Costa Rica is becoming more and more popular with tourists, and with good reason! Whether you love being active and exploring nature, to culture and city explorers, to anyone wishing to relax on a beautiful beach – Costa Rica has it all!
Aside from it being an incredible place to visit, the other side to the country is that around 33% of the population in Costa Rica sit below the poverty line. Volunteering in Costa Rica is an excellent way to help give back to society and the local communities here. As well as helping people, many of our projects in Costa Rica are also focused on the environment and conservation.
Climate change and deforestation are damaging Costa Rica’s natural biodiversity, which is such a shame as it is some of the most unique in the world. Read on to find out all the reasons why you should volunteer in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a developing country
As mentioned above, Costa Rica has around 33% of its population in poverty, which has only become worse since the pandemic. Many of those in rural areas are far worse off than those in the cities, and women also suffer more due to earning less than their male counterparts.
By volunteering in Costa Rica, you can help those that are most in need of support, whether that is providing free healthcare which would not have been accessible otherwise, to educating children and adults to help better their career prospects. Every little bit makes a difference.
Costa Rica is known for its range of biodiversity. In fact, for being a super small country, it holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity! Almost 25% of the country is protected by national parks, which are filled with wildlife and flora and fauna.
This is the PERFECT destination for anyone who loves nature and wildlife! From lowland forests, to forests high in the mountains, cloud forests, rainforests, dry forests, swamps, volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, you name it!
When volunteering in Costa Rica you will have weekends off to explore, so it allows you to see some of this stunning country, as well as giving back – it’s a win!
If you like to be active during your free time, then there is plenty to do here in Costa Rica! Here are some of the adventure filled activities on offer:
- zip lining
- white water rafting
- suspensions bridges
- horse riding
- scuba diving
- bungee jumping
Our local team will be able to guide you on the best place to book these activities, but they are easily bookable on half day or full day tours.
Time to Relax
Jumping out of a plane not quite your thing? Don’t worry! For those who just want to lie a beach during their time off, then there are plenty of beaches to choose from in Costa Rica. If you are volunteering in our Manual Antonio location, then you will be right on the beach, although as Costa Rica is small, even San Jose is close to the beach, so you can get the best of both worlds!
With eight hundred miles of coastline, its not hard to find a quiet beach all to yourself! The beaches are picture-postcard beautiful and perfect to relax after a week of volunteer work! There are also plenty of spas and hot springs to wind down in too.
Culture when volunteering in Costa Rica
Volunteering in Costa Rica will open your eyes to an exciting new culture! The locals always have a smile of their faces, and our host families will welcome you with open arms, and you will very quicky feel like one of the family.
Expect to hear “Pura Vida!” a lot when in Costa Rica. Its meaning is ‘pure life’ and embodies several meanings to locals, who use it interchangeably to mean hello, to show excitement, have a good day, etc. It basically means to appreciate everything and everyone around you, and that’s not a bad message to take back home with you!
Education and healthcare can be limited
Although Costa Rica has a national educational system, those in the poorer rural areas often lack teaching staff and resources. This is much the same for medical facilities. Free healthcare is available but only to those most in need, so essentially those who earn an income will need to pay for healthcare.
In rural areas in particular, locals may not be close to a hospital and therefore be able to spend the money to travel to one if needed. Medical clinics and schools can often be overrun in these areas, without the staff numbers.
Volunteering in Costa Rica means you can provide valuable assistance to those most in need. Helping local healthcare and teaching staff can ease the load and provide valuable opportunities to exchange knowledge between the local teams.
Deforestation is a problem
Climate change and deforestation are damaging to the local biodiversity so many of our projects focus on the environment. Our turtle conservation project helps to protect the endangered sea turtles by monitoring hatcheries, researching, and helping to clean the turtles natural environment. We also have a project located on a nature reserve which involves a variety of tasks from assisting on the reserve by maintaining paths, showing visitors around, education, and research, to beach cleaning and light construction work. For those who don’t mind getting a bit more active, we have a sustainable farming project where you can volunteer at coffee farms, macadamia nut and permaculture farms or help to grow local tea and cacao in communal farming projects.
City and food culture
As well as plenty of outdoor activities, Costa Rica is also being put on the map as a great foodie destination. From coffee shops to craft brewers, hip new bars and restaurants, San Jose is becoming quite the foodie scene.
Don’t forget the visit some of the more local restaurants too, with plenty of delicious local cuisine, you are spoiled for choice.
San Jose also boasts museums, art galleries, theatre, live music, and other landmarks all worth exploring.
There is just some of the reasons why volunteering in Costa Rica should be on your radar! Head to the main Costa Rica page for all the projects.
If you have never volunteered before, you may be interested in our FREE eBook, which covers not only the mistakes volunteers often make, but what to do instead! It also includes a full packing guide, how to get the best experience, how to prepare for your trip, as well as a bonus printable travel journal for your trip!