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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is paradise on earth. This beautiful country has everything you could ask for: white sand beaches perfect for surfing, stunning waterfalls hiding deep in the jungle, luscious rolling hills with the sun coming out of the clouds, a wide variety of wild life, friendly people, amazing food, and even better coffee.

This gem of a country has something for almost every traveler. Over 25% of the country is protected in an extensive national park and preserve system. The absence of a military over the past 60 years has created a pacifist attitude which carries over into almost all aspects of life. Ticos (Costa Ricans) are friendly, polite and warm.

The Costa Rican Economy's main sectors are tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing. Thanks to a long lasting stability, this is the most developed country of Central America, where people enjoy a higher quality of living and have access to quality government services.ELI partners with local organizations in San Ramón and Liberia, where participants can enjoy the real taste of Costa Rican hospitality and experience the Pura Vida life style.

Our programs focus on community development, environmental education and child care. Professional internships are available in the areas of Micro-Finance, Physical Therapy and Recycling on a request basis. This is a great opportunity to improve your Spanish speaking skills, work with a local organization, and travel on your free time. Participants can combine Spanish classes with their programs or have a week of immersion at their arrival.

Volunteer and Internship Programs

  • Youth


    Day Care Centers

    Even though Costa Rica takes great care of its students in primary school, there are few choices for children under the age of 6. Many of these children come from single parent families who have limited access to eduction and financial and material resources. Volunteers spend their time with infants and toddlers helping with a variety of tasks and playing games. Volunteers for this program must be flexible, creative, and have a lot of energy. Often volunteers will need to organize activities for the children, and assist with chores (cleaning, cooking, washing the children, etc). Questions? Click here

    *Volunteers should have a beginner level of Spanish skills. This program has a 2 weeks minimum time commitment.

    Teaching Programs

    Costa Rica offers free public education. On average, there are about twenty-eight students in a classroom. Students are required to wear uniforms during the nine years of their formal education, from ages 6 to 15. The school year in Costa Rica runs from February to December. Students have vacation for about two months, from December to February, and a few weeks off in July.

    ELI works with a variety of local schools in rural locations, where the educational opportunities are low. Volunteers will assist the teacher with English, Arts and Sports classes as well as leading activities, helping with homework and after school programs. Even though volunteers are in classrooms, resources are very limited, and many of the students do not have basic materials such as books, pencils or paper. Questions? Click here

    *Volunteers should be flexible, creative, highly motivated and mentally prepared to work without readily accessible materials.

    After School Programs

    Volunteers can also work with After School programs helping children with their homework, preparing recreational, artistic and sport activities and acting as role model for the children. If you are looking to improve your Spanish, this is a great option for taking Spanish classes in the morning and volunteering with children in the afternoon. Questions? Click here

    *This placement requires a minimum stay of two weeks and participants should have an Intermediate Spanish level. No prior teaching experience is needed.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Women's Programs

    Women's Programs

    Woman Empowerment Programs

    ELI partners with women’s offices around Costa Rica, where the municipality advocates for women’s and children’s rights and provide services such as training, support and advice. These organizations focus on education, self-esteem, and other initiatives which give women the proper tools to improve themselves and their family's economic and social conditions. Programs center on issues such as domestic violence, women's rights, women's health, and economics/ entrepreneurial projects. Participants may help with different projects which strive to improve the living conditions of women including: training workshops on handicrafts, clothing, cooking, ceramics etc.; business training; presentations and forum discussions on home violence, leadership, women’s rights and health consultations. Questions? Click here

    *A minimum commitment of two weeks is required and participants for this placement must be able to speak Spanish at an intermediate to advance level.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Conservation


    Costa Rica has a 28% of the country’s total land area set aside in national parks and preserves and a booming low impact tourism industry. However, there are still many environmental issues like endangered species, corridor preservation and restoration and sustainability . Volunteers can work in a variety of projects.

    Animal Conservation: Volunteers assist with a center that aims to protect wildlife in danger. Participant will help with education projects, taking care of the animals and preparing promotional materials.

    Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening: Volunteers are welcome to work at a cooperative or other community project with the goals of promoting sustainable practices and creating eco-tourism centers in order to benefit the local economy without massive environmental damage.

    Eco Parks: Volunteers can assist with trail building and interpretation (signs, maps, species identification, etc.), and ongoing projects include reforestation, cleaning up, educational programs for local students, and community centered awareness programs. Questions? Click here

    *These programs require a minimum 2 weeks time commitment. Volunteers for this program must have Intermediate Spanish language skills, and be comfortable in a 100% Spanish speaking environment.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Health & Medical


    Medical Programs

    Participants with a medical background are welcome to assist with day to day tasks in a hospital or rural clinic. Conditions are very basic. Tasks are assigned by the local staff based on what they feel is appropriate given a participant's background. Many participants also assist with educational outreach programs in addition to time spent with patients in the clinic. This is a great opportunity for doctors, nurses, PAs, and medical students to learn about Costa Rica while also giving back to the community in a very appreciated way. Questions? Click here

    *This internship requires at least a 4 week minimum commitment and an intermediate level of Spanish.

    Physical Therapy

    Participants with a background in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are welcome to work with a government run organization aimed to improve the quality of life for disable children and their families. Participants can help with physical therapy sessions, preparing recreational activities for the children and helping with special sport activities for children with physical and mental disabilities. Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Microfinance


    ELI works with a variety of micro finance organizations that provide training and business advice at a community level in Costa Rica and have changed the lives of many small scale entrepreneurs.
    Interns work with small businesses, womens groups and community organizations helping educate and train small businesses to identify, prioritize, program, execute, and evaluate development projects. Additionally, participants focus on increasing income, improving the environment for businesses, and helping businesses find new markets to work with.
    Experience within the fields of accounting, business administration, marketing, or finance is very helpful. Questions? Click here

    *This placement requires a minimum of 4 weeks commitment and an intermediate to advanced level of Spanish.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Group Trips

    Group Trips

    Projects are based in the town of San Ramon. This relatively small town sits in the province of Alajuela and many of its inhabitants must commute to work in the capital city San Jose each day. Those who do not make that commute daily work in rural farms in the region. As with many communities throughout the developing world, San Ramon has more prosperous areas, and areas with higher need. Volunteers work within low-income communities in the area.


    Alternative break projects are available for either one or two weeks. During two week projects, volunteers have the middle weekend free and are welcome to travel to other parts of the country to explore. Costa Rica’s size and hospitality make it ideal for weekend adventures. All volunteers must arrive and depart on a Saturday.


    Volunteers work on a construction project helping to build houses at cost for low income families in the poor neighborhoods of San Ramon and surrounding villages. The international organization Canada-Costa Rica heads up the projects and all volunteers will work with skilled carpenters and contractors. Experience in construction is not needed, though any skills you bring to the project will be gladly utilized. Questions? Click here


    1 Week = $550

    2 Weeks = $950

    **There will also be an additional $100 nonrefundable application fee for each participant.

    What’s Included

    • Welcome at airport and transportation to San Ramon
    • Orientation and Introduction to Costa Rica
    • Accommodations with a host family (private room and 3 meals per day)
    • On-Call support through the duration of the project
    • Bilingual In-Country Coordinator and Staff
    • Travel assistance for weekend trips and local sight-seeing

    What’s Not Included

    • Airfare
    • Airport/exit taxes
    • Health and Accident Insurance
    • Personal Expenses (including weekend trips and local sight-seeing)
    • Daily transportation to and from volunteer project site

Costa Rica - Programs

Cost and Details

  • Cost - Costa Rica

    See our off-season discounts! Click here for a complete list.

    Length of Program Program Fee
    2 Weeks US$942
    3 Weeks US$1203
    4 Weeks US$1465
    5 Weeks US$1566
    6 Weeks US$1669
    7 Weeks US$1772
    8 Weeks US$1874
    9 Weeks US$1956
    10 Weeks US$2037
    11 Weeks US$2119
    12 Weeks US$2200

    Application Fee: $200
    The application fee is a separate administrative charge for all programs. It does not apply to the program fee. (Please see our application fee refund policy here

    **Wildlife programs require an additional US$60 for every week.

    Credit card payments: Payment by credit card will be assessed a 3.5% surcharge. This is the fee that we will be charged for the transaction. Contact us about alternative forms of payment.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • What's Included/Not Included

    Program Includes:

    * Pick up from the airport in San Jose and transportation to San Ramon
    * Orientation
    * Volunteer Position 
    * Accommodation 
    * Breakfast and Dinner each day 
    *24/7 emergency service

    Does Not Include:

    *Round trip Airfare
    *Return trip to Airport
    *Required Travel and Medical Insurance

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Accommodations


    Volunteers stay with local host families. Staying with a host family is a great opportunity to get insight into the culture and practice your Spanish. Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner each day, and each family has safe water for participant use. Participants have their own room in the house, and share a bathroom with family members. Host families provide bedding, but volunteers should bring their own towel. All host families have running water.

  • Start Dates

    Arrival Dates:

    You will be arriving into the Juan Santamaria International Airport.

    2022 Start Dates:Please arrive on a Sunday. Due to the pandemic, we are not setting specific dates.

    Airport pickup is available from 8 am-10:30 pm on specified dates.

    School Year: Mid February- Mid November. Two week break in mid July.

  • Notes & Helpful Links

    Notes & Helpful Links

    Make sure to read up on Costa Rica before arriving! Having some background information on the culture, history, politics will make your adjustment easier. You are going to be in a 100% Spanish speaking environment so practice your Spanish as much as you can before arriving. Duolingo is a great FREE option! Here's a handy tool to see what time it is in Costa Ricas: Time Conversion Tool. Check the Weather in Costa Rica. There is so much to see and do in Costa Rica...  here's a great list of recommendations for What to do in Costa Rica.

    Travel Insurance:

    Travel insurance is not included in the program fee. We prefer to let participants decide what kind of coverage they need. Please see our FAQ page for information on travel insurance.

Costa Rica - Cost and Details
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