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.
Many projects in Costa Rica support environmental efforts around the country. As a United Planet volunteer in Costa Rica, you can work at rural conservation projects, eco-farms, or wildlife rehabilitation centers. You can also support community development projects in San José, the nation’s capital.
Great for volunteers with a background in psychology. Volunteers work in homes for the elderly, providing recreation and special attention. Some of these centers care for elderly during the day, while others provide the residents with a place to live full time. Possible tasks for the volunteer include keeping residents company, organizing activities such as exercises or workshops, helping with cleaning and cooking, and assisting in physiotherapy and medical care. Please note that participation in medical tasks will be very limited.
Volunteers work at children’s homes, daycare centers, public elementary schools, or a children’s hospital, supporting abused, abandoned, or orphaned children who need attention and mental stimulation in order to develop healthy social skills and self-confidence. Tasks may include helping with homework, teaching English, or organizing activities such as sports games, crafts, reading, dancing, singing, and charades.
Volunteers work at environmental projects in various locations around Costa Rica. Volunteer work includes conservation, promoting environmental awareness and ecotourism, caring for wildlife, and more.
During your two-day orientation in Costa Rica, you’ll receive a walking tour of the capital city, San José. This is a great way to get acquainted with your new surroundings and learn about Costa Rica’s rich history.
As a United Planet Costa Rica volunteer, you’ll also visit the Poás Volcano during your country orientation. Laguna Caliente, the active volcano’s surrounding crater lake, is one of the most acidic in the world, giving it its unique teal color.
To help you immerse in your surroundings, you’ll receive six hours of small group Spanish lessons during your stay in Costa Rica. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your new language skills to use.
Volunteers working at Children and Education or Global Health Projects will stay with host families near their project sites. This is a great way to learn more about Costa Rican culture and practice the language!
Volunteers working at Environmental Sustainability projects will live in shared volunteer lodges at their project sites. You’ll bond with your fellow volunteers while immersing yourself in Costa Rica’s famous natural environment.
Add a one or two week intensive Spanish Language course to your Quest. The course is taught by experienced teachers and will help you develop your Spanish vocabulary and listening comprehension skills. This optional course takes place during the first two weeks of your Quest in a Spanish Language school in San José. The classes are four hours long and run from Monday to Friday for a total of 20 hours per week.
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.
United Planet provides emergency travel and medical insurance for all volunteers. All Costa Rica staff members participate in extensive health and safety training, and are available at all times by 24-hour phone line. Upon enrollment, you will receive a full emergency contact list. In addition, we register all of our volunteers with US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). We recommend booking a doctor’s appointment or visiting a travel health clinic a few months out to update your vaccinations. Read more about health and safety.
Due to varying airline prices, United Planet does not arrange or cover the cost of flights to and from Costa Rica. However, we arrange all ground transportation to and from the airport in Costa Rica and will ensure that you arrive safely at orientation in San José and at your accommodations. Public transportation between your accommodations and your project will depend on the location of your host family and the project. You can usually commute by walking or by bus, which is cheap and easy. Daily commuting costs are covered by volunteers.
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.