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Healthcare Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

Healthcare Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

Interested in Healthcare volunteering in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio? International Volunteer HQ’s Healthcare project empowers volunteers to assist with caring for people with disabilities and the elderly. 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.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from $1420 for 3 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Provide care and support in an elderly home or clinic

  • Discover Costa Rica’s amazing natural environment

  • Experience daily life staying with a local family in Manuel Antonio

Key information

Improve access to quality healthcare
Based in community care facilities & nursing homes
Local homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from $1420 for 3 weeks
Durations from 3 - 24 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Suited to qualified professionals as well as medical and nursing students at any level, and individuals with a keen interest in learning more about the medical field. Local regulations typically prevent hands-on treatment of patients. Physical and occupational therapists are in demand for this project.
Who is this program suited to?

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 aprons, 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.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Raffaella Gurini
14 Feb 2024

I learned so much about the culture and the turtles and I met so many amazing people! We had so much fun! It’s an amazing experience, an adventure of a lifetime! It changes the way you see other people, the world and even yourself in the best possible way! Just be open minded and flexible and take the next step! You won’t regret it!

Maria Jose Benet
14 Feb 2024

Two weeks in Costa Rica with IVHQ transformed me in ways I never imagined. My journey began with a desire to step out of my comfort zone, immerse myself in a new culture, and contribute positively to a community by teaching English to young kids. IVHQ stood out because of its affordability, ethical volunteering approach, and the rave reviews from past volunteers.

From the get-go, IVHQ's support was stellar, providing all the necessary guidance to prepare me for the trip. Landing in Costa Rica, the local team's warmth and efficiency shone through. The orientation was thorough, equipping us with essential information and making us feel at ease in our new surroundings.

Teaching in Quepos was a heartwarming experience, enriched by the children's enthusiasm and the local team's guidance. Their insights into the community and culture were invaluable, making our teaching efforts more effective and meaningful.

The accommodation and meals provided by the ocal team were exactly as IVHQ described—clean, comfortable, and truly felt like a home. I am a vegan and the food the family I stayed with did a big effort to assist me with my diet, all while being prepared with the utmost care for hygiene.

Reflecting on my two weeks in Costa Rica, I can say that this experience has left a profound impact on me. It wasn't just about teaching English; it was about cultural exchange, personal growth, and making lifelong connections. For those hesitant about volunteering abroad, my advice is to leap. The growth, experiences, and memories you'll gain are beyond compare.

To future volunteers, embrace every moment, and to IVHQ and the local team in Costa Rica, thank you for an experience I'll cherish forever.

Keira Trudgill
18 Jan 2024

I gained so much confidence from this trip, I feel more independent and capable of solo travelling. At first, I was very nervous to travel so far from home, especially as I did an add-on week by myself, but the staff were so helpful from when I first applied, to when we got back home and prepared us for what we would be doing and what we needed to do to prepare. They answered all our questions and made us feel comfortable and at ease. I learned so much about Costa Rican culture and also the wildlife and country itself. I left with a greater appreciation for the environment and other cultures. The advice I would give is to go with an open mind and be open to trying new things. It really was a life changing experience and I would say if you are not sure whether to apply or not you should definitely go for it! I loved it and would definitely do it again.

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 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 traveling 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 socializing.

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 $5 and $10 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
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 $1,420 Equivalent to $68/day
4 weeks $1,765 Equivalent to $63/day
5 weeks $2,055 Equivalent to $59/day
6 weeks $2,345 Equivalent to $56/day
8 weeks $2,925 Equivalent to $52/day
10 weeks $3,500 Equivalent to $50/day
12 weeks $4,080 Equivalent to $49/day
16 weeks $5,240 Equivalent to $47/day
20 weeks $6,400 Equivalent to $46/day
24 weeks $7,560 Equivalent to $45/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 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
  • 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.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) 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. For Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture projects, volunteers can bring less spending money as the location is remote and all meals will be provided.

Free-time experiences & tours in Costa Rica

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

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, followrd by a Coffee Farm experience.

Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose
Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose

Experience an adrenaline-filled journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator,” xperience an exhilarating journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator”.


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. 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 $175 (approximately $175) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from $250 (approximately $250) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from $455 (approximately $455) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

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

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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How to get started

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