In a dynamic partnership, Discovery Expeditions and Adventure Education bring you:


2017 Puerto Rico:Sea Turtle Nesting and Immersive Ecology & Social Studies  

 Join us! Wednesday, May 24 - Monday, May 29, 2017 (Memorial Day Weekend)


PR2016 GroupProgram: 6 Day exploration of sea turtle conservation, natural and social history of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a U.S. Common Wealth, so No Passport is Required if traveling from the U.S.
Trip Price: $1,895 Land only*
(includes "Cancel For Any Reason" insurance (except for New York residents).  See other "Inclusions", below)
Deposit Due Upon Registration: $250 (non-refundable)       
Registration Deadline: April 21, 2017 (please contact your Trip Leader, Kim, to discuss options)
Remaining Balance due: April 21, 2017

View photos from previous trips!   2016    2015
View the video at the bottom of the page!


*NOTE ABOUT BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT! We suggest waiting to book your flight until the registration deadline because once we have a final number and know which airports travelers will be coming from, we may be able to get a group fare at a preferred rate and provide a group shuttle to the trip start/rendevouz point.  Also, it is not advisable to purchase a non-refundable air ticket until your guide confirms there are enough travelers registered to run the trip.  When you DO book your flight, we recommend an itinerary in which you arrive around mid-day on the 24th and an afternoon departure (6:00 PM is ideal) on the 29th to get the most out of the trip's programming.  
*NOTE ABOUT EXTENDED STAY HOTEL RESERVATIONS  If you choose to arrive before the 24th or stay after the 29th, your guide can arrange hotel reservations for pre-trip or extended stay at the hotel.  However, the traveler is responsible for payment for hotel costs outside of the May 24-28 reservation dates included in the trip.  Please contact your guide if you would like to request pre-trip or extended stay hotel reservations.
Group Size: 20 maximum; 16 minimum (it is not advisable to purchase a non-refundable air ticket until your Trip Leader confirms the minimum number of travelers has been reached)
Health Travel Information (see bottom page)
Who Can Travel?:  The trip is open to any adult or child age 12 and up who is accompanied by an adult.  The trip has some special benefits for teachers or people seeking professional development, outlined below.  Should be physically in good enough condition to hike up to two hours at a time in hot, humid conditions in steep forested trails and walk on sand at night for turtle patrols in one hour stretches for up to seven hours with short breaks every hour.
Course CEU Credit: This trip is accredited through Dominican University.  Registration and payment for CEUs is separate and managed by Domincan University.  Please see details in the Overview, below.
Certificate of Completion: Every traveler participating in the trip receives a Certificate of Completion from Discovery Expeditions.

Teachers: Some school districts offer tuition reimbursement for the Dominican University course. For Montgomery County, Maryland, teachers, please visit the MCPS website for more information.

 View photos from previous trips!   2016    2015


Overview:  Puerto Rico: Sea Turtle Nesting and Immersive Ecology and Social Studies
On this unique and deeply enriching expedition, you will help conserve the leatherback sea turtle by volunteering to patrol nesting beaches and assist local scientists with data collection and monitoring of this endangered species.  Being in the company of a leatherback as she ends her arduous journey to lay her eggs is a moving experience and a privilege offered to only a few. This rare experience will truly enrich your life and bring depth to your teaching.  

On our adventure we will learn about the rich natural and cultural history of this beautiful island.  We will hike through a tropical rain forest and kayak through a mangrove channel into a bioluminescent bay. From ancient to modern, we will visit a cave of amazing geological and historical significance as we learn about rare formations and relive the story of Puerto Rico’s original inhabitants, the Taino Indians, and will also visit the world-renowned Arecibo Observatory.  Throughout, we will be immersed in the local Puerto Rican culture.  All experiences will be led by expert guides. Our home base will be the Capital city of San Juan, which is 15 miles east of Dorado Beach where we will patrol for leatherbacks as they come to nest.  

While this trip is available to anyone interested in the Caribbean's environment, biology and history, it is unique in that it has been carefully aligned with grade level and subject area curriculum, as well as Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.  Your Trip Leader, Kim, is passionate about empowering you to take your experiences on this adventure back to your young students who, in turn, will be inspired to learn and care deeply about sea turtles and the natural world.  The trip is accredited with Dominican University and offers either 2 or 3 professional credits. The course credits are optional and require seperate registration and payment directly with Dominican University, along with pre and post trip requirements for course credit as outlined below. You may register for credit now or you may wait until after the trip.

There are three registration options for this course:
1. Non-credit (no additional fees, registered through Academic Expeditions)
2. Two credits (additional fee of $190 registered through Dominican University)
3. Three credits (additional fee of $285 registered through Dominican University)
For specific work requirements and syllabus for options 2 and 3 and to register for one of these courses (should you choose to do so now), please visit the Dominican University registration page or contact Allan Varni at Dominican University for further inquiries.


Trip Highlights

  • Option to Receive Graduate Credit—This course is accredited through the Dominican University of California (2-3 CR available)
  • Aligned with your Curriculum—Enrich your life science, physical science, reading, writing and social studies lesson plans by gaining firsthand experience with Puerto Rico’s rich natural, historical and cultural heritage.
  • Certificate of Completion—Every traveler participating in the trip receives a Certificate of Completion from Discovery Expeditions.
  • Sea turtle nesting in Partnership with El Proyecto Tinglar Dorado—Observe the wonder of sea turtles nesting and participate in patrols and data collection of nesting beaches to aid in their protection (carapace measurements, egg counts, nest relocation, mapping nest location).  Your data will be used to assess sea turtle population trends, status and threats.
  • Kayaking in bioluminescent bay—Learn about tropical ecology, primary productivity, marine habitats and ecosystems, such as mangroves, bioluminescent bays, and sea turtle nesting beaches from our expert guides.
  • Hike in Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest and swim under a tropical waterfall—and experience the great biodiversity of the area from epiphytes to coquis (tree frogs) and rare and exotic birds
  • Take a guided tour through Camuy Caverns—Enrich your understanding of geology and Puerto Rican history by touring Camuy River Caverns Park and learning about the unique geological formations and cave drawings and petroglyphs left behind by the aboriginal Puerto Rican people, the Taino Indians
  • Take a self-guided tour of The Arecibo Observatory—the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world.
  • Expert speakers on conservation issues—Listen to talks from conservationists over a relaxing dinner and gain a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges of marine conservation through direct, hands-on experiences


Itinerary: Sea Turtle Nesting and Immersive Ecology and Social Studies in Puerto Rico

NOTE: Details below are subject to adaptation as more specifics are worked out on the ground.  

The price of this trip is LAND only* (see NOTE ABOUT FLIGHTS, above), meaning it is the responsibility of each registered traveler to arrange their own air transportation to San Juan, Puerto Rico from their airport and airline of choice. Your lodging in San Juan will be arranged for you; you only have to get yourself there by the evening of May 25th, so as to be ready to join the group for the Welcome Dinner around 5:00pm (exact time TBD). The trip officially ends on May 30th. Anyone is welcome to choose flights to extend their visit before or after the dates of the trip, and travel on their own to experience more of the region.

The price of this trip is all inclusive, except flights, some meals marked as “on own” on the itinerary.  We will travel as a group for the entire 6 days, stay at the same hotel, and eat some meals together (see itinerary below).

Pre Trip: We will schedule 1-2 Skype calls prior to the trip.  The purpose of the calls is to provide logistics information, background on program content, an opportunity for you to meet each other before the trip, and answer any questions you may have.  Dates TBD.  You will receive an email from your Trip Leader to coordinate the calls.


Day 1 (Wed, May 24): Flight from DCA, Arrival and Welcome Dinner

Travel on own to meet at the Holiday Inn Express in Condado, San Juan (a mid-day flight arrival to San Juan is recommended).  Get settled in and enjoy some relaxing time on the beach. Then join us for a welcome dinner at beautiful Tacos & Tequila restaurant with the local Chapter of the Sierra Club, the local sea turtle conservation groups, Chelonia & 7 Quillas, and our Discovery Expeditions guide.  Lodging: Holiday Inn Express

PR group 2016.crop    



Day 2 (Thurs, May 25): El Yunque Rain Forest

After breakfast at the hotel, travel to the Fajardo region to hike in cool and mountainous El Yunque Rain Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest Service ecosystem.   We arrive for a morning hike led by your Discovery Expeditions tour leader along the Mina Falls Trail ending at a very beautiful waterfall and swimming hole (swimming is optional but recommended—bring water shoes!). For lunch, we will visit a cultural icon of northern Puerto Rico, the long row of food kiosks at Luquillo Beach where you can take your pick of local Puerto Rican cuisine, on own, and spend some time relaxing on Luquillo Beach.   We’ll return to the hotel in the mid afternoon to rest up for a full day and long night tomorrow.  Dinner will be on own.  However, for those interested in a little local night life, Kim will organize taxis and accompany anyone interested to La Placita de Santurce for a relaxed dinner at the popular Jose Enrique's.

El Yunque La Mina girls 2016  Stephanie coconut 2016     El Yunque 2016     hammocks 2015



 Day 3 (Fri, May 26): A Visit to Historic Old San Juan and Leatherback Sea Turtle Nesting Patrol

After breakfast at the hotel, we visit Old San Juan for a day of historic tours of the Castilla San Cristóbal led by the National Park Service and La Fortaleza led by the Government of Puerto Rico.  Old San Juan has been called “The Gibraltar of the Caribbean” because Puerto Rico’s geographic position at the western edge of the Caribbean made San Juan one of thekey frontier outposts of Spain’s West Indies dominions. For lunch, we’ll eat authentic Puerto Rican food at El Jibarito restaurant, a local favorite.  We’lldepart Old San Juan in time to arrive back at the hotel in the mid afternoon to allow time to relax, rest up, and eat (on own) for a late night of leatherback patrols on Dorado Beach.  Sea Turtle Nesting Patrols inPartnership with El Proyecto Tinglar Dorado (the Dorado Leatherback Project).  Just before sundown, we gather in the conference room to hear a brief seminar on sea turtle biology and the survey methodology. Afterward, we head for Dorado Beach to begin our nesting patrols, which will last until 1:00am.  During this peak of the nesting season, we expect (but cannot be guaranteed) to see leatherback sea turtles.

Old San Juan  El Jibarito Old San Juan 2016    Leatherback 2015   



 Day 4 (Sat, May 27): Reserva Natural de Las Cabeza de San Juan and Bioluminescent Bay

Jessica and Claire kayak 2015After resting and light refreshments at the hotel in the morning, we meet for brunch at Cafe del Angel before we travel at noon to Las Cabezas de San Juan Natural Preserve near Fajardo for a guided tour of the costal habitat and lighthouse.  We eat an early dinner before taking a kayaking excursion led by a Pure Adventure marine biologist on the Bioluminescent Bay.  We arrive back at the hotel around 9:00pm.

 Reserva Natural de Las Cabeza de San Juan—Tour of the Lighthouse and the Natural Connections of the Coast.  We explore the history and nature of Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve by taking a guided trolley tour through the most important spots of this natural area. We go across dry forests, seagrass beds, take a boardwalk through mangroves and above Laguna Grande, and get to know the different beach types before visiting the Fajardo Lighthouse. There we explore several exhibitions about the organisms and ecosystems found at the reserve, and we enjoy the impressive vistas of the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico, including El Yunque rainforest, from the viewing platform on top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse (El Faro), built in 1882, is Puerto Rico’s oldest lighthouse.   It has a distinctive Spanish colonial tower at the top and overlooks the cliffs where the Atlantic meets the Sonda de Vieques (Vieques Sound).

The Bioluminescent Bay (AKA ‘BioBay’) luminescence is triggered by dinoflagellates, oceanic plankton which is able to generate an emerald green and ultramarine illumination when water is physically disturbed. Dinoflagellates are incredibly delicate microorganisms and are very sensitive to environment conditions such as balance of salt in the water, local climate, deepness of lagoon, air and water pollution, etc. Each one of these aspects make bio bay a one of a kind ecosystem to explore.



Day 5 (Sun, May 28): Rio Camuy Caverns and The Arecibo Observatory

arecibo 23679967819 oCamuy 2015jpgWe depart in mid-morning to tour the Camuy Caverns where we will learn about the geology of the region.  We will stop at a cafe to eat lunch along the way Camuy River has the third largest water volume in the world in an underground river system and it’s one of the most spectacular and massive systems in the western hemisphere.  We then venture a very short distance to The Arecibo Observatory, the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope.  The Observatory is recognized as one of the most important national centers for research in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial aeronomy.  The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by SRI International, USRA and UMET, under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).  We return to the hotel in the mid-late afternoon.  Dinner is on your own this night but maybe we can go out as a group for the finale of this trip.



Day 6 (Mon, May 29): Check out, Lunch, Depart

We check out of the hotel after breakfast.  Depending flight times and dates, enjoy more sites and activities in San Juan. People with similar or same departure times can share taxis to the airport. People who decide to extend their stay in Puerto Rico are free to travel on to their next destination, or arrange to stay more nights at the Holiday Inn Express. ¡Felices viajes!


Trip Inclusions & Exclusions: Discovery Expeditions agrees to provide each of the following goods and services for the duration of the tour to each participant:

  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($5,000,000)
  • Private bus transportation and driver between sites in Puerto Rico and shuttle service to and from the airport
  • Hotel accommodations based on Double Occupancy (5 nights total)
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Option for graduate credit from an accredited university, Dominican University Click Here
  • Course alignment with National Science Standards and Common Core
  • Recommended resources/teaching materials (age appropriate books, lesson plans, and online resources)
  • Peer connections
  • Certificate of Completion—Every traveler participating in the trip receives a Certificate of Completion from Discovery Expeditions.
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary, some meals (see itinerary)
  • Opportunities for free time on the beach and hiking in a rain forest and swimming in a tropical waterfall (La Mina Falls, El Yunque)
  • Donations from our group to Chelonia and the Puerto Rico Chapter of Sierra Club, our conservation partners.
  • Full time professional Discovery Expeditions tour escort and local interpreter and cultural guides from the National Park Service and Government of Puerto Rico; tour of the Las Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve and El Faro (lighthouse) (Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico); local sea turtle logistics coordinator (Rosa Fiel, Proyecto Tinglar Durado) and marine biologist/sea turtle expert; Tour of BioBay by expert marine biologists (Pure Adventure)
  • All taxes
  • All gratuities where the group is together (tour leader and driver included)
  • Complete tour participant accounting including option to pay by credit card
  • Comprehensive Accident, Medical, Liability, and Travel Protection/Cancellation/Interruption Insurance for the Land portion of the trip
  • "Cancel for Any Reason Insurance" (CFAR) - Cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure and receive a 75% refund minus the insurance premiums.  This applies to all travelers (except New York residents) and is included in the trip price (see statement below "In regards to insurance options related to health concerns").  (Due to New York state policy, CFAR is not available for New York residents).

Not included in the trip price:

  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
  • Customs and immigration fees at airports or border crossings
  • Various meals or drinks listed as “on own” in the itinerary when the group is dispersed for self-exploration
  • Additional nights lodging or any additional days if one chooses to remain in country longer.


In regards to insurance options related to health concerns:

Recently, Trip Mate (our travel insurance company) advised:
Regarding the coverage specifically related to public health concerns – please note the following:  our insurance plans work off of an actual incident to a traveler's health not the possibility of something happening to them.  So if the traveler actually becomes ill and needs to cancel, coverage may apply.  A traveler canceling because s/he is afraid to go – is not covered – even if a doctor tells them they cannot go because of the potential risk.
It appears most travel insurers are responding the same.
The main way to get coverage for the “fear” of a health-related concern is under a “cancel for any reason” policy (not available to New York Residents).  Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) coverage has certain requirements including when coverage can be purchased, trip must be fully insured, arrangements booked by tour operator are only covered and cancellation occur two or more days before departure. This is not a 100% refund but a 75% refund minus the insurance premiums.  For questions or more detailed information about insurance coverage, please contact our Finance Director, Kara Williams CFAR is included in the trip cost for all travelers (exception: Due to New York state policy, CFAR is not available for New York residents).


Health Information for Travelers to Puerto Rico (U.S.)

General health information for travelers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here


Tax Information and Invoices

Discovery Expeditions trips can be tax deductible in some instances.  If you would like to request a tax receipt or an invoice for the trip, please contact our Finance Director, Kara Williams.


To get a taste of what you'll experience on this trip, check out the video produced from our previous trip: