Puerto Rico Volunteer Highlights
- Volunteer work in Puerto Rico is available year-round with programs starting every Monday
- Meaningful projects include Youth Support, Environmental Sustainability, NGO Support and Community Development
- Volunteer work is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city
- Accommodation is in a dormitory-style hostel
- Affordable volunteer program fees from $590 for 1 week
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and 24/7 support in Puerto Rico
- Between 1 and 10 volunteers start in Puerto Rico each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Puerto Rico to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Puerto Rico will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Puerto Rico with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Puerto Rico volunteer program is based in the island’s coastal capital of San Juan, renowned for its beautiful beaches and history. This is where orientation and general administration is carried out by our local team. Volunteer placements are located in the greater San Juan region.
IVHQ’s Puerto Rico volunteer programs start every Monday and on this program, volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.
The future of Puerto Rico lies in the hands of its young people - and youth-focused organizations are doing amazing work across the island to build and harness the potential of Puerto Rico’s next generation. These organizations cater to a large number of young people each day, focus on a range of different areas and rely heavily on the support of volunteers. As a Youth Support volunteer, you’ll be helping these organizations provide a variety of opportunities for children and youth, enabling them to thrive.
The Youth Support project in Puerto Rico takes place in community centers, day care centers and after school programs. Volunteer work is led by local placement staff and your tasks each day will vary depending on your specific placement. Generally, you can expect to be providing personalized attention to young people, mentoring, educational support with homework and tutoring, assistance with running games, sports and workshop activities such as yoga or music. In addition, you can also expect to assist with general daily operations such as cooking and cleaning.
The main objective of the Youth Support project is to provide operational support to under-resourced child and youth centers, while fostering a two-way cultural exchange between international volunteers and children and staff at the centers. As an IVHQ volunteer in Puerto Rico, you will have a meaningful impact, while developing your global awareness and opening the minds of children to new cultures and possibilities.
Following Hurricane Maria, the importance of environmental sustainability in Puerto Rico has gained significant exposure and has become a focus across the island. From rising sea levels to natural disasters, the island is working to respond and adapt to climate change and the various challenges that come with it. As a volunteer on the Environmental Sustainability project, you will be on the front line of supporting environmental initiatives to help Puerto Rico work through existing challenges and be as prepared as possible for the future.
The Environmental Sustainability project in Puerto Rico is ideal for volunteers looking to gain environmental skills and exposure to real life challenges. This project is also well suited to those who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
As an Environmental Sustainability volunteer you can expect to work in the field to support coastline, waterway and other habitat conservation efforts. You will also help with environmental education to raise awareness and build understanding around environmental issues within the local community. You’ll be working closely with local organizations and community members to support both proactive and reactive ways of protecting the natural environment, which is crucial for the short-term and long-term sustainability of the island.
Local NGOs in Puerto Rico play a pivotal role in the continued progress and revitalization of the island, especially following Hurricane Maria. Unfortunately, many of these NGOs are understaffed and under-resourced, which limits their ability to achieve their missions. You can make a real difference in Puerto Rico by supporting these NGOs and helping them to build their capacity, while also honing your own skills and experience.
The NGO Support project in Puerto Rico is ideal for volunteers looking to gain real life experience and insight into the way NGOs operate in developing regions, while sharing and growing your own skills to help further their reach and impact. You can expect to take on a wide range of tasks which can include general administration, research, marketing, fundraising, IT support, website development and translation.
Your duties will depend on the specific NGO you are placed with, the priority of tasks at the time of your program and your own skills, interests and experience. The needs of local NGOs evolve as their work progresses, therefore enthusiasm, passion and flexibility are essential for a successful and meaningful volunteer experience.
Puerto Rico is an island of tight-knit neighborhoods, each unique and vibrant in its own way. Each neighborhood also faces unique issues and challenges. One of the best ways to support the communities on the island is from the ground up; by working in an individual neighborhood on its own development efforts and addressing the specific issues it has.
As a volunteer on the Community Development project in Puerto Rico you’ll gain a keen understanding of Puerto Rico’s communities and the challenges they face. You can work in local neighborhood organizations, community centers, parks, urban gardens and schools, helping each to improve their local communities. Work is often varied and changeable, requiring plenty of initiative and interaction with different stakeholders. Tasks can vary each day according to community needs. That makes this project ideal for hard working volunteers who want to support low income communities any way they can. Volunteering on the Community Development project is a rewarding way to provide hands on support to communities that need it. This project is one of the best ways to foster positive development and prioritize the needs, voice and choice of the local community.
You are not required to have any previous experience for this project, but it is important in your application to make our local team aware of any skills, limitations or interests you might have to ensure that you are volunteering in an area where you are most effective and making the biggest difference possible.
The Puerto Rico volunteer program begins every Monday. You need to arrive in San Juan for pickup on the Sunday before your chosen start date.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee if you arrive on the Sunday before your program starts. The pick up window is from 8am to 9pm so please ensure to arrive during this period.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation, which is a 20 minute drive away. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night prior to your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Puerto Rico prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a meeting point in San Juan on the Sunday before your program start date. Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.
On the first Monday of your program, orientation is hosted by our local team in San Juan and runs for a half day. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Puerto Rico – introduction to Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Puerto Rico, 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.
A volunteer day is subject to change depending on your specific project and your placement. A typical daily schedule might be as follows:
8:00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
9.00 AM Volunteer work begins. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that you are on.
12.00 PM Lunch breaks can vary depending on the working schedule, but all volunteers get time to have their own lunch and relax. After lunch you will have free time to explore the area, do some shopping or plan for your next day’s work. If your project calls for it, you may be involved in more afternoon volunteer activities.
Evening Volunteers have free time to spend as they wish. You’ll definitely want to head out to local restaurants for dinner, though volunteers who prefer to cook for themselves do have access to the hostel kitchen.
Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
You will be accommodated with other volunteers in one of two hostels in San Juan. The hostels also cater for independent travelers who book rooms from time to time. The hostels are centrally located in San Juan, close to beaches, shops, restaurants and amenities.
In most dorms, you can expect to share a room with five others but larger dorms have up to 16 beds. Please note that some dorms are mixed gender. You can also expect to share a communal bathroom with toilets and showers. Bedding is provided but you will need to bring your own bath towel. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure their room and shared bathroom is kept tidy, although there are staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week.
Free WiFi is available at the volunteer accommodation, as well as at many cafes and restaurants in the area. A local SIM card with data can also be used in unlocked phones.
Private room upgrades are also possible for an additional cost, subject to availability. The cost varies according to the season and the upgrade and can be arranged with the local team directly, once you are registered.
You will receive a basic continental breakfast in the hostel each morning, but you will need to arrange your own lunch and dinner. Breakfast generally consists of coffee, tea, cereal and toast. The hostel has cooking facilities to prepare meals and there are nearby shops and restaurants to purchase food from.
If you have any special dietary requirements for breakfast, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. While we do our best to accommodate volunteer needs, breakfast is basic and you may wish to supplement the options with your own food and snacks which can be purchased from convenience stores nearby.
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- All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- To see prices in your local currency, use this currency converter.
- * Terms and Conditions do apply
- Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance, vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours, transport to and from your placement each day.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
- Lunch and dinner each day - budget about US$10 per meal for this.
- Spending money - Volunteers in Puerto Rico generally find US$200 to be sufficient for weekly expenses.
What it covers
- Most affordable program fees
- Expert support from a program specialist
- Full MyIVHQ account access
- Online volunteer training
- Comprehensive preparation tools
- Deals on flights and travel insurance
- $50 credit from IVHQ Flights
- IVHQ alumni rewards
What it covers
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Volunteer placement
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or explore San Juan and other parts of Puerto Rico.
We recommend taking a walking tour of Old San Juan to absorb its vibrancy and colonial history, taking a trip to the tropical rainforest for hiking and waterfalls or enjoying the white sand beaches and soaking in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
It’s a great idea to do your own research before you go to get an idea of what you may want to see and do once you are in Puerto Rico. Volunteers often get together once in-country and organize travel and tours together.
See our Puerto Rico Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Puerto Rico.
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Weather and climate: Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with warm to hot temperatures throughout the year. The average top temperature each day is around 85°F (29°C). Easterly trade winds can cross the island year round. Puerto Rico’s rainy season is from April to November, and the dry season is from December to March. The temperature in San Juan, where our program is based, varies very little throughout the year and can be very humid.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on this program, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to to learn more.
All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a clean criminal background check to IVHQ. Spanish is not required to volunteer with IVHQ in Puerto Rico, but it is the main language on the island and you may find it helpful to learn a few basic phrases before you arrive.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.