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 61 - 75 of 141
Default avatar
Jane
10/10

BEST DECISION I'VE EVER MADE!

I signed up for my ISV Costa Rica Program without knowing anyone else on the trip, and without knowing what to expect from a program like this. ISV has opened my eyes to the importance of getting out of my comfort zone and being a part of something so much bigger than myself.

I was able to gain hands-on experience working with sea turtle conservation, and even released hundreds of baby turtles back into the ocean! I also met some of my best friends on my ISV Programs, and my life has truly been changed for the better because of this experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
William
10/10

ISV Costa Rica Trip

My ISV experience is hard to sum up in a single review just because the experience itself is so much more powerful and distinctive than words can describe. The trip was filled with memorable experiences and was shared with even more memorable people. I started out my Costa Rica trip with a week of Spanish lessons, which were very helpful especially when realizing just how little Spanish I knew and the language barriers I had to face as soon as I landed. The Spanish week was a great way to get ahead of the game and really get to know everyone in your group as well. The two weeks of volunteering in Ostional Costa Rica were beyond amazing. Our project involved working with the sea turtles that came to nest on the beach of Ostional. The work involved counting the eggs that the turtles would lay as well as taking measurements of their size, and tagging there fins. The work was never dull especially during the arribada week when there were literally hundreds of turtles nesting at the same time. Ostional is the second biggest beach in the world for the nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles and watching the monthly arribada occur was like a natural wonder of the world. Our project leaders were great and taught us so much about our project, Costa Rica, and more. The host family I stayed with was incredibly kind and made me incredibly comfortable in a home far away from my own.
The final two weeks consisted of the adventure tour, which basically was travelling all around Costa Rica doing awesome activities. We toured a few national parks and saw so much of the wildlife beauty that Costa Rica contains. Some of the other activities included white water rafting down the Pacuare River that runs through the middle of the rain forest and then lodging a night in the rainforest. The sights and experience of this were unbelievable and this was just the start of the adventure tour. Other activities included zip lining, rappelling, horseback riding, surfing, tubing, hot springs, and more. I made great friends bonding with people over these many awesome adventures and would do it again in a heartbeat. I recommend this ISV project to anyone looking to travel and have a life changing experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Allison
10/10

Absolutely amazing experience

Volunteering in Costa Rica with ISV was an amazing adventure! As a first time international traveler, I was a little nervous at first but ISV offered so many resources to assist in my project preparations. The Spanish language immersion program is definitely a must for anyone considering volunteering in Costa Rica. The classes were really helpful and the extra activities and evening excursions were always fun. The volunteer project that I did in Gulfo Dulce was incredible! I got to work with sea turtles almost every day as well as help local research assistants with their mangrove restoration, community development, and education program development projects. Every aspect of my volunteer project was worth it and I can't wait to return one day!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kayla
10/10

Community Project in San Jose

This was an absolutely life changing experience. Living with my host family was one of the best parts, because even though we barely spoke each other's language, my host sisters taught me so much and we played and had fun. By the end of the two weeks, it was tears all around and promises to be back. We joked and laughed and danced while working and the breaks were filled with fun games and getting to know the other volunteers. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything on the world and I can't wait to go back!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Rachel
10/10

EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME

I don't think that I can even come close to describing my experience in Costa Rica with ISV. Just like everyone has said, it really is a life changing experience, and made for the best summer of my life. Although traveling around Costa Rica was a blast and a beautiful experience, nothing could compare to the actual volunteering. The people I met during my project made this trip amazing! My project leaders were phenomenal and so much fun, the volunteers became life-long friends, and the community made us all a family. This was an eye opening experience, that made me so grateful for what I have. I fell in love with Costa Rica and all the memories there. I would 110% recommend this to everyone!!!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jillian
10/10

Best Experience of my Life

Looking back at my experience in Costa Rica I have come to terms with the fact that this trip was truly the greatest time of my life. I met some incredible people and got to work with amazing creatures.

How can this program be improved?
I would improve this program by warning new participants about the extreme conditions you live in at Nancite and that they really need to be in good physical shape for this location. The price seems a little high as well for our accommodations.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Meg
10/10

Discovering Nancite

While in Costa Rica I worked on the Nancite Sea Turtle Project. It has always been my dream to work with sea turtles and when I finally got the chance I was ecstatic. Except, Nancite was more of a real life game of Survivor than a dream come true. The bugs, the heat, and unfamiliarity of the situation were extreme but the beauty, peacefulness, and wildlife there outweighed the bad beyond measures. I've never enjoyed a challenge so much. I have made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime and, of course, the turtles were amazing. PURA VIDA!

How can this program be improved?
There were so many hidden fees involved.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Dan
10/10

Truely Phenomenal

The volunteers I met in my three weeks where some of the most amazing and kindest people I have ever met or had the pleasure of getting to know. The country was absolutely amazing! The host family I stayed with was extremely welcoming and accommodating, and the Spanish immersion program was a perfect way to learn about and appreciate the culture. My project was hard at times but extremely rewarding, and the coolest thing I have ever done. Further, working with the leaders and the sea turtles has opened up educational and professional opportunities I otherwise would never have. This experience has helped me grow both as a Biologist/student and as a person, as well as make amazing friends! I strongly recommend this program to anyone regardless of your background or major.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Caroline
10/10

Wonderful Experience

My ISV program to Costa Rica was everything I wanted it to be and more. I learned so much about the culture, the history, and the ecosystems that make Costa Rica truly unique. I met incredible people, had delicious food (rice and beans!), and completed meaningful and measurable volunteer work. The adventure aspect is well balanced with the volunteering, and offers you a chance to see a large amount of the country while also participating in really awesome activities. I loved every minute of my time with ISV!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Bailey
10/10

great experience

Lots of fun things planned but still leaves you time to do your own thing! I think that this is a good program especially if it is your first time doing international travel. I did the 4 week adventure program in Costa Rica with the trees volunteer program. The volunteer part was very remote but right next to the ocean so we got to swim every day. During the adventure program there was a lot more opportunities to go out than I would have thought so be sure to bring enough street clothes. My favorite part of the adventure part was the 2-day rafting trip. you raft into this resort and then raft out the next day. really high Rapids so it was really exciting and the guides were great. I also made a lot of life long friends and traveling buddies from this program. it's truly priceless.

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have chosen our volunteer program.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sabrina
10/10

Costa Rica hawksbill project and adventure tour

This project was incredible! We started out in the city, with the Spanish program. We were totally engulfed in the language which was a bit frightening but the families and school were more than willing to help us learn some basic Spanish. For the next two weeks, we went to the beach to help researchers with their work with sea turtles in a coral graveyard. We helped them to figure out what they were eating so that we can help replenish their dietary needs. We got to work up close with several beautiful hawksbill and green sea turtles. For the last two weeks, we had a blast traveling all around the country and seeing awesome sights, meeting awesome locals, and doing really thrilling activities. I feel that this trip was a three- in- one deal, I improved my Spanish speaking skills, I helped in conservation work, and I was learning about the Costa Rican culture.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about the project, I would like to see more expertise background knowledge rather than guess work, when planting the mangrove trees, it seemed there was a lot of guess work and much of their efforts were failing. It would have been nice to work with a botanist.

As far as the adventure tour, I felt like many of our destinations were rushed, and there were too many travel days for what we did in that area, I felt like some areas needed more time to relax.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Annika
10/10

Best Time EVER

To be completely embussed in the culture of the country and not speaking much Spanish myself I felt it was a safe and exciting way to travel. I made so many friends and all the tour guides were relaxed and easy to talk to there were even some tears when we had to part. I was in the Osa Peninsula for two weeks where we planted 850 mangrove with a mud fight to finish and we got to actually handle and work with sea turtle, they are such amazing creatures! the week we spent in Heredia was a great way to welcome us to the tour and allow the group to bond, as well as the cool activities Intercultura offered such as a weekend in Montverde we got to hold a toucan and boa constrictor. As a person who is afraid of heights zip lining was exhilarating and beautifully peaceful at the same time! I haven’t even got to the adventure tour yet!
I strongly advise this, I fell in love with the Country.

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps encourage participants to learn a bit of Spanish prior and perhaps be a little more lenient on the last night of the two weeks volunteering, it would have been nice to relax with a drink and also support the local community.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kieren
10/10

A great alternative to standard travel, directly volunteering still better

Let me begin with this: I absolutely adored volunteering for the turtle project in Ostional beach, Costa Rica in January 2015. Our main role was to assist in the research of why Leatherback and Black turtles are heading towards extinction by collecting data from adult and infant turtles. We also took direct action to eliminate dangers such as plastic pollution littered along the beaches, transplanting nests to safer environments, and fending off predators such as birds and dogs (if you so choose to). It's an experience to escort little hatchlings down the beach and watch them swim off, starting the next leg of their journey.

I would recommend, however, to join a volunteer group through a non-profit third-party or simply contact the volunteer project itself.

I would recommend this project to people who are interested because it is a great alternative to standard travelling: you are giving back to communities in need; you are minimising your impact as a tourist; and you are experiencing true connection with the communities you will be visiting.

How can this program be improved?
The program was run smoothly. I have no other suggestions.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sumaya
7/10

community development

The highlight of the experience was the impact of completing the kindergarten for the younger children to start school and receive an valuable education.

I appreciated the efforts that my host family made, by bringing morning snacks as we worked

I had underestimated the heat and it was a challenge to keep working during the peak hours of the day. I found the task of removing the rust from the fence particularly difficult but always tried to keep the main vision in sight and remember the reason that I had volunteered to attend this program,

How can this program be improved?
provide an updated version of the travel manual to insure participants bring the right equipment and clothing
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Marlee
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime

I enjoyed every single day and individual experience that I encountered during my three weeks. I spent my first week Spanish and Culture program in which I learned more in one week than I ever could have imagined. I had an amazing host family, great teachers, and had the opportunity to make many amazing friendships as well as explore the capital of Costa Rica. The volunteer portion of my trip was life-changing. My host family turned into a second family; amazing people that I feel like I have known my entire life thanks to their open arms and compassion. I felt like I truely made a difference in the community I volunteered in. It was hard work, but I was working with incredible passion with the same motivation and passion that I had. It felt like together as a team we could accomplish anything. My project leader was amazing. He is such a fun-loving yet hardworking guy who truly loves his job. I learned so much from him and could not have asked for a better leader to spend my two weeks with. When we weren't working on our volunteer project, we took part on some awesome activities. From jumping off cliffs next to waterfalls, to having community dinners and celebrations, to simply spending quality time with my host family, I enjoyed every minute of my experience. My three weeks spend in Costa Rica was a life-changing experience that I will never forget, spent with people from all over the world with whom I have made lifelong friendships.

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could think of a suggestion to make, but there is honestly not one thing I would change about the program. Everything was incredibly organized and great.
Yes, I recommend

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

Meet the Staff

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.

Destinations...