Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica
93% Rating
(27 Reviews)

Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

More than 1.1 million Costa Ricans live in poverty - that’s 1 in every 5 individuals - and the population living in extreme poverty increased last year. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, and Costa Ricans living in poverty are more likely to live in a single-parent home with a higher-than-average number of children under 5 years. With more than 77% of this population working in the informal sector, a lack of employment security and fewer years of education are pressing concerns.

Join CCS as a volunteer in Costa Rica to fight for equal and complete education for children. With more than 12% of all children not completing primary school, CCS is determined to prepare students for success through early childhood preparation, and through support to mothers in the community working tirelessly to provide for their families.

In Costa Rica, CCS has been working for the past 15 years as leaders in early childhood education with the support of international volunteers.

Costa Rica
Weeks Min.
Weeks Max
Age Min.
Age Max
Spring Break
Year Round
Small Group (1-15)
Medium Group (16-30)
Large Group (31+)
Starting Price

Questions & Answers

Cross-Cultural Solutions has been supporting families of all types for 22 years in creating meaningful and memorable international volunteer experiences. You can learn about our programs for families and read stories from CCS volunteer families at
In my personal experience, I found it easy to communicate in Spanish. You would get weekly Spanish lessons with a personal teacher, and you can ask the staff to speak in Spanish and help you out ---They are incredibly helpful in that aspect, so they will be a big help--- Then, apart from that, it also depends on your placement. I was placed at the school and surrounded by children for most of the...

Program Reviews

based on 27 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 16 - 27 of 27
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An Experience Worth Reliving

My day in Costa Rica began very early with a good breakfast and preparations to volunteer that day. We'd make about a 45 minute drive to take everyone to their locations, and I would arrive at the elementary school I was placed at. I typically started the day doing various maintenance work around the school. The teachers were responsible for doing everything for the school on their own time with no pay, so this was very helpful to them. Then I would play with the kids at every recess time (my favorite part) and assist in a few English classes throughout the day. I taught kids from kindergarten through 6th grade. It was very helpful to me that I was able to speak Spanish and communicate with them through both languages. The kids left school in the early afternoon, so that concluded our volunteering for the day. I returned to the home base for lunch with the other volunteers. Typically the rest of the day was usually spent in a cultural class, an expedition of the country, or relaxing in the hammock with a cup of tea. Every moment was perfect.

How can this program be improved?

I would have spent more time volunteering. I realize the students had short school days, but I would have liked to have been assigned another job for a few evenings.

Yes, I recommend
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Eye opening trip

I led a corporate volunteer team that worked at El Pueblito orphanage. I have supported charitable work before with dollars, but never with my time. It was an eye opening experience, we prepared lots in advance, but as the CCS staff advised, as helpful as the preparation was, the thing we needed was the willingness to abandon plans and go with the flow, the children and the institution staff really guided our activities and directed us to what was needed. Despite their difficult circumstances the children were, in some ways, like any children anywhere, adorable, difficult, attentive and rebellious in turns. We were a curiousity at first, and by the end of the week, a part of their routine. Saying goodbye was hard. CCS does a great job advising, guiding, organizing and providing cultural education.

How can this program be improved?

More work time.

Yes, I recommend
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The Best Idea Ever

I found Cross Cultural Solutions while trying to find a meaningful way to be part of the solution. I wasn't entirely sure if I had anything to offer, and I wasn't sure if I would fit in. The staff assured me that everything would be fine and they would find a placement for me.
From the moment I stepped out of the airport to meet some of the other volunteers and our ride I felt welcome and comfortable. The home base was filled with great volunteers and great staff. The whole experience was so much better than I anticipated, that I can't rate it high enough to describe my opinion.
My placement was perfect for me in spite of the fact that my Spanish wasn't as great as I'd hoped. My language skills had been one of my biggest concerns, but everything worked out ok.I was working in the HIV hospice and the staff found a way to use me effectively. The residents were very accepting and friendly and I made a few friends quickly among them.
I had only one weekend to enjoy the surrounding country with fellow volunteers, but due to their expert organizing we made the most of it and had a great time.
This was truly the best idea I've ever had and I intend to continue volunteering as a result of this experience.

How can this program be improved?

I honestly can't think of anything to change. My experience was outstanding in every way.

Yes, I recommend
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My project exceeded my every expectation!

-- 2013 Trip --

My project exceeded my every expectation - this was without a doubt the single greatest experience of my twenty-somethings!

The Home-Base and staff me feel so at home from the moment I got there. They are such an incredible group of people - and it was remarkable getting to know them. Plus, the food was to die for!

My volunteer placement was working at a home for children - very similar to what we might associate as an orphanage. It was run by nuns who did a remarkable job keeping things together but it really have the time to really dive into playtime and really work one-on-one with the kids. That were my group stepped in. I was only there for a week (wish I could have stayed longer) but even within that time we painted, made a mosaic, played games, made necklaces, and made a connection. Plus we in the mid-afternoons sowed pillows to leave once we were gone.

I went to Guatemala during the time of Day of the Dead; they do this huge festival were everyone comes into the cemetery and repaints and fly kites. The concept is that the kites build a colorful border to keep the evil spirits out. The staff took us the night before to a man within the community to see how he makes his kites which opened my eyes to how much this celebration is all connected to their history and cultural identification. I would have never seen this side of the celebration if it wasn't for CCS.

I have traveled with them before to Costa Rica and I plan to with them again soon. Where are you going to go?

-- 2012 Trip --

There are no words that describe the effect my CCS program had on me. I went during college; taking a semester and needed a program that gave me the flexibility to experience the culture on my own but who also helped me to foster a relationship with the community.

I went to Costa Rica, and worked in a day care center where I was able to help with the day to day activities as well as paint a mural with the children. The day to day work wasn't a job that seemed as if you were making an impact, but the fact is that by having me a volunteer that allowed the one staff member time to concentrate on improvements. With more assistance, such as myself she was able to cook healthier food and clean more, since she wouldn't be chasing them all over the place. (and I won't lie that running helped me keep off all the AMAZING food I was eating).

My experience totally changed my life, from my experience I fell in love with volunteering! I graduated college and then joined AmeriCorps! Thanks CCS for such an incredible experience.

How can this program be improved?

I should have stayed longer.

Yes, I recommend
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An Amazing Experience

I had to opportunity to intern abroad in San Carlos, Costa Rica and it was the most amazing experience in my life. As an Intern, you have the chance to earn school credit and travel to a foreign country to gain hands on experience in your profession of choice. What could be better than that!! When I first arrived, the staff promptly and properly greeted me at the airport. A plus!! The staff was very organized and friendly. (They spoke English but would practice Spanish with you if you wanted). A Plus!! Also, food was ready for me to eat!!! A Plus. Being an intern is different then just being a volunteer. As an intern, there are goals that you must meet with your professor as well as goals to meet with CCS. A staff member would meet with me one on one and help me discuss what I wanted to benefit from this experience. We came up with a list of goals that I had to accomplish each week and activities that I had to do each week as well. So not only do you volunteer at your placements but you also have the chance to immerse yourself in the community.
This was a daily schedule for me.
Wake up and get ready (includes eating)- 7-8
Volunteer placement- 8-11:30
Lunch- 12-1
Tuesday and Thursday cultural activities- visit a dairy farm, visit a cocoa plantation, Volcano etc
Monday, Wednesday- 3-4 Spanish Classes *for those that know Spanish they had free time or plan a trip for that day
Free time- After 4 (gym, stores, dance classes, etc)
Weekends- Surfing in Jaco, La Fortuna etc.
I loved the flexibility of this program. They never forced us to do anything and they were open to suggestions and ideas for trips.

Back to Interning, the staff does not just place you in a volunteer setting and you have to fend for yourself. They stay with you until you are comfortable. They introduce you and help them get to know you (especially if you don’t speak Spanish). Being an intern sets you apart from just volunteering, it becomes a second home to you. *If you are not comfortable with your placement, the staff will help you, no biggie. I interned at a nursing home and special education school. I was going to school to be a physical therapist. They allowed me build rapport with the patients so they listened to what I had to say. I loved it. The freedom to help patients hands on that speak a completely different language than me!! It was a thrill. The food is amazing, the staff is friendly and organized, and the placements helped me figure out what I wanted to do in life. This experience has given me a different perspective on life and how I have the ability to help people in the U.S and even in San Carlos one day. I would not trade this experience for the world.

Yes, I recommend
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Family of 5 Volunteers Together

Imagine a 60+Dad, 50+Mom, 20, 18 and 14 year old kids working and living together for a solid week! It was our family's volunteer experience of a life time. The idea of doing something positive, together made this family vacation a most special memory.

Our assignment with a group of seven others, was to paint an orphanage for young boys temporarily removed from problematic family situations in a rural area of Costa Rica. Of course, the painting was interspersed with impromptu soccer games, guitar music and lots of hugs from the little ones.

The CCS base house, with its caring and warm staff helped us feel right at home at the end of each volunteer afternoon of work. We enjoyed many activities with the other volunteers-- exploring the town of San Carlos,evening at the hot springs, a farm and local family visit and of course, Spanish lessons and dancing.

Our CCS cooks prepared the freshest of food with many colorful local fruits and vegetables from the markets. It was a wonderful week and one that our family will long remember.

Yes, I recommend
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Bingo Espanol

As someone who was down-sized from a corporate job and looking for "what's next", CCS was a great opportunity to finally spread my wings and give back. A spur of the moment decision had me "in country" within 2 months. I'd always wanted to visit costa rica. Working with seniors was a great way to help in the community even though I knew very little Of the language. Smiles are universal. The chance to exercise, dance and "play" with these lovely men and women each day was incredibly rewarding - especially without the distractions of tv, newspapers and media that distract us so much from our lives. I learned to count to 100 in espanol by calling bingo numbers daily, and I felt truly welcomed by the seniors who sat by the gates waiting for our daily arrival. At the end of my stay, I felt I had truly made an impact - evident by the smiles, hugs, and times these lively people told me to 'go with god'. The names and faces are etched in my memory forever, and i find myself wondering when I can escape from the working world again for another great CCS experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Love as a learning tool

I spent each morning at the orphanage, caring for kids and babies who loved me simply because I gave them time and wanted to teach them. I taught them to bake cookies for the first time, painted, raced toy cars and helped with meal time. They wanted to know about where I came from, what I do for fun, what is important to me. The little ones wanted what every child, what every human wants and needs, attention and affection. Without even recognizing it at the time, I looked back and realized that the only thing bigger than the impact I left on them, was the impact they left on me. Love knows no language, it is universal, and it the most powerful tool we have as humans. I will always remember my CCS experience and value the summer I spend in Costa Rican culture.

Yes, I recommend
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Love It

Great group to work with. With highly reccommend.Great experience for young people! Students or future teachers wanting to learn about another country and that absolutely likes hands on situations would be thrilled to spend time with this organization.
A unique approach to teaching and helpping in a foriegn country! I think its a wise choice for many well rounded individuals with credidentals and a sense of accomplishment would benefit.

Yes, I recommend
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Great experience

Staff support was very thorough and they make sure everything is taken care of - great for a first time traveler. Great experience - I loved the supplemental activities like language classes, etc. Great food too! =)

Yes, I recommend
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Great experience

I volunteered in 2008 in Costa Rica (City of Cartago) for 3 weeks. It was a very memorable and very enriching experience. I got to volunteer and work with Aids patience, and elderly in a home. I lived in group home with other volunteers from all over the world. The staff that took care of us was amazing. We got to eat the local foods, travel and experience the culture in a way that is truly unique. I got to learn so much while also being able to give a little of my time to the people that need it. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country with really beautiful people. I very much recommend this program to anyone wanting to enrich their life and do something good.

Yes, I recommend
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Amazing Experience with CCS in Costa Rica

I loved volunteering here. Not only did it give me the chance to enhance my Spanish skills, but it exposed to to a new culture and new people that I still keep in touch with years later from all over America and Costa Rica as well. The program was very convenient and helpful. The town is adorable, with a beautiful landscape. It rained almost every day I was there, but only for an hour or so. Puriscal is a dry town, so if your looking for a good night life I wouldn't recommend here. The people I met and the experience I had was invaluable.

Yes, I recommend

About Cross-Cultural Solutions

For 22 years, CCS has been the standard setter for the safest, most meaningful, and enriching volunteer abroad programs while striving to be a global leader in child development and women's empowerment.

Since 1995, over 35,000 people have volunteered...