Here at Workaway you will find 1033 hosts and
organizations for volunteer work
in Central America.
Low cost travel without having to pay expensive agency fees.
Belize City, Orange Walk, Belmopan, El Cayo, Corozal
San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago, Puerto Limon, Puntarenas
San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Miguel, Sonsonate, Nueva San Salvador
Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, El Progreso, Escuintla, Huehuetenango
Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Choluteca, Comayagua
Managua, Leon, Chinandega, Masaya, Matagalpa
Panama City, Colon, David, Balboa, Santiago
There are 4616 reviews for 634 Hosts and organizations in Central America.
634 Hosts in Central America were rated at least 4.8/5!
I stayed at the retreat for one month which, in hindsight, flew by so quickly! It's a beautiful place, both the outdoor/nature part of it, as well as ...
by Janice , 18/01/2020
I spent a bit more than a month in the hostel and i had a amazing time !! Uvita is really well located to go and explore the area (Corcovado, Manuel ...
by Marilou & Ophélie , 18/01/2020
I stayed about 12 days in Mac and Sharon's property.
The place is really beautiful, very quiet, with a beautiful garden and a even a small forest in t...
by Fabien , 18/01/2020
Thank you, Nadja and Salvatore, for an amazing time at this breathtaking place. I loved interacting with guests, preparing the very best ice cream, ca...
by Johanna , 17/01/2020
Puerto Viejo with Jody was truly an incredible experience. By the end of our 6 weeks, it was very difficult to leave. Jody was an excellent host who a...
by Alex & Stevie , 17/01/2020
Registering as a Host
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The narrow strip of land that connects North and South America is home to seven small tropical countries that offer travellers a complex web of cultures, ancient ruins, tropical wildlife and adventure.
Only 30 miles separate the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea in Panama, and even at the widest sections of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, you can easily visit both coasts in a short trip. The region’s warm waters, flourishing marine life, and soft sands spanning two diverse coastlines mean that most of the tourism industry is along the edges. Broadly speaking, the Pacific coast is more developed and is popular with both surfers and beach lovers. The more sinuous coastline of the Caribbean provides a contrast with many rivers and areas of swamp and marsh, as well as stretches of unspoilt sandy beach to explore, lots of small islands and, most enticingly, the 560-mile long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Stretching from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula down to Honduras, this is the second largest coral reef system in the world and easy to access, especially from Belize’s many cayes (low-lying islands). So whether it’s surfing the Pacific shoreline where waves rush onto golden beaches, or learning to dive in the Caribbean with affordable certification programmes that will introduce beginners to sea turtles and nurse sharks in a maze of coral reefs, water lovers will find plenty to do in Central America.
Few areas of the planet – including far bigger regions – pack in the degree of biodiversity and topographical variety found between Panama’s Darién Gap and Guatemala. The chain of steaming volcanoes and emerald-green mountains that snakes through the centre of the region means that in a relatively short distance the land rises from its two coasts to heights in excess of 13,000 ft. The magical combination of sunshine, rain, altitude and shade provides dry, cloud and rainforest habitats ideal for ocelots, three-toed sloths, capuchin frogs, poison dart frogs, multi-coloured birds such as the keel-billed toucan and Montezuma’s oropendola (which produces a quite remarkable call), plus a mind-boggling variety of butterflies and moths, flora and ecosystems – as well as creating the conditions for the world’s best coffee and most of its bananas. Inland you can climb volcanoes with perfect cones poking above the cloud line, take jungle walks past Mayan pyramids and through the dark canopy where pumas, sloths, howler monkeys and quetzals live, and participate in every variety of adventure sports.
Until the 1990s, the region, (apart from peaceful Belize and Costa Rica), was subject to brutal repression (Guatemala), civil wars (El Salvador and Nicaragua), and proxy wars between opposite parties supported either by the US or the Soviet Union. Now the region is living a process of change and reform that is allowing travellers to discover an interesting and relatively cheap travel destination. Official advice for the region – which has above-average street crime rates – is to avoid run-down areas and unpopulated districts after dark, and protect belongings in cities. Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica are generally safer than Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize, which suffer from the maras (street gangs) and also have the highest crime rates in the region. Crossing into South America overland from Panama might seem feasible when you look at a world map, however it’s not generally considered to be a good idea. Known as the Darién Gap, this is the only break in the Pan-American Highway – check the situation when you plan to travel, and bear in mind that the usual advice is to avoid the area.
But generally, the people of Central America are kind and warm, and welcoming to foreigners. There is a diversity of culture from one end of Central America to the other, and indigenous culture plays an important role in the region, especially in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Travel on the continent is usually still quite affordable and volunteering with some of Workaway’s nearly 1000 hosts in the region will bring down costs associated with accommodation and food further. Between volunteering stints you can use some of the tips shared in this post about a solo traveller’s experience travelling around Central America to help keep costs down.
Central America is hot and generally humid. Generally speaking, January to April is the dry season. From May, rain can be heavy but sunny spells are frequent. In hurricane season (between June and November) tropical storms strike – and occasionally lash – the Caribbean coast.
Research the weather in the area you plan to visit, and plan your packing well. Visit our Blog to get packing hacks and other advice and tips from seasoned Workawayers, and read on for more specific tips on where to go in Central America.
Formerly known as British Honduras, English is widely spoken in this tiny but very diverse country – along with Belizean Creole, Garifuna, Spanish and Mayan languages. Urban life is not one of the country’s attractions, and travellers spend much of their time off the coast among Belize's brilliant waters.
Guatemala is truly one-of-a-kind, a country of incredible vistas and staggering beauty. The most populated country in Central America, it is also the most culturally interesting and indigenous communities continue to play a major role, as witnessed in local clothing, food, fiestas and the more than 20 languages spoken here, as well as Spanish.
Though Honduras has a history of conflict, it is arguably the biggest surprise in the Americas and increasing numbers of travellers are discovering the country's abundant attractions.
El Salvador is one of the world’s smaller countries, making its ancient Mayan sites, volcanoes, jungles, and beaches easily accessible. But for many, the real draw of El Salvador is its gutsy people and its gritty history.
This is Central America’s largest nation and between 1962 and 1990 was the site of a series of popular uprisings that have turned the capital, Managua, into a sort of living museum of the revolution. However, the quainter León and Granada are the most popular cities among travellers. Home to the second largest rainforest in the Americas and the largest freshwater volcanic island in the world, Nicaragua's land mass holds 7 per cent of the earth's biodiversity. After years of unrest, Nicaragua is emerging as the new Costa Rica at a fraction of the expense.
Costa Rica receives more travellers than any other Central American country (2.9 million in 2016) and though small in size, the country contains 5 per cent of the world's biodiversity. For travellers, that means countless pristine beaches, tumbling jungles, and abundant flora and fauna. The country also specializes in adrenalin-fuelled adventure tourism in all its forms. Canopy walks, zip-lines, white-water rafting, mountain biking circuits, hiking trails and horseback rides are not the “extras” in Costa Rica, but the main reason most people come here.
Panama City is the most American-looking capital city of Latin America, but its Casco Viejo – historic district – has the best-preserved Franco-Hispano-American colonial quarter outside New Orleans. This American influence is a direct result of its location, since narrow Panama forms a land bridge between North and South America.
Workaway is the world’s leading community for volunteering and cultural exchange. Lone travellers backpacking through Central America will find plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with the locals, but Workaway also offers many opportunities for couples, friends, families and groups. Workaway’s many hosts offer volunteers free accommodation and meals in exchange for a few hours of work a day, normally five days a week. This is the perfect way to make travelling affordable in Central America, or to extend your stay. Whether you want to visit Central America’s Pacific or Caribbean coastal paradises, or get right off the beaten track and immerse yourself in wild nature and local life, the perfect host is waiting to welcome you. It doesn’t matter whether you are exploring during your summer holidays, or seeking a gap year adventure, the volunteering opportunities are almost unlimited and will guarantee you have the time of your life.
As a member of the Workaway community you can use the many thousands of reviews and feedback provided to find your perfect match among our hosts. Share your culture, skills and language with the communities, projects and families that offer a wide range of volunteer programmes, volunteer projects and volunteer jobs. If you want to take a backpacking trip through the heart of Central America, use our regional filter to check out the many offers far away from the usual tourist spots. Combining these more off-the-beaten-track opportunities with a stay with some of the many host families and organizations in Central America’s towns and cities is the ideal way to enjoy the country’s diversity.
Who doesn’t enjoy going on holiday and relaxing in a tourist hotspot? However, travellers who want to connect more deeply with the host country and make a real difference will find perfect opportunities to do this by joining Workaway. Do you want to find out more about the diverse cultures of Central America? Volunteering is the perfect vehicle for cultural exchange, providing the traveller with a truly memorable experience while doing something useful, like helping to restore an old building, helping with household tasks, or caring for children or animals. Working and travelling in Central America is the perfect opportunity to get to know this unique region, the countries that form it, its nature and its people.
If you are planning to visit Central America as a volunteer and not as a tourist, you must have the correct visa for each country. To find out about the latest requirements, you need to contact the Embassy of the country you plan to visit in your home country before travelling. And please don’t forget to take out appropriate insurance to make sure you qualify for healthcare!
So, whether you want to wander deep into the heart of the jungle to hear the call of the wild, or climb high above the clouds on the slopes of a volcano, surf the Pacific coast’s ocean rollers, scuba dive the reefs of the Caribbean, or sway to some reggae with a rum and coke in your hand on a remote island, Central America is waiting for you to do some exploring – join Workaway and get planning your trip!