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Volunteer in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its amazing natural beauty, biodiversity, eco-tourism, and warm, relaxed culture. As a volunteer in this Central American republic, you’ll immerse yourself in a nation of undisturbed rainforests, peaceful atmosphere (the Costa Rican army was abolished in 1948) and “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Costa Ricans are friendly, relaxed, and willing to lend a hand, or even a home, in times of need. Slow down and appreciate a different pace of life – you’ll feel at home in this family-oriented culture.

United Planet is the US and Canadian member of the International Cultural Youth Exchange, or ICYE. As a volunteer in Costa Rica, you will be hosted by ACI, ICYE’s Costa Rican partner organization. As an international non-profit, ACI has promoted cross-cultural exchange between young people all over the world since 1967.

Male Costa Rican farmer smiles at the camera

Project Information

Social Work

Volunteers work with children who live on the street. Tasks include taking care of the children, helping with homework, and playing games. The goal of these projects is to further the education and personal development of the children they support.

Caring for the Elderly

Volunteers assist and provide companionship to elderly citizens in a residential setting. Volunteers’ tasks consist of providing company for residents, organizing activities, and occasionally assisting with physical therapy. Help in the kitchen and other manual work are also likely to be involved.


Volunteers assist with the conservation of native wildlife, including various species of plants, birds, invertebrates, or primates. The objective of these projects is to protect endangered species and reintroduce them into the wild. Volunteer duties include, but are not limited to observing and taking notes on animal behavior and helping to maintain the gardens and trails of the National Parks.

Country Highlights

Photo of one of the oldest churches in Costa Rica, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción

Photo by Edwin Dalorzo

See the Ruins of Ujarrás in the Orosí Valley

The ruins are the site of Costa Rica’s oldest church which was built somewhere between 1575 and 1580. In addition to the ruins, there are other nearby attractions to visit, such as Tapanti National Park, which is the site of the largest known butterfly in the Americas, the Thysania Agripina.

Poas Crater in Costa Rica

Photo by Peter Andersen

Visit Arenal Volcano National Park in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Take a relaxing soak in the Tabacon Hot Springs, explore the Venado Caves, or see the La Fortuna Waterfall. There are seemingly endless amounts of things to do at this national park.

Relax at the Playa Flamingo

The Playa Flamingo is just one of the many beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. You can do much more than relax at this beach; learn how to surf or sail, go fishing, or come face to face with exotic fish by going diving.

See a fire show in Montezuma

The fire show is put on by the Fire Dancing School and takes place in the center of Montezuma. This is a free and exciting show that displays the fire dancing art in Costa Rica. It is an excellent experience to witness, you don’t want to miss if you are in the area.

Quest Fees and Details

United Planet Quests are designed to be immersive, authentic, comprehensive and provide you everything you’ll need to succeed. The program elements allow you to engage fully with a new culture, forge strong relationships, and challenge yourself. Most importantly, we partner with the community to ensure your experience will be important, relevant and helpful to the community you serve.

Included in Your Quest

  • Extensive pre-departure preparation, including a training weekend in New Hampshire with United Planet staff
  • Food and lodging in your host country
  • Airport transfers
  • Emergency medical insurance
  • In-country orientation upon arrival and ongoing support and supervision throughout your Quest
  • Language training
  • Mid-year camp (for 1 year volunteers) and final camp
  • Monthly stipend for incidental expenses


  • 18 – 26 years old (age requirement is flexible)
  • Citizen or resident of the United States or Canada

Start Dates and Travel

  • Long-term Quests begin twice a year, in January and August.
  • Volunteers are responsible for booking and covering the cost of their own flights, both to the training weekend in New Hampshire and to and from their host country.
  • Volunteers will obtain the necessary visas with support from our Long-Term staff to volunteer in their host country.

Quest Fee and Deadlines

 Start Date  6 month fee  1 year fee  Early Bird Deposit Deadline  Regular Deposit Deadline
August 2016 $8,995 $12,295 Monday, March 21, 2016 Monday, May 23, 2016
January 2017 $8,995 $12,295 Friday, August 12, 2016 Friday, September 16, 2016
Enroll by the Early Bird Deadline and take $300 off your Quest fee.
About Our Quest Fee

We want you to succeed. That means having in place the support our volunteers need. We don’t just drop you in country and hope for the best. We provide training before you leave … language exposure … 24/7 in-country support … support for your host family … accommodations, meals and airport transportation … activities and excursions. The whole idea is to make the experience successful and productive for you and the host community, and we have found that these things are crucial. Remember that we are a non-profit, mission-driven organization – we wouldn’t spend money on something that wasn’t important.

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