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Volunteer in Costa Rica: All the Best Programs and Projects

Are you looking for the best places to volunteer in Costa Rica? There are so many great opportunities in the country from wildlife conservation to organic farming.

We compiled this list of the 15 great opportunities to make it easy to find something great for your particular interests.

Things to Consider

volunteer costa rica coffee picking

When coming up with this list I ran into a lot of opportunities that were through third-party organizations and cost a decent amount of money. In my opinion, avoid these types of volunteer programs if you can. Yes, they often come with the added security of an established volunteer organization, but I feel that is just not necessary in Costa Rica.

I tried to keep this list contained to free opportunities or opportunities that are very budget friendly. I am of the mindset that if you are volunteering it shouldn’t cost you thousands of dollars each week. 

However, there were a few programs that sounded very interesting which do have a fee. I disclosed that in each listing so that you can be aware. 

I also tried to keep this list narrowed down to opportunities that I know are reputable and actually give you the chance to do something good. There are a few places on this list that are more along the lines of volunteering at a yoga center or hostel, but I definitely tried to limit that. 

Alright, let’s get to all the best volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica.

1. Castillo Butterfly Conservatory

butterflies la fortuna conservatory

The Butterfly Conservatory is a learning center focused on educating people about butterflies and nature regeneration. They have a variety of butterflies, frogs, snakes, etc. here. Plus, there is a large property with amazing views of the Arenal Volcano.

I have been here a few times as a visitor and I think it is a really great place. 


El Castillo (between Monteverde and La Fortuna)


As far as I know, there is no cost for this program

Typical Tasks

  • Becoming a Docent Nature Guide at the Conservatory
  • Guiding visitors through the conservatory
  • Assisting with regular maintenance on trails
  • Contributing to special projects
  • Learning about planting and cultivating trees, shrubs, herbs, and ferns

What is Included

  • Private bedroom provided in spacious volunteer house
  • Shared common areas including living spaces, kitchen, terraces, and backyard with river
  • Broadband internet available
  • Cooking done in-house
  • Daily food allowance provided

On the Butterfly Conservatory website, it mentions volunteers but doesn’t give a whole lot of info. However, I also found a more detailed description of their program on WorkAway here

2. RNVSM Romelia Sea Turtles in Montezuma

montezuma turtle

Volunteering with Romelia in Montezuma, Costa Rica offers a chance to impact sea turtle conservation. They have a great program and depend on volunteers to care for and protect these creatures. 

During July to December, volunteers work closely with Ridley, Hawksbill, and Leatherback sea turtles, ensuring their safety. 

Even outside turtle season, there are meaningful tasks to complete.

Romelia welcomes volunteers of all skills and interests to join in making a difference and having an unforgettable experience.


Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula

Typical Tasks

  • Sea turtle conservation activities including night patrols, hatchery sitting, and data collection
  • Maintenance of park trails and facilities
  • Gardening, vineyard chores, and greenhouse work
  • Creating and replacing park signs
  • Assisting with cooking and kitchen cleanup

What is Included

  • Accommodations in a large volunteer house with basic amenities
  • Three meals a day prepared in traditional Costa Rican style
  • Broadband internet access

You can find out more info here

3. Monteverde Butterfly Garden

The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (MBG) is nestled in the lush greenery of the Monteverde cloud forest.

In my opinion, this is a great volunteer opportunity to join. Their program seems well-defined and organized.

The Monteverde Butterfly Garden has an internship program that last for 8 weeks (but no prior experience is necessary) or, you can also contact them about volunteering for a shorter period of time. 



Typical Tasks

  • Conducting 1.5-hour English+ tours through gardens and insect collections
  • Facility maintenance, including butterfly breeding and garden upkeep
  • Giving 1-4 tours daily, five days a week
  • Physical labor, such as weeding, potting plants, and larvae collection
  • Learning and teaching about neo-tropical insects and arachnids

What is Included

  • Two months of hands-on experience in environmental education and outreach
  • Training provided, no prior experience necessary
  • Opportunity to contribute to science education and conservation efforts
  • Free accommodation in dormitory-style rooms
  • Basic meals are provided, with opportunities to cook and explore local markets
  • Immersion in Costa Rica’s biodiversity and unique mountainous terrain

You can find out more info on the Monteverde Butterfly Garden here

4. SINAC (Costa Rica National Park System)

cahuita national park rainforest

SINAC is the Costa Rican National Park system. They are always looking for volunteers. If you would like to volunteer with them, it is best to contact them and ask about current opportunities. 

You can get more info on volunteering with SINAC here

5. Pacuera Reserve

At Pacuare Reserve, volunteers help with research and conservation efforts aimed at safeguarding sea turtles.

Throughout the year, the reserve welcomes volunteers in a variety of tasks including operational support and environmental education initiatives. 

They offer volunteer opportunities spanning short-term and long-term commitments.  You can choose from a range of roles tailored to your particular interests and availability.


Caribbean coast north of Limon and south of Tortuguero. This is a remote location.


This depends on which program and length of time you sign up for

Typical Tasks

  • Conducting night beach patrols to locate nesting sea turtles
  • Assisting in the nesting process by recording biometric data and relocating nests to hatcheries
  • Releasing hatchlings into the ocean and collecting vital data
  • Supporting the monitoring of big cat populations through trap cameras
  • Maintaining scientific equipment for optimal use

What is Included

 This depends on which volunteer opportunity you partake in

Find Current Opportunities Here

6. Turtle Trax

Turtle Trax S.A. is dedicated to sea turtle conservation and community empowerment in the southern Nicoya Peninsula. The organization protects sea turtle nests, releases hatchlings, and engages in community-based projects to promote awareness and sustainable practices.


The southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, specifically in four project sites: San Miguel, Costa de Oro, Bejuco, and Corozalito.


The price for volunteering with Turtle Trax S.A. varies depending on the duration of the program and specific arrangements.

Since the organization emphasizes community empowerment and sustainable tourism, the fees often contribute to operational costs and income for local community members.

Typical Tasks

  • Accompanying Turtle Trax team members on night beach patrols to encounter nesting sea turtles and record scientific data
  • Building and maintaining hatcheries to ensure optimal conditions for egg development and protecting hatchlings
  • Assisting in releasing hatchlings onto the beach and protecting them from predators
  • Participating in nest excavations and data collection under the supervision of research team members
  • Engaging in additional activities such as educational outreach in local schools, climate change studies, beach garbage monitoring, seed collection, reforestation, and visiting other conservation organizations

What is Included

  • Accommodation and meals during the volunteering period
  • Training and guidance from experienced Turtle Trax team members
  • Cultural exchange and engagement with local communities, with Spanish language practice opportunities

Find Current Opportunities Here

7. Maccaw Recovery Network

Volunteer in Costa Rica: All the Best Programs and Projects

The mission of the Maccaw Recovery Network is to protect and recover macaw habitats.

Maccaws are unfortunately on the brink of becoming extinct. They hope to keep that from happening. 


They have two locations. These are Punta Islita (south of Samara) and Sarapiqui (in the middle of the country north of San Jose). 

Volunteer Positions

The Maccaw Recovery Network has several different opportunities for volunteers. These include 

  • Macaw Internship
  •  Conservation Volunteer
  •  Veterinarian Volunteer
  •  Tour & Visitation Volunteer
  •  Handy Volunteer

I think that the volunteer opportunities here are very unique and can potentially give you some knowledge that you might be able to use in your career. 

Find Out More Here

8. Kids Saving the Rainforest

Kids Saving the Rainforest is a sanctuary dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and research of iconic species like sloths, primates, and parrots.

Beyond its rescue efforts, the organization is actively involved in wildlife bridge installation, reforestation projects, and educational initiatives for local communities.


Manuel Antonio


In the past, there used to be a fee to volunteer. However, I can’t find any info about that on their website now. This may have changed. 

Typical Tasks

  • Food preparation and distribution for animals in the sanctuary
  • Cleaning enclosures and providing enrichment activities
  • Participation in special projects and initiatives
  • Long-term volunteers may take on special projects of their own
  • Opportunities to utilize specialized backgrounds or experiences

Find Out More About Kids Saving the Rainforest

9. La Gran Vista

La Gran Vista is an agricultural ecological farm that aims to promote sustainable farming practices and environmental conservation.

The project welcomes volunteers, students, and visitors to learn about organic farming, soil conservation, and biodiversity.


Finca La Gran Vista is situated in the county of Perez Zeledon, three hours south of San Jose


Accommodation and food are offered for a fee, with a preference for at least one week’s stay. Spanish lessons are available at an additional cost.

Typical Tasks

  • Cultivation of organic vegetables and medicinal plants
  • Extraction of water for irrigation using natural methods
  • Production of organic fertilizers & compost
  • Reforestation and planting of new trees
  • Horse riding and care
  • Maintenance of living areas and farm facilities

What is Included

  • Lodging in spacious cabins with dorms or single/double-bed rooms
  • Opportunities for Spanish classes and educational talks
  • Access to greenhouses, workshops, and cultural activities
  • Meals consisting of locally sourced ingredients and vegetarian options

Get More Info on La Gran Vista

​​10. Finca Siempre Verde

Finca Siempre Verde is a private family farm. So, in this position, you will be helping them to maintain their property. The farm aims to foster a Costa Rican lifestyle experience while promoting sustainability and community engagement.


Mastatal, Costa Rica (southwest of San Jose and east of Jaco)


The cost of volunteering at Finca Siempre Verde depends on the duration of your stay:

  • One to two weeks: $15 per day
  • For longer stays, please inquire about extended pricing options.

Typical Tasks

  • Working on the organic farm
  • Participating in sustainable building projects
  • Assisting in the kitchen
  • Engaging in art projects
  • Maintaining trails
  • Composting organic waste
  • Contributing to erosion control efforts

What is Included

  • Lodging accommodation
  • Three meals a day
  • Instruction and guidance for all tasks
  • Opportunities to learn about permaculture and natural building practices
  • Immersion in Costa Rican lifestyle and culture

Get More Info on Finca Siepre Verde

11. Villas Mastatal 

Villas Mastatal is another private farm run by a local family. The family is dedicated to organic farming and permaculture. They welcome volunteers to join in their journey towards ecological harmony.


Mastatal, Costa Rica (directly east of Jaco in the jungle.

Typical Tasks

  • Natural building projects
  • Planting trees and maintaining crops
  • Caring for the medicinal garden
  • Tending to animals such as pigs, chickens, and cows
  • Assisting with hydroponic and aquaponic systems
  • Participating in organic agriculture practices
  • Various culinary activities such as cooking, baking, and cheese-making

What is Included

  • Comfortable sleeping accommodations in dormitories or individual rooms
  • Three delicious meals per day featuring typical Costa Rican dishes made primarily from organic, homegrown ingredients
  • Access to laundry facilities
  • Free time on weekends to explore the region, with recommendations provided by the hosts
  • Opportunities for relaxation, birdwatching, hiking, swimming in nearby rivers, visiting local hot springs, and engaging in yoga on the outdoor deck

Get more info on Villas Mastatal

12. Osa Conservation

The goal of the Osa Conservation is to preserve the ecosystem of the Osa Peninsula through stewardship, education, and training.

This area is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, and their goal is to keep it that way.


The campus is located on the tip of the Osa Peninsula between Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez.


Volunteer rates are tailored to the duration of commitment:

  • One – Two Weeks: $80 per day
  • Three – Five Weeks: $75 per day
  • Six – Nine Weeks: $65 per day
  • Ten Weeks and More: $60 per day

Typical Tasks

  • Sea turtle patrol and hatchling release
  • Native and Rare Tree Planting
  • Camera Trap Training and Deployment
  • Participating in field research

What is Included

  • Shared accommodations within the Conservation Campus
  • Three fresh meals daily featuring traditional Costa Rican cuisine
  • Access to working laboratory space and WiFi

Get more info on Osa Conservation

13. Reserva Playa Tortuga

Reserva Playa Tortuga (RPT) is a non-profit biological research and education center established by community members and Costa Rican scientists.

RPT focuses on biological research, conservation management, and environmental education. The reserve aims to contribute to the understanding of coastal environmental resources and develop community-based conservation solutions.



$400 per week

Typical Tasks

  • Participate in sea turtle patrols and assist with hatchling releases.
  • Engage in native and rare tree-planting activities.
  • Receive training in camera trap usage and assist with deploying camera traps.
  • Contribute to ongoing projects within the wildlife refuge.

What is Included

  • Comfortable accommodations with quality mattresses, fans, and storage.
  • Three meals a day, snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks featuring Costa Rican dishes.
  • One free use of the washing machine per week, with a solar dryer available.
  • Access to WiFi to stay connected during the volunteer period.
  • Personalized field-based training from professional conservation staff.
  • Working laboratory space, shared workspace, and treetop access via canopy tower.

Get more info on Playa Tortuga

14. COPROT: Tortuga de Osa

COPROT is a community-driven conservation project on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. They are dedicated to preserving sea turtle nesting beach habitats along 8km of beach.

The organization records over 7000 nests per season from Olive Ridley and Pacific green sea turtle species.

They are also always looking for people to come for internships, as research assistants, or to fill some paid positions.


They have two locations on the Osa Peninsula. These are their Rio Oro Base Camp and their Carate Base Camp. Both are located near the tip of the Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.


Varies based on duration and location

Typical Tasks

  • Participate in daily turtle patrols, morning or night shifts
  • Record data on nesting females, protect new nests, and release hatchlings
  • Engage in beach clean-ups, plastic upcycling, and community workshops
  • Assist with presentations, gardening, and general camp maintenance

What is Included

  • Accommodation at either Carate Base Camp or Rio Oro Base Camp
  • Meals (mostly vegetarian/vegan) during the volunteer period
  • Training, supervision, and support from project staff
  • Opportunities for cultural exchange and personal growth through community engagement

Get more info on COPROT

15. Pacha Mama

This is not a volunteer opportunity that actively makes a difference. This is instead a work exchange program for those of you who are interested in a retreat experience at a discount in exchange for work.

PachaMama Eco Village serves as a haven for ecological and spiritual exploration. Their mission revolves around fostering healing, self-acceptance, and consciousness expansion within a sustainable and intentional community through workshops, ceremonies, and communal experiences.


San Juanillo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica near Nosara


Varies based on length of stay and accommodation type

Typical Tasks

  • Kitchen/restaurant work
  • Wild Treats Cafe assistance
  • Jungle shop operations
  • Eco projects (working with plants)
  • Recycling center tasks
  • Casita maintenance and upkeep

What is Included

  • Discounted accommodation rates based on length of stay (camping or casita)
  • Discounts on workshops, ceremonies, healing arts therapies, and events
  • Daily meals (lunch and dinner) of local cuisine and organic salad/soup
  • Access to daily yoga & movement classes, meditation sessions, and community events
  • Free WIFI in the camping area (for camping option)
  • Opportunities for personal growth, meditation, and connection within the PachaMama community

Get more info on Pacha Mama

Volunteer Search Websites

  • WorkAway: WorkAway is a site in which people can post a variety of volunteer opportunities at their property. In Costa Rica, a lot of these involve volunteering to work at a hostel, organic farming, or helping with childcare. In return, you often get a free place to stay and possibly meals. 
  • WorldPackers: Very similar to WorkAway. They have a wide variety of available opportunities. 
  • HelpX: And….another site similar to WorkAway and WorlPackers. 
  • TrustedHousesitters: TrustedHousesitters isn’t exactly a volunteer opportunity. It’s more of a unique travel option that you might want to consider. Basically, it is a site for people to post that they need a caretaker. You can then apply and potentially stay at a property for free while fulfilling your duties. Typically these are for pet sitting or watching a property while people are on vacation. 
  • WWOOF: WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. On this website you can find a variety of farms throughout the world to work on as a volunteer. On the Costa Rica page, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities, but some of them sound very interesting such as volunteering on a chocolate or coffee farm. 

Ethical Tourism

It’s always nice to know that the volunteer work you are doing is really making a difference. If you care a lot about responsible volunteering you should do your research before you agree to a volunteer opportunity.

You might want to think about where your money is going, if you are actually making a difference, if by volunteering you are taking jobs away from Costa Ricans that need an income, etc.

For example, I know of some hostels that will accept international volunteers to work the front desk, in maintenance etc. in exchange for room and board. This might seem like a good deal to you.

However, by doing this these hostels can keep their costs way down and it takes jobs away from local staff who could really use the money. 

Other Volunteering Info

  • Keep in mind that you can only stay in Costa Rica for 90 days if you don’t have a residency permit or special visa. When you enter the country you will get a stamp in your passport saying you are allowed to stay for 90 days.
  • Make sure to see what is included in your volunteer opportunity and get it in writing. Costa Rica is a really relaxed country, which we love, but it means sometimes things are not done the way you expect them to be completed. If you read that an opportunity includes three meals a day on an organization’s website, don’t just assume that this is true. Double check everything!
  • Speaking some Spanish is helpful. Some of the opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica that I listed above require you to speak some Spanish. However, I think that even if the opportunity does not require Spanish it is helpful to have at least a basic knowledge of the language. It will make your daily life a lot easier and will open a lot of doors in the volunteering world.
  • Your happiness is also important. If you find yourself in a situation where you think, “I’m not happy with this,” then you may have to consider leaving and finding a better fit. Don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Conclusion: Volunteer in Costa Rica

In conclusion, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica in a wide variety of categories.

If you have any questions about finding the perfect opportunity don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you plan!

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.

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