Trek through the thick rainforests or spend your weekends waterfall hunting by the coastline — Costa Rica may be small and narrow but the entire country is brimming full of jungle adventures and beachy getaways.
Volunteers get to experience all there is to do here, but also get to see the ways Costa Rica needs help. A semester in this country means providing a free English education to children who wouldn’t be able to afford one: a huge service in such a tourism driven industry.
Call the jungles of Costa Rica all yours during your Humanitarian semester here. Just outside of where you’re living are some of the top travel destinations in the country. On the weekends and days off from teaching, you’re just a bumpy bus trip away from jungles and beaches. But during the week, you’ll run into a few adventures, too. Turn the experience of spotting sloths just outside your window or grabbing bags full of the biggest avocados the highlight of your day. A big part of life abroad is learning to make your own fun, and that’s not different in Costa Rica!
Glimpse a day in Costa Rica
HELP KIDS IN COSTA RICA LEARN ENGLISH
Volunteer in this Humanitarian Program and make a difference by helping children learn English, up to 20 hours per week. No experience is needed, we provide training on our teaching method. Teaching is a huge part of your experience here. ILP volunteers should be prepared for a rewarding semester, with some kiddos along the way that can make some teaching days difficult (you know how kids are!). They’re young, energetic, and eager to learn, but those same pluses can sometimes make for harder teaching days. While teaching is often the hardest part of your semester, it’s also the highlight.
Volunteering and Costs
We have a few programs in Costa Rica. Volunteers live in the mountain foothills of the capital San Jose (which is central to getting to just about every place you want to go!) and in coastal towns in both the Pacific and Caribbean sides.
—Spring: Depart mid January – return end of April
—Summer: Depart end of April/early May – return middle of August
—Fall: Depart end of August — return middle of December, just in time for Christmas
—6-10 volunteers in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—US and Canadian volunteers
—No experience needed!
A quick note about COVID-19
We paused our Costa Rica program at the start of the pandemic and are so excited to be back again (and have been here since Spring 2022)! So what’s life like in Costa Rica now? Schools have either reopened or students are taught with a “home teaching” program. There are plenty of opportunities to travel around Costa Rica and nearby countries. In general, life is operating with some restrictions, such as mask mandates, social distancing, and proof of vaccination to participate in some events. Volunteers going to Costa Rica must have their Covid-19 vaccine.
We are so happy to have volunteers back in Costa Rica!
EXPLORING CENTRAL AMERICA
This country may be small, but it’s packed full of adventure after adventure. If you love the outdoors, the best sights are all close by, no matter where you are. Try white water rafting in world-renowned national parks, exploring hidden caves or experiencing the dense rain forests by foot (or by zipline!). Try soaking in jungle hot springs, hiking to waterfalls and volcanoes and checking out some snorkeling. All in all, you’ll have lots to do in Costa Rica, that’s for sure.
You can also jump over to neighboring countries like Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico … or maybe even hop on a flight to Peru!
Guanacaste Province — The beaches along this northern coast are all so good that we couldn’t pick just one! It’s probably one of the most traveled to destinations in Costa Rica for good reason. Spend a lazy day at the beach, practice your yoga, and sip on fresh fruit smoothies. Lastly, explore the nearby national parks before leaving.
Monteverde — Cloud Forests are iconic in Costa Rica and this is one-top spot for experiencing these dense jungles. Hike across bridges suspended over the treetops and get views of the thick green jungles from the clouds.
Volcano Arenal — There are several incredible volcanoes to see here, but this one is a definite favorite. Hike through Arenal’s trails before relaxing in natural hot springs.
All the beaches — Don’t make me pick my favorite … there’s too many to choose from! The beaches along the Pacific side are so famous for a reason and we love when the season for whale spotting comes around, or drive along the coastline on the south Caribbean side and you can jump out at any point, hike through a bit of jungle, and find yourself in nearly deserted beaches. Costa Rica has it all, especially if you know the local spots.
Pacuare River — Up for some of the best white water rafting in Central America? Head east of San Jose through the jungle and spend the day rafting through thick green canyons. While rafting, spot some local wildlife, like monkeys, toucans, giant butterflies, and even jaguars.
Granada, Nicaragua — Shop for handmade beaded bags at the markets, unless you’d rather wander colorfully painted streets. If not, come kayak through a nearby island chain next … and don’t forget to meet up with the other ILP volunteers who call this city home.
Ometepe, Nicaragua — Head to this island made up of two volcanoes! Paddleboard and dive into crystal clear lagoons surrounded by lush jungles. Or explore brightly colored fishing villages nearby …. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Bocas del Toro, Panama — Go island hopping, snorkeling, and hammock on the beach in this incredible Panamanian getaway.
Manuel Antonio National Park — Hike through the jungle of this favorite national park. You may even want to hire a guide who can help you spot the wildlife — cross your fingers that you’re lucky enough to see parrots, monkeys, or maybe even a sloth!
Rio Celeste — Trek through the dense jungle for a couple of miles before spotting the turquoise pools of the Rio Celeste waterfall. According to local legend, God used this river to wash the blue paint out of his brushes when he was painting the sky (and yes, the water really is that blue).
Cahuita National Park — Come follow the trail in this coastal National Park that runs parallel to the beach and see if you can spot some friends along the way, everything from howler monkeys to green iguanas, bright blue butterflies, and even sloths! We love the entire Caribbean coastline, especially around the Puerto Viejo area (hello beautiful beaches!), but this park is definitely a highlight.
The best experience of my life ...
“Spending the past four months teaching these kids English has been the best experience of my life. Today was my last day teaching and my heart is so full with love for these kids and love for service.”