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Volunteer in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s volunteer programs are nearly as diverse as its wildlife. Located in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica lays claim to one of the most biodiverse ecological systems in the world. Lush rainforests lie sandwiched between two spectacular coasts. Both jungles and beaches are teeming with thousands endemic plant and animal species, as well as adventure opportunities. 

Why Volunteer in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a tiny country with a mammoth number of plants and animals. Home to the greatest density of species in the world, it is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. Volunteers head to Costa Rica to get involved in conservation or community projects among unmatched plant and animal life, while enjoying the welcoming nature of ticos. Whether you find yourself in the cosmopolitan capital, a chilled beach town, or a remote community in the forest, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and made to feel right at home. 

What to Know About Volunteering in Costa Rica

As a progressive nation and popular tourist destination, Costa Rica, is a comfortable place to volunteer. Even so, it’s handy to know a few key things before you set off on your volunteer expedition. 

Each project has a different set of specific requirements, but typically you need to be reasonably fit, open minded and willing to take on a range of tasks, and have at least basic Spanish. 

Costa Rica is a safe volunteering option and can be a great introduction to Latin America. There aren’t any major security issues to worry about, and for any concerns you may have, just check in with the local staff - they will be make sure you’re well taken care of. 

Spanish is the national language. Costa Ricans are warm and friendly, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish! Many locals also speak English, especially along the Caribbean coast.

Depending on your volunteer placement, your accomodation in Costa Rica will most likely be in either a homestay or dorm-style in a volunteer house. While internet and hot water is usually available in San Jose and other towns, more remote projects in the jungle may be more basic and without electricity. 

As a developing country, Costa Rica is an affordable volunteering destination. All of the major costs such as food, accommodation, and in-country support, are usually included in your program fees. Extra meals, snacks, and activities are typically inexpensive and you can make the most of the exchange rate with the Costa Rica colon. 

Volunteer work in Costa Rica can be messy and physical, so come prepared with comfortable shoes and clothes. It’s a tropical country, so you’ll also need to be ready for high temperatures and humidity, as well as the occasional downpour. No matter where you are, the beach or a waterfall is never too far away, so make sure you bring your swimming costume!

If you are entering Costa Rica from a South American or African country, you’ll need to show your yellow fever certificate. There are a number of mosquito borne infections in Costa Rica, so be vigilant with applying insect repellent. 

Where to Volunteer in Costa Rica

San Jose is the country’s capital, home to most of the country’s population and a popular volunteer and tourist destination. Many education and healthcare volunteer projects are located in San Jose. Not far beyond the bustling city limits are forests and farms, where you might spend a great deal of time as a volunteer as well. 

If you have a thirst for adventure, you will probably want to venture into the jungllier corners of Costa Rica. You can find projects located near Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park or Tortuguero National Park, which all have fantastic wildlife conservation experiences. Rural areas will give you a more complete picture of village life in Costa Rica, with centuries-old traditions and agricultural practices still in place. Meanwhile, popular adventure travel destinations within Costa Rica include Monteverde, Montezuma, and Fortuna. Choosing a volunteer program near these towns means you can get the most out of travelling the country. 

Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica is rich in natural resources, it is still a developing country. Environmental projects, such as the monitoring and release of sea turtles, are favored but human rights related issues come a close second. Volunteer abroad projects in healthcare, education, and childcare are popular as there is huge scope for practical experience in these areas. This is also a meaningful way to learn more about Costa Rican culture. When you leave these projects, you’re sure to have more friends than when you arrived. 

Known around the world for forward-thinking natural world preservation and environmentally-friendly legislation, Costa Rica is also the ideal volunteering destination for nature lovers. Many volunteers join conservation projects that allow them to make genuine contributions toward protecting Costa Rica’s stunning landscape and wildlife. It’s no wonder Costa Rica is considered one of the most sustainable countries on earth! These projects are ideal for volunteers interested in crafting a career out of conservation, or for anyone who is passionate about wildlife and would like to take active steps to safeguard animals. 

No matter what project you choose, volunteer work in Costa Rica is extremely rewarding. You’ll be immersed in a different culture and the “pura vida” way of life. This phrase literally translates to “pure life”, but has a much more profound meaning you’ll come to understand when volunteering in Costa Rica. “Pura vida” means live life for today and be grateful for what you have, because there are always people who have less and life is simply too short to be unhappy. Start living la pura vida, choose Costa Rica as you next volunteer abroad destination, and make a lasting impact where it matters most. 
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