Tourists volunteering in Monteverde
Tourists volunteering in Monteverde

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" said Mahatma Ghandi. Even the iconic Indian leader believed that volunteering is among the most rewarding things you can do! And what better place to do it than the tropical climate of Costa Rica? There are a variety of different ways to get involved, such as building schools in rural areas, teaching English in communities and helping save marine turtles, jaguars and tapirs.

Let's get started! I'm doing my part by eating bugs that humans find gross.

Building Homes

More than 52 percent of Costa Ricans live in housing without sufficient weather protection or sanitation. Imagine if someone built a home for you, how grateful you'd feel. You can choose whether you want your trip to last anywhere from one to 12 weeks. It's a great way to work alongside Costa Rican families and get a workout in the sun! Not to mention, you can make lifelong friends.

There are several different volunteer organizations that hook up volunteers with communities in need.

Through i-to-i Volunteering, helpers are stationed in San Ramon, a town on the Gulf of Nicoya. You can work up to eight hours a day, but the work time is flexible. Plus, you'd have weekends off to explore the country. All meals, living arrangements, training and transportation are provided.

Habitat for Humanity offers trips from five days to three months and does not provide meals and room and board.

Teaching English

Ever thought about teaching English abroad? You can immerse yourself in the Costa Rican way of life. Work side by side with local kids to boost their learning experience in English, math and science. Opportunities to teach can least anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on how much time you have to volunteer.

A few great organizations to teach through include

LanguageCorpsoffers 10 to 12 month programs with monthly salary, housing during orientation and TESOL Certification.

Volunteers for Frontier will be employed in a local school in Puerto Jimenez, helping kids with basic education. Stay on the Frontier campus and teach anywhere for a minimum of two weeks to four weeks or more. These kids will be a blast!

Re-forestation - Planting the seeds
Re-forestation - Planting the seeds

Re-forestation: Planting a Seed

Fight deforestation - the cutting down, burning or destroying rainforest - by volunteering on programs in Costa Rica. If the current rate of deforestation continues, the rainforests will disappear by the year 2100. Where are frogs like me supposed to live? Costa Rica is home to some of the most unique ecosystems and variety of habitats in the world, so assisting with ecology programs here will have ripple effects that could affect all of Central America.

If you're a green thumb, check out these great organizations:

At the Reforest the Tropics Project, you will join a team that helps protects the tropical environment. Stay a minimum of two weeks.

Help out at the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, a remote cloud forest on one of the highest mountains in Central America, for a challenging yet empowering experience. Projects include photo-monitoring, planting trees, trail building and plantation management. When's the last time you lived in the clouds?

Olive Ridley Crawling to Nest
Olive Ridley Crawling to Nest

Protecting the Animals

Costa Rica is brimming with a stunning variety of exotic animals. It is home to more than half a million species, making it one of the top 20 countries with the highest biodiversity on the planet. However, due to deforestation that is destroying their habitat, many animals need a human hand.

To assist fauna like me, volunteer with these efforts:

With Greenheart Travel, you can volunteer on an ecological reserve in the rainforest to assist rescued wild animals like spider monkeys by feeding and administering general care, work in the greenhouses, help construct new habitats for animals and maintain trails in the rainforest. Volunteers ages 16 and up are welcome, which is perfect for high school students. Stay here for one to 12 weeks.

Save the endangered sea turtles at the Sea Turtle Conservancy. On average, these turtles hatch 50 to 150 eggs per clutch. Bask in the beauty of the beaches in Playas Buena Vista, Matapalo or Montezuma as you help potentially thousands of sea turtles survive.

On See the Wild Costa Rica Jaguar Volunteer Expedition, you can help jaguars in Tortuguero National Park. Stay at a research station in the rainforest, set up camera traps and aid the endangered jags for two two weeks.

Coffee plantation in Naranjo
Coffee plantation in Naranjo

Other Great Organizations

There are literally hundreds of organizations to volunteer with in Costa Rica. No matter what your interests are, there is bound to be an organization that works with volunteers who enjoy it as well!

Willing Workers on Organic Farms, Costa Rica - assist farmers in need with labor in exchange for room and board.

Global Volunteer Network - provides volunteers with opportunities to work on coffee farms, in local schools or in construction with local communities.

Volunteering is truly a win-win. Remember the programs mentioned are only a few of the many options available.

Have you volunteered in Costa Rica? Tell us about your experience!