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Volunteer San Jose

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is situated on a plateau in the Central Valley. Situated at an elevation of 1500 m (4,900 ft), it is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. San Jose is Costa Rica's only major city and contains its primary airport, the University of Costa Rica, the US and other embassies and many museums, cultural venues, hotels and markets. Despite this the city is still reasonably small with a population of under 400,000, and is easily navigated due to the city being built in blocks and rows.

Public Schools

The schools are in downtown San Jose, or towns around San Jose. Public schools have many children and normally there are from 35 to 40 children in each class. Teachers don't have assistants, so there is a great need for volunteer assistance. Volunteers can help the English teachers or the teachers of Sports or Arts, and if you have a little higher level of Spanish and you would like to help in the class of Science, Math, etc., that's possible too. You can help either in the school with children from 7 to 12 years old, or in the kinder with children from 5 to 6 years old.

There are other school near the Pacific Coast (in Jacó) but there the program costs $5 more per day.

There are other schools near the Pacific Coast in Jace but there the program costs $5 more per day.

Schools are in session from the middle of February to the middle of December with a free week during Easter and 2 free weeks in July. The schedule is Monday to Friday from 8:20 to 14:20.

San Jose
Day Care Centers

There are several social organizations that have daycares for children from poor communities. Many of these children come from homes with many problems, either economical hardship or parents with problems of alcoholism, drugs, violence, etc. In the daycare children get food and care, as well as the chance to learn different things, play and have fun. While the organisations have employees, they cannot afford to pay many people and are frequently understaffed, making the need for volunteers even more great.

The daycares are open Monday to Friday from 7:00 to 19:00, and you can choose what time and how long you want to work. Often volunteers come from 8:00 to 15:00 or 16:00. Most of these daycares have from 75 to 115 children from 3 months old to 12 years old. Some of those daycares are in towns around San José downtown like Guadalupe, Hatillo, Calle Blancos and San Sebastián.

Comedores Infantiles

These are places in poor communities where children from poor families can send their children to get lunch everyday. They not only receive food but can stay from 10:00 am to 15:00, with the opportunity to play and learn. Normally there are about 75 children for lunch but many get to there around 10:00 or 11:00 am to learn from the volunteers and play. They have the chance to learn handycrafts and arts, as well as play football and other sports, tablegames, etc. Volunteers can lead any of these activities, teach English, or sometimes will help prepare food for lunch.In the afternoon, some of them stay to learn about computers, or play more. These organisations try to encourage the children to spend as much time there as possible learning in a healthy environment, since many of those children come from bad neighborhoods with working parents and a strong drug presence. They hope to keep them as far from that as possible.

The Comedores Infantiles are open Monday - Friday. Some of them are in the nearby towns of Cinco Esquinas de Tibás, Hatillo, and Heredia, or right in San José.

Prices are available for any period between 2 weeks and 6 months.

Show prices in:
2 Weeks 4 Weeks 8 Weeks 12 Weeks 24 Weeks Extra Weeks
$883 $1230 $1672 $2082 $3464 $114

Read how your fees are spent or compare our prices with other volunteer organisations.

View our prices in other volunteer locations's or combine your stay in with stays in other locations as part of a combination stay.

What you receive
  • Orientation upon arrival
  • 24 hour support
  • Accommodation & Food
  • Regular follow-up meetings
  • Costa Rican Introduction such as cooking classes and special events
  • Spanish Classes
Apart from our fees, you must pay for:
  • Your travel to San Jose
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel and health insurance

Our application process typically takes two or three weeks, but can be speeded up if there is a need for that. When we receive the initial application from you, we will send you our full application form.

(1) Complete the Initial Application Form:
The first stage of the application process is to fill out the brief initial application form. Upon receiving this we will send you the full application form.

(2) Complete the Full Application Form:
Fill out the application form. After receiving this we will assess your suitability and place you on one of our programs.

(3) Placement info:
We will return detailed placement information and an invoice. If you accept the placement you should clikc the link to say so. The fee can be paid with credit card through PayPal or by bank transfer.

(4) Communication:
Once you have made your traveling arrangements you should mail your time of arrival and the means of transportation and we will confirm pickup.

You can join either of our Costa Rica programs for any amount of time between 2 weeks and 6 months.

We recommend a trip of 3-6 months since it offers the best value. Regardless of the length of your stay, you will be able to learn Spanish and you will have time to get to know a new culture, come to know its people, and form relationships that will outlast the duration of your stay.

Dates for the Year 2017:
April: Sat 8, Sat 22
May: Sat 6, Sat 20
June: Sat 3, Sat 17
July: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
August: Sat 12, Sat 26
September: Sat 9, Sat 23
October: Sat 7, Sat 21
November: Sat 4, Sat 18
December: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
Dates for the Year 2018:
January: Sat 13, Sat 27
February: Sat 10, Sat 24
March: Sat 10, Sat 24
April: Sat 7, Sat 21
May: Sat 5, Sat 19
June: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
July: Sat 14, Sat 28
August: Sat 11, Sat 25
September: Sat 8, Sat 22
October: Sat 6, Sat 20
November: Sat 3, Sat 17
December: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
San Jose

You will stay with a Costa Rican host family in a house. We’ll always try to get the house as close as possible to the work place. In the house you will have your own room with a private bathroom. You’ll have your bed, table or desk, chair and closet. Some houses have several rooms for international students, some only for one (you can specify to us if you want to be with other volunteers or international students or not), but you will always have your private room and bathroom.

Most of the houses have hot water but not all (please specify to us if that is required for you). Some of the houses offer a TV for the volunteer or a TV room but not all. You’ll not need washing machine, stove or anything like that since when you stay with the family, you will receive as part of the service: laundry, 3 meals per day and cleaning of your room. But if you would rather to stay in an apartment/flat with furniture, that’s an option too. If you are a couple of family group you may prefer to stay in apartment/flat.

In Costa Rica, in most of places, water is drinkable and clean but in few rural areas not, we’ll specify if that’s the case, but normally you don’t have to worry about it and you can drink tap water.

If you work in an Environmental or Turtle Project or National Park, you’ll live in a dorm with the other international volunteers. There you will also receive 3 meals per day, they have washing machine and kitchen for the volunteers.

San Jose

There is lots to do as a volunteer during your free time during the weekends in San José whether you would like to relax and catch a bus to one of the near-by beaches to top up your tan or for the more adventurous to take on some of the best renown zip lines through the Costa Rican rainforest. Other adventure packed excursion trips such as white water rafting and hiking tours to see the marvelous Arenal Volcano can be booked at near-by travel agents within the city center.

Three meals a day are included within our San Jose program fee. Normally our volunteers have their breakfast and dinner at home with their home-stay family and take their lunch with them to the volunteer program. At the National Parks and Turtle projects our volunteers also receive three meals a day.

Should our volunteers wish to eat out for dinner then there are lots of restaurants and eateries to choose from. There are cheap Costa Rican ‘soda’ restaurants on virtually every street and a traditional meal of rice, chicken and beans costs around 5 dollars. There is also a wide range of international restaurants including Chinese, Italian, German, Mexican, Argentinean, Peruvian, Thai, Mediterranean and French cuisine as well as a plethora of American fast food chains such as McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

Although Costa Rica is a small country in terms of area, there is a lot going on here in terms of weather. With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year.

In Costa Rica the average annual temperature is around 21 to 27 degrees Celsius or 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest months of the year are November, December and January. Avoid visiting Costa Rica from March through May as the weather can get quite sizzling and humid during this period.

San Jose Weather Chart
Volunteer San Jose Weather Image
By Plane

Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) is located close to the cities Alajuela, Heredia and the capital San José. SJO is serviced daily by Air Caraibes, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Iberia, Thomas Cook, LTU, Mexicana Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Air Canada as well as Taca, Copa Airlines and AirPanama. Connecting the airport with cities such as: Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Newark, Toronto, Montreal, Madrid, Frankfurt,Mexico City, Bogota, Caracas, Lima, Guayaquil, Quito, and all Central America. Frontier Airlines begun non-stop service from Denver on November 30th, 2007 and flies to SJO 5 days a week.

By Bus

There are bus services from the neighboring countries of Panamá, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala.

There is an extensive network of bus routes within the country with reasonable fares. Departures are very punctual, though routes often take longer than expected. Stop by the Tourist Office downtown (underneath the Gold Museum in the Plaza--ask anyone and they'll be able to help you out). The bus system is a safe and even fun way to see a lot of the country cheaply and not have to worry about car rentals. Getting around without Spanish is no problem.


Ronald is the owner of the Language Centre that we work with in San Jose. Ronald is from Costa Rica and studied Spanish Linguistics. He has worked for over 16 years teaching Spanish to people from many different countries. He has also in been a coordinator for other schools and programs with international students and volunteers.

Citizens of the US, Canada, most Eu nations, Japan and Israel receive a 90 day visa on arrival in Costa Rica. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Ireland also do not require a visa in advance but only receive 30 days upon arrival.

If you are staying for more than 3 months you will need to leave the country for at least 72 hours to receive another 90 days visa. Most volunteers use this as an opportunity to visit neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama.

If you are planning to work in Cambodia then you will need to obtain a police records background check before starting your placement. For details on the application procedure in your home country please take a look at: www.travel-to-teach.org/CRB-information.php

At all other locations you will be required to abide by the Travel to Teach Child Protection Policy.

Malaria: Prophylaxis with chloroquine is recommended for the provinces of Alajuela, Limon (except for Limon City), Guanacaste, and Heredia.

Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travellers.

Typhoid: Recommended for all travellers.

Hepatitis B: For travellers who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially if visiting for more than 6 months.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR): Two doses recommended for all travellers born after 1956, if not previously given.

Tetanus-diphtheria Revaccination recommended every 10 years.

More information available from the WHO's (World Health Organisation) Travellers health information

One of the conditions of entry onto our programs is that volunteers have travel insurance. Most importantly the insurance needs to include medical treatment and repatriation in case of unforeseen accidents or illnesses. Volunteers should purchase insurance independently and bring a copy of their insurance certificate with them for their local co-ordinator to check before starting their program. Read our terms and conditions.

You will get a Travel to Teach certificate stating the time and place you have been teaching.

All volunteers are required to read and agree to our terms and conditions before being accepted onto one our programs.
Read our Terms & Conditions
Download our Teach Terms and Conditions as a PDF File

American Combination Stays
Combine volunteering in Costa Rica with stays in El Salvador or Mexico
Costa Rica Photo Roland's Costa Rica Volunteer Blog
"Costa Rica is a great destination not only to volunteer and help others but also to know more about the Latin American culture, the way of thinking of "ticos" (Costa Rican people) and it amazing nature"
Read Ronald's blog post from Costa Rica here!