Volunteer in Costa Rica

The adventure of a lifetime in a remote paradise.

Elusive wildcats. Prehistoric sea turtles. Flamboyant birdlife. Join one of our Costa Rica wildlife volunteer or internship programs and find yourself immersed in a tropical terrain teeming with thousands of species – and help protect it against the threats of habitat loss.

Overview

Why volunteer in Costa Rica?

Did you know that Costa Rica accounts for only 0,03% of the world’s surface area, but contains more than 5% of its biodiversity? When you join a volunteer program in Costa Rica, you’ll live and work in the heart of the tropical jungle on the Caribbean coast. 

Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems

Since Costa Rica has such a variety of terrains, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a multitude of different ecosystems where myriad types of fauna and flora flourish. And the tropical climate just adds to the variety. 

On a wildlife volunteer program in Costa Rica you’ll experience a country bursting with biodiversity and see first-hand the types of plants and animals that are found in its forested peaks and flatlands. Our conservation volunteer work in Costa Rica includes projects where you could work towards the conservation of:

  • Tropical birds.
  • Reptiles and amphibians.
  • Ocelots, pumas and other jungle cats.
  • Sea turtles. 
  • Hundreds of species of frogs and reptiles.
  • Monkeys, sloths, coatis and porcupines.

 

It’s no coincidence that our volunteer programs in Costa Rica are rated tops. We take every opportunity to make sure that our programs are the best by: 

  • Contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Collaborating with the local community.
  • Focusing on ethical interactions and sustainable solutions.
  • Offering ample opportunity to have fun and make a meaningful impact abroad.

 

Exploring Costa Rica in your free time

Our volunteer projects allow for plenty of free time – meaning you can explore the surrounding areas. A popular tourist destination, you’ll be spoilt for choice when visiting Costa Rica. If you’re looking for beaches, you’ve come to the right place. Head to Punta Uva beach, where you’ll find kilometres of white sand lined with palm trees, excellent surfing conditions, and eateries. The famously advanced surfing spot known as Salsa Brava can also be found here. If you’re looking for something more off the beaten track, head to the neighbouring beach towns of Cahuita or Manzanillo. 

Other activities you can take part in include snorkelling among a coral reef in Cahuita National Park, hiking, ziplining and white-water rafting. You could also spend a weekend visiting a nearby town. Spend the day exploring the cultural sites of the city, visit a museum, admire the architecture, and take note of the birdlife while enjoying a picnic in one of the city’s many parks.

Read more about Costa Rica in this article: Costa Rica Adventure Travel: Thrilling Experiences in Nature’s Playground.

Our programs

Volunteering
Wildlife Expedition in Costa Rica
Internship
Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Under 18
Rainforest and Wildlife Conservation Teen Volunteering in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Wild Cat Conservation in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Bird Research in Costa Rica
Research Fellowship
Conservation Research Fellowship in Costa Rica
Professional Apprenticeship
Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in Costa Rica
Internship
Wild Cat Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Internship
Sea Turtle Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Rainforest Exploration and Biodiversity in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Reptile and Amphibian Diversity Research in the Costa Rican Rainforest
Volunteering
Citizen Science Program in Costa Rica
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Cook traditional cuisine with local experts.
Go on a waterfall hike.
Take part in moth or butterfly trapping.
Witness the natural spectacle of daybreak.
Watch a Costa Rican sunset from the rainforest.
Stargaze from a jungle tower.
Develop your wildlife photography skills.
Yoga in the rainforest.
Programs

We offer a range of opportunities in Costa Rica, including volunteering, internships, a research fellowship and a professional apprenticeship. 

Conservation volunteering in Costa Rica 

Feed your sense of adventure by journeying to our Kekoldi research station in Costa Rica’s Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, and getting involved in wildlife and marine conservation. From assisting with the conservation of critically endangered hawksbills and endangered green sea turtles to gathering valuable data on jaguarundis and other wild cats, your biggest decision will be deciding which conservation volunteer program you want to join.

Volunteer in Costa Rica in wildlife conservation

Take the chance to duck and dive along a jungle path and take stock of all the species you spot. With each twist and turn, you’ll keep an eye out for the tropical birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as wild cats that you’ll be collecting conservation data on while volunteering in Costa Rica. 

If you’re looking to explore a remarkable coastal rainforest and conduct biodiversity species in their natural habitat, our rainforest and biodiversity program is for you. Living and working in the rainforest, you’ll hike through the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, assisting the Costa Rican government with understanding the health of the habitat and assisting them with managing conservation efforts in the region.

Costa Rica is also a bird lover’s paradise. On our bird research program, you’ll have the opportunity to work on dedicated bird of prey and tropical bird species research, gaining invaluable experience in data collection techniques and conservation strategies.

And if conducting research on wild cats is something you’ve almost dreamt about, our wild cat conservation volunteer program is the one for you. You’ll learn valuable conservation skills and field experience while setting up and monitoring camera traps in the rainforest to monitor population studies. 

We also have a specially designed under 18 program for teens between the ages of 15 and 17. Teens who join our rainforest conservation volunteering program will explore diverse habitats like jungles, lagoons and beaches, learning to identify local wildlife, including monkeys, tropical birds, raptor, reptiles, wild cats and sloths. They’ll also protect sea turtle nests, participate in beach cleanups and support community initiatives. 

GVI has been operating ethical and responsible programs for under 18s since 2012, so you’re in safe hands with us. We treat health and safety as a number one priority and take extra measures for our under 18 programs, with greater supervision applied to our teen programs than our other volunteer programs.

Training and field experience allows teens to develop skills beneficial to their college applications and future employability. Some of these might include intercultural competency, teamwork, and leadership, by interacting and working with teens from around the world.

Volunteer in Costa Rica in marine conservation

With more than 1,000 kilometres of coastline, it may be a challenge to see every beach in Costa Rica. But, when you do volunteer work in Costa Rica you’ll travel to some of the best beach spots in the country, and take part in meaningful marine conservation activities while you’re there. 

Get kitted out and set off on night patrols along the beach during the turtle-nesting season in Costa Rica. Count the numbers of turtles creeping up onto the beach, digging their nests or already laying their eggs. Then get some sleep before going out for day-time patrols where you can assist team leaders in measuring turtles and collecting other information that contributes towards the conservation of leatherback, hawksbill and green sea turtles

Run in conjunction with Turtle Rescue Cahuita, when you join our sea turtle conservation volunteer program you might also have the opportunity to assist with research on wild cats, birds, reptiles and amphibians, contributing to long-term conservation efforts along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

Our Costa Rica volunteer programs run throughout the year, from January to November, but our sea turtle conservation activities are restricted to the nesting season, from March until August.

Each of these volunteer programs in Costa Rica come with the GVI promise that you’ll:

  • Contribute towards tackling global issues.
  • Direct your career goals and work to improve your employability.
  • Receive support from GVI before, during and after your volunteering in Costa Rica experience.

See what you could get up to on a gap year in Costa Rica here: What to do in a gap year in Costa Rica.

Internships in Costa Rica

GVI’s international internships offer a range of conservation programs where you’ll work with local partner organisations and gain hands-on fieldwork experience. This is an excellent opportunity to boost your employability and contribute to cutting-edge research. These programs also foster leadership skills, allowing interns to take charge of various projects in the field of conservation. Ranging in length from 2 to 12 weeks, we offer the following internships in Costa Rica:

Professional apprenticeship in Costa Rica

Begin your career with a 3-month work placement in Costa Rica, where you’ll gain essential experience by working on real-world conservation projects. This opportunity follows your intensive 12-week training in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve on the Caribbean coast, where you’ll learn from an international team of researchers and contribute to projects focused on wild cats.

Research fellowship in Costa Rica

Joining our conservation research fellowship is a golden opportunity to finish your studies and maybe even get published. Whether you go solo on a research project or contribute to ongoing ones, you’ll dive headfirst into the whole research process, from collecting and analysing data to sharing your discoveries in papers or theses. 

Community development programs in Costa Rica

If you’re looking for a community based program, we run a range of projects from our community hub in Cartago. Our programs are locally-led, which means you’ll work in collaboration with community leaders, enjoy homemade Costa Rican cuisine and learn about the language and culture of Costa Rica first-hand. 

Spend your time on volunteer programs in Costa Rica that are focused on supporting the education of school-aged children through extra-curricular activities. Work with school teachers and your fellow volunteers to plan and deliver fun activities that assist children in learning English. 

Since GVI is committed to ethical and sustainable solutions, we’ve transitioned away from working with orphanages, and each of our Costa Rica volunteer programs follows our strict stance on orphanage volunteering, as well as our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy.

While the closing of the educational gender gap is cause for celebration in Costa Rica, there are still many opportunities to address UN SDG 5: Gender Equality. Learn about the culture of Costa Rica while working with local women in one of our Costa Rica community volunteer opportunities. Facilitate English-language lessons and alternative-income projects that will assist them in starting – or improving on – their business in the tourism sector. 

Visit our People site to find out more about our community programs in Costa Rica.

FAQs

FAQs about our volunteer in Costa Rica programs 

Q: What languages do I need to know to volunteer in Costa Rica?

A: When it comes to volunteering in Costa Rica, fluency in English is a must-have. While not essential, having a grasp of Spanish will certainly be helpful and enhance your experience. So, whether you’re already fluent or just starting to learn, your dedication to making a positive impact is what truly matters!

Q: What costs do I need to consider when volunteering in Costa Rica? 

A: How much you spend while volunteering in Costa Rica depends on your personal preferences. GVI covers your accommodation, meals while on project, and all the necessary training, equipment and materials you’ll need on your volunteering in Costa Rica trip. Your fees also include any specified program excursions and activities.

You may need a visa to travel to Costa Rica (depending on the country you are travelling from). 

The costs you’ll need to cover once in-country include any extra excursions or activities you choose to take part in, Spanish lessons (if not included in your program) and additional drinks and gratuities. 

You can get in touch with GVI’s support staff to find out more about project- and travel-specific details for our Costa Rica volunteer programs. 

Q: How is volunteer health and safety ensured on GVI’s Costa Rica volunteer programs?

A: Our Costa Rica volunteer opportunities take every necessary precaution to ensure volunteer health and safety. Our strict Health and Safety policy places the well-being of our volunteers at the top of our list of priorities. All staff on our projects are our own, which means that they’ve been through our rigorous health and safety training. During orientation, every volunteer also receives general and country-specific health and safety training that allows them to have the safest – and most exciting – volunteer experience. 

While volunteering in Costa Rica, participants take part in volunteer activities in groups and are supervised by trained professionals. GVI promises you a safe and enjoyable experience.