Where to Volunteer in Costa Rica
Maximo Nivel offers volunteer abroad projects all over Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose is the cultural, economic, and political center of the country with a population of just over 1 million people. It is one of the major international travel and study abroad destinations in the world, and where most volunteer programs are organized. Other places in Costa Rica, where Maximo Nivel offers volunteer projects, include Guanacaste (beach), Manuel Antonio (beach), Monteverde (Cloud Forest reserve), and Parismina (beach). These are more rural areas and provide a very different, more off-the-grid experience than the city of San Jose.
It is important to note that although Costa Rica is known for being one of the more developed countries in Latin America, about 1 in 5 people live in poverty. One of Costa Rica’s most urgent social issues is the large number of undocumented immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, and other countries. Children from these poverty-stricken families sometimes do not receive the attention and support necessary for proper development, and kids are often neglected while parents find ways to financially provide for their families.
Volunteers help to care for underprivileged children in community centers, and shanty towns (“precarios”). Volunteers mostly focus on keeping children engaged in activities, homework, and play time. It’s also important to help with cleaning and hygiene issues. Volunteers help the staff at our project sites provide love, support, and individual attention to each child. We encourage you to use your skills and creativity, be open-minded, and be ready to pitch-in and help out!
Costa Rica is a top tourist destination and tourism accounts for 11% of the country’s employment. Those without English language skills are at an incredible disadvantage. Many people dream of learning English to advance their academic and financial standing. As a volunteer at Maximo Nivel, you can help make that dream a reality. Teaching English volunteers are placed in underprivileged schools and communities, working with adults and kids who want to learn English, but who don’t have the financial means to do so. Work varies at these projects, but generally consists of creating lesson plans, teaching classes, one-on-one tutoring, and organizing educational games and activities. You may also work in support activities such as cleaning and fixing up the teaching areas, fundraising, and collecting donations of books and other materials.
Known for being one of the most bio-diverse countries, Costa Rica is home to 5 of 7 sea turtle species in the world. Each turtle species faces threats from poachers, habitat destruction, and commercial fishing. Conservation volunteers can help reverse the risk of extinction by taking an active role in protecting our sea turtle friends. Volunteers work alongside biologists, researchers and local residents to manage turtle nesting grounds. You take part in nightly beach patrols, tagging and counting turtles, relocating nests into hatcheries, beach cleanup, and other support activities and outreach programs. Join the movement and help future generations of sea turtles flourish in their native land.
Industrial farming damages the environment and threatens human health with air pollution and water pollution. Our eco-agriculture projects place volunteers in the Monteverde Cloud Forest or Brunca region of the Talamanca mountains where you work with local coffee growers who practice sustainable farming. Responsible farming takes more human labor, so volunteers are always needed and truly appreciated. Volunteers work in every step of coffee production including picking, weeding, planting shade trees, roasting, and even packaging. You also provide support for reforestation efforts and various community activities. Take part in the production of some of the highest quality coffee in the world, and learn to reap what you sow.
Maximo Nivel’s Beach Conservation is located on the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and was the country’s first protected area. The project brings volunteers four different platforms in which they can contribute to its sustainability; trail & beach preservation, research, La Caseta, and education. Each component of this project is integral in the development of the ecosystems, in addition to the outreach work needed to educate others on how to protect and provide for the natural land.
If you enjoy working with your hands and love to literally see the impact you’re making, then volunteering in construction is the right project for you. With or without construction experience, our construction foreman leads volunteers in building and renovating community centers, schools, clinics, and assisted living facilities–these are some of Maximo Nivel’s highest impact projects! Construction work is physically demanding and includes digging, removing dirt, mixing cement, carrying brick, painting, and various other activities as needed at the site. Get dirty, work hard, and have fun while contributing to the development of facilities that directly impact the well-being of local people.
Costa Rica’s government provides universal healthcare to its citizens, however some areas still have limited access and not enough resources and staff. If you’re passionate about accessible healthcare for all people, making community impact, and helping vulnerable populations, a medical volunteer project in Costa Rica is a great place to begin.
Maximo Nivel’s Medical Specialist leads volunteers at assisted living facilities for HIV patients, homes for the elderly, and rehabilitation centers. We also provide limited volunteer placements at our ambulance project. Volunteers shadow medical professionals and help provide general check-ups, take blood pressure and other vital signs, organize patient records, and prepare materials and equipment. Volunteer groups can also get involved in medical campaigns providing medical services, distributing supplies, and teaching good hygiene in underprivileged communities.
Healthcare projects in Costa Rica usually focus on the elderly and special needs populations. Volunteers work with general patient care, physical therapy, and provide other support and assistance as needed. Working with these often stigmatized populations improves their overall care, and gives emotional encouragement and companionship where it’s needed most . Volunteer tasks include assisting during mealtimes, conversation-talk therapy, exercise workshops, arts and crafts activities, as well as sorting and distributing medicine. The most important qualities our healthcare volunteers possess are compassion, understanding, and kindness. Being “different” or “disabled” is never easy in any society and as a volunteer, you can help show these amazing people how truly special they are.
Make a commitment to better yourself and to better the world at Maximo-Costa Rica