Volunteer in Costa Rica

The adventure of a lifetime in a remote paradise.

Elusive jaguars. Prehistoric sea turtles. Flamboyant birdlife. Join one of our Costa Rica wildlife volunteer programs in Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve and find yourself immersed in a tropical terrain teeming with life, opportunity and excitement – and help protect it against the threats of habitat loss.


Why volunteer in Costa Rica?

Did you know that Costa Rica accounts for only 0,03% of the world’s surface area, but contains more than 5% of its biodiversity? Known for its Pura Vida lifestyle (which translates to “simple life”), when you join a conservation volunteer program in Kekoldi, Costa Rica, you’ll live and work in the heart of the tropical jungle in the Costa Rican mountain ranges. 

Since Costa Rica has such a variety of terrains, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a multitude of different ecosystems where myriad types of fauna and flora flourish. And the tropical climate just adds to the variety. 

When you join a wildlife volunteer program in Costa Rica you’ll experience a country bursting with biodiversity and see first-hand the types of plants and animals that are found in its forested peaks and flatlands. Our conservation volunteer work in Costa Rica includes projects where you could work towards the conservation of:

  • tropical birds
  • reptiles and amphibians
  • jungle cats 
  • sea turtles.


It’s no coincidence that our volunteer programs in Costa Rica are rated as the best. We take every opportunity to make sure that our programs: 

  • contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • collaborate with the local community
  • focus on ethical interactions and sustainable solutions
  • offer ample opportunities to have fun and make a meaningful impact abroad.


Our volunteer projects allow for plenty of free time – meaning you can explore the surrounding areas. A popular tourist destination, you’ll be spoilt for choice when visiting Costa Rica. If you’re looking for beaches, you’ve come to the right place. Head to Punta Uva beach, where you’ll find kilometres of white sand lined with palm trees, excellent surfing conditions and eateries. The famously advanced surfing spot known as Salsa Brava can also be found here. If you’re looking for something more off the beaten track, head to the neighbouring beach towns of Cahuita or Manzanillo. 

Other activities you can take part in include snorkelling among a coral reef, hiking, ziplining and white-water rafting. You could also spend a weekend visiting nearby beach resort towns or numerous stunning national parks.

Our programs

Wildlife Expedition in Costa Rica
Under 18
Rainforest and Wildlife Conservation Teen Volunteering In Costa Rica
Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
Jaguar and wild cat conservation in Costa Rica
Bird Research in Costa Rica
Research Fellowship
Conservation research fellowship in Costa Rica
Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Professional Apprenticeship
Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in Costa Rica
Jaguar and Wild Cat Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Sea Turtle Conservation Internship in Costa Rica
Rainforest Exploration and Biodiversity in Costa Rica
Reptile and Amphibian Diversity Research in the Costa Rican Rainforest
Citizen Science Program in Costa Rica
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Cook traditional cuisine with local experts.
Cook traditional cuisine with local experts.
Learn how to weave your own hammock.
Learn how to weave your own hammock.
Reflection hike through the lush rainforest.
Reflection hike through the lush rainforest.
Waterfall hike through Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.
Waterfall hike through Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.
Stargaze and learn about the constellations.
Stargaze and learn about the constellations.
Wildlife photography in remote habitats.
Wildlife photography in remote habitats.
Chocolate-making on a working cacao farm.
Chocolate-making on a working cacao farm.
Panoramic views from a canopy tower.
Panoramic views from a canopy tower.

Conservation volunteering in Costa Rica 

Feed your sense of adventure by journeying to our base in Costa Rica’s Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve (KIR), and get involved in wildlife and marine conservation. From assisting with the conservation of critically endangered hawksbills and endangered green sea turtles to gathering valuable data on jungle cats your biggest decision will be deciding which conservation volunteer program you want to join.

Each of our wildlife or marine volunteer programs in Costa Rica comes with the GVI promise that you’ll:

  • contribute towards tackling global issues
  • establish your career goals and work to improve your employability 
  • receive support from GVI before, during and after your volunteering in Costa Rica experience.


Wildlife conservation volunteering in Costa Rica

Take the chance to duck and dive along a jungle path and take stock of all the species you spot. With each twist and turn, you’ll keep an eye out for the tropical birds, reptiles and amphibians, and jungle cats that you’ll be collecting conservation data on while volunteering in Costa Rica. 

If you’re looking to explore a remarkable rainforest and conduct biodiversity species in their natural habitat, our rainforest and biodiversity program is for you. Living and working in the rainforest, you’ll hike through Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve , assisting the local community with understanding the health of the habitat and assisting them with managing conservation efforts in the region.

Costa Rica is also a bird lover’s paradise. On our bird research program, you’ll have the opportunity to assist the KIR with collecting data on the target bird species found throughout the reserve. KIR has the second biggest raptor migration in the world. 

And if conducting research on elusive jungle cats is something you’ve almost dreamt about, our wild cat conservation volunteer program is the one for you. You’ll learn valuable conservation skills and field experience while setting up and monitoring camera traps in the forest. On this program, your research will assist both the reserve management and organisations focussed on the conservation of cat species across Costa Rica.

We also have a specially designed under-18 program for teens between the ages of 15 and 17. Teens who join our rainforest conservation volunteering program will join a group of other teen participants and learn how researchers are working to protect wild cat species and other important species. Throughout this project, you’ll be trained, guided and supported by world-class leaders in the field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people. 

GVI has been operating ethical and responsible programs for under-18s since 2012, so you’re in safe hands with us. We treat health and safety as a number one priority and take extra measures for our under-18 programs.

Training and field experience allows teens to develop skills beneficial to their college applications and future employability. Some of these might include intercultural competency, teamwork and leadership by interacting and working with teens from around the world.

Read more about GVI’s conservation volunteer work in Costa Rica in this article: How to experience biodiversity in Costa Rica.

Marine conservation volunteering in Costa Rica 

Our programs are run in conjunction with the Turtle Rescue Cahuita.

With more than 1,000 kilometres of coastline, it may be a challenge to see every beach in Costa Rica. But, when you do volunteer work in Costa Rica you’ll travel to some of the best beach spots in the country, and take part in meaningful marine conservation activities while you’re there. 

Get kitted out and set off on night-time patrols along the beach during the turtle-nesting season in Costa Rica. Count the numbers of turtles creeping up onto the beach, digging their nests or already laying their eggs. Then get some sleep before going out for day-time patrols where you can assist team leaders in measuring turtles and collecting other information that contributes towards the conservation of leatherback, hawksbill and green sea turtles

When you join our sea turtle conservation volunteer program, you might also have the opportunity to conduct research on aquatic birds, and carry out biological assessment surveys of the area, contributing to long-term conservation efforts along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

Other volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica 

See what you could get up to on a gap year in Costa Rica here: What to do in a gap year in Costa Rica.

If you’re looking for a community-based program, our community focussed hub in Costa Rica is based in the town of Cartago. Community volunteer programs in Costa Rica are focused on supporting the education of school-aged children through extra-curricular activities. Work with school teachers and your fellow volunteers to plan and deliver fun activities that assist children in learning English. 

Since GVI is committed to ethical and sustainable solutions, we don’t support orphanage volunteering: see our strict stance on orphanage volunteering as well as our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy.

While the closing of the educational gender gap is cause for celebration in Costa Rica, there are still many opportunities to address UN SDG 5: Gender Equality. Learn about the culture of Costa Rica while working with local women in one of our Costa Rica community volunteer opportunities. Facilitate English-language lessons and alternative-income projects that will assist them in starting – or improving on – their business in the tourism sector. 

Visit our People site to find out more about our community programs in Costa Rica.


FAQs about our volunteer in Costa Rica programs 

Q: What languages do I need to know to volunteer in Costa Rica?

A: GVI volunteers are required to be able to speak and read English. But when volunteering in Cimarrones, you will also need to have a grasp of Spanish so that you can meaningfully engage with community participants while on base. Participants who aren’t already fluent will be able to take Spanish lessons on the GVI base if these are not already offered as part of your GVI program. 

Q: What costs do I need to consider when volunteering in Costa Rica? 

A: How much you spend while volunteering in Costa Rica depends on your personal preferences. GVI covers your accommodation, meals while on project, and all the necessary training, equipment and materials you’ll need on your volunteering in Costa Rica trip. Your fees also include any specified program excursions and activities. 

You may need a visa to travel to Costa Rica (depending on the country you are travelling from). 

The costs you’ll need to cover once in-country include any extra excursions or activities you choose to take part in, Spanish lessons (if not included in your program) and additional drinks and gratuities. 

You can get in touch with GVI’s support staff to find out more about project- and travel-specific details for our Costa Rica volunteer programs. 

Q: How is volunteer health and safety ensured on GVI’s Costa Rica volunteer programs?

A: Our Costa Rica volunteer opportunities take every necessary precaution to ensure volunteer health and safety. Our strict Health and Safety policy places the well-being of our volunteers at the top of our list of priorities. All staff on our projects are our own, which means that they’ve been through our rigorous health and safety training. During orientation, every volunteer also receives general and country-specific health and safety training that allows them to have the safest – and most exciting – volunteer experience. 

While volunteering in Costa Rica, participants take part in volunteer activities in groups and are supervised by trained professionals. This means that whether you’re tracking wild cats in the rainforest, or working with a group of students at a local school, GVI promises you a safe and enjoyable experience.