Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

303 Volunteer Abroad Programs in Costa Rica

Affordable Volunteering in Costa Rica: From USD 295

International Volunteer HQ offers volunteering programs in one of Latin America’s youngest capital cities, San Jose in Costa Rica. Volunteers placements include Health care, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Construction and Renovation, and more. Programs are available for one week up to multiple months.

International Volunteer HQ
Turtle Conservation Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

Help conserve the breathtaking ecosystem of Costa Rica and work with the local community through Global Volunteer Network. Participants must be at least 18 years old and know basic to intermediate Spanish. Programs are located in Jaco, Quepos, and two other cities. Placements range from health care and English teaching to orphanage assistance.

Global Volunteer Network
Meaningful Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

Help improve the lifestyle of Cartago, Costa Rica through Cross-Cultural Solutions programs. A variety of volunteer placements are offered to prospective individuals from all over the world, including Youth Development, Health Education, and Orphanage Assistance.

Cross-Cultural Solutions
GoEco - Learn Spanish and Volunteer in Costa Rica

GoEco invites volunteers to help out with the conservation and community development projects in Costa Rica. Participants can also assist in teaching and social work programs. Project locations offer a beautiful backdrop for volunteer activities.

GoEco - Volunteer Abroad
ELI-Experiential Learning International

Volunteer with Experiential Learning International in Costa Rica and pick a program from a list of opportunities, including programs in gender equality and women's empowerment, community health, environment conservation efforts, and youth education. Programs require participants to have basic to advanced Spanish language skills. Volunteers are given room and board at homes of host families.

ELI
Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica with Projects Abroad

For more than 20 years, Projects Abroad has been sending volunteers to various developing countries, including Costa Rica. Participants experience the unique culture while engaging in community service projects in cities such as Liberia and San Jose. This voluntary service placement is open to participants from all over the world for varying durations.

International Student Volunteers

Volunteer in a conservation program for turtles in the islands of Costa Rica with International Student Volunteers. Participants tasks may include: night time breeding ground patrols, locating and protecting nests, egg collection and hatching, and, in extreme cases, health monitoring of three species of sea turtles -- leatherback, hawksbill, and olive riddle.

Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

Learn more about Costa Rican culture, people, and society by partaking in a volunteer program with Cultural Embrace by API in Costa Rica. Volunteers have the chance to partake in an exciting experience filled with memorable cultural activities. Participants may volunteer in the areas of Medicine, English Teaching, and Childcare.

Volunteer Abroad with Cultural Embrace by API
Volunteer and Travel in Costa Rica with Kaya

Experience the local life of Costa Rica through Kaya Responsible Travel volunteer projects. Volunteers have the chance to participate in Community Building Activities such as Teaching English in a coastal village, Medical Assistance of mothers and children, and helping in Wildlife Conservation projects. Possible weekend excursions include surfing, bungee jumping, and dolphin watching. Placement...

United Planet

Make a difference in Costa Rica. Volunteer programs with United Planet allow participants to live like locals through home stay programs and participate in excursions. Volunteers work on community development projects in the areas of Health Care, Teaching, and the Environment. Typical volunteers have the desire to help communities in need, are open-minded, and easily adapt to new situations.

United Planet's photo
Global Vision International

Volunteer with Global Vision International (GVI) in Costa Rica. Various volunteer programs give participants the chance to work with the locals, while truly experiencing a their culture and way of life. Individuals can teach sports, and work in community development or conservation, among many other projects.

GVI
Performing Arts Abroad

Four volunteer program choices, available in Costa Rica, allow students to share their passion for performing arts. Programs focus on changing the lives of Costa Rican youth by introducing them to performing arts. Participants will learn more about the Costa Rican way of life and language throughout the duration of their program.

Performing Arts Abroad
Lend a hand in Costa Rica with Love Volunteers

Travel to Costa Rica and participate in a four-week volunteer program with Love Volunteers. Participants can work side by side with the locals, while participating in rewarding service-learning experiences in the city of San Jose. This program offers accommodations and is open to international participants.

Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica for Ages 16 and Up

Explore Costa Rican culture through a number of community development programs, in the city of San Jose, with Volunteering Solutions. Participants can choose from three programs, volunteering in an orphanage, group placement opportunities, and women empowerment projects. All participants have the chance to learn the Spanish language through interaction with the locals on a daily basis.

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Volunteering in conservation in natural areas is one of Costa Rica’s most popular programs.

How to Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

Have A “Pura Vida” Kind Of Day

Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, lives on a belief system of “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life.” What better place to live and spread pure life by volunteering? Costa Rica has a high standard of environmentalism thanks to green farming techniques and a ban on recreational hunting. The largest industries in Costa Rica are pharmaceuticals, software development, and coffee farming and production. Costa Rica is a success story in many respects. They excel in Latin America in areas like environmentalism, medicine, and education. The capital city, San José, has a large European influence, so visitors to Costa Rica can also experience some Spanish culture and architecture. Outside of the urban areas, Costa Rica offers tropical rainforests and warm, sandy beaches filled with unique flora and fauna that can’t be found in such conditions anywhere else in the world. 

Geography & Demographics

The Latin American country’s population is just over four million (typically smiling) people. Costa Ricans have a very high respect for education. The country has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America; 95 percent of the country’s population can read and write. Most Costa Rican adults can also speak a second language besides Spanish.

Costa Rica has a mostly European influence, so 70 percent of the population is Catholic, 14 percent are Protestant, and 11 percent are non-religious. There is a religion called Animism practiced in Costa Rica that focuses on the spiritual qualities of the natural elements, which makes sense considering all the natural areas in the country.

Costa Rica has a mostly rainforest type of environment which means it is tropical all year. Instead of the traditional seasons, Costa Rica experiences two: dry and wet. The “summer,” or dry season, is from December to April and the “winter,” or wet season, is from May to November. In wet season, there is rainfall nearly everyday. Temperatures are between 63 and 82 degrees fahrenheit all year round. The best time to go to Costa Rica would be during the dry season, or spring semester for students.

Remember that Costa Rica is a very environmentally conscious country, so bringing a plastic umbrella into the jungle that may break and then thrown away is not seen as the best remedy against the rain; it can also be a hassle to store if not wearing a backpack. Instead, wear a raincoat with a hood for both practicality and respect of the environment. Rubber boots or Wellingtons are good work shoes for certain environments and can be rented or purchased in many places in Costa Rica, but any waterproof hiking shoe will be beneficial. Lightweight clothing is best if not near a washing machine, and cotton clothing will be best against the humidity. The best gadget to bring is a flashlight that does not require batteries such as those that can be charged by shaking or cranking.

Food & Culture

Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of Native American, Spanish, African, and many other cuisine origins. Rice and black beans are staple foods and can be seen as a side to most dishes. Gallo pinto is a breakfast dish of rice and beans mixed with onions and bell peppers. It is considered to be the national dish. Arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice, with a Russian salad is often eaten for special occasions and family gatherings. A popular snack is plaintain chips, sometimes with a lime flavor.

The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). The symbol for colones is ₡. The bills are comprised of 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 notes while coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, and 100. U.S. dollars are accepted in some locations in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica, while its official language is Spanish, has slight differences in the phonetics and meanings in its language. To put it in perspective, it’s like taking standard American English and comparing the accents of Minnesota and Alabama. Consonants are dropped and some letters are slurred together. The biggest difference is that the Costa Ricans use “vos” where traditional Spanish may use “tu”. Costa Rican Spanish is much like Spanish in Spain. Over 11 percent of adults speak English, and many others speak German or French as a second language. Creole-English is spoken along the coast.

People commonly greet each other with a light kiss on the cheek; men, though, should not do this to other men. Because Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, religious values and some conversation topics are avoided. Costa Ricans are very polite and courteous. Giving gifts to a host is a polite gesture, but avoid giving lilies, as they are reserved for funerals.

Costa Ricans are also very celebratory people. One of the biggest holidays celebrated is St. Joseph’s Day in March. San José, the capital city, is named after St. Joseph; the city celebrates with a parade and religious ceremonies. Mothers Day is especially honored in Costa Rica. Independence day is September 15th and is celebrated in every province.

Things to Do

A popular attraction for visitors to see is the Arenal Volcano in the northern part of the country. It’s made of two peaks, one of which still spits rocks of cooled lava! Zip lining through the rainforest in Monteverde area is also popular, but be careful that monkeys are not on the line, which is common. The northwest has many resorts and sandy beaches so it’s a popular tourist location.

Volunteering in Costa Rica

While Costa Rica is high in literacy rates, environmental efforts, and overall has a clean bill of health, it takes a lot of work to get that way. Costa Rica is a popular volunteer destination for very good reasons: the people are welcoming of volunteers and there are plenty of areas to volunteer. Turtle conservation, providing clean drinking water in rural areas, teaching English to both children and adults, providing medical care, and many other volunteer projects are available.

International visitors do not need a visa if staying in Costa Rica for up to 90 days, but the individual programs will let their candidates know if they need specific work permits or vaccinations.

Lianna Salva

Lianna is a Content Intern for GoAbroad.com. She studied abroad for a semester in Leeds, England, studying literature and theater. In May 2013, she graduated from Colorado State University with a B.A. in English and Secondary Education. Lianna hopes to get her MFA and get published in a major theatre magazine or English teaching journal while attending as many plays around the world as possible.