Volunteer in Costa Rica


Experience volunteering in beautiful Costa Rica and find out for yourself about living the Pura Vida! Most projects (except Turtle and Coffee Projects) are based in and around the capital, San Jose. You'll join volunteers from around the world in helping local Costa Rican communities reach their full potential.

Everything here is fantastic! I don't want to leave!!! We have caught so many turtles and seen so many babies hatch! The whole place is beautiful and having a really great time!.


Claire | Costa Rica Volunteer


GVN staff were great. All the information before the program was worthwhile and informative. The contact in Costa Rica was excellent; the partner always rang and popped by to check everything was OK and she was able to arrange, change and adapt with ease.

Nicole | Costa Rica Volunteer


Just Choose a Project and Apply!


Local Costa Rican food is provided three times a day. Costa Rican food is a fusion cuisine. It combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China, and Spain, flavoured by traditional grains (rice, corn, and beans), roots sweet potatoes), spices (coriander, garlic, annatto, saffron, parsley, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper), oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, and lard), sauces (Soy, and Worcestershire), fresh fruit, and vegetables. The food is mild to slightly seasoned.

Volunteers will be accommodated in a local family-stay. All families selected for this are pre-approved, and the program fees cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner from Monday through to Sunday. Most family-stays include a shared room and shared bath facilities, and many of the families have been hosting volunteers for years. A laundry service is available for an extra charge.

GVN Projects: Only $250 application fee + $500 per week (1-4 weeks), and $200 per week after this. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)

$250 application fee + $1447 program fee for 2 weeks. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)

Orphanage and Childcare

Orphanage and Childcare

Are you able to give hugs, wipe away tears and smile and laugh until it hurts? Do you want to help some amazing, but underprivileged children? Join up with one of our childcare placements and provide children with love and attention, where volunteers assist the children with their homework, organise educational activities and help take care of their basic needs.Volunteers are encouraged to use their skills and interests to develop music and dance, jewellery making, aerobics and arts & crafts work shops. Alongside the orphanage work, volunteers may also work in shelters, community centres or childcare facilities in impoverished housing areas, always working alongside severely underprivileged children.

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Turtle Project

Turtle Project

Are you passionate about preserving the planet's vulnerable species? Do you like long walks on the beach? Volunteers in our Turtle Project will work with the endangered Olive Ridley, Leatherback Black and/or Green turtles along the gorgeous coastlines of Costa Rica. The programs give you the chance to make an important contribution to the preservation of these species, assisting local communities who carry out conservation work and gaining first-hand knowledge into Costa Rica's biodiversity and culture. Join our partner and play your part in ensuring these beautiful creatures survive and thrive for generations to come.

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Teaching English

Teaching English

Hablas Inglés? (Do you speak English?) There are few more valuable skills in this increasingly globalised world than to be able to connect and communicate with visitors to your region. At our teaching English placements volunteers will teach children of all ages, and will also participate in cultural activities and recreational games. Our teaching placements are all situated in impoverished housing areas, and teaching normally takes place in a small community centre or Church.

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Coffee Cooperative

Coffee Cooperative

Are you a coffee connoisseur? A java junkie? Then join our Coffee cooperative program, where volunteers will assist with the sustainable production of coffee in a rural farming community, in the mountainous region of Costa Rica. Volunteers will assist with coffee-picking in the fields, roasting the beans and packaging the final product, alongside wider agricultural activities. As well as the agricultural side of things, volunteers can also get involved in marketing the coffee product to the market and get involved with the wider community. So sign up now and go get caffeinated!

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Healthcare - Medical

Healthcare - Medical

Are you medically trained or currently in training? Prepared to share your skills and knowledge? Do you feel inspired to help the most vulnerable Costa Ricans stay healthy? Volunteers work in a medical setting, such as an ambulance service or a hospital. This project is for med students, pre-med students and qualified nurses or doctors. Volunteers for these projects require at least intermediate Spanish as the staff they will work with have limited English. Notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required.

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Healthcare - Occupational Therapy

Healthcare - Occupational Therapy

As a volunteer in the Occupational Therapy Program, you will be providing your skills, patience and understanding of intellectual diversity in an international setting. OT placements include a school for disabled children as well as other projects. Volunteers will work with program coordinators to arrange and run workshops and classes in the following areas: knitting, cooking, horticulture, arts and music. They will also provide general help to the individuals attending the school such as assisting during class time as well as helping with daily physical therapy activities. Volunteers may also help with seminars aimed at the families of the autistic children to help them better understand and cope with their condition.

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Are you handy with a hammer? Skilled with a screwdriver? A dab hand at painting? Then sign up to help build a better future for our Costa Rican friends. Volunteers in our construction program will assist in projects based in and around San Jose. You will be helping local tradesmen and other volunteers create a tangible legacy of your time spent volunteering. It may be a renovation or a completely new build but whatever project you work on, your time and efforts will be greatly appreciated.  So get ready to roll up your sleeves, get dirty and help the locals build for their future!

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Healthcare - Health Education

Healthcare - Health Education

Are you strong and compassionate? Can you smile through adversity? Then you are needed to assist with our Healthcare program. Volunteers will work in either a residence for HIV positive people, or in an assisted living facility for very low income elderly residents.  While this is a very rewarding position, volunteers should prepare themselves mentally and emotionally to work with terminally ill patients. This is a position for volunteers with big hearts, big smiles and the temperament to cope with the demands involved. You'll be warmly welcomed and richly rewarded for your kindness and attention.

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Costa Rica Application Form


Apply Now: Step 1 of 3



Why GVN?


Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.

We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:

  • Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
  • Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 14 years experience in placing 19702 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
  • Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
  • Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
  • Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
  • Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.




How GVN works...


The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.

GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 14 years experience in the field.

At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Costa Rica and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.

Program Package

$250 application fee + $1447 program fee for 2 weeks. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)

The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.

Your program package includes:


  • Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
  • Your Program Guide, with all the details on Costa Rica and your placement.
  • Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
  • Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
  • Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.


  • Accommodation: Family-stay or on reserve accommodation.
  • Meals: 3 meals daily (In 2015 this will change to two meals, breakfast and dinner)
  • Airport pickup: On arrival date.
  • Training: In-country orientation and training.
  • Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
  • Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
  • Extra: Spanish lessons (one week), weekly Salsa lessons, internet usage at our partner's headquarters, a monthly volunteer party, and a certificate of completion from our partner organisation.


  • An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
  • Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
  • A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
  • The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
  • Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.

The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, project transportation, departure from the program.

We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $40 for your other expenses such as bottled water, lunch, personal items, beverages, transportation, and entertainment.




Tell me more about South Africa?

As its name suggests, South Africa is the most southern country on the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia to the north west, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, and Mozambique to the north east. South Africa is roughly 5 times the size of Britain, and covers 1.2 million sq km. South Africa was isolated politically and economically for a long period of time, as other countries protested against their racial discrimination known as apartheid (apartness). That era ended in 1994 when the ANC (African National Congress) was elected to power, led by Nelson Mandela. Pressure from ANC, other black political organizations, and the international community forced an apartheid government to pass a referendum in 1992, for everyone to vote in free and fair election.

What is the climate like in South Africa?

In South Africa, the seasons are predominately summer and winter. The autumn and spring seasons are very fleeting. Finding itself at South Africa’s northernmost area and bisected by the tropic of Capricorn, visitors to Limpopo can expect sunshine, long summer afternoons, and dry days for most of their stay. Summer (October to March) in the Limpopo province can reach 30°C -35°C during the day. The winter is dry and very pleasant. Although the temperature can fall below 5°C at night, the days can present clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.

What kind of volunteer work is available?'

Community Service: You could be one of 10 volunteers getting involved in community service tasks in our specialized program in honour of Nelson Mandela. Volunteer work includes the following:

  • Helping out at an orphanage by doing chores 
  • Offering to paint and renovate a shelter for the homeless
  • Helping fix the playground at a daycare centre 
  • Helping paint and decorating a children’s ward at a local hospital 
  • Spending time at a children’s ward in hospital talking to the children and assisting the nurses 
  • Spending a day with the elderly listening to their stories
  • Taking a bag of toys to a local hospital’s ward or a daycare centre in a rural village
  • Reading to someone who can’t read 
  • Coaching an extramural activity at a school 
  • Helping out at a local soup kitchen

What hours do I work?

Teaching assistants typically work weekdays, approximately 7 hours per day. There is a small variation in hours depending upon the time of year. The hours are generally longer during the school terms. Volunteers in childcare centres will normally have a busy afternoon schedule as children are done with school for the day, however there are some morning shifts where the children are under school age. Weekends are the normal days off.

Where will I be located?

The initial orientation and first night of accommodation is in Tshwane, Pretoria.

Participants will then travel to the rural area of Venda. This is located in the Limpopo province (the northernmost province of South Africa). Venda is about 4.5 hours north of Johannesburg within the Vhembe District, situated in Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa.

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About Costa Rica


Costa Rica

Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, and by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the North Pacific Ocean to the West.

It features a diverse geography of mountains, craters, sandy beaches and great flowing rivers.

Development in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered one of the most stable and historic of democracies, with one of the highest life expectancies and living standards in the region.

Amidst the political instability of many nations in Latin America, Costa Rica has a thriving democracy and Costa Ricans promote peace and freedom of speech. Costa Rica, as a nation has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. The honour of that sought-after accolade was given to Costa Rican former president Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez in 1987, for his tireless efforts to bring peace to the Central American region during the 80s, when those nations were politically shattered by civil wars.

In the mid 1800's Costa Rican farmers began to plant coffee. The high altitude lands were blessed with excellent volcanic sediment which made coffee plantations thrive throughout the Central Valley. Coffee soon became the most important product in the country's economy. The export of "the bean of gold" as it soon became known, to Europe and the United States, earned Costa Rica a solid reputation as an excellent coffee exporter.

Coffee still remains core to the country's economic stability, alongside other agricultural exports such as bananas, sugar and beef. However, there has been an increased focus on high value added goods and services, such as microchips and tourism in recent years.

Volunteer Impact

Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Costa Rican communities, focusing primarily on orphaned children, rural communities and school children.

Volunteers on the turtle programs are able to work with the endangered Leatherback (Baula) and Olive Ridley turtles along the unrivalled stretch of gorgeous Pacific and Caribbean beaches Costa Rica has to offer.

As a volunteer in Costa Rica you can provide love, affection, education and support to orphaned children.  You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish.  As a volunteer you can practice and teach preventative healthcare, and HIV care.   Depending on your interests you can also contribute to building projects in impoverished communities, or in a coffee plantation project.  You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Costa Rican communities.

What else can I do in Costa Rica?

Volunteers will also enjoy the cosmopolitan feel of the modern San Jose, the gateway to the natural rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica.

Volunteers can explore the city of San Jose, visit the Central Market or Artisanal Market, take a canopy tour, explore the region by taking part in a tour to a waterfall or visit a coffee plantation. And if all that's not enough for you there's always bungee jumping!

Spanish Lessons and Tandem Exchange Program

For your first week you will take Spanish lessons provided by our partner. These are taught by professional teachers, either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with their Masters in Education, and you will have two hours of lessons per day, either in the mornings, so that you spend the afternoons at your volunteer placement, or vice versa. Volunteers will also be provided with a Native Spanish Program book.

For the remainder of your stay you will take part in our partner's Tandem Exchange Program. This program pairs volunteers learning Spanish with a Costa Rican student who is learning English at their headquarters in San Jose. This way you practise Spanish with your partner for one hour a day, as well as provide invaluable practice for the Costa Rican student learning English. It's also a great way to get to know local students in San Jose. If you wish to extend your formal Spanish lessons beyond your first week, this can be arranged for an extra fee.

Please note that for the turtle and coffee programs the Tandem Exchange Program is not available as volunteers in these programs won’t be placed in San Jose. Intensive Spanish sessions before/after the program can be arranged.

Online Spanish Lessons

Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Learn spanish before you go


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