Local Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

About

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.

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 137 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
  • Growth 0
  • Support 0
  • Fun 0
  • Housing 0
  • Safety 0
Showing 76 - 90 of 137
Matt
8/10

Maximo Nivel Nursing Home Volunteer Project

As a volunteer, I worked in a nursing home in San Jose in Costa Rica. It was very interesting, and I was suprised at how many responsibilities I was given - sorting medications, taking vital signs, interacting with patients, helping in decorating, helping feed patients, and so on. I highly recommend it if you're like me and a pre-med student trying to improve your application for medical school - you have the opportunity to do a lot of things that you wouldn't be able to do without specialized training in the United States. San Jose itself is pretty cool, but if you do come to this project, make sure that you take the weekends off to go explore the countryside of Costa Rica. The staff is very helpful, and they have all sorts of trips that you can sign up for through a travel agency literally nex tdoor.

How can this program be improved?
When you come on this program, try to avoid having high expectations - you will be doing pretty much everything and anything the staff at the nursing home will ask you to do. They are all very friendly, but their English isn't great, so you may have to rely on your program coordinator to help you communicate a bit.
Yes, I recommend this program
FullSizeRender (1).jpg
Sofia
10/10

Working with kids at La Carpio, San Jose

I have been extremely lucky ! After finally deciding to experiment volunteering abroad and do some searching, i found Maximo Nivel. From the start, all our conversations (online chat and e-mail) and explanations assured me as much as possible that this adventure would turn out well.
I've been in San Jose for two weeks, placed at Maria Aux, a daycare for young children from La Carpio neighbourhood, very poor and complicated. What the responsible for the project, Silvia Aguilar, does with the limited space and conditions is amazing : a safe space for the kids, with songs, reading, painting, etc.
The children couldn't be sweeter and were eager to have our help doing all kinds of things, which i gladly did. I could see how Maximo Nivel and previous volunteers have invested in improving the daycare's conditions and it is a work in progress.
I felt very welcomed at the placement and can honestly say that Maximo's team, especially Steve and Emily, were there for whatever i needed. Steve, your idea of a Christmas party is absolutely amazing !
I had a bit more than basic notions of Spanish and felt that the communication with the kids and adults allowed me to give and take much more from this experience.
I've moved now to Manuel Antonio for my final week in Costa Rica. I expect to have a good experience in the new place, but i doubt it will be as rewarding as Maria Aux and La Carpio ! I will surely miss it.

How can this program be improved?
- We cannot expect that adults and kids in Costa Rica will know other languages than Spanish, and it's important that we come with at least basic notions of words and sentences, to actively communicate.
- The host family was excellent, but my daily trip to La Carpio took almost 2h in the morning, with the traffic and the need to take two buses plus a walk in between. If possible, to have host families closer by, on that side of the city, since at least two volunteering projects happen there.
- I spoke directly with Maximo from the start and things went smoothly, but conversations with other volunteers coming through IVHQ showed me that the information provided by them isn't always accurate and/or complete, so adding stress and maybe dissatisfaction. So, correct this if possible ?
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Yiran
10/10

Great experience!!

It's my first time volunteering with Maximo and I feel amazing.The staff are super nice and helpful.The homestay mom is very caring and friendly.Hope to see them again soon!
As to the childcare project "Maria Aux" in rural area of San Jose city.I have to say I am super lucky to join this projects.All the kids are super cute and smart.They curious about everything new and eager to learn knowledge.The day care located in a church.The condition is not good for the kids,but they are always smiling and never complain.Thanks to the teacher Sylvia's support,and Maximo's help,now the day care condition is much better.It has claean restoom and colorful paintings on the wall.Many volunteers donate books,food and other facilities,which is lovely.

How can this program be improved?
Nothing I can think of
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Viktoria
10/10

Bebitos (Child Care)

I had a wonderful time at Bebitos doing childcare project in Costa rica. I had the opportunity to work with kids mainly at the age of 4-6. It was an amazing experience and a very emotional one as well. I had to take care and entertain the chidlren while having support from local staff. Every day we had to do something cretive thus improving the skills of the kids. They gave me a lot of love and even I was working with them for only a week I improved as a person so much. The way how they made me feel cannot be described but it has to be experienced. I stongly recommend to everyone to visit the Bebitos childcare project in San Jose Costa rica! Excellent time of my life!

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

My Time in Parismina

This program was my first experience as a volunteer, as well as my first solo trip overseas. The attention i received from Maximo was above and beyond anything i was expecting. They thoroughly prepared me with two orientations as well as making an effort once i was on my project, to consistantly keep in contact with me, making sure i was enjoying the project. They were only ever a phonecall or email away if i needed help with anything and all of the staff were super friendly.
I loved my project (turtle conservation) located in Parismina, there really is no feeling like the one you get when you release a bunch of baby turtles into the oceanor when you see how much time and effort female turtles display, just to lay their eggs. The only thing i would improve would be for the project itself- I think there needs to be a volunteer coordinator to make sure everything runs smoothly and to provide other options for when there is not much to do.
But overall the project was brilliant and i will definately be coming back!

How can this program be improved?
By having a volunteer coordinator
Yes, I recommend this program
Guilia
9/10

A Life Changing Month

I spent one month in Costa Rica doing the sea turtle conservation and childcare projects. I met so many incredible, like minded individuals who I volunteered alongside. The staff at Maximo Nivel was incredibly supportive and easy to work with. I decided to change my projects and project start dates multiple times, and they eagerly helped me to do so.
The sea turtle project was in Junquillal. I and eight other volunteers lived in dorm style housing. The accommodations and food were better than expected. We did a lot of work each day, but it was all worthwhile when I got to see 130 baby sea turtles hatch and be released into the ocean. If you choose to do this project... you should come prepared to work hard, but it is a once in a lifetime experience that I would definitely recommend.
After two weeks of the sea turtle project, I did childcare for two weeks. I was placed at a daycare in an impoverished neighborhood of San Jose. The children and staff were incredibly welcoming.Each day, I would prepare one learning activity to do during class time. The rest of my time was spent playing and talking with the kids. Though it was exhausting, I would absolutely do it again. I truly received more from these children then I gave to them.
In summary, though it sounds cliche, this trip was life changing. I cannot recommend it enough.

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

GREAT EXPERIENCE

Overwhelmed by the great experience offered by Maximo Nivel.
I met a lot of people from different backgrounds and cultures. The experience is definitely very culturally rewarding.
The host family is really warm and takes care of all your needs, demands and dietary requirements like being a vegetarian.
The homestay is very cozy and comfortable.
The program orientation was really comprehensive and detailed which made me feel like home in a little time.
The day care I worked at was amazing. The staff was cooperative and encouraging. The children was very manageable and playful. They are wonderful to work with. Little things like playing with bubbles and coloring minions could keep them entertained for hours. Their smiles can make anyone's day. Thus, I highly recommend Childcare program offered by Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Katherine
8/10

Be prepared

I loved my time in Costa Rica! It was an amazing way to immerse myself in a new culture, while helping others and building friendships. However, I would say the main thing that was a struggle for me was there was a lot I wasn't prepared for. Definitely do your research about the language, transportation, social thing, etc.
But overall, don't be afraid to jump into the deep end. This was one of the best learning experiences of my life! Happy trails :))

How can this program be improved?
More info given at the beginning . For example, you don't have to be completely fluent in Spanish to volunteer for certain programs.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Emily
10/10

La Carpio Construction

This program had a huge impact on me personally. From the beginning to the end, I felt very satisfied with the work we were doing and seeing our progress unfold. By the end of my stay, I felt so comfortable working, using the equipment, and making decisions. Our construction foreman, Danilo, was very helpful and knowledgable, as well as very goofy and fun to be around. The commute to La Carpio was a little longer than anticipated, but it was absolutely worth it. It was a joy to see Amparo, Franklin, Andy, and their two dogs, Bakito and Toti, each day. They made us feel so welcomed in their home. During my last few days, I wished I could just stay longer and keep working until the project was completed! I would love to return someday soon.

How can this program be improved?
More volunteers! The work would go much faster and more easily with more hands on deck.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Michelle
10/10

Teaching English

This was an amazing experience. I traveled to Costa Rica on a solo mission for personal growth reasons and am leaving with so much more than that. This was a very humbling experience and you really feel the impact you are making with the families you work with. The support from the staff is also wonderful. I know that my experience here will stay with me for the rest of my life. You see just how much the families appreciate what you do for them. You are teaching them skills for a better life, and that is immeasurable. I loved it!

Yes, I recommend this program
Diego
10/10

Great experience!!

This experience was unique because not only was the volunteer project a lot of fun, but you immediately get immersed with the culture. The kids we worked with, regardless of the language barrier, were always happy to see the volunteers. Before you know it you become attached. It's something you'll always remember. The staff also does a great job on making sure you adapt well to the culture and how to get around town. They are always more than happy to help.

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

Volunteered Teaching English

The past two weeks I travelled solo to Costa Rica To teach English. Along the way Maximo Nivel was there to make my experience more then perfect. I ended up working with adults (17-40) teaching English. The students were awesome. They were so eager to learn and I could tell I was really making an impact on there life by volunteering a couple hours a day to help them learn English. Maximo was also were helpful along the way in were to go to set up travel plans, recommending great local spots and how to get around the county. I also meet so many new people from all over the world. I ended up becoming friends with some. I give Maximo Nivel a 10 out of 10 if traveling along for first time I would recommend signing up for there volunteer program.

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

Ostional Turtle Conservation

The experience was amazing and is perfect for the ones who love nature and also enjoys to have contact with different cultures. The house family was great and i felt like one of the family and they were very collaborative and very fun. The people that were working in the project were great and they helped and teached me a lot. It was great being feel part of the project and they trusted me and let me collaborate a lot. It was an amazing experience to see the turtles in the "Arribada", is like a phenomenon of the nature. I reccomend a lot this experience, because i believe i will remember it forever.

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

Ostional Turtle Conservation

This was such an amazing experience. I stayed with a host family and at first I was a little nervous that it might be awkward at all but they are the most accomodating, warm and loving family that made me feel right at home. My spanish is not very good but I got very close to the family and consider them my 2nd family. We even went to Arenal together on my last weekend. The staff at the turtle reservation is awesome as well and made the experience super fun- it didn't even feel like work. Working with the turtles is an amazing experience and it makes the hours fly by. I highly recommend this project and each hand is necessary for it's success! It is a life-changing experience and one I will remember forever

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

Divino Nino(Child Care)

This was honestly one of my most enjoyable travel experiences, especially as a solo traveler. The orientation and the guidance from the Maximo Nivel Staff was very helpful and informative. They make sure you know exactly where to go and what to do for your project and stop by onsite sometimes to check how things are going. Buses are very affordable and the staff will show you exactly which ones to take, as well as provide you with a sheet that guides you step by step to the location. It's also easy to meet up with your project group beforehand to commute together. All of the Maximo Nivel staff are very friendly. As for the project itself, everything was very organized and enjoyable. The kids and the staff onsite are very friendly. They welcome you with open arms and are very happy to see visitors coming to help out. Come with an open heart and mind to the Costa Rican people and culture to make your impact and experience as rewarding as possible.

Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

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...