Situated in Central America, Costa Rica borders the countries of Nicaragua and Panama. It boasts stunning
coastlines of the Pacific and Caribbean oceans and is a hub of tropical climates, rainforests, volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls and
Despite its many attractions, Costa Rica is a little-known country that's not at the forefront of most people's
minds when it comes to considering a gap year or career break volunteering project, but for those who do choose it, it provides
an unforgettable experience.
Nearly a third of Costa Rica is protected in one form or another and more than
13% is national park. It is home to many exotic species, including sea turtles,
caymans, sloths and monkeys and around 850 bird species. Costa Rica is well known
for its beautiful beaches and tropical reefs, which offer great diving and
snorkelling. Inland, there's white-water rafting, horse riding and lots more to enjoy.
We're looking for volunteers in Costa Rica for one to six months in the following areas:
Medical placement in the Caribbean town of Cahuita.
English teaching placement in a remote community along the river
English teaching placements on the Pacific and Caribbean coast.
Costa Rica volunteers are not usually required to speak Spanish but in order to integrate with Costa
Ricans it is important to have some knowledge of it. We expect you to put every effort into
learning Spanish and you will get much more out of your project if you can communicate
properly with the community. When you sign up with Outreach International you will receive
a comprehensive Spanish CD course. This will provide you with approximately fifty hours of
tuition and will take you from being a complete beginner to a reasonable standard. Once you
arrive in Costa Rica you will follow a one-week intensive course in learning Spanish.
"I'm really enjoying myself. My
Spanish is really coming along as, although tired, I
talk with the family at least 2 hours a night all in
Spanish and its great. I mean where else can you have a
Spanish lesson whilst the humming bird is taking nectar
right next to you? Or where the vultures circle above you
and the toucans don't leave you enough time to take their
picture?!!! Its beautiful here and the teachers are
lovely, 2 days ago one of my teachers took me into
Turriabla for 3 hours of lessons so that I could do some
hands on (or should i say voice on!) learning! it was
great, we went round the market where I learnt about the fruits
Javier Cano (our coordinator) is particularly keen that Costa Rica volunteers should have the opportunity to
travel in Costa Rica and beyond during or at the end of their stay. For those interested in expeditions,
white water rafting, scuba diving, surfing, horse-riding are available in numerous places. There are
thousands of kilometres of coast, spanning both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. Travel in Costa Rica
is easy and inexpensive, with a great bus network covering the whole country. Javier is a qualified
trekking and canoeing guide and would be delighted to help you plan weekend trips.
As an Outreach International volunteer, you will receive good discounts at our recommended travel agents.
There are no rules about time off for Costa Rica volunteers, but in most cases
weekends are free and many volunteers choose to travel
after their projects. All projects are linked to
initiatives involving Costa Rican staff, so volunteers
will quickly adapt to the Costa Rican style of working.
The key here is to be flexible and to use initiative.
Outreach International demands a serious commitment
from all volunteers, but at the same time recognises that
the nature of voluntary work demands a flexible approach,
and we definitely want volunteers to have an enjoyable
as well as a rewarding time.
Outreach International works in particular areas of
Costa Rica; volunteers will in most cases have
regular contact with other Outreach International
volunteers in nearby projects.
Javier Cano is the Outreach International Costa Rica representative, based in San Jose. He will meet you
at the airport, give you a comprehensive briefing and support you throughout your stay. He has been with
"Javier has been more than helpful. He has spent the last few days showing me around,
settling me in. Cool guy. He has organised for us to go white water rafting next weekend."
Laurel Struthers. Costa Rica gap year medical volunteer
Outreach International attaches great importance to back up and support, but at the same time does not
want to over-monitor or supervise you. We recognise that for gap year volunteers in particular this is an
important time of independence and adaptation, and we want to give you the freedom to develop your role
in the project in your own way.
You can request official certification from Outreach International acknowledging your contribution to
the volunteer project as a record of your work and a possible advancement to career development. Our
projects are all recognised by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Outreach International will also be
able to provide you with certification and with references for future employers upon completion of your
Accommodation will be with a family or in a volunteer house, depending on your chosen project. Outreach
International put considerable effort into providing the best possible accommodation. If you stay with a
family then your meals will be prepared for you, otherwise your accommodation is self-catering with
kitchen facilities available.
"One of the best things about my time in Costa Rica was my host family. I lived with
a mother, Rosario, and three of her grown up children (Wendy, Andrea and Sergio.) They were so lovely to
me right from the day I arrived and made me feel very at home. They helped me with my Spanish and to find
my feet in San Jose. I very much enjoyed living with them and they are now all great friends. They showed
me how to cook some traditional Costa Rican food and I also cooked them some English meals. It was nice
because I also went on a couple of day trips at the weekends with them."
Charlotte Felton. Costa Rica gap year street children project.
All Costa Rica volunteers travelling and working with Outreach
International will have full insurance to cover personal
accident, medical and emergency travel expenses and
personal liability during volunteer project activities. Our policy
is very comprehensive. It gives you unlimited medical
cover, public liability cover and baggage cover. The cost
of insurance is included in the overall project cost.
Once in Costa Rica, the Outreach International field
office will assist you with any health or accident
problems that may arise. The UK office will inform you
as part of their preparation package of what
immunisations and medication are needed for your stay in
Outreach International will organise and book your flights, but they must be paid for
separately. We will organise all project-related travel in Costa Rica. You will be granted
a 90 day visa on arrival in Costa Rica. Advice will be given to those staying on for more
than 90 days. You will be met be met at the airport by our Outreach International
representative and taken to a guest house in the capital San Jose. All travel directly
associated with the volunteer project placement will be covered by your overall project cost and
detailed to you by our co-ordinator. Recreational and post-placement travel is additional
to the overall project cost.
Flights are usually arranged by Wexas Travel who are both ABTA and ATOL bonded. For details see:
www.wexas.com. However you are more than
welcome to book your own flight providing it arrives at a time that is agreed with Outreach
An important part of the UK office support is to advise volunteers how to raise money.
You will be invited to a fundraising awareness day in Somerset and be provided with an
information pack full of ideas about fundraising activities.
These costs include full insurance, all project-related travel, the Learn Spanish CD
course and intensive Spanish language course in Costa Rica, food, accommodation, support and
documentation for your visa application (volunteers staying longer than three months may be
asked to pay a visa extension charge,) and comprehensive in-country support. The insurance
covers baggage, personal accident, medical, emergency travel, personal and public liability.
Costa Rica volunteers normally have weekends free. We encourage you to travel and explore as much of Costa Rica
as possible. You should budget approximately £35 for a good weekend away or £150 per month
for personal spending money.
These projects are just the start of Outreach International's work organising
volunteering in Costa Rica. Whilst handpicking the Costa Rica projects listed above, we
were able to meet with other project directors and will soon have more projects
Marine and mammal conservation.
Medical placements for fourth year medical students and skilled health
professionals, predominantly working with medical airlifting teams in remote
Costa Rica is considered a very safe country to visit in Latin America, as well as
being home to some of its friendliest people. All in all, Costa Rica is truly a volunteering
There are many opportunities for volunteering in Costa Rica. The placements are ideal for
gap year and career break volunteers. You are placed with people of a similar age to yourself.
Any volunteers with energy, enthusiasm, a desire to help a local community and a wish to learn
Spanish are encouraged to apply.
Volunteers in Costa Rica work on their projects in pairs or in small groups of four. This
ensures full, seamless integration into local communities and maximises exposure to Costa Rican
life and the Spanish language. Most of the projects are located within the same geographical area
so it is relatively easy to meet fellow volunteers from different projects at weekends.
If you want to immerse yourself in a fascinating culture, learn to speak
Spanish and make a real difference, then contact us.
You could make a real difference – to others and yourself!
Outreach International need volunteers to work abroad in schools, hospitals, orphanages, with the disabled, animals and
animal rescue, wildlife, physiotherapy, medical projects, sports and on humanitarian and conservation projects in South
America, Central America, Africa and Asia, including Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Nepal, the Galapagos Islands,
Kenya and Sri Lanka. We're always looking for Gap Year students or anyone who wants to take a career break, Summer
holiday, Easter or Christmas vacation break or a few months or a year out volunteering overseas.