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Volunteer in Costa Rica

Discover International Volunteer HQ’s popular Costa Rica volunteer abroad program. Choose from a wide range of trusted Costa Rica volunteer projects, including Teaching, Healthcare, Childcare, Construction, Animal Care and Sea Turtle Conservation. Volunteer work in Costa Rica is based in San Jose and Manuel Antonio, as well as the beautiful Central Highlands and nearby coastal locations. With affordable Program Fees and top rated volunteer projects trusted by over 134,000 travellers, IVHQ is the best volunteer organisation in Costa Rica.

Highlights:
  • 16 meaningful project options available year-round
  • Program Fees from £370 for 1 week
  • Includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and dinner and 24/7 in-country support
  • Accommodation in homestays or dormitory-style lodging

  • Incredible add-ons available, including volcano treks, coffee plantation tours, adventure sports and a popular mini adventure

Apply For Free

Key information

Fully hosted experience from £370
Volunteer from 1 - 24 weeks
Ages 16+ and families
Based San Jose & Manuel Antonio
Projects align with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Impact driven projects run by locals
B Corporation certified organization
Volcano treks & other add-ons

Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica

  • All

Protects animals

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £968

  • Duration: 3 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based at animal shelters & horse therapy centers
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Support local animal welfare organizations or horse therapy centers in Costa Rica's coastal areas. Care for stray dogs and cats and help nurse them back to health, or help care for horses.

Protects animals

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £370

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based around Costa Rica’s capital city
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Support local horse therapy centers and animal welfare organizations to provide hands-on care and companionship to abandoned dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals.

Increases access to education

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £968

  • Duration: 3 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based at after-school programs, daycares & schools
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Assist in after school centers, daycares & schools to provide education, fun and support to many children who would otherwise be left to their own devices.

Increases access to education

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £370

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in and around San José
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Help with crowded community centers for preschoolers and school-aged children outside of lesson time. Assist with education and games, encouraging fun and socialising.

Supports community development

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £440

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based around San José - Costa Rica’s capital
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Assist a locally run organisation that helps under-funded construction projects through to completion. Projects include childcare facilities, community spaces and local clinics.

Improves health & wellbeing

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £440

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in various San José neighborhoods
  • Volunteers aged 18+

Volunteer in dental clinics or community centers to provide access to essential dental care to underserved communities in San José, Costa Rica.

Conserves the environment

4-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £752

  • Duration: 2 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica
  • Volunteers aged 18+ and families

Assist local coffee farmers in an immersive experience in the Costa Rican Highlands. Suitable for hands-on volunteers wanting to help implement sustainable farming practices.

Improves health & wellbeing

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £1180

  • Duration: 3 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in community care facilities & nursing homes
  • Volunteers aged 18+

Based in a beautiful national park on the Pacific coast, volunteers help in community care facilities such as elderly homes, clinics and ambulance services, assisting local staff with day-to-day tasks.

Improves health & wellbeing

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £440

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in various San José neighborhoods
  • Volunteers aged 18+

Volunteer in clinics, the homeless or the elderly, as well as on ambulance rounds. Qualified volunteers who speak Spanish can take larger roles, while inexperienced volunteers can assist local staff.

Supports community development

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £440

  • Duration: 1 - 2 weeks
  • Only available the weeks of Christmas and New Years
  • Based around the neighborhoods of San José
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

For those wanting to volunteer over Christmas, this is a wide-ranging project that targets those who need help over the Christmas period. Get a great mix of worthwhile volunteer work and a cultural Latin American festive experience.

Improves health & wellbeing

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Set Program Fee of £677

  • Set duration of 1 week
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in and around San José
  • Volunteers aged 18+

A project designed for volunteers travelling in groups of 8 or more, involving roving outreach campaigns delivering basic healthcare in local communities. Campaigns are customizable to your experience and specialty and aim to bring health services to locals in the comfort of their own neighbourhoods.

Improves health & wellbeing

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £370

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in Costa Rica’s capital, San José
  • Volunteers aged 18+

Contribute to special needs homes by helping in-demand local staff with all aspects of care, education and attention for people living with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.

Increases access to education

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £968

  • Duration: 3 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in the community of Manuel Antonio
  • Volunteers aged 16+ and families

Many locals in Manuel Antonio work in the booming tourism industry, but often need to speak English to qualify. Help adults and children to learn the language in schools, homes and community centers.

Increases access to education

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £370

  • Duration: 1 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based in and around San José
  • Volunteers aged 16+

Help with in-demand English lessons for children and adults, enabling more locals to get access to the expertise of a fluent English speaker.

Protects animals

4-7 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £752

  • Duration: 2 - 24 weeks
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Based on the Nicoya Peninsula or Caribbean Coast
  • Volunteers aged 18+

Help to preserve endangered sea turtle numbers by protecting hatcheries, conserving the environment and assisting with nesting in rural coastal locations.

Supports community development

3-5 hours volunteering per day

Program Fees from £1513

  • Duration: 1 - 3 weeks
  • Only available in July
  • Based in San José & Manuel Antonio
  • Volunteers aged 16 and 17

This is an amazing opportunity for 16 and 17 year olds wanting to volunteer in Costa Rica during the summer. The Teen Volunteer Summer Camp is fully chaperoned and includes an exciting fusion of community volunteering, cultural activities, sports, and tourism activities.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

AT
Arnold Teixeira
29 Feb 2024

The program gave me a better perspective into my life and reawakened some capabilities I had forgotten about. My Spanish improved tremendously, as both host families spoke little English. Learning about how other cultures live is not always comfortable but it provides you with a better understanding about who you are as a person and how much we ALL have in common.

...
RG
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!

...
MB
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.

...
KT
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.

...
HT
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.

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Webinar: Volunteering abroad in Costa Rica with IVHQ

Considering volunteering abroad in Costa Rica? Watch the replay of our webinar where our experts will answer all your questions, give their top program recommendations, and give you tips and tricks to make the most of your volunteer abroad program.

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

£765
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.

£182
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.

£1043
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

£765
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.

£182
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”.

£119

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

FAQs

If you’re wondering where you can volunteer in Costa Rica, there are numerous volunteer opportunities across the country. Here are some popular destinations for volunteering in Costa Rica:

  • San Jose: As the capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose offers a diverse range of volunteer opportunities. You can find projects focused on Teaching, Childcare, Construction.
  • Manuel Antonio: This coastal town is known for its stunning beaches and national park. Volunteer projects here focus on Teaching English, Childcare, Healthcare, Dentistry, Construction and Renovation, Animal Care and more.
  • Monteverde: Located in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, Monteverde is a hub for environmental and conservation initiatives. IVHQ has Eco-Agriculture Conservation placements in the area, where volunteers work in sustainable coffee farming communities.
  • Nicoya Peninsula: As home to some of the country’s best surf beaches, this location attracts volunteers interested in marine conservation and sea turtle protection. This is one of the placement sites for IVHQ’s Turtle Conservation project.
  • Caribbean Coast: Known for its beautiful untouched white sand beaches, this is another popular location for volunteers wanting to contribute to marine conservation efforts. Volunteers on the Sea Turtle Conservation projects may also be placed on the Caribbean Coast.

In Costa Rica, there are a wide range of volunteer opportunities available for those looking to make a positive impact. From education to conservation, here are some popular volunteer projects in Costa Rica:

  • Teaching English
  • Childcare
  • Healthcare
  • Dentistry
  • Construction and Renovation
  • Animal Care
  • Sea Turtle Conservation
  • Eco-Agriculture Conservation

The general eligibility criteria for volunteer in Costa Rica are:

  • Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, with some opportunities for under 18s
  • Basic English skills are typically required

Spanish language proficiency is not a requirement for volunteering in Costa Rica, however it is beneficial to have an understanding of basic greetings and phrases to support your communications with the local community. Spanish language lessons are available through IVHQ’s local team in Costa Rica. You can sign up for these Spanish classes after you have registered to volunteer with IVHQ.

To apply to volunteer in Costa Rica, follow these steps:

  • Choose your program from the IVHQ website
  • Review program details, requirements, and fees
  • Complete the application form on the IVHQ website
  • Await confirmation of your acceptance
  • Confirm your placement by paying the registration fee
  • Follow pre-departure instructions
  • Prepare for your volunteer experience

The duration of volunteer programs in Costa Rica varies, offering options for 1 to 24 weeks. The specific program durations may vary depending on the project. For example, the Turtle Conservation project requires a minimum duration of 2 weeks. Consider your availability and objectives when choosing the program length that best suits your goals.

Costa Rica is considered a safe country for volunteers and IVHQ has been safely hosting volunteers here since 2009. It has a stable political environment and a strong commitment to tourism and volunteer programs. As with any international travel destination, it’s important to take necessary precautions and be mindful of your personal safety.

During your volunteer experience in Costa Rica, the specific accommodation arrangements will vary depending on the program and location. All accommodation is vetted to ensure it is safe and comfortable for volunteers. Here are some common types of accommodation options provided in Costa Rica:

  • Volunteer House: These houses typically have dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds. Common areas such as living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms are shared among volunteers.
  • Homestays: Some programs offer the opportunity to stay with a local host family. Homestays provide an immersive cultural experience, allowing volunteers to live with a local family and experience the local way of life.

While volunteering in Costa Rica, you will receive 24/7 support from the local team. They are your first point of contact once you have departed for Costa Rica. Prior to your trip, your IVHQ Program Manager is your primary support person and they will guide you through the preparation process.

Free volunteer programs in Costa Rica don’t really exist for international volunteers as you will always have to pay for your plane ticket and other travel-related expenses. Legitimate volunteer organizations like IVHQ have associated fees which cover the costs of accommodations, meals, coordination, local support, and other expenses involved in hosting international volunteers.

Volunteer program fees in Costa Rica start from $445 for 1 week. This cost includes your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation and 24/7 in-country support.

As a volunteer with IVHQ in Costa Rica, you will have free time to explore and experience the country and culture outside of your volunteering hours. You can even combine your volunteer program with Spanish language lessons offered through IVHQ’s local team in Costa Rica. The exact amount of free time can vary depending on the project you are participating in. During your free time, you will have the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty, cultural attractions, and engage in various activities. Some popular options for exploration in Costa Rica include:

  • Sightseeing: Visit iconic destinations such as Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Tortuguero National Park, or explore the stunning beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Engage in adrenaline activities like zip-lining, hiking, white-water rafting, surfing, snorkeling, or diving. Costa Rica offers abundant opportunities for adventure enthusiasts.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Take part in wildlife-focused excursions, such as bird-watching trips, or visiting wildlife rescue centers and sanctuaries.
  • Cultural Immersion: Explore local markets, museums, historic sites, and immerse yourself in Costa Rican traditions, music, dance, and cuisine.
  • Language Lessons: Sign up for the affordable Spanish language lessons available through IVHQ’s local team in Costa Rica.

By volunteering in Costa Rica, your work can contribute to community development, environmental conservation, increasing access to education and healthcare, empowering locally-driven initiatives, and cultural exchange. Your efforts can help improve the quality of life for community members, protect natural habitats, support sustainable practices, empower local projects, and foster cross-cultural understanding.

The visa requirements for volunteering in Costa Rica depend on your nationality and the duration of your stay. If you have a US passport, you do not require a visa to volunteer in Costa Rica. For other nationalities, please check the visa requirement checking tool above.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!