something else the following week – though most people do between two and four weeks.”

Booking tip

“Make sure you’re booking with a company that briefs you thoroughly on all aspects of the trip. If that doesn’t happen you could think you’re booking something completely different to what it actually is, and you’ll be disillusioned and unhappy, plus the project won’t be happy with you because you will have turned up with all of the wrong expectations. It’s the tour organiser’s responsibility to make sure you’re prepared, so it’s essential to ask as many questions as you can.”

Preparation tips

“Manage your expectations: one night on the turtle project you might see none because there is no rhyme or reason. The next night you might see 20 turtles.”

“You do need a certain level of fitness, and be happy to walk for a few kilometres every night. You should also have an interest in the scientific side of things, or be motivated by the bigger picture of what you’re doing – if you’ve just come out of a long relationship and want to find yourself, just book a diving holiday. You don’t do it for escapism; you do it to fulfil a genuine interest.”

Packing advice

“You don’t need to pack much, really! Quick dry stuff – I learned that the hard way. Just stuff that you just don’t necessarily love – t-shirts and shorts all the way. You need dark clothes if you’re going to be patrolling the beaches at night-time – and some travel handwash, that’s really useful. You don’t need much because it’s warm. Maybe a hoodie that you travel in – and it’s worth having some long trousers actually, long, light trousers and a long-sleeved light shirt or two just in case there are mosquitoes.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Turtle conservation or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Turtle conservation health & safety


Visit your GP or travel clinic 6-8 weeks before departure to ensure you are up to date with all necessary vaccinations. You may also need to take antimalarial medication, depending on the region you are travelling in. Take out comprehensive travel insurance which includes emergency repatriation. Speak to your tour operator to find out what measures they have in place in the case of a medical emergency, especially as many of these projects are located in fairly remote areas. Is anyone first aid trained? Do they have 24-hour telephone backup? Is there a vehicle which can take a patient to the nearest hospital or clinic? Many of the locations will be hot and sticky – but do take long trousers and long sleeved shirts as sandflies and mosquitoes will be present, particularly during the rainy season. Wear insect repellent (environmentally friendly options, such as Incognito, are a good idea) – as well as citronella oil for sandflies. Wear high factor sunscreen and a hat during the day, even when it is overcast; the sun is especially fierce close to the equator and can burn through cloud. Walking along the sand for longish distances and living in a hot and perhaps humid environment is all part of being on a turtle conservation holiday – but being prepared for this can make it all a lot more comfortable. Bring sensible shoes for walking along the beach, not just flip flops – and plasters in case of blisters. Quick drying clothes are also a good idea, and will make washing and drying much easier. Bring a waterless hand wash, and keep well hydrated.


Safety briefings should be part of any placement run by a reputable operator. Ask them about safety procedures before you book, and pay attention to them when you get there. These locations my look like paradise – but there may well be issues with riptides, motorcycle taxis and so on; knowing about these can help prevent a nasty accident. Many places can only be accessed by boat; lifejackets should be available if this is the case, especially for children. Take note of the local emergency number for your location. Check the FCO website for the latest safety advice for your destination.

Turtle conservation holiday tips

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful turtle conservation holiday travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Think about what is more important, good weather and fewer turtles or more turtles and bad weather. We went for the latter and it was definitely worth enduring the daily storms for the experience of seeing the baby and adult turtles.
– Anna Hulton in Costa Rica
“Learn some Spanish so that you can converse with the locals. Definitely hire body boards whilst there as the surf is unreal!” – Katie Wilkinson in Costa Rica

“Take plenty of reading matter or things to occupy you during your stay. We went in the rainy season and most places were closed. Be prepared for blistered feet from trekking up and down the 4km beach on the nightly patrols and be aware of the numerous insect waiting to take bites out of you. Coming face to face with nesting turtles in the very early hours, on a pristine deserted Pacific beach, was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. We felt that although we were only there for a short period of time, we were making a serious contribution... Coming across the intervention of poachers on our final night, brought the reality of the projects work home to us.” – Mark Fletcher in Costa Rica

“Be happy and confident enough to be able to enjoy the moments when you are alone with nature. everything is provided so travel light. Free laundry, three meals a day, your own wooden hut in the jungle village with own bathroom, shower and fan, the clothes you wear etc. Arrive early or stay on late if you want to see the rest of the Seychelles. Leaving and returning to the island during your months stay is rather difficult because of ferry times. Be prepared to mix in with the 150 permanent residents and make friends if you want to really get the most from your holiday.” – Linda Vernon in the Seychelles

“Go into the holiday with an open mind, be prepared to muck in, learn heaps, have fun and you won't be disappointed. As a family we were made so welcome by volunteers and locals alike. We had plenty of time during the days to do what we wanted and we never got restless... the days just flew!” – Simon Wrench in Costa Rica with his children, aged 8 and 10

“The location is very secluded and there is not that much to do there. If I were to go again I would maybe book to go to some other places in Costa Rica as well so that I could see a bit more of the Country..” – Ellie Hall in Costa Rica

"I went at the end November/beginning of December and the weather was great. But if you really want to see more turtles, then it would be better to go earlier in the season, say September or October." – Sue Curtis in Costa Rica
Be prepared for what you are going to. Not that I think that anyone would be disappointed with the project, but being prepared makes the experience even better! Know what to bring in advance, know what sort of tasks you will be doing at the site etc.
– Emelie Gronsund
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: Isabella Jusková [Intro: Oyster Worldwide] [Health & Safety: Oyster Worldwide] [Anna Hulton quote: Geoff McCabe] [Emelie Gronsund quote: Oyster Worldwide]