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!

Impact

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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 91 - 105 of 141
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Kayla
9/10

Save the Dolphins

This program is an tropical opportunity to make a difference for a foreign habitat, learn about the culture, and travel abroad with amazing people.
For the first two weeks, we did the volunteer part where we observed dolphins. The available boat was small, so half of us would go out and record dolphin activity while the other half went on a rainforest hike every day. The bungalows we stayed in were fun and the food was good. The next two weeks we did too fast of a journey around the country. We were in a place for one day and then left. We spent too much time on a bus. They scheduled us for one beach day before busing us somewhere else, and the beach is what everyone was looking forward to the most. But if we had spent more time in a few places rather than as many as we saw, we wouldnt have been able to do as many activities, and you can not beat ziplining, surfing, rapelling, hiking, and white water rafting in some of the most amazing tropical settings. HUGE BUGS.

How can this program be improved?
We spent only one day on the beach. IN COSTA RICA. I would give the volunteers more beach time in Costa Rica, because that is a big deal.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Randy
9/10

Greatt!

I had an amazing summer with ISV! From our wild adventures to the satisfying feeling i got when i volunteered to better the community. you will not be saddened if you go on this trip, trust me. Life just seems a whole lot broader with ISV

How can this program be improved?
Maybe a bit more community service? And DEFIANTLY staying longer next time
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Manal
9/10

Best experience of my life

Ive been looking for a long time to find a program that was just right, and boy did i find it! Words cannot describe how incredible and exhilarating this trip was. From the community service to the unforgettable adventures, no wonder i dream of going back nearly every night. If you're looking for a program that is kind of a start up into the volunteering groove- this is the place for you to go. Truly pleased

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
liza
10/10

a must

i was involved in the costa rica community rehabilitation project, based in providencia. it was an amazingly authentic experience as we got to live with the locals, and so we got to live like a local.

for the first week we learned about organic farming and assisted in the process of fertilising coffee farms. for the second we concreted a large stretch of hill road. both these projects were decided to be of importance by the providencia locals themselves, giving them the respect that they knew what was best for their own community. our project leader, jonathan cerdas, is without doubt one of the single most inspirational people i have ever had the privilege of meeting. he was so passionate and enthusiastic about his work that it instantly made us feel exactly the same.

it was by far the single most humbling and humanising experience of my life, and i hope to continue doing a whole lot more of it.

How can this program be improved?
i would change the maximum time stay. at the time of our projects, two weeks volunteering was the maximum. i felt that two weeks was the minimum to get a feel for providencia, and would have loved to stay for at least a month.
Yes, I recommend
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Bridget
10/10

Pura Vida!

Hands down the best experience of my student life. Beaches, sea turtles, sand, surf, and relaxation. What more could you ask for? The thunderstorms at night were the best part - and the howler monkeys would sing along!

How can this program be improved?
Better rain gear! :)
Yes, I recommend
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Isabella
9/10

Costa Rica with ISV Jan 2014

I had an amazing experience in Costa Rica. The volunteer project was definitely the best part for me, it was such a different and incredible location in the remote tropical rainforest of the Osa Peninsula. We had a whole beach to ourselves and the rainforest right behind us, and met so many beautiful people. The hiking was tough but knowing we were contributing to helping preserve the rainforest in the region made it very satisfying. The other ISV participants also made the experience so worthwhile as I met some great friends that I still even after the trip.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is that the price is quite high. I know that it includes a lot but cheaper flights could have been arranged.
Yes, I recommend
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Anna
9/10

Wonderful experience but comes at a price.

I had a wonderful time in Costa Rica and ISV made the whole experience SO easy and SO stress free. They organised everything! It was great to be able to go away for a fully action packed five weeks without having to organise a single thing. But it definitely wasn't cheap. The whole trip ended up costing close to $8,000 (for the volunteering, adventure tour& extra week of spanish immersion, flights and optional activities package- which EVERYONE does) but it covered all but a few meals, activities and of course our souvenirs. I opted to take the group flight (which they organise for you) which was a big mistake cause it was soooooo expensive (even though they made out like they could get us reduced rates for travelling together). The 2 weeks volunteering was hard work but totally worth it. I got to get up close to beautiful sea turtles!!! And the 2 week adventure two is a MUST it is probably the most fun and best value part of the trip! We went white water rafting, zip-lining, rappelling/abseiling, horse back riding, river tubing & surfing. Plus we stayed at some of the most beautiful and tranquil places I have ever been! So bottom line is, it's lots of fun but lots of $$$$$,

How can this program be improved?
More transparency about the costs. When the people from ISV came to promote the trip and my university they made out like it would be cheap when in fact it wasn't. They only tell you the price of the volunteer and adventure package. They didn't tell us how much the extra week of spanish lessons would be. And they didn't say that there was extra cost for the 'optional activity package' which isn't actually optional because it includes all the best activities in the adventure tour and everyone does it, so you kinda have to. When someone asked about flight prices they wouldn't give an estimate but said if we book with the group they can get cheaper rates. This was NOT true. I booked with the group and it cost about $3,000 return. Others who booked on their own with cheaper airlines got flights at almost half the price. Everyone in my volunteer group agreed that they should have been more transparent.
Yes, I recommend
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Mallory
10/10

A life-changing experience

I can honestly say that doing a volunteer program with ISV was life-changing! I learned so much and all of the staff and volunteers were extremely welcoming and accepting. I did a lot of research and chose ISV because of the credentials and from what I heard from others who volunteered with ISV previously. ISV really helped me grow as an individual while helping others at the same time. I would not change my experience for anything and I am so thankful to have had the chance to volunteer with such an amazing organization. I would highly recommend ISV to anyone looking for a great, safe opportunity in a foreign country.

How can this program be improved?
I got blisters, that was seriously the only thing that could use improvement.
Yes, I recommend
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Marlaine
9/10

Goal Changer

It is not every day an undergraduate student has the opportunity to spend their days hiking through the rain forest searching for poison dart frogs or boating around a gulf observing dolphins and humpback whales. As a pre-vet student, I discovered my passion for wildlife and the drive I have to protect it and hope to take the knowledge and experiences I gained from my volunteer trip and apply them to not only my career, but also my mentality. I went into ISV's program looking for an experience. I came out with a new life plan and the experience I needed to make that happen.

How can this program be improved?
Information sent out prior to the trip was a little confusing, especially those involving travel and flights. A more organized layout of what to expect in terms of flights would be beneficial. Also an emphasis on the options of planning your own flight to save a little bit of cash.
Yes, I recommend
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Shannon
8/10

My costa rican adventure

I volunteered with ISV in Costa Rica and it was honestly life changing! We did dolphin research in Gulfo Dulce which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The dolphins came right up to the boat and interacting with them like that was incredible. I learned so much about the environment, dolphins, and people in general. I'm a psychology major and learning about how dolphins (and of course people from other countries) interact has been so beneficial to my studies. I received credit for my trip too which is great! I made great friends who I still see and talk to from all over the US and Canada - overall had an amazing experience with ISV!

How can this program be improved?
Communication before leaving for the trip with the US ISV office was sometimes difficult as they were a bit difficult to reach forget straight answers out of. Once we got to Costa Rica the staff was so helpful and available to us though!
Yes, I recommend
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Ethel
8/10

A fun learning experience!

I had attended the five week programme that included a week of home stay experience and Spanish lessons. I really liked how there was a balance between doing the touristy stuff and being immersed in the local culture in this program. Although there wasn't much to do during the home stay apart from the spanish lessons I enjoyed the experience of living with a Costa Rican family and roaming around Heredia on my own, even getting to take a day trip to San Jose as well! I have learnt a lot during the volunteer program about working with children and enjoyed myself in the process. The adventure tour was at a good pace too, not too packed and yet not too relaxed, filled with enjoyable activities in it. Overall, I enjoyed myself during the program and it was a really good experience.

How can this program be improved?
There could be more activities for the spanish language program as there wasn't much for us to do after our Spanish lessons everyday.
Yes, I recommend
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Laurie
10/10

Costa Rica- Que Brada Grande

I went on this ISV trip during the summer of 2003. It was an amazing experience working deep in the jungle for this tight knit community. It was a good idea to move host homes half way through the volunteer experience because we each got to experience different families and home types.

The work was physically demanding, which was great. We all felt that we were really contributing. There was also a lot of freedom at the end of the day to play.

The eco tourism portion was extremely educational as well.

I have shared my experience with ISV to countless people.

How can this program be improved?
At the beginning of trip our group split into three or four different projects for the volunteer portion of the trip. I would have liked the trip to be longer so that we could all do each project.
Yes, I recommend
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Amanda
10/10

Life changing adventure

This journy was more that i could ever imagine. The staff was beyone amazing (super fun and easy to relate to) and the experiances are something i will never forget! i was granted the amazing honor to work with wild dolphins and help make in mipact in gulfo dulce. the relationshsip i have gain with the other members are ones that i will never forget! the adventure tour was honestly amazing and i still dont believe that i would ever get the chance to do anything that amazing again! my favorite thing was surfing! My favorite over all experiance however, was buliding relationships withthe other "campers" and the staff there. It was truly a life changing experiace and i would do it again in a heart beat!

How can this program be improved?
i would change the first two weeks by having more things to do when we were not on the boat (for the dolphins and whales of gulfo dulce).
Yes, I recommend
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Natasha
9/10

Experience with turtle conservation & adventure tour

I had some frustrations personally and with people I knew caused from lack of communication to group leaders from ISV or to participants from group leaders about what was going on, girls with back problems were put in my group which needed to backpack into the park a few hours.

All in all: Incredible time in Santa Rosa National Park on an isolated beach seeing milky way while patrolling the beach for turtles late at night.

Adventure tour was really touristy- very separate from rest of Costa Rica's society. Rafting was awesome.
Very worthwhile and memorable experiences!

How can this program be improved?
Better communication to participants of what is going on during orientation before separating into smaller program groups.
Less expensive/fancy/touristy lodgings for adventure tour portion.
Yes, I recommend
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Natalie
10/10

Tico Time!

It has been 2 years since my unforgettable visit to Costa Rica with ISV, and not a day goes by that I don't reflect on the valuable lessons and experiences that I had there.

From living with a local family, interacting with the local ISV staff- learning about how much they value the environment as a whole, to drinking fresh pipa's ( coconuts) by the ocean, there was never a dull moment while I was there.

Beyond the incredible opportunities such as working directly with sea turtles under the most astounding starry skies I have ever seen, I made my most cherished friends on my trip. We were all from different places in the world and to this day we still get together every summer an travel some place new together. Trips like ISV are worthwhile not only because you get the gratifying experience of giving back to the global community, but also because it unites you with people that have similar values, dreams, and pursuits. No one 'gets it' the way my trip friends do, and I am forever thankful to my ISV leaders, my host family, my friends, and to all the experiences I had while I was there. It changed me at my core and I know if you go into a trip with an open mind, you can't help but be inspired!

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change about my program is to have our volunteer leader able to join use on our second 2 week adventure tour. We all bonded so much with him during our 2 weeks of volunteering it was hear-breaking having to say goodbye. We all agreed that it would have been spectacular to have our new friend able to continue our adventure with us and keep teaching us about the culture.
Yes, I recommend

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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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