Tamarindo has been described with so many flattering expressions that adding to it would only be cliché, but this Quaker refuge is on the mind of many travelers. A cloud forest village in the interior of Costa Rica, Tamarindo is at the forefront of the country’s ecotourism and forest preservation. Universities and NGO’s of all sizes are working to keep the landscape a welcoming place for tourists, all while keeping environmental impact to a minimum. If you’re looking to find the core of pura vida, find it by volunteering in Tamarindo.
What you need to know about volunteering in Tamarindo
Tamarindo might seem to have similar tales of Latin American villages nestled in the mountains, complete with glorious nature preserves with long histories, but it is also packed with a punch. Tamarindo happens to be the backbone of the biological preserve that envelopes the village and is the basis for many of the volunteer programs.
Popular causes/projects in Tamarindo. Most of the volunteer projects based here focus on sea and land conservation, with an emphasis on sustainable development. The unique ecosystem holds several species of plants and animals only found in 1% of woodland in the world. Such rarity of nature and threats of modern society have organizations leading the fight to preserve the unspoiled land.
If you have a love of animals, you can also volunteer with organizations that help rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals so they can return to the wild and keep the biodiversity intact. You could also help in eco-tourism by helping maintain trails such as the famous skywalk, a bridge that has you walk over the cloud forest, making sure that people can enjoy the forest without damaging it.
Short term vs. long term volunteer programs in Tamarindo. Programs can last a for a few weeks to over a year. Make sure your commitment time will fit your expenses and immigration status. While Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, the Quaker influence along with tourism has made English a common language in Tamarindo. This doesn’t mean you should try to get by on ingles, however. Try to have a basic knowledge or Spanish for your time in Tamarindo.
Life in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for International Volunteers
For the average person in the 21st century, life in Tamarindo may seem as a step back into the past. Tamarindo may take a little getting used to if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of civilization; despite the increases of tourism, the population of the village remains under 7,000 residents.
If you choose to stay in Tamarindo, be prepared for a simpler way of life. You can befriend those who made your food at the farmer's market, make your own works of art in local artisan co-ops, and unwind with some Imperials at some of the restaurants.
If, for some crazy reason, pura vida gets too tough, just remember that you’re in one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, surrounded by pristine cloud forest. Neighbors include howler monkeys, sloths, and over 30 hummingbird species. So whether you want to paint with new colors or chill out with two-toed, lazy mammals, you will be in good company.
There is no shortage of outdoor adventures for down time. From forest treks to volcano camps, from river rafting to extreme ziplining, this natural refuge of the world is nothing short of fun. Vamos!
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for volunteers in Tamarindo
Unique experience: No matter what, your time in Tamarindo will be special. It’s a village nestled in some of the rarest forests in the world. If you’re volunteering in the reserve, you may be seeing plants and animals never seen before by people. Savor everything new that you will see.
Pace of life: Tamarindo is a rural community. While tourism is increasing, the village still has a slower pace of life. Let that become part of your pace of life. Yes, blow up your Instagram with plenty of photos to make friends and family jealous, but instead of being glued to your phone, be glued to enjoying the people and breathtaking nature around you.
Poverty: While Tamarindo is rich in nature, the area has a high poverty rate. Most people still live off of subsistence farming. Keep that in mind of having your valuables secure, not showing off your wealth, and being respectful when receiving gifts from locals. Volunteering in Tamarindo, you are here to make a positive impact; see how real life is and how you can empower individuals and improve situations.
Tamarindo’s existence is in a fragile balance. In order for the world to continue to appreciate its grandeur, it takes the effort of eager volunteers to make the trek to paradise and see the ideology that pura vida is rooted in. With sloths, pina coladas, and surreal sunsets, this task shouldn’t be too difficult!
Tou-can do it! Keep reading and get more inspiration from our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Costa Rica.