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Healthcare Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

Healthcare Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

Improve access to quality healthcare
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 3-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+
Homestay or Volunteer house
Program fees
From AU$2383 for 3 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Compassionate volunteers at any point of their healthcare career journey, who are interested in improving the lives of local vulnerable populations.

Project details

Interested in Healthcare volunteering in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio? International Volunteer HQ’s Healthcare project empowers volunteers to assist with caring for the elderly, as well as individuals with a varied range of special needs. With one of Costa Rica’s most idyllic national parks as a backdrop, volunteers will be able to observe clinical practice and learn from local medical professionals while helping provide better access to quality healthcare for the people of Manuel Antonio.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

IVHQ’s Healthcare project in Manuel Antonio is set in community facilities that care for disabled people and the elderly. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is relatively well developed, however local staff work hard and appreciate the assistance of volunteers as well as the opportunity for cross-cultural learning.

As a Healthcare volunteer you’ll shadow local staff and observe clinical practice in action. Local regulations mean even qualified volunteers can only provide the most basic care to patients, under the supervision of local professionals. Volunteers who speak Spanish, are there for longer stays and who show initiative are likely to have a more hands-on role.

Volunteer with no previous Healthcare experience, students enrolled in pre-medical and nursing programs, first and second year medical students, Health Science professionals, and medical professionals such as EMTs, CNAs or Medical Assistants can can assist with:

  • Providing much-needed companionship to patients
  • Engaging in conversation-talk therapy
  • Supporting staff with feeding, bathing, and changing beds
  • Distributing medication
  • Assisting residents during exercise programs and arts and crafts projects

Fully licensed medical professionals and students in their third year of study or above can expect to perform tasks as:

  • Shadowing doctors and nurses
  • Assisting with checkups
  • Taking vitals
  • Triaging patients
  • Preparing medical equipment
  • Assisting with physical therapy

Volunteers are required to bring their own PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to the program, including their own scrubs, disposable latex gloves, surgical masks, and closed-toed shoes.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Healthcare volunteering in Manuel Antonio with IVHQ?

By doing medical volunteering in Manuel Antonio, you’ll be improving access to healthcare for the local community, while also gaining experience through:

  • Assisting qualified medical professionals
  • Gaining healthcare experience and skills
  • Getting exposure to different clinical practices
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your cross-cultural communication skills
  • Immersing yourself in Costa Rican culture
  • Exploring Manuel Antonio’s natural beauty

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Beatriz Sam
11 Jul 2024

From my experience I would say I’ve grown a lot in the past two weeks. Although it was a little time it felt like I’ve been there for too much and I didn’t wanted to end. I’ve had the greatest time in Costa Rica, I’ve made so many friends from around the world and gained experience and tools that would help me for my professional and personal life. An advice that I’ll give to someone is that don’t hesitate just go for it you’ll not regret it, it’s once in a life experience and you’ll get a lot from it. Also it’s a really fun and nice way to help the community and environment and to spend time doing something completely different and exciting.

Morgan Midkiff
04 Jun 2024

This program was amazing! I am so glad I went! I have never gone out of the country this long, let alone by myself. This was a great transition from college to the outside world. I was very happy I went and got to meet so many new people and experience the culture of Costa Rica. If I had to change one thing, it would be to book the adventure week. I didn't get to see much of Costa Rica, outside of my placement and the city. I am dying to go back and explore! It was a lot of hard work and hot, humid days, but I wouldn't change it for the world! Pura Vida!

Ben Bradford
21 May 2024

Experiencing Costa Rica and its healthcare has improved my understanding of the differences between healthcare systems around the world. Costa Rica is a beautiful place and the people are so friendly, definitely would recommend volunteering here!

Jonathan Hausman
03 May 2024

When you try a project like this, you're not stepping "out of your comfort zone" - instead you're stepping into a "new comfort zone". That attitude can help so much. Being a little nervous or afraid is totally natural on a trip and project like this, so allow yourself to feel that way. You're making a huge difference even doing small things for both animals and people, and if you treat the accommodation and people as though it is your home and your family, things will go really well for you.

Judge the people you meet AFTER you meet and get to know them and have no preconceived notions about those you'll come in contact with. If you're trying to find who you are, challenge what you know, learn a new skill, and have an impact, it will work for you in this place. All you have to do is take it one moment at a time - and you'll leave the place having a new adventure you can always remember and talk about.

William Delmage Jr
19 Mar 2024

I gained a lot from expanding my boundaries and putting myself in uncomfortable situations!

Holly Tyte
21 Dec 2023

This was an amazing experience and I’m so glad that I chose to volunteer with IVHQ. Having done 2 projects (Childcare and Healthcare) I felt I was able to learn so much about different systems in Costa Rica. Staying with a host family was so good to be immersed in the culture and learn more Spanish. I’ve met some incredible people and learned lots more about myself as a person.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica Manuel Antonio with IVHQ


Costa Rica is in the true heart of Central America, and halfway down its stunning southwestern coast is the popular tourist destination of Manuel Antonio where several IVHQ projects are located.

Manuel Antonio’s main attraction is a small but glorious national park known for the unparalleled biodiversity found at its forests, beaches and coral reefs. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise and adrenaline junkies will also find plenty of adventure to be had in the surrounding area. The small local population relies on the tourism industry for jobs and economic growth.

Arrival and orientation

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose on the Saturday before your start date. Volunteers who fly into San Jose before midday on Saturday will travel to Manuel Antonio that day. Volunteers who arrive into San Jose after midday on Saturday will spend the night in San Jose and travel to Manuel Antonio on Sunday morning. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the local team’s offices. This is included in your Program Fee.

We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. If you are travelling in Costa Rica prior to your program, you can meet the local team in Manuel Antonio on the Saturday before your program starts.

The program orientation is hosted by our Costa Rica team at their offices in Manuel Antonio. Orientation is compulsory to attend and is held on Sunday morning or afternoon, depending on what time you arrive in Manuel Antonio.

Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Costa Rica – an introduction to Costa Rica, its customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Costa Rica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


During the week, you will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 4 hours. Your volunteer work and hours are dependent on the location and type of project you are participating in. A typical morning schedule is as follows:

7:30 - 8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
9:00 AM Leave home and travel to your placement. You will join the local staff and will receive a duty roster and plan for work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, go sightseeing or take Spanish lessons.
7:00 PM Dinner with the host family.


With your weekends free you can strap your boots on and explore the phenomenal natural environment of Manuel Antonio, or choose to put your feet up and relax on the amazingly beautiful tree-lined beaches.

You’ll have the unique opportunity to get well acquainted with the Manuel Antonio National Park where you’ll be able to see a huge array of exotic animals and wildlife including monkeys, sloths, anteaters, ocelots, crocodiles, iguanas, snakes and lizards. It’s also a great spot for birdwatching with the chance to see more than 350 bird species. Outside of the park there’s a wealth of other adventure activities including whitewater rafting, ziplining, snorkeling, hiking, fishing and surfing.

It’s worth noting that Sunday is a religious day of rest and many stores and restaurants will be closed. Costa Ricans tend to devote Sundays to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

On long weekends you may choose to travel around the rest of Costa Rica and the many cities, volcanoes, jungles, coffee plantations and beaches which are more than worth a visit.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers who are between the ages of 18 - 27 are accommodated in a larger dorm-style volunteer house that can fit up to 15 volunteers, and is hosted by a local family. Volunteers who are over the age of 27 are accommodated in smaller homestays that can host 2 - 6 volunteers at a time, alongside a local host family.

In all accommodations, living conditions are comfortable and you will have electricity, running water (drinkable) and western bathrooms. Please note, low-pressure showers can be expected and the water is not always heated. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. Volunteers can expect to share a room with 2 - 6 other volunteers. You will need to bring your own towel and toiletries.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18, in a homestay. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

Private room upgrades (double bed, shared washroom) are available in homestays for a cost of $62 per person, per week.

WiFi is available at the accommodation, and you will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast is usually toast, fruit and eggs accompanied by tea or coffee. Dinner usually includes: meat - typically chicken, starches and vegetables. At almost every meal you’ll be offered Gallo Pinto, the national dish of Costa Rica, which is primarily made of fried rice and beans.

Lunches are not provided to Manuel Antonio-based volunteers, as they are typically away from their accommodation at midday. It is recommended you budget between AU$7 and AU$15 per day to buy lunch.

If you have specific dietary requirements, our local teams and homestays can cater to you, however keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$520) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
3 weeks $1,507 Equivalent to $72/day
4 weeks $1,875 Equivalent to $67/day
5 weeks $2,185 Equivalent to $62/day
6 weeks $2,495 Equivalent to $59/day
8 weeks $3,115 Equivalent to $56/day
10 weeks $3,730 Equivalent to $53/day
12 weeks $4,350 Equivalent to $52/day
16 weeks $5,590 Equivalent to $50/day
20 weeks $6,830 Equivalent to $49/day
24 weeks $8,070 Equivalent to $48/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$520) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses. Please note this budget is for general expenses and does not include money you will need for any weekend activities you plan to do.
  • Airport pick-up
  • Return transportation San Jose - Manuel Antonio - San Jose
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Manuel Antonio

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Manuel Antonio! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Manuel Antonio program.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followed by a Coffee Farm experience.

Mini Adventure  - San Jose
Mini Adventure - San Jose

Experience a comprehensive 6-day Mini Adventure, featuring Arenal Volcano, the Britt Coffee Tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, whitewater rafting, and a visit to the pristine Tortuga Island.


Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximise the benefit of your program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.

Manuel Antonio Language Lessons:

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: from US$200 (approximately AU$316) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from US$225 (approximately AU$355) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from US$440 (approximately AU$695) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 71°F (21.7°C) and 81°F (27°C). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 69°F (20.6°C).

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