ASVO is a great volunteer program for those who'd like to get down and dirty and really just *work*. On my group's first day on the project, we spent hours learning about sea turtle nesting habits, why the work is important to the community, how to work with the turtles themselves, and more. Each day, we helped with beach cleanup (like removing fallen trees or palm fronds left after a storm) and camp chores, and at night we traded three-hour shifts monitoring the beach. This consisted of walking miles along the sand, watching for any nesting turtles, while other groups stayed at the hatcheries at different points along the beach to protect eggs from poachers. Short-term and long-term volunteers were put to work immediately, with a "three strikes" system, meaning if you were late to/didn't show up for your patrol three times, you were out of the project.
So basically, if you're looking for a program with guided excursions or lots of opportunities for daily outings on the town, you might want to work with another program--Gandoca is close to the Panama border (which had the closest town, I think), but honestly, you probably won't find time to go over the border if you're on the project for, say, a week or two. Volunteers with ASVO work with the community (really! the whole small town we stayed in was involved on the project!) as an extra hand where it's really needed, because there just aren't enough locals in the area to take on the whole project themselves. The staff all were extremely helpful and friendly, the volunteers were a very cool, international group, and we all had a great time. It's a fantastic program if you'd like to work your tail off and REALLY look forward to every meal!