Warm and Carefree People. Chill Pace. It’s Pura Vida (Pure Life)!


Visitors flock to this Central American paradise for a number of reasons. Some of our personal faves include: hiking and ziplining adventures, glorious sandy beaches, stunning bio-diversity, rich coffee, and palate-pleasing tropical fruits. Some of us would almost swear that we never tasted a real banana or pineapple until our visit to Costa Rica.


Costa Rica's popularity with tourists, make it the ideal host country for first-timers abroad. For most, the mix of English and Spanish-speakers allows for an easier introduction to another culture and language.

Choose from TEN (10) community-based projects in and near Atenas.

2-12 Week Volunteer Placements

Volunteer Placement Options Include:

Pet Rescue

This project was created to provide a warm and loving home to abandoned cats and dogs. In addition to being a no-kill shelter, the project is the first animal rescue project in Costa Rica to function as an in-home foster care program for animals. Rather than being kept in kennels, the animals are kept in the home where they are nurtured, cared for, and house trained until they are adopted. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Play with the animals
  • Train the dogs to walk on leashes
  • Bathe and groom the animals
  • Provide basic care

Environmental Conservation

This grassroots-driven campaign is doing its part to protect and preserve the environment with organized beautification efforts. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Plant trees
  • Clean creeks or park areas
  • Develop and promote recycling programs

Geriatric Care (Elderly)

Aging can be a lonely experience as physical challenges can lead to sadness and depression. At this project, elderly residents receive supportive care, and medical and therapy services. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Plan and organize games and socials
  • Teach an exercise or yoga class
  • Administer physical therapy (if properly trained or certified)

Ambulance Services

Volunteer to work with a public or private ambulance service. The public ambulance service provides emergency transportation to the clinic. When you and the team of EMTs aren't responding to emergencies, use the downtime to organize and conduct public health education workshops. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Organize and conduct drug prevention and AIDS awareness campaigns
  • Teach English to EMTs
  • Assist with various administrative functions and respond to calls for assistance
NOTE: Intermediate Spanish level (B2) required. Certified first-aid/medical training or experience.

Organic Farming

This project is located on a coffee plantation operated by a local family that made the switch to organic farming practices. The farm is a part of a cooperative. The coffee that they produce is sold in quantity, mostly to large corporations. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Implement the farm's organic practices and share knowledge of other eco-friendly farming techniques
  • Develop creative strategies for marketing and selling the coffee
  • Organize and lead farm tours

Teen Boys Orphanage

This project offers a program for teen boys who rescued from the street or from less than ideal home environments. The boys remain at the orphanage until conditions at home improve or until they come of age. The boys struggle with issues related to poverty and abuse; and issues that result from living on the streets such as drugs and prostitution. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Organize constructive educational activities and games
  • Teach English and help the children with homework
  • Read stories to the children, play sports, and teach song and dance
  • Assist the staff with maintenance and facility upkeep
NOTE: Must be male and at least 22 years of age. Experience working with street/at-risk children is a plus.

Community Center

The local community center in Atenas was created to be a warm gathering place for local community residents. Enrichment classes, craft workshops, and special events all combine to build community, and encourage social interaction and celebration of the local culture. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Teach English to adults or children at the community center
  • Assist with local partnership collaborations between the community center and local library, or cultural center
  • Lead weekly arts and crafts projects for children
  • Assist the library with children’s hour
  • Plan and organize events, such as the Festival of Dance and the Angels for Christmas project
  • Create collateral to market and promote community programs and events
  • Help develop the website

Teach English

Help is needed to teach English and other subjects in neighborhood local schools,. kindergarten through high school. Poor, rural children are falling behind academically. Dilapidated facilities, overcrowded classrooms, and lack of funding make teaching and learning difficult. While courses are taught, instruction occurs at a low level. The teachers, themselves, lack sufficient education and training. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Teach English and other core subjects
  • Assist with creating lesson plans
  • Help the teachers learn and improve their English
  • Organize constructive learning activities and games
NOTE: Volunteers must be presentable and professionally dressed -- i.e. jeans, knee-length skirts, capris, t-shirts are all permissible. No excessive tattoos or piercings. No shorts or tops that show the shoulders or mid-drift. Volunteers are expected to be reliable, flexible and patient.

Women's Reforestation Cooperative

At a women’s cooperative outside Atenas, a group of women is asserting themselves and paving their own path to economic self-sufficiency in a way. The wormen grrow orchids, cactus, and ornamental plants; and make organic fertilizer to sell to the community and generate income. Through the reforestation component of their project, they encourage the rebuilding of natural habitats and ecosystems. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Help maintain the greenhouse, plant trees to encourage reforestation, and explore organic fertilizing methods
  • Develop creative strategies for marketing and advertising the project
  • Identify funding sources to help sustain the project
  • Develop a website and web content
NOTE: Basic Spanish, a green thumb, and a love for nature. Volunteers are expected to be reliable and flexible.


Once abused, neglected, and abandoned, now the children at the children’s orphanage wear the label “survivor” thanks to the compassion of one married couple that recognized their pain and despair. Because of their traumatic pasts, many of the children at this orphanage struggle with trust issues and must work to overcome physical and mental limitations that occurred during their formative years. In a private home, rooted within the foundation of a Christian ministry, the children have a safe haven where they receive love, care, nutrition, and education within a warm nurturing environment. Some are able to return home when conditions improve. Some of the children are eligible for adoption. And others to transfer to orphanages for older children. For some of the children, the orphanage is the only home they know. While the numbers vary from day to day, on average, the the orphanage is home to 25-30 children. Such a large number can be a handful for the small staff. That makes the support and help of volunteers all the more important. Here are some possible volunteer responsibilities:

  • Organize constructive educational activities and games
  • Teach English and help the children with homework
  • Read stories to the children, play sports, and teach song and dance
  • Assist the staff with maintenance and facility upkeep
NOTE: Intermediate Spanish level (B2) required. Must be female.



You arrive at San José (Juan Santamariá, SJO) on Sunday and begin volunteering on Monday. Orientation is provided upon arrival in-country.


Note: Alternate start dates can be accommodated.


The first day of classes, in-country staff provide new volunteers with an orientation that covers information about Spanish classes, activities, excursions, and general information about Costa Rica. A separate orientation addresses safety tips.


Host family only.




Weekends and evenings are usually designated as free time to explore the city and country, and to spend time with your host familiy.



  • Registration/application fee

  • Airport pick-up

  • Orientation

  • Host family accommodations and 2 meals/day

  • Spanish lessons (20 hours/week)

  • Laundry service

  • 24/7 emergency in-country support

Longer stays can be accommodated for an additional fee.



  • Must be at least 18 years of age.


  • Additionally, you must provide an official "Certificate of Good Conduct " or official proof of "Lack of a Criminal Record". This documentation (with an official seal and signature) can be obtained for a nominal fee from the local police department, county district clerk's office, or equivalent law enforcement or governmental body. Background checks conducted through online services are not be accepted.


Availability: Most placements are available year-round. We strongly encourage you to contact us before submitting an application to confirm availability.