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 152 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 152
Default avatar
Anthonia
10/10

My Experience as a Volunteer with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica

Traveling to another country can be challenging especially when you don't speak a foreign language, but Maximo Nivel made that fear go away.

The program is well organized and from my first day to my departure, I felt at home. Volunteering is so rewarding and fulfilling.

When next you feel like helping mankind or make a difference, just contact Maximo Nivel and you won't regret it.

Thanks team!

How can this program be improved?
The program is well organized, and cheap, I don't have any recommendations rather they should keep up the good work, and publicize the program more on social media.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Tessa
10/10

Amazing Experience!

I had the opportunity to teach English during my two week stay in Costa Rica and it was amazing. The staff at Maximo are all hardworking and caring (and even make an effort to get to know everyone personally). Any time I needed assistance or had a question, the Maximo team was there to assist me. The experience that I had at Maximo was unlike any other and I encourage anyone who wants to teach or travel abroad to go through Maximo Nivel. It was an experience of a lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

How can this program be improved?
I cannot think of any improvements. If you go into the program with a positive attitude and an open mind, you will have the time of your life!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Yonnie
9/10

Teaching English in La Carpio

I am 16 years old and was able to volunteer with my older sister in La Carpio, Costa Rica for a week. Together alongside a couple other volunteers, my sister and I taught English in a familys home. This family opens up their home to the local children and adults who want to learn English from the Maximo Volunteers for as long as 4 hours every week day. I have never met a more welcoming group of people during this trip. The family and children in La Carpio were so kind, and even though they deal with new volunteers almost every week, they show up everyday dedicated to learning. The Maximo staff were all extremely helpful, and kept things entertaining with salsa class and Spanish lessons. And lastly, all the other volunteers who came from different parts of the world were all so friendly, and i'm happy to have met them. Costa Rica itself was so beautiful and the weather was always perfect - rain for 2 hours and sunshine a breezy the rest of the day. I do believe that only being there a week was not long enough, however any kind of contribution is helpful. My sister and I are planning to organize a fundraiser within our school to help the families in La Carpio because we would like to do more. If you are debating on volunteering in CR or not, I say do it. Even if its for a short time, and you might think you wont impact these families lives, they will for sure impact yours.

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

costa rica vuela la carpios

I did not know what to expect when I signed up to volunteer to teach english in costa rica. I did know that Maximo Nivel/ IVHQ was a reputable organization since my daughter used them to spend a month in S. Africa,Capetown. The program where i worked was extremely needy. The students and adults are motivated and eager to learn English. The conditions are challenging but work to improve the program is constant and I was able to witness electricity being installed in our upstairs "classroom" which was AMAZING! >The children are wonderful and bright and loving. Despite many obstacles and significant poverty this group has so much hope for a better future. I would especially encourage RETIRED TEACHERS to travel to Costa Rica and teach English at the project Vuela! It was not the easiest thing I have ever done, but it was certainly one of the most rewardling experiences of my life! Take a chance like I did. You can make a difference. You will be so glad you did! PURA VIDA

How can this program be improved?
This program is a work in progress and improvements are happening daily!
Yes, I recommend this program
Amanda
10/10

From USA to CR for 3 AMAZING weeks

Volunteering in a foreign country in any capacity is extremely rewarding, but my experience in Costa Rica has been beyond that. My 3- week stay here was tremendous. I worked as an English teacher and that experience helped me grow as a professional and it opened my eyes to the lives and cultures of those living in this unique country. None of this would have been possible without the incredible staff at Maximo Nivel. From day one the entire team was supportive and helpful and they made the headquarters a home away from home. I felt like I had everything I needed at all times and I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I cannot imagine a more gratifying experience, nor a better organization to experience it with. Muchas gracias, Maximo!

How can this program be improved?
I cannot suggest any improvements to the organization at this time, but based on the interactions with other volunteers that I have had, I must recommend that volunteers keep their minds open and be ready to live the Pura Vida life when they are here. The only negative experiences I have witnessed have resulted from volunteers having unrealistic expectations and not keeping an open mind.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Adam
9/10

Teaching English for 6 weeks

The program I was assigned was the farthest away from Máximo's location. However, the trip was worth it. Everyday, I spent 2 hours teaching English to a bunch of adults. These adults will go on and eventually apply for jobs that were originally out of reach. This will greatly help them while living in La Carpio. I also took Spanish classes that greatly improved speaking ability. This experience was life-changing for me and especially my students.

Yes, I recommend this program
Maxine
10/10

Pura Vida

I have recently returned from a month in Costa Rica, and I did a split volunteer project: two weeks in Coronado, teaching English and two weeks in Junquillal with the Verdiazul turtle conservation project. The projects could not have been more different, and they could not have been more wonderful. Working with students in San Jose allowed me to live like a local and get a taste of "normal" life. From living in the homestay to getting the bus to the placement, I felt part of the city, and this all added to the adventure. The students and volunteers I met where incredible, and I made friends with whom I still keep in touch. Stage two of my trip was a stark contrast, as I moved from the bustle of city to the tranquility of uncommercial beach life and the work was physical and fun, plus I learned plenty about turtles. Again, I was welcomed by a special group of people who truly care about conservation and preservation. In both places, I felt valued and appreciated. The smoothness of my experience was made possible through the professionalism of the Maximo Nivel team. I felt 100% supported by them. It is an incredible organization of people who work hard to make sure that the volunteers have an amazing experience, through the quality of the projects, home-stays, and social activities they provide. If you are sitting on the fence and wondering if to jump in and volunteer, I say leap: You won't look back :)

How can this program be improved?
I really don't see much. The orientations help a great deal and the support is excellent.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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
Default avatar
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

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...