Volunteer in Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel - Best Rated Projects

Video and Photos

Face Painting at a Daycare
Face Painting at a Daycare
View from my host family’s house
View from my host family’s house
At the volunteer headquarters
At the volunteer headquarters
Holiday Party
Holiday Party
Teaching english
Teaching english
Teaching english
Teaching english
Teaching English
Teaching English
Costa Rica
Costa Rica

About

Costa Rica is known for having progressive environmental and social policies, and Costa Rica is widely considered one of the planet’s most sustainable countries. At the same time, Costa Rica is still a developing country with a low national income and a number of socio-economic issues. This means Costa Rica offers a wide variety of ways to get involved in volunteer abroad projects, contribute to sustainable programs, and provide help to vulnerable populations. There is a lot to do in a country like Costa Rica and international volunteers are needed and welcomed!

Maximo Nivel provides volunteer abroad projects at our institutes in San Jose (capital city) and Manuel Antonio (beach). Projects are also available off-site in Guanacaste (beach), Caribbean (beach), and Monteverde (cloud forest), which are rural areas and offer a more “off-the-grid” experience than San Jose or Manuel Antonio.

Travel Grants Available for a Limited Time!

Ready to work as an English teacher abroad? Register today for our award winning TEFL Certification in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru and apply for a special travel grant.

Questions & Answers

From my experience plan 2 months earlier is good for volunteer:)
Yes, at least the basics. Try a few classes on online sites like Duolingo and/or a phrase book. It will make your life much easier and minimal communication is required. Don't expect most of the people we interact with to know English, apart the volunteer organization and travel agencies, or at least it was my experience in Costa Rica. And they will appreciate the effort !

Reviews

96%
based on 176 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.4
  • Benefits 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Facilities 10
  • Safety 7
Showing 1 - 15 of 176
Default avatar
Marie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

English Teacher Volunteer

Maximo Nivel has an awesome program in San Jose where you can teach English to refugees at Fundacion Mujer. I had a great time. My students were awesome and I gained teaching experience. I started the volunteer program in the beginning of August. My third day into it, I learned that I loved teaching English and I decided to get my TEFL certification through Maximo Nivel in Manuel Antonio. My first time volunteering in San Jose was for three weeks. Then I had to leave and get my TEFL certification then I came back for a week after my TEFL certification to volunteer teach and gain more experience.

The experience was awesome. My last day volunteering was September 27th. I am going to return again about a month to volunteer some more. I got a job teaching English. I was training and tomorrow I will be starting my new job so I cannot volunteer just yet. I think Maximo Nivel really helps you get ready for your volunteer project and you have a field manager that will take you to your project and guide you along the way.

Here is an example of what I teach in the classroom. This was this past Friday's lesson:

Friday’s Lessons at Fundacion Mujer September 27, 2019

This past Friday at Fundacion Mujer during my volunteer duty teaching English, my students learned about describing different processes in passive voice. Then we worked on some worksheets that I copied from my business English book. The worksheet was about how to inform clients using the present continuous tense. Then we learned about perfect progressive. I had copied a page from one of the English books I had gotten during my TEFL course. Afterward, we worked on present perfect progressive exercises.

We then worked on more exercises from the business English book. Afterward, we looked at the different verb tenses. I copied the pages from my Maximo Nivel TEFL book, which had the different verb forms. We learned about regular and irregular verbs.

I highly suggest this volunteer program. If you give it a try I know you will end up wanting your TEFL certificate so you can teach English for a living.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure to pack lots of clothes. Buying clothes in Costa Rica can be expensive.
Default avatar
Indy
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in Costa Rica

I spent 5 weeks in Manuel Antonio volunteering with Maximo Nivel. I did both the Teaching English project and the childcare project and found them both an amazing and rewarding experience. Getting to know the locals in this way opened my eyes to a new culture and feeling like I was helping the lives of these kids was my reason for coming. With the English teaching, you are set up in a classroom with support from other volunteers that ran the class with you, it was an awesome way to bond with the other volunteers because we researched and planned the lessons together. Similar with the childcare, there were three volunteers and we would often split up with the kids and do different activities. The girls at Maximo Nivel were super helpful and accommodating with any query or concern I had and getting to know them was a highlight of the trip.

What would you improve about this program?
The one comment I would ad would be the price, I thought the overall price of the experience was too expensive for what I got
Default avatar
Nicola
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Working with Children in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Volunteering with children for 5 weeks in the beautiful Costa Rica has got to be one of the best things I've ever done. I made lifelong friends through Maximo Nivel and will never forget the amazing memories I made in such a beautiful tropical rainforest with a vibrant, unique culture. Travelling from Zimbabwe, I had never spoken Spanish, so was completely thrown in the deep end but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Being fully immersed in a culture has to be the best way of exploring and learning a new language. I was so lucky to have a lovely, kind - hearted family looking after me (who I know I will continue to stay in contact with) and a house full of volunteers & Spanish students from all corners of the world whom I can call best friends. I was so lucky to work with special children from all walks of life, making saying goodbye to them very hard. If anyone is thinking of doing this, I whole - heartedly recommend stepping outs of your comfort zone and embracing a different way of life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you are thinking of doing something like this, just do it! Don't doubt yourself because it will turn out to be nothing you'd ever expect and an amazing experience. You meet like-minded people along the way which is great and it's a very unique way of exploring a new city/ country. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone and do as much as possible in the time that you have.
Default avatar
Inez Diana
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in Quepos

I loved my experience with Maximo Nivel, I felt like I was really immersed into the culture and the town where I lived. Our host mom was such an amazing cook who taught me her recipes so I could practice at home for my family! The other volunteers in my house became my best friends and amazing adventure buddies. As far as my project goes, it was my first time teaching English abroad after being certified and it was an incredible experience working with all ages and skill levels. I got really close with all my students and found it very hard to leave after making such progress with them. Living by the beach and exploring the parks were also an amazing way to spend my free time. Anyone who is interested in practicing their Spanish while living in and learning about another culture, should experience Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel!

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

Childcare volunteer in San Jose, Costa Rica

I have never traveled outside of the United States, and I was a bit anxious yet very excited about this trip. I was very impressed with the staff and accommodation, everyone is very understanding, helpful and kind here. There is a staff member that brings you to your placement, shows/tells you everything you need to know and I felt very confident in what I was doing. My host family is super welcoming, despite the small language barrier, that did not stop us from enjoying my experience. My advice: live in the moment, step outside your comfort zone, take each opportunity that comes to you, and make the most of this experience.I have never traveled outside of the United States, and I was a bit anxious yet very excited about this trip. I was very impressed with the staff and accommodation, everyone is very understanding, helpful and kind here. There is a staff member that brings you to your placement, shows/tells you everything you need to know and I felt very confident in what I was doing. My host family is super welcoming, despite the small language barrier, that did not stop us from enjoying my experience. My advice: live in the moment, step outside your comfort zone, take each opportunity that comes to you, and make the most of this experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Really enjoy every single minute you experience here, time will fly by very fast you HAVE to live in the moment. Absorb all the beautiful scenery, the culture, the people and the lifestyle. Take initiative at your placement, come with activities and a positive attitude and everything will be amazing.
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

childcare in San Jose

Before I came here I was really nervous and had not done anything like this before, so it was all new to me. From when I first arrived until the end of my program the staff at Maximo were really supportive and helped in any way that they could. On your first day at your project, one of the field managers will come with you and introduce you to the staff and children, so you're not thrown into the deep end. Overall. I had the most amazing experience here and I highly recommend Maximo Nivel. Before I came here I was really nervous and had not done anything like this before, so it was all new to me. From when I first arrived until the end of my program the staff at Maximo were really supportive and helped in any way that they could. On your first day at your project, one of the field managers will come with you and introduce you to the staff and children, so you're not thrown into the deep end. Overall. I had the most amazing experience here and I highly recommend Maximo Nivel.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
make the most of this experience and enjoy every moment, as it does fly by. You get what you put in and the result is really rewarding.
Default avatar
Anton
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Awesome Week in Costa Rica

Even though I was only in Costa Rica for one week, I had a wonderful and amazing experience. The staff was extraordinarily friendly, helpful, and informative. They were always available and eager to help. My host family was fantastic! they were very welcoming and accepting. My host mother cooked the most delicious food! I did not know that Plantains could be cooked in so many different ways (and how delicious they are!). At my project (nursing home) I felt welcomed and like the work I did every day was making an impact. I learned so much from my project, and from living like a local. I also took Spanish lessons through Maximo Nivel, and had the most amazing Spanish professor. As someone with no background whatsoever in Spanish, I learned enormous amounts and it was all thanks to the amazing personality, skill, and hard work of Senorita Ana.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I was going to do this all again, I would make sure that I was able to stay longer.
Default avatar
Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Maximo Nivel Childcare

My time in Costa Rica volunteering with Maximo was short but extremely rewarding! The staff are very nice and are here to always help if the volunteers need anything. Working in the childcare program was extremely fun. The kids love to play soccer and hang out with the volunteers; going into this program I thought I would be mainly helping the children with their English (which I did) but they also helped me with my Spanish. During my time in this program, I was able to really get to know the kids and the teachers. They all are very caring and patient. This program or any other program with Maximo Nivel is worth it! Also, consider taking the Spanish classes offered through Maximo Nivel. The teachers here really help you learn the language. Overall, this program was life-changing!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Jump right in with the children. Plan activities and arts/crafts and the kids will quickly join you. Always have a positive mindset and a smile on your face and nothing will go wrong.
Default avatar
Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation

The turtle conservation project was both rewarding and extremely enjoyable. Not only do you get to work up close with wildlife but also you get to make a real difference to the environment and community. The activities that you get involved in were extensive and there is such a large variety. It was very well organised and you get very immersed in the Costa Rican culture which is nothing short of amazing. The people at the program and all of the staff involved in getting you there were extremely helpful and welcoming. I always felt like I had someone to talk to and felt very safe. It is an experience I will never forget and I didn't want to leave when it came to the end of my program! I may even return myself as I enjoyed it so much so I definitely recommend it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy every moment and have an open mind! Get as involved in the work as you can.
Default avatar
Neda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle conservation in Costa Rica

What a great program! I found the program suitable for all ages. It is fun, educational, hands-on as well as science-oriented. The community and beach clean-ups were appropriate to the program. The caring for the turtles and their eggs were thoroughly wonderful experiences; releasing baby turtles from the hatchery to the Pacific Ocean at dusk was magical; and finally gathering scientific information about the nesting turtles at night was just incredible. The food was plenty and delicious, and the people who run the program on the site, Akiho and Jairo, just made the experience a sweet and unforgettable one. They were kind, caring, understanding, responsible, and always positive. They made sure the work was done in the most precise and cooperative way.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be great if every host family had AC in their facilities. Otherwise, everything was absolutely safe and well-organized.
Default avatar
Nicholas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Manuel Antonio - Childcare

I am so glad that I decided to volunteer with children in Manuel Antonio! It is such an amazing experience! The kids are so fun and amazing to play with, but are also so grateful and polite to us volunteers. My host family is so kind! Our host mother prepares delicious meals for breakfast and dinner for me and my housemates every day! I was nervous about living with random roommates, but after several groups of people moved in and out of the house over my 15 week stay, I was pleasantly surprised with how kind and open-minded everyone was! I was also contemplating taking a spanish course during my time here, which I totally should have done, but even without taking classes, my conversational spanish greatly improved throughout my time! Manuel Antonio is such a beautiful place, and I wouldn´t trade this time for anything else!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing! This program was amazing! I met so many great friends, and learned more than I ever have while traveling!
Default avatar
Don
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation in Ostional, Costa Rica

For this Turtle Conservation Project we traveled to Ostional on the Nicoya Penisula of Costa Rica. Ostional is one of the few places in the world where the Olive Ridley Sea turtles come en masse to lay their eggs. There can be hundreds of thousands of them over a 5 day period. Although one of these "arribadas" did not occur during the three weeks that I was there, we still had the opportunity to work on research projects with single turtles as they came ashore to lay their eggs. We also got a chance to collect data one of the endangered Green Turtles and one of the Leatherbacks which are also endangered. We also engaged in beach cleaning projects and in replacing some of the markers on the beach used to determine where the egg laying activity takes place.

The group of volunteers I was with came from several countries and ranged in age from in their teens to over 70 years old. It was great meeting all the new people, learning about their countries and experiences and just having fun working and playing togther. What a better place to enjoy downtime than at the lovely Costa Rican coast!!

Default avatar
Mark
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Construction Project in San Jose

I came from Canada for a 3 week volunteer project. This was my first time traveling to Costa Rica and my first time traveling alone (even though I'm 47). On my first day, we had orientation where I met others from around the world who were here doing various projects. During orientation I realized that I knew far less Spanish that all the others, but I didn't let that bother me. Obviously the ability to speak Spanish is an asset, but with my basic knowledge, plus help from all my house mates and project crew, I survived just fine. Our construction project was at a daycare center in a relatively low end of town where we built an additional room for the kids. Although I have construction background, the others had never done anything like this and it was fun to work with them and see them learn while they are helping others. The main construction was completed before my time here, but we did tile setting, painting, electrical and we built and installed the doors etc. I found it quite rewarding that we were helping the children, and I could tell that they appreciated our efforts.
The crew at Maximo Nivel were very friendly and helpful and made sure we were on task. The tools and supplies are not equal to what I'm used to back in Canada, but that is part of the local TICO experience. My OCD was constantly challenged but I learned that perfection is over-rated anyways.
Outside of the construction project, Maximo Nivel offered free dance classes on Mondays and free cooking classes on Wednesdays, both of which I enjoyed. Our construction crew and my housemates often had lunch together and did other activities together as well. We did go-kart racing , volcano tours, river rafting, a weekend at Manual Antonio and more. I was surprised how easily I fit in with the "kids", considering I'm older than most, if not all, of the others around me.
My homestay family was great and the accomodations were comfortable (not a 5 star resort, but that's not why we're here).
I'm very happy that I chose to volunteer instead of taking just another vacation. This really helps to see the local culture while making a difference for others.

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

Making An Impact

I really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica. My host parents and the Maximo Nivel staff were so kind and welcoming from the first hello to the last goodbye. I met other volunteers who became close friends in such a small amount of time and we hope to continue our friendship after our departure from Costa Rica. The project I participated in was childcare. I had so much fun playing soccer, doing art, and teaching them yoga. I was still able to communicate with the children and teachers, despite not being able to speak spanish fluently. The children were so vibrant and eager to learn and play. I really feel like I made an impact. I also had the opportunity to do some week night and weekend excursions. I definitely recommend the Calypso Tortuga Island boat trip, the Toucan Rescue Ranch (they have sloths!), and rappelling down waterfalls at Lands of Love. Overall, this was such a learning experience for me as I got to immerse myself in a different culture, and see life like a local. My advice to prospective volunteers would be to come with a purpose, build relationships, and be ready to step outside your comfort zone.

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

Life Changing Experience!!

I volunteered through Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica for 5 months and it was the best choice I have ever made! I worked alongside nurses and doctors in a retirement home and learned so much! As a nursing student, I felt the medical project really helped me become eager to learn more about healthcare in poverty countries. The staff was beyond helpful and so compassionate, they always made sure I felt at home and never had any questions! Even my host family felt like real family by the end of my trip. My housing was beautiful as well, and I still keep in contact with the family! I highly recommend volunteering through Maximo Nivel, they are an outstanding organization. Even if you can only make time for a week, take the chance and do it anyways. It truly is life changing!