Volunteering is a great way to get a very unique vacation experience. While backpacking and traveling cross country can be fun, some want a little more meaning out of their travel time. If this sounds like something you are looking for, you can find plenty of it in Costa Rica. there is a wide selection of volunteer jobs and opportunities all over the country. No matter what sort of work you are looking to do, you can probably find it here in Costa Rica.
Often, volunteering can be much cheaper than actually vacationing on your own. While you might not have as much free time as you would if you were simply traveling, that isn’t really the point of volunteer work. However, many of these volunteer programs give you plenty of free time to explore the country on your own or with you fellow volunteers. Vacationing via volunteer work is also nice because it takes care of a lot of the logistics for you. Some programs will setup ground transportation for you, feed you, house you, and much more.
Here are some of the most popular volunteer programs in Costa Rica:
Marine Conservation in Puntarenas (Pacific Coast)
GeoVisions offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of creatures at a local Marine Rescue Center. Located in Puntarenas, two hours from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, the center offers volunteers a chance to learn about, treat and care for injured animals that have been rescued from both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Participate in the release of healthy animals and assist in maintaining the 22 fish tanks that hold an assortment of creatures that help educate visitors to the facility. Helping to care for the outdoor exhibits housing crocodiles, turtles and pelicans are also part of the volunteer experience. Programs last from two to eight weeks and a moderate knowledge of Spanish is recommended. Contact: GeoVisions, 63 Whitfield St. Guilford, CT 06437 USA
Phone: 1 203 453 5838 Fax: 1 203 738 1024
Sea Turtle Conservation in Coast Rica
Leatherback turtles are an endangered species and this is your opportunity to help these creatures in their fight for survival. Nesting seasons in the Caribbean are mid March to July and on the Pacific coast from July to December. Volunteers work with research organization in a number of roles, including clearing beaches for nesting season and day and night beach patrols. Those with a love of the outdoors and comfortable in a more rustic environment will find this a fascinating, unforgettable experience. Programs typically run from two to four weeks, but there are some assignments of up to twelve weeks. Knowledge of Spanish helpful, but is not necessary. Contact: i-to-i Meaningful Travel, United Kingdom
Phone: 44 870 333 2332, Ireland Phone: 353 58 40050
Build Homes for Underprivileged Families in Costa Rica
If you prefer your volunteering efforts to be on dry land, opportunities exist for helping to build homes for local families. If you are easy going, enjoy people and don’t mind working outside in all types of weather, this might be the project for you. No building experience is necessary but any special skills are enthusiastically welcomed. Currently opportunities exist on the Nicoya Peninsula and San Ramon in the North Western Region, Cartago on the Central Pacific Coast and in Monteverde. Most assignments run two to four weeks, but programs can last up to twelve weeks. Knowledge of Spanish is not essential, but helpful. . Contact: i-to-i Meaningful Travel, United Kingdom Office Phone: 44 870 333 2332, Ireland Office Phone: 353 58 40050
Costa Rica- Paramedical Internship
Volunteers with an interest in medicine can work with a paramedical team, responding to emergency calls, transporting patients between hospitals and hosting local health and safety fairs. No prior experience is needed; paramedical and CPR training will be provided by local staff. This is a great way to both gain first hand medical experience and to work with the Costa Rican people. Assignments are normally five to eight weeks, but programs lasting up to a year are available. Spanish or English language skills are needed, as is a BA Degree in a related field. The current areas of need are in San Jose or in Heredia. Contact: AIDE, 1221 South Mopac Expressway, Ste 100, Austin, TX USA
Phone: 1 888 6-ABROAD, Fax: 1 512 857 1108
Painting Murals and Encouraging Creativity in Costa Rica
Help create an art school in the Longo Mai region of Costa Rica. The goal is to establish the Universidad Alternativa del Sur (Alternative University of the South). Volunteers are invited to participate in an art project in the town of Finca el Soñador. Encourage local youth in developing their artistic talents by helping them create murals, participating in creative workshops and working together painting the community house at Longo Mai. Participation is open to American and Canadian residents with either Spanish or English language skills. Programs run from two to four weeks.
Contact: CADIP – Canadian Alliance for Development Initiatives and Projects,
129-1271 Howe St Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1R3 Canada
Phone: 1 604 628 7400 Fax: 1 604 628 7401
Designing a Sustainable Organic Farm
Would you enjoy the experience of living in primitive structures in a rainforest and on the beach? Do you have an interest in organic farming? Help create a sustainable organic farm in tropical Gaia Vista. Living quarters, including tree houses in the recently created Ewok Village will be constructed on previously cleared rainforest lands to minimize the environmental footprint. Organic chefs with experience in preparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are encouraged to apply, as are people who enjoy building primitive huts, maintaining trails and have a general interest in construction. English or Spanish language skills are needed. Programs typically run for one to two weeks, but are available for up to a two year stay. Contact: Gaia Vista, 423 San Juan Drive, El Granada, CA, USA Phone: 1 650 440 2030