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.

Impact

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 133 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
  • Academics 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 10
  • Growth 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 10
  • Instruction 0
  • Support 0
  • Value 0
  • Difficulty 0
  • Job Assistance 0
Showing 91 - 105 of 130
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Kiana
10/10

Thank You Maximo Nivel!

Maximo Nivel provided me with such an amazing experience! I took spanish classes and volunteered with children at a local preschool, both were great! I came here speaking very little spanish and the classes were very helpful. I had the opportunity to stay with one of the most AMAZING host families. As soon as I got to Costa Rica my host mom made me feel at home. She took amazing care of all of us that stayed with her. Costa Rica is such a beautiful place with such great people and I would highly recommend choosing this program!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Paige
10/10

Los Pollitos

My experience with Los Pollitos was more than I ever could have expected. I began my time here with few expectations and therefore I was blown away with the kindness I was surrounded by. Monica happily invited me into her classroom and I quickly began to help her teach the little ones as well as play everything from la casita (house) to el monstruo (monster). The language barrier can be overwhelming at times, but for those who volunteer in the future never be afraid to jump in. Little people are the best to practice with! I was able to truly contribute unique ideas as the weeks went on as I was able to check in with Monicas lesson plans and coordinate the activities I planned with the weeks theme. This is so important! Come ready to think outside the box, search through pintrest, and find coloring sheets! This project has so much to offer, however, the experience is only what you put in! Have fun and love those little ones lots and lots because I guarentee they will love you!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Haley
10/10

BEST TRIP EVER

Our second night of arriving in Ostional we got to experience an Arribada. Over 4,500 sea turtles came to lay their eggs on the beach right in front of us. It was the coolest thing I have ever experienced in my life. The support staff was beyond welcoming and friendly. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat. I loved it and will definitely miss it. Above all I will miss all of the amazing people I met during this trip. All though I can barely form a sentence in Spanish everyone was so kind. I would recommened this trip to anyone who has an interest in helping our communitites and seeing beautiful creatures while working! Pura Vida!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Nicole
10/10

Teaching English in La Carpio

Teaching in La Carpio will forever be one of my most memorable experiences. Although the work is very challenging, it is incredibly rewarding. I feel so blessed to have met these incredible students and their families. The amount of appreciation, love and eagerness to learn is a clear depiction of how important this work is. You will have challenging days with your students. However, every day you will experience moments connecting with your students that make it all worthwhile. Your students may not always show it, but your hard work is appreciated and you are loved by them! Teaching in La Carpio is an indescribable experience that will leave you forever grateful for taking on the challenge.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Christine
10/10

Teaching English La Carpio

I came to Costa Rica for 6 weeks, alone, so naturally I was a bit nervous, especially considering my Spanish skills are pretty limited. Almost as soon as I got to Maximo though, most of my nerves went away. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and knew exactly what was going on and what I needed to be doing and didn't hesitate to help when I asked. They took me to meet my host family who immediately welcomed me into their home. They took me to Maximo for my orientation and brought me back afterwards so I knew how to get there on my own. My first day at my project, I met for the ESL Crash Course and the project orientation by a Maximo Nivel staff member took me out to the project. They showed me how to get there, introduced me to the family at the home and all the students, helped me figure out how to teach the first day, and showed me the way home. The next day when I went on my own, I felt completely prepared. When you first get to La Carpio, it may seem a bit intimidating as it is a very poor area and near the landfill, but I honestly never felt unsafe while I there. The entire family was incredibly welcoming and I immediately felt like a part of it. They watched out for me and the other volunteers like we had lived with them our entire lives. I honestly felt like I was able to make an impact in their lives, as well as have mine changed for the better. I wish that I could stay longer and I'm honestly leaving a part of my heart at Vuelo.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Justine
10/10

Teaching English in La Carpio

I came to Costa Rica for 6 weeks, alone, so naturally I was a bit nervous, especially considering my Spanish skills are pretty limited. Almost as soon as I got to Maximo though, most of my nerves went away. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and knew exactly what was going on and what I needed to be doing and didn't hesitate to help when I asked. They took me to meet my host family who immediately welcomed me into their home. They took me to Maximo for my orientation and brought me back afterwards so I knew how to get there on my own. My first day at my project, I met for the ESL Crash Course and the project orientation by a Maximo Nivel staff member took me out to the project. They showed me how to get there, introduced me to the family at the home and all the students, helped me figure out how to teach the first day, and showed me the way home. The next day when I went on my own, I felt completely prepared. When you first get to La Carpio, it may seem a bit intimidating as it is a very poor area and near the landfill, but I honestly never felt unsafe while I there. The entire family was incredibly welcoming and I immediately felt like a part of it. They watched out for me and the other volunteers like we had lived with them our entire lives. I honestly felt like I was able to make an impact in their lives, as well as have mine changed for the better. I wish that I could stay longer and I'm honestly leaving a part of my heart at Vuelo.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Petal
10/10

Great!

This program was amazing! I'm really glad I had the opportunity to partake in this experience. The volunteering allowed us to have enough time to do something everyday and also feel like we were making an impact and learn some more Spanish. I think this is the best way to visit a new country because you are able to immerse youself in the culture more easily and have a supper system at your exposle.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Chan
10/10

Life changing experience

My two weeks here flew by, and I'm leaving wishing I could have another two weeks. My placement, the support and the entire program was truly remarkable. I worked at Guarderia Bebitas every afternoon providing activities, games and assistance with teeth brushing, hand washing, etc. The staff and the children were a joy to see everyday, and the support I received from Maximo Nivel helped ensure my experience went smoothly. There is a whole community of amazing people here ready to help you immediately with any concerns. Highlights of my time included painting faces, playing Pato Pato Ganso, Simon Dice and much more. Today is my last day and I wish I could do this whole experience all over again!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jennie
10/10

Childcare project

Me and my friend, through Maximo Nivel, volunteered at Comedor in Alajualita. The staff there were amazing and everyday was a blast. The kids were amazing and always kind to us. We mosly worked with children 0-2. We worked here for 3 hours and tried to use our time teaching them some spanish or english, or even how to walk. The children were always always willing to learn. I recommend volunteering here in Costa Rica, especially the childcare program. Its an experience I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
Nada
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jenna
10/10

Amazing experience

I had a wonderful, unforgettable time! The programs are great, the staff members are supportive and are amazing, the food, the people, all of it was wonderful. My host mama, Marlen, is the sweetest person and was extremely patient with me attempting to speak Spanish. You will not regret your travel to Costa Rica! There are many different volunteer programs along with classes to learn Spanish and sites to see you are sure to have a great time. Pura vida!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jiawen
10/10

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 this program
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Mike
10/10

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 this program
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Sabrina
10/10

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 this program
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Codey
10/10

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 this program
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Thomas
7/10

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!

Thanks!

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