' I LOVE this experience in chitwan for though short period! '

Xue Ying Fiona Wang

Volunteer in Cost Rica

The Most Affordable

Volunteer fees starting at just
$185

The Most Reputed

Since 1998, over 18,000 Volunteers, hundreds of online reviews

The Most Transparent

No Middlemen. Pay your fees directly to host families and projects.

Do you want to experience one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet? Volunteering in Costa Rica is your opportunity to visit one of Central America's most breathtaking locations. When you volunteer in Costa Rica you get the chance to see exotic wildlife, majestic nature, and interact with friendly people.

Costa Rica is a very popular destination for many people from across the globe and there's little doubt as to why. The nation of Costa Rica is filled with mighty volcanoes, plentiful waterfalls, tropical forests, and exotic creatures. From its' inland wonders to its' picturesque beaches, Costa Rica is full of splendor. However, poverty and environmental concerns make your work as a volunteer ever so important. Volunteer in Costa Rica and find out how you can help in this beautiful land. Contact us now and find out how you can be a volunteer in Costa Rica!

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On-going volunteer programs in Costa Rica

The Fee and Dates

RCDP Costa Rica Volunteer Programs start every Monday throughout the year.

Volunteer Program in Costa Rica
Volunteer Program in Costa Rica

Every year hundreds of volunteers working with UK and USA based organizations end up paying up to $2500 to volunteer in Costa Rica for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, only a small portion of that money actually goes to host the local projects and host families. The local host projects, childcare centers, schools, and local NGO’s in Costa Rica are poor and need external support to run their programs. In our program, you will pay your fee directly to host families and projects upon arrival in Costa Rica. When you join our program, we will make sure that all of your money goes to the projects and host families. Part of your fees also helps us to cover our expenses. The program fee is divided into a registration fee ($279) and weekly fee for room, food, coordination, and project donation.
Click to find the allocation of $279

In Costa Rica, the weekly program fee is divided between coordination (services of local staffs), host family (room/2-3 local foods a day depending on the project), and project donation. Costa Rica is an expensive tourist destination; therefore, nearly 90% of your weekly fee goes to covering your food, room, and coordination. While 10% of your fee goes to the project as a material donation (not cash). Below is the breakdown of cost in on a weekly basis.

San Jose & Manuel Antonio Program Fees (US$)
  Duration   San Jose
(Childcare, Teaching English)
San Jose
(Medical, Construction, Eco-Agriculture)
Manuel Antonio
(Childcare, Teaching English)
Manuel Antonio
(Medical)
  1 Week $385 $460 $499 $574
  2 Weeks $680 $830 $814 $964
  3 Weeks $960 $1185 $1129 $1354
  4 Weeks $1200 $1500 $1389 $1689
  5 Weeks $1385 $1760 $1574 $1949
  6 Weeks $1570 $2020 $1759 $2209
  7 Weeks $1755 $2280 $1944 $2469
  8 Weeks $1940 $2540 $2129 $2729
  9 Weeks $2125 $2800 $2314 $2989
  10 Weeks $2310 $3060 $2499 $3249
  11 Weeks $2495 $3320 $2684 $3509
  12 Weeks $2680 $3580 $2869 $3769

Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day

Spanish Language Classes
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica - $150/week
San Jose, Costa Rica - $125/week

Program fees cover:
  • Shared Accommodation with host family
  • 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner)
  • Airport Pick up
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Project Management
  • Volunteer Certificate
  • Discount for returning volunteers
Program fees dont cover:
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses, soft drinks, food, etc.
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer
Turtle Conservation Program Fee (US$)
Duration Osa Peninsula (Pacific)
  1 Week   $435
  2 Weeks   $870
  3 Weeks   $1305
  4 Weeks   $1740
  5 Weeks   $2175
  6 Weeks   $2610
  7 Weeks   $3045
  8 Weeks   $3480
  9 Weeks   $3915
  10 Weeks   $4350
  11 Weeks   $4785
  12 Weeks   $5220
  • Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day »
  • ● No Spanish Language Program with the Turtle Conservation Project
Program fees cover:
  • Shared Accommodation with host family
  • 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner)
  • Airport Pick up
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Project Management
  • Volunteer Certificate
  • Discount for returning volunteers
Program fees dont cover:
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses, soft drinks, food, etc.
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer
Wildlife Conservation Program Fee (US$)
Duration Wildlife Conservation
  1 Week   $210
  2 Weeks   $420
  3 Weeks   $630
  4 Weeks   $840
  5 Weeks   $1050
  6 Weeks   $1260
  7 Weeks   $1470
  8 Weeks   $1680
  9 Weeks   $1890
  10 Weeks   $2100
  11 Weeks   $2310
  12 Weeks   $2520
  • Mandatory comprehensive travel insurance $3.49 a day »
  • Wildlife Conservation Program - Transportation from Airport Juan Santamaria $80/one way
Program fees cover:
  • Shared Accommodation with host family
  • 2 meals per day (Breakfast & Dinner)
  • Airport Pick up
  • In-country support
  • Program Orientation
  • Project Management
  • Volunteer Certificate
  • Discount for returning volunteers
Program fees dont cover:
  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses, soft drinks, food, etc.
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

Accommodation/Meal/Supervision:

Ugandan Supervision

Volunteers in Costa Rica will stay in a volunteer hostel or with a host family. Host families are screened and used to having volunteers. The local coordinator will place you in the location they think is best, there you will have the opportunity to practice your Spanish and meet locals.

If you stay with a host family, you will have a shared room with kitchen and bathroom facilities. You will have the opportunity to do your own laundry or pay a small fee for someone else to do it for you. This can be arranged with your hosts. You will be provided 2-3 meals per day depending on the project, and can request a lunch "to go" if need be.

Throughout the volunteer project, our local staff stays in contact with volunteers either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. With longer placements, we visit our volunteers every two weeks (when possible) and volunteers are always welcome to contact the local country coordinator at any time.

Volunteer in Costa Rica: Study and Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish while you volunteer and improve your overall experience in Costa Rica!

If you are interested in learning or improving your Spanish while volunteering in San Jose, we offer an affordable Spanish language program in partnership with a reputable local Spanish school. These classes are exclusive to those participating in RCDP International's Costa Rica volunteer programs. will be taught Spanish by qualified and experienced Spanish teachers who will provide you with intensive and effective Spanish courses.

We make it simple to learn Spanish in Costa Rica while you volunteer. During our Language Studies program, you can simultaneously work at your volunteer project and study Spanish. It is possible for volunteers to design a personal schedule. You can take your lessons before or after your volunteer duties. RCDP invites you to improve your Costa Rica experience by learning or improving your Spanish.

Volunteer in Costa Rica: Free Time

During your volunteer program in San Jose, Costa Rica, you will have free time in the evenings after your volunteer project and also during weekends to explore around. RCDP does not arrange activities but our country coordinators will provide you with suggestions on activities to do, places to visit and things to try out during your stay in the country.

San Jose is the cultural hub and the capital city of Costa Rica. It is also a beautiful scenic place surrounded by valleys and forests. San Jose also offers a delightful mix of poor and rich from small coffee shops to exclusive restaurants, from pavement vendors to boutique shops. It is also a convenient location to travel to other parts of Costa Rica and explore its many wonders like lush rainforests, beaches and oceans, and volcanoes.

Safety and Field Support

Our number #1 priority is the safety of our volunteers. RCDP International is a leading volunteer organization serving thousands of volunteers. We pride ourselves on providing the safest, highest quality, and most professional programs to our volunteers since 1998. Our dedicated team works closely from start to finish with each volunteer (and parents/guardians) to ensure a successful, satisfactory, and safe volunteering experience.

FAQs: Volunteer in Costa Rica

Disclaimer : The information given in this FAQs page is generic. You should verify critical information such as visa-related issues, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities prior to traveling. Please be aware that information given in FAQs may change at any time. In effect, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. For the latest updates, please contact us or our in-country coordinator(s).

Starting Application

There are two options available to those applying for volunteer positions in the Costa Rica programs:

Apply online
Download the application form. Then, fill it out, and mail it to RCDP.

After Submitting Application

Once RCDP receives your application, it will immediately be forwarded to Costa Rica for processing. Our Costa Rica In-Country coordinator will then carefully review your application to ensure you get placed in the project that matches your criteria and qualifications.

Duration Of The Application Process

Once the Costa Rica In-Country coordinator finalizes and forwards us the details, we will immediately send your placement details and an invoice requesting payment for the program. The whole process normally takes 1-2 weeks. However, this can sometimes take longer.

Preparation

Once you receive the placement details, you can call our Costa Rica office directly and speak to our In-Country coordinator to ask any questions that might help you prepare for the trip.

Preparation for a Costa Rica trip includes: reading about Costa Rica, vaccinations, Visa arrangements, booking tickets. If you experience ANY problems, please call the RCDP office.

Once you purchase air tickets, you should immediately submit the flight details to BOTH RCDP and the Costa Rica office.

Arrival Airport

Please arrive at Juan Santa Maria International Airport (SJO) San Jose, Costa Rica.

One of our representatives will be waiting for you in the arrival lounge holding a placard with your name on it. This will happen without fail when you provide your travel itinerary to our office. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can call the Costa Rica office and talk to our In-Country coordinator prior to your departure for Costa Rica.

Flight Delayed Or Missed

If your flight gets delayed or if you miss your flight and book yourself on a later flight, please let us know immediately by calling our office. You must try to call first and then email the details if possible. Look at your placement details for all the contact information.

If you cannot make any contact and no one receives you at the airport, look at your placement details, hire a taxi and go to the hotels recommended on it.

Let the In-Country coordinator know your whereabouts and he will arrange pick up for you.

Arrival Day

Ideally, volunteers must arrive one day before the start of the program. If volunteers arrive even earlier or remain after the end of their program, they will be responsible for their own accommodation and meals.

RCDP runs a home stay program in Costa Rica. You will have a private room and share the kitchen and bathroom facilities. Many host families do not have hot water. You can ask someone to do your laundry for a small fee. The arrangement entirely depends on you and the host family.

You will enjoy two local meals (breakfast and dinner) every day. You can request your lunch to be packed to take it with you, if you will be away during lunch. We do not cater to any special dietary needs. You are more than welcome to bring your own special diets and prepare them yourself.

Please rest assured that your stay at home stay will be safe and comfortable.

Once the volunteer program starts, our local staff stays in touch with volunteers. We visit our volunteers every 2 weeks (if possible) and you are always welcome to visit the office. We recommend that volunteers stop by the office once a week if they are in the area just to let us know how they are doing with their home stay and project. If your project is very far, then our local staff maintains communication by email and phone.

If you are a citizen of the US, UK or Canada, you can get a 90 day visa upon arrival. You are warned though that applying upon arrival can sometimes take a long time, so we generally recommend you to get a visa in your home country before your arrival. Others are advised to get the visa prior arrival. For details of Costa Rican embassies or consulates in your country, visit: http://www.learn4good.com/travel/costa_rica_embassies.htm

If you intend to stay more than 90 days, please apply for an extension with the Immigration Department during your first week in Costa Rica. Alternatively, you can exit the country for a minimum of 72 hours before re-entering on a new visa.

Visit the sites listed below and acquire as much information as possible. Remember there is no harm in knowing more when it comes to health and safety.

  • WHO website for international travelers (http://www.who.int/csr/ihr/en)
  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road , NE
    Atlanta , GA 31333
    (888) 232-3228
    (888) 232-3299 - fax information service
  • Health Canada Online
  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Travel Report
  • U.S. State Department & Consular Information Sheets
    Room 4811
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington , DC 20520
    (202) 647-5225
  • Travel Health Online
  • Travelers' Health

General Health Tips for Volunteer in costa rica

  • In most of the project locations, drinking water is safe. However, in rural areas, drink only bottled, boiled water or carbonated drinks in cans and bottles. In the beaches, tap water is not considered clean.
  • Buy bottled water from proper outlets. Be wary of fake bottled water which is available everywhere. Always make sure the seal is not broken and the cap has not been tampered with.
  • Avoid eating food from road-side stalls, eating unpeeled fruit, and avoid fresh salads, especially in small hotels. If you are forced to eat food at some place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot.
  • Avoid eating food from roadside stalls/vendors. Don't eat unpeeled fruit or fruit that has already been cut by unknown handlers on the street. If you are forced to eat food at a place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot and well cooked.
  • If you require any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. They will need to be carried in their original prescription bottle and the prescription must be in your name.
  • Please carry a small health kit which should include medicines to cure upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, hydration powder, mosquito repellant, sun block, band aids, etc.

Please visit the Center for Disease Control's website ( www.cdc.gov ) for traveler's health recommendations. Your travel doctor will be knowledgeable about current epidemics and should be consulted.

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

See a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, antimalarial drugs, other medications, and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to Central and South America.. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Routine vaccines : such as for influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) are given at all stages of life
  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with someone who has it or is a carrier or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: if you are traveling to a malaria-risk area in this region, see your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug.
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • Yellow fever, for travelers to endemic areas in Panama
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus- diphtheria-measles , and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
    Required Vaccinations
  • None
    Against mosquito borne diseases wear long-sleeves and pants (especially early evening) and also use insect repellants.

Currency

Costa Rican currency is "Colon."

Exchanging

Dollars can be changed at the exchange counters inside the airport. Many businesses accept dollars at the current exchange rate.

ATM/Debit Card/Credit Card/Travelers Checks

ATM machines are available in various regions throughout Costa Rica, especially in San Jose and the airport, where the option to take out US dollars or Colones is available.

Do not arrive in Costa Rica without any cash as ATM machines aren't reliable and may fail to accept your card. Check with your bank to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are acceptable at major stores. Travelers' checks are exchanged at the banks. In most locations, you won't be able to exchange them. Debit card is the best way of getting money out, and ATM vendors are available in San Jose and other places. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in large stores and hotels in larger cities.

Credit card fraud is a big problem in Costa Rica. Do not use cards at any smaller or non-reputable locations.

Find the Exchange Rate for Real at http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Budget

You can get by with $20 a day provided you are careful in taking your money out. Accommodations and meals are included in your program fee but if you want to explore Costa Rica and shop, budget accordingly.

Information On Field Support And Supervision

We keep in touch with our volunteers. Our staff visit volunteers every 2 weeks. You are encouraged to contact us if you want to speak with us about anything. You can also visit us. You will be provided with all the contact information.

If you work in projects that are far from our program office, you will be contacted by email, phone and fax.

Information On Communicating

Internet cafes are found in and around San Jose.

You can also use international phone cards to call home. You will be provided with full contact details of our office in Costa Rica. You are encouraged to call us should you want to do so. In addition, our program staff will visit you regularly to check up on you.

Information On Weather

The weather in Costa Rica is predominantly tropical and subtropical. From December to April, Costa Rica is in the midst of their dry season. From May until November, the rainy season comes to the country. The highlands in Costa Rica enjoy cooler temperature.

  • Yahoo Weather forecast ( http://weather.yahoo.com )
  • Weather channel ( http://www.weather.com )
  • Weather Underground (http://www.wunderground.com )

Information on Materials to Bring

  • Camera
  • Mobile phone (you can use mobile phones after changing SIM cards)
  • Sleeping bag (only if you want to camp outside)
  • Mosquito repellents
  • Insect repellents
  • Sunblock lotions
  • Volunteer hat (if you are joining conservation or construction project)
  • Some books on Costa Rica
  • Map of Costa Rica
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kits
  • Flash light
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking shoes (for work and travel)
  • Towel

Information on Bringing Gifts for Project

It is a nice gesture to bring items like books, pencils, color pens, toys and games, especially if you are volunteering in schools and orphanages.

You can also bring things like chocolates, CDs, and T-Shirts to the host family.

History

Costa Rica gained independence from Spain in 1821. Democracy began to appear in Costa Rica in the 1920's and 1930's. General Tomas Guardia Gutierrez contributed many things to Costa Rica during his presidency, mainly a railroad project that allowed new exports and attracted foreign business. The wealthy foreign investors started banana plantations along the railways run mostly by American businessmen.

Coffee became the country's major crop. People willing to grow coffee were given free land to work on and the government further assisted its flourishing by constructing roads to transport harvests to the markets. The people who became wealthy by growing coffee gained political influence. They used this influence to improve education and infrastructure.

The election in 1948 was the most divisive and led to a civil war due to political and civil unrest. A junta ruled briefly following the completion of war. A new constitution was adopted in 1949 by an elected constituent assembly and the government was handed over, from the junta to a new president and Legislative Assembly.

Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948. In the late 80s, the crisis was over and Costa Rica saw steady economic growth.

Culture And Religion

The official religion in Costa Rica is Roman Catholic. The religious affiliation is mostly followed as custom, through baptisms, communion, weddings and funerals. The Roman Catholic religion is a demonstration of Costa Rica's Spanish history. The country is a Spanish conquest that maintains the language and religion of Spain.

The most definitive aspect of the Costa Rican culture is their devotion to getting along. They begin and end every conversation with greetings and compliments and maintain good ground at all costs, with everyone.

The culture is family oriented. Most Costa Ricans have their most intimate friendships with other family members. People in the higher classes have more opportunities to have relationships outside of their families. The people of Costa Rica identify as part of their family, as a Costa Rican and as a world citizen. Traditional roles are maintained in Costa Rican families, for the most part, men enjoy more freedom than women, reflecting the machismo of the larger society.

Geography

Costa Rica borders Nicaragua in the North. It has a shared border with Panama to the southeast and both the west and east borders are shoreline, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The interior is a highland of continuous mountain ranges with several active volcanoes.

Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine relies heavily on starches and red meat, although the ingredients vary according to social class and urban or rural residence. Rice, beans, plantains, and potatoes are the staples. Like many Latin American countries, sweet pastries, breads, and cakes are very popular. The food tastes good and is seasoned without being overly spicy. Food is seasoned with a mixture of dry spices and sauces that give it a Costa Rican flavor. Some of the most common spices include fresh coriander and jalapeno chili peppers. Much of Costa Rican food has Spanish origin, for example, the classic beef stew and vegetable stew, also a common breakfast plate known as Gallo Pinto.