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Volunteer in Costa Rica - It Will Change You Forever...

  • World's most affordable fees guaranteed
  • Pay your program fees directly to your host families and projects
  • Experienced local staffs to attend to your every need
  • Flexible schedule that leaves evenings and weekends free for fun, travel and exploration

Go beyond your boundaries and travel to the unknown. As a Volunteer in Costa Rica, you will immerse yourself into a new culture, contribute to the global community and travel to an exotic paradise. Costa Rica may be a smaller country, but it has endless opportunities for every traveler. Enrich the lives of others while enjoying volcanoes, rainforests, cloud forests, mountains and diverse beaches. You can get lost in eco-tourism, rafting, hiking, bird watching, zip-lining, city nightlife or just relaxing on pristine and tropical beaches.

Despite its growing economy and increased tourism, Costa Rica is still negatively affected by poverty, lack of education and environmental concerns. We invite you to join our effort in supporting programs to increase to quality of life in Costa Rica by working alongside local organizations, schools, orphanages, childcare centers, sustainable farms, women’s cooperatives, conservation projects, nonprofit organizations and municipalities. Volunteer in Costa Rica and expand your worldly views by engaging yourself in Costa Rican culture and participating in local daily life. This is the perfect opportunity to gain experience in grassroots development while enjoying an undeniably stunning country. What more could you be looking for? Email us know to begin the experience of a lifetime. We will be happy to send you more information about the project that’s right for you.

Program Fee

Helping Abroad volunteers Program starts every 1st and 3rd Monday of each month.

Are you looking for a safe and affordable volunteer abroad experience? Do you want to see the fees you pay, being utilized towards the welfare of the project and host families? Helping abroad, a 501 c 3, offer volunteer programs at unbeatable, low prices. At Helping Abroad, we maintain a level of transparency of funds, especially for volunteers who want to know where and how the fee they pay are being channelized. The volunteer fee is paid directly to the families that host volunteers and the project that volunteers work on. The program fee is divided as registration fee ($299) and weekly fee. The registration fee is used to cover our expenses like advertisement and office expenses. The weekly fee is divided between room/local food (3 times a day, 50-70%) and project donation/ support to local project staff (30-50%) and local coordination fee (10%). The allocation may differ according to location and project type. Therefore, our coordinator will explain these issues before you pay the fees. Please find the breakdown of the cost in a weekly basis below:

  Puntarenas/Cortes
  Duration  All Projects Ciudad Cortes (Includes 10 hours Group Spanish)  Medical/Health Projects Ciudad Cortes  Orphanage Project(Puntarenas)
  1 Week $260 $360 $260
  2 Weeks $445 $545 $445
  3 Weeks $630 $730 $630
  4 Weeks $815 $915 $815
  5 Weeks $1000 $1125 $1000
  6 Weeks $1185 $1310 $1185
  7 Weeks $1370 $1495 $1370
  8 Weeks $1555 $1680 $1555
  9 Weeks $1740 $1890 $1740
  10 Weeks $1925 $2075 $1925
  11 Weeks $2110 $2260 $2110
  12 Weeks $2295 $2445 $2295

+ 10 hours group Spanish is not available in Puntarenas, Orphanage Project

  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day

Airport Pickup /Transfer Packages for Puntarenas and –Ciudad Cortes, please click here to find the details

We will manage the following airport transfer services for you:

Option One: If you arrive in international Airport of Juan Santa Maria -SJO, Alajuela early in the morning (before 12 PM), you will be able to come to Ciudad Cortes in the same day by bus. In this case, it is possible to purchase the following pick up service package:

Osa/Pick Up (same day service- for one person): $50

Includes: airport picks up, transfer to the bus station, orientation and assistance and again to the bus station. The last time we recommend leaving from San Jose to Ciudad Cortes is on the bus at 2:30 PM (volunteer should land before 12:00 PM for this option)

Option Two: If you arrive after 12 PM in Alajuela, you will stay one night in Hostel Dorm Room in San Jose, before transferring to Ciudad Cortes the next day.

Osa/Overnight Hostel Dorm Room with Transfer (for one person): $70

Includes: Transfer to a hostel from the airport, where you will spend the night. Dinner will be provided. Overnight stay will be in 10 people mixed gender hostel dorm room, and transfer to a bus station in the morning. The orientation and assistance will be at the bus station.

Option Three: If you arrive after 12 PM in Alajuela, you will stay one night in the family home (private room) in San Jose before transferring to Ciudad Cortes the next day.

Osa/Overnight Family Home with Transfer (for one person): $90

Includes: Picks up from the airport and transfer to a private family home to spend the night. Dinner will be provided. Transfer to the bus station in the morning, and orientation and assistance at the bus station.

Included in Fee
  • Accommodation (volunteer house or host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers
Not Included in Fee
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer
  San Jose
  Duration   Children, Teaching   Medical, Conservation, and Construction
  1 Week   $370   $435
  2 Weeks   $645   $710
  3 Weeks   $920   $985
  4 Weeks   $1,130   $1,195
  5 Weeks   $1,315   $1,380
  6 Weeks   $1,500   $1,565
  7 Weeks   $1,685   $1,750
  8 Weeks   $1,870   $1,935
  9 Weeks   $2,055   $2,120
  10 Weeks   $2,240   $2,305
  11 Weeks   $2,425   $2,490
  12 Weeks   $2,610   $2,675
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day
Included in Fee
  • Housing in shared rooms
  • Breakfast and dinner (2 meals) 7 days/week.
  • Airport pick-up
  • Orientation
  • Project management
  • Weekly salsa lessons
  • Free Tandem Conversation Program.
Not Included in Fee
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer
  Turtle Conservation
Duration Matapolo (Pacific) Pecaure, Caribbean Osa Peninsula (Pacific)
  1 Week   $175   $175   $385
  2 Weeks   $350   $350   $770
  3 Weeks   $525   $525   $1155
  4 Weeks   $700   $700   $1540
  5 Weeks   $875   $875   $1925
  6 Weeks   $1050   $1050   $2310
  7 Weeks   $1225   $1225   $2695
  8 Weeks   $1400   $1400   $3080
  9 Weeks   $1575   $1575   $3465
  10 Weeks   $1750   $1750   $3850
  11 Weeks   $1925   $1925   $4235
  12 Weeks   $2100   $2100   $4620

  • Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day »
  • No Spanish Language Program with the Turtle Conservation Project

Matapolo (Airport Pick Up and Transportation) »

Matapalo Turtle Conservation site is 120 miles from San Jose.  There are two options for you to choose from.

Option one- organized by Global Crossroad

Airport Pick, spend the first night in a hotel in San Jose $45

(If you arrive before 2 p.m. you can go directly to the project by taxi, without staying in a hotel)

Travel from San Jose to Matapalo in a private taxi $150

Option two- travel by yourself to the project (total cost $42)

If you flight arrives early in the morning, or before 9 a.m. you can choose to go directly to the project by public bus.

Bus Departure time from San Jose to Matapalo: 6:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 9:30 AM, 10 AM

Here are the directions to get to the project from San Jose

  • Take the bus from Gran Terminal del Caribe of San José to Matapalo de Quepos. $15
  • When you get off in Matapalo de Quepos take a taxi to the project $5 

Gran Terminal del Caribe of San Jose: Map

*you will pay your airport pick up/transfer fee directly to staff in Costa Rica

Osa Peninsula (Airport Pick up and Transportation) »

The Osa Turtle Conservation site is 100 miles from San Jose.  Here are the details of the airport pick up and transfer fee.

  • Airport Pick, first night at a hotel in San Jose $45
  • Sanjose to Punterenas by bus $8
  • Punterenas to Osa by bus $6

*You will pay your airport pick up/transfer cost directly to staff in Costa Rica 

Pacuare (Airport Pick Up and Transportation) »

Pacuare Turtle Conservation site is 80 miles from San Jose.  There are two options for you to choose from.

Option one- organized by Global Crossroad

  • Airport Pick, spend the first night in a hotel in San Jose $45

(If you arrive before 2 p.m. you can go directly to the project by taxi without staying in a hotel.)

  • San Jose to Pecaure in a private taxi $150
  • The boat transportation cost is 35$

Option two- travel by yourself to the project

If your flight arrives early in the morning, or before 10 a.m., you can choose to go to the project directly by public bus

  • San Jose to Siquirres $6
  • Siquirres to Las Vegas de Imperio $3
  • The boat transportation cost is 35$

Bus Departure time from San Jose: 11 a.m.

Directions - traveling to your project

1. From the Gran Terminal del Caribe of San José, take the 11:00 a.m. bus to Siquirres. You will arrive at Siquirres around 1:15 p.m.

2. From the terminal at Siquirres walk to La Estación Intercantonal, also called Parada de los Calvos, (300m). (If you are not sure, just ask people where you can get on a bus to Las Vegas de Imperio).

3. Take the 2:30 p.m. bus to Las Vegas de Imperio, getting off at the last stop.

4. A staff member will be waiting for you there. The boat transportation cost is 35$ per person, both trips.

Links

Gran Terminal del Caribe of San Jose: Map

Terminal of Siquirres: Map

Las Vegas de Imperio: Map

Project location: Map

*You will pay your airport pick up/transfer fee directly to staff in Costa Rica: Map 

Included in Fee
  • Accommodation (volunteer house or host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers
Not Included in Fee
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

Volunteer Programs

Teaching English in a Rural School (San Jose, Puntarenas, Guanacaste )

teaching Children

Tourism, trade, commerce and globalization are quickly on the rise in Costa Rica, increasing the demand for English. As a volunteer in Costa Rica to teach English to rural children, you will drastically improve their personal and professional opportunities and brighten their futures. In Costa Rica, many rural primary and secondary schools struggle to provide adequate English lessons, despite its growing importance. English speaking volunteers are highly valuable to these schools, which lack resources, appropriate facilities and qualified teachers. Helping Abroad partners with schools in rural San Jose and San Miguel de Sarapiqui. As a participant in the program, you will have a rewarding experience as you immerse yourself in a unique culture, improve educational environments and give your students hope at competing in a global market.

Educational Requirements and Project Skills

No specific skills, qualifications or experiences are required, although Spanish skills are desirable to communicate effectively. If your Spanish skills are poor, we suggest enrolling in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding–both for you and for the people you help. You should have a passion for teaching and caring for children. Volunteers must be hardworking, patient, confident, enthusiastic and good with children. You should bring energy and enthusiasm to your projects.

Your Responsibilities as a Volunteer

The Helping Abroad volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica project offers an array of formal and informal educational programs for children. The primary responsibility for volunteers is teaching conversational English while making the language fun and interactive, but volunteer activities in Costa Rica will also include:

  • Working with local teachers
  • Assisting school administrations with curriculum development and planning lessons
  • Planning and leading extracurricular activities such as dancing, games, music, sports, art, etc.
  • Helping children successfully finish their homework
  • Assisting school administrations with fundraising and other operational tasks
  • Promoting health and sanitation
  • Teaching other subjects such as math, science and physical education
  • Helping local teachers with their English so they may teach more efficient classes in the future

Please Note: The activities above are mere examples of volunteers’ daily activities, but this may change due to requests from local staff members and teachers. You will receive your work schedule from the school administration. In addition, you will work with a school supervisor that will provide guidance and assist you develop your teaching lessons. You are only required to work only 3 to 4 hours a day, Monday through Friday, therefore, you will have ample time to relax and explore Costa Rica.

Working in an Orphanage (San Jose, Puntarenas )

volunteer with orphan children

As a volunteer in the orphanage project in Costa Rica, you can help provide basic necessities, emotional care and affection to orphan children, all while exploring the beauty of Costa Rica. Sadly, Costa Rican children become orphans due to poverty, alcoholism, disease, abuse or simple abandonment. These children are left without the chance of an education, health and basic care. Many orphanages work hard to provide shelter, food, love and education, but lack financial support, infrastructure, resources and qualified staff. Be a volunteer in an orphanage in Costa Rica and help drastically improve the lives of orphans by keeping them from negative and dangerous situations and providing safe and productive environments. By helping to organize educational activities and provide basic necessities, you can help give these children brighter, more hopeful and healthier futures. Be a hero, friend and role model for these children!

Educational Requirements and Project Skills

No specific skills, qualifications or experiences are required, although Spanish skills are desirable to communicate effectively. If your Spanish skills are poor, we suggest enrolling in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding–both for you and for the orphans you help. You should have a passion for teaching and caring for children. Volunteers must be hardworking, patient, confident, enthusiastic and good with children. You should bring energy and enthusiasm to the orphanage and your projects.

Your Responsibilities as a Volunteer

As a volunteer working in an orphanage in Costa Rica, you will help to enhance the quality of life for disadvantaged orphans. Depending on individual skills and interests, volunteer roles and responsibilities may include:

  • Teaching basic English
  • Playing with the children
  • Teaching other subjects such as math and science
  • Teaching health and personal hygiene
  • Gardening in orphanage garden
  • Providing care and companionship to children
  • Cooking and serving food for children
  • Teaching children life skills such as gardening, painting, building, sewing, etc
  • Carrying out extracurricular activities such as games, sports, art, music, dancing, etc
  • Planning events and field trips
  • Taking children to and from school
  • Helping children with their homework and school assignments
  • Observing and recording academic progress

Please Note:There is limited space available to volunteer in this project, but if space is not available, we will be happy to place you in a similar project. The activities above are mere examples of volunteers' daily activities, but this may change due to requests from local staff members. You will receive your work schedule from local orphanage staff. You are only required to work 3 to 4 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, therefore, you will have ample time to relax and explore Costa Rica's natural beauty and culture.

Nature Conservation Project (San Jose, Puntarenas)

volunteers in conservation project

Costa Rica has an abundance of natural resources and is a stunning country for outdoor enthusiasts, but local organizations need your help with conservation efforts. As a volunteer working in Nature Conservation Project in Costa Rica, you can help educate local communities about the environment and the importance of nature. Unfortunately without educational campaigns, Costa Ricans tend to under-appreciate their wealth in resources and eco-tourism opportunities. This volunteer opportunity is ideal for volunteers interested in conservation or environmental careers. Volunteers in this project make a footprint in the march towards a cleaner world while simultaneously discovering one of the most bio-diverse, picturesque and exotic countries.

Educational Requirements and Project Skills

No specific skills, qualifications or experiences are required, although Spanish skills are desirable to communicate effectively. If your Spanish skills are poor, we suggest enrolling in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding—both for you and for those you help. You should have a passion for the environment. Volunteers must be hardworking, patient, confident and enthusiastic. You should bring energy and enthusiasm to your projects.

Your Responsibilities as a Volunteer

As a volunteer in Costa Rica’s Conservation and Eco-tourism project, you can choose from a variety of projects in San Jose. Volunteers may work in following parks: Poas, Braulio Carrillo, Carara, Manuel Antonio, Barva, Palo Verde, Santa Rosa and Guayabo. Depending on individual skills and interests, volunteer roles and responsibilities may include:

  • Creating environmental projects
  • Maintaining trails
  • Cleaning forests
  • Helping to build educative trails with the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Assisting Ministry of Agriculture in various projects
  • Fundraising
  • Grant writing
  • Researching resources
  • Planting trees and plants
  • Educating visitors and tourists
  • Carrying out educational campaigns in the community
  • Helping with administrative tasks and organization
  • Teaching locals English to help with tourism

Please Note: The activities above are mere examples of volunteers’ daily activities, but this may change due to requests from local staff. You will receive your work schedule from local staff. You are only required to work 3 to 4 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, therefore, you will have ample time to relax and explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty and culture.

Turtle Conservation for Land, Fresh Water and Sea Turtles

turtle conservation project

Help Helping Abroad promote the conservation of turtles and their natural habitats! Unfortunately, corporations, urban life and agriculture have taken away the habitats of turtles, affecting their ability to survive. Helping Abroad invites you to volunteer in the turtle conservation project in Costa Rica and help protect turtle environments and their reproduction cycles. Volunteers help to safeguard turtle nests and breeding efforts by collecting eggs, keeping predators away and collecting crucial data. As a volunteer working in the turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, you can work with either local land/fresh water turtles in different coastal regions in Costa Rica.

So what are you waiting for? If you are an animal lover, this is the ideal project and the perfect opportunity to gain field experience, save turtles and travel to a tropical paradise!

Educational Requirements and Project Skills

No specific skills, qualifications or experiences are required, although Spanish skills are desirable to communicate effectively. If your Spanish skills are poor, we suggest enrolling in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding—both for you and for those you help. You should have a passion for turtles and the environment. Volunteers must be hardworking, patient, confident and enthusiastic. You should bring energy and enthusiasm to your projects.

Your Responsibilities as a Volunteer

As a volunteer working in the turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, you will work on a wide-range of activities. Depending on individual skills and interests and the needs of local staff in the conservation projects, volunteer roles and responsibilities may include:

  • Constructing and maintaining turtle tanks
  • Cleaning and conserving turtle habitats
  • Working in a hydroponics greenhouse
  • Patrolling turtle habitats to collect eggs (nightly patrols)
  • Recording data (measuring turtles, nest temperatures, population, etc.)
  • Carefully moving turtle nests
  • Preventing predators
  • Working with tourists and teaching them about turtle conservation
  • Monitoring and releasing hatchings
  • Developing organic fertilizer
  • Tagging turtles
  • Fundraising
  • Helping with information technology and web design for conservation efforts
  • Advertising and promoting conservation campaigns
  • Assisting with administrative and organizational tasks

Please Note: The activities above are mere examples of volunteers’ daily activities, but this may change due to requests from local staff. You will receive your work schedule from local staff. You are only required to work 3 to 4 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, therefore, you will have ample time to relax and explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty and culture.

Spanish Language Program

Are you looking to learn Spanish or improve your skills? Helping Abroad offers exclusive Spanish lessons for its volunteers in Costa Rica and collaborates with a respectable Spanish school. Volunteers will learn from highly qualified and experienced teachers who offer intensive and valuable classes. Volunteers will work in their project and simultaneously take classes, allowing volunteers to practice what they learn in class with project staff, new friends and host families. Volunteers will either take classes in the morning and volunteer in the afternoon or visa versa, volunteer in the morning and take classes in the afternoon. Volunteers can work with their project staff to create their own schedule. As you improve your Spanish skills, your experience will be more beneficial, both for you and for those you help.

Major FAQ's

  • Who will meet me in airport? What should I do if I am delayed or miss my flight? When should I arrive?
  • Please book your flight to arrive at Juan Santa Maria International Airport, San Jose. The Helping Abroad country coordinator will be waiting for you at the "Arrival" gate. Please look for a person with both the Helping Abroad company logo and your name on a sign card. In case your contact person is not there, please contact the Helping Abroad office and we will immediately follow up on your contact person’ whereabouts. Coordinators’ contact details are available in the pre-departure handbook. If your flight is delayed, immediately contact Helping Abroad so we can make adjustments to your program. Helping Abroad will be responsible for creating the necessary changes in your program.

    The program fee covers expenses from the first day of the program to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program, you will be responsible for these expenses.

  • What are the visa requirements to volunteer in Costa Rica?
  • It is the volunteer's responsibility to acquire a tourist visa. Please contact either our office or the local Costa Rican embassy to learn more about the process for obtaining a visa, timelines, visa fees and visa extensions.

  • What do I need to know about health and safety in Costa Rica?
  • Volunteers should be aware of all health and safety information before traveling to Costa Rica. You can read about health and safety in Costa Rica on the website below:

  • What immunizations/vaccinations are recommended before arriving to Costa Rica?
  • We strongly recommend that volunteers obtain vaccinations before arriving in Costa Rica. You can speak with your health-care provider to determine which vaccinations you will need. Please read CDC recommendations about vaccinations and preventive medicine: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica

  • What is the local currency and exchange rate?
  • Costa Rica's local currency is the Costa Rican Colones (CRC). ATM cards are the best way to get money and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are also accepted at airports, large stores and large hotels. ATM’s are widely available in San Jose, tourist areas and larger cities. It is a good idea to carry a credit card for large purchases and emergencies. Make sure you notify your bank that you will be out of the country and give them your expected arrival/departure dates. This will prevent your account from being locked and you will be advised about any fraudulent charges. Always be aware of your situation and keep all your valuables and money concealed at all times. It is always best to go to the ATM machine in groups.

    Please visit XE, a privately held online foreign exchange tool for rates. XE.com (http://www.xe.com/)

  • How can I communicate with my family/friends while I am abroad? Is there Internet access?
  • If you have an unlocked cell phone that contains a SIM card, we recommend that you bring it because you can buy a SIM card upon arrival in Costa Rica. Phones are important to have for safety and communication with family and Helping Abroad staff. Internet cafes are widely available in Costa Rica.

  • How is the climate in Costa Rica?
  • The climate in Costa Rica is tropical and subtropical where the dryer season is December to April and the rainy season is May to November. You can find specific information about weather.

    For accurate weather please visit ACCU Weather (http://www.accuweather.com )

  • What should I bring?
  • You can purchase basic necessities in Costa Rica at reasonable prices, but we suggest bringing the following:

    • An unlocked mobile phone (you can use it after buying a sim card)
    • Camera
    • Sleeping bag
    • Mosquito repellent
    • Insect repellent
    • Sunscreen
    • Books about Costa Rica
    • Map of Costa Rica
    • Toiletries
    • First aid kit
    • Flash light
    • Electricity adapter/converter
    • Sun glasses
    • Good shoes (for work and travel)
    • Towel

  • Should I bring gifts for my host family?
  • You are not required to bring a gift but it is common courtesy as a token of appreciation for hosting you. If you are working in orphanages or schools, you can bring items such as school supplies and games. Remember that many children will desire what you bring, so you may want to bring a large amount of one item (pencils, pens, notebooks, games, art supplies, etc).

NOTE:   Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is derived from generic information about the country, and should not be used as a definitive travel guide. Travel information and situations abroad change constantly, and the information contained here may not be up to date. Participants should consult Helping Abroad staff or travel advisors to verify this information.