Local Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

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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 139 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.4
  • Benefits 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Facilities 10
  • Safety 7
Showing 106 - 120 of 139
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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
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Bryce
7/10

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 this program
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Jade
10/10

A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE

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 this program
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Sina
10/10

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 this program
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Mattias
8/10

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 this program
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Carolina
9/10

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 this program
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Amanda
10/10

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 this program

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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...