Volunteer in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is a first-time traveler's paradise - home to beautiful beaches, tropical rainforests, zip lining and some of the friendliest people on earth, not to mention the vast array of volunteer opportunities available from working in education, animal rescue or sea turtle conservancy. Volunteering in this tropical country offers the experience of a lifetime by immersing you in local culture and customs and learning the true meaning of Pura Vida.

Costa Rica offers an excellent introduction to Latin America while also providing a diversity of places to visit for a nature lover with a strong democratic tradition. After Costa Rica's civil war, the army was abolished by the president in 1948. While Costa Rica is often considered one of the wealthier countries in the region, there are still numerous development problems such as deforestation, economic and gender inequalities and youth development issues as increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants from Nicaragua and other neighboring countries now call Costa Rica home.

  • Costa Ricans are also called "Ticos"
  • Avg. cost of living: $1000 per month (De La Pura Vida)
  • Currency: Colon
  • 2.2 million tourists visit Costa Rica per Year (Costa Rican Tourism Institute)
  • When asked "How are you" in Costa Rica, it is customary to respond "Pura Vida."
  • Sodas are local eateries providing inexpensive and fresh meals.

Environmental Conservation & Working with Wildlife: While Costa Rica is famous for conservation of vast parts of the country as national parks and a focus on ecotourism, there is a constant need for volunteers in the numerous sea turtle conservancy projects on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Volunteers work to protect sea turtle eggs from poachers and environmental threats.

Costa Rica Beach
Volunteer on the Beach

Youth Development: Many children of immigrants live in difficult conditions in dangerous neighborhoods of San Jose where crime is rampant and children often lack support systems at home. Volunteer to support the many underprivileged children in Costa Rica.

Gender Equality: Unknown to many, sex trade has dramatically increased in Costa Rica. Victims need your help in recovering their lives.

Teaching English: Costa Ricans value English as a second language and native teachers are in high demand. Teaching positions vary and no experience is necessary.

Work with Wildlife: Exotic animals are commonly removed from their natural habitat and sold as pets, to circuses or smugglers. Work in one of the many animal rescue centers to protect these animals and work to help them return to the wild.

Health and Safety in Costa Rica:

No immunizations are required to go to Costa Rica. It is also safe to drink the water, one of the few Latin American countries where this is the case. Costa Rica is known to be one of the safer countries in Central America but you should never let your guard down, always secure your belongings and be aware of surroundings, especially in bus stations and in markets. Remember, as a foreigner you always stand out.

Costa Rica Volcano
Visit volcanoes in Costa Rica
Visas:

Costa Rican tourist visas are not required for citizens of the United States for a stay of up to 90 days. For more information visit Visa HQ.


Contributed by Eliza Wethey

Eliza Wethey studied Latin American Studies and Anthropology at Tulane University and holds a Masters in Anthropology and Development from the London School of Economics. She has a passion for travelling and Latin America having lived for four and half years in Peru and six months in Costa Rica. Follow her adventures on her Blog.

Do you think there is something missing in our guide? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.

Programs & Reviews

IVHQ's partner organizations in Costa Rica are always looking for great volunteers! Highly affordable programs are available in a variety of fields, including conversation, teaching, childcare, construction, and much more. Volunteers can...
2 Reviews
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Volunteer in the welcoming country of Costa Rica with Volunteering Solutions! This beautiful destination is one of the world's leading ecotourism and conservation spots. Volunteer to work with children in childcare centers and orphanages....
1 Reviews
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Whether your version of Pura Vida includes surfing or scaling mountains, howler monkeys or hummingbirds, coffee of cocao, camping or canyoning -- alright, you get our point -- well, you'll find it here in Costa Rica. A worldwide leader in...
12 Reviews
More Programs by Cross-Cultural Solutions
Pristine rainforests, majestic volcanoes, and friendly Ticos brought us to Costa Rica in 2003 with just seven programs. Today, we offer twenty diverse programs that range from saving sea turtles on the Pacific Coast to working with an...
15 Reviews
More Programs by Rustic Pathways
Global Volunteer Network
GVN
The Global Volunteer Network has opportunities to work in a range of programs in Costa Rica. Volunteers can assist with our turtle conservation program, to volunteering in one of our orphanages, schools, construction programs, animal...
2 Reviews
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Set between its tropical Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most breath-taking countries in the world. Even though it covers just 0.03% of the world's landmass, it is home to an incredible 500,000 species including...
3 Reviews
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Projects Abroad has been providing volunteer placements in the developing world since 1992. Our volunteers directly impact local communities through service projects arranged and coordinated by expect in-country staff. We offer a wide...
10 Reviews
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Maximo Nivel offers volunteer and internship projects in and around San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as along the coast and near Monteverde National Park. These projects provide the unique opportunity to live and work in Latin America while...
11 Reviews Request Info
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Through our partner in Costa Rica, Love Volunteer is seeking volunteers to help local communities. Opportunities are available precisely where the local population's needs are greatest. The options are broad including teaching, working...
2 Reviews
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In Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica, volunteers spend alternating weeks in national parks doing trail maintenance and construction projects, as well as leadership development activities alongside Costa Rican students. While not in the parks,...
3 Reviews
More Programs by Amigos de las Americas
AVIC is a local Costa Rican Non-Profit Association that is specialized in providing Premium Hosting for International Volunteers in Costa Rica. Our association offers a range of services such as setting-up voluntary work placements, pre-...
2 Reviews
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Eco-Reserve and Animal Rescue Center (Ages 16+) - Costa Rica Based on a private ecological reserve in the rainforests of northern Costa Rica, this project acts as a home for rescued wild animals and also is a site for ongoing conservation...
4 Reviews
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The best way to learn Spanish - in a fun and meaningful way in beautiful Costa Rica! Costa Rica is home to the world's most beautiful beaches, mountains and forests; but it is also home to warm and friendly people. Spend three weeks...
10 Reviews Request Info
More Programs by Global Leadership Adventures
You can make a difference and volunteer with GVI in Costa Rica! From helping the local wildlife to working with underprivileged children, you can make a difference and learn about a new culture. GVI currently offers 8 different volunteer...
7 Reviews
More Programs by Global Vision International
UBELONG offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in Cartago. There are over 40 projects in different fields, including: caregiving, construction, education, health and the environment. Highlights Affordable: Without...
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Ask a Question About Volunteering in Costa Rica

Do you have a burning question about volunteering abroad in Costa Rica? We're here to help! Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Here are some example questions:

  • What's a typical day like on a volunteer program in Costa Rica?
  • Do I need to speak the local language?
  • What kind of impact can I expect to make in Costa Rica?