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Free Time and Weekend Exploration

Ciudad Cortes

Your Costa Rica volunteer project is located in the small town of Cortes on the southern Pacific coast, a beautiful region of lush rainforests and a spectacular coastline with countless pristine beaches. You’ll spot amazing wildlife on both land and water such as sloths, monkeys, parrots, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and more!

You’ll be volunteering about 5 hours a day, Monday-Friday. That leaves plenty of free time to explore exciting Costa Rica and make the most of your time abroad! Luckily, Cortes is located very conveniently right along the Costanera (coastal highway), and with the country’s cheap and plentiful bus system, many exciting destinations will be in easy reach!

Located near the Rio Grande Terraba, the town of Cortes is small but has all of the basic necessities like doctors, stores, and restaurants to eat in. When you’re not volunteering in Costa Rica, you can easily hop on a bus to nearby larger towns like Palmar Norte, or head to the nearest beach, only about 13 miles away and within walking distance of the bus line.

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Weekend Exploration

You’ll have two days off each weekend, and this is the perfect chance to explore all the amazing attractions that will be right at your fingertips!

Playa Tortuga

Located in the nearby town of Ojachal, a quiet hamlet that is an up and coming destination for great international dining options thanks to an influx of wealthy expats settling in the area, Playa Tortuga is the closest beach to your Costa Rica volunteer project site. Get off the bus near the Colono hardware store and walk 5 minutes down a gravel path to reach it.

Playa Tortuga has a small beach near a river, and there is even a sand volleyball court if you’re in the mood for some action on your day off. This beach got its name (which means Turtle Beach) because 3 endangered species of sea turtles nest here. The area is also home to a caiman and crocodile preserve, and a great location to spot these amazing animals.

The site of a fantastic conservation project called Reserva Playa Tortuga, this group is hard at work researching wildlife, working in conservation, and protecting sea turtle nests from poachers. The project offers tours to the public so you can learn while you volunteer in Costa Rica or pay a small fee and join night patrols during turtle season! (July-January).

Marino Ballena National Park

A large stretch of coastline along with extensive marine habitat, the Marino Ballena National Park encompasses five spectacular beaches, each one unique and a great place to appreciate pristine nature and spot some amazing wildlife. A $12 entry fee will give you access to all the beaches for the day, and your money will support preservation efforts.

The park has 13,000 acres including the marine habitat, and the beaches you’ll encounter are Playa Uvita, Playa Ballena, Playa Arco, and Playa Pinuela. Popular Playa Uvita has a bizarre sand bar formation in the exact shape of a whale tail you can walk out onto at high tide while volunteering in Costa Rica. Nearby Uvita is a great town to explore the park from.

On land, you’ll spot amazing wildlife like Scarlet Macaws, Toucans, Howler Monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys, and Sloths. The area is a vital migration point for Humpback Whales, and you may even get to see mothers and babies breaching! Keep your eye out for Spinner and Bottle Nosed Dolphins, and several species of endangered Sea Turtles.

Palmar Norte’s Mysterious Stone Spheres

The closest town to Cortes is the much larger Palmar Norte, also the archaeological site of Costa Rica’s mysterious stone spheres. Large, perfectly round stone spheres, some massive, were discovered here. The stone came from a distant quarry, and modern research has failed to uncover how they got here, how they were able to make them, or what they mean.

Head up to Palmar Norte to check out the town and dig deeper into this ancient mystery!

Corcovado National Park

A trip to southern Costa Rica while volunteering abroad is not complete without a visit to Corcovado National Park, a rugged and spectacular wilderness that has been named one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. From a day trip by boat from Uvita to a multi-day guided trek and camping out in the backcountry, don’t miss this natural wonder!

Corcovado is home to a dizzying array of extraordinary wildlife like Pumas, Jaguars, Ocelots, Tapirs, Anteaters, Two-Toed and Three-Toed Sloths, Crocodiles, four species of monkeys, Margays, and more! The park boasts an astonishing 130 species of mammals, 370 bird species, and nearly 10,000 varieties of insects! A nature lover’s dream come true!


Don’t miss these spots while volunteering in Costa Rica:

Glimpse the dormant Arenal Volcano and visit nearby lakes and hot springs.

Check out the Butterfly Garden to watch more than 40 different species of butterflies.

Spend time at the Playa Nancite to see the nesting sites of endangeredOlive Ridley sea turtles.

Explore Rincón de la Vieja Volcanoand experience amazing trails, waterfalls and natural hot springs.

Visit Cahuita National Parkand enjoy hiking and snorkeling.

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