Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica from $370 with IVHQ

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About

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer programs in Costa Rica and 50+ other destinations around the world.

You can choose from 12 volunteer project options in Costa Rica and give back for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks. Your Program Fee includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support. You’ll be accommodated in a homestay or volunteer house, with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world.

IVHQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers every year, so before you even depart for Costa Rica, you’ll receive outstanding personalized service from your expert Volunteer Program Manager and exclusive access to superior pre-departure volunteer training.

With IVHQ, you can expect to establish real connections within the local community while supporting projects that make a genuine difference.

Highlights
  • IVHQ’s Costa Rica program is available year-round, offering a start date on every Monday
  • Highly affordable program fees starting from $370 - IVHQ provides the most affordable and top-rated programs
  • You’ll be joining between 40 and 80 other IVHQ volunteers who start in Costa Rica each month
  • You’ll be traveling with IVHQ, the volunteer travel experts, and joining a network of 110,000+ volunteers. Our outstanding safety systems and track record set us apart, we are the world’s safest organization
  • Your efforts will have a positive impact because our programs are community-driven with a focus on supporting long-term local needs

Popular Programs

As a Childcare volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be supporting a project where the focus is on improving outcomes for children from difficult backgrounds in San Jose. You will be working alongside local staff and playing a hands-on role in providing much-needed support within local community centers, daycares, schools, soup kitchens and kindergartens.

The aim of the Working with Children project in Manuel Antonio is to provide additional care, attention and most importantly, companionship to children within local childcare facilities. This project is well suited to energetic and creative volunteers who are passionate about working with children. You will be encouraged to use your creativity, be open-minded and ready to pitch in and help out wherever possible.

When volunteering in Costa Rica on the Sea Turtle Conservation project, you will work alongside a local biologist to assist with sea turtle studies, focus on marine-conservation volunteer activities and support sustainable egg protection programs. There are four sea turtle species in Costa Rica - Leatherbacks, Greens, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill. This project is well suited to hard-working individuals who love nature, the marine environment and being part of rewarding volunteer work.

As a volunteer on the Healthcare project in Costa Rica, you may work in a range of community care facilities in San Jose, including clinics for disabled children, nursing homes, HIV/AIDS assisted living homes and ambulance services. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is relatively well developed, however the placements we work with always appreciate the extra assistance that volunteers provide through supporting local nurses, doctors and caregivers.

As a Construction and Renovation volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be working to support underfunded projects in San Jose that are rundown and in need of a refresh. Your support will help to breathe new life into communities and enable initiatives to carry out their work in healthy, vibrant spaces. You will take the lead from a local construction worker, who will provide you with direction and guidance throughout your project.

Questions & Answers

You can see a lot of reviews here: https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-abroad-reviews/ There are 12 different projects in 50+ locations, so there are lots of options! :)

I'm not sure how big your group is but my sister and I went as a pair and so did some room mates we had at our host families place. Now 3 would probably be reasonable, 4 might be safe but I would say anything above that would be pushing it for sure. The host family we stayed at held 5 of us at one time so I know its possible but it would depend on how many people the host family can hold and how...

You can apply, but you must apply with someone else that is over 18 so that you don't go alone. Hope that helps!

I'm not sure there is an age restriction, but for most of the programs you have to get a background check and in my state you must be 18 to acquire one. I would recommend the program only to people 18+ anyways.

Reviews

95%
based on 50 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 50
Thouriya
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My amazing experience in Costa Rica

I had an amazing time here in Costa Rica and mostly thanks to the local staff that helps us in any situation.
I managed to achieve my goals here: To spend time with kids and learn a lot from them
My stay with the host family was also very nice, the host-mom treated us like her own kids and cooked very good food for us while telling us a lot of interesting stories (which helped us to improve our spanish!
People in Costa Rica are incredible and had a big impact on my experience here
Finally, the are so many beautiful places to visit: La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano, Poas Volcano, Isla Tortuguero, National Park of Manuel Antonio ...

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe that a bunch of organized activities during the afternoons (in addition to the pre-existent) would be amazing for all those who stay in the city during the free time
marissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic Program

the most amazing group of kids! never felt so much love and excitement walking through the door. truly a life changing expierence. the staff at the program was so great an helpful with the volunteers and the kids. The host mom was so accomadating and always prepared meals she knew i would eat since i am such a picky eater. The country was amazing with so many helpful and nice people. There was so much to see and do, there was never a dull moment. my favorite part was playing with the kids each day and watching the smiles light up on their face with how much fun they were having.

Nathaniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical Campaign

This experience was astonishingly impacting to my overall goals in life and where my journey can go from here. One of my favorite moments from the entire trip was the level of enjoyment that was seen from every child that we came into contact with. At every day care we went to, children came up to us and did not worry about the language barrier because it seemingly didn't matter. Our trip organizer, Makayla, was a tremendous help in anything that we needed whether it be a translator, an instructor, or even just a friend.

What was your funniest moment?
I became a human jungle gym for the children of one of the daycares.
Brooke
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical campaign

I met so many people on this trip that I will never forget. The team at maximo and the translators were very helpful throughout this process. Our host mom, Marlene was very welcoming and provided us with great accommodations. I had a great time emerging myself in a new culture and feeling safe while doing so. I learned more about medicine than I ever would have back at home. Going to daycares and helping kids was one of my favorite parts. Communication barriers did not matter, which made the day.

Tara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go to Costa Rica

I am a pre med student with basic medical knowledge being a sophomore in college. I don't have much experience besides other volunteering and shadowing doctors for my interest in my future occupation. I have Spanish experience from high school and language was never a barrier or problem. The translators were kind and amzing all the way to the doctors, nurses, managers, staff, etc. I feel I have made a significant impact on Costa Rican communities and would do it all over again if I could. :) :) .

What was your funniest moment?
Funniest moment was playing with the kids at day cares we helped at and having them correct my imperfect Spanish.
Iris
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gotta love it

This experience equipped me with the opportunity to undergo experiential and hands on learning in the field of medicine and healthcare and allowed me to directly create an impact on others' lives beneficially. I was able to form valuable relationships, interact with others with backgrounds and opinions different from mine, practice and hone my medical skills, and helped solidify my want and goal to pursue a career in medicine. If nothing else, this trip was a lot of fun and rewarding! Got to make new friends and channel my passion to help others!

Grace
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life Changing Week in San Jose

As someone who has never traveled abroad, I was very excited for my experience with IVHQ. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, I was pretty quickly submersed in the local culture that I knew quite little about. The trip was a learning experience in its entirety. I was able to learn how to exchange money, interact with those who speak only Spanish (when I speak very little), and assist those who needed it most. On this trip, I had so many opportunities to expand both my cultural and medical knowledge. I also was grateful to become extremely close with my peers and field manager. I felt that I not only developed my communication and interpersonal skills, but was able to experience a life I would have never imagined. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to go on this trip, and I highly recommend it.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
One of the most stressful moments was interacting with my first patient who spoke only Spanish. I was overwhelmed and stuttering over my words. However, I quickly became more comfortable conversing, and by the end of the trip I had learned much more of the language than I had imagined.
David
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Medical Campaign

This experience was unique because both my medical and Spanish knowledge have been furthered due to this trip! Also, shoutout to Makayla for being an awesome and helpful field manager. I will miss you Maximo! I did this program previously in Guatemala and I feel I have learned so much since my first campaign. The staff and environment have been tremendous and I am so glad that I was able to get to see the scenery of Costa Rica! Marlene, our host mom, was wonderful and provided us with whatever we requested.

Andrew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical Campaign

I liked how it helped me regain my spanish skills. Also it helped me to reaffirm that I want to be in the medical field. I feel like I helped a lot of people and I am leaving with the urge to continue helping people. I liked seeing all of the beautiful scenery when driving to and from each activity. It really made me wish that I had the same kind of views back in the states. I had to balance between excitement and nervousness a lot of the time, but once getting on site of the mission the nerves vanished. I had a really great time and I would do this trip again.

Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommend

This is a very awesome and fulfilling experience. I had fun. I learned a lot. I saw a lot of dogs on the run. Seeing the dogs was a highlight of my day. Also, I learned lots of things about what to do to administer basic healthcare. I feel like I helped a lot of people. I wish I could have helped the dogs. The dogs ran through the clinic and it was really funny. Okay, but on the real I learned a lot and I was taught what to do since I didn't know anything going into this trip. Would highly recommend.

Marie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it!

I loved the program! The activities they had planned everyday was very organized. Everything we did was very was very fulfilling. This helped me learn Spanish, build experience, and gain knowledge in the healthcare field. I always felt safe in my group. The one thing I would change is where we ate everyday. Change it up! Also, I wish our program was n the afternoon from 8/1 but instead it was in the afternoon. It would have been nice to have to have the afternoon to sight see. Also, beware of the odd addresses!

Olivia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A lot of fun

I went to Costa Rica with IVHQ to do construction for a month earlier this fall. It was a great time, and everyone I met was extremely kind and helpful. I spent mornings volunteering in a daycare, and although somedays we didn’t make much progress it was still a rewarding experience. I got to meet so many different people from all over which is probably one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. I also loved exploring and seeing the area. I would definitely recommend, and I can’t wait to volunteer somewhere else soon!

What would you improve about this program?
Sometimes it didn’t seem like what we were doing was particularly needed or helpful in the daycare. It definitely looked nice in the end, but we spent a month fixing up one room and I think we probably could have been more efficient and helped other parts of the daycare than just one area
Inez Diana
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English In Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

I began looking for volunteer trips and companies years ago in middle school (I am now 23) as I had always dreamed of having this opportunity. I found IVHQ a few years ago and have kept going back to their page and looking at the various locations and projects and finally decided to take the plunge last December. They had the cheapest cost yet still seemed to provide a ton of support and assistance as well as great reviews, which were all important to me. The project I chose, Teaching English in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, was run by another company that IVHQ partners with and although that I was hesitant at first, I found that both companies worked very well together and both equally kept in contact with me and helped me as I prepared to travel. Maximo Nivel was the partner company who runs projects in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Peru and they do a wonderful job. IVHQ was involved with everything and supported me up until I departed and then Maximo took over, yet IVHQ still checked in throughout the trip and I felt that between the both of them, I had as much support as needed, and had someone to call no matter what. From the moment I was picked up at the airport, to my first night at a host family in San Jose, and then finally my transfer to Manuel Antonio the following day, I felt safe and secure and I was with other volunteers who ended up becoming my host family and some really great friends. The project was very basic as far as the supplies and the setup, it was located in a community building as a part of the church and the room was very basic having only tables, chairs and a white board with some markers, but what else do you need with imagination? Classes were held from 3-4:30 for the children whose ages ranged from 4 to 10 and then adult classes were from 4:30-6 and we ended up splitting the adult group in half for beginners and intermediate students. This project did require a decent amount of planning due to the lack of a curriculum or established lessons, but it wasn't difficult since the local team works with you and has many resources for you to use. Overall, the best part of the experience was seeing how much of an impact you have on your students, helping them do better at work, get better grade sin school, get into college and feel confident when speaking with the large amount of visitors from all over the world. Plus, every morning and weekend were our free time and we did so much, such as visiting La Fortuna/Arenal in the north part of the country, touring Manuel Antonio National Park, taking catamaran cruises to local islands off the coast, and really becoming locals exploring the town and finding our favorite spots. Overall, it was an amazing few weeks and I cried as the plane took off to head home because part of my heart will always be left with the people of Costa Rica, although I was excited to be in the world of air conditioning again! :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to do research on the country, the people and the language if you can BEFORE you get in the country. By researching all the popular destinations for my weekends and planning and making reservations before my trip even started, it made everything less stressful once I was there and I just had to follow my schedule of activities. I also was able to advise other volunteers that I was living with and working with about activities and places to visit in their free time. Thankfully, I know enough Spanish to get through any conversation and be able to be on my own without stressing about communication, but the volunteers I lived with had little to no Spanish knowledge and I could see how differently our experiences were. I could easily communicate with our host mom who spoke no English, while they had to rely on Google translate for any conversation they wanted to have with anyone who didn't know enough English, which was a lot of the community.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Inez, thanks for your review of our Costa Rica program. I'm glad to hear that you have a truly rewarding experience on the teaching project in Manuel Antonio. The effort and hard work that you put in to contributing to this community is greatly appreciated. We look forward to having you volunteer with IVHQ again soon! ^ Kate - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

Erica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Such a memorable experience

Working with the amazing Maximo Nivel staff and patients of Virgen del Socorro this past August has been such a wonderful and eye-opening experience for me. I am honored to have been a part of such a beneficial and rewarding program. I have made so many incredible and unforgettable memories and have many, many great stories to tell to my friends and family. The host family I stayed with was so sweet and caring, and the food was amazing! There were many options for those with dietary restrictions and allergies, and I had the opportunity to try many new traditional meals. I always felt safe, as long as I was with someone else, and was able to take advantage of the many social events and night programs offered through Maximo, such as salsa lessons! I look forward to returning in the near future!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I absolutely loved the fried plantains and huevos roncheros, as well as the adobada.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Erica, I'm so glad to hear that you had such a rewarding experience on our Costa Rica program. It's lovely to hear that you felt safe and got to take advantage of the salsa lessons! Thank you so much for the contribution and effort you put in to the project. It is greatly appreciated by the community. We look forward to having you volunteer with IVHQ again soon! ^ Kate - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Money comes back, life experiences are a dime a dozen

Its a bit cliche, I know, but going overseas to be a service to the outside world set me on a new path in life. One that has let me see the positive and optimistic side of life. Going to volunteer in Costa Rica instilled a confidence in me of people's true proclivity for good and helping the world around them. It was through IVHQ that I was able to fulfill this life-long desire of mine to be a positive influence beyond my local sphere. From the staff, the amenities, and events - everything was exactly what I needed it to be. I will, for the rest of my life, look back on my experience as a such a positive influence on a better life! Honestly, I have had many amazing experiences but there is just something unsaid and special about volunteering. Perhaps it was just a case of right place, right time. Now its just a matter of when I get back for round 2.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Take full advantage of the resources they offer. My Spanish is by far better than it has been in ages but if I would've taken classes or at the very least the tandem conversations I would be lightyears beyond where I am even now.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Chris, I'm so glad to hear that you have such a rewarding experience on our Costa Rica program. The contribution you have made to the community on the Construction and Renovation project is greatly appreciated. We look forward to having you volunteer with IVHQ again soon! ^ Kate - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager