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Overview of Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s renowned biodiversity, laid-back culture, and breathtaking landscapes make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Latin America. Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, while occupying only 0.25% of the world’s landmass. The Costa Rican people have a well-deserved reputation for being friendly, fun-loving, and welcoming to foreigners.

Despite its natural beauty and wonderful people, Costa Rica experiences problems affecting many Latin American countries. Many nonprofit organizations working to improve conditions in local Costa Rican communities lack funding and volunteer support. With eco-tourism ranking as Costa Rica’s main industry, education and environmental conservation are essential to ensuring a bright future for the Costa Rican people.

WHY VOLUNTEER IN COSTA RICA

Volunteering in Costa Rica offers a remarkable opportunity to combine meaningful service with the enchanting beauty of this Central American gem. Engaging in volunteer work here allows you to actively contribute to the preservation of the country’s breathtaking biodiversity, while also immersing yourself in its rich culture and warm hospitality. Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems, from lush rainforests to pristine beaches, serve as a backdrop for your volunteer efforts, creating a unique and impactful experience.

You might contribute to projects such as reforestation, marine conservation, or environmental education, directly contributing to the country’s ongoing efforts to protect its natural wonders. Beyond the rewarding work, you’ll have the chance to explore Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes, engage in thrilling outdoor activities like zip-lining and surfing, and connect with locals to gain a deeper appreciation for their way of life. Volunteering in Costa Rica promises not only a chance to make a positive difference but also an unforgettable journey of discovery and personal growth.

HIGHLIGHTS OF VOLUNTEERING IN COSTA RICA

Here are just a few of the best things about volunteer work in Costa Rica:

  • Volunteering in Costa Rica provides a unique opportunity to work in some of the world’s most diverse and fragile ecosystems, contributing to critical conservation efforts and protecting the country’s incredible biodiversity.
  • Immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s natural beauty, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to towering volcanoes and crystal-clear rivers, creating a picturesque backdrop for your volunteer experience.
  • Engage in sustainable and eco-friendly projects, whether it’s reforestation, wildlife rehabilitation, or promoting responsible tourism, aligning your efforts with Costa Rica’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • In your free time, indulge in thrilling adventure activities like zip-lining, surfing, or exploring canopy bridges, taking advantage of Costa Rica’s reputation as an adventure-lover’s paradise.

Our Costa Rica Volunteer Projects

Browse all of our volunteer projects in Costa Rica below. If you can’t find a suitable volunteer program, check out our main program finder to continue your search for volunteering beyond Costa Rica.

Volunteer Abroad
Costa Rica

Environmental Conservation Volunteer in Costa Rica

Motivated volunteers team up with nonprofit organizations in Costa Rica, dedicating their efforts to a wide range of initiatives promoting conservation and sustainable development.

Environmental Conservation Volunteer in Costa Rica

Motivated volunteers team up with nonprofit organizations in Costa Rica, dedicating their efforts to a wide range of initiatives promoting conservation and sustainable development.

Volunteer Abroad
Costa Rica

Childcare Volunteer in Costa Rica

Join forces with Costa Rica's community to provide care, education, and empowerment to underprivileged children.

Childcare Volunteer in Costa Rica

Join forces with Costa Rica’s community to provide care, education, and empowerment to underprivileged children.

Location

About Atenas

World Endeavors volunteers live in Atenas, a small, relatively prosperous farming town in the central highlands of Costa Rica where coffee, sugarcane, and fruit are grown. Life here revolves around family and community, and the nightlife consists mostly of family gatherings, barbecues, and shared meals. Local residents can often be found browsing the colorful farmer’s market for fresh produce, enjoying a cup of local coffee at a café, or strolling in the park at the center of the city. Atenas is renowned for its climate, which keeps the city warm in the daytime and cool at night. Public pools and hiking trails make Atenas an appealing destination for those who wish to spend time outdoors, and the town’s location, less than an hour from the capital of San José and the international airport, makes it easily accessible for arriving volunteers.

Dates & costs

The World Endeavors Volunteer in Costa Rica program is flexible in duration and can be tailored to last between 1 to 12 weeks. If you have the time, we recommend a stay of at least 4 weeks. Admissions are rolling, and World Endeavors volunteers can choose when they would like to start their program. Due to holidays, traditional vacation schedules, and seasonal work availability, there might be better times than others to volunteer at a specific location or in a specific project.

When you are ready to start planning your volunteer trip to Costa Rica, contact us. Our experienced advisors will help you sort through any timing considerations unique to your destination or your volunteer project.

Please wait until after you are accepted into the program and you have received the confirmed arrival and departure dates before you book your flight.

First Week: $3,390 | Each Additional Week: $1,490

Eligibility

  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, though exceptions to this age requirement may be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Successful volunteers are hardworking, flexible, and open to truly immersing themselves in the culture.
  • Keep in mind that all countries have different visa restrictions for varying types of passports.

Housing

World Endeavors interns in Costa Rica live with local host families in Atenas in either single or shared rooms with shared bathrooms. They enjoy home-cooked Costa Rican food with their host families. Interns in certain fields, such as environmental conservation, may live in shared accommodations or lodges onsite at their project depending on location.

Every World Endeavors Volunteer Project Includes

Our carefully designed international volunteer programs encompass everything necessary for your success and well-being while abroad.

YOUR VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

  • Volunteer project customized to match your interests and goals and meet community needs
  • Year-round program availability
  • Flexible durations from 2 to 12 weeks

PEACE OF MIND

  • Comprehensive travel medical insurance
  • Mental Health First Aid-certified staff
  • 24/7 emergency travel assistance

ACCOMMODATION

  • Host family or shared volunteer house, depending on destination
  • Vetted and hand-selected with quality and safety in mind
  • 2 to 3 meals per day included

PREPARATION AND SUPPORT

  • Airport pickup
  • Pre-arrival and on-site orientation
  • 24/7 local support

TEAM OF EXPERTS

  • Dedicated one-on-one advisor
  • Local on-site coordinator
  • Volunteer project supervisor

RE-ENTRY AND CAREER INTEGRATION

  • Re-entry handbook and support
  • Assistance with resume updates
  • World Endeavors Alumni Network

HEALTH & SAFETY

When you feel safe and respected abroad, you will flourish. World Endeavors participants are transformed through enriching, rewarding and safe experiences around the world. We meticulously monitor travel recommendations and will only facilitate programs where we can ensure our participants’ safety. 

We take key steps to ensure our participants’ well-being, including providing a pre-trip success guide, 24/7 local support, in-country trained staff, pre and post-arrival orientation, comprehensive travel medical insurance, and Mental Health First Aid-certified staff. Please contact us if you have any specific questions or concerns.

WHAT TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME IN COSTA RICA

While you’re in Costa Rica, you can enjoy a wide array of exciting activities and experiences. Here are some things you can do in your spare time in Costa Rica:

  • Explore National Parks and Reserves: Discover Costa Rica’s stunning biodiversity by visiting its numerous national parks and wildlife reserves. Explore places like Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park, and Tortuguero National Park to witness diverse flora and fauna.
  • Eco-Tourism and Adventure Sports: Engage in eco-friendly activities such as zip-lining through the treetops, white-water rafting down rushing rivers, or taking a canopy tour to experience the country’s natural wonders up close.
  • Learn to Surf: Costa Rica is a surfer’s paradise with great waves suitable for all skill levels. Sign up for surf lessons and ride the waves along the Pacific coast.
  • Experience Tico Culture: Engage with the locals, known as “Ticos” and “Ticas,” to experience the warm and friendly Costa Rican culture. Participate in traditional events, sample local cuisine, and learn about their customs.

How to choose the best volunteer program

Choosing your volunteer program is easy when you evaluate your priorities. Follow these steps to guide you toward your ideal program.

Explore a New Career

Interning abroad offers a great opportunity to explore your professional and personal interests, and help define your career path. Peruse our internship fields and past examples to find the best fit.

Choose Your Dream Destination

Finding a meaningful way to combine interning and travel to your dream location is a big incentive. Carefully consider which destinations suit your interests and international internship goals.

Improve Language Skills

Immersing yourself in a language-rich environment is the ultimate method for developing fluency. If language-learning is your goal, favor destinations that use your language of choice.

Fit your budget

Explore scholarships and financial aid to determine if these may impact your destination options. Consider the overall cost of the program and cost of living in-country to identify the optimal match.

Try our program finder to filter based on your choices.

SEARCH

Recent Costa Rica Testimonials

Autumn RVolunteer in Costa Rica

Amazing experience from start to finish! Everyone involved in the process both here in the states and while abroad was fantastic and readily available when I had any questions!

MAria SVolunteer in Costa Rica

My 3 daughters and I traveled together as World Endeavors Volunteers. Throughout the entire pre-trip, during-trip, and post-trip process, WE was there personally attentive to our needs, supporting our trip vision, and bringing together all of their knowledge, experience, and resources to create what was a spectacularly memorable trip! We lived in and learned in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, met interesting and diverse people, participated in meaningful work and made contributions to others, traveled and adventured in beautiful places, and grew our own personal relationships through the sharing of it all. Truly an experience we will carry with us forever! I want more of it now ... wanderlust!

Erin BVolunteer in Costa Rica

I volunteered for 4 weeks with World Endeavors in a Costa Rican nursing home, helping with physical therapy. This is such an amazing experience for anyone looking to study and/or volunteer abroad. The World Endeavors staff is there for you every step of the way, even providing you with an in-country coordinator for any questions that may arise while you're at your site.

Whitney SIntern in Costa Rica

My time in Costa Rica was absolutely amazing, I learned so many new things that I had never learned before. I loved my host family and am still in touch with them!

Michelle WVolunteer in Costa Rica

Arriving in Latin America was a short trip, the days were long but the wonderful encounters with the host family impressed a heart shape. The Healthcare projects were balanced to create a meaningful exposure in my personal commitments. I love having the chance to work in therapy with children and giving them the independence they deserve at the right time. This experience has given me the most confidence for future out of the country activities.

Costa Rica FAQs

How Big is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has a total area of 51,100 square kilometers, making it 19,730 square miles.

Is Costa Rica Expensive?

Costa Rica is a relatively affordable destination, depending on your lifestyle choices. As a popular tourist destination, it holds luxury and convenience outlets that allow visitors to enjoy more exclusive services. It also hosts visitors looking to explore its natural beauty without breaking the bank through affordable living options.

Is Costa Rica Safe to Travel to?

Costa Rica is generally considered a safe travel destination for tourists. It has a reputation for being one of the safer countries in Central America. However, like any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

What Language Do They Speak in Costa Rica?

The official language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish. Spanish is the country’s primary language for communication, government, education, and business. While Spanish is the dominant language, you may also find some English speakers in tourist areas, particularly in the hospitality and tourism industries.

What Currency Does Costa Rica Use?

Costa Rica’s official currency is the Costa Rican Colón, often denoted by the symbol “₡” or the code “CRC”. However, despite the official currency, US dollars are widely accepted in many tourist areas, and it’s common for businesses, hotels, and restaurants to display prices in both Colónes and US dollars.

What Should You Wear in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, wear lightweight clothing like t-shirts, shorts, and dresses in breathable materials. Use sandals or water-resistant shoes for beaches and closed-toe or hiking sandals for activities. Sun protection with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen is vital. Also, pack lightweight long-sleeve clothes for insect protection and cooler evenings.

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World Endeavors volunteers support communities in several destinations in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Our programs are located in a variety of sites, including urban and rural, economically developed and developing, and English-speaking and non-English speaking.

How to apply for a Volunteer Abroad Program

You’ve decided to volunteer abroad – congratulations! Applying for your World Endeavors program is easy and stress-free. We can’t wait to get you on your way!

STEP 1
EXPLORE & ASK

Research and compare. If you can’t decide on a program, we can guide you toward the best fit.

STEP 2
SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION

Fill out our online application form to share all your relevant details with our team.

STEP 3
ENROLL & PREPARE

Receive your official acceptance and enroll. We’ll give you all the info you need to get ready!

STEP 4
START YOUR ADVENTURE!

You’ve researched, planned and saved. Now you’re ready. It’s time to PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE!