Affordable Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica from $330

By International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ   Reviews (16)   97% Rating

Volunteer in Costa Rica with IVHQ! Every year, hundreds of volunteers join IVHQ's highly affordable volunteer projects across Costa Rica. Here volunteers assist on a range of community-driven projects in San Jose, in the central highlands and costal locations. Volunteers can choose to participate on projects for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks are accommodated in volunteer houses alongside other international volunteers. While Spanish is not required in order to participate on the program, volunteers can enjoy taking discounted Spanish lessons during their time on the program.

IVHQ Volunteer Projects Available in Costa Rica:

  • Teaching English
  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Construction and Renovation
  • Special Needs Care
  • Eco-Agriculture Conservation

Highlights

  • Programs available year-round, starting on the 1st and 15th of each month
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Highly affordable program fees from $330 for 1 week
  • Community-driven projects focused on supporting local needs and delivering sustainable positive impacts
  • Superior support services both pre-departure and while volunteering
  • Free online volunteer training for all IVHQ volunteers
  • Between 40 and 80 IVHQ volunteers start in Costa Rica each month
  • Weekends are free to explore Costa Rica with fellow volunteers - explore Monteverde, Manuel Antonio and more!
Locations
North America › Costa Rica › San José
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
Project Types
Language
English
Housing
Host Family
Cost
Costa Rica Program Fee includes airport pick-up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation, breakfast and dinner during volunteer program period, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs.
Starting Price
330.00

Questions & Answers

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...
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica from $330

Rating Values

  • Impact
    90%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    86%
  • Value
    95%
  • Safety
    94%

Program Reviews (16)

Nell
Female
18 years old
Huntsville, AL, USA
University of South Alabama

My Experience with IVHQ

Overall 10

I visited Costa Rica this past June (11-28, 2016) and chose to do the childcare program. Immediately upon arrival I was in awe of the bustling city of San José! I was picked up and taken to Máximo Nivel (IVHQ's partner) by a staff member and met the very friendly staff and crew who welcomed me to the new country and program. They gave me a tour of the building and then I was taken to my new host family. My family was incredibly sweet, caring, and kind and I will always have a connection with them. They kept the house clean, cooked delicious food, and gave me plenty of space to do what I pleased. They were very supportive and always liked to hear about my day. On a typical day, I woke up for breakfast around 7:45, left the house by 8:30, and made it to my daycare by 9. I got to play with the sweetest kids for 4 hours and then caught the bus to head back to either Máximo Nivel or home. I had the rest of the afternoon and weekends to myself and I could explore San José or travel outside the city. This program allowed me so much freedom while also allowing me to feel like I was helping the community. Volunteering was hands down the best thing I have ever done and is hopefully just the beginning. I would love to do this at least once a year and I most certainly plan to do it though IVHQ! Thank you for all that you have given me and taught me, IVHQ! Thank you for helping me grow as a person and begin a new chapter in my life. I hope there are many more trips to come!! With love, Nell

Provider Response

Hi Nell, thanks for being an IVHQer! We are so glad that you had such a positive experience in Costa Rica and it is great to hear that the local team were friendly and supportive. We look forward to welcoming you on another IVHQ program in the future!

Rita
Male
18 years old
Cedar Rapids

Costa Rica Summer 2016 with IVHQ

Overall 10

This past month I got to spend an amazing and eye-opening week in the beautiful and lively country of Costa Rica. It was my family and I's first volunteer trip together and we couldn't have imagined it going any better. We took part in the childcare program at a government-funded daycare in an impoverished and drug-ridden area, and we met so many great people. It was a great experience to be able to spend time with the kind and happy children- every morning they would run up to us with big grins on their faces and scream "Hola!". It is surely something that will remain in our memories for a lifetime. I can't wait to return for a longer time in the near future.

Provider Response

Hi Rita, Thanks for sharing! We are so glad that you had a great time in Costa Rica and it is awesome that you were able to share the experience with your family. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we look forward to welcoming you on another IVHQ program in the future.

Ashley
Female
23 years old
Youngstown, Ohio
Kent State University

First time traveler in Costa Rica

Overall 10

Prior to arriving in Costa Rica, I never had the opportunity to travel abroad (or even go on a plane!) so I was definitely nervous to spend one week out of the country by myself. But as soon as I arrived in San Jose, my nerves calmed down and I became so excited for the meaningful work I was about to do at a local childcare center. My one week in Costa Rica was unforgettable- even though I know minimal Spanish, I felt as though I still made an impact on the kids I worked with, had a lot of fun interacting with the locals, and I was able to navigate through San Jose just fine. Because my placement was located pretty far from my accommodation, I had to take a couple busses to get there. But on my way to the second bus stop, I got to walk through downtown San Jose everyday, and see the hundreds of shops, restaurants, street vendors, live performers, etc., and it was quite the memorable experience. If I could go back in time, I would've definitely signed up for an extra week or two. I'd highly recommend traveling to Costa Rica to anyone who wants to travel, regardless of travel experience!

How can this program be improved?

Maybe work to find volunteer placements that are closer to volunteers' accommodations. Sometimes it felt like I was rushing and stressing out to get from point A to B, especially in the mornings on my way to my placement.

Emily
Female
21 years old
Halifax
Dalhousie University

Great Experience in Costa Rica

Overall 10

It was my very first time travelling alone in another country as well as my first time volunteering abroad and I cannot express how amazing it was for a first time experience! Because I was unsure what to expect, I only registered for one week at my program, however as soon as I got there I regretted not staying longer. I felt as though I did not accomplish as much I would have hope within the one week I volunteered in Costa Rica, but even though I was there for a short period of time, I still felt the benefit of my work there and had an amazing time. The construction and renovation project is very fun in that you get to do some hands-on work and really see with your own eyes the work and the difference that is being made. However, next time I travel abroad I think I would like to do something with childcare! I am sure any project is an amazing experience and I cannot wait to volunteer again! I did not expect to fall in love with Costa Rica like I did, it is a very interesting country and a great culture to experience. I felt very safe with this organization and very well-supported by the staff, which made for an even better experience for my first time abroad. I would truly suggest this program to anyone looking to travel or volunteer!

How can this program be improved?

There is not much to be improved with this program, it is pretty great and offers a tremendous amount of opportunity and great experiences.

Karthy
Female
22 years old
Canada
Wilfrid Laurier University

Costa Rica

Overall 10

I volunteered in Costa Rica for the 2 week program in childcare and had an amazing life changing experience during my duration.As a first time solo traveler i was very nervous and did not know what to expect, but my experience was incredible. The program gave you enough information prior to the trip that helped me get prepared and less nervous and more at ease.

I was placed at Gatitos Pural which was a daycare and even in the first couple days i created such a great bond with some of the children it made me never want to leave. They really make you fee appreciated and show so much love towards you from the second you walk into the daycare.

You always get the opportunity to meet and get really close with some of the other volunteers which makes the experience that much more incredible. My roommates and I are still such good friends and i'm grateful for IVHQ for bringing us together.

How can this program be improved?

The program could be improved by informing the volunteers ahead of time of their airport pickup. Although this was not a concern for me at my arrival, I heard many other volunteers about the confusion that they had because they weren't given much information on where to get picked up and who to look out for.

Provider Response

Hi Karthy, Thanks for taking the time to share a little about your time volunteering with IVHQ in Costa Rica. It's great to hear you had such a positive experience volunteering at your placement and that your fellow volunteers have become close friends - bonus! Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ and we hope to see you on another program again in the future.

Jessica
Female
21 years old
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Duquesne University

Amazing Volunteer Trip to Costa Rica

Overall 10

I spent 6 weeks volunteering at a school for children with Special Needs in San Jose, Costa Rica through IVHQ and it was the most wonderful experience. As a first time traveler that was not fluent in Spanish, I was hesitant for the trip, but it turned out to be nothing but fantastic. I wasn't just a tourist in another country, I felt as close to a native Costa Rican as I could ever be. My host family helped me with my Spanish and shared all of the inside secrets of the wonders of Costa Rica, while still making me feel at home. Obviously, the best part of my trip was spending the day with my students at the school. They were so welcoming, and even though we had two language barriers (Spanish and Sign Language), they taught me so much. I loved going to the school everyday to learn from the students, and also for them to learn from me. Working with these students one-on-one was so rewarding, and even though I only spent 6 weeks with them, I could see their growth. Another amazing part about volunteering with IVHQ was the sheer number of other volunteers at the program. There were constantly new people arriving every week, which meant new roommates coming to the house. I met so many different people from all around the world, and many of them will be life-long friends. This experience was more than I could ever ask for, and I wouldn't have changed anything about it - except staying longer.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I would suggest improving is trying to provide more information to volunteers before they arrive. As a first-time traveler going to a country by myself, it was a little nerve-wracking to not have any information at all until I arrived in San Jose

Provider Response

Hi Jessica, It is great to hear from you, thanks for sharing your thoughts from your time in Costa Rica. It sounds like you had a really memorable experience. We hope to see you on another IVHQ program again soon.

Samantha
Female
21 years old
Oakdale, California
University of the Pacific

Costa Rica

Overall 10

I had the opportunity to volunteer with PANI, a government owned orphanage in Costa Rica. I was very nervous to travel alone, out of the country for my first time, but with the help of IVHQ, the whole trip went very smooth. The program made it very easy to travel and put my mind at ease. With informational emails before, during and after the trip, I was well prepared for everything during my stay in Costa Rica and my arrival home. I would gladly recommend this great program to anyone who wishes to volunteer or learn abroad. This trip was very successful with teaching me about another country.I stayed with a local family who was very helpful as well; even though I do not know Spanish, the official language of the country, the family tried to help me in any way they could. IVHQ also made it very easy to explore and book tours during my stay in Costa Rica.

How can this program be improved?

I feel that this program did a very good job preparing me for my trip in every way.

Provider Response

Hi Samantha, It's nice to hear from you. We are glad that with the support of IVHQ you were able to travel alone and that you felt prepared and comfortable in doing so. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we hope to see you on anther program at some point in the future.

Martin
Male
21 years old
London
University of Bath

Costa Rica changed my life in 2 weeks

Overall 10

I volunteered in Costa Rica in childcare for a week and then toured around Costa Rica's for another week.

My volunteering program was in a daycare in San Jose and involved keeping the kids occupied and also to teach them English. You are given a lot of flexibility and trust in the program, from redecorating part of the daycare to make it more exciting and fun, to introducing new games and activities to engage and educate the kids, the options are wide open. No matter how long you volunteer for, you will be able to see an impact of your actions in the kid's appreciation of your work.

In Costa Rica I met many wonderful people that further enriched my experience. The other volunteers and the staff at the local volunteering company made it a much more sociable and safe experience.

Costa Rica has some of the most amazing sceneries, wildlife and also offers many extreme activities. In a week, some of the activities I managed to do include zip-lining above a forest, a bungee jump from 143m, enjoying the beautiful Manuel Antonio beach and seeing the Poas volcano and the waterfall gardens.

Overall it was an unforgettable experience that I hope to be able to do again in the near future.

How can this program be improved?

I had no issues with the program, the only slight suggestion I can make is to be given a better indication of the exact place you will be volunteering at, even if there is a chance it could change. This will give more chance for people volunteering for shorter periods of time to prepare.

Provider Response

Hi Martin, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your volunteer experience with IVHQ in San Jose. It's great to hear you had such an enjoyable trip where you felt safe and cared for by both the local team and your fellow volunteers. It sounds like you had a really rewarding time exploring Costa Rica as well, which is what travelling abroad is all about. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we hope to see you again soon at another IVHQ program destination.

Rachel
Female
44 years old
Redding, California
Eastern New Mexico University

Love IVHQ Costa Rica

Overall 10

I loved the experience volunteering with IVHQ in Costa Rica. The staff was so accommodating and friendly, from the time I booked the trip to the time I was headed home. I felt safe and welcomed and had a great time. I made wonderful friends from all around the world. Staying with a host family was a beautiful experience I will never forget. It was a wonderful way to truly immerse yourself in the culture. The Childcare program was fulfilling and brought me so much joy. I will definitely do this again!

Provider Response

Hi Rachel, Thanks for sharing your thoughts from your volunteer experience in Costa Rica. It's great to hear that you felt safe and welcomed by the local team and your host family. Thanks for being and IVHQer!

monica
Female
23 years old
Arizona
Arizona State University

Costa Rica Healthcare Volunteer

Overall 8

Volunteering at the assisted living facility in Costa Rica through IVHQ was such a humbling experience. I went there expecting to change lives (in even the slightest way) and ended up changing my own. The people you meet along the way give your journey more meaning than you'd ever expect.

I was able to emerge myself into the city and way of living like a local and it pulled me out of my element but helped me grow as an individual. On a daily basis I learned new things and was always meeting new people.

The experience seemed overwhelming at first but with the help of staff, new friends, and my host family, everything fell into place and was one of the best traveling experiences of my life.

How can this program be improved?

perhaps the local volunteer program should have an option for a "paid transportation bundle" where instead of relying on busses, a volunteer could pay in advance and have scheduled transportation to and from the volunteer site.

Provider Response

Hi Monica, thanks for sharing your thoughts on volunteering with IVHQ in Costa Rica. It sounds like you had a really memorable experience which we love to hear. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Caroline
Female
23 years old
Switzerland

Trip of a life time

Overall 9

I volunteered to teach English and had requested to teach to younger children when I applied for the program. However, this did not seem to be taken into account, as I was placed in a program with teenagers in their last year of high school. Although I was disappointed by this at first, as this had not been what I had been expecting, and I had brought material specifically for younger children, I absolutely loved this project. I loved being able to get to know the students and being able to talk to them and learn about San José and Costa Rica, through conversations with them. My second project did not live up to my expectations whatsoever, and this was partly my own fault, as I insisted on having a morning project, which meant I would be working in a proper school. In the school I worked as a teacher's assistant, which was not what I wanted to do. But Maximo Nivel (the organisation that runs the program in Costa Rica) was extremely helpful, and as soon as they found out I was dissatisfied, they tried to come up with different solutions and eventually they moved me to a different project. At my third project, I got to work with younger children. I absolutely loved this project, because I had a lot of independence and I got to run the class room, how I wanted to. I must say though, I think I preferred working with the high schools students, because it was easier to teach them, than it was to teach children. As children need to be constantly entertained and therefore there is a need for a lot of energy in the class room.
I loved my host family as well, we got on extremely well and would sit and talk for hours. This was great practice for my Spanish. The food was also amazing.

How can this program be improved?

The placements are often quite far away from Maximo and the host families and therefore a lot of time is wasted on transport. It would be great if this could be changed to make it easier for the volunteers.
I would also make the Spanish lessons cheaper! The volunteers should be encouraged to learn the local language, but when the lessons are 97 dollars for a week, most will probably be discouraged and decide to save money instead.

Haley
Female
23 years old
United States
University of Colorado- Boulder

IVHQ Costa Rica

Overall 10

I worked on the Childcare project in San Jose, Costa Rica through IVHQ and had a great experience. The in country support through Maximo Nivel (organization that runs the programs in Costa Rica) was incredible. Everyone there was so helpful, whether I needed to find a restaurant to eat at or a bus ticket across the country, they were enthusiastic about helping out. On the first day of the project, the staff took myself and other volunteers to the place and gave us an orientation. At my placement, I worked with kids ages 2-10 years old for 4 hours a day. I had the option to work underneath a supervising teacher at the daycare if I wanted a more structured experience or to run my own activities with the older kids. The other volunteers and I prepared crafts and games to play with the kids and we had a lot of freedom to decide what to do with them. I had a great time and will definitely be volunteering with IVHQ again!

How can this program be improved?

My project was a little far away from where I was staying. That was the only downside.

Provider Response

Hi Haley, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on volunteering in Costa Rica with IVHQ. Our partner organisation works hard to make every volunteer’s experience in country a memorable one, so we are glad you agree. We look forward to having you on another of our programs soon.

Tyler
Male
23 years old
Wilmington, North Carolina
Other

Costa Rica sea turtle conservation

Overall 10

So the first two days I was placed in San Jose at a host family that did not speak any English so it was very hard to understand some of the thing she was saying. Lucky enough I had eight other volunteers with me in the house so even though host family could not speak English all the other volunteers did, so it felt like home. Then twe got picked up about 530 in the morning and got taxis to the bus station and where on are way to junquallial. It was about 4 hours away from San Jose. I love every minute of the program 1st you get up and eat breakfast and relax until lunch then after lunch you can either relax some more or go for a swim. Around 2:30 you start working it could be planting trees, working in a garden, or working in the hatchery to dig out the nets. You work for about 3 hours and then you have a out hour before dinner which you could got down to the beach and watch the sunset. Then you eat dinner and probably go to bed because you go on night patrol the time always changes because of the tides. We had ones at 8pm and some late ones at 2am. It is amazing to get to see the turtles lay their eggs. I am sad to say I did not get to experiences this, so I would say if you volunteer with sea turtles stay for a longer period. I did get to release baby turtles back into the sea. Over all the program was a great experience.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I would say is that they need more hammocks outside to relax in and more fan in the rooms.

Provider Response

Hi Tyler,
Thank you for sharing your experience from volunteering in Costa Rica on our Turtle Conservation project. It sounds like you had a idyllic volunteer abroad experience. We hope to have you volunteer with us again in the future.

R.
Male
41 years old
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
York University

Great Experience!

Overall 9

Had a great time at the Turtle Conservation Project in Ostional. Incredible opportunity to work with a very unique and fascinating species. Also, the homestay was wonderful as well - a great chance to really see how the locals live. The Maximo Nivel staff are very helpful and enthusiastic. Would recommend this experience for anyone looking for an "off-the-beaten-track," experience.

How can this program be improved?

Conditions at the site are quite basic - a slightly updated common area for "downtime," perhaps?

melindahine
Female
31 years old
Omaha, Nebraska
Small Group (1-15)

Great Staff

Overall 9

The staff have been very helpful in all the planning aspects of my volunteering with IVHQ. When I had to delay my trip, they were very helpful in letting me know that I could use my deposit towards another trip in the next two years. I look forward to being able to volunteer with IVHQ and I will continue to stay in touch with them as they introduce new programs and spread their generosity around the world.

bgeels
Male
31 years old
Lakewood, CO
Other

Most incredible spring break ever

Overall 10

IVHQ set me up in Costa Rica with the Maximo Nivel center. The staff there was amazing and energetic. They knew me by name from the get-go and were able to help me with any problem that I had. The process of getting to and from the airport or the project site was confusing at first, but the program eased me into it at just the right pace.

About The Provider

IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ) provides safe, unique, meaningful and extremely affordable volunteer programs in 35+ countries around the world, with a constantly expanding base. Programs are available in Asia, Africa, Europe, Central America, South America and the Pacific, where IVHQ works alongside local NGOs to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. IVHQ has programs in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Morocco, Victoria Falls, Madagascar, Bali, China, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, the Philippines, Fiji, New Zealand, Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Hawaii!

Whether you're taking a volunteer vacation, a gap year, or on a career break, IVHQ has a wide variety of programs ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks to fit anyone's schedule. Browse through the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.