Marine Biology Internships in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has one of the highest biodiversities on the planet, both on the land and in the water. Through this Marine Biology internship, located on the central Pacific coast, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on key projects dedicated to protecting this rich ocean biodiversity. This includes coral rehabilitation and reef health priorities, as well as marine education and sustainability projects within the community. If you have a passion for marine science, diving, conservation, and community development, this will be an experience like no other, in one of the world’s most iconic destinations for biodiversity!
- Gain specialist experience in Coral Restoration
- Contribute to diverse marine research priorities
- Learn from experienced career scientists
- Enjoy spare time in Manuel Antonio, one of the world’s most biodiverse destinations
Type of host organizations:
- Non-profit organization
Through this Marine Biology internship, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on key projects dedicated to protecting rich ocean biodiversity. This includes coral rehabilitation and reef health priorities, as well as marine education and sustainability projects within the community.
This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided. Click here to view remote Environmental & Marine Sciences Internships, which you can undertake from home.
Costa Rica has one of the highest biodiversities on the planet, both on the land and in the water. The small Central American country is about 13 times smaller than Texas, yet it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s entire biodiversity! If you have a passion for marine science, diving, conservation, and community development, this will be an experience like no other.
In Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, Marine Biology internships are offered through a local Marine Conservation non profit organization. The primary goals of the organization are focused on protecting the local marine environment, involving the community and providing ongoing educational support in regard to these important themes. Interns learn from a range of experienced local divers and conservationists. The team behind this project include qualified biologists, wildlife conservationists, and oceanographers, also qualified as PADI Course Directors and PADI Master Instructors.
The Marine Biology internship includes the PADI Coral Restoration Specialty Certification which is a unique certification developed by Marine Conservation NPO. This Certification course covers the science behind coral restoration, coral biology and restoration techniques. Once certified, interns contribute to data collection, cleaning nurseries, measuring Corals and maintaining nurseries.
If you are not currently PADI certified, then you are still welcome to participate. However, you will be required to complete an introductory week, at an additional cost, prior to beginning the internship. During this first week, you will need to complete open water and Adventure Diver with Peak Performance Buoyancy (PPB) certification.
Dive trips usually take place between two and three times per week (amounting to approximately 4 - 6 dives per week). A typical day usually involves a 7:15 a.m. start at the dive center. Morning dive trips depart at approximately 8 a.m. and return at noon. Afternoon study sessions for research related activities commence from 1 p.m. On “non diving days” activities commence from 9 a.m.. Non diving activities can include beach surveys, water quality surveys, clean-ups and data recording. Interns with a creative flair will also have scope to assist with projects related to education and awareness, such as blogs and social media outreach.
In addition to assistance with routine coral rehabilitation and reef health priorities, Marine Biology interns are expected to develop a specific focus area, collecting data and conducting relevant analysis. This requires initiative on the part of the intern but is conducted with the support of local team members. Topics may include:
- Dive site population variance (including coral species abundance and corresponding reef fish abundance)
- Reef degradation
- Shifts in benthic populations
- Growth rate analysis of in-situ coral fragments across various nursery locations
- Anthropogenic dive site conditions and coral survivorship
- Cora fragment outplant growth, survivorship and recruitment
- Dive site water quality metrics and corresponding sponge abundance
- Invasive species and their impacts on native species
- Nudibranch abundance throughout local dive sites
- Octopus mating season
If you are focusing on a specific area (for example, nudibranchs or octopus) interns may have an opportunity to receive a dive certification relating to that field - all are unique certifications developed by the non profit organization, designed to cover related information.
It is important to note that Marine Biology internships are unavailable from mid September, through till the end of October. This is due to heavy rainfall in October.
For the diving, all internship participants will be required to have the following: mask, fins, snorkel, dive computer, compass, underwater slate for recording data during surveys, safety sausage and reel (for diver safety during surveys), and rash guard. The rental of a BCD, regulator, and wetsuit is included in the cost of the internship program fee. However, interns may also consider bringing their own (especially a wetsuit, if you want to ensure your best fit). Some equipment can also be purchased locally at the dive center but there are limited items. If you are interested in purchasing any equipment onsite, please ask in advance, to ensure availability.
Approx. 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday
Marine Biology interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
Marine conservation research
Reef ecosystems surveys
Data collection and surveys
NPO administrative support
Professional development opportunities:
Gain PADI Coral Restoration Specialty Certification
Enhance your diving experience through engagement in real world conservation projects
Obtain professional references from experienced PADI masters and career conservationists
Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.
Costa Rica photo gallery
It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.
Coral Restoration and Marine Biology
Program Fee (USD)
|4 weeks||$3,242Equivalent to $115/day|
|6 weeks||$4,272Equivalent to $101/day|
|8 weeks||$5,302Equivalent to $94/day|
|10 weeks||$6,382Equivalent to $91/day|
|12 weeks||$7,412Equivalent to $88/day|
|14 weeks||$8,467Equivalent to $86/day|
|16 weeks||$9,497Equivalent to $84/day|
|18 weeks||$10,527Equivalent to $83/day|
|20 weeks||$11,582Equivalent to $82/day|
|24 weeks||$13,692Equivalent to $81/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
- In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
- Sourcing and securing your internship placement
- Personalization of your internship plan
- Coaching from your supervisor
- Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
- Academic credit facilitation
- International reference letter
- Certificate of Internship Completion
- Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
- Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
- Optional extras, such as language lessons
- Souvenirs and leisure activities during your free time
- Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, public transportation, and any meals not included in your Program Fee
- A deposit of $449 USD is required to secure your internship
- Coral Restoration and Marine Biology internships include diving activities. If you are not currently PADI certified, then you are still welcome to participate. However, you will be required to complete an “intro week”, at an additional cost, prior to beginning the Coral Restoration internship. During the intro week, you will complete Open Water and Adventure Diver with PPB certification. This introductory week will include the necessary online materials and certifications that you need.
- Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
- All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
Arrival and Orientation
Internships in Manuel Antonio begin on the first and third Monday of each month. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. Interns may choose to spend a minimum of 4 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 weeks.
Note that Coral Reef Restoration and Marine Biology internships are unavailable from mid September, through till the end of October. This is due to heavy rainfall in October. The Environmental Education and Sustainable Business & Tourism internships are available year-round.
Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee:
- The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays.
- The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation.
- Interns are asked to arrive at SJO no later than 3pm on Sunday (before the Monday start date), as Quepos / Manuel Antonio is approximately 3 hours drive from San Jose. It’s advisable to have an early night, to avoid being overtired on the start date.
- The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday.
- Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.
If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an international airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.
Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.
Please note that all internship participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.
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Accommodation and WiFi
Interns are accommodated in various local homestays, which are typically situated in the “Zona Americana” neighborhood of Quepos. This is an extremely convenient location, being within walking distance of the world class yacht yard of Marina Pez Vela (just 5 minute’s walk of the dive center), the local farmers market, central market, bus station, abundant shops, restaurants, cafes, and the “malecon” boardwalk. Both the Quepos airport and the Manuel Antonio National Park are approximately just 5-10 minutes’ drive.
Each homestay will, on average, accommodate between 4-9 program participants. Bedrooms are basic and each can sleep between 2-3 guests, with space for guest storage (rooming arrangements are not shared between genders). Bathrooms and common areas are shared. Breakfast and dinner is provided, as well as laundry service and basic WiFi.
Please note that the accommodation pictured in the photo gallery of this webpage is provided as an example. Since we work with more than one option for accommodation, the exact accommodation that you’re assigned may differ from the photos. However, you can expect a similar standard and similar amenities, to what is shown.
Internships include two meals per day provided by the host family (daily breakfast and dinner). Breakfast in the homestays is served at 6.30am. Interns will usually spend lunch time around the marina, where you can purchase sandwiches and snacks from the commercial plaza. There is also sufficient time to walk into downtown Quepos, where there are many affordable eateries. Dinner at the homestays is served around 6.30pm. If you choose to opt out of breakfast or dinner, any day of the week, you should communicate this back to your host family.
A typical Costa Rican breakfast may consist of cereal, fruits, pinto and eggs, accompanied with coffee. Dinner commonly consists of starches (rice and beans), as well as meat (often chicken) and salad. Meals are basic, hearty and nutritious, but may not be what you’re used to eating at home. Tap water may be consumed in Costa Rica. If there are special snacks you like to have, please budget for them. Alcohol consumption and smoking is not permitted in any of the homestay accommodation.
Let us know in advance if you have any specific dietary requirements. Bear in mind that strict vegan diets can be more difficult to accommodate. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are available but specific substitution products, such as non-dairy milks, are very expensive in Costa Rica.
A weekly budget of approximately US$100 should be sufficient for covering weekly lunches, while also having extra for snacks/treats/drinks and public transportation. (If you want to eat at fancy restaurants every day, it will be easy to spend more. However, there are great local eateries and markets which are affordable).
Fluency in Spanish is not a requirement for interns in Manuel Antonio, however; lessons with a at a local language school can be arranged for those who wish to learn. Lessons are coordinated directly through our team in Costa Rica and can be confirmed in advance or at the orientation.
Weekends and travel
Hosted within the Quepos region of Costa Rica, you’ll find everything you need in an area renowned for its rich biodiversity, accessible National Park, popular beaches and modern amenities. The area is a popular destination for tourists, so you’ll find it user-friendly to get around and find things to do. Nevertheless, local coordinators are on hand to assist with the booking of safe and reliable activities with the most recommended vendors, so be sure to ask them for advice about maximizing your experience. It’s wise to research what you’d like to do in advance, given that certain activities will have a higher cost than others. Whether you want to swim, shop, surf, scuba, enjoy yoga, hiking, or more, there is an abundance of natural beauty, adventure, and excellent cuisine to soak up!
Essential country information
|Currency||Costa Rican Colón (CRC)|
Weather and climate:
Costa Rica experiences a tropical climate year-round. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). In the Quepos / Manuel Antonio area, the temperature typically varies from 78°F to 92°F (25°C to 33°C) and is rarely below 75°F or above 94°F (24°C or above 35°C).
There are just two seasons - the dry season, from December to April, and the rainy season, from May to November. Due to the large amount of rain in October, the diving internships (Coral Restoration and Marine Biology) are unavailable from Mid September until November 1st. The non-diving internships are available year-round.