Eco-Agriculture Conservation Volunteer Project in Costa Rica
Love coffee and want to do Eco-Agriculture volunteering in Costa Rica’s Central Highlands? International Volunteer HQ’s Eco-Agriculture Conservation project gives volunteers the unique opportunity to learn about Costa Rica’s world-famous coffee industry first-hand. Volunteers work alongside a local coffee farming family to help improve the local harvest and implement sustainable, effective agricultural practices while also respecting local farming methods.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from $455 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Help local farmers with family-run coffee productions
Discover waterfalls, volcanoes and rainforests in Costa Rica
Get a taste of rural life by staying with a family in the Central Highlands
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Coffee beans from Costa Rica are recognized as being some of the best in the world and coffee has been a major industry and export for the country since the early 1800s. Past coffee farming practices led to large-scale deforestation and pollution of rivers and have now been outlawed by the Costa Rican government in a move towards a greener future.
The Eco-Agriculture Conservation project is an immersive permaculture experience where you’ll have a hands-on role in supporting a coffee farming family with all stages of production. Volunteers can help implement sustainable, effective practices that help regenerate the environment and combat climate change while also respecting local farming methods.
As an Eco-Agriculture volunteer you’ll need to help out wherever you’re needed and duties will changed depending on the season, but often tasks include:
- Harvesting coffee beans
- Roasting and packaging coffee beans
- Clearing grounds for planting
Why do Eco-Agriculture volunteering in Costa Rica with IVHQ?
When you volunteer on a coffee farm in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Supporting sustainable farming practices
- Learning about coffee production
- Practicing your Spanish and helping locals to learn English
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining farming experience
- Immersing yourself fully in the Costa Rican culture
- Discovering the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s Central Highlands
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Costa Rica photo gallery
”This was the best experience ever - just in a week I feel like such a changed person for the better. I was very nervous when I first started but after going to orientation it took the weight off my shoulders. Everything was explained very well and they made sure to make me feel like I would be supported the entire time. At placement, every once in a while I ...was in the middle of the field planting some vegetables and I would look up and realize I’m in the middle of the rain forest and that was the coolest feeling ever.” read more
Read reviews from Eco-Agriculture volunteers in Costa RicaSee more reviews
IVHQ’s Eco-Agriculture Conservation project is based in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica about four hours from the capital city of San José. The rural area is full of coffee plantations, forests, volcanoes and other natural wonders which make a stunning backdrop for volunteer work and offer many opportunities for adventure.
Arrival and orientation
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José on the Sunday before your start date. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in San José. This is included in your Program Fee.
As Eco-Agriculture volunteers you will stay in San Jose on your first night and then take a bus to your placement location; this is included in the Program Fee (as is your return to the local team’s office in San Jose at the conclusion of the program).
If you are traveling in Costa Rica prior to your program, you can meet the local team in San José on the Sunday before your program starts.
Orientation will be held in San José and 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 socializing.
Volunteer schedule example
Weekdays - A typical schedule might look like this:
|7:00 AM||Breakfast with your host family and walk to the project site.|
|9:00 AM||Volunteer work begins. Depending on the season you may be picking or roasting coffee beans, digging and preparing the farm for planting, or working with farm animals.|
|12:00 PM||Lunch and a long break.|
|3:00 PM||Continue volunteer work.|
|6:00 PM||Volunteer work ends. Get driven back to your host family for dinner.|
Volunteers on the Eco-Agriculture Conservation project have weekends off to explore the area or relax. The more rural nature of these placements mean there are fewer city conveniences and entertainment options. Instead you can visit Costa Rica’s cloud forests where you might find thousands of different kinds of wildlife and several hundred species of birds and plants, hike up Costa Rica’s tallest mountains, see a plethora of breath-taking waterfalls or enjoy the authentic charm of smaller towns and villages.
Accommodation and WiFi
You’ll get to experience true Costa Rican culture in a homestay with a local coffee farming family.
In these remote coastal locations, conditions are basic but comfortable.
WiFi is unavailable at the Eco-Agriculture Conservation sites, so we recommend purchasing a local SIM card for an unlocked mobile phone during your program orientation in San José if you want to keep connected.
Volunteers on the Eco-Agriculture Conservation project are served three meals a day. These will be mainly traditional Costa Rican style dishes and light vegetarian meals like:
- Rice, beans and plantains are common
- Eggs, toast, cereal
- Fruit and vegetables on occasion
- Gallo pinto, casado and fried cheese are common traditional dishes
Breakfast can include toast, cereal and eggs. Tea, coffee, and toast will be available throughout the day. Purified drinking water is also available; we do not recommend that you drink the tap water unless it has been boiled.
If you have special dietary requirements, please let us when you apply so that we can make arrangements for you. However, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home and need to be as flexible as possible. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||$455 Equivalent to $65/day|
|2 weeks||$820 Equivalent to $59/day|
|3 weeks||$1,180 Equivalent to $57/day|
|4 weeks||$1,505 Equivalent to $54/day|
|5 weeks||$1,785 Equivalent to $51/day|
|6 weeks||$2,065 Equivalent to $50/day|
|8 weeks||$2,625 Equivalent to $47/day|
|10 weeks||$3,185 Equivalent to $46/day|
|12 weeks||$3,745 Equivalent to $45/day|
|16 weeks||$4,865 Equivalent to $44/day|
|20 weeks||$5,985 Equivalent to $43/day|
|24 weeks||$7,105 Equivalent to $43/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Discounts on language lessons
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches (except for Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation volunteers), in-country tours, and Spanish language lessons.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
We believe that no volunteer adventure would be complete without experiencing the natural wonders of your host country. That’s why we offer volcano and coffee plantation tours, surfing lessons, mini adventures and more, exclusively available to IVHQ volunteers in Costa Rica as affordable add-ons.
Please note that volunteers on the Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture projects are only able to do the following add ons before or after their program, not during.
Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to book or get more information about any of the following activities and tours.
Your half day Volcano Tour will take you to either Poas or Irazu volcano, depending on the weather. Both are active volcanoes with exciting thermal activity and stunning scenic views. There are short walks to the volcanoes, so it’s not strenuous, but we do encourage sturdy, closed toed shoes for the journey.
Arenal Volcano is one of the youngest and most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Located in the small pueblo of La Fortuna, the entire area is a paradise for adventure lovers and nature enthusiasts. On the way to La Fortuna, the tour stops in a visit to the artisan pueblo of Sarchi. At Arenal, participants have 3 hours of free time to enjoy the hot springs. Bilingual guide, entrance fees, lunch, and dinner included. Pick up at accommodations at 7:00 AM. This tour is 15 hours long. Note, this tour ends at 10:00 PM.
Volunteers spend a full day exploring La Paz Waterfall and gardens and an expansive animal sanctuary, followed by a Paos Volcano Tour and Coffee Plantation Tour. This full day includes breakfast, lunch, private transportation, a local bilingual guide, and all entrance fees.
The Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots into a 1-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified bilingual tour guide for each trip, using San Jose as your home base between tours.
This 6-day adventure complements your volunteer experience, without the stress of trip planning! It will begin on Sunday and finish the following Saturday morning, and accommodation is included from the Saturday before your adventure begins. Please note that your meals are not included on this trip.
This Mini Adventure includes:
- Visit to Tour to Arenal Volcano and Hotsprings
- 3 days/2 nights trip to Manuel Antonio (accommodations and transportation only)
- San Jose city tour and buffet dinner and cultural night
- Catamaran Tortuga Island Cruise
If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with your Program Manager once you are registered for the program.
The Beach & Jungle Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots into a 1-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified bilingual tour guide for each trip, using Manuel Antonio as your home base between tours.
The Beach & Jungle Adventure week allows volunteers based in Manuel Antonio to really explore the beauty of this stunning part of Costa Rica. This 6-day adventure complements your volunteer experience without the hassle of arranging your own trips and accommodations. It begins on Sunday and finishes on Friday, and accommodation is included from the Saturday before your adventure begins.
This Mini Adventure includes:
- Visit to the Manuel Antonio National Park
- Rainmaker tour and canopy walk and zipline
- White water rafting
- Nauyaca Waterfall hike
- Trimaran Sunset Sails tour
Enjoy a half-day tour of the Britt Coffee Plantation, a working coffee farm, led by your own expert guide. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the coffee production from plant to cup, and enjoy a coffee tasting at the end of your tour.
The Scuba Certification program takes place in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Spend the week learning how to scuba dive with PADI certified instructors on the beaches of Costa Rica. The price is inclusive of your pick-up in San Jose and transportation to and from Manuel Antonio, along with your housing for 6 nights in a private room with a host family who will provide you with breakfast and dinner.
The Surf program is based in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and is an exciting week-long opportunity for you to learn how to surf some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Your price includes your pick-up in San Jose and transportation to and from Manuel Antonio, along with your housing for 6 nights in a private room with a host family. This is also inclusive of breakfast and dinner.
Enjoy a day white water rafting alongside an expert guide along the Savegre or Naranjo river, and experience class I, II, III, and IV rapids. To join this excursion you must know how to swim and must be comfortable around swift-flowing water. Your rafting guide will provide a brief safety orientation and information about navigating the river, and all rafts will be followed in the river by safety guides in kayaks.
Spend a half-day zipping your way through the jungle on a zipline tour led by professional guides. You’ll have the chance to glide over raging rivers, jungle canopy, and interact with wildlife throughout your journey. Participants must be comfortable with heights and please note that meals are not included.
How to book IVHQ’s recommended add-ons:
When you apply for an IVHQ volunteer program, make a note of which tours and add-ons you’re interested in on your application form so we can check availability and prices for you.
Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on the tour(s) you have chosen and help you organize your trip.
Spanish language lessons
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximize the benefit of your program. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Costa Rica at the program orientation. 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. Please note these lessons are not available on the Holiday Experience, Eco-Agriculture or Turtle Conservation projects.
San Jose Language Lessons:
- 2-hour Small Group Classes: $145 per week
- 1-hour Private Classes: $225 per week
- 2-hour Private Classes: $455 per week
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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.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Costa Rican Colón (CRC)|
Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, 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).