Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica from $355

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Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica
My host mom and I
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica with IVHQ
Affordable Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica with IVHQ
The hatchery
Tortuga Island, Costa Rica

About

Trusted by 90,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer programs in Costa Rica and 40+ other destinations around the world.

You can choose from 12 volunteer project options in Costa Rica and give back for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks. Your Program Fee includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support. You’ll be accommodated in a homestay or volunteer house, with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world.

IVHQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers every year, so before you even depart for Costa Rica, you’ll receive outstanding personalized service from your expert Volunteer Program Manager and exclusive access to superior pre-departure volunteer training.

With IVHQ, you can expect to establish real connections within the local community while supporting projects that make a genuine difference.

Highlights
  • IVHQ’s Costa Rica program is available year-round, offering a start date on every Monday
  • Highly affordable program fees starting from $355 - IVHQ provides the most affordable and top-rated programs
  • You’ll be joining between 40 and 80 other IVHQ volunteers who start in Costa Rica each month
  • You’ll be traveling with IVHQ, the volunteer travel experts, and joining a network of 90,000+ volunteers. Our outstanding safety systems and track record set us apart, we are the world’s safest organization
  • Your efforts will have a positive impact because our programs are community-driven with a focus on supporting long-term local needs

Popular Programs

Childcare Project

As a Childcare volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be supporting a project where the focus is on improving outcomes for children from difficult backgrounds in San Jose. You will be working alongside local staff and playing a hands-on role in providing much-needed support within local community centers, daycares, schools, soup kitchens and kindergartens.

Working with Children

The aim of the Working with Children project in Manuel Antonio is to provide additional care, attention and most importantly, companionship to children within local childcare facilities. This project is well suited to energetic and creative volunteers who are passionate about working with children. You will be encouraged to use your creativity, be open-minded and ready to pitch in and help out wherever possible.

Turtle Conservation Project

When volunteering in Costa Rica on the Sea Turtle Conservation project, you will work alongside a local biologist to assist with sea turtle studies, focus on marine-conservation volunteer activities and support sustainable egg protection programs. There are four sea turtle species in Costa Rica - Leatherbacks, Greens, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill. This project is well suited to hard-working individuals who love nature, the marine environment and being part of rewarding volunteer work within a coastal setting.

Healthcare Project

As a volunteer on the Healthcare project in Costa Rica, you may work in a range of community care facilities in San Jose, including clinics for disabled children, nursing homes, HIV/AIDS assisted living homes and ambulance services. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is relatively well developed, however the placements we work with always appreciate the extra assistance that volunteers provide through supporting local nurses, doctors and caregivers.

Construction and Renovation Project

As a Construction and Renovation volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be working to support underfunded projects in San Jose that are rundown and in need of a refresh. Your support will help to breathe new life into communities and enable initiatives to carry out their work in healthy, vibrant spaces. You will take the lead from a local construction worker, who will provide you with direction and guidance throughout your project.

Spanish Service Learning Course

Students from around the world have an opportunity to gain university credit while volunteering on any of our Costa Rica projects through the Spanish Service Learning Course (SPAN203SL). This is accredited by California State University, Monterey Bay. The purpose of the Spanish Service Learning Course is to foster a sense of civic responsibility and community, to expose students to local culture and language, and to create an opportunity for students to broaden their global perspective and identity.

Questions & Answers

I'm not sure how big your group is but my sister and I went as a pair and so did some room mates we had at our host families place. Now 3 would probably be reasonable, 4 might be safe but I would say anything above that would be pushing it for sure. The host family we stayed at held 5 of us at one time so I know its possible but it would depend on how many people the host family can hold and how...
You can apply, but you must apply with someone else that is over 18 so that you don't go alone. Hope that helps!
I'm not sure there is an age restriction, but for most of the programs you have to get a background check and in my state you must be 18 to acquire one. I would recommend the program only to people 18+ anyways.

Reviews

95%
based on 35 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 35
Default avatar
Sara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of a Kind Experience!!

Through IVHQ my mom and I travelled to Costa Rica to help in the childcare program. I worked with 2-3 years olds, they were the cutest, sweetest kids ever. Each day my mom and I did a different activity with the kids. I usually brought different books and they loved to look at the pictures. I would recommend everyone to do this. You will get a better outlook on the world. Growing up in a wealthier part of California, I was able to see what you really needed to be happy. Most of the things the kids played with were recycled things, but they enjoyed every moment. This is an unforgettable experience!! It contains memories that I will never forget!Also the volunteer program in Costa Rica connected us to an amazing tour, where we visited a coffee plantation, volcano, and waterfalls.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To future travelers, bring more money than you think and wear sunscreen. Also compared to where I live people are very kind, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions or ask what bus stop.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for the review Sara! It sounds like you and your mum had a really great time working with the kids even doing the little things like sweeping! I hope this experience helps you in the future towards your goal of participating in Doctors Without Boarders :) Kate - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
pally
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida !!

The beginning of the trip was very rocky because I didn’t know what to expect since the information of the trip wasn’t descriptive. However, the trip changed for the better. Teaching the children and adults was not only eye-opening but such a great feeling to teach. The food though was not as good as I thought it would be. Breakfast was okay but for lunch it’s mostly just sandwiches. Dinner is usually pretty good though! the excursions were really fun - We went to a national rainforest, 2 beaches & a waterfall. The girls on the trip though made my experience really fun just because everyone was so positive. I wish we were able to do more though when we had breaks. I would definitely do this again though !! The children are absolutely adorable & the adults are very eager to learn which makes it so exciting

Default avatar
Tess
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica (turtle conservation)

We had an amazing time volunteering in Costa Rica as part of the turtle conservation. The program makes sure you are safe and plans your transportation and accommodation so you don’t have to worry about that. Even when we landed in San Jose we had a home stay set up. Most of the food is prepared for you, so not a lot of extra costs add up. We were stationed in Ostional and it was beautiful. We were able to add a week of touring at the end of volunteering and got to see many amazing locations. Costa Rica has so much scenery and wildlife to offer and volunteering is a rewarding way to travel and get to know locals and make friends from around the world. Other couples,singles, various ages all volunteered alongside us and we made for a fun dynamic group.
At Ostional the leaders were lovely. They have a great passion for turtle conservation and were willing to help us with our Spanish. The food was great and the beach was absolutely beautiful. It is a protected space, so barely any tourists , mostly locals. Since it was such a small community we hardly saw them. Also protected are local mangroves. It does get very hot (dry season) and we had to work in 30-35C degree heat which was hard for some. But all over a great experience

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We arrived and an Arribada (mass turtle nesting) had started. It was an amazing phenomenon and we were so happy to be part of it.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Tess, Thanks for choosing to volunteer with IVHQ for your honeymoon! We're so happy that you and Adam enjoyed your time working with the turtles in Ostional and look forward to hosting you both again in the future! Kate - IVHQ Program Manager.

Lindsay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My IVHQ experience in Costa Rica

After researching a lot of different volunteer organizations, I found IVHQ and instantly new that this was the one I wanted to do. As a result, I quickly applied and was lucky enough to spend a week volunteering in the healthcare setting in downtown San Jose. I volunteered primarily with the elderly , in two locations to get more exposure. The medical staff there were very grateful and allowed us to help in many ways, feeding, topical applications, blood pressure, and more. They also walked us through and taught us various medical procedures, which was great to learn. Throughout the whole trip, a medical coordinator helped us get around and ensured our experience was great. Also, we had time on the weekends and our shift to explore Costa Rica, which is absolutely stunning. Overall, I highly recommend this program and location because Costa Rica is such a special place. Pura vida!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hey Lindsey, Thanks for taking the time to share about your experiences on the Healthcare project in San Jose! It sounds like you gained some useful experience in the medical field and it's great that you still had time to relax with your host family and explore Costa Rica! We hope you will join us again soon! Kate - IVHQ Program Manager.

Dillon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Costa Rica

IVHQ is the absolute best for international volunteering. The projects come with awesome people and life changing opportunities! Costa Rica was an eye opening experience. IVHQ provides me with all of the information I could have posssibly need to know about the area. The staff was amazing and the project was so awesome. I would recommend IVHQ to anybody who would like to broaden their perspective on love, care, and amazing experiences. Daniel was an absolute blessing. He was the most informative and caring individual I have ever met. He loves people and the programs. I built relationships and friendships with people who I have never had an encounter with. Fernonda was my partner in crime throughout the duration of the trip. I still stay in touch with her even if we are thousands of miles away!

What would you improve about this program?
N/A! There isn’t one thing I would change about this program.
Default avatar
eustace
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida

Hi!
My name is Eustace and I volunteered with IVHQ last month on a healthcare mission. First off, I will say, I was a little nervous upon arrival as this was my first time doing something of this nature. However, the moment I spotted the Yellow flag with the smiley face I suddenly became overwhelmed with this great feeling of excitement. My volunteer mission had begun.

Although, my driver and I could not communicate due to the language barrier she still greeted me warmly. I was then transported to the Maximo HQ where I met all the staff who were very nice. The next step was to complete the orientation. This provided me with all the information I needed to know about what to expect on my trip. At the end of my orientation I felt fully prepared for the week ahead of me.

A Maximo program leader and I then made our way over to the elderly home I would be volunteering at for a quick tour and introduction to the staff. He was trilingual and very familiar with Costa Rica so he was very informative when I asked questions. The bus ride to Cartago was approximately 45 minutes so I had ample time to ask numerous questions. I learned the route I would be taking to get to and fro the home and also got to meet some of the patients I would help care for. I couldn't believe it was still just day one as I felt like I had already been here for multiple days. The locals are very friendly and will always greet you warmly.

After the tour of the home, we returned to the Maximo HQ where I got my schedule for the week and was then transported to my host home. This is where I met my mama tica. Although her english was not that good her son, who was bilingual, helped to bridge the gap. My Mama tica made my brief stay in Costa Rica a memorable one. At the end of the trip, I felt like I gained another family. Every morning, she would check in on us to make sure we were up and at dinner we shared stories about our cultures, childhoods, and a variety of other topics.

The time I spent volunteering at the elderly home helped me to fulfill all my goals for the trip. I learned a lot about patient care and got to interact with the patients who were always happy to spend time and share their stories. One tip I will give you is be prepared to possibly take frigid showers for the duration of your stay. It's a small adjustment but you get used to it after a while. Also, one of my childhood friends took the trip with me so in our down time we went on mini adventures through San Jose and took the bus to Jaco on the weekend. I suggest if this is your first time you get one of your friends to take the trip with you. This will help to ease any unnerving feelings you may have knowing that you have the support of your friends.

Best,
Eustace.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program doesn't have any noticeable flaws. It is very impactful and helps bridge cultural gaps between people who come together united for a good cause.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Eustace, it sounds like you had an incredible time in Costa Rica and really took the time to get to know the local people. Thank you for giving back with IVHQ! Acacia - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Yashna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica construction project through ivhq

I met so many volunteers and it really felt like I made a difference. It was such a rewarding experience and everyone is so friendly. The local team that Ivhq put me through to was so accommodating and helpful. The customer service as well was amazing. I would 100% recommend this to all my friends. My trip started off with an orientation that really prepared me for the week. Then we had an optional walking tour which was great for food prices and buses etc. so it made us aware of where we had to go. I also love that they tell us about the culture and how to not be rude and how to take care of ourselves while we’re there. During the week the field manager was extremely helpful with showing us what to do even though he didn’t speak English. He didn’t just leave us hanging but put us to work which is what we were there for. Lastly, the fact that you have travel partners for weekend trips was the cherry on top! It made everything so easy- getting picked up and dropped off was amazing because other places only pick you up from hotels so it’s a great incentive for the volunteers. The whole experience was amazing.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe standardize the food more with all the house moms because everyone has different quantities and it makes you feel that you may not have had your money’s worth
Default avatar
Madison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Manuel Antonio

I m so beyond grateful I had the opportunity to go guide those children. Volunteering was amazing yet challenging in many ways. For one the language barrier was a real thing. I am beginner level spanish speaker and the children are beginner level english speakers. You go in thinking that you are going to help them but yet they are the ones that actually help you the most. They taught me more patience than I already thought I had and taught me more spanish then I thought they would. The were all so kind, loving, appreciative and eager to learn which made my heart so incredibly happy. Seeing children want to further their education and knowledge of the world is what drives me to be a better person myself. Future participants should know that at first it may be overwhelming and that it is okay to feel this way. Just always keep an open mind and do not be afraid to ask questions and not know the answer.

What would you improve about this program?
The program was awesome in my opinion and does not really need improvements. I would say though we should promote more on fundraising for this project in order to give back and help out with anything these locations may need.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Madison - It sounds like you really connected with the children in Costa Rica! Thank you for spending your time helping them and in-turn learning from them as well. Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Mauro
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle conservation project: amazing experience <3

I think this was one of the most exiting experience in my life.
I am feeling so lucky, I had the unique opportunity to see Lora turtles laying eggs and to get in my hand a baby turtle, I have seen them go to the ocean. This is something I can explains with words, it touch your heart.
If you are looking for a restful holiday you are in the wrong place: but no work could be too hard if this is the reward.
Junquillal will be a piece of my heart forever, and I promise to myself, I will get back there one day.

What would you improve about this program?
Please cancel the useless orientation-day in San Jose!
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Mauro - It's incredible to hear how much you learned while caring for the sea turtles in Costa Rica! Thank you for your hard work! Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager.

Mohkam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IVHQ Partnered W/ Maximo Nivel In Costa Rica

IVHQ gave me all the tools and information necessary to be prepared for my trip abroad. They stayed in touch throughout my preparation process and while in Costa Rica. Their step by step guidance made the process very simple. Their description was what I expected upon my arrival. Overall, the costs they assessed did cover what they said it would. I was unaware of some of the processing fees, outside of their advertised price. Upon further inspection, they were provided (in a smaller sub-text). Regardless, the trip was affordable. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to more trips with them in the future!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Mohkam - I'm glad we were able to assist you with an amazing volunteer experience! We look forward to seeing where you go next.
Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Kristina
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Must!

IVHQ really provided me with an opportunity that really impacted me. I went to Costa Rica to teach English for a week and it was the most life-changing experience of my life. I am definitely going to volunteer abroad more often and for a longer period of time. I got exposed to a real Costa Rican community. I stayed with a wonderful Costa Rican family and ate Costa Rican food everyday. The whole pack was an amazing experience. I taught some wonderful kids and I got attached to them so much. I still think of them every day. I recommend everyone to volunteer abroad at least once. It is really an eyeopening experience.

What would you improve about this program?
One thing that can be improved is having a bit more information about our projects and host family. I was scary going to an unknown country with no information whatsoever about our stay and our work. More information would have comforted me more.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Kristina - thank you for being an amazing volunteer! We look forward to assisting you with your next volunteer adventure. Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Tim
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica - construction project

I volunteered on the construction project in Costa Rica for 4 weeks. It was the most rewarding experience of my life, and I enjoyed every minute of it. This was my first time taking a trip out of the United States, and I was very nervous. However, the staff was incredible and I felt safe the entire time. This trip gave me the opportunity to experience a different culture while doing meaningful work. I also met many amazing people that I still keep in touch with.

One recommendation I have for future participants is to stay a few extra days after your project concludes to explore other parts of the country.

What would you improve about this program?
While it was great to have free time in the afternoon and evenings, it would be great if the working hours were extended. We worked each day from 9-12. On some days, right when we were getting into a good work flow, it was time to clean up and leave. Just by extending the work day an extra hour would be very beneficial.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Tim - thank you for spending a month in Costa Rica contributing to the community in San Jose. We hope to have you on another IVHQ volunteer experience soon! Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager

Default avatar
Sadie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Childcare in Costa Rica

Volunteering in Costa Rica was fantastic. IVHQ definitely prepared me well for my trip and continued to check in throughout my duration there. The local team was outstanding, I always knew I could go in and there would be people there happy to help. I loved my project, and learned so much from the kids. The other volunteers were kind and motivated. Overall, I would recommend this trip to any and everyone!

What would you improve about this program?
The only suggestion I would make is it would be very beneficial to know some Spanish prior to going.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sadie - Thank you for your amazing work with the children in Costa Rica! We look forward to having you back again soon :) Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager

Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica!

I was fortunate enough to volunteer in Costa Rica this Spring, and believe that every person with the means to do so should absolutely volunteer abroad!

I was placed in Junquillal, CR in a camp that was a short walk from the beach. Every day we woke up and went to the beach before we started a hard day's work. We'd spend a few hours every day working outside either in the camp, on the beach, or doing work for the community. We patrolled the beach on different shifts looking for sea turtle nests, and if you were lucky enough to be on the late night shift, you'd likely walk out to see the milky way reflecting on the waves.

Everyone I met during my trip -- the IVHQ team, the local organizations, and other volunteers -- made the adventure so easy and warm. I'm actually already planning on another trip with IVHQ!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Elizabeth - thank you for all of your hard work in Costa Rica! You were an incredible volunteer and it's great to hear you are already planning your next volunteer adventure! Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager

Jessi
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

Costa Ricas amazing! The nature, the people and the wildlife. The best part by far was my amazing host family!! Teaching English was challenging but fun! I've learned a lot! I also got a chance to learn a bit of Spanish. The community I lived in was welcoming and after four short weeks felt like home. I got out of my comfort zone and was able to do some amazing things. I would recommend IVHQ to anyone and would love to travel through them again. I will keep these memories of Costa Rica forever and can't wait to come back.

What would you improve about this program?
A better description of the program.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jessi - it's great to hear about your connection with the host family and all you gained from volunteering abroad. Thank you for choosing IVHQ and we hope to have you join us again soon! ^Rachel - IVHQ Costa Rica Program Manager

Location

Location:
San José
Currency:
Costa Rican Colón
Weather:
Jan-Mar
79 F / 57 F
Apr-Jun
81 F / 63 F
Jul-Sep
88 F / 73 F
Oct-Dec
86 F / 73 F

Costa Rica is known for its Pura Vida lifestyle and San José is a great place to get familiar with the lifestyle. One of the best ways to discover San José is through the arts; whether you like theatre, dance, or music, this is the quickest way to the heart of Costa Rica.

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About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 40+ destinations around the world. Over 100,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the...
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