ISV - Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

Program Update:

ISV will only be conducting programs for this coming summer, 2018 in the Dominican Republic.

About

Costa Rica is filled with a colourful array of animals, white beaches, lush rainforests, rivers, volcanoes and smiling communities. The national motto is "Pura Vida," meaning Pure Life, and the volunteer projects offered by International Student Volunteers (ISV) reflect this sentiment in every way. ISV works with grassroots initiatives to address social and environmental issues facing this Central American country, in methods that directly benefit locals. Projects range from wildlife conservation, community development, children's programs and environmental management.

You could be observing the feeding behavior of endangered species, mapping habitats, monitoring dolphin populations, or taking beach patrols to protect turtle nests. Community development projects involve working alongside locals in recycling, reforestation, trail building, organic farming and habitat restoration. For more details on how to preserve Costa Rica’s valuable biodiversity, visit ISV's website today!

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

I don't believe you can scuba dive. You can however snorkel, in fact they take you to a small fishing village in which you can snore at with beautiful corals.

Reviews

97%
based on 141 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 31 - 45 of 141
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Allyson
9/10

Sea turtles and so much more!

Be ready...its night time, you've traveled all day just waiting for all the excitement. You're exhausted, hot, nervous and so many other undescribable feelings but most of all you're ready. You suit up in your flashlight, dark clothing, closed toed shoes and head off to the beach! Yes, the beach at night, and even better you're setting out to find sea turtles! You get to the beach, see the beautiful night sky, the crabs scurrying amongst your feet and hear the waves crashing ashore. Costa Rica is more beautiful than you could've ever imagined, and then it gets better. You see your first sea turtle! They're huge, and you're working with them hands on! Taking skin/shell samples, tagging them, counting thier eggs and measuring! Helping these beautiful creatures give birth to so many more! At that moment all your money, stress, time and energy is worth it.

How can this program be improved?
The price, it is volunteer work and even if you were going on the two week trip, it's still over $3,000.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Cara
9/10

Home Stay

The most remarkable part of this trip was the home stay for two weeks during the volunteer portion of the trip. My best friend and I went together and stayed with the same family. They became our family. We immersed ourselves in their daily routines. We visited our Tico father at work milking cows on our day off, and on Saturday evening we helped cook the tamales that they sold in the city for extra money. It was an experience we both will always cherish dearly.

How can this program be improved?
The volunteer portion could be longer, if participants choose, I think it should be allowed for more than 2 weeks.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Alyssa
10/10

ISV (Costa Rica)- You gotta go!

I heard about International Student Volunteers (ISV) through the flyers that were hung around my school. When they had the informational meeting, I thought "why not" and popped in to check it out. Their presentation was so intriguing and looked like everything I ever wanted; so I put down the deposit and submitted my application. Fast forward to June, I was anxiously sitting on the airplane not knowing what to expect AT ALL. But my nerves were eased as soon as I landed. (ISV was so helpful and engaging prior and throughout the trip). The program consisted of two parts (the second,the adventure, was optional). The first part was two weeks volunteering in the local community of Provedencia. The host families there adopted us like they're own as soon as they met us. Even though there was a language barrier, the love and hospitality poured from each and every home. The other volunteers were amazing; I know that my two roommates are going to be lifelong friends. Though they worked us hard cementing and farming, we learned so much and the experience it gave us was priceless. Everyone I met was so passionate for the cause. The last two weeks was the adventure part. We traveled around the entire country and did everything from surfing to nature treks to repelling. Again, everyone we met was AMAZING. I always felt safe, yet I wasn't smothered and never felt like I was being treated as if I were a child. I HIGHLY recommend volunteering with ISV.

How can this program be improved?
I felt as though the overall price of the trip wasn't accurately disclosed. It came out to be quite a bit more than anticipated; but totally worth it. Just would suggest giving a more accurate estimate of cost.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Julie
9/10

My First Adventure Abroad

Traveling to Costa Rica with ISV was my first time out of the country. Like most people, I was a little nervous about the experience. However, I found that ISV was well-organized and plans everything out for you, including transportation, lodging, and activities. My trip included a week of Spanish classes in Heredia, two weeks of volunteering in the Osa Peninsula, and two weeks of traveling around. Whatever volunteer project you go on will be challenging. For my project, we studied trees in the rain forest, which required hiking for 3-4 hours every day in very high humidity. It was physically demanding, but also rewarding to challenge myself and see what I could accomplish. We stayed with host families in simple accomodations, but that is truly the best way to immerse yourself in the culture of another country. Also, the food cooked by locals is ten times better than anything you will eat at a restaurant! You meet people very quickly in this program, so don't be afraid to go alone; the majority of the people I traveled with didn't know anybody. There were only two disappointments I had with the program that really stuck with me. One was during the Adventure Tour (the two weeks we traveled around the country), we were riding in a bus for 5-6 hours about every 2 days. So, while we got to experience a wide variety of really cool places in Costa Rica, it was also a lot of travel time. Also, be prepared to spend a large sum of money beyond what you pay for the trip. The expense of meals not covered as well as extra optional activities add up and aren't clearly explained in the itinerary. Other than that, I had a fantastic trip and met some really cool people. I would recommend this program to students currently enrolled in college. Take the risk and have an adventure of a lifetime - you won't regret it!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sara
10/10

Life Changing Experience

Costa Rica is an absolutely stunning county, with even more stunningly, nice people. The ISV program was very organized, and jam packed with humbling, once in a life time experiences. My experiences range from seeing monkeys swinging in the trees outside your door, to sliding down slippery muddy hills in the rain forest. The program forced me to learn a lot about myself, as well as learn about the amazing culture of Tikas and Tikos (Costa Ricans). It is an experience that I will always cherish and would not give up for anything.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change about the program would be for more integration of the native language, only because I was also there to try to improve my Spanish.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Glejdis
9/10

One of the Best and most Picturesque Country

I have been living in two completely different countries throughout my years so far. I have also been lucky to visit quiet a few. But for the first time in my life I felt a total connection with nature, people, and everything else around me. I visited some areas of the tropical rainforest which to me seemed more beautiful than the Swiss Alps with the difference of that of a very warm Summer breeze. The San Pedro community welcomes volunteers in such a way that you can't help but feel part of it and urges you to apply some of that warm welcoming family feeling back home upon the termination of your program. It has taught me so much about sustainability, environment but most importantly to continue pouring a piece of our heart in everything we do. This experience brought out the best in me but it also taught me how to apply it into daily chores in helping our community. Not just a life changing experience, but the kind of experience that everyone should live more than once. It fulfills you in ways one cannot imagine unless experienced.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe make it 3 weeks instead, when working hand in hand with the community members time flies. I would have preferred a three week working program instead
Yes, I recommend this program
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Xueting
8/10

Golfo Dulce is a Sweet Opportunity

For those of you interested in immersing yourself into a Costa Rican jungle, this is a great opportunity for you to spend 2-4 weeks volunteering to gather important data that will help protect valuable natural spaces.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brandee
10/10

Nancite Sea Turtle Project

Volunteering at Nancite beach in Costa Rica was an incredible experience. I was able to work hands on with the sea turtles as well as help the environment by cleaning the beach. Patrolling the beaches at night was amazing, even though we were sleep deprived. The cause for the project was enough to keep us motivated to keep waking us up for the shifts. It was an unbelievable experience and I learned so much working with the sea turtles and the leaders were very knowledgeable about everything!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Troy
10/10

Great way to make Connections

It was probably one of the most interesting experiences of my life. Not only did I stay with a host family who was extremely kind and accommodating (even though I couldnt communicate too well as I only speak english). After meaningfully helping the community by building a small parking lot, concrete benches that used eco bricks (bottles that have plastic bags stuffed in them), and helping out on coffee plantations, I got the chance to explore the country, seeing the biggest volcano I the country, ziplining 100 meters above a forest canopy, and rafting to an island populated entirely by iguanas and hermit crabs.

How can this program be improved?
Eco bricks suck to make haha
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Janet
10/10

Costa Rica with ISV

I have absolutely loved traveling abroad with ISV. I have gone abroad a few times before, but never like this. Being in a foreign country, knowing absolutely no one, and knowing nothing about the culture, I was terrified. However, once I met my host family, I knew I would be alright. I scraped by with the little Spanish I knew, and soon met everyone in my group. From the hours and hours of trudging through the rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, swimming in natural pools, and surfing the oceans, I have shared memories with them I know none of us will ever forget. I have met some of the most inspirational people, had wonderful experiences, and I have made friendships that will last me my lifetime.

How can this program be improved?
The one thing that I would improve would be the airport pickup system. One I had gotten off of my plane, I met up with some other girls traveling with ISV. We went out side, and saw a woman holding an ISV sign in her hands. Without explaining to us what was going on, she called a cab, and we all got in. The driver dropped us off at each of our host families individually. While I eventually figured out what was going on, I feel that better communication would have allowed us all to feel a little better.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brittany
10/10

Isv-Costa Rica 2009

This experience had so many great memories. With Isv there are two parts volunteer and adventure pack. They are offered as two separate packages or you can do both. I highly recommend doing both. I would say the best memories from the volunteer part was while patrolling the beach when we did see leatherback sea turtles. I was lucky enough to catch eggs from a mother, as well as log information on her. Altogether I saw about fourteen turtles. My group was also lucky enough to see a whole bunch of babies hatching and making their way into the shore line. Another great memory was the stars while on the beach at night. That is something I will never forget. The adventure pack had so much fun stuff that was bundled together. From that portion you get to really go around the country and see the different areas. My favorite part was definitely the zip lining/waterfall repel. Another great one was all the natural hot springs that we walked too. Costa Rica has so many beautiful spots

How can this program be improved?
The portion where we volunteered had a camp where all the students in my group stayed. They had a filtration system with the water but some of the students still got sick. Two had to go to the clinic. I would say in that specific camp come up with a better filtration system or bring in bottled water, which they did for us after week one.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Joshua
10/10

Best Time of My Life Through ISV

The program has changed myself and my life in more ways than one. I spent a total of five weeks in Costa Rica learning, volunteering, and travelling. Every single minute I have spent there has been the best of my life. I have seen so much in such a short time in the beautiful country of Costa Rica! ISV's program was there for me every step of the way.

I loved the culture (music, language, etc) and all the different wildlife in the nature I cannot see in Wisconsin! During the volunteer portion, I stayed with a host family in a rain forest under a tree of toucans! With the optional two week adventure tour after the volunteer portion, I got to do so much and see a lot such as go surfing, ziplining, white-water rafting, and so much more!

All the different places I saw and people I have met have impacted my life in more ways than one whether it made me be more globally-minded, finding love, and more!

This was the first time I have travelled out of the country and ISV made me feel safe and secure every step of the way! ISV is an amazing program that will be with you every step of the way. It was absolutely life-changing!!!!

I absolutely cannot wait to go abroad again this summer when I study abroad in England!

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing, I would probably change the recommendation of how much money to bring. There was so optional things to do during free time and since I am obviously not going to pass anything up that I may never do again, I spent way more money during my free time than I expected.

That's just me though! It was worth it because like I said - I will probably never be able to do it again.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kayla
10/10

One of the best experiences of my life

I traveled with ISV to a project they no longer have in Ecuador. I'm not sure why it's no longer available because it was absolutely fantastic! Six weeks of living with locals (including an Amazonian tribe), hiking volcanoes and white water rafting. I've never lived in such difficult circumstances or felt more rewarded for the work I do. We met up with members of the Costa Rica team for our last week in the Galapagos and just like our experience, they enjoyed a great time with fun, outgoing people. The main difference between our experiences was that Ecuador had only two teams and we all knew each other whereas Costa Rica had 14 so some only met each other for the first time in the Galapagos. ISV does a great job of connecting with a local organization to make sure your volunteer work is on a project that is actually needed rather than something that will be abandoned the instant you leave.

How can this program be improved?
Bring back the Ecuador option!!! It was fantastic, I'm not sure why it's no longer available. My project in Campacocha was great but the other team were stuck picking up trash somewhere in the cold mountains and didn't have much interaction with locals. They definitely didn't enjoy it as much as we did so really try to find projects that have those local connections and do work people can see as truly meaningful.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Erin
9/10

ISV-CR

I was giving the opportunity to work with sea turtles through ISV. 7yrs later I am still in contact with several members of my volunteer team and went back to school to get my Master's Degree working with sea turtle in Costa Rica. Best experience ever!

How can this program be improved?
The cost was a lot. I have spent much longer periods of time in the same country and spent significantly less.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Cassidy
10/10

The most fulfilling vacation!

The most eye opening trip of a lifetime. I was on the turtle conservation trip, patrolling the dark lively beaches at night. During the day we would clean the beaches of plastic andgarbage, clean the hiking trails, carry the trash out and new food in. But of course there was also plenty of time for cooling of in the beautiful ocean and just lounging around being a beach bum! The biologists, our chef and 'mom', and the isv workers were some of the most amazing people i have ever met. So high on life and extremely intellegent, informative. All around they had a way of opening your mind and heart and always putting a smile on everyones face! Anyone who loves nature this would be the best trip for you because you cant escape it. From bioluminescent plankton to sea turtles to howler monkeys having conversations with the dudes in our group! this is one trip that is the biggest eye opener into real environmental stuggles and how humans have caused such destruction but we can easily fix the mess. Every lecture my mind expanded as everyone in the group had ideas and perspectives of our environmental imact and the steps it takes to lessen our footprint. We talked lots about plastic, poaching, co2 emmissions amongst many other topics of course. We learned so much about sea turtles of all sorts. Some people think of volunteering as work but this volunteer trip was a tropical paradise. We never worked a single day.

How can this program be improved?
I wish the program had been longer. The cost was a little bit expensive as well for a uni student but it goes to a good cause so who cares!
Yes, I recommend this program

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About ISV (International Student Volunteers)

ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

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