Work and Travel in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is the tropical destination in the Americas you always dreamed about. With one of the highest densities of wildlife and plant life on Earth, you have everything you need for a memorable adventure. Volunteering opportunities in Costa Rica are also available in abundance.

We’ve compiled this travel guide for Costa Rica to help you get started with one of the most exciting yet challenging countries in the world. If you’re ready to push your limits you’re in the right place.

1. Conserve Sea Turtles on the Pacific Coast

Costa Rica is one of the prime nesting places for sea turtles. Travelling for thousands of miles, female turtles lay their eggs on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica every year. Volunteers can join the beach patrol to help find the hatcheries so they can be protected for conservation and research purposes.

If you’re there to work and travel in Costa Rica at the right time you can also participate in the baby turtle release programmes, which ensure that as many hatchlings as possible make it across the beach to the ocean without being harassed by predators.

2. Marine Protection in Puntarenas

On the Gulf of Nicoya this popular backpacking destination is famed for its huge amount of marine life. Help protect an array of pelicans, crocodiles, and sharks with a marine conservation programme there as you work in Costa Rica.

You’ll help the professionals provide education for the protection of marine life, patrolling the beaches, collecting eggs, and research into some of the least understood species on Earth.

And you don’t need any prior qualifications to get involved in a project like this.

3. Care for Abandoned Children in San Jose

The capital, unfortunately, has a big problem with street kids. Hundreds, if not thousands, of abandoned children need your help. These volunteer initiatives help care for abandoned children by providing them with a safe and educational atmosphere so they can put the past behind them.

You’ll help with feeding them, cleaning, and playing games. Volunteers often help them with their reading and writing skills to give them the tools they need to build a positive, healthy life for themselves as they grow up.


Costa Rica embraces the ‘Pura Vida’ philosophy when it comes to visa requirements for foreigners who want to come to the country. You’re able to enter the country for 90 days with only a valid return ticket required if you come from any developed country. This applies to citizens of the UK, the European Union (EU), North America, South Africa, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

You should bear in mind that Costa Rica does not fall under the CA-4 Agreement, so you don’t have to worry about spending as much time as possible here whilst compromising your ability to stay in the other Central American countries.

There are also no difficulties with securing a volunteer position here. You don’t have to deal with any complex regulations to be able to work and travel in Costa Rica.



Between March and April are some of the hottest months of the year. To avoid excess humidity you should avoid the coastlines and head to a major city like San Jose. Looking after abandoned children or teaching English is highly recommended throughout the spring season.


The summertime is the dry season in Costa Rica. This is also when the bulk of Western tourists pour into the country. Volunteer projects ramp up their efforts at this time of year to take advantage of backpackers travelling in Costa Rica.

It’s also the most desirable time to head to the coastline. At this time of year surfing and diving instructors are much needed to take on the additional work. You don’t need to have qualifications prior to arriving in the country as you can obtain your qualifications there.

The more qualified you are the more likely it is that you’ll find some paying work. For paying work, your best option is to go to the Pacific Coast. The Atlantic Coast does have opportunities, but this area is far less popular.


The start of autumn is a continuation of the dry season. All the roles detailed in the previous section will still be available. If you want to get away from the tourist areas as you work and travel in Costa Rica you should head inland and consider a homestay.

For many families, this is a busy time as they begin to harvest before the rainy season comes around. You’ll get an authentic taste of how real Costa Ricans live. Many travellers also take the chance to combine their homestay with a Spanish immersion experience.


In winter it’s the rainy season. There are tourists, but not on the same scale as summer. The best available seasonal work is English teaching work in one of the major urban areas like San Jose. It’s the preferred option for volunteering opportunities in Costa Rica as nobody likes to work out in the rain. And in Costa Rica the rain can get extremely heavy.

If you don’t want to teach English in Costa Rica you may consider getting involved in education programmes. There are initiatives on offer to provide education to street kids and other underprivileged groups. There are no requirements to be a professional teacher either.


Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Central America. It’s why so many foreigners have decided to move to the country permanently. Crime levels are about the same as in any Western country and violence against tourists is extremely rare.

You do have to put up with the touts and the various scammers that inhabit the main backpacking destinations, but a firm ‘no’ is normally enough to stop them from bothering you.

In short, an incredible experience awaits you if you want to work and travel in Costa Rica. Are you ready to embark upon your tropical adventure?

Recent Contributors

  • Edited on Jan 19 2018 by Yara

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