LogoGrupo Ecologico de la Costa VerdeLeatherback Baby



volAugust 1999

volAugust 2000

vol June 2001

volJuly 2001

volSeptember 2001

vol October 2001

volAugust 2002

vol September 2002

volSeptember 2003

volSeptember 2003

volOctober 2004

volJuly 2005

volOctober 2005

vol August 2006

vol September 2006

vol January 2007

volJuly 2007

volAugust 2007

vol 2008

vol 2008

vol 2013




vol 2017


Hola Volunteers ~ Updated August 14th, 2019

This page is designed to help those volunteer
who are planning to join us this summer or have been selected.

The schedule:

  • The names of selected volunteers and the countries they are coming from
  • Whether family, couples or singles
  • The date/s and length of stay
  • The type of accommodations
  • Our work

General Information:

  • Safety
  • Passport and Tourist permits
  • Things to bring and your arrival
  • Volunteer accommodations
  • Renting a private home
  • What you should be careful of
  • Things to do in the area

Other information about San Pancho:

  • The community of San Pancho
  • Landscape
  • Climate
  • Transportation
  • Supplies
  • Communication

Our Work

Our work generally begins about two hours before sunset, cleaning nest boxes and getting hatchlings ready to be released. Four hours later, our work begins on the beach and ends around an hour or two before sunup. We travel the beach in a VW dune buggy, in shifts of one to three per night, lasting for about three to five hours per each shift. While volunteers are on the beach collecting marine turtle nests, other volunteers are loading nests into nest boxes at the nursery.

  • Collecting nests and relocating them into the nursery. 
  • Monitoring and regulating nursery temperatures, getting hatchlings ready to be released, and the cleaning nest boxes. 
  • Keeping the greenhouse nursery in good condition around the clock. 
  • Collecting fresh sand to load into the nest boxes, and dumping the used sand back on the beach.  
  • Maintain and operating an all-terrain-vehicle, (sometimes during periods of heavy rain and very poor road conditions). 
  • Conducting slide shows, lectures, and tours on our marine turtle program.
  • Keeping the apartments clean and neat.

The Schedule

The chart below contains names of those volunteers who have been selected to join us this coming nesting season. Names in yellow are return volunteers, the next column is the country they come from. Light green indicates that they are a families or couples. The dates are approximate and may change. Important, if for any reason the information below is incorrect or you wish to change your date/s or remove your name/s from the chart, please let us know as soon as possible.


To help plan your trip to San Francisco, (commonly called San Pancho by the locals,) the past volunteers and the Director have put together the following information to make your stay here more enjoyable.

Passport and Tourist Visa:

When you receive your airline tickets let us know the city you are flying out of, the date, time you arrive in Puerto Vallarta, flight number and airline. (This information will help us in case of cancellation or flight delay) We will pick you up at the airport or bus terminal.

To enter México you will need a passport, there are no exceptions to this rule. A Mexican tourist permit or visa will be issued at the airport when you arrive in Puerto Vallarta or when you cross the border by car or bus. It is important to obtain a Tourist Visa that covers 180 days. If your visa expires before you leave México, it can be extended, there will be a small charge.

In case you do not make your flight:

If you're not able to board your flight too Puerto Vallarta, immediately call us at 311-258-4100, (if there is no answer then e-mail ASAP). Your call/e-mail should reach us here in San Pancho three to eight hours before your intended arrival time. In other words your call will stop us from making an unnecessary trip into Puerto Vallarta. We will also need a passport type photo of you so we can identify you at the airport and create a photo identification cards. If you arrive at the airport and we are not there for some reason to meet you call 01-311-258-4100.

Things to bring from home and your arrival:

Personal checks can be cashed by the Group (but must 500 USD or over)
ATM card with pin numbers
Good Raincoat
Alarm clock
Flashlight (LED preferable)
(to avoid blinding each other, we do not use head lamps)
Beach shoes
Sun Block (apply first before repellent)
Insect Repellent (Use only Sawyer Fisherman's Picaridin, or Natrapel 8 hour, or Off! Deepwoods VIII)
Lip sun block
Anti-diarrhea medicine
Sweatshirt or light jacket for the night shift

Pack accordingly; keep in mind that we are in the tropics, pack light, although at night while on the beach a sweatshirt or light jacket may be necessary.  Also, remember that almost everything you need can be purchased in Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias or La Peñita.

After your arrival you may need to exchange money and/or use your debit card. Important, bank debit cards must have pin numbers. Use only ATM machines within a bank Use only the type of machine that allows you to hold on to the card, swipe through. Online banking is very handy incase of problems. Tell your bank or card holder you will be traveling in México)

Once a week we'll traveling into Bucerias for food and supplies, as the choices of supplies are limited in San Pancho. 


San Pancho is as safe as any country town in the United States, Canada, or the European Union. I have lived in this area of México since 1991 and feel very comfortable here.

Volunteer housing:

We have four very nice volunteer apartments at the nursery, each apartment can hold up to five volunteers. The cost of rent a room is 300 USD per each volunteer per month. If you are sharing a room (two people) the rent would be 500 USA. The Group will pay all utilities,Wi-Fi and maid. Volunteers must keep the apartments as clean as possible.    

We use Ciel bottled water, when your bottle is empty place 30 pesos inside the bottle and place under the stairs to unit #4. Trash pickup is generally three times a week.  Fresh fruit and vegetables can be purchased daily from trucks that routinely drive through the area, just listen for a loud speaker announcing vegetables for sale (generally in the morning).  We have four washing machines and three sets of clotheslines.

There are many very good restaurants in town. Check with other the volunteers regarding which restaurants are recommended/safe.

Since these homes are privately owned we ask that all volunteers follow these rules:

  1. Absolutely No smoking in the house.
  2. Absolutely No pets at the nursery or within the apartments. The town is filled with dogs and cats that are look for a better home.
  3. No overnight guests.
  4. Do not remove or loan any of the property within the apartments, i.e. blender, plates, sheets, etc.

Renting a Private Home:

Many families and some couples prefer their own private home rather than share with other volunteer. We can help you find nice homes, but you must make your own reservations, We subject that you call Geno at 52-311-258-4285 or e-mail Caren or Allison at: allison@sanpanchorentals.com or http://www.sanpanchorentals.com/ for accommodations. Important, ask for a home close to the nursery on America Latina.

What you should be careful of:

There are very few biting insects here, although we have some mosquitoes and they can make your life miserable if you don’t take them seriously.  You must use good repellent, and start applying it the minute you get off the airplane, especially on the feet, ankles and legs.

There is good surfing and swimming in San Pancho. Be careful during high tide and/or heavy waves, you can run into serious rip-tides and undertow conditions, swim with others and at low tide if possible. There are several good swimming areas for children under 12 at the fishing boat area to the south. 

Do not drink out of the water tap. Use Ciel bottled water. All restaurants will serve potable water.

Most restaurants have safe to eat food, but be careful what you eat especially out of town. Don’t eat at a corner taco stand unless you know it's safe. The staff will recommend good restaurants.

And last, be careful of scorpions although there are not a lot of them here. You may never see one while you're here but be careful where you place your hand and feet.

Things to do in the area:

Most of our work is between 6 PM and 4 AM which leaves a lot of time for volunteers to explore the country and have fun.  Following are some ideas to consider. (Also, several times during the season the entire group will drive to other nurseries and explore the countryside)

Los Ayalos – Is a small beach community near Rincón de Guayabitos.  The sea here is much calmer than in San Pancho.  There are palapa style restaurants along the beach but few gift shops.  To get there, take a colectivo (explained at the end of this section) to Rincón de Guayabitos (20 to 30 pesos) and catch a colectivo to Los Ayalos (15 to 20 pesos)

Rincón de Guayabitos  - Is another beach town with calm seas, much larger than Ayalos.  This is a Mexican resort town with nice hotels, restaurants and many gift shops.  To get there take a colectivo from San Pancho to Guayabitos for about 25 pesos.
La Peñita - Just north of Guayabitos, this town has good grocery stores, restaurants, a bank, automatic teller machines, post office, great ice cream, and souvenir/t-shirt type shopping.  Take the colectivo from San Pancho to La Peñita for 25 pesos.

San Blas - A town 74 miles to the north known for it’s surfing and birding.  There are boat trips available through the mangroves swamps where one can see a variety of birds, pond turtles and alligators.  There are good hotels, restaurants and a sixteenth-century Spanish fort in the area.  To get there, take a bus or colectivo to the La Peñita bus station.

Sayulita - Five miles south of San Pancho, Sayulita has some small grocery stores, good restaurants, gift shops, great ice cream, souvenir/t-shirt type shopping and incredible surfing.  Take the colectivo from San Pancho.

San Pancho -  If you are interested in birding take a look at our local lagoon, a nature hike up the road past the hotel or the road out to the river.  Just get out and explore. There is a lot to see in the area. Just don’t forget the insect repellent.

Colectivo - These are generally vans that carry several passengers to many destinations.  It is much less expensive than taking a private taxi.  There are several areas in San Pancho to catch one such as the hospital, the school or walk to the highway to catch one (sometimes this is faster, but not always.)

Other Information:

Our photos: We have put together a photo gallery to show volunteers the area, it's people, landscape and our work, go to Photograph Gallery

Community:  San Francisco is a small country pueblo of 2,500 inhabitants, located 32 miles north of Puerto Vallarta.  San Pancho as it’s commonly referred to, contains many small stores, gift shops, good restaurants, and a regional hospital.  President Echeverria rebuilt the pueblo in the late 70’s.  It's parks, market place, and cobble stone roads reflect the charm of old Mexico.

Landscape:  The northwest edge of the pueblo is flanked by the Pacific Ocean and a one mile stretch of beach. The town is enclosed on three sides by rolling green hills of heavy tropical Jungle.

Climate: Throughout the summer, daytime temperatures range between 80° to 92° (27°c to 33°c), nights 72° to 85° (22°c to 29°c)  Ocean temperature can runs as warm as 86°± (30°c) in the summer.  Humidity ranges from 55% to 85%.  Heavy thunderstorms and rain may occur at anytime between mid-May and mid-October.  Yearly rainfall amounts range between 24 to 72 inches per year.  Except for storms, winds are gentle, 3 to 9 mph.

Transportation:  A personal vehicles are not necessary although it can be helpful.  Bus and mini bus (colectivos) service runs every 20 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 pm.

Supplies:  Many necessities can be found in San Pancho while a greater variety including auto parts, a large selection of groceries and household supplies can be obtained in Bucerias, La Peñita and Puerto Vallarta. Once a week, the volunteers will be driven to one of these towns to purchase food and supplies.

Communications:  We have Skype, and high-speed wireless Internet.  English language newspapers and magazines can be found in Bucerias and puerto Vallarta.  At this time we have no mail service, important letters or packages can be sent to via UPS or other delivery services at:

Grupo Ecológico
Casa Tortuga
102 American Latina
San Francisco, Nay
México, CP 63729

Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.


[Home] [Purpose] [About Us] [Community] [Records] [Contribute] [Newsletters]
Volunteers] [Voluntarios] [Contact]