Volunteer, work and travel in
Costa Rica

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Volunteer and work in Costa Rica - low cost travel abroad - Workaway!

Here at Workaway you will find 351 hosts and organizations for volunteer work in Costa Rica.
Low cost travel without having to pay expensive agency fees.

Costa Rica farm stay; kung fu, permaculture and how to ...
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Help with childcare in an amazing location on the Carib...
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Help develop a self sustainable community in the mounta...
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Looking for people with natural horsemanship skills to ...
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Travel to regions in Costa Rica

Last minute volunteer opportunities

Here you will find 5 last minute opportunities for volunteering in Costa Rica from Hosts that have indicated that they require help immediately.

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Helping Young Teens & Adults Thrive in Tinamaste, Costa...
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Permacluture - Sustainable - Nature Living - Heredia, C...
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Looking for a babysitter in the Osa Peninsula of Costa ...
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Beautiful family-run jungle hostel offers position at r...
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Workaway feedback slides

There are 1511 reviews for 215 Hosts and organizations in Costa Rica.
215 Hosts in Costa Rica were rated 4.8/5 on average!

I worked 4 days and had 3 day off so could travel to different places in Costa Rica, from San Jose you easily reach a lot of places.
I had shifts in ...

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We stayed a full month at Nicole's & Khalil prime located and fun hostel in PVCR ! It was in May 2017. We enjoyed very much our role to play as a rece...

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We stayed 3 weeks helping Catalina and his son Daniel in April 2017. We very much enjoyed to help them with everything regarding caring the guests aro...

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Working with meg was exceptional! I spent over 2 months creating videos for her website.
She’s an amazing person with a clear vision of her projects a...

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Amazing times!! Very dynamic place with really close contact with the nature, awesome group of people and the time work and activities is really fun t...

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Popular Hosts and organizations in Costa Rica

Hostel (113)

Family (101)

Farmstay (55)

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Although small in size, it receives more travellers than any other Central American country (2.9 million in 2016) and contains 5 per cent of the world's biodiversity. For travellers, that means countless pristine beaches, verdant tropical forests 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. There are also plenty of fantastic surfing and diving sites to suit all levels, and several active volcanoes that can be climbed.


Biodiversity and Eco-tourism in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has an incredibly diverse culture, climate, flora, fauna, and landscape, and around 25% of the national territory is protected by a system of conservation areas and national parks. This biodiversity arises in part because the country forms a land bridge between North and South America. However, it is also due to the fact that the geography is so varied and there are weather patterns moving in from both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. From rainforests and cloud forests to dry tropical and temperate forests; from volcanoes and high mountains to Caribbean and Pacific beaches; and from lakes and rivers to marshy lowlands, Costa Rica provides the perfect habitat for tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats, as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals. The country is a particularly exciting place for bird watching, and the official bird list published by the Costa Rican Rare Birds and Records Committee contains 921 species as of January 2018 – which is more than have been recorded in all of the United States and Canada combined.


Budget Travel and Safety in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has historically managed to avoid the political turmoil and violence from which neighbouring nations still suffer, although the usual sensible advice to watch your kit, especially in cities, holds true here too. It is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world's 22 oldest democracies, and this peaceful nation constitutionally abolished its army in the 1940s. It has consistently been listed among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index, and was ranked third in the world and first among the Americas in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. The New Economics Foundation ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world in both 2009 and 2012. These positive reviews are great news, but it is not surprising that among budget travellers, and increasingly among ordinary tourists, Costa Rica is also ranked as the most expensive country in Central America and perhaps in the whole of Latin America.

However, the people of Costa Rica are kind, warm, and welcoming to foreigners, and volunteering with some of Workaway’s many hosts in the region will bring down costs associated with accommodation and food. Between volunteering stints you can use some of the inspirations and tips shared in this post about a Workaway volunteer's experience travelling around Central America to help keep costs down. And read this blog post by another Workawayer to find out how travelling on a budget can actually improve your experience of travelling.


Climate in Costa Rica

Costa Rica enjoys a year-round tropical climate. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and the geography of each particular region.

In general, the year can be split into two seasons: the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The ‘summer’ or dry season goes from December to April, and ‘winter’ or rainy season goes from May to November – at this time it rains constantly in some regions.

The Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera Mountains receive the most rain, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm. Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The average annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27°C, in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera it is 20°C, and below 10°C on the summits of the highest mountains.

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 Costa Rica.


Costa Rica – Regional highlights

Caribbean Costa Rica

This is the least visited region of the country, owing to its relative isolation (and mosquitoes), and offers great opportunities for white-water rafting and sea turtle spotting.

  • Visit Pacuare River and Protected Zone, an area of incomparable beauty that begins near the town of Siquirres. Officially designated a “Wild and Scenic River”, the Pacuare River offers some of the finest white water rafting in Latin America. The water flows deep inside remarkable primordial rainforest that is home to a spectacular array of wildlife species, including jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths, and numerous other species of mammals and birds.
  • Tortuguero National Park, accessed via taxi-boat, is a great stopover on the Caribbean side: the breeding ground of the green sea turtle, it also protects manatees, river otters, many reptiles and amphibians, and 300 bird species. Tortuguero beach is the Caribbean side's most famous beach, and caters to eco-tourists looking to explore the rainforest and spot manatees.

Central Valley

This is the population centre of Costa Rica, and is the location of the capital and main airport.

  • Spend some time in the capital San José – or Chepe as it is affectionately known – and wander the streets of Barrio Amón, an historic neighbourhood where colonial era cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions have been converted into contemporary art galleries; or hang out in Aranjuez and visit the Feria Verde, a great Saturday farmers market which is the weekly meeting place for San José's artists and organic growers.
  • Visit Jacó — the party beach city close to San José – a surfer's paradise full of nightlife and casinos.
  • Go mountain biking on the dirt trail that connects Irazu Volcano (the country’s highest volcano) and the foothills of Turrialba Volcano, traversing the mountain and giving great views of the Cartago Valley.
  • Scale Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica – from the summit it’s possible to gaze out over wild terrain to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Central Pacific

This is perhaps one of the most visited regions of the country, with many beaches and national parks.

  • Take a boat to the Islas Tortugas and enjoy the crystalline waters, balmy weather and tropical setting. Though snorkelling and scuba diving are the island’s biggest attractions (diving buffs can encounter sting rays, sharks and vibrant schools of small fish), there are other activities to be enjoyed here too, such as jet skiing and kayaking, banana boat tours, horse riding, canopy tours, or hikes across the island.
  • The Nicoya peninsula is a paradise by the sea offering great surfing. Montezuma is the bohemian option, full of dreadlocks, surfers, and everything that comes with them (known as ‘monte fuma’ by the locals). Playa Santa Teresa, located on the western tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, is known for its surfing conditions, consistently good all year round.

Guanacaste

This is the "dry region" of Costa Rica, with little rain at any time of year, fabulous beaches, and large, volcanic, dry forest parks in the north by the Nicaraguan border.

  • The Pacific coast has some of the best surfing in Central America. Playa Grande is the most consistent break in the area with good conditions most days of the year. It breaks over a sandy bottom and is good for beginner and experienced surfers. This tranquil white beach is also home to the largest nesting site for the leatherback sea turtle on the Pacific coast. Tamarindo is a good beach for learning how to surf, whilst Playa del Coco is good for advanced surfers.
  • The Islas Murciélagos or Bat Islands are considered one of the top scuba diving destinations in Costa Rica. Located in the north of the Guanacaste off the coast of Santa Rosa National Park, this area has been protected as part of the national park, and the area is packed with Costa Rica’s famed marine life.

Plains of the North

A sparsely populated, but beautiful and mountainous region, the area is most famous for its active volcano, Arenal, and the surrounding hot springs and volcanic lakes, as well as Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica.

  • Visit the Arenal Volcano National Park, bike or hike around its coneshaped, dormant stratovolcano and bathe in its hot springs. You can circle the lake by bike in one long day, or take two days, sleeping in Tilarán or Nuevo Arenal.
  • The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the country’s most coveted tourist destinations due to its astonishing natural beauty and abundance of activities, including zip-lining and canopy tours. The reserve however is most famous for its extraordinary biodiversity: around 400 species of birds are found here, more than 100 species of mammals including howler and capuchin monkeys and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. Along with the mega-diversity of wildlife, there are 2,500 species of plants, 420 of which are orchids.

South Pacific Costa Rica

This is one of the most bio-diverse environments on the planet, full of exotic endemic flora and fauna, and some of the planet's most beautiful and remote tropical beaches.

  • The Osa Peninsula is one of the country’s most remote destinations, the ideal place for hiking into the rainforest, surfing the blue waves along the peninsula’s southern point, or taking a boat ride through its enormous expanse of mangroves. The peninsula is also a great place to get a glimpse into Costa Rica’s past: former gold mining villages introduce visitors to rural Tico life and enormous pre-Columbian stone spheres continue to baffle archaeologists.
  • The Corcovado National Park takes up 40% of the Península de Osa and is the last great original tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America. This bastion of biological diversity is home to half of Costa Rica’s species, including the largest population of scarlet macaws, and countless other endangered species.
  • Surf one of the world’s longest left-hand breaks, at Pavones in Golfo Dulce. This far corner of Costa Rica is also home to large indigenous populations, who live in the Reserva Indígena Guaymí de Conte Burica near Pavones.

Volunteering in Costa Rica

Workaway is the world’s leading community for volunteering and cultural exchange. Lone travellers backpacking through Costa Rica 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 Costa Rica, or to extend your stay. Whether you want to visit Costa Rica’s Pacific or Caribbean coastal paradises, the cities and farms of the interior, 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.

Volunteer abroad: find the perfect host in Costa Rica

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 wild areas of Costa Rica, 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 Costa Rica’s towns, cities and beach resorts is the ideal way to enjoy the country’s diversity.

Travel and make a difference

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 culture of Costa Rica? 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 Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity to get to know this unique country, the regions that form it, its nature and its people.

Working and healthcare in Costa Rica

If you are planning to visit Costa Rica as a volunteer and not as a tourist, you must have the correct visa. To find out about the latest requirements, you need to contact the Embassy 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, 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, go white water rafting or take a canopy ‘walk’, Costa Rica is waiting for you to do some exploring. If you’re still not sure whether volunteering is for you, check out this inspiring blog post from a Workawayer all about volunteering on a chocolate farm, or this epic story of a surf camp in Tamarindo, who’s hosted more than 100 Workawayers. Why wait any longer? Join Workaway and get planning your trip!