Volunteering in Costa Rica is the best way to discover one of the most sustainable countries in the world. Costa Rica is famous for its numerous sea turtle conservation projects. Volunteer to save baby sea turtles in Costa Rica or work with Costa Rica’s wildlife. It is the home of lush jungles, national parks and the most exotic animals on earth. Find the best places to see and volunteer with sloths, monkeys and even the endangered jaguars that live in high trees in the tropical rainforest. Most of the teaching and medical volunteer programs are typically based in and around San Jose, the capital city. Discover numerous more volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean Coast.
Volunteering Abroad in Costa Rica
Have you always dreamt of exploring mysterious rainforests, rushing waterfalls and active volcanoes? If you also want to make your travel experience meaningful, we have great news. You can do all of these things by volunteering in Costa Rica!
You will discover one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, amazing beaches, and the famous “Pura Vida” lifestyle. There are many ways to have a positive impact on Costa Rica. The volunteer opportunities are plentiful, offering something for everybody. If this is your first time volunteering abroad, Costa Rica is a great place to start your international adventure.
Costa Rica has everything to offer from lush rainforests to stunning beaches and a plethora of wildlife. Take this chance to discover this green gem while you volunteer and give back. Join one of the community projects and connect with the locals or take a break from it all and volunteer for one of the many conservation programs. Before we go into more detail about the different volunteer opportunities, here are a few interesting facts about Costa Rica:
Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and abundant nature. You will find many conservation projects here but there are also plenty of community projects where you can support the local community as an English teacher or help with child care initiatives. Most community projects are centered in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. If you prefer working close to a lively city, there are many great volunteer opportunities in San Jose.
If you’re looking for a volunteer destination with stunning nature and friendly people, Costa Rica is an excellent choice!
For those who are worried they don’t have enough time to volunteer, you can do short term volunteer work in Costa Rica. By using the filter option, you can search for volunteer opportunities that only require a 1 or 2-weeks of your time.
If you haven’t thought about which field to volunteer in yet, this overview will give you a better idea of what to expect as a volunteer in Costa Rica.
If you want to be an animal volunteer in Costa Rica, there are plenty of opportunities spread across this breathtaking country. You can become a wildlife volunteer in Costa Rica, for example, and head to the rainforest and see the following inhabitants:
More and more animals are victims of habitat destruction, poaching, and illegal pet trade. Those that can be rescued will find a temporary home in animal rescue centers or animal sanctuaries. Costa Rica animal sanctuary volunteers care for orphaned and injured animals by:
Sometimes animals need medical treatment, so volunteers with veterinary training are always in demand. If animals cannot be released back into the wild, they will find a home in a sanctuary where volunteers will support them with activities and the necessary care.
There are also animal sanctuaries focused on helping stray cats and dogs. Dog lovers can definitely find programs where they can help as a dog sanctuary volunteer. You’ll be thanked with lots of licks and tail wagging!
If you want to become a sloth sanctuary volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be happy to know there are plenty of sloth sanctuaries that need your help. Sloths are cute lethargic animals that hang out in the treetops of the rainforest. They are threatened by deforestation and are losing their natural habitat. This is why many end up in an animal or sloth sanctuary.
If you’re wondering what a day as a sloth volunteer in Costa Rica would look like, these are a few of the main tasks:
With over 4 species of endangered sea turtles, the Olive Ridley, the Leatherback, the Green, and the Hawksbill sea turtle, it’s easy to become a sea turtle volunteer in Costa Rica. There are programs available year-round on both the Caribbean and the Pacific coastline. If you want to support a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, check out the sea turtle conservation programs in Costa Rica.
Your volunteer work with these creatures will be a unique experience and is one of the most popular volunteer programs in Costa Rica. These are a few of the tasks you’ll be doing as a sea turtle volunteer:
It is likely you will be asked to help with beach or ocean clean up during your sea turtle volunteer experience. The accumulation of plastic in the sea is a huge threat to sea turtles and getting rid of plastic will be a helpful contribution.
With over 500,000 plant and animal species, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and represents close to 4% of the total species on earth.
There are many volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica that help protect Costa Rica’s thriving nature As a volunteer in Costa Rica, you can contribute to environmental conservation projects by supporting the ‘guardabosques’ – the rainforest guards – with the following tasks:
To counteract deforestation caused by unsustainable farming, some Costa Rica volunteer programs promote eco-farming and also educate locals about more sustainable ways to grow their crops. Your tasks as a volunteer on an eco-farm will involve:
Costa Rica is a great destination for marine conservation. Volunteers who love being close to the ocean will find opportunities to protect vulnerable marine life in the Caribbean or the Pacific Ocean. Help with an ocean clean up project to keep the waters plastic-free. This will lower the negative impact on marine life that is constantly ingesting plastic from the ocean.
Volunteers keen on diving can support a marine conservation project by observing reef fish, whales, or the coral reef. Collect valuable data on these species to gain a better understanding of their behavior and their rate of survival. Ocean cleanup is also an important part of marine conservation. Help keep the waters free form plastic and protect Costa Rica’s marine life.
While the literacy rate in Costa Rica is relatively high compared to the neighboring countries, volunteer teachers are always needed in schools in low-income communities. Native and fluent English speakers can pass on their skills to children of all ages and spark their interest in foreign languages and cultures. English teachers are in high demand in Costa Rica where the main language is Spanish. This is an excellent opportunity to support the local community and provide them with better future opportunities.
Wherever your strengths and interests lie, you will find teaching opportunities that fit your interest. Teach children English, mathematics, sports, science, or even art. Some teaching volunteer programs in Costa Rica specialize in music teaching so if you play an instrument or are a passionate singer, why not make this your mission as a volunteer teacher in Costa Rica?
If you like working with children but are not necessarily interested in teaching, you may want to join one of the daycare projects. These projects care for younger children that are not enrolled in school or kindergarten or involve after school care. Daycare is unaffordable for low-income families and single parents. The community benefits a lot from these projects. Your tasks as a volunteer at a daycare project could include:
You may decide to work at a local orphanage where you can give disadvantaged children the attention and support they require. Before deciding to do voluntary work at an orphanage in Costa Rica, you need to make sure that you understand your responsibilities and what to expect.
The children you will work with have not necessarily lost their parents to death. Many of these children have experienced violence or abuse and are traumatized. For this reason, it is essential that volunteers have appropriate skills and are qualified. It’s also required to stay a minimum of 3 months. You will find detailed information on the program pages of these specific projects.
The suggested daily budget for living abroad as a volunteer in Costa Rica is between US$ 25 and US$ 77. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the goods and services you may need. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can prepare and save the money necessary for your volunteer program in Costa Rica.
Most volunteer programs require a fee to be paid which covers your accommodation. Part of the fee is sometimes used to support the activities of the volunteer organization. You can use our filter option to search for volunteer opportunities within your budget. There are some very budget-friendly volunteer programs in Costa Rica. Be sure to check the program.
Going abroad always requires some precautions, even in a popular tourist destination and at volunteer programs in Costa Rica. Also doing some research on the culture of your travel destination, you can avoid common problems and misunderstandings. These are a few cultural tips that are good to take into account during your volunteer work in Costa Rica:
Even though Costa Rica is a relatively safe country compared to other countries in Latin America, you cannot compare it to the safety standards in western countries. Here are a few tips for you to travel safely as a volunteer in Costa Rica:
To reduce the risk of falling ill during your volunteer work abroad; here is some advice for future volunteers in Costa Rica:
Depending on the season you’ll be in Costa Rica, there are some essentials you should pack. These are some of the things we recommend you bring to Costa Rica:
Each volunteer opportunity in Costa Rica requires different skills from their international volunteers. While you can find the specific requirements for each project on their program page, here are some general requirements that apply to most projects in Costa Rica:
For those who have limited time, there are mission trips that don’t require a lengthy time commitment from their volunteers. This is a great way for busy professionals to volunteer and make a meaningful contribution to a great cause.
Please take into account that the following information is based on a best practice approach, made according to the best of our knowledge, and in cooperation with several volunteer projects in Costa Rica. You should discuss your visa requirements with your project coordinator via Volunteer World and if in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the Embassy or Consulate of Costa Rica in your country.
There are some general requirements you need to fulfill prior to traveling to Costa Rica:
If you are a resident in Australia, Switzerland, the USA or EU (including the UK), you can work as a volunteer on a tourist visa for up to 90 days. This tourist visa can be obtained at the airport upon arrival. To receive the stamp, you can select tourism as your reason for traveling, and immigration will stamp your passport.
If you are planning to volunteer in Costa Rica for more than 90 days, you should apply for a provisional visa.
To make this step as easy as possible, you can find the application form here. Make sure to submit the application form to the closest Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate. They will provide you with all further information and give you a checklist of documents that need to be submitted.
Please remember that the application process can take over a month, so plan enough time for it. There’s an alternative if you are staying for more than 90 days. You can easily go to a neighboring country such as Panama or Nicaragua for a few days and obtain another 90-day stamp when re-entering Costa Rica (keep in mind that you need another two blank visa pages and a new return ticket to exit Costa Rica if you choose this option).