Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica from $355 with IVHQ

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About

Trusted by 100,000+ 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 $355 - 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 90,000+ 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

Questions & Answers

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

96%
based on 38 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 16 - 30 of 38
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Sadie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Childcare in Costa Rica

Volunteering in Costa Rica was fantastic. IVHQ definitely prepared me well for my trip and continued to check in throughout my duration there. The local team was outstanding, I always knew I could go in and there would be people there happy to help. I loved my project, and learned so much from the kids. The other volunteers were kind and motivated. Overall, I would recommend this trip to any and everyone!

What would you improve about this program?
The only suggestion I would make is it would be very beneficial to know some Spanish prior to going.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sadie - Thank you for your amazing work with the children in Costa Rica! We look forward to having you back again soon :) Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager

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Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica!

I was fortunate enough to volunteer in Costa Rica this Spring, and believe that every person with the means to do so should absolutely volunteer abroad!

I was placed in Junquillal, CR in a camp that was a short walk from the beach. Every day we woke up and went to the beach before we started a hard day's work. We'd spend a few hours every day working outside either in the camp, on the beach, or doing work for the community. We patrolled the beach on different shifts looking for sea turtle nests, and if you were lucky enough to be on the late night shift, you'd likely walk out to see the milky way reflecting on the waves.

Everyone I met during my trip -- the IVHQ team, the local organizations, and other volunteers -- made the adventure so easy and warm. I'm actually already planning on another trip with IVHQ!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Elizabeth - thank you for all of your hard work in Costa Rica! You were an incredible volunteer and it's great to hear you are already planning your next volunteer adventure! Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager

Jessi
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

Costa Ricas amazing! The nature, the people and the wildlife. The best part by far was my amazing host family!! Teaching English was challenging but fun! I've learned a lot! I also got a chance to learn a bit of Spanish. The community I lived in was welcoming and after four short weeks felt like home. I got out of my comfort zone and was able to do some amazing things. I would recommend IVHQ to anyone and would love to travel through them again. I will keep these memories of Costa Rica forever and can't wait to come back.

What would you improve about this program?
A better description of the program.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jessi - it's great to hear about your connection with the host family and all you gained from volunteering abroad. Thank you for choosing IVHQ and we hope to have you join us again soon! ^Rachel - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

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Nathaniel
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Manuel Antonio English Teaching

I would only reccomend this program for people who are very patient and very open minded. I did the best I could to be open for new experiences and even I was given quite the challenge. This is not meant to scare you away though, the best way to learn in your life is through challenging experiences in a place you have never been before. I have literally zero regrets about this program and it helped me become a bigger person. Best part I would say outside of my program was travelling to new places every weekend and my host family. Having a host family is the only way in my opinion.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Nathaniel - it sounds like you embraced the project and had an amazing time! Thank you for volunteering with IVHQ and we hope to have you join us again in the future. ^Rachel - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

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Savannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IVHQ Costa Rica

I loved everything about my program through IVHQ. Though IVHQ is really a middleman, they take care of everything before you reach your volunteer program and really help prepare you for the place you are traveling to. Costa Rica was the first stop on my 6 month volunteering journey and I found the 6 week period to be perfect in terms of effectiveness and impact on both myself and my English students. The company that worked with IVHQ, Maximo Nivel, was also fantastic and I think IVHQ does an amazing job of pairing with organizations and executing the plans. I was very impressed.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

It's awesome to hear that you had such a positive experience the whole way through your pre-departure planning and time in country volunteering. Your time has been much appreciated and we would love to have you join IVHQ another time in the future. ^Lachlan - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

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Luca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing staff

The staff at Maximo Nivel was incredibly welcoming and supportive during my entire trip. They made me feel at home. Working with the childcare program was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had the pleasure of having. I will miss this country for it's culture, food, and abundance of beauty. Thank you IVHQ for helping me rediscover my love of travel. PS Andres is the best. Thanks for keeping the mood fun!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Luca, We are stoked to hear that you had a rewarding volunteer experience and felt welcomed and supported during your program in Costa Rica! Thanks for sharing and we hope to welcome you again in the future!
Lachlan – IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Childcare and Turtles in Costa Rica!

I had the absolute best time in Costa Rica volunteering with IVHQ. The support before hand had me and my parents feeling ready, as it was my first time travelling by myself! The local team IVHQ works with went above and beyond to make sure I was okay during my trip. They were so friendly, were glad to see me everyday, and were there to help with any problems or travel questions. I was fortunate enough to basically do everything this trip! I took two weeks of Spanish lessons, which were so useful and affordable!! My first two weeks I volunteered in San Jose with the childcare project. You feel so welcomed by the children and the staff. You're in such high demand for attention and make such sincere bonds with the children. They were also great to practice my Spanish with! I also was able to spend two weeks at the turtle conservation project in Ostional, which was amazing!! The locals there are so welcoming, just like anyone I met in this beautiful country!! You learn so much about the types of turtles and because we lived in dorms I made such strong friendships with the other volunteers. It was a great mix of rural and city life I experienced! I felt safe my whole trip, especially following IVHQ's tips!! Costa Rica is so beautiful and it's so easy to travel around and see the country! Get used to using and loving buses!! I would go back to Costa Rica in a heartbeat. I could've spent months extra instead of my four weeks there, especially in part to IVHQ's support be affordable fees! I can't wait to go on my next volunteer trip with IVHQ, I'm already planning my next trip!

What would you improve about this program?
I would not change a thing!
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Grace, Thanks for sharing. It is awesome to hear that you had the best time volunteering in Costa Rica and “would not change a thing”. We are so happy to have helped facilitate this trip for you and it certainly sounds like you made the most of your time on the program by joining the Childcare and Turtle conservation projects and beginning your time in Costa Rica with the very helpful Spanish lessons. Thanks for being a great volunteer and we can’t wait to see where you travel to next!
Lachlan – IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

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Nell
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience with IVHQ

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

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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!

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Rita
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Summer 2016 with IVHQ

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.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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.

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Ashley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First time traveler in Costa Rica

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience in Costa Rica

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!

What would you improve about this program?
There is not much to be improved with this program, it is pretty great and offers a tremendous amount of opportunity and great experiences.
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Karthy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Volunteer Trip to Costa Rica

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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.

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Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I feel that this program did a very good job preparing me for my trip in every way.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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.

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Martin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica changed my life in 2 weeks

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

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.

Location

Location:
San José
Currency:
Costa Rican Colón
Weather:
Jan-Mar
79 F / 57 F
Apr-Jun
81 F / 63 F
Jul-Sep
88 F / 73 F
Oct-Dec
86 F / 73 F

Costa Rica is known for its Pura Vida lifestyle and San José is a great place to get familiar with the lifestyle. One of the best ways to discover San José is through the arts; whether you like theatre, dance, or music, this is the quickest way to the heart of Costa Rica.

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About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 50+ destinations. Over 100,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the past 12 years,...