ISV - Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from ISV (International Student Volunteers).

Video and Photos

Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
Some of the sea turtles during Arribada
At Rio Tropicales, Pacuare River, Costa Rica
White Water Rafting
Impact Your World

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!

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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 76 - 90 of 141
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Kelley
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Whale and Dolphin Research Program

My program coordinator was amazing. Day to day was alright. Food for breakfast and dinner was excellent, but lunch had to be taken on the boat. Those in charge of food were negligent of a particular student's peanut allergy, which was unfortunate. Work we did on boat days felt productive. Lessons by program coordinator were good. Days not on the boat were often a little dull or otherwise felt unproductive. Would not have been against doing some more manual labor, etc.

What would you improve about this program?
Amount of work we accomplished. I wish we could have helped even more.
Response from ISV (International Student Volunteers)

Thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback. It's difficult for me to comment in regards to the circumstances around the peanut allergy as we do go to great lengths to encourage full disclosure from volunteers of their allergies and medical issues so that we can ensure a safe experience for all. I am sure that as soon as ISV personnel were made aware of the peanut issues that we would have addressed it immediately with our project partner. Really happy to hear that you enjoyed the boat work monitoring cetaceans - this is valuable work that has already had positive outcomes for more sustainable management of the Fjord marine ecosystem - thank you for your part in gathering the scientific data which makes that possible. As for your time off the boat- we've taken this on board and always debrief with our partners at the end of every project and review what could be improved upon. Thanks again for volunteering with ISV and we're really pleased that you would recommend us as without volunteers, these projects wouldn't exist. Sincerely, Narelle ISV

Default avatar
Dalton
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Just Book It Already!

When I was younger, I did not know if I would ever have an opportunity to travel. I was never one of those people who spent their money on parties or cars or whatever else you can think of. I saved my money from all the work I had done for the only thing that was important to me: to one day travel the world and make a difference. When I heard about ISV, I took the time to read about the organization and realized that this was my first chance to make my dream come true. I booked my plane ticket to Los Angeles and the rest was almost completely taken care of by the organization. At first, I was worried about travelling because this was my first time travelling by plane and I was by myself. I realized quickly that there was nothing to worry about! The group of travellers I met were amazing, and the village we went to had some of the most friendly people I have ever met. I felt very welcome my entire stay with my Costa Rican family, and the slight language barrier was not an issue. Helping construct the road between the two parts of the village and in the coffee farms was very rewarding, and there was still plenty of time after the work was done to have fun! Our group leader, Jonathan, was a great guy who always kept you smiling throughout the entire trip. Not only was helping the community great, but the wildlife was phenomenonal as well. Any doubt's I had had about traveling alone before I left for Costa Rica were quickly erased as soon as this life-changing adventure began. Having the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to continue traveling the world! If you are considering traveling with ISV, please don't waste this opportunity!

What would you improve about this program?
Better organization of flights to Los Angeles (I thought we were meeting with a group leader there).
Default avatar
andy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had fun exploring the jungle!

The group leaders were friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. The host family was great. I was able to go off path in the jungle and see it in ways most are not allowed. The conservation program had a goal I could really get behind.

What would you improve about this program?
More night activities would be great.
Default avatar
Ashlie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely Amazing

Once you travel with ISV, you will never want to travel as a 'tourist' again. Spending time with the locals, at their local hangouts and keeping sustainability in mind is an incredible way to travel, and simply going to another country without this local experience is now a major let down. ISV has every detail figured out, so all you have to do is go, work hard, have fun and make a difference. This experience was life changing and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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Kelsey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Unforgettable Adventure

If you love adventure, volunteering, trying new things, or just want a unique way to experience the world while making an impact, ISV is the best program. Not only was it affordable and adventure filled, but you would be amazed at the close bonds created with everyone in your project, the unforgettable sites and tours you are lucky to experience, and the outstanding places you stay at! A trip like this is one in lifetime and I try to explain it and recommend it in my everyday life, because it will never leave my mind, but no words will ever describe this experience! Zip lines down a volcano, a 3 day white water rafting trip, hot springs, surfing, waterfalls, rainforests, wildlife... the list goes on! And the immersion into the Costa Rican culture is a huge plus! ISV has changed my life for good!

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Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Memory To Last Forever

The impact that volunteering abroad left on my life was more than I ever expected. ISV did a great job will setting up a project that would have a important impact on the community, and one that you could actually see when the project was completed. The people, including my host family and the other students, will be a great part of my life for years to come.

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Melinda
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience of a lifetime

My experience as an ISV student volunteer is an unforgettable one, I highly recommend anyone to try it out. The volunteering in the community or animal conservation, the exploration, meeting people form around the world is irreplaceable.

What would you improve about this program?
Make it more affordable, thus accessible.
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Amanda
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ISV Costa Rica

Participating in the ISV Costa Rica program was the best volunteer opportunity I have ever had. You learn a lot about yourself when your taken out of your comfort zone to volunteer in a foreign country. You'll enjoy making new friends, learning about the local culture and customs and leaving a positive impact on the community. You will however face challenges such as language barrier, mosquitoes and constant rain keeping you indoors when you want to explore. Keeping the above in mind I would recommend this opportunity to anyone who can afford it. Get out there and make a positive impact on the local community and the environment. It will be worth it.

What would you improve about this program?
Please try and make this more affordable! Go for grants and donations, it never hurts to ask.
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Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

I would not take back my experiences with ISV for anything. The money is totally worth every penny. I made so many amazing friends and irreplaceable and unforgettable memories. ISV changed my entire outlook on life. I now have a great appreciation for other cultures and especially an appreciation for the community of Ostional, Costa Rica. The Olive Ridley Turtle will always have a special place in my heart because of this trip, as will Costa Rica. I was sad to leave and I hope I get to return one day.

What would you improve about this program?
The organization was not the best on the pre-trip end. I would have preferred if I had received all of the information more quickly, or at least by the date I was told to expect it.
Read my full story
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Amanda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best part of my experience.

The best part of my ISV experience was watching the sea turtles lay eggs, we saw mostly Olive Ridley and also a few green turtles, being so close to a creature that was continuing the circle of life was truly amazing. when they would lay eggs they would go into a trance and you were able to get so close and even feel them, they would leg dozens of eggs and a time than would bury them and go back into the ocean. In my particular program you had to walk up a mountain for two hours to get to the camp site, this was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life but i learned a lot about my self in doing it, and the support from our supervisors and other volunteers was incredible. I'll never forget the day we were leaving, our cook, Olga, who must of been at around 50 years old raced down the mountain faster than any of us in our early 20's, we were all shocked while she yelled at us jokingly in Spanish how slow we all were. I will never forget this experience, i would do anything to be back at Nancite Beach, Costa Rica.

What would you improve about this program?
On the adventure tour, laundry was very expensive.
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Autumn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LIFE CHANGING AND ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!

Volunteering in the Golfo Dulce with dolphins and poison dart frogs was such an incredible experience. We spent time canvasing the forest looking for poison dart frogs. We spent time in the Golf monitoring the foraging habits of different dolphin species. There was on day where we came upon a pod of hundreds of Spinner dolphins. It was unexplained and incredible!! I learned so much and had the time of my life.

The adventure tour was so much fun, we ziplined through tree tops and went white water rafting. It was so much fun!!!

It was a life changing experience and I hope to have the opportunity to volunteer my efforts with this organization again.

What would you improve about this program?
It is fairly expensive.
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Dominique
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica with international student volunteers was the most educational and exciting traveling experience of my life. I have studied abroad in Spain for one year and Costa Rica was my preferred country to visit due to my experience with international student volunteers. What made this program stand put from the rest was the chance to fully immerse in the program and have the opportunity for exploration and travel. Living with my Costa Rican family and doing the most intense labor or my life but also taught me how fortunate I am to be from American. I took for granite the amenities that the country offers. On the other hand I learned what amazing outdoor, adventurous activities to participate in such as white water rafting, natural water slides, zip lining, and exploring the rainforest. I fell in love with the culture the lifestyle and due to the experience provided I was able to see both the tourist view and local experience. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a safe, well-rounded travel experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Prepare the student on the hard labor beforehand.
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Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

This program not only let me try something completely different and way out or my comfort zone, but it allowed me to grow as a person. Learning what a sea turtle conservation is was eye opening. I had no idea that people had jobs as such. Not only was the volunteer project amazing, but that two weeks we went all over Costa Rica was beyond eventful! I made some great friends, some near and some far, but I'm always reminded of them in some way.

I learned how to walk around cool looking crabs without getting pinched! The hardest part was leaving such a beautiful country. During our two weeks of volunteering I was lucky to be on the beach but due to lack of sunscreen I didn't enjoy the sun much after a few days. The host families are amazing and they feed you like you've never had a meal in your life...and this is daily, 3 times a day! It's a great opportunity and you meet people from all over the place! I would do it again in a heartbeat!

What would you improve about this program?
Let us get out own flight to and from the final destination.
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Christie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

How ISV Costa Rica Changed my Views

I had no idea all the big and little things in my life that I could change that could help to bring change to the world. My experience in Costa Rica helped me see that and I will be forever thankful for it.

What would you improve about this program?
The cost was slightly high.
Default avatar
Simone
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sea turtles and fun

The best experience ... Made lots of friends that I will always remember ... Best memories ... Learnt a lot about conservation efforts worldwide... Wish I could go back!! Would recommend this to everyone of any age

What would you improve about this program?
International staff that might be a little more understanding