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Volunteer in Costa Rica

Answer your calling by Volunteering in Costa Rica!
  • Embrace your deep inner passion for helping others
  • Join program trusted by thousands of volunteers since 2006
  • Most affordable volunteer projects in Costa Rica; starting at $285
  • Choose from a wide variety of projects in destinations throughout the country

Are the tropics calling your name? Do you want to explore a magical country while helping to improve life there for the locals? Costa Rica is a tropical delight and the jewel in the crown of Central America; however, it is a developing country with much-needed aid for the country’s real problems, such as social imbalance and healthcare.

We offer countless volunteer projects in Costa Rica including teaching English, working with orphans, environmental conservation and more – If you can dream it, we have a volunteer opportunity in Costa Rica that can fulfil it. Not only will you be giving back to the people of Costa Rica, but you will be taking in the immense beauty of the gorgeous beaches and flourishing jungles while doing so.

Grab your keyboard and write us an email right now, while you’re thinking about how fantastic this could be. We’ll send you all the details!

Volunteer Work Projects and Locations

IFRE Costa Rica volunteer program presently supports local orphanages, health center centers, local schools and NGOs working for different social issues. Volunteers can work in any of these volunteer projects in Costa Rica while sharing their experience and compassion with children, women's groups and communities. You can help in any of these volunteer projects in Costa Rica:

Turtle Conservation

Volunteer Program Fees & Dates:

Start Dates: Our programs start every Monday, although we allow for flexibility due to travel constraints.

IFRE is a 501(c) 3 organization, so your program fee will be tax deductible. IFRE Volunteers is proud to offer the world’s best fee. Our programs are now more affordable than ever. We are proud to focus on the humanitarian aspect of our business, not on profit. We work very hard and smart to keep our costs down, especially for the volunteers because we know the value of your donated time and efforts. We remain devoted to maintaining both the quality of the program and the safety of all volunteers involved. Below is a brief summary of the program fee and services that IFRE Volunteers offers.

IFRE fees comprise of two separate fees. An application fee of $299 USD (covers advertising, staff/office expenses, etc.) and a nominal weekly program fee (covers room/board, project donation, field support, etc). You will pay your fee directly to host families and projects (via country coordinator). In this way, what you pay will go for you or people who deserve it (not for profit).

  Puntarenas/Guanacaste
  Duration  Children, English Teaching  Physical Therapy & Sport Medicine  Monkey & Wildlife Conservation
  1 Week $325 N/A $175
  2 Weeks $500 N/A $300
  3 Weeks $675 N/A $425
  4 Weeks $850 $875 $550
  5 Weeks $1050 $1050 $675
  6 Weeks $1225 $1225 $800
  7 Weeks $1400 $1400 $925
  8 Weeks $1575 $1600 $1050
  9 Weeks $1775 $1775 $1175
  10 Weeks $1950 $1950 $1300
  11 Weeks $2125 $2125 $1425
  12 Weeks $2300 $2300 $1550
Guanacaste/Tamarindo
  • Airport Pickup in Private car from Liberia airport to Guanacaste – 2 hours $80
  • Spanish Lesson (10hrs per week) $70
Puntarenas
  • Airport Pickup in Private car from San Jose airport to Puntarenas – 3 hours $110
  • Transportation by bus from airport to Puntarenas $40: volunteer will travel unaccompanied to Puntarens and picked up at the local bus station
  • Spanish Lesson (10hrs per week) $70
For all
  • Comprehensive Traveler Insurance $3.49/day (for all locations)
  San Jose
  Duration   Orphanage, Teaching, Conservation   Medical, Construction
  1 Week   $370   $420
  2 Weeks   $680   $780
  3 Weeks   $960   $1,110
  4 Weeks   $1,175   $1,375
  5 Weeks   $1,310   $1,560
  6 Weeks   $1,445   $1,745
  7 Weeks   $1,580   $1,930
  8 Weeks   $1,715   $2,115
  9 Weeks   $1,850   $2,300
  10 Weeks   $1,985   $2,485
  11 Weeks   $2,120   $2,670
  12 Weeks   $2,255   $2,855
San Jose
  • Airport Pickup and Transfer Fee Included for San Jose
  • Spanish Lesson (10hrs per week) $115
  • Fees for San Jose cover 2 meals, breakfast and dinner
  • $50 per week surcharge for medical and construction project
For all
  • Comprehensive Traveler Insurance $3.49/day (for all locations)

Depending up on the accommodation type (Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawkbill, and Leatherback)

  Turtle Conservation
 
Duration
Osa Peninsula Turtle Project  
Sea Turtle Pacuare
Olive Ridley Black turtle Hawkbill Leatherback
  1 Week $575 $610 $645 $680 $480
  2 Weeks $960 $1,030 $1,100 $1,170 $725
  3 Weeks $1,345 $1,450 $1,555 $1,660 $970
  4 Weeks $1,730 $1,870 $2,010 $2,150 $1,215
  5 Weeks $2,115 $2,290 $2,465 $2,640 $1,460
  6 Weeks $2,500 $2,710 $2,920 $3,130 $1,705
  7 Weeks $2,885 $3,130 $3,375 $3,620 $1,950
  8 Weeks $3,270 $3,550 $3,830 $4,110 $2,195
  9 Weeks $3,655 $3,970 $4,285 $4,600 $2,440
  10 Weeks $4,040 $4,390 $4,740 $5,090 $2,685
  11 Weeks $4,425 $4,810 $5,195 $5,580 $2,930
  12 Weeks $4,810 $5,230 $5,650 $6,070 $3,175

Additional fee
  • Included in all prices are 3 meals per day, plus the volunteer work on the boat ( 2 times per week) , biologist and staff, equipments and materials.
For all
  • Comprehensive Traveler Insurance $3.49/day (for all locations)

Additional costs for volunteers: International and domestic flights, visa, daily transportation, personal expenses on water/soft drinks, entertainment, laundry, telephone, immunizations.

Arrangement of Room/Food/Supervision

In Costa Arica, all volunteers stay with well-screened host families. Our host families are socially respected and are well versed in the art of hosting international volunteers. Host families offer a safe home, private rooms (occasionally rooms will be shared with other same-gender volunteers) and shared bathroom facilities with running hot water and a "western" style toilet. Volunteers have the ability to do laundry at the house or the host family may offer to do it for you for a nominal extra fee. You receive three prepared meals per day. If you will be out of the house during lunch hour, you can request a lunch "to go" that you can take with you or eat out on your own. Host families provide typical meals that are traditional to Costa Rica. Throughout the volunteer project, our local staff stays in contact with volunteers either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. With longer placements, we visit our volunteers every two weeks (when possible) and volunteers are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that volunteers stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone.

Costa Rica Free Time

Volunteers have free time for the duration of their volunteer project and weekends. While IFRE does not arrange activities during this time off, our local staff, members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance in making appropriate arrangements for travel in Costa Rica. It’s the time for self-discovery and learning. It’s time to explore Costa Rica – it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world offering numerous opportunities for a truly amazing experience. Our IFRE local coordinators/staff are available to give you free advice, travel tips and helps to book your travel.

San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica with almost 1.5 million people. The city is located at an altitude of 1200 meters and is surrounded by lush valleys. Central San Jose contains a surprising mix of wealthy and poor, and expensive shops and boutique hotels often share the pavement with small wares vendors and musicians who serenade passersby for their spare change. San Jose also has traditional charm with wooden homes, brick-lined pedestrian streets and grand theaters. From San Jose, you can take short trips to rainforest, volcanoes and pristine beaches.

Spanish Language Training

IFRE currently offers highly affordable Spanish language classes in Costa Rica. These classes are exclusive to IFRE volunteers participating in our volunteer program. In Costa Rica, IFRE partners with a highly reputable Spanish school. They employ qualified and experienced Spanish teachers and offer the most intensive and effective Spanish courses in Costa Rica. In this program is structured so that volunteers can work at their volunteer project and learn Spanish simultaneously. For example, volunteers can take Spanish classes from 9:00-11:00 a.m. (before lunch) followed by volunteer activities. Alternatively, volunteers may take Spanish classes from 3:00-4:00 a.m. (after a day of volunteer work). Most of the projects are located close to the Spanish school, so it is possible for volunteers to design a personal schedule. IFRE invites you to improve your Costa Rica experience by learning or improving your Spanish.

Major FAQ-Costa Rica

Food and Accommodation

What kind of food do we eat in the project or with the host family?

Costa Rican food is a fusion cuisine. It combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China and Spain. Meals are made up of traditional grains (rice, corn and beans), roots (sweet potatoes), spices (coriander, garlic, annatto, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper), oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, and lard), sauces (Soy, and Worcestershire), fresh fruit, and vegetables. Generally, Costa Rican cuisine is mild to slightly seasoned.

The most common dishes that reflect the culture are Gallo Pinto and Casados. Gallo Pinto consists of rice and beans seasoned with coriander, onions Worcestershire sauce and is usually served for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs and a cup of Agua Dulce (pure sugarcane diluted in hot water) or coffee. Casados consist of white rice and black or red beans served with pork, steak, or chicken, and a small portion of cabbage/lettuce and tomato salad, and fried plantains.

There are a number of other traditional dishes that you will be able to try while you are in Costa Rica. These include higado en salsa escaveche, pozole, ceviche, arroz con pollo, papas con chorizo, olla de carne, barbudos, and mondongo.

Does the project or host family have internet? Electricity?

Electricity All accommodations have electricity available 24 hours a day. Electricity throughout Costa Rica is 110V, 60Hz- the same frequency used in North America. Be sure to check your electronics and small appliances for compatibility and purchase any adapters or converters necessary to utilize them in Costa Rica.

switch

Electrical outlets are both Type A (2-prong) and Type B (3-prong). Type A outlets are the most common.

Internet & Phone Services Included in your program is free access to our computer room and high-speed internet at our facilities; free WiFi is also available. You should bring a laptop, tablet or other personal electronic device if you have one, because while we offer free internet and computers, access can be very limited during busy hours. There are also numerous internet cafés available 1-2 blocks away from our offices as well as throughout San Jose. Please note that your host family may not have WiFi available.

If you want to make international phone calls, we suggest purchasing a phone card. If you purchase a calling card from your home country, you will need to locate and write down the country access number for Costa Rica prior to leaving; the access number for your country will not work abroad. We strongly recommend you have a working Skype account for easy communication while traveling. We can also assist you with purchasing a local pay-as-you-go cell phone and/or sim card to be able to easily communicate locally.

Do we get hot showers in our accommodation?

Hot water is available 24 hours a day. It is important to keep in mind, however, that as in most developing countries things like hot showers are sometimes more limited than in our home countries.

Is it safe to keep our items in the host family?

Yes, it is safe to leave your items at your host family stay; however, we recommend that you always keep valuables locked away in your suitcase when you are away.

Is water safe to drink or do we need to buy bottled water?

Tap water in Costa Rica is potable. That said, we always recommend bottled water, which can be easily purchased throughout San Jose and Costa Rica.

Is it an issue if I am vegetarian? I am wheat allergic; would it be a problem to the host family?

Dietary restrictions are not an issue. Upon registration, please include any dietary restrictions, allergies and medical conditions you may have in order for us to properly prepare for your program.

Do I get my own room in the host family?

The program includes shared accommodations with up to 3 other volunteers. Private rooms are available for an additional charge.

Do the members of the host family or the project speak English?

Most members of the families and projects do not speak English. Those members that do speak English have varying degrees of English language level skills and will likely fall in the basic to intermediate category. However, our Field Managers and other international staff are all-bilingual in English and Spanish and are available to assist you throughout your program.

If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?

If you are traveling with friends and/or family and wish to be accommodated together, please let us know at registration.

What are the bathrooms and toilet facilities like?

Bathrooms at host family accommodations are shared with up to 3 other volunteers.

What are the laundry arrangements?

Your host family will be happy to help you wash your laundry. The charge for this service is US $5 per kilo (2.2 lbs) and can be paid directly to the family. Alternatively, you can choose to use a local Laundromat in your spare time.

Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?

All accommodations have electricity available 24 hours a day. Electricity throughout Costa Rica is 110V, 60Hz- the same frequency used in North America. Be sure to check your electronics and small appliances for compatibility and purchase any adapters or converters necessary to utilize them in Costa Rica.

switch

Electrical outlets are both Type A (2-prong) and Type B (3-prong). Type A outlets are the most common.

What bedding materials like? Do I need to bring sleeping bag?

Your family will also provide you with basic linens—sheets, pillows, blankets, and a bathroom towel.

Arrival Information

Which airport do I need to fly in?

San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) airport

Do you organize airport pick up?

Airport pick-up is included in your program. As soon as you have made your travel arrangements, please forward this information to us. For flights, you will need to provide the date, time, airline name and flight number. For overland arrival, you will need to provide the date, time and bus company.

Where do I go from airport?

When you arrive at the San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) airport, you will first go through immigrations. You will then collect your bags, after which you will go through customs (“aduanas”) where all luggage is screened by a machine.

After customs, you must walk all the way out of the airport—you will not be met inside the airport. Exit doors are next to the left of the car rental stations. As you move out of the building, you will be met by our representatives. They will have a large bright yellow flag with a smiley face on it.

If you have any issue meeting our representative at the airport, please call us using the contact information provided in your arrival confirmation email. If your cell phone does not work, there are a number of people outside the airport who will offer to let you use their cell phone. This is very normal in Costa Rica, but you should tip them $2-$3 (USD) for this.

It is also common for people to try and help you with your luggage, even though you are with our representatives. If they help you, a normal tip would be $1-$2 (USD). If you prefer not to have their help, please be polite but clear and simply say, 'No gracias'.

Please note, while waiting for your luggage, we recommend either exchanging $20 or withdrawing ₡10,000 (colones) next to the baggage claim area. This will give you money for any immediate incidentals.

What happens if I missed flight or arrived late?

The best way to update on your flight status should you run into any delays, cancellations, or missed flights is to contact us via one of our provided emergency contact numbers. These numbers will be included in your flight confirmation email prior to your program.

Who will come to pick up me? How do I recognize the person at the airport?

After customs, you must walk all the way out of the airport—you will not be met inside the airport. Exit doors are next to the left of the car rental stations. As you move out of the building, you will be met by our representatives. They will have a large bright yellow flag with a smiley face on it.

Can you give us direction for meeting point?

When you arrive at the San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) airport, you will first go through immigrations. You will then collect your bags, after which you will go through customs (“aduanas”) where all luggage is screened by a machine.

After customs, you must walk all the way out of the airport—you will not be met inside the airport. Exit doors are next to the left of the car rental stations. As you move out of the building, you will be met by our representatives. They will have a large bright yellow flag with a smiley face on it.

If my assignment begins on Monday, when should I arrive?

All assignments begin on Mondays. Please plan to arrive on the Sunday your program starts.

If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Does it cost me extra?

If you are arriving early, we are happy to arrange for extra nights of housing in your homestay for an additional charge, please just let us know. In the case that you are arriving early and are staying in a hotel prior to your program, please send the hotel name, address, and the date and time you would like to be picked up.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure? Return transportation to the airport is not included in your program. You will be responsible for arranging this, but can opt to do so through our travel partner located onsite at the school. The price for transportation to the airport is $30.

Can you help us arranging our flights? Do you recommend any cheapest flights to fly to Costa Rica?

You are responsible for the travel costs from your home country to San Jose, Costa Rica. Because Costa Rica is a popular destination, we recommend making your travel arrangements as far in advance as possible. We recommend searching for flights in a variety of places to compare prices.

If you are a student, teacher, or under the age of 26, you may consider searching flights through statravel.com. A flight search engine available for all travelers is www.kayak.com . Local travel agencies are always good sources for quotes as well.

Once you have confirmed your travel arrangements, please be sure to forward us your complete flight details so that we can arrange for your airport pick up.

Visa Information

Can you please provide me the visa information? What kind of visa do I need to apply?

Citizens from EU countries, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require special visas to visit Costa Rica. You will receive an entry stamp at immigrations in the San Jose airport. The stamp is typically valid for 90 days, but may vary.

If you are a citizen of South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe you may or may not be required to pre-arrange and apply for a tourist visa. Please contact the nearest Costa Rica Embassy to verify their requirements to obtain a tourist visa. To enter Costa Rica, you must show your passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from your entry date into Costa Rica. You should also carry with you a printed itinerary for your planned departure from Costa Rica in case this should be requested by immigrations.

Can I extend my visa while I am in the country? Can you help me on this?

Tourist visas may be extended by making a short trip to Nicaragua or Panama and then returning to Costa Rica. It is also possible to renew your visa in country, but the process is time consuming. If you will overstay your tourist visa by just a few days, you can simply pay the fine when you depart. Presently the fine is approximately $2.00 (USD) per day, but is subject to change at any time.

Money

Are ATMs easily available?

There are ATMs all around Costa Rica, including at the San Jose airport. We strongly advise you to notify your bank prior to leaving your home country in order to prevent stop services on your card.

Where should I exchange my money?

We recommend either exchanging $20 or withdrawing ₡10,000 (colones) at the San Jose airport when you first arrive. This will give you money for any immediate incidentals. Later you will get the best exchange rate at the National Bank or Banco de Costa Rica. You must have your original passport with you to exchange money.

How much money should I bring with me?

There are ATMs all around Costa Rica, so access to money should not be an issue. You should consider the following when budgeting for your trip:

  • Lunch out: $5-8/meal
  • Dinner out: $15-30/meal
  • Laundry service: $5-8/kilo
  • Transportation: $1-2/ride (Expect $15-$20 per week for travel to/from your project)
  • Half-day Tours: $50-100
  • Full-day Tours: $100-150
  • Multi-day Tours: $200-$600

We also recommend budgeting at least $50 for souvenirs.

What does the weekly program fee covers?

Included in your program fee are airport pickup, project orientation and support, a shared room with a host family, and 2 meals per day (breakfast and dinner).

Is it safe to carry cash with me?

We recommend carrying only the amount of cash you need rather than large sums of money.

How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Costa Rica? How can my family members contact me?

If you want to make international phone calls, we suggest purchasing a phone card. If you purchase a calling card from your home country, you will need to locate and write down the country access number for Costa Rica prior to leaving; the access number for your country will not work abroad.

We strongly recommend you have a working Skype account for easy communication while traveling. We can also assist you with purchasing a local pay-as-you-go cell phone and/or sim card to be able to easily communicate locally.

Can I bring my mobile from my home country? Does it work?

We recommend you contact your provider to determine if your cell phone will work while outside the country.

Climate

  Region   Altitude   Low   High   General description
San Jose 1,170 m (3,839 ft)

Above Sea Level

24°C | 75°F 27°C | 80°F In May-November (Rainy Season) it is warm with intermittent rain and sunshine and Spring-like conditions. In December-April (Dry Season) it is warm with very little to no rain and Spring-like conditions.
Pacific Sea Level 29°C | 84°F 32°C | 90°F The May-November (Rainy Season) and December-April (Dry Season) seasons are distinct, yet it is generally hot and sunny year-round.
Caribbean Sea Level 29°C | 84°F 32°C | 90°F The May-November (Rainy Season) and December-April (Dry Season) seasons are less distinct. It is hot, humid, and sunny year-round with a fair amount of rain.
Highlands 2,200-3,800 m

(7,218-12,467 ft)

Above Sea Level

10°C | 50°F 27°C | 81°F In May-November (Rainy Season) it is warm with intermittent rain and sunshine and cool to warm temperatures. In December-April (Dry Season) it is warm with very little to no rain and Spring-like conditions.

Communication

How do I contact the local coordinator?

You can communicate via phone and email prior to your arrival and during your trip. You will also meet them at your orientation.

How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Costa Rica? How can my family members contact me?

You can communicate via telephone or internet and your family can call you at the home of your host family (being considerate with the time differences).

Can I bring my mobile from my home country? Does it work?

Yes, you can bring your phone. It probably will not work automatically with the system here. It’s possible to get an international plan with your phone company, but they are expensive. However, if your phone is unlocked (you will have to contact your phone company in advance to get it unlocked), then you can get a SIM card here for your phone for local and international calls. If you prefer to buy a little inexpensive phone here, they are around $25-30. Your regular phone will work with the Wi-Fi here as well.

General Questions

Where can I use internet? Is there a place where I can use phone to make a call to my family and friend?

Included in your program is free access to our computer room and high-speed internet at our facilities; free Wi-Fi is also available. You should bring a laptop, tablet or other personal electronic device if you have one, because while we offer free internet and computers, access can be very limited during busy hours. There are also numerous internet cafés available 1-2 blocks away from our offices as well as throughout San Jose. Please note that your host family may not have Wi-Fi available.

If you want to make international phone calls, we suggest purchasing a phone card. If you purchase a calling card from your home country, you will need to locate and write down the country access number for Costa Rica prior to leaving; the access number for your country will not work abroad.

We strongly recommend you have a working Skype account for easy communication while traveling. We can also assist you with purchasing a local pay-as-you-go cell phone and/or sim card to be able to easily communicate locally.

What kind of gifts would be appropriate to bring for the host family and the project?

Please know that it is not mandatory for volunteers to make donations or bring gifts to their projects; however, they are always received with great appreciation and gratitude.

Donations or gifts that are always helpful include:

  • Educational: books, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, etc. (new or used)
  • Hygiene: soap, shampoo, lice treatment, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels
  • Health: Band-Aids, antiseptics, wet wipes, vitamins
  • Clothes: socks, shoes, undershirts, hats
We would also like to invite you to contribute to our Vitamin Program. The objective of this program is to help improve levels of nutrition and reduce anemia at orphanages in San Jose. To participate in this program, please bring one bottle of chewable children’s multi-vitamin tablets.

Please note that there are many markets and shops in San Jose where you can buy all of these items, often for less than they will cost in your home country.

If you wish to bring a gift for your host family, we recommend something that represents your home country. This could include traditional sweets or any number of other knick-knacks.

Could you please provide me the packing list?

The key to packing for a trip to Costa Rica is to pack for both the cool, interior climate of San Jose and the hot, humid, coastal climates. Weather around San Jose is “spring like,” with warm days and cool nights; whereas the coasts tend to be hot and muggy. In all cases, you should be prepared for rain, which is common throughout Costa Rica.

Your accommodations will provide you with basic linens—sheets, pillows, blankets, and a bathroom towel. You are responsible for bringing your own toiletries (see below). We suggest bringing an extra towel and any other special comforts from home that are important to you.

Clothing

Equipment

Toiletries

7 Pairs of underwear Daypack Shampoo
7 Pairs of socks Water bottle Conditioner
5 T-shirts Camera Soap
2 Long-sleeved shirts Laptop or tablet Deodorant
4 Pairs of pants Umbrella Toothpaste
2 Pairs of shorts First-aid kit Toothbrush
Swimwear Notebook Razor
Light jacket Pens/pencils Towel
Rain gear Bilingual dictionary Mosquito repellant
Sneakers A copy of your passport Sunblock
Sandals Outlet adapter or converter Sunglasses, Hat

The Free Beginner's Guide to Volunteering in Costa Rica

This guide is designed to prepare you for volunteering in Costa Rica. Here you will find general destination information on: Costa Rica, volunteer programs in Costa Rica, advice on how to find the best volunteer placement for you and how to make the most or your experience, plus a range of other helpful hints, tips and important information to guide you through every step of your volunteer experience in Costa Rica.

Chapter 1: Getting Started – Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica

Looking for a country where the beauty of nature astounds you, wildlife is abundant and the people are friendly and welcoming? If this sounds like the perfect place for you - welcome to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica maybe be small but don’t let that fool you, because it definitely has a lot to offer. The country not only boasts magnificent landscapes - made up of pristine beaches, both active and dormant volcanoes, stunning waterfalls and lush green jungles, but it is ranked in the top 3 most environmentally friendly countries in the world.

Costa Rica has no Army Corp, which helps create a sense of peace throughout the country, but it does have one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America.

Costa Ricans are very proud of their country, and really embrace the true meaning of the pura vida (pure life) lifestyle. This is probably why they are often ranked as one of the happiest people in the world.

Costa Rica has something for everyone! It’s a place where you can you can find action and adventure, nature at its finest, some of the best coffee in the world, an abundance of wildlife, untouched beauty, new friends and all while discovering yourself and experiencing Pura Vida!

A truly rewarding way to explore the true essence of Costa Rica, experience the beauty of the country and the warmth of the locals is by volunteering on one of the many programs on offer throughout the country.

Whether you are interested in construction, farming, conservation, education, animal rehabilitation, healthcare or human services you will be able to find your ideal volunteer program.

Are You Planning to Volunteer in Costa Rica?
Looking for safe, reputed, and affordable volunteer program?

Why you should volunteer in COSTA RICA 

Although Costa Rica is one of the most developed and stable of the Latin American countries, with relatively high education standards and comparatively good health care, it is still a developing country which relies on assistance from volunteers.

A volunteer experience in Costa Rica will be a life changing experience both for you, and those who benefit through your project. It is a country where you can really connect with the people and become part of a community, immerse yourself in the natural surroundings and take action and adventure to the next level.  

Some other reasons why you should volunteer in Costa Rica are listed below.

Make a positive impact:

Whether it is helping conserve the environment, protecting and looking after the wildlife, helping build facilities or educating and impacting the lives of others, your helping hand is greatly appreciated.

Cultural immersion and Spanish practice:

You will have the opportunity to live with a host family. This is a fantastic way to really immerse yourself into the Costa Rica lifestyle and learn about cultures and traditions, while practicing and developing your Spanish language skills and making local friends.

Nature and Wildlife:

Blessed with the Caribbean Ocean on one side of the country and the Pacific Ocean on the other, with volcanoes, waterfalls, natural hot springs, jungles, forests, and national parks in between, the landscapes of Costa Rica are truly diverse.

Throughout your volunteering placement you will have many opportunities to discover, explore and experience the nature and wildlife for yourself.

Adventure:

Whether you are looking for a bit of soft adventure or an adrenalin fuelled thrill seeking experience, there is something for you to enjoy in Costa Rica.

From zip-lining through a cloud forest, rafting through rapids and surfing waves, to paddle boarding down rivers, bike riding, hiking volcanoes or swimming in waterfalls, there is an abundance of adventure activities and experiences to be found.

Pura Vida:

Costa Rica is often said to be one of the happiest countries in the world, probably due to the Costa Ricans (Ticos) concept of the Pura Vida (Pure Life) lifestyle! This comes across in the friendly and welcoming nature of the locals who make you feel like part of their community. Immerse yourself in this and it won’t be long before you will also be experiencing the Pura Vida lifestyle.

Which are some popular volunteer projects available in COSTA RICA?

Costa Rica is a great destination for volunteers, and no matter what kind of program you are looking for you are bound to find it.

Popular volunteer projects in Costa Rica involve construction, farming, conservation, education, animal rehabilitation, healthcare and human services.

Below is a list of some popular volunteer programs in Costa Rica.

Women’s Empowerment

Girl's and women’s empowerment projects operate throughout Costa Rica, with the shared goal of improving the lives of underprivileged females by providing English education, and practical skill training.

Volunteers in these projects assist on education programs for women and girls on topics such as sexual health, nutrition and child development. You may also be involved in running campaigns and workshops at orphanages, and with general support activities.

Orphanage 

                                                                    

There are many orphanage projects across Costa Rica which support, care for and protect orphan children in Costa Rica. On these projects you will mainly be required to teach basic English, participate in games, activities and creative arts projects, assist with homework, spend quality time with the children and provide them with genuine support.

Wildlife Expeditions

The focus of wildlife conservation projects in Costa Rica is the importance of the eco-system in the rainforests and jungles. These volunteer placements are real hands on experiences, where you will participate in research projects and studies of the wildlife.

Your efforts will help the development and preservation of the natural environment and the animals that depend on it.

Turtle Conservation

The Turtle Conservation projects across Costa Rica protect, save and rehabilitate a variety of turtle species, including some on the endangered list. On these projects volunteers help collect data, undertake research and contribute to the protection of these turtles' natural habitat.

Nature Conservation

Nature Conservation in Costa Rica is a program designed specifically to help conserve the natural habitats of Costa Rica. On this project volunteers undertake general conservation work such as assisting with maintenance work, animal research and studies, restoring walking trails and reforestation.

This is a very hands-on volunteering experience, and one which will give you a real appreciation for the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

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Animal Rescue

Costa Rica animal rescue center projects are dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and saving the lives of animals in Costa Rica. Volunteers in these projects should expect a real hands-on experience, as they will be interacting with and caring for the animals in a variety of ways.

Cleaning their cages, feeding and playing with them and building structures for animals to climb and play on are some of the tasks you can expect to be doing.

Organic Farming

Organic farming projects in Costa Rica focus on the development of organic produce and sustainable living. Volunteers will assist in all areas of farming, including: coffee farming, harvesting produce, making products and general farm maintenance.

These projects will give you both a genuine understanding of sustainable farming and the hands on experience to put theory into practice.

Where are some popular places to volunteer in COSTA RICA?

There are many destinations in Costa Rica which require volunteers, and a variety of different projects on offer. Below are details of the most popular places to volunteer in Costa Rica, but be sure to do your own additional research to help find your ideal project and destination.

San Jose is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and is the nation’s capital. Although on first appearances it may not be the prettiest of cities, it does possess a certain charm and character.  Once you take the time to explore the city and its neighborhoods you will soon discover all that it has to offer.  

Popular volunteer projects in San Jose are: Teaching, working with kids, health care and construction projects.

Puerto Jimenez is located on the Osa Peninsula in the Southern Pacific Region of Costa Rica. It is a small town blessed with beaches and luscious jungle, and is within easy access to Corcovado national park.

The town may be small but it is self-sufficient, with a supermarket, pharmacy, hospital, schools and a good range of accommodation options. It is the perfect destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts, and offers a wide range of activities.

Popular volunteer projects in Puerto Jimenez and the Osa Peninsula are: conservation, sustainability and wildlife projects, which include turtle conservation. You may also find opportunities to teach English.

Alajuela is located in the Central Valley Region of Costa Rica only 20 minutes from the International airport. The town boasts one of the best climates in the world and enjoys picturesque surrounds of coffee plantations, waterfalls and stunning valley views. Alajuela also has a sense of charm and community spirit.

Popular volunteer projects in Atenas are: teaching English, construction, conservation and orphanage projects.

Monteverde is located in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica and is a great place to experience the wildlife and nature of Costa Rica. It plays host to a number of national parks and cloud forest reserves, and offers a great range of nature based and adventure activities.

Popular volunteer projects in Monteverde involve: teaching and classroom assistance, and many more.

What is the best season to volunteer in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has two seasons; the rainy (green) season which runs between May to November, and the dry season, which runs from mid-November to April. In general the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica, based on the weather, is between December and January, when you can enjoy a dry and pleasantly warm climate.

Along the coast you will experience warm weather pretty much all year, however, in the mountainous regions temperatures are changeable and the climate is much cooler.

In terms of volunteering in Costa Rica, some programs are only offered in particular seasons. For example – projects involved with turtle nesting or crop harvesting are linked to certain climates or times of year.

Chapter 2: Getting Ready to Volunteer in COSTA RICA

Now that you have applied and been accepted on a project it is time to begin preparing for your exciting volunteer in Costa Rica journey. Keep reading for a list of important things to think about and do to make the preparation process run as smoothly as possible.

Visa

For citizens of many countries (including the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand), a 90 day tourist visa is issued on arrival, while many other nationalities are granted stays of up to 30 days on arrival.  It's safest however to check the current rules with the appropriate consulate in your home country before making plans to travel.

Passport

All international visitors must hold a passport with at least one day of validity to enter Costa Rica. It is recommended that you always carry your passport, or even better, a copy of your passport photo page and entry stamp with you at all times.

Vaccinations

It is highly recommended that you get all vaccinations and shots, (or boosters) where necessary, to protect yourself against: tetanus, rubella, mumps and measles, chicken pox and polio. You may also want to consider hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations as an extra precaution.

Talk to your doctor about the best options for you, and check out this website for up to date information on vaccinations and medical advice.

Air ticket

When volunteering in Costa Rica you will be responsible for booking your own airfare, so it's worth trying to get a good deal. Booking well in advance is often cheaper than waiting until closer to your departure date.

Other ways of sourcing the best deals include creating a Google alert for 'Costa Rica air ticket deals' and signing up for newsletters from airlines that fly into Costa Rica. This way you can receive up to date information on their specials and deals.

There are also numerous online sites where you can request quotes from multiple companies, then compare prices and fares. Tripadvisor, Kayak and Cheapoair are great sites to start with, though there are any many more offering similar services.

Having flexible travel dates can also be useful as some days of the week or flight times are cheaper. It may work out much cheaper to arrive a few days before or leave a few days after your volunteer placement in Costa Rica.

This level of flexibility may even save you enough money on your ticket price to fund some pre-project travel around Costa Rica.

Raising funds

Volunteer programs in Costa Rica can be expensive, and you may start to wonder how you are going to be able to afford to pay for your volunteer program, airfare, insurance and other, more general travelling costs.

The good news is that these days you can find many ways to fund your trip; you just need to be dedicated and passionate about your cause, and maybe apply a little bit of effort, thought and creativity to the process.

There are many online sites where you can create your own Costa Rica volunteer project fundraising campaign and then promote it using social media platforms. People can easily donate and help support your campaign.

This is a great way to tell the world about your volunteering plans, and also raise awareness for your chosen organization. Check out Go Fund Me for more information on getting started with your campaign.

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Once you have started your project it is a good idea to create a blog so that those who have offered financial support can feel involved in what you are doing, and see the impact that your volunteering experience is having once your placement begins.

Through your blog you can also share details of ongoing payment methods so people can show continued support for the program and your volunteer efforts.

Suggested Reading

Lonely Planet - Discover Costa Rica

This is a handy guide, offering information on what to see and do and where to go in Costa Rica. It also has advice on tours, accommodation, places to eat and general travel tips, and includes destination maps, and suggested itineraries for trips of varying durations.

It’s the perfect guide for when you have a few days off during your volunteer work in Costa Rica and want to explore more of the country’s beautiful and diverse landscapes.

Packing advice and tips

When packing for your volunteering placement you need to think practically. Take into consideration the type of work you will be doing, who you will be working with, the type of climate you will encounter and any cultural expectations or traditions which may need to be respected and adhered to.

Below is a general list of things that you should remember to pack when you volunteer in Costa Rica.

  • Passport/insurance documents
  • Cash – there are ATMs (cash machines) in most large towns – but they are harder to find in rural areas - regardless, many accommodation providers and restaurants only accept cash
  • Day pack
  • Comfortable walking or hiking shoes
  • Rubber boots (especially if you are working with animals or doing conservation or farm work)
  • River or reef shoes
  • Flip-flops and sandals
  • Lightweight clothing – t-shirts, shorts, light-weight trousers, shirts, skirts, dresses
  • Smarter clothes for those teaching or working in a formal setting
  • Long sleeve tops and long pants for cooler evenings
  • Swimming suit
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Towel and toiletries
  • Flashlight
  • Phrase book
  • Insect repellant and sunscreen
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Mosquito net
  • Travel pillow, sleeping bag or sleeping sheet, (if mentioned in volunteer placement documentation)

Gift for projects

Want to break the ice and establish a comfortable relationship with your project staff colleagues when volunteering in Costa Rica? One easy way to do that is to give a gift to your project. Small items like pens, pencils, clothes, books, games educational resources and practical supplies are greatly appreciated.

You may wish to check with your project about what they need the most. Although many organizations require money it is not recommended to donate cash or give cash as a gift.

Chapter 3: Volunteer in Costa Rica – Must Know Info

Before you head off on your new and exciting volunteering venture in Costa Rica make sure you get all the necessary information and details about the project. This will help you have an organized and stress free start experience.

Here are some handy hints to help you get ready for your Costa Rica volunteer project.

Project Details

Find out exactly what is expected of you, what you will be required to do and what you need to take with you. Ask as many questions as you need to ensure you are fully prepared for your volunteering experience in Costa Rica.

Having all this information before you go will help you to understand the project, its mission, and the people involved.

Learn about your host family

Many volunteer programs in Costa Rica offer accommodation with a host family. This is a fantastic opportunity to really integrate into the community, practice Spanish and learn the culture and traditions of the country, while making some lifelong friends.

During your placement your host family will provide you with a home away from home. Be sure to find out something about them - perhaps even exchange photographs - before you arrive in Costa Rica.

This will foster a better understanding of their lifestyle as well as create a bond to build on one you meet in person.  

Things you may wish to find out ahead of time:

  • Where they are located
  • How do the families in Costa Rica live
  • How many family members live in the home, and their names
  • What your room/house facilities are like and whether you will have a private or shared room
  • Whether you need to take anything with you (bedding, towel etc.)
  • Any cultural immersion opportunities that may be available
  • Most importantly, any host family rules.

Having this information will help make your experience a rewarding and memorable one for both you and your host family.

Get connected with local support

Volunteer companies in Costa Rica usually hire local staff, or work with local organizations, to provide you with a main contact point and some support during your placement.

It is really important that you know who your 'go to' person will be, and that you make contact with them via email or phone call. They will be your first point of call if any issues or problems arise during your volunteer placement in Costa Rica.

Make a final call before leaving

Before you embark on your Costa Rica volunteering experience make a list of any last minute questions that you have about your: airport pick-up, project, safety, food, accommodation or anything else you still feel needs clarification, and ask your local staff member contact for the answers.  This will help you feel fully prepared when you arrive in Costa Rica, and you will have peace of mind knowing that there will be no miscommunications or misunderstandings.

Chapter 4: Arriving and Volunteering in Costa Rica

How to make your volunteer experience in Costa Rica rewarding

Volunteering in Costa Rica offers you the chance to help improve the lives of people involved in your project, but it is also a journey of self-discovery for you. Make sure your experience is as rewarding as it possibly can be by following the guidelines below.

Get all the Information required before you leave

It's vital to feel fully prepared before you begin your volunteer abroad placement, because if things go wrong at the beginning of your experience this may have a negative impact on the rest of your time as a volunteer.

To avoid this make you sure that you have asked all your questions and found out all you need to know before you leave.

  • Ensure that you know exactly what will be expected of you during the project and your homestay.
  • Find out where you will be staying and who you will be staying with.
  • Make contact with local support staff members and check that your travel arrangements have been confirmed with them so you will be greeted at the airport.

Appreciate things and stay positive

On nearly all volunteer placements at some point you are bound to be faced with emotional sights and experiences.  At times you may find it hard going, or struggle with the different living environment.

Try to remember that your volunteering experience in Costa Rica will be making a difference to your chosen project and its people, even when there are days where it is difficult to imagine any progress at all. 

There are many stunning landscapes in Costa Rica and when you feel overwhelmed try surrounding yourself with some of this natural beauty.  Take a walk, breath in the fresh air, plan a mini-adventure or just embrace the culture and Pura Vida lifestyle and say “Hola” or exchange a smile with the locals.

Always take the time to recharge your batteries and find time to relax, as this helps restore both perspective and positive energy.

Enjoy the local cultures and the Costa Rican people (Ticos)

Make the most of your time volunteering in Costa Rica by getting to know your host family, the people you work with and the locals. Immersing yourself in the culture will be a rewarding experience as you will meet some amazing people, learn new things, and develop new outlooks on life.

This is also a great way to get to know the country and experience the true essence of the people and their community spirit, away from the tourist areas.

Make the most of your free time

After a busy week volunteering and giving to the community take time out for yourself, or meet up with other volunteers. Get out and about and explore Costa Rica, or engage in the numerous activities that it has to offer.

Safety while volunteering in COSTA RICA

Like all traveling experiences, your safety while abroad and during your volunteer placement is important. Being one of the very few countries in the world without an Army Corp, in general Costa Rica is a peaceful environment.

However, this does not mean that crime doesn't exist, and it is always important to be aware of any possible dangers you could be faced with, especially in the larger cities, touristy towns and beachside locations, where petty theft and drug related crimes do happen.

Be alert, try to learn a little of the language to help you in an emergency, and generally avoid any situations that make you feel uneasy or apprehensive.

Here are a few tips to help protect yourself while traveling in Costa Rica.

  • Register your travel plans with the local embassy for your country
  • Purchase good travel insurance before you leave
  • Obtain phone numbers for the police, other emergency services and the in-country coordinator
  • Give a copy of your itinerary to your family and friends
  • Carry a copy of your passport page with your photo and the page with the Costa Rica entry stamp on with you at all times
  • Don’t bring unwanted attention upon yourself
  • Try not to walk alone, especially at night, or to carry any valuables with you. If you are out at night on your own then catch a taxi back to your accommodation.
  • There is safety in numbers, so travel in a group when possible
  • Know where you are going, if you get lost go into a shop or restaurant and ask for directions
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended at all, as theft of bags is very common at bus stations, parks, in public spaces and on the beaches
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Dos and Don’ts in Costa Rica

DO:

  • Learn some common Spanish phrases.

Many Costa Ricans will speak some English, especially in the tourist towns, however it's wise to learn at least a few words or phrases.  Download a Spanish app on your phone or take a phrase book to help you out.

You will find that Costa Ricans are more than happy to spend time talking to you and teaching you the language, so be sure to make the most of this opportunity.

Some useful terms to know are:

Hola - hello

Como estas? - how are you?

Gracias - thank you

Pura vida - this is a way of saying hello, good bye, all is good and no worries.

Mucho gusto - nice to meet you

Con mucho gusto - with pleasure or you're welcome

  • Acknowledge others - Costa Ricans are genuinely friendly people and you will often be greeted with “hola” (hello) while walking down the street. It is polite to smile and return the greeting.
  • Respect and appreciate the country - you will find most Costa Ricans are very proud of their country and it is important to them that you feel the same. Costa Ricans love it when you tell them how beautiful their country is.
  • Dress Appropriately - know exactly what your volunteer project will involve and who you will be working with, as this will help you dress appropriately for your placement.

DON'T

  • Be disrespectful – about any aspect of the culture, people or environment of your host country.
  • Miss out on the true beauty of Costa Rica - diehard nature fans can hire a local naturalist guide in the national parks. These guides are passionate about what they do and you will have a more engaging, interactive and safe experience.
  • Go hiking on your own if possible - but if you do take plenty of water, let someone know exactly where you are going and do not stray from the marked trails.
  • Challenge or criticize the way things are done - you may feel frustrated that things are done differently to how you expect in your host families home, or that rules you disagree with are followed rigidly by project staff. Even when things seem illogical or pointless it is wise to remember that this is the way of that particular culture.

Cultural Shock

Moving to a new country which is probably a long way from your home, with a language you can't speak very well and where you don’t know anyone can be quite challenging. This is especially the case when the culture, living environments, food, currency, education and health care systems are completely different from what you are used to.

It is not uncommon for volunteers to feel a sense of culture shock during their placement, but in time you will adjust, make friends and learn to embrace all that the situation provides.

In some parts of Costa Rica you may find poor living conditions, unpaved roads, a certain degree of poverty and low education levels, but at the same time if you travel around, especially to the cities or tourist areas, you will find some familiar food and more English speaking residents.

Here are a few action points which will help you deal with culture shock in Costa Rica.

  • Before you leave for your volunteering placement do some reading about the history, culture, economics, and laws of Costa Rica. This should help reduce the risk of any major surprises.
  • Enroll in some Spanish language classes before you go, and/or once you arrive. Even a basic understanding of the language will help you integrate into the community easier.
  • While volunteering in Costa Rica take time out to explore the country and get to know its people. Costa Ricans (Ticos) are very friendly, and it’s not hard to make some local friends.
  • Become friends with other volunteers in your project. They will understand what you are feeling and can offer support and advice.
  • Take some photos of your home, friends and family with you for those moments when you feel homesick.
  • Remember why you decided to volunteer in Costa Rica and focus on achieving the goals you set for yourself and your project.

Places to visit in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has many beautiful places to visit. Whether you are looking to explore nature in one of the national parks, experience adventure in the forests or on the river, enjoy the coastlines and the marine life, have a night out on the town or just relax and rejuvenate you won’t need to look to far to find it.

Some popular destinations are mentioned below, but be sure to do your research and check out many of the other amazing places to visit.

Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna: Located in the Northern Highlands, with a town square boasting the majestic backdrop of Arenal Volcano - La Fortuna is a popular tourist destination which offers a range of accommodation and eating options, along with an extensive range of nature, adrenalin and relaxation based activities.

Here you will find many tour companies offering volcano hikes, nature and La Fortuna waterfall tours, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, watersports on the lake, cycling tours and so much more.

If you are looking for something more relaxing you can indulge in a massage or spa treatment at one of the many natural hot springs facilities.

Puerto Viejo: Located on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is a vibrant beach town possessing Afro –Caribbean charm and character which you will experience through its food, reggae music and vibrant colors. It offers a great range of Caribbean, Costa Rican and western restaurants and has a vibrant nightlife.

There are also many beautiful beaches to enjoy - all great for surfing, the national parks of Cahuita and Manzanillo to explore, wildlife to spot and opportunities to learn about chocolate farming and production.

Tortuguero National Park: Located on the Caribbean Coast, Tortuguero is a great place to see wildlife. There are no roads into Tortuguero; it can only be accessed by boats that work their way through a network of canals, which makes the trip to get there an adventure in itself.

The township is quite small, but has a range of activities on offer. One of the highlights of Tortugeuro is the turtle nesting season, where you can make plans to watch the turtles laying or hatching their eggs.

Mal-Pais and Santa Teresa: Located on the Pacific Ocean this beach town is where you want to be if you are looking for great surf, and a laid back atmosphere. There are many places where you can have a surf lesson or rent a board.

If surfing is not your thing then you can always opt for just chilling out at the beach, hiring a bike and exploring the surrounding areas, practicing yoga at one of the many retreats or just hanging out at one of the many laid back cafes or bars.

Chapter 5: Completion of Project & Follow Up - Volunteer in Costa Rica

At the end of your volunteer placement in Costa Rica you will probably experience mixed feelings and emotions. One way to deal with this is to share your experiences with others.

This will not only benefit you, but also the organization you worked with and any future volunteers who would like to know more about the project from a direct source..

Talk to your friends and family about your experience, and if you created a blog to record your thoughts and share photographs you could show them this too. Also keep in contact with the volunteers you met along the way and the locals who looked after you.

Write a review of your experience and give honest feedback, as this helps both support and shape the future of the project and help others decide if it is the right program for them.

Chapter 6: Volunteer in Costa Rica - Most Frequently Asked Questions

How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house?

You will find that most volunteer abroad providers in Costa Rica will arrange airport pick-ups and transfers to your organization/accommodation or host family. Before you go it is important that you confirm all your flight details have been received, and that there will be someone to greet you at the airport.

Will there be support from staff in Costa Rica?

Volunteer programs in Costa Rica generally have either an office staffed by local workers or they partner with a local organization. In most cases there will be local support available to you, but it is best to make contact with them before you leave to see how responsive they are, and how well your questions and inquiries are received and responded to.

Ask your booking company about what kind of local support will be available for you while volunteering in Costa Rica.

How many other volunteers will be participating with me?

The number of volunteers that you will be working with will depend on the organization that you book through. If you choose a local volunteer organization then you might not see many others on the program.  However, if you book with a reputable and internationally recognized volunteer program you are likely to have more people around.

Summer is a popular month for people to engage in volunteer opportunities, so during this period you are almost guaranteed plenty of company. Also, as some volunteer placements only run seasonally, so are likely to attract larger numbers of participants in each cycle.

If I volunteer with my friend can we be placed in the project and housed together?

The majority of International volunteer organizations will allow you and your friend/partner or family to be placed in the same project and same accommodation. However to make sure that this can be arranged it is recommended that you check and confirm it's okay before deciding on your placement.

Are meals and housing provided?

In most cases your food will be provided, especially if accommodation is at the project or with a host family. All this information should be available for you in the booking or price section of the company’s website.

Please check carefully to ensure you understand everything that your placement fee will cover. If you are unsure then it is best to contact the company and ask.

Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito nets?

If your program fee includes accommodation then you will be guaranteed a bed. The majority of volunteer companies rely on host families or local providers to offer accommodation, although, you shouldn't expect the facilities or services of a hotel.

Your accommodation is most likely going to be basic and may only include a bed or mattress. It is not essential that you take a sleeping bag or sheet, however if you have room in your suitcase or backpack then there is no harm in taking one.

In some areas of Costa Rica, especially beachside towns and rural farms, there can be quite a lot of bugs and mosquitoes, so a mosquito net would be a good idea.

What if I don't speak the native language?

In Costa Rica you will get by without speaking the language as most locals will speak a little English, however some projects may require Spanish language skills so check with your provider about this before you go.

Out of a sign of respect it is worth learning at least some basic words. The local people really appreciate it when you try to speak their language, and you will find you will create greater bonds and connections with them as a result.

How will I get to my project every day?

This will depend on where you are staying and where your project is based. You will most likely live with a host family or in a hostel, so the distance between these projects and your host could be anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour.

Some providers may include transportation to and from your placement; others will recommend the best public transport route and how to access buses. Speak directly with staff from your volunteer organization to clarify exactly how you will get to and from your project.

What kind of food will I eat while I'm there?

If you are placed with a host family it is likely that you will be eating like a local. For example in Costa Rica you are likely to be served Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast and a casado (rice and beans with a meat or vegetable dish) for lunch or dinner.

Do volunteer projects or organizations offer treks or excursions?

Most volunteer abroad providers do not offer any excursions for their volunteers as they are not tour providers. If you want to explore more of the country and participate in activities then you will need to organize this yourself, and it is often best to do this through local providers.

During your volunteer placement you will meet other volunteers who also want to explore the country and have adventures. Traveling together is a great way to reduce costs and discover new places.

Costa Rica is a small country, so short or weekend trips to explore new destinations around the country are always possible.

How many hours per day will I be volunteering?

Volunteers’ hours are usually quite flexible, but may differ depending on the type of project you are working on.

Most volunteers work between 4-6 hours a day, however if your placement is in an orphanage or on a nature based program you may be involved in morning or evening activities. This is something you may want to consider before making a final decision on which project to join.

How much money do I need to bring?

Most volunteer abroad providers offer food and accommodation, so you do not need much extra money to spend on food unless you decide to eat out from time to time.

How much you need for your personal expenses really depends on you and what you want to do while you are there. In most cases $50-$100 per week should be enough to cover any extra costs such as public transport or bottled water.

Of course if you plan on doing a lot of activities or domestic traveling you'll need to count that in. Costa Rica is a great destination for action and adventure experiences, but some of these can be quite expensive, so it's best to do a bit of research, work out what you really want to do and then budget accordingly.

Top destinations