Volunteering in Costa Rica

Making a difference to Costarican communities, stunning beaches and its wildlife

Why volunteer in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one of the most exotic places on Earth, offering unparalleled natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests, and a wide range of national parks and eco-tourism! 

A chain of volcanoes and mountains—part of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain—runs the length of the country and separates the Caribbean Sea on the east coast from the Pacific Ocean on the west coast. In addition, Costa Rica has over 1,000 miles of gorgeous white and black sand beaches, copious amounts of sunshine, world-class sport fishing, surfing and scuba!

Whether you are looking to volunteer in the world-historical capital city of San Jose, or in the idyllic beaches either in the Pacific Coast or the Caribbean, Costa Rica has exactly what you are looking for and this beautiful paradise needs help conserving and protecting its environment, species and communities. 

Are you ready for the trip of a lifetime to the greenest country in the world?

Renee

I completed three weeks of volunteering in Costa Rica and there is nothing I can say more than how amazing it was. The project was far away from the city in a poorer area. Everyone is incredibly warm and welcoming, it makes the transition into a foreign country that much easier. The children are the sweetest gems I’ve ever met and while the language barrier can be challenging at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I also enjoyed free salsa classes and cooking classes which are great. One person I’ll never forget is my host mom, she is the kindest and sweetest soul. Always went out of her way to make sure we were well fed and comfortable. If you’re considering a trip like this definitely go for it!

Costa Rica Volunteer Destinations

In a country that hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, forests, jungles and volcanoes, together with exotic and unique wildlife, and historical cities, there’s no better place for a real contribution to communities, wildlife and ecosystems! 

San Jose

Nicoya Peninsula

Tortuguero National Park

About Costa Rica

Literally translated as “Rich Coast”, Costa Rica has been one of the most prosperous and peaceful nations on the Central American continent since it gained independence from Spain in the late 19th Century. It currently boasts Latin America’s longest-standing democracy. 

It is also one of the most environmentally progressive countries on Earth, having been ranked as the “greenest” country in the world, and with plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country. It is home to the greatest density of species in the world, and 25% of its territory is in protected land, the greatest percentage of any country on Earth. 

This beautiful country of jungles and beaches has a lot to teach anyone interested in volunteering in the areas of environmental preservation and conservation.

Fun facts

  • Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, making it one of the only countries in the world without one.
  • The country has a literacy rate of around 96%. Children who live in very poor or remote areas are taught over a national radio station. However, there is still a need for additional teaching resources, as a number of schools are overcrowded, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
  • “Pura Vida” is a common saying among Costa Ricans, meaning “pure life”, and it reflects their cheer and optimism.
  • Life expectancy in Costa Rica is one of the highest in the world, at 77.
  • Coffee was Costa Rica’s first major export and its principal source of wealth well into the 20th Century.
  • There are seven active volcanoes in Costa Rica, one of which is among the top 10 most active volcanoes in the world!
  • The climate of Costa Rica is tropical year-round, with the dry season running from December to April, and the rainy season from May to November – in some areas, it rains constantly during this time.
  • “Gallo pinto” (“spotted rooster”) is a ubiquitous traditional breakfast dish in Costa Rica, consisting of rice and beans cooked together, and served hot. Despite its name, it’s totally vegetarian!

Costa Rica Volunteer Projects

Sea Turtle Conservation

Get ready to make a difference in one of the most bio-diverse countries, which is home to 5 of 7 sea turtle species in the world, by helping to reverse their risk of extinction by taking an active role in protecting both adult and baby sea turtles

Location: Pacific Coast or Carribean side on specific occasions (depending on seasonal needs)

Duration: 2 – 12 weeks

Environmental Conservation

Get ready to live and work in Costa Rica’s first official National Park and protected natural reserve and make an impact on the conservation of this 3 million hectare of  ‘absolute reserve,’ ensuring the complete protection and preservation of its native flora and fauna.

Location: Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific Coast

Duration: 1 – 12 weeks

Construction & Community Development

Get ready to make a difference in community development by helping to create infrastructures such as housing, schools, churches, and community centres.

Location: San Jose

Duration: 1 – 12 weeks

Jaguar Conservation

Get ready to live in the heart of Tortuguero National Park in an area closed to tourism where we are the only ones allowed to live in and assist in the protection and conservation of the elusive jaguar.

Location: Tortuguero National Park

Duration: 2 – 12 weeks

Highlights & Excursions

Costa Rica is one of the most diverse countries in the world and offers something for everyone! Whether you are looking for culture and history, adrenaline activities, relaxing times by the beach, trekkings, amazing food and drinks or chilling by the beach, there ́s something for every type of traveller! Tours and trips can be easily booked through our on-site travel partner, M&J Travel Services (http://www.mjtravelservice.com).

Arenal Volcano

Located in northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular destinations in the country offering access to the rainforest, waterfalls, a volcano, the country’s largest lake, and a diverse selection of hotels!

Canopy Zipline

For those who enjoy adrenaline-pumping experiences, ziplining, sky tram tours, and high hanging bridges offer intense experiences with views to match. Lots of options in all regions of the country.

Tortuga Island

Depart for the Catamaran Island Cruise, a 1-day boat tour in the calm waters of the Gulf of Nicoya. Sail past 23 islands en route to the famous Isla Tortuga. On the island, swim, snorkel, play volleyball, kayak, or just relax in a hammock.

White Water Rafting

A journey of unsurpassed beauty and exploding whitewater. For the adventurous beginner and experienced rafter alike, the class III/IV rapids fill you with adrenaline as you paddle hard! 

Half day City Tour of San Jose

Set out on a half-day excursion to see the National Museum, the National Theatre, San Jose’s famous Central Market, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Enjoy half-day hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park. The national park abounds in diverse flora and fauna including howler, squirrel, and white-faced monkeys; two-toed sloths; coatimundis; iguanas; and over 350 species of birds.

Get Your Scuba Certification

Manuel Antonio is located on the pacific coast of Costa Rica and is home to the best beaches in the country. The scuba course takes place in the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is home to a bustling tropical marine oasis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Costa Rica safe to visit?

It is considered one of the safest countries in the world! However, you should always be paying attention and be on the lookout for pickpockets or similar petty thieves. 

We take our volunteer’s safety very seriously and we ́ll give an in-depth induction upon arrival. Please check our Safety Tips as well.

What is the weather/climate in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is known for its warm tropical weather. Temperatures in San Jose range from 22-32°C (72-90°F) year-round. ‘Green season’ lasts from May to October with the wettest months being September and October. ‘Dry season’ is from November to April.

Costa Rica Temperatures

What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency is the Colon, but U.S. dollars are accepted in all places of business. 

It is fairly easy to exchange other currencies and ATMs are also available throughout the country.

MasterCard & Visa are usually accepted.

Which Electrical Plugs are used in Costa Rica?

All city-based accommodations have electricity available 24 hours a day. Electricity throughout Costa Rica is 110V, 60Hz – the same frequency used in North America. Be sure to check your electronics and small appliances for compatibility, and purchase any adapters or converters necessary.

Electrical outlets are both 2-prong and 3-prong. Please note that 2-prong outlets are the most common in Costa Rica.

What is the language in Costa Rica?

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish although there are at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian people. 

What should stay in your hand luggage when travelling?

All valuables should be kept in your hand luggage, not left in your checked bags.

Know Before You Go

Visa Requirements

Packing List

Code of Conduct

Volunteering Safety Tips

  • Be sure to keep track of your belongings at all times.
  • Keep your belongings on your lap while riding the bus.
  • Do not accept drinks from strangers.
  • Use busy and well-lit streets when walking and never walk alone after dark.
  • Only use official taxis and public buses.
  • Keep small change in your pockets and hide large bills.
  • Be vigilant when using an ATM.
  • Never count your money on the street or in public.
  • Take special care with your camera, laptop, jewellery, purse, and electronics.
  • Save your project manager’s number on your phone and make sure to provide us with a copy of your emergency contact person at home.

We will review safety again in detail during your orientation.

Costa Rican vaccinations

Please consult with your private physician or doctor in regards to what immunizations or vaccinations are needed.  

Our recommendations:

  • Hepatitis A&B: Recommended
  • Typhoid: Recommended
  • Rabies: Recommended
  • Yellow Fever: Costa Rica is NOT at risk to yellow fever but if coming from a yellow fever country you need this vaccination together with proof of having it.
  • Routine vaccinations including measles

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