Local Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica
95% Rating
(97 Reviews)

Local Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

Maximo Nivel provides great volunteer programs Costa Rica—programs are available in the capital city of San Jose and on the beach in Manuel Antonio. Maximo is a locally-based organization and you work directly with local projects, get involved, and make an impact!

University credit is available for our service learning programs from our official School of Record: California State University-Monterey Bay.

Volunteer placements include:

San José
Costa Rica
Host Family
Starting Price
Price Details
Volunteer Programs Include:

- Airport pick-up
- Personalized volunteer placement based on your skills and interests
- Safe, comfortable housing with breakfast and dinner included Monday - Sunday.
- In-country orientation, safety presentation, and walking tour
- Free access to high-speed internet and modern computers
- Free Office-wide WiFi
- Home-base facilities and multi-lingual team support 7 days/week
- In field support from our professional Field Managers
- Free Salsa lessons
- Free Cooking lessons
- Cultural and social activities
- A toll-free emergency hotline in the U.S.

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 !

Program Reviews

based on 97 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.4
  • Benefits 8.3
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 7.7
  • Facilities 8
  • Safety 8.3
  • Instruction 9
  • Support 9
  • Value 10
  • Difficulty 9
  • Job Assistance 9.5
  • Instruction 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Value 10
  • Academics 7
  • Support 8
  • Fun 7
  • Housing 7
  • Safety 10
Showing 61 - 75 of 90
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You should not miss it!!!!

I really enjoied every moment | worked here. My project is childcare on Maximo Nivel from 3/13 to 3/17 in 2017. To be honest, it was hard for me to come a stranger country, especially I cannot speak Spinish. I almost want to give it up. But when I started my program, the first day I saw the kids' smile, I was totally attracted by their smiling. Even it was so hard to communicate with them, I still had great times with them. Just remember, showing love to them and them you will get love back! I promise I will come back with a fluent Spinish!

Yes, I recommend
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My review of volunteering in Costa Rica

Great experience! Met a lot of fantastic people and had a lot of fun at the same time. Would definetely do it again if I get the chance and I would recomend it to others. Spent two weeks in Monteverde, and one week in San Jose. You get to meet a lot of people. It really improves your communication skills, as well as makes you open up and fully experience a foreign country. You also have enough time to travel and have a great time with friends you meet here at Maximo and in Costa Rica. Thank you guys.

No, I don't recommend
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Teaching English in Costa Rica

Getting involved in a volunteering program is not an easy choice to make for first timers, but the entire team in Maximo Nivel Costa Rica made that choice easy to make and truly worthwhile. During my one week in Costa Rica, the entire team worked together to place me in one of the most rewarding ongoing projects they offer for teaching English to kids and adults in order to make the most out of my short one week stay. They showed support and offered countless resources to help make my experience smoother and their happiness and energy every single day, at every time of day, was hard to not catch and motivate you. I can really speak for the passion that Maximo has for getting everyone involved and helping out anyone in anyway who needs a hand. I enjoyed every single second I spent in Costa Rica, whether it was with my MamáTica, taking an almost two-hour ride to teach these kids, walking around the city, or hanging out with other volunteers. I can guarantee that your time will not be wasted with this amazing team, they will make you feel like you're family and help you get the most out of your experience. After all, its all about that "Pura Vida."

Yes, I recommend
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Everything I hoped for!

I was a great experience to enjoy the present and thinking about the future with a fresh persective. I feel fortunate that I had the oppourtunity to participate in this program. I would recommend it to anybody who wants to see Costa Rica. The experience of immersing into the culture is very rewarding. Another advantage of the program is having the guidance about where to go and the best way to do things. The local knowlwdge was extremely useful

Yes, I recommend
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Medical volunteering

Overall we had a wonderful experience as reflected by the high score in the review. That said, we had several concerns both in the lead up to the experience and during.

These all centered around a lack of communication regarding our expectations and our qualifications heading into the project. I volunteered with 3 other medical students from Canada and despite frequent detailing our high level of training the IVHQ the main volunteer organizations there was limited in any knowledge of that training upon our arrival to Costa Rica.

That said, the staff here did an awesome job in supporting us. Tati, our main project leader was fun, knowledgeable and very supportive. She ensured our projects were well set up to accomodate us as best as they could. Without her tireless work and creativity our experience would have been disapointing. We also felt that our expectations for work were a little much and therefore we strongly advocated for ourselves to have Friday's off to explore the beautiful country. We offered to work longer days mid-week to accomodate.

My advice would be to make sure to advocate for yourself as you are ultimately the one paying the program fees, make sure you get what you want out of this trip. The team and the people at Maximo are wonderful and supportive and the country is absolutely incredible.

If you want to take Spanish classes all week each afternoon, go for it. If you do not want that then don't be pressured into spending more money and giving up your free time, tell them 'no, I want to use afternoons to explore and experience' and you will be just fine. It may be harder to accompplish this as a group of 1 or 2 but in our 4some we made sure that the trip worked for us as well as the project to which we were assigned. We had tons of meaningful experiences with patients and residents of Costa Rica and the time we alotted was a perfect mix of work and free time.

Overall we were very happy but | would encourage people to make sure to advocate for themselves and get the trip that they want. Make sure to encourage communication in the lead-up to the trip as well!


How can this program be improved?
more communication, acknowledge participants goals prior to arrival in order to better accomodate.
Yes, I recommend
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Medical Volunteering

Overall, I very much enjoyed my time in Costa Rica. Tati was a highlight of our experience, as she did a fantastic job orienting and supporting us throughout the project. She went out of her way to provide accommodations for us when we required them, as well as ensuring we were enjoying ourselves.

Unfortunately, we received no information about our project prior to arriving, which provided challenges and at times frustration. Given our level of medical training, an information package prior to arrival with some instructions or information on what we would be doing or in what ways we could help would have allowed us to be more effective in our role. We also would have had the opportunity to make a greater impact on the communities we worked with, by bringing more supplies and donations for the projects.

How can this program be improved?
As above, provide information to volunteers earlier regarding their role, greater communication regarding the level of training of the volunteer versus the level of training required to complete the project.
No, I don't recommend
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My boyfriend, Charlee and I spent a week in Costa Rica. We were placed in the child care program at Pollitos. From the first day we arrived until our last day, we felt nothing but respect, love and appreciation. Everyone from the Maximo Team was extremely helpful and kind. Our host family, Yami, was the definition of Costa Rican hospitality. Yami and her husband, Victor went out of their way to accommodate to our needs. The children and the staff at Pollitos will forever be in our hearts. In one short week, Costa Rica became one of my favorite places in the world because of this program. Thank you so so so much for this incredible life changing experience! Pure Vida!

How can this program be improved?
No suggestions at this time.
Yes, I recommend
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Volunteering in Costa Rica

The past two months I spent volunteering in Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel. I worked in an orphanage and also in a day care center. Those eight weeks have been one of the best weeks in my life. Very nice and helpful staff, amazing kids, the best host family I could have asked for and amazing travel destinations on the weekends. Seeing how one of the little ones was first afraid of water but after our swimlessons became so brave was definitely one of the best experiences. So sad I have to leave, but Ill be back!

Yes, I recommend
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Pura Vida!

I went into this programme not knowing exactly what to expect, especially as a solo traveller. I quickly got adjusted to the life in San Jose and the team at Maximo Nivel could not have been more accomadating and friendly. Making friends happened naturally and I met loads of great people from all over the world which was fantastic for organizing weekend trips around Costa Rica. The english placement that I worked was an extremely rewarding experience, the students were very eager to learn and really appreciated the time that we as the volunteers put in. Starting the trip off my Spanish was pretty pitiful but after just a short two weeks I had learned a huge amount, especially with the Spanish lessons of offer at Maximo Nivel. I have no regrets doing this programme and I will surely be back.

Yes, I recommend
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Ostional Turtle Project

I enjoyed learning so much about the turtles, their environment and how we can help them i.e. make a difference. Furthermore am looking forward to share my knowledge with others to create awareness.
The local people we worked with where appreciative of our support and effort, they shared a lot of information to make our stay meaningful. Was also interesting to come together other volunteers from different backgrounds with the same interest.
Would definitely recommend to anyone looking to expand and broaden their horizons.

How can this program be improved?
For those interested in making donations, would be useful if one could be put in contact with the coordinator of the turtle conservation project to provide or bring the right donation e.g. microchip scanner
Yes, I recommend
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Teaching English

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach English in La Carpio (just a bit outside San Jose) for 6 weeks. Going into my trip, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. This is one of those things that you just have to experience to understand. But throughout my 6 weeks, I not only was able to help the local community, I also learned so much about myself and the world. This was my first overseas trip, so travelling by myself in a different country was completely new to me. I was able to see many sides of Costa Rica, and its people by leaving San Jose 5 of my 6 weekends. Also, I made some truly wonderful friends, not only in other volunteers, but also in my students. I will truly cherish these friendships for life, and even though it was so hard to leave, I know that I will be coming back. I highly recommend both travelling to Costa Rica, as well as volunteering through Maximo Nivel! The staff is extremely friendly and supportive, and they seem to really care about you, not just as a client, but as a person.

Yes, I recommend
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pura vida

First of all, anybody who is about to read that review and is struggling with whether to go on that trip or not... should send the application book those tickets NOW.
Travelling alone will be the scariest, most liberating and most precious experience of your life - and I am so so grateful for having made the decision to live that experience exactly here with exactly this people!
The whole Maximo Nivel team consists of uniquely amazing, supportive and genuinly caring people with the best intentions at heart always making sure you are feeling fine in the new environment. They are gold.
My project itself was the perfect fit! Taking care of children always was my passion, but working and sharing your time with little Ticos who trust a stranger so much and open their heart to you every day a little bit more is such a priceless and precious experience that will leave you with a sparkle in your heart.

So don't overthink it - believe me when I say to simply do it and let it change your perspective.

'Pura Vida' - Life is wonderful.


Yes, I recommend
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amazing program

i volunteered for 6 weeks with the turtle conservation project in junqillal and absolutely loved it. i had no expectations when arriving that i would have any contact with the turtles, but was blown away with how involved our work was with them. if you're looking for a project where you see direct results of all the work you are doing, i would definitley recommend the turtle conservation project. keep in mind not ALL the work is directly involved with the turtles ( i believe this should be stressed more). a lot of it is dirty work like picking up trash, shoveling compost, hauling heavy buckets of sand and water, and walking several kilometers on the beach at night. but everything you do is to ultimately benefit the turtles so it is defintley all worth it! for anyone who loves animals and the environment i would absoluetly recommend this program!

How can this program be improved?
things on site could be a little more organized in regards to distribution of work, start times of work, and who is working what job.
Yes, I recommend
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Challenging but Rewarding Experience

I have never traveled abroad before and as one would expect there was some apprehension involved, but that all began to melt away once I met the caring and friendly staff at Maximo Nivel. I arrived by myself but have never once felt alone. They work hard to make sure we feel included and welcomed even in the first few days when you are still trying to make friends and meet the other volunteers. On top of that they ensure we have the supplies and materials we need for our projects.

I participated in the Teaching English program which at times can be trying but overall was very rewarding. Although it was somewhat of a hassle to take the medly of buses to our site every day, the students desire to learn and excitement about the language made it all worth it.

It can be challenging living abroad especially if you're traveling by yourself. But the warm staff, solid programming, and exciting experiences make it all worth it. Living with a brand new family and in a completely foreign city is not for the faint of heart but if you feel you're up to the adventure this wonderful place will provide you with lasting memories for years to come.

How can this program be improved?
Newer supplies in the staff support closet for projects and activities.
Yes, I recommend
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Costa Rica- Unforgetable Experience!!!

When I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica I was very nervous and excited but did not know what to expect. As soon as I got to the house I felt very loved and welcomed by the family. The first day volunteering was life changing to me. I was teaching adults that were very eager to learn English and friendly with me. They are a part of a small community in Coronado.They are amazing people that do not get the same opportunities a lot of us have, and still they are strong and make time to come with their children to learn English and help each other by sticking together through good and bad.
The adults in this community planned a day to take the volunteers on a trip so that we would get to see all the beautiful places in their community. They all saved money to rent a van, take us sightseeing, and visit their church. After that amazing trip we all had dinner together, in which we all brought something to eat. I will never forget all the love and hard work that was put in to make this happen. They gave me so much love that I could never express with words how happy they made me feel. I will always keep the Coronado people in my heart and be thankful that I had a chance to learn the important things in life from them.

How can this program be improved?
It would have helped volunteers know in advance that we had to take multiple buses to get to our projects and the cost of transportation.
Yes, I recommend

About Maximo Nivel

Máximo Nivel (Maximum Level)—The Intercultural Center of Latin America

Máximo Nivel is a family-owned, social enterprise founded in 2003. Our three intercultural centers are locally-based organizations focused on international education and cross...